Magical Marigolds: Lauren, Flor Y Canto, Sleeping with Ghosts



Yes, the same little annuals you have planted in your vegetable patch to discourage insect predation, those are the ones used in perfumery, or to correct myself, they were used in perfumes.  Tagetes (which is their proper surname) seldom put in appearances in fragrance formulas anymore.

Once they were common enough.  In the eighties when the first generation of fruity florals came out, tagetes were frequent top notes in scents.  They had a strong but slightly fruity touch to their herbal tartness and so ended up in compositions like that of the original Lauren, Weil’s Bambou, and Calyx.

Many people regret Lauren, which used to have a glowing golden fruitiness to it that is now vanished. The beginning was a marigold and green leaf posy, the heart was chiefly cyclamen, and the end was musky. If you were a child or adolescent during the eighties you probably smelled Lauren on someone, because this was Ralph’s first big hit, before Polo and all its variations, Black or otherwise.

Tagetes seem to be out of favor these days, but I did run into two fragrances where they have turned up recently.  The first was Arquiste’s Flor Y Canto.  This is an exuberant white flower mix dominated by tuberose. There is an orange Hispanic sun burning on this bouquet.  The perfume smells like a fiesta, and there is a sunlight marinated warmth about the composition.

flower-vendor Altogether Flor Y Canto reminds me of some of Diego Rivera paintings of flower sellers in Mexican markets.  If only there were whiskey in the composition, Flor Y Canto might stumble into Under the Volcano’s territory, but Flor remains feminine, even proper, and because of this annoying propriety at a party, ever so faintly bitter underneath its magnolia and marigold chapeau.

After the stunning Anima Dulcis, this smelled like one of the best in the Arquiste line to me, which seems to come most alive in its Mexican vignette perfumes.

The other recent tagetes sighting was in Mark Buxton’s Sleeping with Ghosts.  This is a milky, apply little scent which reminded folks of Joop’s All About Eve on Fragrantica.  If you never smelled Eve back in the nineties, that was a perfume that was all about apples.  In this perfume quince and tagetes are the appetizer, before a peony and leather entree, but the end is not woody as you might expect, serving up instead a Habanita reminiscent vetiver and vanilla desert.  In short, Mark Buxton has baked his apples into a creamy pudding, and that is a change from All about Eve, whose apple was crisp as I recall it, possibly a Granny Smith green.


In both cases the Mark Buxton and Arquiste lines have gone out of their way to use a not very common natural.  They deserve to be looked at a bit more.  In the heap of releases from 2011-2012 these may have been somewhat overlooked.  Both are worth revisiting, marigolds and all.

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5 thoughts on “Magical Marigolds: Lauren, Flor Y Canto, Sleeping with Ghosts

  1. I”m not sure why I have yet to try Flor y Canto… I have a vague memory of some people in a Facebook perfume group mentioning chocolate in connection with it, and that may have been the “oh-no-cross-it-off-the-list” factor. I don’t know what else it would have been. Hmm. I did hear really good things about it.

    Lauren used to be lovely. Fragrantica says that Safari has marigold, but I don’t know that I smelled that in it… I am only familiar with the parfum version of Safari, and it was uncomfortably sweet in the base, so I passed my mini on.

    My bottle of L’Arte di Gucci, a tester, lists notes on the back, and among them is “tagete,” which I’m pretty sure is marigold. Is it part of what makes that diva pink-and-green thing so addictive to me, or not? I don’t know.

  2. You know the chocolate tidbit they mentioned on Facebook might have been to do with Anima Dulcis, which does have it. Flor Y Canto was completely floral when I smelled at Barney’s, and the notes were plumeria, magnolia, tuberose and marigold. Nothing sticky in there.

    Must get around to trying L’Arte di Gucci because you’ve mentioned it with such affection. Oh and I referenced your last post in my next because it got me thinking about chypres. Typical -because when not thinking about food- I think about smells. You would think I had poodle blood.

    1. I think it may have been Donna (who writes as Flora for Perfume-Smellin’ Things) who mentioned the chocolate, and she is the proclaimed White Floral Queen. So I got all excited when she said Flor Y Canto was good (Donna and I have a lot of overlap in our preferences), and then “chocolate” comes up in the conversation and I sort of said, “I’m OUT, y’all.”

      So maybe she got them confused… or maybe it was hallucinatory… or she perceived it and you didn’t… or something. I dunno. Shrug.

  3. Blacknall, I don’t know whether you’ve tried any of Shelley Waddington’s fragrances (EnVoyage Perfumes, creator of “Zelda”), but she has a scent called “Tagetes Femme.” I’ve had a sample of it for awhile and not really given it a test run yet, but reading this post, I put a tiny drop on and it’s a very rich scent. Perhaps too round and oriental for you, but yummy to my nose. 🙂

    1. Oh you never know, I might like that, greedy guts that I am,I end up wearing a pretty wide variety of things-but the ZELDA has me really interested.

      First because Vanessa apparently loves it and she loves things I often do too, secondly there’s the magnolia aspect and I’m thrilled that someone made magnolia a centerpiece. Thirdly I gather Ms. Waddington is an ace perfumer. Someone writing about Vents Ardents remarked that her work made him worry about the French monopoly on perfume creation. That is quite an endorsement from a Francophone.
      So yes, she interests me and I’m most curious about Zelda and Havane Pour Homme and the aforementioned Tagetes.

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