The Green Ladies: Odalisque, Eclipse, Le Temps d’un Fête

DSCN7128Wouldn’t you know it? As I’m writing this the skies are turning that cotton wool gray that proceeds snow,* six to ten inches of snow, the weather channels say, and it’s already March.

This makes me yearn for green perfume, the lateness of this year’s winter aconites and snowdrops, and the non appearance of the crocus, put me in mind of all that I’m not smelling this year. Even if they bloom those flowers are going to be two weeks later than usual, and that’s probably an optimistic estimate, too.

Normally at this time of year I clean out my perfume closets, sell off things unworn, put those things that are more spring like in the front of the wardrobe.  I discard and rotate.  Normally, that is.  But last winter, which is still this winter, pinching an icily unmerciful grip on so much of North America, has forced me to abandon my habit as too monotonous.  Instead of the wood and tobaccos and other assorted favorites for cold, I wore florals, most notably jasmines and tuberoses, all winter long.  2013 has been a highly unusual year.

So now I’m left with a yen for something different but my florals are played out, and I don’t want to abuse them so am putting them away and digging in the closet for something lighter and greener.  In the interim I’ve returned to some eclectic choices for Spring:  Eclipse, and the peppery green Odalisque of de Nicolai.

They are both supremely oddball perfumes.  Odalisque is one of those misnamed scents that make you shake your head and wonder just who came up with that moniker?  In its current form Odalisque is anything but submissively feminine.  Meant to be an accord of lily of the valley and iris, the effect is startling.  I get the lilies, but their green breath sparkles at first with pepper, although that may be an aldehydic side effect.  I like pepper (see my undying affection for that weird Caron Poivre) and that’s probably why I enjoy this scent.

Odalisque then meanders into its iris heart, more like living irises than most iris perfumes with the sugary almost candied note that you smell bending over bearded iris in bloom.  But the whole concoction has a cantankerous quality that I find very engaging.  I like feminine perfumes that talk back, and Odalisque gives you a surprising amount of backchat in its opening.

file000934569703De Nicolai’s grass blade masterpiece Le Temps d’un Fête, (which I can’t wear because of its rustling, slightly abrasive layers of spring flowers, opoponax, and oakmoss) and her more obscure perfume Eclipse (my other choice here, with its irritant levels of pepper and basil) remain vivid and textural throughout their life spans. Odalisque eventually fades into a celadon pallor, reminiscent of Easter lilies. Altogether Odalisque makes me wonder if it resembles the old Guerlain perfume Mi-Mai as Odalisque is the panoramic impression of a May garden.

Eclipse by contrast, is full to the brim with lilies of the valley, marinated with pepper, licorice and basil, and the herbal effect is bracing, eccentric, and tart. Eclipse can be downright quarrelsome, like some celebrity chef with a chip the size of Sheffield on his shoulder. Nevertheless, the perfume struck me as a lily of the valley that foodies could love with its sublimated savory ingredients. The scent is halfway between a bouquet and a salad.

So for now I’m fortified against new snowfall with pepper and spring flowers, or in other words moxie.  Perhaps the digging out will prove less of a chore with Odalisque in my tank.

*Though it seems that this storm may have swerved south and we will not get eight inches after all. Yay!

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6 Responses to The Green Ladies: Odalisque, Eclipse, Le Temps d’un Fête

  1. stina says:

    We had three inches of snow here in southern Michigan this weekend (on top of over a foot of rock-hard snow that’s been on the ground for months). I went out to shovel the plow bump at the bottom of the driveway this afternoon and something seemed… different.

    Couldn’t figure it out, and then I realized that that mid-winter dead silence was gone. Our neighborhood has lots of tall old oak trees, and there were birds singing on every side (for the first time in months). I was grinning like a mad fool as I finished shoveling!

    Now I’m inspired to hunt out my decant of En Passant and retire my winter standbys (I wallowed in amber and patchouli this winter; Coromandel was yesterday’s SotD). And I’m definitely adding Eclipse to my sample list, thanks for the tip! Such a pity that Diptyque d’ced Virgilio; that was one of my favorite in-your-face herbals.

    Hang in there; I hope you heard birdsong all around you soon!

  2. Blacknall Allen says:

    What a great description of the harbingers of spring-namely birds. I’m sure I saw a catbird in our neighborhood today , which surprised me given the temps. Though we do not have the heavy snow you’re dealing with, (and I think I should not complain given what other people put up with in Chicago and Wisconsin and the Dakotas) still it’s curious weather for Jersey, by now we usually have some early daffodils…
    Eclipse is a very strange perfume and I wonder if you’ll like it, simply because I noticed that the reviews on Makeupalley were sharply divided. Eclipse is polarizing, and as I recall it, took me about two months to like. But if you do sample it, I hope it works. Odalisque is a sure-er bet.

    Virgilio was one of my favorites and donkey’s years ago I had a bottle. The only Diptych I ever owned in fact. Hope Spring comes soon for you too :-).

  3. Eddard says:

    I love it very vivacious article! I hope spring is on its way :)

  4. Blacknall Allen says:

    Thank you, and I hope you are already enjoying warmer weather than we have, a chilly temp just above freezing today-brisk!

  5. Vanessa says:

    Thanks for reminding me of these – Odalisque I was very partial to, but sadly my decant went off, while Le Temps d’un Fete used to go too indolic on my skin, but I am prepared to bet that it wouldn’t any more…my tolerance for such things has come on no end. It is definitely the season to enjoy such lily- and narcissus-forward scents!

  6. Blacknall Allen says:

    Odalisque went off! That is bad news. Never known any of the de Nicolais to do that. Apropos de Nicolai, everyone seems to love Le Temps, even my Mother in Law who hoards her little sample, and this certainly is the time for narcissus centric things, so maybe it’s worth another try?

    Btw have you ever smelled Chris Brosius’ Cradle of Light? That is very Springtime but also very elegant.

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