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.
De 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!