Florals that Define Us

freesia for spring post

Is there a particular flower scent that is your signature floral? Something you return to over and over and find addictive, something that speaks to you on a molecular level especially in spring time?  Of course I know we’re supposed to be lovers of orientals, or florals, or chypres, and identifiable by all sorts of methods, but really, all of us have a floral that does a lot of our self definition for us even more effectively than pant cuts,  skirt lengths, or color choices, and that we return to with the warm weather, just like swallows to Capistrano.

It can be a regional matter.  I suspect all Southern girls are born with a yen for a least one white floral, even if that is the common honeysuckle, the sort you smell by the boardwalk every summer, or the lovely but clichéd magnolia. Some of us, early risers, bustlers about our business, love lemon verbena, but a surprising number of us southerners adore gardenias.  Go ahead, make fun of us.  We know a good thing when we smell it and the gardenia is one: delicate, equal parts green, and cream, the scent of celadon. We love our gardenias the way we love the ideal of the Southern Belle; although we know that between smart phones and car pools we aren’t Cotillion material anymore.  But we at least have the good sense to mourn the passing of pin on corsages and satin elbow length gloves.

Southern or Northern some of us are jasmine girls at heart, incorporating the tremendous range of that flower in our personal style. Jasmine wearers can go from fresh to fleshy in a few minutes of evaporation, and wear anything jasmine, urban or rural successfully from Jasmine et Cigarette all the way to L’Haie Fleuri du Hameau.  Others again, wear the elegant moody iris, always weeping along riverbanks.  If you are an iris lover you know it by your allegiance to Chanel which nearly always has some iris tucked somewhere into its formulas.  Or else you wear Iris Silver Mist.

yellow callas for florwer post  Other folk again, always feel a deep companionship with the rose. This like the jasmine is a large group going from the extremely masculine to the utterly feminine and everywhere in between.  You know your membership in this club by the fact of having ten bottles jostling for shelf space at any time, most of them roses.

Lily of the Valley aficionados discover Diorissimo  early on, or some other means of wearing the flower, and stick with it steadily, as though lily of the valley were the magnetic north, and Lily wearers end up with opulent perfumes, things that resonate Casablancas or Gold Band lilies’ scent, like Gold, Un Lys or Gilded Lily.

There are also wisteria and freesia lovers, the former often finding Chantecaille’s very good version satisfying, and the latter looking for Diptych’s Ofresia, and those who can’t pass up osmanthus perfumes, even if that means Patou’s 1000 or Osmanthe Yunnan, and some of us crave lilac every spring, like Vacances or En Passant, although it’s not so easy for us to find that note anymore.

orange girls for flower postMyself, I find that the indispensable floral is the orange blossom.  I always have a cologne stash that’s mostly neroli.  Cologne Sologne is a case in point.  I can wear that and feel utterly myself on almost any occasion.  I sometimes buy neroli oil and simply wear that.  The point is that the flower itself feels like me.  The scent makes my body not just a house for my psyche, but a home.

I think everybody has a flower that makes them feel more themselves.  What’s yours?  What always feels right to you on your skin? What do you find yourself buying over and over?

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10 thoughts on “Florals that Define Us

  1. Oh dear. I know I have at least one perfume in each one of these categories.

    What feels most like Me, though, is a mixed white floral – tuberose/gardenia/jasmine/lily. Or a sweet fresh rose (my favorite roses for smell are yellow, with that apple overtone).

  2. Yellow roses…I used to have one that was the color of Velveeta cheese but smelled like apricots. Heavenly.

    You really are the white flower bouquet then rather than the one flower then. Bet the acid test is, could you manage with the essential oil alone? I can, but only with neroli…

      1. Jasmine! Aren’t you the dedicated dis-liker of jasmines, particularly when they are stinky?

        Tastes change though. I’ve been wearing something by Shelley Waddington for three days and saying this is strong but OK and what DOES it remind me of? Ah duh! Opium, naturally! The kicker being, I don’t like Opium but this is Opium without the incense, spices and other baggage. Haute Hippie oriental with a lot of patchouli and not much overbearing presence. And I never wear orientals bar Emeraude.

        1. Opium, ugh. seriously ugh. It’s the tolu balsam, or tolu combined with some really dusty patchouli. Whatever it is that’s also in Tabu, Youth Dew, and Cinnabar.

          I do okay with jasmine in a blend, particularly if the blend includes tuberose. Greenish jasmine is much better than the stinky stuff, and I have very little trouble with jasmine sambac. It’s grandiflorum that really gets me.

          1. OK agreed grandiflorum can be stinky I grew it and caused a tiny bit of marital friction, along the lines of “Do we HAVE to have jasmine in the dining room?” We didn’t- for the record.

            Go Ask Alice is Patchouli but with the volume turned down, very earthy and not very incensey.

  3. This is such a great question! I have been looking for “my” floral for a very long time. Although I love gardenias and magnolias and would love to find perfect versions of both, the true “me” floral that I seek is a colorful (but not yellow) bouquet. So tough to find one that is just right.

    1. I like your idea of the bouquet. It’s true that sometimes the bouquet is the easiest “floral” to wear.
      Sometimes think old Quelques Fleurs is one of the best. No modern one springs to mind, although I guess some people love the Puredisances.

  4. I haven’t smelled Quelques Fleurs in a few years, so maybe I should go back and try that one again. I seem to remember thinking at the time that it didn’t have enough edges for me / wasn’t modern enough. I like the Puredistances, but they are generally too polished for me to fall in love with them, and those prices are just not in my budget!

    (Typing this, I feel like I’m negative-nancying – unintentional! 🙂 )

    1. Nancy away all you like! Quelques Fleurs was supposed to be one of the inspirations for Ernest Beaux when he did No5.
      Occasionally I sniff to catch the reference, and I thinkit’s there. Quelques Fleurs reminds me more of Arpege actually. The soft edges are similar 😉

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