You would think-wouldn’t you- that tulips would be a little higher on the radar of perfumers than they are? There is Byredo’s La Tulipe, there is Il Tuo Tulipano from Hilde Soliani and not much else.
Well now I have some good news for tulip lovers. I smelled Neil Morris’ Rainflower and that does come as close to tulips as you are going to get currently. Now to a lot of readers Neil Morris may seem like a detour off the Guerlain or Dior or Lutens highways, but he really is a very talented man, and some of his perfumes are surprising. Rainflower is one that knocks me for a loop because the smell is so real. The story behind the scent is that Morris was visiting London and stopped to see Kew Gardens in spring when it was raining. Shortly afterwards the sun came out and this glorious smell of fresh flowers is what he caught and tried to recreate in Rainflower.
Let me point out that tulip was the scent I noticed most insistently in the heart of this fragrance. Tulips for me have a fresh green scent like stems and sap then a light floral quality similar to pink hyacinths’ (not white ones which are rather indolic) and then there is almost always a honey and pollen golden accord at the core of the tulip scent. It is a spring scent but not as green as most spring flowers, has none of the barnyard quality of narcissus, none of the saffron of crocuses, and has no cold clear chill like cyclamen. Tulips have a warm, almost textural almost furry ( similar to actual musk) honey scent. Though I have never thought of pee when smelling tulips, as honey perfume aficionados complain they do when huffing Serge Lutens’ Miel de Bois-for instance- and there is none of that note in Rainflower.
So, having revisited the specific scent of tulips what about Rainflower? That has an atmospheric flight that reminds you of ozone and the remnants of rain. Immediately on the heels of this wet beginning, you find yourself smelling hyacinths and jasmine plus some other white flowered scents.
I think all these are accords worked out less to be precise floral presences cf. rose, gardenia, tuberose, than to produce a kind of Impressionism for the nose. This is Kew Gardens and presumably a melange of all the wallflowers and hyacinths and lilacs and tulips that are blooming by the bed-full, but rendered in broad strokes. The result is that you are surrounded by springtime suddenly, just as you are shaking the raindrops out of your umbrella.
But it’s tulips that come across most clearly to me in this April flash mob. Over the years I have grown many of them, from the short red species tulips with pointed petals, to the tall single late May varieties, and even the whirling parrot tulips. Rainflower is tulips more than anything else. Put it this way, if Rainflower is a sort of springtime chorus, then the soloist is tulip.
As time goes on Rainflower acquires a greener tone and the heart, while still April, becomes warmer as the rain dries in the sunshine. Here you get a more sophisticated rendering of walking through a garden. What makes this perfume unusual though, is this, Rainflower is ALL flowers. This is not animalic, or musky, or woody, and is certainly far from an oriental- even a floral oriental. That is rare these days. If you love flowers you should try this.
One more caution about Rainflower. The perfume is about sillage, which means that you should not expect it to perform well when sniffed one inch from your wrist. Spritz and walk through this, Rainflower is meant to be appreciated from a slight distance. Three hours after you have put it on the honeyed slightly green tulip scent will still be on your clothes.
A fine choice for tulip lovers. Do you have any tulip perfumes?