Beautiful Boronia

Boronia megastigma

I can’t remember the last time I was so tempted but I have discovered a site that sells Australian essential oils and one of them is boronia.  Haven’t heard of it?  Neither had I until some years ago, but the plant is Boronia megastigma or brown boronia in ordinary English, and the plants are small evergreen bushes that produce flowers like little shells.  True to their name, these flowers are brown on the outside of each petal but yellow inside and their perfume is heavenly.

Boronia is native to western Australia and those lucky people can grow them and enjoy spring flowers without too much trouble.  Stateside, California may be your best bet since these small bushes are only hardy to zone 9.  However their oil is something all of us can buy (if we save a bit) and in perfume boronia is a shot of unadulterated beauty. Continue reading

Classic Soliflores?

The Pearl in in full bloom

Single note floral perfumes used  to be short lived on the market.  Back in the day they were called “handkerchief” perfumes because in the pre-Kleenex era, you sprinkled a drop of rose or lavender water on your handkerchief rather than your skin. Those little fragrances “sent bons” were miniature essays in the perfumer’s art.  Not many of those perfumes survive today. No one wears Yardley’s Lavender, or Coty’s Jasmin de Corse, few wear Tea Rose the big late seventies hit from Perfumer’s Workshop, and Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare is diluted out of recognition- which makes me wonder- which are the  new classic soliflores?  Which ones will survive for decades on the consumers’ skin? Continue reading

Lilies of the Valley and Strong Women

Diorissimo advert perfumegirl.com

Diorissimo advert perfumegirl.com

It seems appropriate to quote Nancy Reagan now.  She is credited with observing that women were like tea bags, you could never tell how strong one was until she got into hot water. Some women are so strong, or at any rate their personalities are so strong, that you don’t need the hot water at all and can sun brew them.

Such was the case with my own mother whose personality was of the expansive sort, and I’ve known plenty of women since who were larger than life.  I’m speaking of the personality here mind you, not the character.  Character is different. Largely self constructed a structure that goes up with labor over decades and has little to do with personality. Put it this way, personality you are born with, character you make yourself, it’s akin to the difference between beauty and style. Continue reading

The Long Hello

Perfume counters from caffeineandprayer.com

Perfume counters from caffeineandprayer.com

In 2014 the last year for which we have completed figures, there were 1620 perfume releases.  This was up by only ten from 2013 when there were 1610.  Also, be it noted that in 2014 the number of flanker perfume releases were rising at 275 up from 245 the year previously, and that the numbers of niche perfumes dropped significantly to 448 from 540  the year before. My figures come from Perfumer & Flavorist by the way.

It’s not an encouraging picture is it? The cheap and the mass market seems to be outnumbering anything that tries to attempt individuality and the likelihood is that most of what is produced is dreck. Chemicated, direly unambitious and headache inducing, the sort of stuff that gives perfume a bad name.

Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Mothers, Daughters, and Perfume

Mary_Cassatt_Young_Mother_Sewing Everyone has one of these stories, either concerning what you remember your Mother wearing, or else what your Mimaw wore, but either way, their choices influence yours.  It’s inevitable.  Some mothers never wear perfume, and their daughters react against the austerity; others had mothers who over-spritzed, and a lifetime of no scent can be the result.

However the nicest tradition perhaps, is the generational carry over of a perfume: the mother who always wore Joy, and so the daughter does as well, for instance.  It’s lovely, but seldom seems to happen.  People often want to distance themselves from what their mothers wore, more than they want to reprise them. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when remembering does take on some importance. Continue reading