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 was 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

The Goutals for Better and Worse

agAnnick Goutal’s house has been a gateway for many people who have since become perfume lovers, a lovely retro-rococo gateway,  delicately wrought iron wreathed in ivy, but a gateway just the same.

It was, along with L’Artisan Parfumeur, one of the very first niche houses, and I remember articles about Goutal in Connoisseur Magazine back in the day, that particular day belonging to the 1980s.  Such perfumes as Heure Exquise are now thirty three years old, and have achieved the status of classics.

Still, if you came to the line anytime in the last ten years, you might be forgiven for thinking the eponymous Goutal was Camille, and that the perfumer had always been Isabelle Doyen.  In fact, Camille is Goutal’s daughter and Ms. Doyen the perfumer she has preferred to work with, the creator of Duel and Madragore, among other Goutal hits. The house is changing once again, bought by Korean group Amore Pacific.  You can spot this in the newer packaging, and the changed line up.  It remains to be seen whether this is good or bad news for fans. Continue reading

Pricey Niche

peacockThere’s a very odd thing going on out there in the world of perfume: niche fragrance prices are rising.  This year the cost of a 50ml. bottle is well over a hundred dollars US.  In fact, and in the interest of consumers, it’s worth pointing out that this hike comes at a time when many commodity prices are falling, natural gas, metals, pork, corn, etc, and when inflation in the US is running at or below 1.7% (the Federal Reserve’s target is 2%).  So, why are perfume prices up so much?  Is it demand, is it production costs, is it the dollar/euro exchange rate*, is it something that someone outside of the business can’t calculate, or are we…just being suckered for the sake of fashion? Continue reading

The Drill Sergeant Perfume

Among the many tasks I have passed off to perfume in the recent decades, one is undeniably odd: the reinforcer of sagging will power.

It does sound peculiar and admittedly most people probably don’t associate perfume with effort but consider, where did all those sports fragrances come from a few years ago?  There were all sorts of scents named sport this or active that, presumably meant to be worn at the gym. None of them could have been hymns to couch potatoes.  These were things that helped you pick up chicks at the spa or the beach, or the weight room without making her respond to you as a lady allegedly did to Dr. Johnson (or Ben Jonson, or Winston Churchill or Albert Einstein – good anecdotes tend to get passed around). The great man was judged malodorous by the woman who complained to him that he smelled.

“No, Madam,” went the reply.  “You smell, and I stink.”

Presumably if Dr. Johnson had only worn Habit Rouge Sport, this alleged conversation would never have taken place.

Continue reading