Have You Read Any Good Perfumes Lately?

Bookshelf from nextimpact.com

Bookshelf from nextimpact.com

Perfumers don’t compose perfumes, instead they “write” them.  It’s an interesting choice of verb.  If you are one of those people who regard perfume as rather like cooking, then this idea will probably not appeal to you, but it is part of the industry, especially in France where fairly or unfairly, the metaphor for “cooking” in perfumery also exists but in a pejorative sense.  A chemical brew is known as a “soup” and these comprise the majority of releases on the  mass market.  Something may be cooking or stewing at the big oil production houses , but  isn’t being conceptualized, most product has no discernible plot beyond, “Make the sale!”

However perfumers themselves who are concerned with more than the fiendish difficulties of scenting detergent or soap, have a little more leeway, and for them the idea of ideas becomes feasible, even defensible. You get Frederic Malle’s “Editions” de Parfums, for all the world like Hachette or Gallimard. Continue reading

Borghesia

The gardens of the Villa Borghese in Rome used to be full of magnolias.  Huge old things that towered above the walkways with the distinctive oversized leaves a shining malachite on the topside and a fuzzy felted brown on every underside.  The attraction though really was the flowers.

If you live in the US South you know these plants very well.  They’re either the old Bull Bays (Magnolia Grandiflora) that grow to be 90 feet at maturity, or else the smaller  Sweet Bay (Magnolia Virginiana).  We collect the leaves to make door wreaths, often ornamented with the brown seed heads hiding scarlet seeds inside.  They’re naturally elegant. Continue reading