Trumpeting Florals: Lilies

Bouquet from The metropolitan Museum of Art

Bouquet from The metropolitan Museum of Art

Big honking lilies and not those tiny little lilies of the valley, that’s what I’m referencing.  They’re not shy and they’re really not understated either, but the big lily’s smell can be beautiful.

They can also be great big honking hits with the public. Consider that billboard sized lily Cacharel’s, Anais-Anais.  Cacharel let Anais-Anais loose on unsuspecting mortals in 1978 and the beginning was a  heavenly whirlwind of florals: White Madonna Lily, black currant, hyacinth, lily of the valley, then a midsection crammed with even more flowers and woods.  Everything was stuffed inside Anais -Anais’s delicate skin, jasmine, Grasse rose, iris, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, vetiver cedarwood, oakmoss, patchouli, finally an almost apologetic ending trailing behind this monumental arrangement, a few leather streamers and a tiny bit of musk as though Anais had stepped out of one fragile leather slipper and left it behind. Continue reading

Realistic Lilies

Casablanca Lilies photo my own

Casablanca Lilies
photo my own

When they fester, they may smell far worse than weeds, but lilies, especially the great big oriental and trumpet lilies of July and August, are still among some of my favorite garden flowers. They’re favorites with many people. There was a time in the nineties when no chic New York interior was complete without an extravagant display of pure white oriental lilies nearly toppling out of a vase. So far though I don’t wear any lily (meaning these big lilies, not pee-wee lilies of the valley) scent successfully- that is, up to now. Continue reading

Vanilla in the Heat

vanilla ice creamVanilla almost seems made for the woolens of fall and winter, a comforting and almost a warming scent. But vanilla can also have cold aspects or allude to boardwalk in a heat friendly way, one that I’ve learned to take advantage of with both recent and vintage scents. Continue reading

Alluring Ellenas: Ambre Narguile, Rose Ikebana, and Vanille Galante

hippieJean Claude Ellena is a man who knows how to play with the public’s expectations.  He must have realized that most people who think of Hermes were going to associate any limited availability perfume line of theirs with insane levels of luxury.   Maintaining this luxury is a pretty difficult assignment since Hermes is a global brand that, at least in theory, should sell as well in Beijing as in Paris, and the expectations of consumers in those parts of the world differ.

Hermes must have brought Ellena on because his work is subtle and minimalist, but not really as lifeless as those two adjectives might lead you to expect.  I had not smelled most of the Hermessences and some of them, such as Paprika Brazil, I can barely smell at all.  Others, though, have a robust presence that makes you sit up and take notice.  Continue reading

Duking it Out – Vetiver Tonka

EakinsBoxersYou don’t associate Jean Claude Ellena’s perfumes with pugnacity.  At his most communicative Ellena, who is now working with Christine Nagel,  explains a good deal about his scents – but Vetiver Tonka doesn’t require much back story. The perfume is a solid one that stands on a heavy molecular base and offers no apologies for itself. It’s tough, and pulls no punches.

I bumbled into it at Hermes the other day, while debating whether or not to give Vanille Galante another try.  I had barely smelled VG the first time around, and my hopes for smelling it a second time were not high.  So I went with the vetiver instead, and I was in for a surprise. Continue reading