The sample was, of course, Edwardian Bouquet. Originally launched in 1901 and re-orchestrated in 1984, this is a creation by Floris, a house that boasts being the oldest family owned perfumer. Feeling slightly guilty and at the same time perturbed, for what I am about to utter is indeed truthful but at the same time misleading, I have to start by saying that this is something of a little treasure you’d expect to find in the back of your grandmother’s closet. It smells like the conceptualized version of a grandmother’s vintage perfume – no, make that the conceptualized version of countless grandmothers’ vintage perfumes. It is in essence what the collective belief of a group of people’s notion of an old fragrance would smell like, if said belief could be distilled over and over again into the perfect sample. Granted, this is not your average, garden-variety grandma. She is glamorous. She used to take her fur stole with a side order of tasteful costume jewelry. She wore gloves.
Being powdery is something that has come to be expected of perfumes characterized as vintage or old smelling. Edwardian Bouquet is NOT powdery though, just old fashioned. And even that doesn’t manage to stop a dab of it from being beguilingly sexy on the right bare shoulders... It certainly makes an impact. It is however, ever so slightly soapy, making me think of that old practice of hiding a good, expensive bar of soap in a chest of drawers in order to keep the linen smelling fresh. It is a bitter-floral bouquet; satisfying, elegant. The bergamot springs instant and immediate recognition, but I find my nose slightly more troubled when looking for the jasmine and hyacinth. They lack the transparency, the reality if you will, they would have in a modern melange. They are intense, but highly perfumey... Not plastic, believe me, that is not what I mean at all, but conceptualized in perfume language in a way that makes them quite far removed from their natural setting. As it settles and warms on the skin, some of its original bitterness is lost. The galbanum, moss and amber combination give it a seductive depth that begs the nose to be buried deeper into the skin so as it might better discover the slight nuances of the hidden layers. When all is said and done, I have to say that the best part for me is that behind the subtly floral yet strong bouquet, there is the undoubted marking of something not quite right... Something almost dirty, something almost unwashed. And yes, this is what draws me to it, perversely.
Images courtesy of: www.sftravel.com, www.amazon.com and www.vintagetextile.com