Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Edwardian Bouquet by Floris : Perfume Review

I cannot resist spending a lot of time shopping when visiting Thessaloniki. Well alright, I'll admit, I cannot resist shopping - period, but the habit tends to become exacerbated while traveling. You see, much as I adore our beloved capital, Amsterdam, it can at times be characterized as fashion starved. Thessaloniki thus, can be awarded the distinction of being fashion forward, if only by comparison. (har-har...) No, truly, you’d feel the same way too, if you lived in a country where once you walked into one of the few places carrying designer goods you’d be lucky to find a Marc Jacobs shoe from a two-year-old collection. NOT on the sales rack mind, full price. That’s right, the trash on the sales rack is pure comedy gold. But still not as funny as the old stuff being passed off as new at full price in the rest of the shop. Aherm... As I was saying, Thessaloniki is a good place to shop, let’s leave it at that for now. While browsing a magazine on one of the first days of my vacation I happened upon pictures of a Julien Macdonald fashion show that took place in one of the city’s hotels recently. In one of them, Julien was smiling bright together with Anna Kapsali, the wonderfully eccentric, hat-addicted and very, very talented stylist who as it turns out, also owns Style Fax, a relatively new shop in town. Fast-forward to the next day and I am the proud owner of a whimsical new skirt, which Anna, with her sensual, raspy voice, is giving me tips on what to wear it with. But that’s not all. It was not just clothes, beautiful bags and strange hats that I found at Style Fax. A collection of Floris perfumes was on display in an alcove near the register. I requested a sample of the one that impressed me most and left with it along with my new skirt. I am now of course mentally kicking myself for not buying a full bottle, but I am already planning a weekend getaway sometime in October, so I’ll just have to look forward to it.

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


Linda said...

Edwardian Bouquet is a fragrance I have walked past many times with scarcely a second glance, but now I'm going to try it. I think I am quite a old fashioned person as the fragances with something "dirty" about them really appeal to me. And yes, I too keep a bar of soap in my lingerie drawer for a light perfume. Honestly, though, I'm not old!! Lovely to read a new review, Divina. Best,

Anonymous said...


It is possible that it's sold at Lianne Tio Parfums in Rotterdam. I'm not sure but they carry Floris.

Ciao, Frederik

edwardian said...

Thanks, Divina, for the wonderful review of one of my all time favourite fragrances (and the one i owe my web name to). Yes, it smells vintage, but in such a wonderfully unexpected way (no powder, as you point out) that it almost feels avant garde. And yes, it smells dirty and soapy at the same time. I'm a man, by the way, and i'm 38, but i have no problem wearing Edwardian Bouquet, maybe not at work or by day but most certainly at dinner parties or in the evening.I think its bitter notes, subdued flowers and savage undertone would feel perfectly at at home in a male marketed perfume.
You must agree with me that this one, along with Bandit and a few others, doesn't smell very ladylike. Floris is an old, traditional, perfume house, but I still haven't found anything from the hippest niche houses that could compare to this fierce, old beast.

helg said...

Welcome back and enjoy the new skirt!

Floris has hits and msses and this one sounds interesting. thanks for reviewing it!

Divina said...

Dear Linda, your reply made me smile as always :) I think you might like Edwardian Bouquet. I'd love to hear what you make of it when you try it.

Divina said...

Hi Frederik,

I go to Lianne Tio every now and then to get my paws on things I cannot get in Amsterdam or Den Haag..Like SMN, Parfum d'Empire etc.. Somehow though I seem to have failed to notice she also carries Floris. Then again it has been quite a while since I've visited, so perhaps it wasn't there already last time I went. Whatever the case might be, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! I think I know what I'll be doing Saturday morning!

Divina said...

Dear Edwardian, it was so nice to read your comment. It felt like we experience this fragrance in such a similar way that I couldn't help but feel really good while reading your words. Yes, Edwardian Bouquet is a fragrance full of contradictions. Just the way I like it!

Divina said...

Dearest Helg, so good to see you again! I have to agree with you about the 'hits and misses'. I would be lying if I said that I liked everything I smelled from the range. A couple I even found positively dislikable I'm afraid. But: they were all interesting, which is something I definitely appreciate. Do sniff EB if you get the chance, I think it is very good.

Noteworthy Fragrances said...

I love all the Floris of London fragrances. The Edwardian Bouquet is complext, spicy, floral to an extreme, but have you noticed how quickly it dries down to that glamorous slighty bitter/powdery floral sigh with a final kick of spice thrown in that is very suitable for unisex scent. Laying this with White Rose is even more sensuous. Flors of London loves to send out a heatly dose of samples, just for the asking!! It's one of my favorite companies to work with.