Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Learning to Love Orange Part 1 - Eau de Fleurs d’Oranger du Roi by DSH : Perfume Review

When discussing the best notes to look for in our summer perfumes in June’s Perfume for the Occasion article, orange blossom stood proudly on the list, yet no fragrance making prominent use of its sultry aroma was featured. It’s not easy for me to love orange blossom fragrances – my standards are very high. I grew up you see, in a house overlooking an amazing garden. A garden not as magnificent as the dream-like paradise that was my maternal grandmother’s playground, but still, a sight to behold. A fence covered in ferociously productive lilac bordered the left side; There was a grapevine pergola that come September was always heavy with fruit and a mulberry tree that would stain the white marble tiles mauve; Dahlias, violets, peonies, and an extravaganza of different rose varieties drenched the eyes with saturated color; Pansies were planted each year. But most salient in my memory, are the orange and lemon trees growing right under our balcony. When our beautiful trees would blossom like innocent brides, the world would become a truly magical place, for their scent was so utterly beautiful as to seem unreal. (I’ll also share a little secret with you: the lemon tree always won... Nothing could surpass the beauty of its blossoms’ fragrance) So I guess you could say that I’ve been spoiled by these fragrant memories; no bottled essence has ever managed to approximate the delirious beauty of the real thing. Worse yet, most fragrances that put the focus on orange blossom tend to leave me at best indifferent, like Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom that to me smells more like tuberose anyway, or at worse nauseous, like the well-loved Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens, which to me smells plastic. Oh, I’ve no doubt that it is a masterpiece – so many devoted fans the world over can’t be that wrong after all. But to me, even that fact just compounded my disappointment and strengthened my belief that I’d never find one to make mine. Some months ago however, a change occurred: I actually found an orange blossom fragrance I loved and from then on, seemingly like through a change of karma, more followed. That very first one, discovered on a night still too cool for it to bloom properly, was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Eau de Fleurs d’Oranger du Roi, a perfume belonging to the incredibly thoughtful “Perfumed Court Collection”.

From the Perfumer’s website:

On the Collection Itself:
“A collection of ten historical perfumes designed especially for DSH's "eau de toilette" lecture given at the Denver Art Museum (to coincide with their exhibit ARTISANS and KINGS: Selections from the Louvre). Based on months of research and development, this collection of perfumes has been created to illustrate 17th and 18th Century styles of fragrance with some re-creations of perfumes that would have been worn by the luminaries of Versailles at the Courts of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI.”

On the Fragrance Itself:
Eau de Fleurs d'Oranger du Roi (The Perfumed Court) "Orange blossom water of the King". Orange blossom was one of the most sought after essences of the 18th Century and in the Court of Louis XV (called "Le Cour Parfumée - The Perfumed Court) it was the epitomy of grace and lightness. Eau de Fleurs d'Oranger was synonymous with Louis XV, so much so that it was renamed "Eau de Fleurs d'Oranger du Roi", posthumously.*

The tenderly rendered nuances of Eau de Fleurs d’Oranger follow a quiet, light and flowing development, going from one stage to the next without once urgently nudging the nose to take note. The result is, in a word, cohesive. The opening is citrusy fresh and cooling, revitalizing the senses with the traditional smell of lemony cologne. Slowly, the lovely scent of cologne bigarade emerges, courtesy of the bitter orange. And just when you think that this is so brisk it can never veer too far away from the realm of traditional cologne, the intensity starts to fade, making room for the exquisite, slightly green aroma of neroli bathed in orange blossom. As time goes by, the fragrance changes again, slowly flooding me with memories of a sun-flooded Greek kitchen, where deserts and syrups are being prepared, as it fully blossoms into the characteristic smell of “anthonero”, the orange blossom water so commonly used by my mother during my youth. Its scent is light and airy, a pastel watercolor image of orange blossom with a heart of bitter almond essence. This tiny nutty heart is met expertly by the slightly nutty, gently woody citrus smell of petitgrain at the base, and lifted by ambergris.

Although this gorgeous perfume that managed the Herculean task of kindling my affection for orange blossom fragrances doesn’t last awfully long on my skin unless I apply liberally, it lasts for days on end on fabric and I have taken to spraying everything, from gauzy scarves to the lined interiors of my bags because its scent is simply swoon-worthy. So far nothing has stained.

* From the book "A Scented Palace"
Images: Flickr originally uploaded by Md. Ziaul Hoque and

Monday, July 28, 2008

Soul, Luv, Truth by Sharon Bolton : Perfume Reviews

I am back from my holiday and so I find you all again here on Fragrance Bouquet with replenished energy levels, newly charged batteries, big smiles and a miniscule tan, slowly built under protective layers of La Roche-Posay 50+ sunscreen. It will no doubt fade in a couple of weeks, unlike my good spirits which I plan to carefully nurture throughout the rest of the summer. Yes, my holiday might be over, but summer most certainly isn’t! We are only just on the brink of August and I am mentally willing the weather to keep being as good as it has been throughout this weekend. Trying on jeans in the ill-prepared for hot weather stores of Amsterdam (read: no airco) yesterday might have seemed like a short visit to hell, but a sparkling tipple enjoyed with friends on a terrace later in the evening was like rediscovering paradise. And that’s what it’s really all about, right? Extending the summer holiday spirit even when you’re back in the city, living it, breathing it. I promise to remind myself how lucky I am every single day I can still wear my sandals and freely wiggle my toes as I gleefully catch sunbeams on my hair and skin. To remind myself how wonderful it is to be able to wear tiny little shifts and no jacket while I still can. To make myself go to beach parties even when I’m tired, perhaps to even brave the murky, chilly, choppy North Sea for a swim, for I want to stretch this summer as far as possible!

As I have mentioned before here on Fragrance Bouquet, there’s nothing –bar good weather itself of course- that truly makes me experience the joys of summer like a good, sultry, hot-weather scent can. I shall definitely need the help of great summery scents in my quest to ensure that I can keep on riding this beautiful summery wave I have brought with me from my holiday, and Sharon Bolton’s gorgeous scents are the perfect ticket to tropical bliss! The niche Santa Barbara based perfume line seems to specialize in distilling and bottling the essence of happy holiday vibes and high spirits. Every single one of the three scents on offer is a beautiful travelogue of sandy beaches, palm trees, sarongs, flowers and fruit orchards bathed in pure sunlight.

Soul: Edible, succulent, addictive and a host of other delicious-sounding adjectives is the only way to describe Soul. If soul was a moment in time, it would be the very instant you strip of your gauzy caftan in front of your sun-lounger, under the forest of grass-top umbrellas on a beautiful beach, gleefully getting ready to jump in the turquoise waters. It is the scent that permeates the air: suntan oils and Piña Colladas. It opens with a very realistic note of freshly cut juicy pineapple and the luscious, lightly sweet and rather peachy aroma of papaya fruit resting on creamy coconut. As time goes by, the intensity of the fruit slightly recedes and the loveliness of the coconut comes more to the fore, blending with the smell of cool clean musk. Intensely tropical and absolutely delicious, this is one summer fruit that’s going to keep me company till late September, always transporting me back to a sandy beach.

Luv: An absolutely beautiful floral bouquet that feels wild as though it was handpicked, rather than arranged by a florist. It contains the beauty of a rainforest, despite the fact that its blooms are unmistakably cultivated. Gardenias and lilies wrapped in luscious, juicy saplings and vines, gorgeously combining creamy sweetness with nectar and slightly sour elements that make the lips pucker like sparkling summer wine. Delicious! The drydown in turn, takes us from high-pitched joyous song and splashes of bright color on silk to something smooth and dry, the equivalent of a little black dress: versatile as well as sexy and demure at the same time. This is the perfect scent to bring out in the beginning of spring in order to rejoice the end of winter and one to keep wearing until late October, stretching those all important feel-good moments with the perfect companion.

Truth: I never thought it possible, but I am actually on a citrus kick lately (more on that later!), so Sharon Bolton’s Truth couldn’t have come at a better moment. Truth’s opening is intensely fresh, a soapy citrus whose perfect moment in time is that precious hour of rest when you step out of the shower and lie down on a shady, crisply made bed deliciously exhausted from the sun and sea. Neither ravenous hunger pangs nor the buzz from outside can rouse you yet, for all that matters is resting the body, if only for a little bit. There, engulfed in coolness, a tangle of wet hair and beautiful just-out-of-the-shower smell, and the sound of the crushing waves still in your ears, a moment of pure bliss. That’s Truth in a nutshell. Sea-breeze, foam, lemon, lime and orange shavings, a lone ray of sunlight passing through the shade and a feeling of calm, bottled in a tiny container. Truth, like all of Sharon’s scents is a memory captured. I could let it pierce my heart like a melancholy arrow for I wish the moment would have lasted for ever and ever into infinity, or I could be glad I get to take a scented manifestation of the moment home with me, like seashells gathered, carefully cleaned, their colors coming to life with a coat of varnish. I choose to do the latter.

The Sharon Bolton scents are long-lasting perfume oils that come in 1/8 oz. roller ball bottles, making them perfect not only for keeping in our purses, but also for traveling, even in these high-security times. The packaging is 100% recyclable and the presentation truly delightful! Samples can be purchased from the official website for 2$ per sample.

I am planning to write about a few more summery scents as we enter August, paying special attention to coconut and orange scents. Do you still have your summer holiday to look forward to, or are you like me, back already? Most importantly, have you made any new discoveries this summer?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet Summer Favorites

I've been in Greece for about a week now, enjoying the sunny weather, meeting up with old friends and family, attending my high school reunion and catching up with classmates I hadn't seen for years, all the while eagerly anticipating the day that I will be flying to the Cyclades, a beautiful group of Aegean islands, known for their whitewashed walls and deep blue domes. That day is drawing near – I will be leaving for these dry, yet utterly and captivatingly beautiful isles this Friday- so today I have been prepping for my getaway. My day started with a mani-pedi combo (YAWN!), and since then I have been buffed, scrubbed, waxed, fussed over and generally tormented by various white robed specialists in order to become as cosmopolitan-party-island ready as Mykonos demands. The horrors of this day's poking, prodding and mind-numbing boredom behind, I am ready to indulge in some more island daydreaming together with you! Without further ado, here's a list of my summer essentials for this year, complete with photos. (I lie, my summer essentials this and every other year are 30+ UVA/UVB sunscreen, passport and plane tickets, but this is more fun).

Guilty as charged: summer makes me predictable. It's not enough that I crave coconut in my perfumes the moment I step out of the airplane, I also find myself desiring the perfunctory marine inspired wardrobe pieces as well. This nautical-chic top by Celyn B is my favorite and I love combining it with white shorts.

Speaking of shorts, my favorite pair this summer is this one, by Killah. I love the little charm decorated chain it comes with. As you see, the marine inspired theme continues. I'd try to look innocent, but that wouldn't fool anyone, would it?

I love simple, ropey belts in the summer!

Just when you thought I couldn't possibly have packed anything else that's even remotely marine in my suitcase, I've come up with this necklace for the kill. I fell in love with this piratey necklace by Les Nereides the moment I saw it. It consists of multiple long chains, others long and oxidized, others shiny and gold. The charms are absolutely fabulous: a golden cutlass sword, keys, coins, skulls and coral. I couldn't resist buying the matching earrings, which feature pretty little grey pearls as well. Jewelry is supposed to finish off an outfit, but I love this set so much I find myself planning my outfit around it...

Lauder's Azurée Soleil plainly makes me happy. I prefer the oil, which gives my body a lovely, subtle shimmer. It comes everywhere with me! If you love it as much as I do but you're out of juice, go for Bronze Goddess instead.

A pair of walking shoes in which to explore the tiny cobblestone alleys of a Greek island is a necessity and these ones by Superga keep me sweet with their cute and juicy color. They're pretty enough to wear in the evening as well – a good thing since I refuse to wear heels when I know I will be dancing till daybreak. Sometimes a girl simply has to slip into something sexier however, and these Pura Lopez wedges are just the ticket for me!

Gone are the days when I used to go either all black or all white in the bikini department. The last few years it's been all about color for me! Big, soft and most importantly bright towels are a must for the beach as well. These ones are from Benetton.

Lastly, it wouldn't really be summer for me without a few good books to sink my teeth into. The one I am most looking forward to reading, is “A Dangerous Liaison” by Carole Seymour-Jones. A dual biography of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, it is perhaps not the lightest of beach reads, but I find not only their writings but also their lives riveting, so this has been my favorite book purchase this summer.