Well, he’s done it again. My nice husband turns out to have an instinct for choosing wonderful perfume on my behalf and this time, he brought home a brand new scent from London for me: Penhaligon’s Blasted Bloom. What my husband had no way of knowing is that the nose behind Blasted Bloom is the legendary Alberto Morillas — who also created another perfume he brought me from his travels, which I love: Fragrance Friday: Custo Barcelona L’Eau. Morillas has also created several others I like, such as Estee Lauder’s Pleasures and Bvlgari’s Omnia Coral and Omnia Indian Garnet.
From Penhaligon’s website: “Illuminating the freshness of wild flora found along the dramatic British coast, Blasted Bloom captures a free-spirited landscape where the energy and majesty of the Sea meets the natural richness of the Land. The mineral purity of an aquatic accord meets the fruity sparkle of wild berries and the sensation of hand-crushed green leaves. Wild floral heart of eglantine rose and hawthorn is tinted with pink pepper. A whisper of Clearwood™ is enveloped in balmy cedarwood, on a smooth bed of moss and musks.”
Photo: Alberto Morillas in Great Britain; Penhaligon’s.
According to Caroline Simpson in The Glass Magazine, Mr. Morillas “was inspired by the poetry of the nation’s island landscape – in particular the wild coasts of Scotland – where the land meets the sea, to create these intriguing perfumes.” This is confirmed by Penhaligon’s own blog: Capturing the Free-Spirited Landscape.
Blasted Bloom opens with a light fruity note of wild berries (NOT citrusy at all) that is quickly followed by the stronger notes of green leaves and sea water, one of the aquatic accords for which Mr. Morillas is known. I smell cold ocean waves with a tinge of green seaweed, which I love. The mineral nature of this aquatic accord recalls the rocks and pebbly coastline of western Great Britain, whose sea is cold, fierce and harshly beautiful even in summer months. The top notes are joined by wild coastal roses, eglantines, their scent spiced with pink pepper as many roses are in nature. Hawthorn, another British plant, adds a woody, aromatic note that balances the sweetness of the roses; it is linked to ancient legends and traditions going back to the druids and faeries: Hawthorn Tree Lore.
The woodiness intensifies as Blasted Bloom dries down, with the emergence of cedarwood and the “Clearwood” note, which is supposed to be woody with undertones of creamy amber, but it is softened by moss and light musk. I haven’t smelled anything quite like it before, in a good way. The progression of notes in Blasted Bloom makes me imagine that one has landed ashore on a rocky coast and climbed a cliffside path where wild berries and roses grow in the sun. At the top of the cliff, the berries are gone but the pink eglantine roses scent the landscape in spite of their thorns. As one moves through a field of grain, away from the sea toward the woods, an ancient hedge of wild hawthorn and its small, creamy white flowers offer a bracing herbal tonic. At the edge of the wood, moss lies underfoot; something alive but unseen rustles among the branches of the hawthorn, leaving a faint musk. Of this world or not? The lady vanishes.
Penhaligon’s released a short film with Blasted Bloom and its more masculine partner, Blasted Heath, which you can see in Caroline Simpson’s article here: The Glass Magazine. The backstory of the film appears in Penhaligon’s blog: Penhaligon’s and Cereal Magazine. Although it was filmed on the coast of Wales, there are clear references in the scents and their inspiration to Scotland — a country we love and would like to visit a third time — including the poetic phrase from “the Scottish play.”
Although the film mostly concerns Blasted Heath, not Blasted Bloom, the two scents are meant to spring from the same rugged landscape. In Mr. Morillas’ own words: “Both fragrances are for me like paintings of nature. They depict wilderness and the preserved landscape of English seashores. I am a very visual person; I imagined the fragrances like spontaneous photography. I see a powerful wave breaking itself on the rocks for the masculine fragrance. For the feminine fragrance I was inspired by wild flora under the wind and sea breeze”: That Moment When the Land Meets the Sea. Interestingly, one of the short film’s opening shots shows a seacoast field of wild grain, battered by the wind of an approaching storm. It looks very much like one of the stills from the new film of “Macbeth”, filmed on Skye and featuring Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, cold and beautiful.
Photo: Harper’s Bazaar UK.
The blog Ca Fleure Bon says: “When I read the marketing copy and story behind M Morillas’ preparation for creating both Eau de Parfums, I imagine Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights wandering the moors, Rebecca’s Max de Winter long brooding walks by the sea, the dark secret of Manderly and Jane Eyre roaming the countryside lost and abandoned.” I’m not so sure about Jane Eyre. Maybe the heroine of Blasted Bloom is Lady Macbeth, before the events of “the Scottish play”, when sunlight still played upon the wild roses and sparkled on the sea, despite dark undercurrents and impending danger.
Featured image: Scott MacLeod’s Anthropology.