Given how much gardening is on my mind (and under my fingernails) these days, it seems fitting to write about one of 4160 Tuesday’s quirkier scents, Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor. Yes, it is named for the antagonist gardener in the Peter Rabbit stories, and also in homage to Jean-Claude Ellena’s Jardin series of scents for Hermes (all of which I own and enjoy). Perfumer Sarah McCartney writes that it was created during one of her perfume-making workshops, with a focus on the aroma molecule Hedione, which creates an impression of freshness and floralcy, with notes of jasmine and greenness. The goal was for the class to create the scent of a cottage garden in the Lake District.
For those who may not know, the famous author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books and many others, Beatrix Potter, played a key role in preserving thousands of acres in the Lake District, including leaving 4000 acres of countryside and 14 farms she owned to the National Trust. She was, of course, a marvelous illustrator, but she was also a gifted botanist, naturalist, gardener, and farmer, and the plants in her illustrations for her children’s books are botanically accurate down to the last details. They include many of the plants mentioned in the notes and materials list for Le Jardin de Monsieur McGregor.
The garden centers and grocery stores (the only places I go these days) are full of potted hyacinths, one of my favorite flowers and favorite scents. Yesterday, in anticipation of Easter next weekend, I bought two pots of forced hyacinth bulbs: one has flowers of a delicate, creamy pale yellow; the other’s flowers are a cheerful, slightly tacky, bright pink. So the scent of real hyacinths is wafting through my house — what better time to review a recently acquired decant of Tom Ford’s Ombre de Hyacinth?
I had wanted to try it for a while, but it is discontinued and not easy to find. Imagine my delight when I saw it listed on the website of a decant subscription service I was considering! Sign me up! And I did.
I recently obtained a mini of vintage Dioressence eau de toilette, in a blue-marbled box with a small, squarish splash bottle that resembles the vintage houndstooth bottles of other Dior fragrances from the 1980s. It is so well-suited to the current fickle weather we’re having in mid-February! I love all my spring floral fragrances but I don’t yet feel ready to pull them out again, other than an occasional spritz of Ostara to remind me that the daffodils are on their way. We’ve had weeks of cold and rain, though I’m thankful to have missed the deep freeze and unexpected snowstorms that hit other parts of the country this month. But Dioressence feels right today, as the sun shines brightly over a still-chilly landscape and my garden, where I have new raised beds that are full of soil but not yet planted.
The version I have dates from the 1980s, and it is a 1979 rework of the original, done by Max Gavarry, who worked with Guy Robert to create the original in the 1960s. I love the story of its origins, as told by Luca Turin to Chandler Burr and described in Burr’s book “The Emperor of Scent.” Apparently Guy Robert had been tasked with creating a new scent for Christian Dior that would launch with a new collection of Christian Dior ready-to-wear furs, and the brief was to create something very animalic but related to earlier Dior fragrances like Miss Dior while also contrasting with them. He was wrestling with this problem when he went to a broker’s office in London to assess some real ambergris for potential purchase. Turin’s recounting, via Burr:
I wrote almost two years ago about Stash Unspoken, the first flanker to 2016’s Stash SJP, by Sarah Jessica Parker, but I realized I hadn’t yet devoted a post to the original, so here it is! And I have a good reason for writing about it now, because Portia solved a problem I had been having — what to do with that bottle of “elixir oil” that came in the gift set? Undina had the same issue when she wrote about Stash back in 2017. In response to a comment somewhere, Portia suggested using a few drops of the oil in one’s bath. Eureka! I exclaimed, like Archimedes, that’s the answer!
I use bath oil more regularly now, because my skin has become so dry, especially in the winter when the house is heated. Most of the time, I use an unscented oil like Neutrogena’s sesame body oil; I just squirt some in the bath water. After Portia’s comment, I’ve added less than a dropperful of the Stash elixir oil, and it is wonderful — it scents the whole bathroom. Sillage is not a problem with this fragrance — it carries quite a way.
I have been eagerly awaiting the US launch of Zara’s collection of fragrances, Emotions, in collaboration with perfumer Jo Malone. I love some of her fragrances under her own brand, Jo Loves, so I was curious to see what she came up with for Zara, well-known as a destination for budget-conscious shoppers. Zara has released many, many fragrances under its own name, some created by famous perfumers, such as Vibrant Leather, created by Jerome Epinette. The Emotions collection launched in Europe in late 2019, but it took another year to become available in the USA. Luckily, it arrived in time for the holidays, and I treated myself and one of my daughters each to the sample/discovery set. It costs $25.90.
The discovery set is a nice size: eight long, narrow vials of eau de parfum, each holding 4 ml of a different fragrance. The collection consists of: Amalfi Sunray, Bohemian Bluebells, Ebony Wood, Fleur de Patchouli, Fleur d’Oranger, Tubereuse Noir, Vetiver Pamplemousse, Waterlily Tea Dress. The vials are “dabbers”, not sprays. Each fragrance lists only three notes, and I think they would be ideal for layering, with each other or with other fragrances. In fact, the Zara website sells “layering sets” with various combinations of the collection’s fragrances, with one scent in a 15 ml “paintbrush” format and two more in 10 ml sprays. The sets offer some ideas for layering which I plan to try with my discovery set.
I have long been a fan of Diane St. Clair’s fragrance creations, especially Gardener’s Glove but also First Cut.Frost is the third of that trio, her first releases which arrived in 2018. (For three very comprehensive reviews, you must read Kafkaesque’s detailed dissection of each). When I first read the name of that scent, I thought it would relate to frost, as in fall and winter temperatures, but instead, it refers to the poet Robert Frost, who wrote many of his most famous poems a short distance from Diane’s dairy farm in Vermont. Per her website:
“This scent follows the story of Frost’s poem, “To Earthward” which describes the transformation of youthful love, from “sweet like the petals of the rose” and “sprays of honeysuckle” to painful love, which stings like “bitter bark”, “burning clove” and “rough earth.”
Each of the gifts of the three Magi carried a special symbolic meaning – gold representing kingship, myrrh foreshadowing the death of Jesus (myrrh being commonly used as an embalming and purifying ointment in the final sendoff of a soul), and finally, frankincense for divinity. 171 more words
Since we truly enter the holiday season this week, with Thanksgiving to be followed swiftly by Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, today seems like as good a time as any to comment on Clinique’s Wrappings, which for many years was available only during the winter holidays at certain high-end stores. Nowadays you can buy it directly from the Clinique website (maybe they hide it after January?), although the copy describes it as “our once-a-year fragrance, here just for the holidays.” Regardless, Wrappings seems to have developed something of a cult status, although it is very reasonably priced, $47.00 for the gift set of a parfum spray and body lotion, and often marked down after Christmas (so don’t pay inflated prices on eBay).
Launched in 1990, Wrappings fits in well with a house whose most famous fragrance for many years was Aromatics Elixir. It is a gentler sibling, described on Fragrantica as a “floral aldehydic” fragrance. (I disagree with that characterization). Top notes are Green Notes, Aldehydes, Artemisia, Nutmeg Flower and Lavender; middle notes are Hyacinth, Orris Root, Cyclamen, Carnation, Rose and Jasmine; base notes are Oakmoss, Cedar, Sea Notes, Patchouli, Musk and Leather. Wrappings has a clean vibe to it that is well-suited to the decade of the 1990s, which embraced clean and aquatic fragrances. It is sold in parfum format, in a 25 ml bottle, often in a gift set with body lotion.
When I first spray it on my wrists, I smell a note that isn’t on the list above, something citrusy. It might be bergamot, because it isn’t sweet or fruity, and it blends in well with the green and herbal notes that also open this fragrance. I was relieved to read earlier reviews by Persolaise and MimiFrouFrou/The Scented Salamander, in which both commented on the citrusy note, confirming what my own nose was telling me! The reason I don’t agree with Fragrantica’s category is that when I read “floral aldehydic”, I think of scents like White Linen, or Chanel No. 22. And Wrappings is nothing like those. I can sense the aldehydes boosting the opening, giving it lift and sparkle, and a certain brisk chill, but they’re not as dominant as they are in, say, No. 22. The herbal notes are what linger throughout the opening stage, to my nose, especially the artemisia and lavender. Another commenter has called Wrappings a “feminine fougere”, and that sounds exactly right to me.
I barely smell any of the listed floral notes. If the flowers are there, they are not greenhouse-grown, luxuriously tended until they are gathered into bouquets for indoors. No, these are flowers of the Mediterranean growing wild in their natural habitats, wafting over grasses and herbs. And given how faint they are, and how well Wrappings suits late autumn, I would say that they are the last, brave blooms that show up sporadically throughout a sunny fall season, thriving in those cool nights and warm days until the first frost stops them in their tracks and sends them into dormancy.
Many commenters smell pine in Wrappings, but I don’t. I do smell a green woodiness in the middle stage; I don’t think it is the cedar, listed as a base note, it is probably the oakmoss, which continues through the drydown stage. There is an alluring mineral note in the drydown that I think comes from the “sea notes”. The musk that lingers longest at the end, with a hint of the oakmoss, is quite soft, and I don’t smell any patchouli or leather.
Wrappings lasts several hours on my skin, but it is quite faint after 7 hours or so. This seems to be a parfum concentration, per the label on the bottom of the bottle, so I don’t think it carries very far. The Scented Salamander’s review mentions that early advertising for Wrappings compared it to a chemise, slipped on over clean, bare skin, and I think that’s right. The current website says it “hugs skin in layers of warmth and brightness.”
Although I think “feminine fougere” is apt, this could certainly be worn by men. Have you tried Wrappings?
A short while ago, multiple media outlets reported that Swedish furnishings giant IKEA would launch a limited edition of scented candles in partnership with Swedish fragrance brand Byredo. Well, perfumistas, here in the USA, the eagles have landed! I went to my local IKEA today, and there they were, although the announcements said they would be available in November.
The series of candles is named, in classically inscrutable IKEA fashion, “Osynlig.” You can find them online by typing that precise name into the search box on the IKEA USA website, which also seems to be selling them now (i.e., before November). Apparently, the scents are designed by Byredo’s Ben Gorham so that all can be burnt alone or layered together, creating your own personal home fragrance. He is also quoted as saying “I really enjoyed the idea of being able to make interesting products accessible to as many people as possible,” in an interview with WWD. Ikea was “one of the few [with which] I could actually develop and manufacture a product of this quality, yet make it available at that type of price point.”
I only started using scented candles regularly a few years ago. These ones are really special; they come in beautiful ceramic pots with different colors that reflect some aspect of the scent. A few of the fragrances are available in small, medium, and large sizes. I haven’t yet tried lighting any of the ones I bought but they smell wonderful! Most immediately striking to me was “Tobacco and Honey”, which does indeed have a strong note of golden honey.
I am so pleased to have “scored” several of these! The ones that are currently available are: Tea Leaves & Verbena, Pomegranate & Amber, Basil & Mint, Fig & Cypress, Peach Blossom & Bamboo, Lilac & Amber, Rose & Raspberries, Cotton Flower & Apple Blossom, Sandalwood & Vanilla, and Tobacco & Honey.
There is one fragrance mentioned in the press, “Swedish Birch and Juniper”, that I did not see on the IKEA USA website or in the store, and it sounds like one I would like. Apparently the other three scents in the collection — Cassis & Freesia, Swedish Birch & Juniper, and Firewood & Spice — will be available in February 2021.
Have you seen or tried any of the “Osynlig” collection yet?
I’m a fan of Jeffrey Dame and his fragrances; they are well-crafted, high-quality, and reasonably priced. I love Duality and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. I really like Vanille Farfelue. The JD fragrances are created with perfumer Hugh Spencer, a longtime collaborator of Jeffrey Dame’s. The JD website lists Mimosa Mixte’s notes as mandarin, basil, bergamot, mimosa, violet, ylang ylang, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla and musk. Fragrantica classes it as a “floral woody musk”; a number of commenters refer to it as a “yellow floral”, and I agree with that, given the prominence of mimosa and ylang ylang.