Scented Advent, December 5

Scented Advent, December 5

Mona di Orio’s Bohea Bohème is today’s Advent calendar scent. As soon as I dabbed it on my wrist, I thought, “Mmm, incense?”. It’s not really an incense scent, but it has many of the facets that make up a good incense, such as resins, fragrant woods, spices. It is built around a tea accord that evokes Bohea oolong tea from China, which is smoked with pinewood; a few floral notes are added (iris, osmanthus, geranium). The complete notes list on Fragrantica is: bergamot, cardamom, Florentine iris, chamomile, balsam fir, boxwood, geranium, black tea, juniper, smoke, oak, sandalwood, beeswax, bay leaf, benzoin, vanilla absolute, poplar buds.

That last one is unfamiliar to me; it is said to bring “a peculiar balsamic green and bitter-sweet scent” to a fragrance. It turns out, though, that I’ve encountered it before, in Tom Ford’s Vert des Bois, which was one of his quartet of green fragrances launched in 2016. Bohea Bohème was also launched in 2016, but was created by a different perfumer, Fredrik Dalman, while the perfumer who created Vert des Bois is Olivier Gillotin. Cafleurebon’s interview with Fredrik, linked above, is well worth reading; he is Swedish, though traditionally trained in France, and he prizes the scent of cardamom, a common ingredient in spiced Swedish recipes (I myself make an excellent Glögg, a Swedish mulled wine, with cardamom, using a recipe that was handed down through the family of a Scandinavian friend). The interview also includes his hilarious story of dressing up as Santa for the flagship store of L’Artisan Parfumeur, the company where he was apprenticed to master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. He went back upstairs to the lab on his break to continue working on a formula before returning to Santa duties, and was found there by his startled mentor.

Perfumer Fredrik Dalman dressed as Santa, at his perfume organ
Fredrik Dalman as Santa; image from cafleurebon.com.

I am loving Bohea Bohème! It is masterfully blended, so that the floral notes emerge slowly as the spicier opening fades. The notes list on the brand website is shorter than the one on Fragrantica: Black tea oil, Florentine Iris, Blue Chamomile, Poplar Bud Absolute, Fir Balsam Fraction, Smoked Juniper, Oakwood absolute, Beeswax Absolute. I love spices in fragrance, but there are some I can only take in very limited quantities (cinnamon and cloves, I’m looking at you!). Bohea Bohème is perfectly spiced, and it feels to me like a perfect holiday fragrance, with its combination of cardamom, balsam, scented wood, and a smoke as gentle as candlelight. Truly, as the website says, it is a “luxurious woody fragrance with a balsamic vibrato, unconventional and seductive.”

Do you have any favorites from Mona di Orio? Also, don’t forget to join me and my collaborators tomorrow for “Scent Semantics“! We have a particularly nice holiday word and reflections for you.

Bottle of Bohea Boheme perfume from Mona di Orio
Bohea Bohème, by Mona di Orio; image from monadiorio.com.

Perfume Chat Room, December 25

Perfume Chat Room, December 25

Merry Christmas, and welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, December 25, and it is Christmas Day! Happy Christmas to all who celebrate it! This year, it is a strange holiday, with church services online, many fewer gatherings, less Christmas shopping, etc. Not to mention the ongoing distractions here in the US from our crazy-making election year, which seems never to end. But, as “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” reminds us, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. ‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.’” And so it does.

At Christmas 2020, my family is so thankful for our many blessings. As some of you readers know, I occasionally do a post on “What Went Well” which is a mindfulness and gratitude exercise also called “Three Blessings.” The idea is that one lists a number of things that went well, or turned out to be blessings, in a given period of time. So here are some of mine, for 2020:

  • Good health for all of us, despite one daughter having had COVID 19 this fall (thankfully, she recovered quickly);
  • An effective COVID 19 vaccine, which was given this week to my beloved father-in-law (our sole remaining parent/grandparent) at his assisted living facility;
  • Continued employment for 3 out of the 4 working adults in our family, and an upcoming callback interview for the 4th in the New Year;
  • A roof over our heads in a home we love, in spite of unexpected plumbing repairs and gaping holes in plaster ceilings beneath dismantled bathrooms (!);
  • The ability to afford the repairs;
  • Our loving family that has been able to live together amicably, back together under said roof, during this pandemic;
  • The opportunity and ability to give gifts to each other and to various charities in these troubled times.

What about you, what are the blessings that come to your mind? Or what went well for you recently? And of course, since I mostly write here about fragrance, what fragrance are you wearing for the holidays? I’m currently in Bond No. 9’s I Love New York For Holidays. I expect to try out some of Jo Malone’s Christmas Cologne Sampler later today!