Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

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.

When I first apply Mimosa Mixte, I smell a mix of green and yellow notes, which I believe are the basil, bergamot, and mimosa. I wouldn’t be able to pick out mandarin as a note, but there is a juiciness to the opening that I’m sure it has contributed. The basil note is subtle, but it’s definitely there, which I love. I wish basil appeared in more fragrances! The mimosa continues into the heart phase, while the greener notes fade away pretty quickly. It is joined by ylang ylang, and this is the truly “yellow” stage of Mimosa Mixte. The heliotrope is also noticeable, and it lends a powdery softness to the heart of the fragrance, which is also noticeably sweet. Not sugary, not gourmand, but a sweetness that is reminiscent of honey and nectar. Intriguingly, one can buy “mimosa honey” which is created when bees forage among mimosa trees. The next time I go to a local farmer’s market, I’ll have to see if I can buy some for comparisons.

The heart phase lasts a good while, at least a full hour, and the base notes tiptoe in almost imperceptibly, until one realizes that ylang ylang and heliotrope have made their quiet exit and the mimosa is now accompanied by a pleasantly vanilla-forward base. I don’t really smell sandalwood per se, but there is a pleasant woodiness to the base, softened by musk and vanilla. Longevity and sillage are good but not extraordinary. On the other hand, I’ve been dabbing a small oil sample on my wrist; longevity and sillage might be more extensive if I were spraying eau de parfum (the formulation in the larger bottles).

One commenter on Fragrantica compared Mimosa Mixte to Penhaligon’s Ostara, which is one of my top favorits (yes, I have back-up bottles). I can see why they might remind someone of each other, but I don’t think they are very much alike. What they have in common is their yellowness. But in Ostara, that is based on daffodils and reminds me of pollen, while in Mimosa Mixte, it is based on mimosa and ylang ylang, and it reminds me of nectar.

I like Mimosa Mixte very much! I don’t feel compelled to buy a full bottle to join its siblings in my collection, Duality, Vanille Farfelue, and Labdanum Doux. I would probably go for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla next ahead of this. But it’s very pleasant, a great value, and a fragrance that shows the creative intelligence behind it. If you’re inclined to support an independent American perfumer, any of these would be a good choice!

Do you have any fragrances by Jeffrey Dame? Any favorites?

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Vanille Farfelue

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Vanille Farfelue

Jeffrey Dame is well known to perfumistas, as the founder of Jeffrey Dame Perfumery and creator of indie classics like Dark Horse and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. He and perfumer Hugh Spencer have created a line of what he calls “post-modern perfumes”, one of which is a major favorite of mine (Duality). But today, I’m trying out another in the line: Vanille Farfelue. The name translates to “crazy vanilla”, as Mr. Dame explained:

“It’s hard to make a great vanilla perfume, but it’s so very easy to make a good vanilla scent. Basically, you can put on a dab of vanilla food extract from your kitchen pantry and someone is bound to tell you how wonderful you smell. So vanilla is easy then. Using aldehydic notes in perfumery is also so very easy, but using aldehydes well or in an interesting manner is exceedingly difficult. A decent slug of aldehydes blended with say a classic rose note will transport you immediately to….a fusty and dry old-fashioned perfume from eighty years ago which is somehow one-dimensional and overwhelming at the same time. Aldehydic perfumes are often nose-wrinklers. But in a perfume workbench eureka moment, using aldehydic notes as a lift to slice through a sticky vanilla note and seeing the composition elevate up into the air to a place perfume normally doesn’t go to — now that’s crazy, a crazy vanilla….JD VANILLE FARFELUE. Sprinkle a touch of this and that into this aldehydic vanilla blend and you have a short concise perfume formula from JD JEFFREY DAME which turns heads every which way you go.”

The opening of Vanille Farfelue is indeed strongly aldehydic, and I love it. One immediately smells the kinship to Chanel No. 5 and Chanel No. 22. The heart notes are all floral: rose, violet, lily of the valley, ylang ylang. Base notes include vanilla, sandalwood, and vetiver. This combination really is clever; Vanille Farfelue starts off like a vintage floral, albeit with a lighter touch, and evolves into something like a modern gourmand, without being sweet or cloying. It got an enthusiastic response from my husband, who is drawn to vanilla scents (as are so many people).

Real vanilla is a very complex compound, and in recent years, the cost of vanilla beans has skyrocketed, due to major storm damage in Madagascar, an important producer of vanilla. Chemists have known how to create synthetic vanillin since the 19th century, so we’re not in danger of losing our beloved vanilla. And believe it or not, there is actually an ice cream flavor called “Crazy Vanilla”!

Ice cream cone with crazy vanilla, Newport Creamery

Crazy Vanilla ice cream, from Newport Creamery

Vanille Farfelue is a delightful, happy fragrance. It is friendly and comforting, without being sticky or gooey. I like it very much, though I think my heart still belongs to JD’s Duality, of that line. There are so many outstanding fragrances with strong vanilla notes, like Shalimar and its flankers, that I can’t say Vanille Farfelue will displace any of those classics. But it is charming, it lasts a good while, and it does have that aldehydic opening and a floral surprise at its heart. I will enjoy wearing it!

Here is the recipe for the beautiful vanilla/citrus cake pictured above and below, from the blog My French Country Home.

Citrus cake with vanilla icing and flowers, by Molly Wilkinson

Molly Wilkinson’s Citrus Cake, My French Country Home

What is your favorite fragrance with vanilla notes?