Scent Semantics, April 4, 2022

Scent Semantics, April 4, 2022

Welcome to this next installment of Scent Semantics! This month’s word, supplied by yours truly, is “vernal”, which means “in, of, or appropriate to spring.” Happy April!

As regular readers know, I love to garden and grow flowers, so spring is a marvelous season for me. I also love Easter, and my husband and I were married many Aprils ago, so I have plenty of happy associations with it. For my “vernal” fragrance post, I have chosen Jo Loves’ No. 42 The Flower Shop.

What a happy fragrance it is! At first spray, it positively bursts with zingy green notes, behind which lurks a fruity sweetness and light spring florals. Those would be the top notes of green leaves, mandarin orange, and peony. As it develops, the floral notes get stronger and take center stage: lily-of-the-valley, freesia, narcissus, and jasmine. It really does smell like an actual florist’s shop, with the afore-mentioned flowers waiting in buckets of water to be chosen and gathered into bouquets. If I did as some perfumistas do, and put my fragrance into a refrigerator to chill, No. 42 The Flower Shop would smell even more exactly like the walk-in fridges professional florists fill with their wares.

I especially enjoy the combination of green leaves and lily-of-the valley (muguet), one of my favorite flowers (the other two being daffodils and roses). The green notes and citrus accord balance the muguet beautifully. Most of the time when I wear No. 42, it is muguet that dominates, but sometimes the freesia comes forward more strongly. The name, No. 42 The Flower Shop, refers to the actual flower shop on Elizabeth Street where the young Jo Malone worked as a teenager:

“As a sixteen-year-old, I worked as a florist in Elizabeth Street and loved the moment when early each morning the scent of fresh flowers filled the room. This fragrance celebrates that magical memory.”

Jo Loves’ London boutique is actually located at No. 42 Elizabeth Street, and I have visited it, which I highly recommend. Elizabeth Street itself is absolutely charming, with many lovely shops and flowers bursting out everywhere (especially during the Chelsea Flower Show, when the stores compete to display the most lavish floral decorations). The Jo Loves boutique is a peaceful haven of white with touches of the same bright red that graces its packaging.

The photo below shows its Chelsea Flower Show decorations in 2019, when I last visited.

Storefront of Jo Loves fragrance boutique, decorated with roses.
Jo Loves boutique, Elizabeth Street, London, May 2019.
Jo Loves fragrance boutique at 42 Elizabeth Street, London.
Jo Loves boutique

As the fragrance No. 42 dries down, it becomes slightly warmer and softer, but the green notes persist throughout, and one of the base notes is iris, which I usually think of as a “cool” scent. The other base notes are white musk, moss, and patchouli. I can barely smell the patchouli, which is fine; I think it adds a suitable earthiness to the drydown of No. 42, but I prefer that it not dominate a fragrance.

This is the perfect month for wearing it, because my own garden is positively bursting with flowers! In bloom right now: lilies of the valley; pink camellias; weeping peach trees; a weeping cherry tree; purple redbuds; white dogwoods; Lenten roses (hellebores) of all hues of white, pink, and purple; daffodils; evergreen clematis; forsythia; Lady Banks rose; pansies; rosemary; spring starflowers; summer snowflakes; wild trilliums; and above all else, pink azaleas. We have dozens of them, planted over decades by longtime former owners who were also enthusiastic gardeners. Soon to come: iris, dwarf lilacs, David Austin roses, white foxgloves, daisies, white phlox, magnolias. Later in the summer, we will enjoy crape myrtles and hydrangeas, and, one hopes, vegetables and herbs from my raised beds. Lest it sound as if we have acres of gardens, I should note that several of these plants grow in pots and other containers; our lot is one third of an acre and it also holds a house!

Le Jardin de Old Herbaceous

What do you think of when you read the word “vernal”? Many people are most familiar with the word when it is used in conjunction with the spring, or vernal, equinox. The equinox is one of two moments in the year when the sun is exactly above the equator, and day and night are of equal length. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it takes place in March and marks the start of astronomical spring. For others like Portia, in the Southern Hemisphere, the March equinox marks the start of autumn and is the opposite of “vernal.”

Now that I’ve turned ourselves thoroughly topsy-turvy, please make sure to read the other Scent Semantics bloggers’ thoughts on “vernal.” The link to all of them is in the caption below! And do share your own thoughts in the comments, here and on their blogs.

Scent Semantics blog list
The Scent Semantics bloggers

May Melange Marathon: Bohemian Bluebells

May Melange Marathon: Bohemian Bluebells

I promise I won’t spend the whole month of May dissecting Zara Emotions fragrances, but here’s another one: Bohemian Bluebells. I like it very much and it’s certainly affordable! Also truly unisex, I think it would smell wonderful on a man as well as a woman. Its listed notes are lavender, sandalwood, and musk (nothing to do with bluebells). If you can imagine a warm lavender, that’s what it smells like to me. I do tend to associate lavender with bedtime, given its soothing properties, but I don’t usually associate it with warmth in spite of its cultivation in hot, sunny climates like Provence (there are also famous lavender fields in England and other parts of the UK). Sometimes I crave Jicky eau de toilette at bedtime, if I’m going to sit up and read for a while, but Jicky feels cool to me somehow, like the clean sheets that have been newly put on a bed, with their crisp, unwrinkled surfaces.

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May Melange Marathon: Layering Zara Emotions

May Melange Marathon: Layering Zara Emotions

Today’s fragrance is a true “melange”, from the Zara Emotions line, a series of fragrances created by the perfumer Jo Malone for Zara, the clothing retailer that is known for its inexpensive yet effective fragrances. In interviews, Ms. Malone has said that the line uses raw ingredients similar to the ones she uses in her own (much more expensive) line, Jo Loves, taking advantage of Zara’s enormous global buying power; there are just fewer separate ingredients in each Zara Emotions fragrance. The Zara Emotions fragrances are pretty simple but several are very appealing, and they are designed to be easy to layer with each other. So today, I am wearing one of the brand’s recommended combinations, Waterlily Tea Dress and Amalfi Sunray.

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Perfume Chat Room, February 19

Perfume Chat Room, February 19

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, February 19, and it seems as if half of the US is under ice, snow, or both. I feel very lucky that my state has missed most of the bad winter weather — we’ve just had a lot of rain, and it has been drearily cold and gray most of the past week, but that’s it. Daffodils are starting to poke up and show buds; a few are actually in bloom. They are one of my top three favorite flowers, the others being roses and lily of the valley (although hellebores are very popular here too!). I have a few brave snowdrops in bloom in areas where I hope they may spread.

I have a small travel size of Jo Malone’s White Moss & Snowdrop, which was launched as a Christmas special edition in 2018. I haven’t tried it yet as I bought it in a set of those Christmas editions, but I remember trying it in the store when it came out, and thinking it didn’t particularly evoke snowdrops to my nose. But those don’t have much of a scent anyway, so it’s all fantasy! Have you tried any of those JM special Christmas editions? Do you keep using any after winter? What fragrances do you reach for in this transition period between winter and spring?

Scent Sample Sunday: Zara Emotions by Jo Malone

Scent Sample Sunday: Zara Emotions by Jo Malone

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.

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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!

Perfume Chat Room, December 18

Perfume Chat Room, December 18

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 18, and it is exactly one week before Christmas Day, as well as the last day of Hanukkah. What fragrant gifts do you expect to give, or hope to get? I have a few ideas: for instance, IKEA still has in stock its line of scented candles from its collaboration with Byredo’s Ben Gorham. I bought some when they were first in stores, and they’re very appealing: nice scents in pretty ceramic jars with matching lids. Everyone in my family likes scented candles, so they’ll get some of those. Zara has finally brought its “Zara Emotions” line to the US, the fragrances created by Jo Malone of Jo Loves, that launched last year in Europe. I’ve bought the discovery set, I’ll be interested to try them. There are several gift options on the website, including sets with candles in matching scents.

I’m planning to assemble a box of unused or underused fragrances from my collection for my kids to rummage through and choose what they like. I don’t have many options to put in there for my son, but he likes Cool Water, so I’ll give him that, and I’m going to see if he likes Gucci’s Memoire d’Une Odeur. I have plenty of options to offer my daughters! I’ve bought a few things for my husband to “give” me, lol, mostly from independent artisan perfumers like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays.

I sent my two sisters in New England sets of Stash’s “Christmas in Paris” tea, with china mugs decorated with scenes of Paris. The tea is supposed to combine flavors of chocolate, lavender and mint! It sounds lovely and I may have to get some for my own family to try. I’m also looking forward to starting some real holiday cooking, which always makes the house smell wonderful.

What are you planning?

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose Petal 25

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose Petal 25

Roaring back from yesterday’s disappointing sampling of scents I thought would be rosy, and weren’t, today’s entry is Jo Loves’ Rose Petal 25, the fragrance perfumer Jo Malone (the person) launched last year to celebrate 25 years of her career in perfumery. This is really, really rosy, friends. Thank goodness! Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Evening Rose

Roses de Mai Marathon: Evening Rose

One of my goals in writing daily about rose-centric fragrances during this “Roses de Mai Marathon” is to cover a wide range of scents: niche, mass market, designer, etc. Naturally, this also means covering a wide range of prices, from “bargain beauties” to stratospheric. I should note that I myself am unwilling to pay stratospheric prices for almost any fragrances. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: White Rose & Lemon Leaves

Roses de Mai Marathon: White Rose & Lemon Leaves

White Rose & Lemon Leaves is one of the fragrances released by Jo Loves, the brand launched by Jo Malone in 2011 when she was able to do so following the sale of the “Jo Malone” brand to Estee Lauder. Continue reading