May Muguet Marathon: Happy Mother’s Day!

May Muguet Marathon: Happy Mother’s Day!

I am slacking off a bit this weekend, as it is Mother’s Day and I’m allowed to do that! So no muguet post yesterday, and today I’ll just wish a happy Mother’s Day to all who are, have, or had, mothers.

I was given a surprise gift: the Le Labo discovery set, with 17 of their fragrances to try — oh happy day! And I ordered something very special with the go-ahead from my lovely spouse: Scenthusiasm from 4160 Tuesdays. Can’t wait for that one! We will pick it up at his company’s office when we go to London later this month, and I’m hoping to visit the 4160 Tuesdays studio too. Have you given or received any fragrant gifts for Mother’s Day this year?

Enjoy the weekend!

Scent Sample Sunday: Tokyo Spring Blossom

Scent Sample Sunday: Tokyo Spring Blossom

When I won a CaFleureBon draw for 4160 Tuesdays’ White Queen, brand founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney kindly included two travel sprays in the package, because UK shipping restrictions meant she could only send me a smaller size of White Queen than originally described. I was delighted, because it gave me the opportunity to try two more 4160 Tuesdays scents! One of them was Tokyo Spring Blossom, which I’ve been wearing off and on all week. It was originally launched in 2011 under the name Urura’s Tokyo Cafe, after a friend of Ms. McCartney’s for whom she first created the fragrance, Urura Shiinoki, owner of the Green Ginger Cafe in Tokyo.

The 4160 Tuesdays website describes it as “the scent of a spring breeze blowing through tree blossom.” Apparently the name Urura can be translated into English as “breeze in the cherry blossoms”, so that inspired the scent, although none of its notes are actually cherry blossoms. The notes are described differently on various websites, and the text on the 4160 Tuesdays site doesn’t seem to list them all, but they appear to be a combination of: a mix of citruses with pink grapefruit, tangerine and mandarin orange; middle notes of violet and rose; base notes of opoponax, Sarah’s favorite raspberry leaf accord, tolu balsam and raspberry. The description of the fragrance’s progression that most closely aligns with my own experience comes from a 2015 review on CaFleureBon, by Susie Baird:

Atop is a sparkling citrus, which feels very bright and airy. Almost as soon as those petals have opened a slightly more aromatic accord appears, herby and green. The perfume is now dappled with shade between the rose bushes. This is most certainly not a rose-centric fragrance though; the floral bouquet is seamlessly woven together with crisp greens and sharp tangerine, creating an image of a flower garden gently swaying in a summer breeze.

From beneath, sweet Myrrh stains the green and pink with umber tones. Here it gives the impression of a great splash of strong green tea, saturating the base of the scent with a resinous solemnity, as if the breeze has momentarily dropped and the sun stepped behind a cloud. It is cooling and pleasant to experience the resin balanced by the green goodness of geranium and rose. It has all the atmospheric depth that incense can bring to a fragrance, without any of the smokiness.

Yes! I think the greenness from the start comes from the raspberry leaf accord, which is listed on Fragrantica as a base note, but I smell it almost from the start, and then it lasts throughout. I smell suggestions of green tea, as described above, more than I smell roses, but I do pick up the violet heart note, which adds to the greenness but also lends a slightly powdery, floral note. Of course, high quality green tea does itself have floral fragrance notes which can vary widely; and green tea is a very traditional Japanese drink.  In fact, to my nose, this stage of Tokyo Spring Blossom smells very much like a specific form of green tea: matcha.

The 4160 Tuesdays website includes one of its pretty graphics to describe this scent:

Eau de parfum Tokyo Spring Blossom or Urura's Tokyo Cafe, by 4160 Tuesdays

Tokyo Spring Blossom, 4160 Tuesdays

I like this scent very much, though I think I was more delighted by White Queen, which is odd because usually I much prefer floral scents to gourmand scents. Luckily, in life it is possible to combine both the floral and the gourmand. The featured image above comes from the website for a specialty tea merchant called Steven Smith Teamaker, created by and named after the founder of Stash and Tazo tea companies. The company thoughtfully provides its own recipe for a matcha green tea latte, shown in the featured image. Enjoy!

Do you have any favorite fragrances that remind you of tea, whether or not they are named for tea? The Bvlgari Eaux Parfumees au The series comes to mind right away; I have and enjoy three of them (The Vert, The Bleu, The Rouge). Any others?

Steven Smith, Teamaker, matcha green tea latter with spring blossoms

Matcha green tea latte from Steven Smith Teamaker

 

 

 

Fragrance Friday: Perfumers Who Are Women

Fragrance Friday: Perfumers Who Are Women

Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of the day, Fragrantica published a very nice article highlighting several celebrated perfumers who are women, and some of their creations: Perfumery: Women Creators. In the comments section, readers have started adding their own suggestions. In no particular order, suggested additions include:

Olivia Giacobetti, Liz Moores, Anne Flipo, Sidonie Lancesseur, Nathalie Feisthauer, Daphne Bugey, Vero Kern, Josephine Catapano, Shelley Waddington, Shyamala Maisondieu, Nathalie Gracia-Cetto, Sonia Constant, Christine Nagel, Mathilde Laurent, Sarah McCartney, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Mandy Aftel, Ayala Moriel, Laurie Erickson, Charna Ethier, Diane St. Clair, Claire Baxter, Marie Salamagne, Lyn Harris, Nathalie Lorson.

Do you have any favorite perfumers who are women? Any favorites among their creations?

Here are some of mine:

Liz Moores: Dryad; Christine Nagel: Twilly; Mathilde Laurent: Cartier Carat; Sarah McCartney: White Queen; Diane St. Clair: Gardener’s Glove; Marie Salamagne: Alaia; Lyn Harris: Terre d’Iris; Nathalie Lorson: Shiseido Zen 2000; Jo Malone (the person): White Rose & Lemon Leaves; Marie-Helene Rogeon, Clair Matin.

Featured image: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, from www.denverartmuseum.org.

 

 

Scent Sample Sunday: White Queen

Scent Sample Sunday: White Queen

Oh, how I love literary references! Put them together with a great niche perfume, and I am a happy perfumista! Today’s Sunday scent is White Queen, by 4160 Tuesdays, a collaborative creation with Michelyn Camen of the blog CaFleureBon to mark the blog’s eighth anniversary in 2018. 4160 Tuesdays founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney wrote at length about how this joint project came to be, and her inspirations, at CaFleureBon, here: New Perfume: 4160 Tuesdays White Queen. I won a bottle of White Queen in one of CaFleureBon’s generous giveaway draws and it was sent directly from Sarah with a personal note; thank you, Michelyn and Sarah! Look carefully at Sarah’s stationery — it’s so clever.

 

The literary reference is to the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The character of the White Queen makes some of the most-quoted statements from Carroll’s works, such as the advice to “believe six impossible things before breakfast” and the offer of “jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”

In the book, the White Queen is an elderly lady, but in Tim Burton’s 2010 movie “Alice in Wonderland”, he reimagines her as a beautiful young (or ageless) woman, played by Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway in Disney Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie.

Anne Hathaway as the White Queen; http://www.disney.com.

As many have noted, this White Queen is far from being all sweetness and light, and so is her namesake perfume, alluring as they both are. Sarah McCartney describes the fragrance’s notes as: incense, hazelnut, citrus fruits, raspberry, jasmine (which some call the Queen of Flowers, although the rose might disagree), cream, opoponax, vetivert, patchouli, and musk.  The goal was to create a modern gourmand without evoking candy, while also referring to the phrase “falling down the rabbit-hole”, which many people use to refer to their own response in discovering how much more there is to perfume than a single signature scent.

The modern gourmand aspect is fulfilled by using methyl laitone, which creates what Ms. McCartney describes as “clouds of whipped cream and white fluffy marshmallows.” However, on my skin, the incense note is more pronounced and very long-lasting. Fragrantica’s perfume pyramid lists it and the cream note only among the top notes, but they persist throughout the fragrance’s life and should be included with the heart and base notes. (Fragrantica also lists notes that Ms. McCartney does not, and omits notes she describes; I’m going with her on this one!). On me, these marshmallows are toasted.

Tray of toasted marshmallows

Toasted marshmallows; http://www.maplestreetcandle.com

I love incense as a note in perfume, but I tend to prefer less smoky incense notes, so this is perfect for me. Ms. McCartney’s post makes it clear that her incense note comes from frankincense, or Boswellia Carteri. This incense is also inflected with opoponax, a type of myrrh known as “sweet myrrh”, which brings warm, balsamic, honeyed notes to a fragrance. On my skin, these come even more to the forefront as White Queen dries down, and they are lovely. The combination of frankincense and opoponax makes White Queen‘s incense note more like a lovely vapor.

incense vapor

Incense; image from Fragrantica.

I can’t pick out separate notes of raspberry or citrus, but I can tell that they are present because of the brightness they lend; I think they help lift White Queen and add to its airiness. Similarly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you on a blind sniff that there is any jasmine, but it makes sense once that is revealed — jasmine is one of the sweeter floral notes, though to my nose it is less sweet than tuberose. As White Queen dries down, I do pick up the patchouli, but it does not overwhelm as that note sometimes can; nor am I overcome by gourmand sweetness, which I can only take in limited doses (not a fan of Angel, sorry). The combination of patchouli, vetiver, and musk is meant to evoke the “rabbit-hole” and its earthiness, and I think it succeeds.

Mia Waskikowska in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, by Disney, falling into rabbit-hole

Alice and the rabbit-hole; http://www.disney.com

As much as I love floral and green notes, White Queen is a winner for me! It is especially appealing on these cool February days, when we alternate between warmth when the sun is out, and chill when our climate remembers that it is not yet spring. When the extremes swing too far here in the Southeast, the season is called a “false spring” and, like the White Queen, it can be dangerously deceiving. (I am a gardener as well as a lover of perfume, and these false springs make it quite challenging to time rose-pruning).

This White Queen displays all the warmth and none of the chill of our false spring, so it wears well in cool weather; given the presence of frankincense and myrrh, it would also make a great Christmas-themed scent, and I’ll try that next year! Do you have any favorite cool-weather fragrances you are wearing right now? Any favorites from 4160 Tuesdays?

Featured image: http://www.disney.com.

How Performers Use Perfume

How Performers Use Perfume

The Guardian has published an incredible article about how various actors and other performers use fragrance and perfume to get into their roles (hat tip to Now Smell This): The Spray’s The Thing: How Actors Use Perfume To Get Into Character. It was fascinating. I can’t help but wonder what Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole might have chosen to wear as they played cosmetics pioneers and queens Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden in the recent musical “War Paint”! In the Guardian article, I was particularly taken with the approach by one ballerina:

The ballerina Lauren Cuthbertson works with a perfumer, sometimes over months, to devise the perfect scent for her roles with the Royal Ballet. “I learn a lot when I work with her,” she once told me. “I talk it all through, from the beginning to the end of the ballet, while she asks many questions. There was a moment in act two of Giselle” – where the heroine appears as a spirit – “which she captured unbelievably. I’d said I wanted to feel like there was a veil or gauze over me, and she did it in scent.”

I had just written recently here about ballerina Carla Fracci’s fragrance Giselle, which I find captures the heroine in the happy first act of that ballet; how wonderful to know that a ballerina of today had a perfume created to capture the sense of the ghostly second act!

The same article reveals that a new book has been published which clearly I must get, if only for its title: “Scents and Sensibility: Perfume in Victorian Literary Culture”, by Catherine Maxwell; it includes descriptions of scents at the 19th century theater:

Catherine Maxwell quotes Oscar Wilde’s plan for mood-enhancing fragrance in Salome. He wanted “in place of an orchestra, braziers of perfume. Think – the scented clouds rising and partly veiling the stage from time to time – a new perfume for each emotion.” It never happened: how could you air the theatre between emotions?

However, Wilde’s fans ensured an aromatic premiere for The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895. Ada Leverson reported that “nearly all the pretty women wore sprays of lilies against their large puffed sleeves, while rows and rows of young elegants had buttonholes of the delicate bloom of lily of the valley.”

I love the idea of scented theater productions, something perfumer Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays has done in collaboration with directors:

She has scented productions, including Handel’s Acis and Galatea. The opening fragrance summoned cut grass and cucumber, “fresh, green and outdoors”. During the interval, as the plot darkened, she sprayed a muddy, leathery, mossy brew called Foreboding from bottles in the balcony.

I recently attended a production of “Twelfth Night” in a tavern-style theater that presents plays on a stage that resembles the Globe Theater, but smaller, and that encourages the audience to buy dinner and drinks to consume during the show, from a kitchen behind the seating area. Choices include Shepherd’s Pie, Cornish pasties, Guinness, Samuel Smith ales, etc. It’s a different means of “scenting” a production but remarkably fun when paired with a Shakespearean comedy. Not sure I’d enjoy it so much during “Romeo and Juliet”, though …