For many years, I've been trying to coax my orchids to do a rerun of their showy display of flowers. Instead, these freeloaders sit in their optimal orchid-growing corner and demand their bi-weekly attention of watering and nutrients, prayers and begging and show nothing in return aside from not letting their green leaves die (at best).
If like me you've experienced the frustration of an orchid lover's failures, that should be enough of a background story to explain my utter surprise and delight when in early December of last year, one of the orchids revealed a little stem of green buds... Two months later, and the buds have grown into blooms which are still as beautiful and seductive as ever.
This is such a memorable event that I've been not only secretly allude prophetic meaning to it (something good is going to happen soon, if it's not happening already...); but also tempted to create a new perfume inspired by it...
Sambac jasmine is one of my favourite notes among all flowers and especially white florals. It is exotic and reminds me of fragrant green tea and gardenia (both of which I adore). In previous perfumes creations I've used it either to create a gardenia effect (GiGi, Charisma, Fete d'Hiver), or as a supporting note to jasmine grandiflorum (as in Yasmin and Moon Breath). Tamya and Fetish are the only two perfumes I've created in which it plays a star role - in both I've harnessed the intoxicating sweetness of its high methyl anthranilate content to create a fruity if not almost gourmand fragrance.
In this orchid-inspired perfume, sambac jasmine is the star of the show. I've paired it with cardamom before in GiGi but here this effect is magnified and exaggerated. I was reminded of how much I enjoy this unusual combination when I was running the solid perfume workshop with my Floriental Week students. The following week I ventured into my lab and was looking for different ways to treat jasmine sambac that I have not thought about before. I played with pairing it with cool, medicinal top notes and also incorporate a material that is new to me: mandarin petitgrain. This is a petitgrain that is very rich in methyl anthranilate (also present in the sambac), but also has a cold soil and leafy qualities. To add to my challenge, I've tried to stay away from ambery notes, even though I love them and know they work with sambac jasmine. The amber base is a natural tendency of mine and sometimes I just need to try something new. In this case, I focused on musk and woods.
I've been wearing this orchid-inspired perfume for over a week now and I'm surprisingly pleased with the result... But as always, when things go smoothly on the composition front, a name for the perfume escapes me (or the one I think about turns out to have a certain connotation that I prefer to avoid).