Anaïs Anaïs

Anaïs Anaïs

The 70s were all about soapy-green florals: Ivoire, No. 19, Laura Ashley No. 1, etc. Cacharel released Anaïs Anaïs  in 1978, and it fits-in nicely with that trend, but also has its own personality, even if understated in comparison. While the others in that genre tend to come across as sharp and angular and exude an air of intimidating and cool-headed professionalism - Anaïs Anaïs is soft, feminine and lady-like. It is very pretty, approachable and agreeable, yet at the same time it's not at all boring - in fact, it is a classically structured Chypre, yet with more modern ingredients that still to this day make it smell fresh and dewy.

In the late 80s and early 90s it was a very popular and "safe" scent to wear for younger girls - or give as a gift - as you'd be hard-pressed to not admit that you at least tolerate if not like it. It was the precursor for many pleasantly scented double-milled soaps.  Which is why I probably felt it was too soapy when my grandmother gifted me one of those after a trip abroad. It was also too heady and too floral for me. I guess my tendency towards deeper scents has began early on... The other important reason I was disappointed with it was that on another trip to Greece, my grandmother brought me a clever little pot of porcelain that had Anaïs Anaïs knock-off in a solid perfume form at the bottom, and a liquid one inside the lid (pictured above, next to the original). Strangely enough, that knock-off was much better than the original: it wasn't as sharply floral, and the base was a gorgeous incense.  The florals were not too heady - and had a slightly waxy, lipstick-like quality about them which made them softly purr. I remember wearing it in the wintertime and just sniffing my wrists all the time, near the wooly smell of the sweater... Rather quickly, I finished the whole thing - both liquid and solid. This was the first perfume I've ever owned - and still do (not only because I'm so sentimental that I keep little objects like this; but because the smell remains in that pot, after all those years!).

Anaïs Anaïs opens with a fruity-floral melange that is at once freshly green and soft. How is that achieved is beyond me - because there is a definite presence of galbanum, cassis, hyacinth and Madonna Lily there - neither of which is particularly shy or soft on its own. This bouquet is so well-balanced, and only moderately aldehydic in a very tasteful, seamless way (perhaps owing to the honeysuckle note) - that it's difficult to pick one note in particular, and to me this is part of the magic of perfume, but jasmine and rose peak through if you pay close attention... The heart continues to be green and floral and elegantly leads to the oakmoss-laden base, where vetiver and white musk have a strong presence, as well as modest hints of sandalwood and patchouli (the latter adding more of an earthy-green dimension rather than any allusion to hippie-ness). But before that dryout phase completely takes over, you'll find a surprising incense phase, that is not exactly like any particular incense "flavour", and combines sandalwood with a little peppery greens and cedarwood notes.

Recently, I found a little 30mL bottle of Anaïs Anaïs eau de toilette - and immediately purchased it for my daughter. I tell her that her great-grandma used to wear it and gave it to me when I was a young girl. She calls it "Pink Flower Perfume"...  I thought it would be fun to have it around, and get her some early perfume education about what young girls should wear (instead of those horrid celebrity scents that are kicking around). Also, I won't lie, I was planning to steal some from her so that I can sneak in a review of it at some point...

It may not smell exactly like the original did (even though it is subtitled L'ORIGINAL). But I didn't know it well enough at the time to notice the change. I do, however, find a resemblance to a much later scent, Calyx (1987), although of course not quite as fruity as that; but they both now have a very strong connection with ancillary products (Calyx is the mother of all Herbal Essence type of shampoos and hair products, which are still highly in demand). They both have a very similar structure, with green and fruity notes at the top (Calyx has more tropic fruit notes, i.e. papaya, guava, passionfruit and mango; while Anaïs Anaïs uses more "traditional" black currant bud to achieve the fruitiness). Both have Madonna Lily and Lily of the Valley at the heart, and both conclude with oakmoss, vetiver and white musk. Both also smell wonderful on my young daughter's skin, and I only wish we'd smell more real perfumes on young girls these days, instead of the fruit-punch cocktails sprinkled with polycyclic musks and vanillin that have long overstayed their welcome (IMHO).

Top notes: Galbanum, hyacinth, lily of the valley, bergamot, cassis
Heart notes: Madonna lily, honeysuckle, ylang ylang, orris root, jasmine, carnation, tuberose, rose
Base notes: Oakmoss, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, amber, patchouli

Radio Nostalgia

For those of you curious to know what I was talking about at the Candy Palmater Show (last week), here's a snapshot of Abishag (the first perfume I bought for myself from the Israeli Museum) and that little porcelain pot of Greek mythology sealife that my grandmother brought me around the same time (it was filled with a knock-off of AnaisAnais, but actually smelled better)*. This little pot still holds the very same scent; which is why I recommend you never throw out empty perfume bottle. They hold memories and will continue to do so quite loyally for many years to come...

Which were the first perfume/s you've purchased for yourself or worn? How old were you then?

* I was actually rather disappointed that the real deal was as soapy and sharply green as it is. But I now appreciate it more (even though it really isn't "me", and never will be).

The Madonna and the Lily

Madonna Lily, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Happy Easter to all who celebrates!

White flowers symbolize purity in both Christianity and Judaism. The term “lily” as mentioned in the Old Testament, however, is obscure and it is still unclear which botanical species is referred to in the scriptures. The two names in question are “Chavaztelet” and “Shoshana”. The latter is often confused with rose by native Hebrew speakers and Bible translators. The correct name for rose in modern Hebrew is “Vered”. Both chavatzelet and Shoshana are most likely reference to bulbous flowering plants, and there are many ideas of what species it refers to. If indeed it is shapely white flowers – the possibilities could include narcissus or beach lilies - both very fragrant. Other possibilities include Netz Halav or wild hyacinths, which are blue and not particularly fragrant either. Although “lily of the valley” is mentioned in Canticles, it can be said with absolute certainty that this is not Convallaria majalis, a European plant that could not have possibly survived the dry conditions in the land of Israel.

Both the European Lily of the Valley and the Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum, native to the Balkans and West Asia), have developed into the Christian symbol of purity and chastity and is associated with Virgin Mary. Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) is similar in shape and scent to the Madonna Lily only larger, and is native to Japan.

Here are a few perfumes to draw on those qualities within you and aspire for revival and rebirth of your internal life force and pure intentions at this time of the year:

Vanille Galante
Fresh , slightly watery lilies with cantaloupe and vanilla.

Lys Méditerranée
Easter lilies in full bloom, with pronounced orange blossom.

Awaken the goddess within yourself (Anais was a Persian goddess) with this classy green floral with fruity and clean soapy notes.

Lily Angel (Garden of the Stars)
Indulge in a big gourmand lily with chocolate and patchouli.

Lily notes seem to be having some kind of a vogue recently, as we can see form recent releases of other mass produced designer fragrances (Donna Karen Gold, Guess Gold, and Juicy Couture’s fruity-floral candied gourmand take on lily) as well as celebrity fragrances (i.e.: L – L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stephanie, in a similar manner to Juicy Couture but a little more watery).
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