Falling for Florals

Fall Flowers, originally uploaded by DHamp1.

Flowers in autumn are perhaps more groundbreaking than in springtime...The weather in Vancouver has been unusually warm for the season, which could be the reason why I am gravitating towards opulent florals.

Here are some floral bouquets that are sure to warm up even the chilliest autumnal mornings, or reflect the gentle warmth of sunlight during the fall:

Velvet Gardenia
The elegant whiteness of these lush petals is set against a dark layer of brown, ambery labdanum. The gardenia notes are a little like tea (or maybe it’s because that the first time I worn it was for an afternoon tea?). A true love. And finally I indulged in a full bottle that should last me the whole winter (at least).

Madagascar Orchid (Lisa Hoffman's Variations)
I’m particularly smitten with the Evening variation, which smells of night queen, lilac, and incense. Rich and soft yet easy to wear.

Noix de Tubereuse
And speaking of night queen, this one smells just like it. This soft, sweet rendition of tuberose, with notes of violet, rose, wild clover, amber and incense with a hint of oiliness to it that makes it seem as friendly as a Danish butter cookie.

Macarons don’t travel well, but perfume does. And my New Yorker friend Nancy was right when she described this to me as “violet macarons”. I learned what Farnesiana smells on that visit three summers ago; but didn’t learn what true violet macarons are till this May. Now that I know both, I’d say that Farnesiana is like cassie and violet macarons (cassie being a richer, more violety type of mimosa), sweetened by heliotropin.

KenzoAmour Le Parfum
For those who enjoyed the almond and rice-steam aspect of the original, this is a real treat, because it takes this abstract synthetic floral into the realm or a really easy to wear comfort scent, with some of the sharpness of the original rounded off. I’m am particularly enjoying this these days layered with L’Occitane’s Almond Milk Concetrate.

Narciso Rodriguez for Her
This number is making a comeback in my wardrobe, after a pretty long break. I’m really enjoying it these last few days, applied with very light hand. It’s comforting, soft and both floral and musky. I find this combination to be both grounding and uplifting for me.

Bois des Îles
Opulent like a pearl steeped in milk-tea. Bois des Îles is something I only wear when that special mood strikes. It could never be an everyday scent for me. It is just too special for that. I’m amazed at the rare combination of creamy woods and warm spice with just the right amount of floral and aldehydic notes to make it shimmer and diffuse like the soft-focus surface of that pearl.

Cozy Florals

The big meeting..., originally uploaded by gardawind.

While temperatures drop rapidly, and the rain drapes the city skyline with a crystalline persistence, I turn my nose towards flowers that never bloom in the wintertime.

And rather than reach for one flower at a time, I am enjoying the concept of pairing them together and getting different whiffs from different directions. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

Farnesiana parfum + Yasmin creme parfum
A double treat: wearing Farnesiana parfum extrait from Caron, while wearing perfumed jewelry filled with Yasmin solid perfume (I’ve just recently filled myself a poison ring with Yasmin). While Farnesiana is very cozy and on the gourmand-side, with it’s almondy heliotropin, it’s like a rich desert in an afternoon tea; Yasmin brings the vivacity of jasmines in full bloom in the summer time. There is something about jasmines that just makes me smile when I smell them. And if it wasn’t for my friend HR I wouldn’t have thought of wearing it in the winter time. She likes to wear it in the snow, and she’s absolutely right about doing so. It brings out the best of the perfume, the animalic aspect of jasmine yet in a very subdued way - and counterbalances the windchill factor.

Floral Candles:
While I have been (impatiently) awaiting my first batch of White Potion candles, I’ve been experimenting with Dyptique’s floral candle gift box. The box contains three candles: Tubereuse, Mimosa and Choisya (Mexican orange blossom). In the cold throw, snuggled up in their white box, all three are magical. Burning them together is overwhelmingly pretty and fresh in a springtime cheerfulness of flowers awakening to the sun after morning showers. I find these to be a tad too sweet and overpowering, so perhaps just one candle at a time would suffice even though they are really small.

KenzoAmour Le Parfum:
This full-bodied version of KenzoAmour is more concentrated (even though it comes in a spray bottle) and says out loud everything that I wanted to hear when it just came out. There is more frangipani, more depth overall, and the only thing that I’m still not getting enough of is the rice steam.

Velvet Gardenia:
I never though it would be possible for me to fall in love with anything that Tom Ford makes after his shameful men’s fragrance campaign; but the Private Blend line has just magically appeared at Holt Renfrew and from all the dark, resinous, incensey scents (from first sniff, they all smelled like various variation on the Tom Ford concept of what an expensive perfume should smell like) - Velvet Gardenia made a real impact on me. It smells like a macro version of gardenia’s heady scent, amplified but filtered to create some softness. It’s realistic and magical at once. It’s interesting even though it is a soliflore. And it is not as loud as white florals often get. A through review is in order.


Farnesiana is the cream of the crop in the world of mimosa soliflores. It is tastefully decadent, like a buttery almond pastry flavoured with flower essences, Farnesiana is more gourmand than floral.

Farnesiana was recreated by Michel Morsetti from Ernest Daltroff’s notes after his death in 1941. The name is taken from the Latin name for cassie, Acacia Farnesiana, as well as the garden in the Roman palace of Farnese which is the inspiration for Farnesiana. However, there is nothing Mediterranean about it, unless you recall the rich butter-soaked floor of an almond-filled baklava. The sweetness of Farnesiana, however, has none of the burning sweetness of the honey syrup of this Middle Easter pastry. It can be likened to a marzipan flavoured with floral waters, if such a thing ever existed.

In the time it was released in 1947, it was ahead of its time, like an impressionistic olfactory painting. Many gourmands nowadays pale in comparison to Farnesiana’s innovation and class.

Farnesiana opens with mimosa and cassie, but you know right away that this is going to be a very unusual mimosa scent. The heliotrope note peak in right away, with its sweet, fluffy, powdery almondness. The heart is powdery and floral but not as indolic as Mimosaique or Une Fleur de Cassie, as the presence of jasmine is tampered by the lightness of farnesol and linalol in lily of the valley and lilac and the melancholy powder of violets. You won’t smell them on their own, but their effect is felt and adds a certain airy lightnes to what is otherwise a rich, sweet, dark composition. What’s most intriguing in Farnesiana, besides its extreme dessert-like appeal, is its ability to remain so Caronesque, despite the fact that it is dusted mostly with the bright yellow flower of mimosa, ever so light and airy on its own. The most dominant element that creates this Caronesque impression is the presence of opoponax, in addition to the darkly sweet and melancholy heliotrope. It adds a musky, resinous, animalic, daring and unusual touch which is just perfect with the other base notes (vanilla and musk being the most prominent besides the opoponax and heliotrope).

Top notes: Cassie, Mimosa, Bergamot
Heart notes:,Jasmine, Lilly of the Valley, Violet, Lilac
Base notes: Cassie, Opoponax, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Musk, Heliotrope

Farnesiana is available directly from the Caron bouqitues in Paris and New York. I was very impressed with the excellent customer service of the Caron ladies in New York, Cathy Lilly and Diane Haska. They can also be contacted via their toll-free number: 1-877-882-2766.
The package arrived in a couple of days within the US to my aunt’s house, where it rested for a while until my aunt found her way to the post office (which can be easily explained by the fact that she is a busy 50+ mother of twin toddler boys). The long wait just wet my appetite and made me enjoy Farnesiana even more, when I almost forgot I ordered it. It came in the most exquisite silver coloured satin bag, fit for a queen, and accompanied by a few generous parfum extrait samples from the urn fragrances. The presentation made me think instantly of Marie Antoinette, who equally enjoyed pastries and perfumes.

Back to the top