Keiko Mecheri's Jasmine

Humble Beauty

What's in a name? Plenty. Expectation, mood, and as a result how we perceive a scent has everything to do with what is on the label. And Keiko Mecheri's Jasmine is case in point. Not so much because it was recently renamed Clair-Obscur, but more so because when something is called "Jasmine", "Jasmin", "Gelsomino" or any other variation on the name, once expects it to smell like a Jasminum of this variety or another. Like many other jasmine-named fragrances, this sample was left unattended for many moons until I finally got all obsessed with this note for the July Jasmine summer theme. The reason it was neglected, among the rest, is because it did not really smell like jasmine to me (Did I mention yet that I'm spoiled with all the pure jasmine absolutes I have on hand?).

Jasmine (or Clair-Obscur, if you will), begins as a green, fresh jasmine with a fruity, soapy, shampoo-like personality. It seems to focus on the tea aspects of jasmine, but that does not make it in the least tea-like. Rather, the result is a triple-milled bar of jasmine-gardenia soap. While I can enjoy this type of soap - I would like a jasmine perfume to have more depth and complexity. It took me a few more wears to realize the soapiness comes more from a lily of the valley note than from gardenia, actually. Lily of the valley is a note widely used in functional perfumery, soaps in particular. The notes listed are Sicilian night blooming jasmine and Absolute jasmine. And thankfully, once the soapy-tea-greens dry out, there is more of the absolute coming through.

bubble and squeaky clean

It's overall pleasant and agreeable, but smells more fake than authentic (which seems to be a repeated problem with all but a couple of the jasmine perfumes I've sampled so far), and does stand out as particularly original or true to the flower either. But thankfully, this is rectified about an hour or two into wearing it, at which point I felt quite ridiculous for not recognizing the Lily of the Valley sooner. It has something in its evolution reminiscent of non other than Diorissimo! Once the soapy green notes and lily of the valley (not quite realistic as Diorissimo) dissipate, I'm left with a true jasmine absolute on my skin. A development that I've only experienced with Diorissimo. So far - most of the jasmine fragrances I've sampled, if they smelled compelling at all, had a rather brief jasmine phase, and were quickly replaced by a repeated theme of musk and vanilla. Kudos for Keiko Mecheri for creating something that smells like true jasmine in the dryout, and remain that way for a while so we can enjoy it.

So what's in a name, you ask? If the name had alluded to lily of the valley in some manner, I would have enjoyed my first wear better, instead of being disappointed that it smells like soap. Anticipation plays an important role in how we experience the world - and fragrance in particular. Now that I told you what you're up for, go and try it out and enjoy a well-made lily of the valley and jasmine perfume.

Must Read: Los Angeles Indie Perfumers

Denise Hamilton has interviewed some of Los Angeles' indie perfumers for this Los Angeles Times article - Indie Perfumers Finding Sweet Scent of Success: Sarah Horowitz, Kedra Hart (Opus Oils), Brent Leonesio (SmellBent), Roxana Villa (Roxana Illuminated Perfumes), Keiko Mecheri and more from the West Coast's growing community of artisan and indie perfumers.


Powder Puff Flowers by Stigter_H
Powder Puff Flowers, a photo by Stigter_H on Flickr.

Keiko Mecheri’s rendition of the patchouli theme is significantly different from other niche houses’ offerings: it is dominated by clean musks and flowers, which almost take away from its patchoulesque cleanliness and woody dryness. Far more complex than others in its genre – if blind-tested, you’d probably place it elsewhere – in the floral powdery family, perhaps.

Scent Bar


What a pleasant surprise it was to find out that Scent Bar moved just a month ago to a roomy and beautiful location, AND is also exactly 7 minutes walk from where I'm staying in Los Angeles this weekend. It was also a very pleasant surprise to find out that this strip of Beverly blvd has experienced a transformation and is now buzzing with nifty little boutiques of vintage clothing and vintage shoes, antique furniture stores, and awesome restaurants. Randomness sometimes just pays off...

Selling fragrance is an art all on its own. Luckyscent is one of the ultimate online destination for finding fascinating fragrances - from niche and obscure brands (A Lab on Fire, Hilda Soliani, Xerjoff) to classics such as Caron and Creed - I was always wondering how such a space would be in real life. So with that in mind, I had no idea what to expect from the

As it turns out, much better than online: it's organized beautifully, and with a team of perfumista staff that are far more knowledgeable and responsive than any fragrance database.

Some collections and brands have their own display areas around the shop; but the best part is - all of the fragrances are arranged by categories on shelves along the walls: some predictable like fragrance families, unique notes (i.e.: Oud, Patchouli and Incense each receive a shelf of their own); and some more surprising (such as an entire shelf dedicated to "Avante Guarde"), and of course - a Chypre shelf, which brought me back there today, tagging along my students from my Chypre intensive weekend I'm teaching at Persephenie's this weekend (if you missed it - you might want to sign up for my Citrus Week July 30th - August 3rd).

Some fun finds for me there were Keiko Mecheri Bespoke, in their beautiful presentation of black and gold; Santal de Mysore (Serge Lutens) and Tubereuse Criminelle (Serge Lutens), which I haven't caught a whiff of since my visit to Salons Shiseido; Odalisque (Patricia de Nicolai) which was a new chypre discovery for me, Andy Tauer's Rose Vermeille (congrats on the new octagon bottles, by the way!) and my most unexpected find - 100% Love by Sophia Grojsman, which I recently noticed I ran out of my decant and had to leave with a full bottle of.

But ultimately, I was most impressed with the staff, who really know their stuff and make visiting there such a fun experience. They can carry a conversation, give genuine recommendations, and spontaneously list the notes of any given perfume, not because they memorized it - but because they actually know what they smell like.
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