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.

Happy May Day!

Lily of the Valley

It is May 1st, and I'm wearing Diorissimo extrait to celebrate whatever this day is supposed to stand for; but more personally because it's a lily of the valley scent that I have a strong personal connection with. I worn it on my wedding day, and to me it will always symbolized non-compromised happiness. Besides, I believe it's one of the best perfumes every made (alongside others by Edmond Roudnitska: Le Parfum de Therese, Eau Sauvage and a few Guerlain classics - Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Shalimar, l'Herue Bleue) that are reclining comofrtably in a special case dedicated for emergency evacuation); but also because I don't own any other lily of the valley fragrance.

There are some great Lily of the Valley classics that I owe it to myself to wear and experience and give more proper attention - Coty's Muguet de Bois, Caron's Muguet de Bonheur Guerlan's Muguet. If you have more lily of the valley perfumes that you think are exceptional, please leave a comment. The note used to be far more popular as a stand-alone theme in the olden days; but it lost popularity greatly because of its functional fragrance usage - namely masking the stench of the French metro systems; and other bathroom fresheners, soaps and the like. Basenotes only lists about 27 perfumes with the name "Muguet" in them; and 25 with the word "Lily of the Valley". Not insignificant, but not even close to how popular rose or jasmine themed perfumes are. Many of them have also been discontinued, a sign that this note belongs to another era. There are other lily of the valley dominated perfumes, of course, such as the classic Joy and the more modern musky floral Idyle. So I'm sure we won't be running out of lilies anytime soon... And there are even natural lily of the valley inspired perfumes, such as Urban Lily and Grin.

Most of the other less worthy of mention are sitting in my sample catalog pretty much untouched, and I revisit them occasionally only to come to the conclusion time and again that really Diorissimo is my true love. There can be a very conformist, agreeable yet boring air to them and a very flat, interest-lacking evolution. I am quite certain that should there have been a little extra jasmine absolute and rose otto in them to give them depth and naturalness they would have faired better - in my personal wardrobe, SmellyBlog entries, as well as sales wise. i.e.: Muguet Eau Fraiche (Yves Rochas) is a soapy clean, with modern musks and Iso E Super that bring to mind Thierry Mugler's Cologne of all things. Crabtree & Evelyn's Lily of the Valley, which comes in all the matching ancillary products from body lotion, triple-milled white soap to scented talcum powders - has been promptly returned to the store because it just has no personality whatsoever - flat, synthetic molecules with plenty of headiness and little staying power. Yardley's wasn't much better off. All three were to me what you'd call "scrubbers".

Muguet de Bois (Coty, circa 1949), on the other hand, requires some immediate attention on this beautiful warm spring day: It opens up sparkling and refreshing, with notes of lemonade and fresh-crushed green leaves. It has a fully developed heart phase that's definitely lily, but not just that: it is a tad spicy and more rounded floral than how I experience the fresh lily of the valley flowers to be. I detect resinous styrax and lilac, rose and hints of jasmine. The "Bois" (or woods) part is subdued, and is interpreted as a woody base of sandalwood and musk.

By Ayala Moriel on 2011-06-04

It's sunny and warm in Vancouver (at long last!) and before I head down to Spanish Banks for my first seriously long swim of the year (hopefully!) and spend the rest of the day soaking up the late spring sun, I was determined to create a Grin scented body oil. The idea was long in the making, ever since I obtained a more substantial amount of the rare boronia absolute, which *almost* makes this luxury logical. Boronia is uber expensive, and including it in a body product is bordering on madness.

The formulation was pretty much done yesterday, but I didn't make it to the blending/experimenting stage last night. I've already decided on the base oil - incorporating silky and non greasy oils such as squalane, camellia, avocado and jojoba, which I did in Song of Songs. I was contemplating using argan oil in the base, but decided against it, thinking that for a spring scent that light, the base should be light as well. Argan is fast absorbing and beautiful on the skin, but it's very emollient and rich - and not quite what I thought suitable for this scent's texture.

The scent itself is a modification of Grin perfume, adopted for a skin formulation both concentration and ingredients wise. It's crisp and green, yet sweet, with jasmine, rose and boronia making up the most of the heart accord, and hints of woods, violet and galbanum round it off and add crispness as well as depth. All in all, it smells like a spring flower garden - lily of the valley, green leaves, violets and snowdrops. I have a patch of Grin body oil on my left arm, which makes my skin feel smooth to the touch and like a breath of spring to my nose. Can you see my smile?

White Spring at Lighthouse Park

I went for a hike today at Lighthouse Park, and stumbled upon some beautiful white flowers, not all of which were fragrant, but all the same beautiful:

The white lilacs were on the way to the park on Beacon Lane. Crisp looking and befitting a bridal bouquet in appearance alone... Their scent is just a tad cleaner and less sweet than the purple lilac.

Within the park, blooming tall shrubs of what looks like a wild pear judging by the flowers and leaves, but is more likely to be Saskatoon (which will turn into not too small-apple shaped berries later in the summer).

Red elderberry's flowers (aka elderflowers) are described in Plants of Coastal British Columbia as "White to creamy, small, with a strong, unpleasant odour; muberous, in a rounded or pyramidical parasol-like cluster". Admittedly, they did not smell all that bad to me... Not any worse than blackcurrants. But my nose is more tolerant than my taste buds, and I'm still not quite sure if I like elderflower cordial or not.

And last but not least, the pristine lily of the valley blooming by the rocks in the lighthouse keeper's garden. A feast to the senses and a pleasant surprise to find them in the forest by the sea!

Happy 1st of May!

Happy Labour Day, everyone!
I will be celebrating it appropriately by wearing a lily of the valley perfume (you'll read about it later) and even more appropriately - working hard on getting all those orders out ASAP. The success of the online shopping event yesterday is really mind-boggling, and I'm going to need to work day and night in the next few days to make sure you all get your orders in a timely fashion.

Lily of the Valley arrived early to the flower markets this year but it's time for me to get fresh flowers today. In France, it's a tradition to wear these flowers on May 1st (Labour Day). If you live in a lily-less country, you can wear a beautiful lily of the valley perfume instead. My all-time favourite of all (and in my opinion one of the most perfect perfume ever created) is Diorissimo. But there are others - Muguet de Bois (Coty), Muguet du Bonheur (Caron), Muguet (Guerlain, Molinard), Le Muguet (Annick Goutal), and Lily of the Valley from English perfumeries such as Floris, Yardley, Crabtree & Evelyn, Penhaligon's and Woods of Windsor. And of course this list is far from complete. Which is your favourite lily of the valley perfume, and what will you be wearing today?
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