Fleur de Shanghai
Sometimes, it is more difficult to write a review about a perfume you love. But sometimes a thing of beauty does not need any more words to describe it in order to convince one of its beauty. This is the case in Fleur de Shanghai – the most addictive Opium I have ever tried. There is really not much more to say. The notes are simple. The structure is simple and coherent. The scent is simply divine from start to finish. Even if I could, I wouldn’t change a single note about it. So what is there to say about a perfect perfume, whose only flaw is that it is a limited edition? This special one is doomed to become extinct before even having an adequate shelf exposure. A unique flower hybrid designed to bloom for only one season, and than collect dust in a safe somewhere and become forgotten along with hundred other limited edition and discontinued fragrances.
I wish I could say more about Fleur de Shanghai besides that it is beautiful, and state my reasoning more clearly for why this scent should not be a one-season-stand. I would love start up a petition to YSL’s perfume division and beg them to change their minds and add Fleur de Shanghai to the permanent collection. But I am afraid this will be useless, for this scent was meant to be nothing more than a retail success. If Opium hasn’t proceeded it, I am certain Fleur de Shanghai would have gracefully joined other classics in the Perfume Hall of Fame (that, of course, if such a thing really exists in a perfume world where hundreds of new releases happen every season, and classics become discontinued or are altered in order for the big corporations to make more money). Please do tell me if I am not alone in my devoted affection to Fleur de Shanghai.
Fleur de Shanghai starts with lovely notes of mandarins, underlined with the sweet-spiciness of cloves, as cozy as my grandmother’s perfect honey cake. The heart is floral yet light: magnolia petals unfold to reveal their fresh and cool honeyed scent along with a hint of green, and tiny white star jasmine blossoms float around delicately like miniature steps of Asian dancers concealed by their floating robes. A heavy undercurrent of myrrh, narcotic and poetic, is soon unleashed and becomes the centre theme, underlined with just a hint of Saxon moss to keep it dry and balanced its medicinal aspects, and made delicious by coumarin and sheer vanilla – mellow and sweet yet light-weight.
Fleur de Shanghai was love at first sniff. In fact, I loved this summer version of 2005 so much, that I had to stock up. Luckily, my perfume collection is big enough to distract me from its extinct status for most of the year. But when summer comes – I have to wear it very often and seem to never get enough of it. I enjoy re-applying even though it has a great lasting power. It never seems to overwhelm though. Despite its sweet notes, the myrrh and moss make it as refreshing and protective as a rice-paper parasol, Vetiver woven mats and blinds, and pale linen suits. I run out of 50ml just last summer. So I guess I have 3 more years to go if I am counting the other 100ml bottle that I have saved for bad days. I also have Fleur Imperiale, the limited edition for summer 2006 – pleasantly based on myrrh like Fleur de Shanghai, but lacking the unique sweetness of magnolia, which is replaced but a much less significant or authentic osmanthus and apricot blossoms.