Wednesday, April 11, 2007


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.

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