An Oud With A Grin
I woke up this morning noticing something unusual from my window: full-strength sunshine and trees covered in green plumage. Of course, that did not mean a warm day; on the contrary: it was a wind storm that blew away the clouds and let in the sun. Nevertheless, this was a perfect day for wearing Grin!
Grin was a tribute to the crisp spring in the Northern hemisphere: bulb flowers springing from the cold earth, heady and fragrant in contrast to the brisk air, cool rocks covered in rain-soaked moss and the frost-covered earth that if anything, emits a harsh, dusty and marshy smell.
But there is also another element altogether: light. Luminous light as it shines through the word-shaped bulb-plants’ leaves as they cut through the chilly air; and backlit buds of tree leaves shimmering against blue sky.
The creation of Grin was greatly inspired by Diorissimo, the legendary perfume by Edmund Roudnitska, which I also wore on my wedding day. This perfume is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect perfumes in the world, pure beauty in a bottle. It’s also one of the very few commercial perfumes that is said to contain boronia. It is particularly breathtaking in the parfum extrait, where the boronia is actually noticeable, as well as the jasmine and rose, giving the lily of the valley depth that can’t be quite complete in the lighter eau de Toilette. It was not possible for me to create lily of the valley accord with naturals alone, but I wanted to capture the emotion that I get when I smell this lily of the valley perfume. It always brings a smile to my face. And that’s what I tried to do with Grin.
Although not a soliflore by any means, the star of the show here is Boronia. This rare flower absolute from Tasmania brings a ray of light into the perfume. Crisp galbanum brings out its fresh-cut flower personality, but also an outdoorsy fresh-cut-grass smell, that makes me want to fill my lungs with air. Green pepper accentuate the peppery freesia-like character of boronia. Violet leaf brings out more of the ionone character of boronia. Jasmine and rose make it shine even brighter, bringing out an opulent richness. And than, what we need to talk about next, is the base.
“I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice; `but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'” (Lewis Carol, “Alice in Wonderland)
On its own, agarwood is rarely perceived as a cheerful note that would make one jump up with joy; but in this perfume from 2006, this is the role it takes. Wet stones, mossy forest floor and earth awakening to the sun was what the base needed to evoke in Grin. And agarwood, surprisingly, makes this happen, juggling the dense oakmoss on one hand, and the nearly effervescent and green Haitian vetiver, which extends galbanum and violet crispness till the end. It stands in the middle with its musty woody personality, smelling clean and balanced and mysterious. It’s an extension of the green leaves and the forest and the woods from where the fragrant bulb flowers emerge with their defiant optimism, provoking the sleepy world and welcoming the sun.