Friday, April 16, 2010

Scents That Sing "Spring!"

What scents or smells make you so ecstatically happy that you want to sing out loud or jump up and down with joy?
I asked 13 other bloggers to help me answer this question and share with you our picks for perfumes to wear this spring. Scents that could make you feel giddy, cheerful and excited about life again. And my list includes 8 staples that I seem to return to for several years now and never fail to bring a smile to my face and a song to my heart.

I tried my best to bring you a list that has no melancholy in it whatsoever; but some of the scents have an inevitable touch of that emotion in them. And come to think of it, spring does too, because the flowers, as beautiful as they are in full bloom, only bring their very own death upon themselves by exhaling all their beauty in one powerful breath in this short, abrupt season exploding with life.

The perfumes that I find a little melancholy usually have a little powdery, bittersweet character (usually an effect that can be easily blamed on the presence of coumarin in some shape or form). Whenever these are mentioned, they will be accompanied with an asterisks, just so that you are properly warned (in case you are looking for a 100% cheerful spring).

Jasmine absolute, and, of course - fresh jasmine flowers of any kind, bring an immediate smile to my face. The bushes are usually dormant in winter, but come spring and warmth and they start building up their stash of star-shaped flowers that will reach its peak in the heat of the summer. There are so many jasmine scents that I love, but the ones that I associate and wear in the spring are Le Parfum de Thérèse, which I have come to associate with the season and with Passovers in Israel, because it’s when I worn it and fell in love with it first; and also because it’s so hot there at this time of the year that the balance between jasmine, basil and under ripe plum and melon is nearly the only thing I can wear there. When I have to stay in Vancouver in Passover I wear it to remind me of the happy times at home; and it also takes me through summer bringing a smile to my face every single time I smell it, no matter what the occasion or mood I’m in.

Citrus Orchards in Bloom
There is no scent with so much unconditional happiness in my mind as orchards in full bloom. The blossoms begin sometimes in March, and continues through April, usually coinciding with the celebration of Passover. I am still wondering why there is no citrus flower holiday in Israel. They really should make a Hanami festival of sorts out of it, but they don’t. Instead, the day after Passover has become a day of barbecue picnics that if anything mask the scent of any orange blossoms on the horizon. But that’s for another story…
The best way to experience orange blossoms is to be around then. If you live out of the citrus growing zone like me, you can forget about it unless you travel to a citrus destination. Because I can’t always travel to smell the orange blossoms, I created Zohar,
Another way for me to overcome that home-sickness is sipping on pomelo-blossom tea, a rare green tea that was perfumed in the same technique that jasmine green tea is made, by layering petals of pomelo flowers between the tea leaves and removing them once they’ve exhaled all their fragrant breath onto the tea. As a matter of fact, I’m sipping this very tea as I write it, and it transports me to my family’s orchard, early in the morning, when the shapely pomelo petals are still covered with dew and just begin to open and give away their clean, heady scent. And a far more modern and synthetic orange blossom associated scent that has become a spring stable is Narcisso Rodriguez, which is mostly by pure incident (because it barely smells like orange blossom at all), because I worn it in the springtime in one of my most fun spring travels to Israel as well.

Ume (Japanese Plum) Blossoms
It literally took me years to discover the scent of Vancouver’s spring. The most significant and emotionally charged is the scent of the ume (Japanese plum) blossoms. Ume blossoms are smaller and have only one layer of petals. They have a peculiar wildflower-like scent, very ethereal and heady, and at the same time a little powdery and bittersweet. It is more apparent on warmer days; so when early spring is rainy and gray, you can hardly notice their scent in the air.

The sakura (Japanese cherry) blossoms grow in clusters, and are way more showy and impressive looking (especially the ones that have multilayered petals like roses), but they are far less fragrant if at all.

Ume blossoms bloom earlier, usually beginning in January and on till March (depending on the temperatures, of course), and grace the street corner where I live. The ume and sakura blossoms make Vancouver a place worth staying in the springtime, and my only consolation for missing the orchards of Israel when I can’t go there. Inspired by these blossoms (and the Ezra Pound poem) I created Hanami*, which is what I wear almost exclusively throughout the hanami season in Vancouver. Another taste of it can be experienced if you eat sakuramochi at room temperature. The pickled cherry leaf that wraps this pastry adds this peculiar, flowery and bittersweet aroma to the red bean paste filling, and I know for a fact it has coumarin in it.

Fresh Freesias
I visit the florist regularly to get a fresh supply of freesias. I pick them based on their scent rather than their looks: the most fragrant will go home with me, and these are either white (which is more peppery) or yellow (slightly more full-bodied and fruity). I sniff each bouquet till I find the one… And I also have a favourite freesia perfume: Ofresia by Diptyque, created by the world renowned nose Olivia Giacobetti. This freesia perfectly balances the freshly ground green pepper scent of freesias with a little with no sharpness, and some sweetness in the base to make it addictive.

Lilies of the Valley
Other fresh flowers that are more rare to come by are lilies of the valley: they bloom in the spring, usually in May (this year I was lucky to find some in March, but they are gone again and should return in May as the florist informed me). I rarely see them in gardens, and when I do they look quite miserable (but smell heavenly just the same).

Diorissimo is the best lily of the valley scent in the universe that is not the fresh flower. But it’s more than just a lily of the valley soliflore – Edmon Roudnitska himself said he wanted to capture the scent of the little flowers as well as their surroundings, and even went to the extent of planting a patch of lily of the valley in his garden to study them. Diorissimo is particularly gorgeous in the parfum extrait formulation that I have from 10 years ago, where the oakmoss peeks through like the undergrowth of the forest environment of the lilies, and boronia, galbanum, jasmine and rose make the centre of the perfume vivid.

Now, this is not a scent without any melancholy attached to it. I have a sprig of lilac by my table and the real flower has more complexity to it than what we’ve been trained to think of as “lilac”. Besides the very high level of the light, woody-floral linalool that accounts in part for its cleanliness, the lilac on hand has a balsamic-sweet styrax undertone. It’s rare to find lilac scents that don’t smell like bathroom freshener’s or an old maid’s talcum powder; but two perfumes that I’ve met come very close to capturing the real scent plus adding a very personal spin to the theme:
Olivia Gioacobetti’s En Passant*, in which green cucumber and ink-like and starchy wheat add a contemplative, cool mist of lilac clusters; and Ineke Ruhland’s After My Own Heart*, where raspberry and heliotropin bring a lighthearted, romantic sweetness of girly scented stationary.

Scent that traveled from Australia to Provence and the Middle east, mimosas have an invisible wildflower scent that is heady and light and woody, with a little cucuber-coolness to it. My favourite mimosa are light and refreshing: L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Mimosa Pour Moi and my own Les Nuages de Joie Jaune. which literally means “clouds of yellow happiness.

After the cherry blossoms, magnolias have become almost a symbol of Vancouver in spring. There are so many trees and varieties, it would be difficult to describe all of them here. The two significant differences are white versus the pink ones. The white ones are very light and airy and almost woody-clean, as well as fruity like peach. The pink ones can be fruity, but sometimes they are very heady and turn almost wine-like and spicy (but not like mulled wine!). My favourite spring scent with magnolias in it is Opium Fleur de Shanghai. Again, this is by association, because this light summer-version (limited edition, unfortunately, like all of them), came out in the springtime. It just so happened to be in a very happy spring for me, and I worn it every day for several month. The magnolia is very distinct (and quite rarely used in perfumes in such concentration) and beautifully balanced with the resinous bitterness of myrrh, the sweetness of peru balsam oil and the spiciness of cloves. It’s luxurious and light and very easy to wear.

Spearmint & Lemon Verbena
Fresh herbs from the garden give me a sense of well-being, and my favourite of them all are lemon verbena and spearmint. I love picking these fresh and brew them into a delicate tisane together, sometimes also with lemongrass added. Moroccan mint tea is another favourite – with either green or black tea, fresh sprigs of spearmint, and generous dose of sugar (though not as generous as the Moroccans serve it with), perhaps even with a sprinkle of orange flower water!
One of the treats I serve to guests at my studio is my original Charisma tea blend, which is jasmine green tea with dried osmanthus flowers, fresh lemon verbena, lemongrass and spearmint from my balcony’s herb garden. In the wintertime I serve a modified blend with the dried herbs (most of which were hand-picked and dried by my loving mother). And for those of you too faraway to visit, Dawna have created for me an even more sophisticated version of a fine pomello blossom tea with the same dry fragrant herbs and osmanthus flowers.

Verbena and spearmint are those notes which I love in real life but less so in perfume. An exception is Spring Flower, which has a mint note and is another perfume that never fails to make me feel happy. I have nearly run out of an entire bottle, which says a lot.

Last year I spent a lazy afternoon in my hotel room in Grasse with a cantaloupe… I know, this does not sound good. But I assure you, even though it was only the two of us, nothing happened that afternoon behind those closed doors… Except that I couldn’t get enough of the fragrance that filled the room. Which is exactly why I took my time before slashing it open with the knife I bought for that purpose only. As it turns out (a couple of days later), This cantaloupe was not only the most fragrant, but also the most delicious, juicy and beautiful fruit ever.
Another cantaloupe encounter that trip was with Michel Roudnitska’s Emotionelle, a beautiful and sophisticated perfume centered around jasmine, violet and overripe cantaloupe.

Ayala’s Spring Essentials:
Le Parfum de Thérèse
Vanille Galante
Spring Flower
Opium Fleur de Shanghai
Narcisso Rodriguez for Her (EdT)

Leave a comment sharing with us your spring staples, or any scents and notes that bring a smile on your face, and enter to win one of these prizes:
1) Mini parfum of Zohar
2) Tin of Charism Tea
3) TBA

Participating blogs:
Katie Puckrik Smells
Perfume Shrine
The Non Blonde
I Smell Therefore I Am
Notes from the Ledge
Scent Hive
Savvy Thinker
Roxana's Illuminated Journal
Perfume in Progress
All I Am A Redhead
Ambre Gris
A Rose Beyond the Thames

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


At April 16, 2010 12:04 PM, Anonymous Bettina d'O said...

My scents that sing "spring" are:
En Passant. for sure. only lilac in the nature is much better.
Magnolia Romana by Eau d'Italie: I envision an alley ligned by Magnolia trees, the smell is perfect with a blue sky and sunlight. Another one, and the picture of the mountains are a perfect frame, is La Base For Her by Magic Helvetia. A bouquet of flowers with a glacier feeling. I am so glad Carol and I discovered it two years ago in Florence. Infact it is a real Heidi fragrance.
Diorissimo yes yes yes. I save my vintage bottle for the special days. Last but not least: Six Scents Urban Tropicalia. A fruity cocktail that announces that summer is not far away.

At April 16, 2010 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love spring and all it brings! I didn't expect that would rhyme...anyway, I love your list, although I'm afraid I'm not familiar with all of your fragrances.

For spring, I love Diorissimo, vintage parfum, CdG Lily and Calamus, CSP Ecume de The, Highland Lilac of Rochester or En Passant, Beige, JM Orange Blossom.

Oh how I'd love to be a winner. Thank for the opportunity :-)


At April 16, 2010 7:48 PM, Anonymous ElizabethN said...

Right now, I'm wearing a lot of Ormonde Jayne Ta'if, AG Grand Amour and Matin d'Orage, and Guerlain Cruel Gardenia. Thank goodness for spring- I'm always ready for the lighter scents!

At April 16, 2010 8:12 PM, Blogger Ayala Moriel said...

I'm very pleased (though not surprised!) to see Diorissimo being mentioned by so many readers :-)

I agree that lilacs in nature are the best. En Passant is stunning.
The other two scents you mentioned I'm unfamiliar with, so you picked my curiosity!I love magnolias and I've always been a fan of Heidi :-)

Nice rhyme!
And I like your list, though I haven't smelled all of the ones you mentioned (never even heard of Lily and Calamus...). It's not the first time I hear about Highland Lilac, so perhaps it's about time I get a hold of some to try.

Grand Amour is beautiful, and it happens to be my daughter's favourite... She always picks that one when we sniff the caps at the Annick Goutal table. I love Ta'if in the winter, never thought of it for the spring - but I guess it would have a similar effect of Fleur de Shanghai; it's spicy but still quite light.
And Jo Malone's Orange Blossom Colognes is one of the best of the line and best orange blossom scents (even though it's more citrus than blossom to my nose).

At April 16, 2010 9:34 PM, Blogger ahsumaker said...

Like many, I turn to florals in the spring. I've discovered a new favorite jasmine scent, MPG La Reine Margot, that I've been wearing a lot recently. Also enjoy Lily & Spice, Ofresia (glad to see you mention it), Sous le Buis.

At April 17, 2010 1:48 AM, Blogger Ines said...

Oh, I would love to be able to smell citrus orchards in bloom someday. I love the smell of orange blossoms and I'm sure the experience would be one of tremendous joy. :)

At April 17, 2010 6:21 AM, Blogger MLake said...

Spring scents for me are Demeter grass, The Different Company Osmanthus, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Lili, Blue Q MisoPretty.

At April 17, 2010 8:02 AM, Blogger Princess Ellie said...

Watching everything bloom here in Minnesota is amazing. Spring is an energy of new beginings and beauty. With the snow melting giving way to the small plants and bright green grass. Magnolias and hyacinth blossoms are already open smelling intoxicating. The rain washing the ground for the tiny voliets to make there way to the sun. Lastly the linden trees, lilacs trees will scent the neighborhoods. That is spring here.
Perfume's that Sing Spring:
Ayala Moriel Chrisma- jasmine, spearmint and grapefruit are a stunning energy filled combination. This perfume makes me happy instantly.
Ayala Moriel Viola- It reminds me of the scent after the rains wash the earth in the woods, the sweet smell of the voilets mixed in with the ferns starting to stretch to the sun. Aura of new birth and centering perfume.
Roxana Illuminated Perfume Smell Me- falling into Alice's Wonderland with bursts of Citrus, earthy dew, fresh cut grass and blooming roses. Bright green floral, an energy filled scent.
Roxana's GreenWitch- Clean ocean breeze meeting the bright green moss laden trees of the forest. This is a very cleansing and renewing scent.
Wing and a Prayer Bella- Neroli, lemongrass and roses blend together into a beautiful fresh Rose scent.

At April 17, 2010 8:38 AM, Blogger Vanessa said...

Vanille Galante would be one of my spring picks - find I am drawn to it a lot at the moment.

And I have you to thank for getting me into Fleur de Shanghai - I bought a 100ml bottle and am so glad I grabbed it when I did. What a beauty that is!

At April 17, 2010 11:29 AM, Blogger Judith said...

Growing up in the med I know what you mean about pomelo. I associate pitanga with spring, pomeloes with summer and guavas with October.

I recently tried the new John Richmond perfume and while it did nothing for me overall, the topnote strongly reminded me of pitanga and that's pretty rare. I wonder if anyone else is using it?

At April 17, 2010 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lately I've often been wearing CdG Odeur 71, for its clean cool notes.
Yesterday I wore Amaranthine, which came up on many of the bloggers' lists! Such an exciting fragrance.

But my favourite scent of all time happens to be one that works very well in spring. Oddly enough it is not high-end at all, and if I remember correctly I got it from my mother who is a high school teacher, who took it at the end of one school year when it had been abandoned in a lost & found box.

It is called "Primula" by Smith & Vandiver. It has micro-glitter in it and comes in a silly plastic bottle. It shouldn't be as beautiful as it is. It has no reputation (or listed notes) or anything, but I can't deny that it makes my heart sing. =) Oh, if anyone reads this comment and happens to have smelled this scent and recognized any notes in it, let me know, for i am curious.


At April 17, 2010 11:57 PM, Blogger womo531 said...

Spring my mind has been wandering lately... how could I forget En Passant? I wore Bois d'Argent today which seemed just right with the spring drizzle... My beloved Hermes Hiris should come back and now that you mentioned it I have been wearing NR in both EDT and EDP, as well as layering it with other scents the past few weeks..

At April 18, 2010 9:19 AM, Blogger ScentScelf said...

Okay, that's the second Creed that has registered on my radar thanks to all of these spring singings. :) Brian over at I Smell... talking up Irisia, and now you and Spring Flower. I'm rather with you on verbena and's not a summer garden without them, as far as I'm concerned, but in a perfume? Hard to find one I like.

Which means I think I need to check out Charisma. Mmmm.

En Passant. Happy place, even if it does disappear on and off, like the sun in spring.

I think I'm going to chuckle for a few days over the idea of a quiet getaway with--a cantaloupe. :)

No need to enter me in the drawing; I just won the Feuilles de Tabac, which challenged me on the first try, but utterly enchanted me after. {narrow eyes} Just how much perfume trouble are you trying to get me into, hmmm??? ;)

Happy Spring!

At April 18, 2010 1:35 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

I am a lover of orange blossom as well! I occasionally like it bright, sweet and joyous, but my absolute favorite is the bitter, headiness and slightly indolic neroli. A favorite for night in the spring is L'Occitane's discontinued and amazing Neroli, and for the day I love Ava Luxe Neroli Blossom and Santa Maria Novella Caprifoglio (actually an OB scent though the name is honeysuckle!). A new favorite is a citrus with a dark twist, Mona di Orio's Lux. I find that I get bored easily with soliflores or floral blends without any warmth.

More spring favorites: Vanille Galante, Un Jardin en Mediterranee, Acca Kappa Calycanthus, L'Erbolario Acacia, and Strange Invisible Perfumes Urban Lily and L'Invisible.

I haven't tried your Zohar yet and am so hoping to win the mini of it!

At April 18, 2010 9:04 PM, Anonymous Chris G said...

This spring (it changes every year)I've been wearing Diorella and Annick Goutal's Neroli. As it gets hotter, I'll add Dior Eau Fraiche to lighten the Diorella just a bit.

At April 19, 2010 6:09 AM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

Hi there Ayala!
Love that you included flowers and plants and the associations they have for you and as a secondary thought the perfumes highlighting them.
I have several spring staples, but an innocent one that marks the beginning of spring for me is Tocadilly. I included it last year.

At April 19, 2010 4:03 PM, Anonymous AnnieA said...

Diorissimo is spring for me. How casually did I use up the eau de parfum, which I bought only because it came in a cute amphora -- and now it's gone forever...

At April 19, 2010 4:40 PM, Blogger thea said...

I'm actually in need of a good spring scent. I'm curious about Hermes' Jardin series because I really like Kelly Caleche but I'd like to not smell like a vegetal handbag. I think if your tea Charisma tea were a fragrance I would wear that. It sounds amazing.

At April 20, 2010 6:04 PM, Anonymous ggs said...

As the weather warms, I have been reaching for my bottle of Hermes Jardin en Mediterranee.

Also love Ormonde Jayne Woman in the spring.


At April 20, 2010 6:21 PM, Anonymous ggs said...

I should have mentioned that I'm enjoying my sample of The Purple Dress. Good Spring choice as well!

At April 20, 2010 11:06 PM, Blogger The Fledgling Basement Foodie said...

Spring scents that make me glow with peace and happiness (and bring me out of the winter doldudrums!).
Fresh-cut grass, sweet sakura-scented air, the warm sun (it does have a scent, I swear), fresh cut limes and lemons, the heady sweet scent of warmth from roses, the sweet woody and totally unmistakable scent of birch/willow/poplar trees, and of course, lilacs.
My favourite scent that is definitely of the sunshine season is Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue: refreshing citrus that doesen't overdo it and makes me inhale, and inhale, and inhale.

At April 21, 2010 4:41 PM, Blogger Katie Puckrik said...

I was reading your list, happily mmming and ahhing, until the mmmms came to a screeching halt at Emotionelle. Yak! Melon, get thee away from me!

The idea of you, a cantaloupe and a knife alone in a room sounds like the beginning of a terrifying horror film, as far as I'm concerned: "MELON: No One Gets Out Alive".

Are you getting the idea I don't like melon?

At April 22, 2010 7:06 AM, Blogger HJ said...

Jonquils and Lemon blossoms in my back yard sing spring to me.
Holly x


Post a Comment

<< Home