Exquisitely exotic, heady, tropical: frangipani is sultry hot nights – and sexy, sexy, sexy. Frangipani isn’t actually the name of a plant, though: it’s an ingredient from plumeira flowers, which have a gardenia-like scent: soft, peachy, creamy, fruity. And did we say sexy…? It pumps out its fragrance at night, to attract insects. (And seems to work equally well on members of the opposite sex.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, frangipani pairs well with ingredients from tropical fruits, and coconut.
There’s an intriguing back story to the naming of this plant, meanwhile. Once upon a time, frangipani was the name of an actual perfume – produced by an aristocratic Roman Renaissance family by the name of Frangipani, and created by mixing orris (iris root), spices, civet and musk. (Those last two are outlawed in modern perfumery, of course.) Wine was added to those ingredients to make a long-lasting perfume, which was also used to scent gloves – known as ‘Frangipani gloves’.
When a French colonist later came upon a plant in the West Indies that smelled just like that perfume – the Plumeira alba plant – he named it ‘frangipani’. Which is definitely the only instance of a plant getting its name from an actual fragrance: it’s far more usually the other way round…
Smell frangipani in:
Diane von Furstenberg Diane
Kenzo Kenzo Amour Florale
Ormonde Jayne Frangipani