Add a touch to cooking, and it turns a dish bright yellow.  Add a touch to a perfume, and it gives a bittersweet, leathery, intimate quality:  a little bit earthy, but soft at the same time.  Honeyed and hay-like are other descriptions that perfumers give to saffron, which works especially well in Ambrée-type perfumes.

The priciest of spices – known as ‘red gold’ – saffron’s one of the most ancient perfume ingredients:  it was popular in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, often as a ‘single note’ perfume, as well as in more complex blends.  (The ever-extravagant Romans even strewed it over the floors of public places, to scent the air on special occasions).  Saffron was also used to scent baths, houses and temples, while in medicine it was a narcotic.  (Erotic postscript:  in the tantric rite of the Five Essentials, saffron was applied to the female’s feet…)

The plant itself – Crocus sativus, from the iris family – was introduced into Europe in the 7th Century, after the conquest of Spain;  by the 16th Century, English saffron was prized as the best in the world, grown in large quantities around Saffron Waldon (which is how come that town got its name).  Today, we grow crocus in the garden – often the first herald of spring.  (Without realising that the stamens of the true crocus can be used in our cooking…)

Smell saffron in:

Comme des Garçons 8 88
Diptyque L’Eau de Tarocco
Donna Karan Black Cashmere
Giorgio Armani Idole d’Armani
Givenchy Ange ou Demon
L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!
L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud


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