Mimosa Focus: A Festival of Fragrance

Mimosa. Acacia. Cassie.  All names for the same plant, with those fabulous yellow pom-pom flowers which look delicate, but fill a room with their dreamy sweetness in minutes. The bark, roots and resin are all still used to create incense for rituals, in Nepal, India and China (including Tibet – and acacia/mimosa’s used in mainstream perfumery, too:  the scent has a warm, honey, iris-like, powdery airiness, which enriches the complexity of fragrances. Mimosa has a long tradition in perfumery:  it was first used in making incense, and symbolised resurrection and immortality: Egyptian mythology linked the acacia tree with the tree of life, described in the Myth of Osiris and Isis.  

 

 

 

 

Mimosas are pod-bearing shrubs and trees now native mostly to Australia and the Pacific, though they put on a pretty spectacular show around the heartland of perfumery in Grasse, too, in the south of France. For centuries, aside from perfumery, the mimosa tree has been used for many different purposes from medicinal to ornamental. The seeds and fruit are edible and used in many cuisines and soft drinks, the bark produces a gum that is used as a stabiliser (gum Arabic) and in the production for printing and ink; and the timber is used in furniture making.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, in France, at this time every year in February the fluffy yellow pom-pom blooms are celebrated for their beauty and vibrancy – adding a much-needed splash of yellow brightness to these often dreary days. As the blog thegoodlifefrance.com describes:

“…the velvety yellow blooms of the locally grown mimosa flowers will fill the streets of Mandelieu-La Napoule for a large and very popular festival. The festivities last for 10 days with the main attraction being the famed gloriously yellow floral floats during both weekends.”

“The evening starts at the “Notre Dame des Mimosas”, the Mimosa Queen is elected; the streets of the town centre ring to the sound of marching bands, street orchestras and the floats which parade, covered in locally grown mimosa.  Each Sunday, the battle of the flowers takes place and when the floral floats are finished the winners go home laden with mimosa. This is a festival for everyone and children love it, the bright colours, the joyful atmosphere – its impossible not to be happy at this event and to feel that spring is just around the corner.”

To celebrate in fragrant form, why not seek out some mimosa-fluffed scents such as these…

 

 

 

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GOLDFIELD & BANKS VELVET SPLENDOUR

Sumptuousness personified with a flirtatiously fluffy Australian mimosa snuggled up to decadently waxy orange blossom and luminous jasmine against a leathery, resinous backdrop of intriguing complexity. Drowsily splendid, this unfurls for hours on the skin as it warms, telling the story of a day spent in bed with your lover – a decadent plushness to sink into and sigh at the heliotropine-drenched dry-down, as you sip tea and eat buttered toast, while warming your feet on theirs…

£135 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIPTYQUE L’EAU PAPIER

What is the scent of paper? That’s how every Diptyque creation begins: a blank sheet, a pen, ink, ideas. Fabrice Pellegrin was tasked here with conjuring up diluted ink and artistic brushstrokes. The perfect textural softness of mimosa and white musks are mistily ethereal, with a rice steam accord adding to the sense of paperiness and roasted sesame for the inkiness. Alex Waline’s pointillist label completes a modern masterpiece that couldn’t be more Diptyque if it tried.

From £90 for 50ml eau de parfum diptyqueparis.com

 

 

 

 

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MAISON CRIVELLI IRIS MALIKHÂN

If what you need now is a massive hug, there are two ingredient that enfold you in their arms, and both are included here. Iris wraps its arms around cypress, leather, amber, musks, vanilla and a surprisingly animalic but still soothing purr of mimosa, confected to create ‘the mind-blowing discovery of iris fields on the edge of a desert.’ (Imaginary, but we’re right there, thanks to this shimmering mirage of a scent, from this exciting, new-to-the-UK perfume name.)

£90 for 30ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com

 

 

LOUIS VUITTON HEURES D’ABSENCE

If ever there were further proof needed that florals have been modernised, it is here, in this pale mauve juice: a profusion of fresh flowers harvested in Grasse, still a hub of perfume creativity, where Vuitton’s Jacques Cavallier Belletrud was born and works today. Add the gloriously green, powdery mimosa from the Tanneron forest, touches of sandalwood and soft musks, and you have the prettiest of sheer summer scents – contemporary, luminous and understatedly elegant.

£255 for 100ml eau de parfum louisvuitton.com

 

 

 

 

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PENHALIGON’S THE FAVOURITE

This floral-musky triumph is named after Queen Anne’s best friend – Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, as immortalised by Rachel Weisz in the film that also starred Oscar-winner Olivia Colman. As prettily-packaged as any scent we’ve seen in a while, it’s a juice to match, swirling with that gloriously powdery mimosa, freesia, violet and mandarin, becoming positively boudoir-esque as the musk and Indian sandalwood drift in. Spritz lavishly and waft in a negligé to do it justice.

£85 for 30ml eau de parfum penhaligons.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Dreaming of Spring with Narcissus Scents

Narcissus has been exciting perfumers for millennia. The Arabs used it in perfumery, then the Romans, who created a perfume called Narcissinum with the oil from what’s become one of our favourite modern flowers. In India, meanwhile, narcissus one of the oils applied to the body before prayer, along with jasmine, sandalwood and rose. (Nobody’s quite sure where the first flowers were grown;  some believe it originated in Persia, and made its way to China via the Silk Route.)

There are hundreds of different species of Narcissi today – white, yellow, some with a touch of pink or orange (including our ‘everyday’ daffodil) – but not all are fragrant. The Pheasant’s Eye Narcissus (a.k.a. Poet’s Narcissus, or Narcissus poeticus) is native to Europe, and growers cultivate it in the Netherlands and the Grasse area of France, extracting an oil which smells like a blend of jasmine and hyacinth.

The scent can also be extracted from the so-pretty ‘bunched’ variety – Narcissus tazetta – is native to southern Europe and now also grown widely across Asia, the Middle East, north Africa, northern India, China and Japan.  A third variety, Narcissus jonquil, can also be used, and in one form or another this beautiful ingredient is said to make its way into as much as 10% of modern fragrances – despite the fact that a staggering 500 kilos of flowers are needed to produce a kilo of ‘concrete’, or just 300 g of absolue, making it very pricy – and, therefore, many perfumers will create an ‘accord’ to recreate this stunning scent note.

 

 

 

 

It’s so powerful, though, that only a touch is needed – and perfumers must proceed with caution: the scent in a closed room can be overwhelming. (Narcissus actually gets its name from the Greek word ‘narke’, which made its way into Roman language as ‘narce’: that meant ‘to be numb’, and alludes to the effect the oil can have.)

The supposed Greek legend linked with the flower is well-known: Narcissus was a handsome youth who fell in love with his own reflection, on seeing it in a pool. Unable to leave behind the beauty of his image, Narcissus died – to be replaced by this flower…

 

 

 

 

Penhaligon’s The Revenge of Lady Blanche

Here, hyacinth and daffodil lure those around with wafts of what seems like whimsicality, before the true headiness kicks in with billowing verdancy and the bite of ginger flower beckons. Reflecting the character of Lady Blanche, who Penhaligon’s describe as ‘the darling of London Society’ who will ‘do anything to continue climbing the social ladder’ and revealing ‘her charmingly dangerous persona,’ – this is a narcissus-strewn scent that beautifully balances the beauty and intriguing green notes.

£235 for 75ml eau de parfum penhaligons.com

 

 

 

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Sana Jardin Jaipur Chant

Sana Jardin have helped to put scent sustainability firmly on the agenda, a brand created primarily as a vehicle for social change, offering fragrances (by the esteemed Carlos Benaïm) which are exquisite enough to convert any eco-refusenik. They don’t launch newness every five minutes – au contraire – but introductions like this are worth waiting for, heady with tuberose, jasmine and French narcissus, freshened by lemon and ultimately smoothed by soft musks. Hypnotic, we’re finding.

Try a sample in the Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30 for 10 x 2ml samples In our shop

 

 

 

 

Frederic Malle Cologne Indélébile

Love the freshness – but weep over the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature of Colognes…? This is the most surprising Cologne incarnations you can wrap your nose around, bursting out of the bottle on a surge of orange blossom and Calabrian bergamot, neroli and lemon. But wait. Literally, wait a couple of hours: the top notes still make their presence felt – joined by arm-fulls of headier narcissus, too, by now – but Cologne Indelebile develops an irresistible musky undertone that will still be seducing you (and who knows who else?), 24 hours in. Golly.

£240 for 100ml Cologne libertylondon.com

 

 

Shay & Blue Atropa Belladonna

Atropa Belladonna is inspired by deadly nightshade (yes, really!): the rare plant used by seventeenth century Venetians for hallucinogenic beauty, as the natural toxins is contains dilate the pupils. This rich and incredibly opulent scent was created by ‘nose’ Julie Massé. It is an utterly contemporary blend of ripe blackcurrant alongside narcotic white flowers by way of narcissus and jasmine. The mesmerising composition decadently dries down to a base of patchouli, sandalwood and Bourbon vanilla.

£65 for 100ml natural spray fragrance In our shop

 

 

PARLE MOI DE PARFUM Haute Provence / 89

Endless vistas of Provençal lavender fields and their ‘glorious explosion of purple, mauve, lilac and blue’ were the inspiration behind this wonderfully soothing, aromatic ‘memory of France in high summer.’ Until we can wander those fields first-hand, this cool, dry and immediately nostalgic scent spirits us there with every spritz. Refreshing watermelon and hypnotic narcissus only add to the bucolic charms, and once again we praise the nose of Michel Almairic. Mai oui!

£100 for 50ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale