Green with En Vie – verdant, leafy, joyful fragrances

Just when we thought the grey drizzle would be here forever, (just as we do every year around this time), suddenly there’s a green gasp of true spring in the air – a verdant pop of buds bursting, and a euphoria induced simply by looking at delicate, lime-coloured leaves unfurling.

Rather wonderfully, that new-leaf obsession is sometimes referred to as a ‘chlorophyll rush’, and it does almost feel as though we’re drugged with the joy of revival, so greedily do our eyes drink in the green, the newness of things, signs of life – of hope – re-emerging. In fragrances, green may be expressed as freshly-cut fleshy stalks in a florist’s shop, that insistent quickening of the blood in all living things as the sap rises.

 

 

As a colour, we have a peculiar relationship with green. As well as being the colour of spring, it can be classed as an unlucky colour that ‘belongs to the fairies’ and other mythological forest-dwellers, or the unsettling Pagan figure of ‘the green man’. It’s the ‘green-eyed monster’ of jealous rage, and the ‘green fairy’ of Absinthe addiction, too. Conversely, green can mean lucky – being associated with clover/shamrocks and St Patrick’s Day celebrations; or naïve, raw, young and inexperienced, and more recently, natural, organic – and indicating a belief in sustainable living.

 

 

As a smell, ‘green’ can brashly thrust or softly beckon, depending on the perfumer’s proclivities. The ultimate ‘green’ note in fragrance is called galbanum. It’s been used for centuries – millennia, actually, dating back to Biblical times, with the ancient Roman and Greeks burning galbanum-laden incense sticks, scenting their baths, adding to soothing skin balms, and also as a personal perfume.

Woody yet alive with the smell of clean, damp earth and the icily pure air of a mountain forest, galbanum essential oil is obtained via steam distillation of resin from the umbelliferous plant Ferula galbaniflua, native to Iran, Turkey and some neighbouring countries, and from a near-relative, Ferula gummosa. The plant looks a little like fennel and angelica, with a starburst of yellow flowers – but slice the stalk, and out oozes a milky juice, released by the plant to heal itself.

Other notes used to evoke this breath-of-fresh-air-through-an-open-window include green teagrass, herbs, vines and leavesviolet leaf, for instance, provides an intriguing, almost mystical verdancy of woodland walks, while an accord representing tomato leaf is more astringent, slightly bitter, but evokes in many of us blissful childhood memories of greenhouses, and exploring a garden with all your senses. Geranium leaf, meanwhile, is lemony, quite potently fruity/herbaceous or even camphorously minty. Cassis (blackcurrant) is the distilled absolute of the blackcurrant buds and leaves, a.k.a.  bourgeons de cassis (say it ‘boor-shon da cassee’): a light, fruity, woody note with a slightly animalic edge adored by those of us who appreciate its musky undertones – assiduously avoided by those who detest what they perceive as ‘tom cat’ notes in perfumes.

 

 

When cassis is used unapologetically stridently within a fragrance, and particularly when mosses and earthy patchouli are used to ground the composition; it can take on the more vintage air of a ‘green chypre’ – fragrances that are less Laura Ashley springtime picnic and more Wickerman meets Working Girl in nature. (I think if the music video for Radiohead’s song If You Say The Word were scented, it would be a wonderfully weird green chypre. Have a peek, above, if you’ve no idea what I’m talking about.)

Whichever shade of green scent you feel most drawn towards, I urge you to seek out some of my suggestions here, because they can freshen up your fragrance wardrobe and drag you by the collar out of the grey blah or blanketing wintery perfumes you’ve perhaps become accustomed to. Get some of that chlorophyl rush going with these…

 

 

 

SISLEY – L’EAU RÊVÉE D’HUBERT

An utterly sublime shot of cool, garden air to shake off the cobwebs. The geranium here is incredible quality, slightly minty, with a hint of rosiness (they call it ‘the male rose’ for its more textural, herbaceous furriness) and wrapped in savoury, peppery, grounding shiso leaf, papyrus and loamy patchouli.

£81 for 50ml eau de toilette harrods.com

 

 

 

VYRAO – I AM VERDANT

Sprouting forth greenery with every spritz, this sings of spring from the get-go, with cyclamen joyously bursting through the undergrowth, swags of moss-bedecked ivy draping the powdery comfort of iris, and bergamot bolstering the brightness of orange flower absolute. The kind of scent that just makes you beam.

£135 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

(Try a sample in the Vyrao High Five Set for £79)

 

 

 

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LALIQUE LES COMPOSITIONS PARFUMÉES – IMPERIAL GREEN

Glorious greenery rendered luxurious, neroli is co-distilled here with ‘a secret molecule’ to amplify its fresh facets, while Ambroxan (the ‘secret’?) adds lengthening shadows in flower meadows. All anchored by grassy vetiver essence and the pared-back, almost aquatic green clarity of Patchouli Heart, it’s a grower.

£190 for 100ml eau de parfum lalique.com

 

 

 

 

CONTRADICTIONS IN ILK – NATURE

Imagine a city at sunrise, dew-speckled wildflowers shoving through cracks in walls and pavements, nature staking its claim via tangles of green ivy, sudden shocks of orange marigold, magnolia trees in private gardens, geraniums and nettles nestled on pathways, earth’s scent, keeping us (somewhat!) sane.

£165 for 50ml extrait de parfum SHOP

(Try a sample in the Contradictions in ILK Discovery Set for £48)

 

 

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ERIS PARFUMS – GREEN SPELL

Living up to an ULTRA green promise, vibrant mandarin is squeezed over sharp blackcurrant absolute with Iranian galbanum and violet leaf absolute thrusting of snapped stalks and sap-drenched blooms. Tomato leaf shines with photorealistic phosphorescence, while narcissus and fig leaf nestle and nurture the base.

£115 for 50ml eau de parfum saintecellier.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance Family Friday: Floriental

What exactly is a ‘floriental‘ fragrance, and how can we tell them apart from an ambrée or floral? What’s more – where should your nose be seeking out perfume samples to explore this style of scent at home? We have all the answers…

Fragrance Families‘ – the classification of what they smell like, based on the main ingredients – can be a bit baffling to work out (and so many of them are fusing these days), so we have an entire section dedicated to explaining them, and suggesting fragrances to try, giving you a head (well, nose) start. You can read more here about how to identify all the differing fragrant family members, but each week we’ve decided to take you through a particular perfume genre, and suggest a couple of scents to explore at home.

If you scroll down, you will find a review of two floriental fragrances we think you’ll love, with links to buy samples. But for now, let’s sort out what a Floriental is…

Well, the name for this family does most of the work for us: florientals are a sophisticated fusion of floral and ambrée notes, and so many fragrances now fall into this category that it’s a real family in its own right. Florientals blend flowers – including gardenia, jasmine, freesia, orange flower – with spices, warm woods and resins. The result? Fragrances that are sensual and often sweetly seductive, but generally airier and lighter in character than true ambrées.

Many people who adore ambrées like trying florientals in warmer weather, or when travelling, for a still characterful experience, but with a bit of added breeziness. Similarly, those who enjoy florals might like to venture forth into something a little more nuanced, or simply less heady to wear in summer temperatures.

Floris A Rose For…

FAMILY: FLORIENTAL
TOP NOTES: Darjeeling tea, incense, cassis
HEART NOTES: red rose, orris, oudh
BASE NOTES: sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, amber

Intriguingly smoky, velvety wine-dark petals unfurl in the heart of this fragrance. Revealing a sophisticated sprinkling of powdered iris root (orris) and a wisp of carnality with the rich seam of smooth oudh. The amber-y base swathes you in vanilla’s gossamer embrace – that makes you feel is the way your skin should always smell.

After visiting the rose fields of Morocco, Edward Bodenham – director of Floris, and continuing the tradition of perfumery in their presigious family history – became obsessed with the idea of re-interpreting this Queen of flowers. Exploring what has tended to be seen as a ‘classic’ (and therefore trifle old-fashioned) note in perfumery, and looking at ways of marrying the intoxicatingly exotic warmth with the elegant beauty, the resulting floriental is a stunning version of rose – a contemporary twist on the dusty, fustiness we are sometimes still guilty of associating it with.

Mugler Alien Fusion For Her

FAMILY: FLORIENTAL
TOP NOTES: ginger, cinnamon
HEART NOTES: tuberose, orange blossom
BASE NOTES: tonka bean absolute, white musks

Flickering between the heat of ginger and cinnamon with the silvered coolness of tuberose and an aquatic orange blossom in the heart, the warmth returns again as the scent acclimatises to your skin’s temperature, white amber radiating like sunbeams on volcanic stone.

One minute it’s hot, the next it’s cool. (Well, strictly, Alien is always cool.) A new addition to the Alien universe, its futuristic, talismanic bottle reinvented in fiery, translucent ruby red, this sets out to bring us ‘the power of an eclipse, captured in a bottle’, via radiant sambac jasmine and orange blossom, ablaze with ginger and cinnamon, with carnal tuberose igniting the heart before white amber and Madagascan vanilla make their presence known.

These two floriental perfume samples are both included in the Launches We Love Discovery Box, where you’ll find THIRTEEN fragrances in all, with a variety of families to explore.

From that contemporary rose floriental celebration by Floris and ultra-modern Mugler floriental style to tantalise your senses, you’ll also get to try a ground-breaking Gentle Fluidity duo by Francis Kurkdjian. Or delight in the lipstick-and-leather-handbag sauciness of Miller Harris Violet Ida and explore their homage to urban foraging in Lost. Live you ultimate glamorous fantasies with Cartier’s best-seller for summer, and surrender to an evocation of succulent White Peaches by Shay & Blue. Then, why not immerse yourself in a trio of blooms by Yardley and revel in the oh-so-Parisian Mademoiselle Rochas Couture?

Oh yes, and in addition we’re giving you a stunning new nail polish by Nails Inc. (worth £15 alone!) and two travel-size body washes by I LOVE Cosmetics.

Compare and contrast the floriental fragrances with other families represented in the box, with our famous Smelling Notes to guide you along with each spritz.

Launches We Love Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

By Suzy Nightingale