by Angeliska on April 5, 2012
This springtime in Texas has been truly glorious – we’ve had a very mild winter with only one or two minor freezes,
and more rain than anyone’s seen in ages. It truly feels like an earthly benediction, after the brutal drought we had
this summer – the worst in Texas history. Everything has come back to life. Green tendrils unfurling gratefully, tiny
tree frogs frolicking under dewy leaves, everything opening, breathing again. The air is thick with flower smells:
grape-lilac sweet mountain laurel, woody iris, and bee-sweet honeysuckle – all these blow in through the open
window, wreathing around my head in a sugary nimbus. The sap rising in our sycamores, the soil rich and black
with rain, and everywhere is the wonderful smell of our garden falling in love again. How does your garden grow?
I’ve been meaning to finally write about my favorite springtime scents for ages, especially since I’ve managed to
write about what I like to wear most in summer, autumn and winter. I do tend to categorize scents by season, by
time of day, by color. I get a little funny about wearing certain perfumes out of context – it always feels a little
odd, a little wrong to wear something bright and summery on a dismal grey day. I’d almost rather embrace the
gloom instead of trying to combat it with an out of season scent. Same with wearing all my beloved, heavy
woods when the weather is warm – they’re too thick, too dark for spring days. But that’s kind of the tricky thing:
I love the idea of florals, but as far as actually wearing them goes, most are far too girly for me. I tend to prefer
men’s colognes, and scents that have a harder edge, more mystery, more depth. It’s been interesting to find
which florals I’ll go back to spring after spring – and I’ve found that there’s really only a handful. I’ve listed
a few of those below, along with others I’m curious about trying. What do you like to wear when spring comes on?
L’Ombre dans l’Eau
One of my very favorites from Diptyque. I think this one is the quintessential spring scent.
Imagine walking alone through a rain-wet wild English garden, tromping over muddy paths
down to a pond surrounded by black-currant thickets. You break a green and thorny cane
to swirl the shadows on the water, and crush pale lavender rose petals in your hands, letting
them float down to the surface, dancing around your reflection. The air is cold and very new.
Here’s a good review from Now Smell This: Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau
I also adore CB I HATE PERFUME’s TEA/ROSE – it’s so simple and perfect:
just Indian Black Tea and Moroccan Rose Absolute that somehow smells so real, so fresh –
not like a powdered granny at all, but just like a true living rose pressed to your face. Magic.
I think Christopher Brosius understands and adores spring like few other souls –
thank goodness he happens to be a genius perfumer so he can translate his
perfect visions of these elusive florals into bottled fragrances. I love the idea
of New Yorkers wearing these underground, in the subways dank and dirty,
crammed full of harried city-dwellers who might catch a fleeting impression
of a wet field, a just-bloomed bulb, a dark purple bud warmed at the nape
of a stranger’s neck. Good perfume, real perfume, can be a secret love letter.
Here are a few I’m looking forward to exploring from CB I HATE PERFUME:
M2 BLACK MARCH
“A fresh clean scent composed of Rain Drops, Leaf Buds, Wet Twigs, Tree Sap, Bark, Mossy Earth and the faintest hint of Spring.”
“The scent of narcissus, clean running water over mossy stones, the wind gently blowing through green leaves”
TO SEE A FLOWER
“Delicate spring flowers (hyacinth, daffodils, jonquils & crocuses), green shoots, wet dirt & a bit of moss.”
“Wild Pansy is actually the smell of wild violets growing in the forest – very crisp, grassy & casual.”
“Blended from CB Violet Empress, Elemi, Violet Leaf Absolute, Rosewood, Mahogany,
and Russian Leather. Violet EMPIRE is an unusual yet very elegant perfume.
The violet scent perpetually peeps out from behind a shining green veil.”
M4 A ROOM WITH A VIEW
“This perfume captures the scent of the hills above Florence – the vineyards, the wild grass,
the finocchio, the hot dusty Florentine earth. And of course a torrent of Violets…”
I bought this clover perfume from a little Farmacia in Madrid when I was traveling there with my Grampa.
I’m cursing myself for not buying every bottle they had now, since it seems to be impossible to find now!
If you happen to come across this one ever, won’t you grab some for me pretty please? I miss it so.
I think it’s a very simple perfume – something a young girl would wear. A little coltish doe-child, all
long limbs and freckles on her knees. A sapling bending in a spring gale, laughing and laughing.
“Trebol is Spanish for clover, and at first the impression is of a light floral, a meadow of spring flowers.
The dry down is something quite different, an altogether headier blend of freesia, narcissus and jasmine,
long lasting and true. This is reputedly made to the original 1906 formulation, and displays an old-fashioned
craft in its surprising subtlety and balance. A good find at a very reasonable price, and charmingly packaged too.”
I’m obsessed with Ortigia’s packaging: it really is just flawless, and very dangerous, since it makes me want
to buy it all. “Florio is the scent of Sicilian spring flowers, a remarkable bouquet of Bougainvillea, Narcissus
and Passiflora.” Intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled a Bougainvillea perfumes, or really noticed that ours
had a scent. Passionflowers have a nice aroma, though. I do love paperwhites too, even though they drive me
crazy after awhile. Those and hyacinths – so heady, so powerful! Little flowers pack heavy punches.
I did relent and get this Fico d’India from Tail of the Yak in Berkeley, thinking it was a fig scent. I adore fig
perfumes, and it didn’t occur to me that this wasn’t one. Fico d’India is a prickly pear cactus! Indian Fig! Ha,
joke’s on this Texas girl – particularly as the things grow here like especially naughty weeds! Still good.
“A cactus which grows abundantly in Sicily, Fico d’India
is know to contain healing elements in its juice. A dry, almost
velvety scent, which mirrors the plant: dusky pale green with
explosions of remarkable orange flowers.”
It’s strange, but somewhere along the way, spring wooed me away from autumn,
which had been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. I guess it
happened when I found myself with a real garden, with a place where I could
plunge my hands into the earth, plants seeds and watch them grow year after year.
Springtime is renewal, hope, and the pleasure of seeing new things sprout up and
bloom – little surprises every day. This is only the beginning, verdant and lush.
Here’s a spring song that I’ve had stuck in my head every day for a month:
(I can’t stop listening to this whole album – Grimes is super magic!)
Grimes – Genesis
More musings on seasons and scents:
WINTER SOLSTICE – MESSE DE MINUIT