Constance, Countess of Trentham : Difficult colour, green… very tricky.

Maggie Smith in Gosford Park

Maggie Smith as the Countess in Gosford Park

One of the funniest lines in Gosford Park (2001) was unscripted.  And who else but Maggie Smith could come up with such a line and deliver it in such a way that would leave the wearer wondering if she had just been given a compliment or the rudest of insults!  So when Claudie Blakley as Mabel Nesbitt arrived on set in a green dress, Maggie instinctively said, “Difficult colour, green… very tricky” and the associate producer, Julian Fellowes, burst out laughing.  They decided to keep the line.

I would say that green perfumes are also difficult, if not tricky.  On my skin they come off very chemical.  And, even a hint of green is sometimes rough as in Chanel No. 19 with that poisonous galbanum opening.  Judging by Michael Edwards’ green family of his Fragrances of the World 2012, it certainly is one of the smallest families… so I assume that they are not that popular either.

Of those that I have tried, I think Sisley’s Eau de Campagne is wonderful, but expensive. Chanel’s Bel Respiro is also lovely, also expensive. I’ve tried Devin by Aramis a couple of times.  Not expensive, but not great either and almost no lasting power.  On me, it smells too soapy.

It seems that to enjoy a really good green scent, you have to break the bank.  And then again, maybe not entirely.

I recently tried Eau de Céleri by Montreal-based Monsillage and I was delighted.  It recently won the Artisan Category of the 2015 Art and Olfaction Awards.  I’ll get back with a full review shortly.  In the meantime, if you know of any green scents that work for you, I’d love to hear about them.


Mugler : Les Exceptions – Supra Floral

The Death of Hyacinth (1769) by Nicolas-René Jollain (click to enlarge)

The Death of Hyacinth (1769) by Nicolas-René Jollain (click to enlarge)

Created by : Olivier Polge and Jean-Christophe Hérault

Date : 2014

Genre : Hyacinth soliflore

Concentration : eau de parfum

Over the years I have read and heard many references made between Thierry Mugler and Guerlain fragrances… not least of which is Luca Turin referring to Angel as the Shalimar of the Nineties.  And a very smart perfume enthusiast I know immediately recognized a nod to the famous Guerlinade in the first version of Angel… so I wasn’t completely surprised when I first sniffed Supra Floral and Chamade came to mind even before the sales associate said it was Mugler’s take on hyacinth.

Admittedly, I was ripe and ready for Supra Floral because I had been looking for a green floral for the past several weeks.  I always look for green scents in the spring and in late March and early April I threw myself into an orgy of green chypres and green fruity scents such as Premier Figuier. In addition, I must have tested half a dozen green florals including Estée Lauder’s Private Collection, Fidji, Bel Respiro and Romance by Ralph Lauren… even pulling out my Chanel No. 19 on occasion to keep me grounded.  I once said that white florals were the Holy Grail of  perfumes because they are so difficult to do beautifully.  I now think that green florals are even trickier.  Too much of one or two ingredients and the perfume comes off smelling like window cleaner!

So what does Supra Floral smell like?  I decided to use Chamade as my yardstick because most people have easy access to Chamade and the Les Exceptions collection is still only available in Canada and Italy as I write this post.

Both Supra Floral and Chamade highlight hyacinth but Chamade lists hyacinth only in the topnotes (according to Michael Edwards’ Perfume Legends : French Feminine Fragrances) while the promotional material for Supra Floral refers to the fragrance as a hyacinth soliflore with amber and incense.  So they definitely both share some DNA but they are not meant to be direct competitors.

On my skin, both Supra Floral and Chamade came out of the starting gate similarly because of the hyacinth note with Supra Floral being greener and more stark and Chamade boasting a powder note.  Supra Floral made me think of an early-morning stroll through a field of spring blossoms on an ultra-dry day… when sights and smells are surreal.  It awakened my senses all day long when I wore it.  Chamade reminds of later in the season… an early August late-afternoon stroll in the same field but on a VERY HUMID day with not only hyacinths but also other field flowers having grown in… maybe a few rose bushes here and there and jasmine in a neighbouring field.  Where Supra Floral is highly concentrated and saturated, Chamade is diffuse. Both Supra Floral and Chamade are wonderful… and both are complimentary.  If I had to choose one on any given day, I wouldn’t.  I would start my day with Chamade and then layer Supra Floral overtop for evening drama… and bump up the volume, so to speak.

As for classification, I would be very surprised if the Société française des parfumeurs puts Supra Floral in their “ambré” category even if Mugler says it has amber in it.  Apart from a discreet vanilla note at the end of the day, I think this is a hyacinth soliflore through and through… well worth testing.

To read about the Greek myth behind the genesis of the hyacinth flower, click here.





Guy Laroche : Fidji

Created by : Josephine Catapano

Date : 1966

Genre : Green floral gorgeous (was)

Concentration : eau de toilette

I went looking for something to wear for the spring today.  Can you imagine that here we are in late March in Montreal and winter dumped another 10 cms. of snow?  And… it’s chilly, humid and windy!  I needed something to remind me of the summer.  So when I saw the Fidji bottle in the discount perfumer’s showcase, I asked to try it out.  When I think of perfumes my mother wore, I think of Crêpe de Chine, L’Air du Temps and Fidji, in that order.  And I’m happy to say that I was the one who introduced her to Fidji.  A girl I liked who lived across the street from our house wore it and I thought this girl was beautiful and classy and so I bought Fidji for my mother for Christmas and it became her signature scent for a long time.  I wanted to see if Fidji had held up or not.

The sales associate sprayed some on a scent strip and then on my skin.  I got a blast of “old school” gorgeous!  All the elements were there as I remembered them… green galbanum, a symphony of white florals, banana-tinged ylang ylang for that tropical edge and civet… but done so expertly, I thought… this is it!  What luck!  At my very first outing, I found what I’ve been looking for.  But… before pulling out my credit card, a little voice in my head spoke… “step away from the counter”… and I did… long enough to check out the notes on the Internet.  All the French classic ingredients were there… jasmine, rose, violet, carnation and a base of musk, patchouli, amber, vetiver and moss!  It was incredible… but still I waited and I’m glad I did because within 15 minutes Fidji had morphed  on my skin to be a soapy, floral, powdery concoction… the fresh green note had disappeared as had the ylang ylang. It wasn’t what it started out to be… but still I thought it wasn’t half bad.  But then, an hour into the fragrance… meh!  Beautiful Fidji had become a sweet, powdery nondescript scent that, although not unpleasant, wasn’t enough to make it into my magic closet.

And so… in the middle of the mall, a little ditty from about the same time that Fidji hit the market came to mind.

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