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Friday, February 02, 2007

Dreaming of Spring...

As soon as this strange weather that we have been having has gotten colder, Ina of Aromascope and I fell pray to the winter blues. At this point we don’t dare dream of summer, but we are timidly nostalgic of spring. And so, however untimely it might seem, we decided to compile lists of scents that speak to us of spring. Now, with a couple of exceptions, I wear the scents I wear all year round, so the fragrances on the Spring List are in rotation in other seasons too. It is simply that they happen to have what I think of as spring quality.

Spring to me is a melancholic time, not quite rid of the gloomy cold of winter, only hesitantly hopeful of summer. I perceive this in-between season to be as transformative, fragile and gritty as, dare I say it, childbirth. One holds one’s breath. Can a miracle of the annual re-birth of nature really happen? It feels astonishing that it does happen…year after year, after year…The scents I consider to be spring-like have a certain ethereal, transparent quality (fragile) and a substantial earthy base (gritty). They must have coldness and greenness about them. Lily of the valley scents are spring-like, and so are violets (the greener the better) and irises. Vetiver is to me the essence of the poignant smell of spring soil as is patchouli (not always, but often, when it is rendered “dry” rather than “warm”, and is paired with vetiver). Cool, green chypres are very spring-like as well. Lilac scents are undoubtedly evocative of spring, but since I am not fond of this note, there will not be lilac-centered scents on my list.

So here is the list:

Christian Dior Diorissimo. Spring, bottled. This is lily of the valley flowers pulled out of the earth with their roots intact, with the earth still clinging to them.

Guerlain Muguet (any year) is the very soul of lily of the valley; the truer rendition I have not encountered. Unlike Diorissimo with its trademark, slightly dirty Dior base that makes me think of earth, Guerlain’s version focuses on flowers and flowers alone.

L’Artisan Verte Violette. Young violets shyly peeking out of the green grass, on a rainy spring day. A cool, fresh scent that I shouldn’t love but do, madly.

Caron Violette Precieuse. The dark roots of violets and grass. Black spring soil that just shook off the burden of snow. (I am talking of the old version here, although I think that the new Violette Precieuse can also be considered spring-like, in the same fresh, green way as Verte Violette)

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Bleu Gris. To me, this scent is closely related to Violette Precieuse. The flowers are as dry and dark, the base even earthier. This is the smell of April, the cruelest month.

Chanel 19. Deep-green, succulent iris. Spring in an elegant city, urbanity, and dreams of the open air and the country-side.

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist and Hermes Hiris – silvery, shimmery, magical spring, somewhere in the Rivendell.

Guerlain Vetiver and Miller Harris Vetiver Bourbon are the examples of vetiver scents that represent to me the “gritty” part of spring that I was talking about. They smell of wet, cold soil and the grass pushing out of it.

Jo Malone Fleurs de la Foret, Yves Saint Laurent Y, Jacomo Silences are some of the floral chypres whose coldness and greenness seems to me to be very spring-like.

Please share, which scents speak of spring to you, and don’t forget to visit Aromascope to read Ina’s Spring List.


Blogger tmp00 said...

Spring was always the most difficult part of the year growing into adulthood in the northeast. After months of dreary grey days with barren trees and slush, or that hard cold brightness and the muddy brown earth covered with withered tan grass you'd wonder if any of this would ever come to life again. Seemingly you would go to bed in this alien blasted landscape to awaken to an overnight transformation: trees bursting with leaves, lawns suddenly impossibly green. Lillies were always the first of the flowers to pop their improbable heads up, and violets. The thrill of it is fraught, even unto May one could have a killing frost. I've never smelled anything that captures that singular lily, so delicate, green and earthy yet with that particular sweet siren call. But you make me want to spritz these to find out if there is a simulacrum of that endless spring in my minds eye (nose?)

12:45 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for me spring is/was sève exquise... now extinct... an interpretation of green broken twigs created by victoire gobin-daudé... it was truly a melancholy masterpiece and now a fleeting memory

1:43 AM EST  
Anonymous Amy K said...

Lovely choices! Violets make me think of spring, and Apres l'Ondee is the most spring-like fragrance I can think of.

2:44 AM EST  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Great choices, my friend.

Tom, let's get hitched...I think I love your soul.

I'm a johnny jump-up, violet, moss kind of gal, myself.
Shall we add Crepe de Chine and Replique [along with Vent Vert] to the list ?
By that token, the revisited Rumeur would fit in, with its full LOTV-ness [for my money, I'd rather have others, though].

Chant D'Aromes fits nicely.
And Chamade, for that floral, green, heart-pounding loveliness we suffer in the Spring...

Kisses to you, scented friends.

7:08 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

I overlap with some of your list (no surprise).
Diorissimo: I recently put on some vintage parfum when I was decanting, and it was pure heaven.
The VPs both old and new. I do like the new one, which as Ina noted, smells a lot like The Unicorn Spell without the greenbean(I haven't ever tried L'A Verte Violette--must do).
Chanel 19, of course.
MH Vetiver Bourbon (I have been craving this lately) and (though this is moving toward summer) TDC Sel de Vetiver.
MPG Iris Bleu Gris and SL Iris Silver Mist.
Also--CB Black March, Hermes Parfum des Merveilles, Chanel Gardenia, GD Seve Exquise, Guerlain Apres L'ondee, FM En Passant.

7:40 AM EST  
Anonymous newproducts said...

I love lilac scents for spring and enjoy Ava Luxe's White Lilac. Floris Malmaison is a carnation that is very spring-like. I agree with Hiris as a choice for spring. I will wear La Rose de Rosine a lot this spring. Though I do not own a bottle of Diorissimo, there is nothing more spring-like than that. Spring is my favorite time of the year because it seems so hopeful, so unlike my usual mood. :-)

7:43 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

So much fun reading your list! Yeah, that new VP is basically like the L'Artisan.

I'd add that new Les Nez Unicorn, to me it's frosty and spring-like.

Also agree with En Passant, Hiris, Black March (what is it about that metallic note in iris and lilac that sings spring? like they're icy.)

7:59 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Perfect! Love posts like this because they fit in w/ my idea of magical thinking - if I focus hard enough of spring, if I wear warm weather scents, then nature will cooperate and spring will come early - of course, w/ global warming this is a little (understatement) worrisome.
I wear most of my scents all through the year, even if they are particularly evocative of a certain season. However, there are a few scents I *only* wear in spring and then only a couple of times, but it's absolutely essential for me to have them then. They're PdN Eclipse (my favorite rendition of lotv ever), En Passant, Un Lys and SIP Persica.

8:17 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

You know exactly what I tried to say, I can see it. I think we experienced the same kind of spring. And what smells to me of that day when you just can't believe the world will come to life again, the day before the morning when it all suddenly bursts Black March. Absolute misery and cold and raw earth. But I didn't include it on the list, because I simply can't wear it.

8:37 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Dear Anonymous,
I remember Sève Exquise, and I agree that it is very spring-like. It is such a shame about that line being gone from the States (or is it gone everywhere?).

8:38 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Perfect choice. Apres is so delicate, very much a spring scent.

8:39 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Great choices. I will grudgingly add the new "Rumeur" to the list. The fact that we consider it spring-like only goes to show how far removed it is from the original Rumeur, which, on my skin, was the shameless heat of over-ripe summer.

8:41 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Do you find it hopeful? I have mixed feelings about spring. I feel hope, but it also breaks my heart a little, because it reminds me that everything passes, you know? :-)
I wish I could wear lilac!

8:44 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

It's funny, I think because of some quirk of skin chemistry, The Unicorn Spell is warmer and more "colorful" than it was intended to be. Of all violet scents, this one is summery for me. Summer in a shadowy, enchanted forest.

8:46 AM EST  
Anonymous newproducts said...

Marina, Yes, I feel the melancholy of everything passing, but I feel that every season, not particularly moreso in the spring, and perhaps moreso in the fall. :-/ Hugs.

8:47 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

That's the term I was looking for - magical thinking. In the same way I keep focusing on Les Exclusifs de Chanel. If I visualize them in my life...they will magically come into my life :-D

I have not tried Eclipse and I have not tried Persica! i must!

8:47 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Remove Black March and En Passant (the choices with which I completely agree, but just can't bear on my skin) and I could happily wear every one of your spring scents!
I actually find the new Psychotrope to be springy too...

8:49 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Same here. And autumn is certainly the worst in that respect. Hugs right back!

8:50 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Great list! And you'll be happy to know that spring is just around the corner:

So break out that Diorissimo!

9:47 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Hurray! *pops open the bottle of Diorissimo* :-)

9:50 AM EST  
Anonymous Tommasina said...

Ooh - Diorissimo - YES! Also Yves Rocher Gardenia (OK< so shoot me), and Meteorites. Not Apres L'O (too watery on me, and sad); not Violette P. (not sur why but it doesn't quite work on me); and certainly not V de Toulouse or di Parma: they're too sweet for this early in the year. Meteorites, however - and odd as it may sound - has a slight earthiness on me, along with the sweetness, that tempers it. Jolie Madame,with her violets and soft leather handbag - what I call my 'Dominatrix Granny' scent - is for slightly later in the season, although I wear her any time of year: she seems warmer.

"Black March. Absolute misery and cold and raw earth"

See, now, it's not misery to me but earth full of bulb 'noses' coming up. However, it is *cold* earth (in England in early Spring), whereas March herself found it *warm* and we couldn't agree on the temperature. So you're one more in my camp - hah!

But, oh golly, Seve Exquise - that, too.

Lilyofbp, I love Sel de Vetiver; but, on me, it's sun-warmed skin that's been on a long beach walk; and unfortunately it's not warm enough to show any skin right now, where I am!

10:01 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Great list. Granny Dominatrix- hahaha!!

10:11 AM EST  
Anonymous Tamara said...

What a beautiful list Colombina! A few I know and many I must try. Thank you for the inspiration!

10:35 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you, Tamara!

10:42 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's what Black March smells like? Not sure I want to try that: I want the day after, when it's all fresh and green!

I wish I'd been exposed to the Gobin-Daudés: are they just gone? Nuit au Désert and Sève Exquise especially sound so wonderful..

Chaya- name the date. I'll wear white ;-)

11:51 AM EST  
Anonymous Andy said...

Although it is still quite a few weeks to go (no groundhog thing around here telling us, but I can feel it) I grabbed my Diorissimo a couple of days ago.
It is -wonderful description...muguet with some earth on the roots...- for me also a muguet with a little snowflake on its leaves.

12:03 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

You haven't tried it? I thought we both reviewed it, but maybe I am mistaken...
I think the Daudes are just gone :-(

12:06 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

What a wonderful vision- snow on lily of the valley...

12:07 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Victoria (BoisdeJasmin):

Diorissimo is definitely the top fragrance I reach for whenever I crave spring. It is the same with lily of the valley in general. Yesterday, I was shopping at Whole Foods when I saw mimosa branches on sale. Of course, I had to buy two large bouquets, and now my apartment is redolent of mimosas. Ah, the bliss!

12:30 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, mimosa is I want some too...:-)

12:42 PM EST  
Anonymous Teri said...

I, too, am one of those folks who finds spring to be melancholy and somewhat bittersweet.

I grew up in the upper midwest where spring comes late and spends its months deciding if it wants to wear furs or gauze. Warm and sunny one day, frosty and even snowy the next.

I can think of one particular spring where, after a week or two of warm sunny days, I awoke one morning to such a sad sight. The riot of daffodils, tulips and other early flowers which had burst from the earth with such hope and brilliance were encased in ice. Their colors dulled, their heads bowed and weeping, their leaves fallen to the ground from the weight of the ice. Gone, in a snap of Spring's fickle finger!

Yes, Spring is a fickle mistress. And yet how I long for her today, as I sit deep frozen and snowbound in the mountains.

12:46 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

You write so beautifully..."furs or gauze"...Ah!

1:40 PM EST  
Blogger The non-blonde said...

Spring to me has a serene quality, calm, green and expectant. My choices are Goutal's Grand Amour for the floral beauty and Lauren for the moodiness.

2:18 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Great choices! Grand Amour is beautiful.

2:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Alla said...

SMN Eva is early spring to me, when through the coldness of the air you can pick the smell of fresh leaves and first flowers.

Jacinthe des Bois is the smell of first spring flowers. It's the longing for spring for me, the smell of forced indoors bulbs of Hyacinth.

Mimosa Pour Moi, Chant d'Aromes, SMN Mughetto, strangely enough, Sacrebleu.

3:52 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

What a lovely list! I am so sad that Jacinthe de Bois is gone :-(

3:54 PM EST  
Anonymous berthe bovary said...

Dear Colombina, I've discovered your charming blog while researching on neapolitan perfums in the XIX century. I'm a writer and I am working on the life of a Neapolitan Bourbon princess who married with one of the Brazilian emperors in the mid of that century. I did not found exactly what I was looking for; yet, I dicovered your wonderful space full of suggestive labels and perfumed stories. It is wonderful (quoting C.Porter).
My compliments,
Berthe Bovary
PS.: as for the spring perfum, although old fashioned, I would suggest Muguet de Bonheur. And I heard that it brings good luck.

6:26 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Dear Berthe,
You project sounds absolutely wonderful, very interesting. And thank you so much for the kind words. If it's really true that Muguet de Bonheur brings good luck...I'm buying a bottle right this moment. :-)

6:29 PM EST  
Blogger Solander said...

What a great post! I agree on your description of spring, but to me lily of the valley and lilac are both summer flowers since they don't bloom until May-June here in Sweden. I can see how muguet can be a springlike perfume note though.
I see Black March has already been added to the list. One very springlike scent I tried recently is Heeley's Fine Leather. I didn't really detect the leather, I got mostly the distinct scent of birch sap and some very cool violets. Very ethereal and wistful. To me it's a spring dusk in a birch grove. Could be a chilly early summer's evening too. I also tried Cuir Amethyste recently and I found it very similar, altough slightly more sultry and summery, more like a cool summer night.
Cumming could be a spring scent too (or autumn), a windy day on the moor before the leaves have budded (or after they've fallen). I get the dirt ("Highland mud") note very clearly, still it's not dense or dark or heavy, but airy and/or watery like so many of Christopher Brosius' creations.

2:35 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, Fine Leather soudns fantastic! A huge lemming is born!

4:00 PM EST  
Anonymous evilpeony said...

i agree with the diorissimo and the chanel no. 19... because those are the only fragrances from the list that i have sniffed! and definitely we must not forget apres d'ondee... that most delicate interpretation of rain-kissed violets... ephemeral as the rain... why the powers that be at Guerlain discontinued this scent is beyond me.
but moving right along: spring for me is jardins de bagatelle by guerlain (which i think does not get the recognition it deserves as a lush floral fragrance.) also carnal flower and chasse aux papillion layered with mimosa pour moi...

7:45 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, mimosa is definitely spring! Especially the delicate Mimosa pour moi. Carnal Flower is the heat of summer on my skin, though...I wish it was gentler and more spring-like :-(

7:50 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apres L'Ondee discontinued?! Noooo!!! I thought it was still being sold in France?

Great list! Love Diorissimo & No. 19. A couple of other green springy scents: Gucci Envy, Cabotine (cabotine is unfortunately a little too green on me).

I also love Fresh's Violet Moss & Pink Jasmine.Even Pleasures by Estee Lauder (lots of people hate that one).

I'm on a continual quest for lilac scented things. Nothing is more beautiful to me than the fragrance of fresh cut lilacs. Unfortunately all of the lilac scented perfumes I've tried so far fall way short of the mark. Best thing I've tried so far is French Lilac soap & body butter from Pacifica: Heaven! Run and get some Lilac fiends!

10:19 PM EST  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

hi there -- I just found this site looking for a review of Diorissimo; and after reading your beautiful review I decided to order some.

Now I have a question: does anyone know of a fragrance with a true magnolia scent? I'm looking for the clean, almost citrusy smell of the real magnolia bloom on the tree. I just haven't been able to find one.

thanks a million!

4:01 PM EDT  

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