Perfume Review: Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie
Review by Kelley
In 1760, James Henry Creed an English saddle maker opened the House of Creed in London. Queen Victoria soon fell in love with Creed’s creations and appointed him the official perfumer of the Royal household. The small boutique was eventually moved to Paris in 1854 under the patronage of Empress Eugenie, where it remains today. The company is currently run by Olivier Creed (the sixth generation descendent) who is supposedly grooming his son, Erwin, to succeed him.
According to The Independent on Sunday (the Sunday Review March 23, 2003: “[Olivier] Creed is now widely regarded as the world’s greatest living “nose”, capable of identifying the ingredients in any fragrance, and distinguishing, for example, different types of rose by scent alone.” I included that quote because it touches on my featured scent. The Creed website also points out that Olivier Creed insists on using natural essences instead of sythetic ones. I will let you draw your own conclusions with that one.
I found the following list of notes for Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie on cale.it, an Italian perfume website. I left it in Italian because it sounds so much more romantic and it’s still very easy to understand.
Note di testa: Bergamotto
Note di cuore: Rosa Bulgaria
Note de fondo: Ambra Grigia, Rosa, and Musk
I was given a bottle of Fleurs de Bulgarie for Christmas last year. My first thought upon spraying this on my wrist was…”what the hell was my uncle Steve thinking”? I thought it was the most feminine smelling thing I had ever encountered. The advertising that mentions how it was created for Queen Victoria didn’t help matters. I was offended. After all, I am fragrance freak and very picky at that. Looking back, I bet I know what happened. My uncle probably went up to the creed counter and smelled a card and all he got was pure base notes and for this fragrance it’s ambergris. Uncle Steve, if you are reading this, I have grown to love this fragrance but it took me a while!
For me, this isn’t a rose scent at all; it’s all about the ambergris. It does, however, open with a burst of the most velvety dark red Bulgarian rose (and I am sure very expensive) that is accented with a lusciously juicy bergamot orange. The fruit is slight and it reminds me of the fruity smell of certain roses that have a hint of citrus. This is probably as close as you can get to smelling a David Austin old fashioned rose as you can get without getting stung by a bee or pricked by a thorn. This is a romantic rose and not a sexy one. I would say the rose is very clean and bright. However, and here comes the twist…it doesn’t last long. While the Italian website lists rose in the base notes, I don’t think so. The fruity rose opens the fragrance and seduces you like a glance of a beautiful stranger from across a crowded room. You find yourself wrapped in velvety, seductive glances that quickens your heartbeat and draws you across the room. You approach the lovely stranger and suddenly you realize that it’s somebody else standing there and not your fantasy. You see, after about 15 minutes the rose is slight and the ambergris mixed with musk completely takes over. This perfume is really all about ambergris.
Ambergris, or gray amber, according to wikipedia.com, is a dull and waxy substance that is variegated like marble. It is a natural secretion of sperm whales thought to be caused by their diet of squid. This secretion is expelled and floats on the ocean. After months and sometimes years, ambergris changes from a white color to dark gray and black and takes on a smell that is somehow sweet and earthy and animalic and marine, all at the same time. The collection of ambergris is illegal in the United States according the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. For heaven’s sake, it’s whale vomit! I wonder how the house of Creed gets around this law forbidding the selling, buying, importing/exporting of real ambergris…hmmmm? There are many synthetic sources of ambergris-like notes, including an extraction of clary sage (sclareol), and the chemical ambrox.
Fleurs de Bulgarie, as I said, is all about ambergris. After the rose and bergamot notes fade, I smell the most wonderful ambergris imaginable. I have read reviews that this smells like soap…well, that’s because ambergris is often used to scent soap. To me this smells like taking a deep breath from on top of a mountain. It is a clean, cool, natural smell. There are times when I think it smells like clean skin because of its slight animal nature. This lasts about 10 hours on my skin and longer is it gets on my clothes. This has now grown on me to the point that it is in my top 5 all time scents! Thanks again, uncle Steve!
Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie is found wherever Creed fragrances are sold. The photos of the Creed Boutique are from their website. The David Austin roses are from davidaustinroses.com and the ambergris photo is from ambergris.co.nz.