Spring has come and it is breaking my heart. There is poignancy in spring, a heartrending beauty that is destined to die young and doesn’t know it. April and May are the worst. There is something in the air, something fresh and fragrant, subtle hints of aromas that I remember from long ago, phantom aromas maybe …Whiffs of lilac and mimosa, smell of hope, of joy, of absolute happiness…of fate creeping up slowly and inevitably, hidden in a fragrant cloud of delicate blossoms. There is a piece of music that expresses what I feel in spring better than any words would. It is called Oblivion, by the Argentinean tango composer Astor Piazzolla:
And there is a fragrance, Vacances by Jean Patou, which is more evocative of the hearbreaking loveliness of spring than any other scent I know. It starts with a brightly-green burst of galbanum and hyacinth, which is like a polite but rather forceful waking call to the senses, its ugly-beautiful, slightly awkward sharpness serving to emphasize the undeniable beauty of the notes that will follow. Invisible hands open the green curtains to reveal the wonderful, ethereal landscape, a gorgeous spring garden in full bloom…there is lilac with its aroma fresh and strangely brooding and soft, sweet mimosa. Lie on the grass, forget about the world surrounding the little spring paradise…looking into the cloudless sky above you will feel elated, hopeful and in love, and convinced that you will live forever and be forever happy. Vacances is not a complex scent, its development can be related in one sentence: greenness of galbanum and hyacinth- gentle, incredibly life-like flowers – subtly woody drydown…but its simple, harmonious beauty is breathtaking. This is the scent of youth, of love, of spring…of fate hiding in a cloud of delicate blossoms.
Vacances, first released in 1936 and re-issued in the 1980s as a part of Patou’s Ma Collection, has been – unforgivably! inexplicably! - discontinued, and is rather hard to find. 1stperfume lists it as available, for the whopping $499.99, but the bottles do pop up on eBay, once in a blue moon.
The painting, Le Jardin, is by Pierre Bonnard.