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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Bouquet of Mimosa Blossoms

By Linda

About a month ago, my partner texted me from the office. “I just found the prettiest smelling flower in the world,” he told me. “It’s a tree that has feathery leaves and these silky, pink blooms –like tufts.”

“A mimosa?” I asked. “Does it look like a Truffula tree from the Lorax? Does it smell like cucumbers?”

“Yes! As if cucumbers were flowers, which also smelled very delicately floral. I thought it was a woman’s perfume, at first, because she walked past me, and I was actually going to ask her what it was, but it happened again with nobody around and it’s just that area on campus… it’s a tree! I want there to be a perfume that smells just like it.”

We went on a field trip to the college where he teaches so that he could show me the tree. Sure enough, it was a beautiful, lush mimosa. It looked otherworldly, filled with pink silky pompoms. He showed me the place to stand, where the faint, delectable scent pooled enough to surround us as we sniffed raptly. People looked at us like we were crazy.

They do smell delicious: delicately, unassumingly floral, with an almost-soapy scent on one edge of the bell curve and a fresh cucumber on the other. I ordered a bunch of samples, hoping they would delight his nose and give me a lightweight, fresh, unusual scent to wear to the office. All of these mimosa-focused scents remain bright and fresh all day (except Coral) and are very office wearable.

The following four scents are intended to be for women. They are indeed very light, soft, and feminine, almost little-girlish. They would be delightful substitutes for the sugary fruit-and-flowers scents so popular with the teen crowd, retaining enough of the fresh and lovely to be in the genre without being quite so ubiquitous.

Parfums de Nicolai Mimosaique is my favorite of the feminine fragrances. Amusingly, it is a dead ringer for Aqua-Net hair spray for about ten seconds; then it turns briefly, brilliantly sweet, almost candied, lollipops and mimosa blossoms with a faint spicy undertone. During the dry down the fragrance remains spicy and evocatively fresh and pretty. While it is more impressionistic than true-to-life, it is predominantly mimosa—and brings me great joy as it quietly evolves throughout the dry down. I find it a wonderful impression of the flower’s multifaceted spicy, soft, and delicate aspects.

The other three women’s fragrances were more linear.

L’Artisan Mimosa Pour Moi starts off with that brilliant cucumber-as-flower scent and is the most wonderfully true, tart mimosa for the first few minutes. Then it becomes light as air and creates an aura of mimosa… but up close it’s a little like kitchen cleanser. Unfortunately, it stops developing right about the time it's schizophrenically disguised itself simultaneously as debutante and scullery maid. I suppose that gives it a Cinderella character!

Christiane Celle Calypso Mimosa starts soapy, barely creamier and more substantial than MPM and then gradually freshens, but it is still somewhat ripe, candied, and soapy. A little musk, jasmine, and rose pull it toward a fuller body that is just barely there, and just barely not-mimosa. After an hour or so, it pulls itself together, metamorphosing into a very soft and pretty echo of mimosa scent supported by the slightly creamy base. Unfortunately, it is fleeting. Like all of Calypso’s fragrances, it is somewhat too soft, somewhat too soon.

Sage Coral (EDT) is the one I just couldn't warm to. It is strong, very soapy, and a little queasy-making right from the beginning. It reminds me of a hot August breeze off an orange grove, with the windows rolled down in a hippy friend’s hoopty car, redolent of one of those awful cat-food-tinned coconut vanilla air fresheners. The orange blossom scent is overwhelming, overripe, as if they are dropping from the trees and rotting on the ground. The base of musk, vanilla, sandalwood, and oh-dear-God-not-coconut make this fragrance unpleasantly heavy, penetrating, and hippie-dippy. On me it is also a little harsh; none of the elements want to cleave together. I like sweet creamy scents, but not this one. It smells cheap, and it will not go away… on me it was a scrubber.

The men’s fragrances are much more complex, since mimosa, in and of itself, seems pretty feminine. However, I was pleased to find that mimosa really played a starring role in both of these.

Heeley Cuir Pleine Fleur (Fine Leather) is sassy and romantic. For the first few moments it is predominantly an almost anesthetic violet and mimosa accord, weirdly camphoraceous, with lightly peppery birch and suede leather emerging. On me, the drydown is disappointing—violets and suede with pencil shavings—but on my partner it is delicious: mimosa, peppery vetiver, and leather. After an hour or two, a hail-Mary triad of mimosa, vetiver, and birch arise to make it interesting on my skin, but it is not wonderful on me the way it is on him. Alas, chemistry.

I saved the best for last. Ulrich Lang Anvers 2 is yummy, and I think it has the most sophisticated blending of the lot. It opens with tart rhubarb, dry spice (pepper and basil), and faint incense smoke at first. Then, a perfect accord of cedarwood and mimosa rises at the heart. Sweetened lightly by amber, musk, and vanilla, it remains a spicy, boozy, scrumptious cedar and mimosa with hints of rose and white flowers – perfectly delicious. It continues to balance as it develops, becoming smooth, smooth, smooth.

Of this handful of more or less arbitrarily chosen mimosa fragrances, I most highly recommend Parfums de Nicolai Mimosaique and Ulrich Lang’s Anvers 2. I can wear them happily and enjoy their gentle evolution throughout the day. Although most of the others are somewhat linear, that’s fine with me; the only one I cannot at all recommend is the Coral.

Image source, mimikirchner.com.

17 Comments:

Blogger Renee said...

Mimosa seems to be a very hard scent to capture. I used to make soap and body products once upon a time, and all mimosa fragrances I tested were bad. I remember I ordered about ten to try, and only one was sniffable. I did drop that scent from my line-up within two months as it was a no-seller.

You so make Mimosaique sound inviting however, so I may have to try that one. I have sniffed the Christiane Celle Calypso, and it was was very perfumey to me, a very sharp fragrance that I didn't want to try on. Might have been my mood though!

10:48 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I might have to sniff these- I live the smell of the tree but I've never found a scent that was true to it.

Thanks!

11:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

You are so right! It does smell like cucumber!

Have you though about Creed's Aubepine Acacia?

Here are the notes: An invigorating and light blend of fresh Spanish bergamot, vibrant acacia and hawthorn with a flowery heart of mimosa on a base of ambergris.

It doesn't smell a whole lot like mimosa but it's definitely in there. It's very lemony at first and then dries down to an almond/mimosa accord that is very strange. I have to admit that I really like it.

11:57 PM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Love those trees... isn't it a weed in some southern states?

4:21 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Great reviews! Anvers 2 sounds like something I am going to need. Soon. Mimosaique is my favorite mimosa scent - wonderful honeyed quality to it on my skin. I enjoy Mimosa Pour Moi in mid July, but it's a bit too light for me the rest of the year. I know most people cringe when SIPs are mentioned, but I love them and Tosca is one of my favorites - reminds me very much of the scent of the mimosa tree I used to climb as a child.
Lee, yes it is considered a weed where I live now. I can't ever think of it as that myself, but it is indeed extremely invasive and many neighborhoods won't allow homeowners to plant them.

6:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Mimosaque is my favorite too. It's a fresh take on mimosa. Lovely reviews!

9:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Jen said...

I like the mimosa in Amariage D'amour and Champs Elysees. I will have to try Mimosaique.

11:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Teri said...

I agree with Elle. Mimosa Pour Moi is a very nice scent for blistering hot days. I think it's the cucumber part of the scent, but it always cools me down on a hot day. It would be far too light to wear in cooler weather, I'd imagine.

I've got a sample of Mimosaique on its way from Luckyscent. Now I'm extremely eager to try it.

Thanks for the thoughtful review and comparison.

11:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Ducks said...

Thank you, all, for the encouragement. Doing comparison shopping of fragrances is fun, but writing it up feels strange!

Renee - thank you for the insight. I figured it must be difficult to capture it. It's such an ethereal scent... I think it actually smells "truer" a couple feet from the tree, rather than snuggled right up to a blossom. I did very much like Mimosaique... it's very delicate and very pretty.

Tom - some are more worth sniffing than others... best of luck, and I think they more evoke than capture the tree, really. The question is whether they evoke it for you.

Kelley - my hubby gets more of the cucumber than I do, alas, but I detect it. Your recommendation sounds utterly yummy, I must find some to try.

Leopoldo - I must like weeds. Dandelions delight me. :)

Elle - try it! It's so pretty. Let me know how it works out for you if you do. I will try Tosca.

Patty - thank you! I didn't expect to like Mimosaique, didn't like it in the bottle, and was surprised it was so nice on me.

Jen - hmm, more lemmings for me to try... thank you! I'm having a lot of fun comparison shopping on a note.

Teri - thank you... you will find it very light too, but it has more depth and texture. I hope you like it. Let me know!

11:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous sweetlife said...

Linda -- lol --it is *exactly* like something from Dr. Seuss, especially if you've never seen one before! I consider them one of my bonuses for moving down South, along with Atalfo mangos, four for a dollar. And yes, I've often noticed while walking in the evening that the scent is much stronger coming and going than right up close.

The perfumes I've smelled that are supposed to have the note (including Mimosa por Moi) smell so unlike the tree that I just assumed "mimosa" meant something different in perfume-language -- orange juice and champagne, maybe...

12:43 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I've never smelled mimosa, and I can't say your descriptions, however poetic, make me regret that. Cucumber-as-a-flower just doesn't sound like my kind of thing at all. Nevertheless, thanks for your reviews - I DO want to try Anvers 2 - rhubarb, mmm...

3:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Ducks said...

Alyssa - isn't it wonderful? Surreal looking!

Mangoes... I learned to make a favorite sauce from them when we lived where they were cheap. It's a matter of throwing mangoes, lime juice, a little salt, cracked black pepper in the blender until smooth and then whisking in chiffonaded cilantro. Yum. I can't think of mangoes any other way, now. I'll have to make some.

Solander - I can see that. I only get a few moments of anything that smells "true" mimosa from any of these fragrances, and then just reminiscences. So very elusive. It makes me think of mosaic or Pointillism, actually; something that in fine resolution doesn't work well at all, but when you blur your gaze a bit, it's suddenly there.

7:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous Veronica said...

The Mimosa tree pictured and described here, or what they call mimosa in the southeastern US is not the same mimosa that people are familiar with in Europe and the Middle East. That may explain the disconnect some commenters here feel between the smell of the southern mimosa tree and the note featured in the perfumes reviewed (esp. Mimosa por Moi, which is a dead- on impression of the Mimosa that grows in the Middle East and Europe) I beleive Marina has a picture of it in her post about Farnesiana, another amazing mimosa/acasiosa based perfume. I admit it's a bit confusing...

10:13 PM EDT  
Anonymous sweetlife said...

Veronica, thanks so much for clearing that up for me! So it's not orange juice and champagne, then LOL...

11:03 PM EDT  
Blogger Ducks said...

That's fascinating... I had no idea! How strange that I find it similar to the U.S. version. I wonder how closely they're related/resemblant?

1:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Veronica said...

They do belong to the same acasiousa/mimosa family ,as well as wisteria and legumes. Actually, wisteria flowers smell similar to pink mimosa. Acca Kappa has a great EDT called Glicine that comes very close to a true wisteria/southern mimosa scent. Thaey also have one called Mimosa,I haven't tried it yet.

10:12 AM EDT  
Anonymous Flora said...

We have these lovely trees all over the city here, and I just adore their fragrance, which carries well on the breeze. I am turning into real mimosa perfume fan as well.

4:23 PM EDT  

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