My Favorite Japanese Perfumes (And a Perfumista Way to Help Japan)
While watching the horrendous footage of the tragedy currently unfolding in Japan, I realized how much of my love of perfumery stems from Japanese perfume. Kenzo, Miyake, Hanae Mori, Shoyeido, even Serge Lutens (a child of Shiseido) are all integral to my perfume collection and love of perfume in general. So today, I thought I’d take another look at my favorite Japanese perfumes, and give perfumistas around the globe a chance to help Japan.
Shiseido began marketing its products to the west in the 1960s, and perfume history was made when they appointed Serge Lutens their international image creator in 1980. My favorite Shiseido is, of course, Feminite du Bois, an ode to cedarwood, but I have yet to try a Serge Lutens I do not want to wear, at least once in a while! Shiseido makes too many perfumes to recount here, but most are available only in Japan. They have some exquisite florals, like Vocalise and Murasaki, and my favorite for men, the spicy and intense Basala. And their original, aldehydic chypre, Zen, is a long-standing cult favorite in the west.
Kenzo Takada was born in 1939. He didn’t speak French, but he moved to France after he graduated university, and made his name in the 1970s. His wild, colorful clothes with Asian motifs fit the European 70s perfectly, and his first perfume was the infamous banana scent, King Kong, which has, perhaps mercifully, disappeared from the shelves. Yet we all know Flower, Amour, and their many interesting flankers. I’ve worn both for years now, and have worked my way through several of the flankers as well.
Haute couture designer Hanae Mori was born in 1926. She became famous for incorporating traditional Japanese motifs and textiles in her line, which debuted in 1955. With a $500-million fashion empire, she’s the only Japanese member of France’s haute couture syndicate, and she designed the wedding gown of Japan’s Princess Masako. Magical Moon has been my HG since it appeared several years ago. I own it in every concentration, and have backup bottles of them all! Scary, but I think it’s that good.
My husband’s first cologne was Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey, and the original, conical bottle is one of the best perfume bottles designed, ever.
And for when I don’t want to wear perfume, I go to my Shoyeido and Baieido incense powders, finely ground medicinal-grade herbs, spices, and woods that are rubbed into the skin. The use of these powders probably began in India for health purposes and to aid meditation; as Buddhism spread, so did the powders. I use them for yoga and running to give me a mental and emotional boost.
Now for how you, fellow perfumista, can help Japan. Please leave a comment about your favorite Japanese perfume or incense. I'll donate one dollar fore every comment, up to $500, to the Red Cross Japan Fund, during the month of March. I thank you in advance for your comments!