Where the Women Glow… Bud Parfums of Australia, Part One
The art and science of perfumery is certainly a universal pursuit, and even in the Land Down Under there are quality fragrances being made. Australia is not the first place most people think of when it comes to perfume; then again, it was not so very long ago that the idea of Australian wine would have been a joke, but nobody’s laughing now. It was only recently that I became aware of the existence of Bud Parfums, a company that emphasizes natural materials as much as possible and has a broad palette of scents for every taste. After testing a variety of their products in a range of styles, I came away thinking that the rest of the world had better look to their laurels, because this outfit just might pull off a coup like the Aussie wineries did and get a lot of well-deserved attention. (You have to appreciate the cheekiness of naming one of their leathery men’s fragrances “Whoa de Cologne!”) The company likes to keep its customers guessing as to the list of notes in most of their perfumes, but that should not stop anyone from trying the line.
The most recent introduction from Bud Parfums is called Rouge Pomegranate, and if you are looking for a zesty, fruity fragrance that stands up to summer heat, this could be the one. Like a fresh pomegranate, it has very little sweetness, being tart and puckery in a most bracing way, acidic but not metallic or too sharp, at least not for me, as I like this sort of thing. This is the kind of fragrance that one might be a little wary of since pomegranate is one of those trendy flavors and fragrances that has been showing up just about everywhere, but rest assured that this one is much better than the ubiquitous body wash types so common now. It could almost be a “red” version of one of my personal favorites, Hermès Un Jardin Sur le Nil with its tart green mango signature, replaced by vibrant pomegranate and underscored with dry woody notes. I enjoyed this one very much; the first time I tried it, the weather was cool and rainy, so I put it away until hot weather arrived, and it performed like a champion, lasting very well and giving an energizing burst of juicy freshness to my day. It is categorized as a feminine, but a confident man could certainly carry it off. If you like the idea of fruity scents, but fear that they will be too sweet, this will hit the spot.
A more emphatically feminine scent is Sophia, an ambery Oriental with a rich, plush elegance. I knew it smelled familiar somehow, but I could not quite figure it out until my sister happened to be with me when I was testing it and she asked me “Are you wearing Emeraude?” Then the light bulb went on - it smells quite a bit like Emeraude used to smell, back before it was ruined by the relentless cheapening of its famous formula. Sophia does not have the minty weirdness of the old Coty classic, but it does have that almost “root beer” quality that was a great part of its charm. My sister wore it a lot when she was a teenager, so she remembered what it was like, and I gave her some of the vintage juice for her birthday this year. There is a goodly dose of opopanax in Sophia, of which I am a fan, and if one were to mistake it for a real vintage perfume, it would be an easy error to make. I can recommend it for fall and winter wear, where it will shine as an evening or special occasion scent. For women who are looking for an old-school Oriental in this vein that is not loud or vulgar like far too many current mainstream offerings, Sophia is an excellent alternative.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the demure Fleur de Lilac, a violet-tinged and almost wistful-smelling scent that has a definite vintage feel to it, a perfume of days gone by, worn by ladies who fan themselves at garden parties and favor wispy silken gowns and brocaded slippers on their delicate feet. The first time I tested it, it did not work on me at all, but that is a common occurrence with lilac in perfumery; it is always on a knife edge of balance, just waiting to fall apart if the proportions are not just so. When I tried it again, I was surprised that it smelled really good, and stayed that way over time. It began the same way as it did the first time, with a rather jangly and astringent opening that was a bit like lemon juice before softening into the florals, but this time it retained its form and became a slightly powdery (from heliotrope) lilac enriched with jasmine and ylang ylang that retained a soapy freshness throughout. Now to some people, that might be bad news, but I happen to like “soapy” notes in perfume if they are well done, and this smells like very expensive lilac guest soap, which is just fine by me. Lilac is hard to get right, especially when a high percentage of natural materials are involved in creating the accord. A sample test drive is highly recommended for this one since lilac is so notoriously fickle, but if it works for your own skin chemistry it will be one of the prettiest perfumes in your collection.
My own favorite of the Bud Parfums feminine perfumes I sampled is Ooh La La, an aptly named floral that is oh-so-French with a modern twist, accented with a fresh lemony top note that lifts and offsets the deeper notes of this seductive scent to perfection. I would also call this a “throwback” to the classics, because as a lover of the great perfumes of the past I was drawn to this one like a moth to a flame. It is a rich composition that compares favorable with such sexy scents as Lanvin’s My Sin or Corday Fame, two of my own all time favorites. Rich and heady frangipani is the main focal point, and I also detect jasmine, but there is something distinctly animalic in character that gives it a depth that is seldom seen in today’s floral blend perfumes, and I would swear that it’s civet. The overall effect recalls the type of grown-up fragrances for women made with those now-banned nitro musks that we vintage lovers still miss even though we know they aren’t good for us, and here we have one that gives us all the pleasure with none of the guilt. This is one of those perfumes that ought to come with a sign that says “Warning: Dangerous Curves Ahead” and it should be used with caution on the unsuspecting males of the species, who won’t know what hit them!
Next time I will give my impressions of some of Bud Parfums’ fragrances for men, and there will be a prize draw for a very unusual perfume, so please check back!
Disclosure: The perfume samples were sent to me for testing by Bud Parfums at my request.
Image credit: A famous painting of the goddess Flora by Titian, in the public domain.