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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother's Day Fundraising and Perfume Review: Shiseido Message from Orchids

Today and tomorrow this blog is participating in a fundraising campaign. For each person who leaves a comment on today's, tomorrow's or any of the previous posts, a $1 donation will be made to Orphan Foundation of America. Also, tomorrow, to celebrate Mother’s Day and to thank you for being a part of this event and for reading this blog, I will be holding a small prize draw. I’ll say no more today, stay tuned!

Orphan Foundation of America "has served thousands of foster teens all across the United States. From teaching youth how to balance a checkbook, write a resume, and apply for that first big job, to testifying before Congress and State Legislatures, OFA has long been a vocal champion of foster teens... Each year OFA and its scholarship partners award more funding and provide a stronger safety net for those pursuing post-secondary education."

Should you decide to make a donation too, has an online donation option. Women are also invited to join the Pink Panel, run by The Benchmarking Company, who will donate $5.00 to a scholarship fund run by the OFA each time a woman joins or fills out a beauty survey.

And now the perfume review…

Message from Orchids by Shiseido

I decided to review this scent on the eve of Mother’s Day, because for me Message from Orchids is associated with my mom and the days we spent together in a beautiful, fragrant place. Almost exactly ten years ago, the summer of 1996 was one of the darkest, no, make it the darkest, times of my life. When I look back, I cannot believe that somehow I made it through that summer, and the main if not the only reason, that I had gone on, were the people closest to me, my friends, my family and of course first and foremost my wonderful mother. Hoping to ease the heartache by the means of traveling to an entirely different and gorgeous location, she took me to Sochi, a resort town in the south of Russia, on the Black Sea coast.

For years afterwards I have been looking for a fragrance that could replicate the smell of that place. The sea, the sun, the subtropical, blooming plants combine there to create an intoxicatingly luscious, sweet scent…Somehow the Japanese perfume Message from Orchids manages to smell exactly like the air in that beautiful Russian sea town. It is incredibly hard to find any information about Message from Orchids, because it seems to be one of the Shiseido scents exclusive to Japan. As far as I was able to garner, it was created in 1996 as an homage to Orange Cattleya Orchid and features the notes of carnation, hyacinth, orange blossom, orchid flower and vanilla. It starts on my skin with the succulent smell of apricots and mandarins, moves on to acquire a more floral feel, when it smells like a grove of exotic trees in full bloom, and then settles into an incredible, soft and luxurious, blend of ripe fruits, fragrant blossoms and sweet (but not overly sweet) vanilla. Message from Orchids is rich, even “thick”-smelling and yet it is never overwhelming, it does not have a syrupy, toothache-inducing quality of so many “tropical” fragrances. It is simultaneously robust and airy, sweet and strangely, inexplicably smoky. That smokiness has been commented upon by several reviewers of this scent, and it really is a remarkable, surprising quality. This is not the more traditional smokiness of woody notes or tobacco, the smokiness in Message from Orchids is that of fully blossomed, sultry, almost over-ripe flowers… This elusive Shiseido creation is most definitely one of the most exquisite, unbelievably gorgeous tropical scents that I have ever experienced.

For me, its beauty is poignant, heavy with memories. It speaks to me about the world that goes on no matter how badly your life has been damaged, the heartbreakingly beautiful world that smells of sea and exotic trees in full bloom. And it speaks to me about people in our lives who love us absolutely, unconditionally, who help us through the times of impenetrable darkness.

Apparently the potent combination of the impending Mother’s Day and Message from Orchids makes me wax awfully sentimental. Come back tomorrow for another soppy post and a prize draw!

Also, please visit other blogs participating in Mother’s Day fundraising:

  • Beauty Addict for Orphan Foundation of America
  • Blogdorf Goodman for FINCA International
  • Brain Trapped in Girl's Body for FINCA International
  • A Girl's Gotta Spa for Orphan Foundation of America
  • MonkeyPosh for Humane Society of the United States and Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • Mother Hen’s Place for Aga Khan Foundation Canada
  • Legerdenez for Orphan Foundation of America
  • One Child Left Behind for Heifer International
  • Perfume Posse for Orphan Foundation of America
  • Perfumery for FINCA International
  • The Scented Salamander for Orphan Foundation of America
  • Scenteur 7 for Orphan Foundation of America *Participating May 10th through the 15th
  • Scentzilla! for FINCA International
  • SmellyBlog for FINCA International
  • The Soap Blog for UNIQUE
  • That Obscure Object of Desire for FINCA International
  • Urban Chick for Womankind Worldwide *Participating May 12th 'til she returns from holidayin a few weeks*
  • Victoria's Own for FINCA International
  • Yankee Family goes South for Orphan Foundation of America

    • The photo of Message from Orchids is from The picture of Orange Cattleya Orchid is from The Sochi image is from


      Anonymous Anonymous said...

      Wow...I am a lurker who's decided to delurk. What a lovely review, and what a great mom you must have! You write so beautifully, almost all the perfumes you review end up on my lemming list! (But not RL Hot and Missioni...I'm not a fruity aquatic person either)
      And, BTW you have not done too many vetiver reviews!

      8:31 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Mimi, thank you!
      Zen the orginal is on my list of lemmings and in general I am forever stalking eBay for the Japan-only Shiseidos. :-) Message From Orchids seems to be the hardest to find. I wonder if it was actually discontinued in Japan too. :-(

      8:41 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Thank you for delurking!! And huge thank you for your support of my vetiver quest :-) That's all the encouragement I needed, I have a pile of vetiver samples waiting to be reviewed :-)

      8:43 AM EDT  
      Blogger Jenny said...

      Thank you for this lovely review. How wonderful that a perfume can bring back memories so strong, I hope I will smell this perfume one time and will think about your memories of Sochi.

      9:03 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Do you also find that nothing triggers memory like perfume? For me, not even music is capable of transporting me back in time as powerfully as a scent.

      9:15 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      PS. Jenny, I love the picture in your profile!

      9:20 AM EDT  
      Blogger priscilla said...

      What a beautiful post...

      10:20 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Hi, welcome and thank you very much!

      10:23 AM EDT  
      Anonymous Anonymous said...

      hello m.,
      we kind of already "know" each other, but I decided today (being the mother's day and all) would be the perfect occasion for my first post here on your blog.
      hope that you never have to experience such beauty and such pain at the same time again, though it has resulted in a beautiful review (as yours always are).

      11:04 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Welcome and thank you for your very kind words! I also hope that it won't be your last comment here. Please? :-)

      11:09 AM EDT  
      Blogger Carolyn said...

      Beautiful post, M. It's a blessing that there is such beauty in the world to provide comfort to our hearts in times of darkness and sorrow.

      11:18 AM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Thank you, Carolyn. The beauty is a blessing as are the people close to us. And of course, the perfume is a blessing too.
      Signed, Perfume Addict :-D

      11:21 AM EDT  
      Blogger Jenny said...

      It's true that fragrances are a powerful source to bring back memories but to me music is as powerful as well. I never get tears in my eyes from smelling a perfume but a song could make cry. I wrote a post once about it in my blog:

      12:12 PM EDT  
      Blogger Jenny said...

      Sorry the link doesn't work here is the right one:

      12:19 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      What a beautiful post, Jenny! me, I cry when I smell certain perfumes, when I hear certain music...I cry very easily :-)

      12:23 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Thank you, Christina! :-) OK, then, let the orgy of soppyness continue :-)

      12:34 PM EDT  
      Anonymous Anonymous said...

      This was so special and beautiful, it really touched me I hope that I can touch my daughther this way too!

      1:18 PM EDT  
      Anonymous Anonymous said...

      What a touching review and tribute to your mother. Fragrance really is a touchstone for memories.

      One of my darkest years was also 1996 - I look back now and I have no idea how I got through it all. I am glad that you came out the other side of it and that you are prospering in body and spirit now.

      4:18 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      I am sorry to hear that.

      4:34 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Dear Anonymous,
      thank you very much for your kind words! I am sure your daughter adores you with all her heart.

      4:34 PM EDT  
      Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

      Fantastic review and homage to your mom AND revelation of another great little known scent. You couldn't have done better. I want to visit the Black Sea someday because my great grandparents came from that part of the world. I must get myself some Message From Orchids. Wonder what makes it smoky?

      5:42 PM EDT  
      Anonymous Anonymous said...

      That was an amazing review! I'm hoping to make it to Japan sometime in the next couple of years and will go on a search for Message from Orchids--you've made it sound stunning, a scent of beauty and healing. I loved this review since you combined place, fragrance and the love of those close to us with such grace. Thank you for the wonderful blog and review. Happy Mother's Day!

      5:45 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      That is fascinating. I love to know these kinds of things, who came from where originally, etc. :-)
      I must confess I don't actually know how real orchids smell. For all I know they do have that kind of intense velvety smokiness. You know, like tuberoses smell so intense sometimes, they are almost smoky too? That kind of thing.

      9:29 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Dear Jenny,
      Thank you very much!
      Very envious about your upcoming trip! When you do go, please find out whether they are still producing Message from Orchids :-)

      9:30 PM EDT  
      Blogger tmp00 said...

      As usual, a beautifully evocative review. I'm always stunned at how a scent can take you back to a certain moment or emotion: warm, happy, sad or bittersweet. Lilacs and thunderstorms are very rare in Los Angeles, but the smell of them instantly brings me back to my childhood in New England, while the smell of Jasmine reminds me of my first summer visiting LA, walking down in the evening to the Beverly Hills Hotel to buy cigarettes from the vending machine in the employee lounge (no, I don't smoke anymore and I don't barge into places I don't work at either: it was years ago and I was a naive kid). Joy, in particular, smells like my Mom- the scent she would usually wear going out with my Dad, tucking me in before their night on the town. I shouldn't admit it, but after a particularly painful end to a long relationship (in '96, what is it about that year?), I bought a very small bottle that I would periodically leave open beside my bed when I was feeling especially blue. It's silly, but the scent wafting from the bottle actually made me feel better.

      I have a godchild who turned 13 this past year. She asked me for a bottle of one of the scents that I wear the most: Acqua di Parma. She said that it always reminds her of me. I was so very touched... (glad she didn't ask for a convertible....)

      10:43 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      I love the idea of a bottle with a comforting scent beside the bed.
      And wow that godchild of yours has great taste! At 13! At 13 I was wearing *wispers* Poison. :-) (I love Poison still, mind you, I just think it was way, way Too Much for me then)

      10:51 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      PS. And seriously what is up with '96?? As Elizabeth II said about another year, "annus horribilis".

      10:54 PM EDT  
      Blogger tmp00 said...

      Really! !996!?! What was that about? We'd done fires, floods, riots, earthquakes and OJ here in LA, and '96 ended up being worse? Oy.

      Thank goodness there was a thrift store on Fairfax that had a bottle of Joy for cheap with enough left in to be sniffed by a very depressed me. An olfactory hug, and one that was dearly needed at the time.

      11:38 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Perhaps because it was a leap year...though, nah, there were obviously others and they weren't nearly as "horribilis"!

      10:12 AM EDT  
      Blogger marchlion said...

      Well, this was fascinating.

      I am very, very fond of Message from Orchids, which doesn't really smell like anything else (including those other Shiseidos). Now you have given me a completely new way to think about it.

      Actually .... thinking, thinking ... I believe I got my decant from you! xoxox

      5:17 PM EDT  
      Anonymous Anonymous said...

      Thank you for your fund raising efforts,

      5:46 PM EDT  
      Blogger Dusan said...

      Марина, твояа мама настоящая красавица! Ты похожа на неё?
      Eau de Merveilles? Yes, please!
      This is such a wonderful thing you guys are doing! I believe that no one needs this money more than the Orphan Organization. If it’s OK, I’d like to share my experience of working with children without parents. Two years ago I was due to serve the military service but as refused to carry arms, I was assigned to work, as a civilian, at a Belgrade orphanage for 13 months. That proved to be a somewhat grievous albeit rewarding experience for me. My tasks included taking kids (especially mentally disabled) to and back from school, taking them to the doctor, dentist, cinema, theater and those little trips we would take were a great opportunity for me to get to know them better and learn how they cope with their motherless and fatherless lives. I was initially surprised at how cheerful they seemed to be, kids will be kids I thought, but gradually I was discovering their bottled up pain and anguish through their behaviour: the boys were always ready to pick up a fight that invariably ended with harsh words, spitting at each other and an odd black eye. The girls were different, more mature, but equally distressed and aggressive. From what I was able to discern, the newbies had the most difficult time, having been separated from their parent(s) and forced to adapt to what was a positively horrifying environment for them. What devastated me most was how little ambition these children had, they were ready to settle for anything, really, which was hardly surprising considering how little they had. I was over the moon when I discovered a bunch of them who were interested in languages, particularly Spanish (blame it on the soaps! :–)), so we had Spanish lessons every now and then. A colleague of mine (there were other “soldiers” there) taught them Windows basics, another one coached basketball and so on, so I’d like to think we’ve made SOME difference for those kids. Although we were instructed not to get too close to the children, you just can’t stop a child from telling you what’s on their mind and in their heart, can you? My throat would swell up so many times listening to their stories: one had a dying mother, another was sexually abused by his father, this girl had a drunkard stepfather and was much better off, she said, living in a home, another one attempted suicide three times and I was around to witness the last one. The little ones are so tactile, yearning for affection and love and are so adorable! Don’t get me wrong, there were many happy days at the orphanage with all kinds of festivities, outings and birthday celebrations, it’s just I think that none of those moments can ever make up for a mother’s hug and a father that tucks you in at night.
      Marina, please forgive me for waxing sentimental and taking so much of the comments’ space, I just felt the need to pour out my heart and the occasion is more than appropriate, don’t you agree? Anyway, my Mom wears ULTRAVIOLET I got her for her last birthday and she loves it. Good luck with benevolent blogging!

      8:35 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      I believe it was! :-)

      Are you familiar with the smell of real orchids? I am just very curious to know how true to the smell is Message. I don't care if it isn't, it is stunning anyway, but I am just curious.

      9:59 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      Wowo your Russian is good! Большое спасибо за добрые слова!!
      And also thank you so much for sharing your experience at the orphanage. It is heartbreaking. I read many wonderful posts and comments today, but this really made me cry.

      On a different note...Ultraviolet?? That is a great scent, hardly ever talked about but really very interesting!

      (your name is entered into the draw)

      10:06 PM EDT  
      Blogger kuri* said...

      Hi! Lovely review.

      All of the Message from Orchids releases appear to be limited editions produced specifically for the yearly Japan Grand Prix International Orchid Festival, and only sold at the week-long festival. There's a new release each year, which could mean that there have been 16 perfumes created (I've only heard of 8). Since they don't even sell the perfumes at Shiseido stores, I don't think they produce more than a limited amount each year.

      This year, the new release and 3 releases from previous years were on sale at the festival, but not the bottle you have. You can see a picture here:
      However, according to the following site, the Orange Cattleya version was made in 2000.
      There's not much information on the perfumes in general though. Shiseido very helpfully takes down their Message from Orchids site after the festival is over.

      At least the black Zen bottle is pretty easy to find in Tokyo. They still have it in stock at various Shiseido stores.

      12:54 PM EDT  
      Blogger Marina said...

      *wails* I want all 16 of them!!
      Dear Kuri,
      Thank you very much for the information. I have got to visit Japan and buy all the Shiseidos I can't find here!

      2:14 PM EDT  
      Blogger kuri* said...

      I'm sure you'll have lots of fun once you get a chance to visit here! It would be really interesting to hear your impressions of the fragrances available here.

      8:18 AM EDT  
      Anonymous Mother's Day Philippines said...

      Oh' thanks for sharing this "Mother's Day Fundraising and Perfume Review: Shiseido Message from Orchids" I've got an idea here. My mom loves perfume and I am sure she will gonna be interested with this. Thanks for sharing.


      2:23 AM EDT  

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