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Friday, February 16, 2007

Perfume Review: Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Review by Kelley

n 1760, James Henry Creed an English saddle maker opened the House of Creed in London. Queen Victoria soon fell in love with Creed’s creations and appointed him the official perfumer of the Royal household. The small boutique was eventually moved to Paris in 1854 under the patronage of Empress Eugenie, where it remains today. The company is currently run by Olivier Creed (the sixth generation descendent) who is supposedly grooming his son, Erwin, to succeed him.

According to The Independent on Sunday (the Sunday Review March 23, 2003: “[Olivier] Creed is now widely regarded as the world’s greatest living “nose”, capable of identifying the ingredients in any fragrance, and distinguishing, for example, different types of rose by scent alone.” I included that quote because it touches on my featured scent. The Creed website also points out that Olivier Creed insists on using natural essences instead of sythetic ones. I will let you draw your own conclusions with that one.

I found the following list of notes for Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie on, an Italian perfume website. I left it in Italian because it sounds so much more romantic and it’s still very easy to understand.

Note di testa: Bergamotto

Note di cuore: Rosa Bulgaria

Note de fondo: Ambra Grigia, Rosa, and Musk

I was given a bottle of Fleurs de Bulgarie for Christmas last year. My first thought upon spraying this on my wrist was…”what the hell was my uncle Steve thinking”? I thought it was the most feminine smelling thing I had ever encountered. The advertising that mentions how it was created for Queen Victoria didn’t help matters. I was offended. After all, I am fragrance freak and very picky at that. Looking back, I bet I know what happened. My uncle probably went up to the creed counter and smelled a card and all he got was pure base notes and for this fragrance it’s ambergris. Uncle Steve, if you are reading this, I have grown to love this fragrance but it took me a while!

For me, this isn’t a rose scent at all; it’s all about the ambergris. It does, however, open with a burst of the most velvety dark red Bulgarian rose (and I am sure very expensive) that is accented with a lusciously juicy bergamot orange. The fruit is slight and it reminds me of the fruity smell of certain roses that have a hint of citrus. This is probably as close as you can get to smelling a David Austin old fashioned rose as you can get without getting stung by a bee or pricked by a thorn. This is a romantic rose and not a sexy one. I would say the rose is very clean and bright. However, and here comes the twist…it doesn’t last long. While the Italian website lists rose in the base notes, I don’t think so. The fruity rose opens the fragrance and seduces you like a glance of a beautiful stranger from across a crowded room. You find yourself wrapped in velvety, seductive glances that quickens your heartbeat and draws you across the room. You approach the lovely stranger and suddenly you realize that it’s somebody else standing there and not your fantasy. You see, after about 15 minutes the rose is slight and the ambergris mixed with musk completely takes over. This perfume is really all about ambergris.

Ambergris, or gray amber, according to, is a dull and waxy substance that is variegated like marble. It is a natural secretion of sperm whales thought to be caused by their diet of squid. This secretion is expelled and floats on the ocean. After months and sometimes years, ambergris changes from a white color to dark gray and black and takes on a smell that is somehow sweet and earthy and animalic and marine, all at the same time. The collection of ambergris is illegal in the United States according the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. For heaven’s sake, it’s whale vomit! I wonder how the house of Creed gets around this law forbidding the selling, buying, importing/exporting of real ambergris…hmmmm? There are many synthetic sources of ambergris-like notes, including an extraction of clary sage (sclareol), and the chemical ambrox.

Fleurs de Bulgarie, as I said, is all about ambergris. After the rose and bergamot notes fade, I smell the most wonderful ambergris imaginable. I have read reviews that this smells like soap…well, that’s because ambergris is often used to scent soap. To me this smells like taking a deep breath from on top of a mountain. It is a clean, cool, natural smell. There are times when I think it smells like clean skin because of its slight animal nature. This lasts about 10 hours on my skin and longer is it gets on my clothes. This has now grown on me to the point that it is in my top 5 all time scents! Thanks again, uncle Steve!

Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie is found wherever Creed fragrances are sold. The photos of the Creed Boutique are from their website. The David Austin roses are from and the ambergris photo is from


Blogger Kelley said...

I forgot to mention in the review that this was reformulated in 1980. I find that interesting because that comes very close to the year that trading ambergris became illegal in the US. I wonder if anyone smelled the original version and how it compares to the new version? Hmmm, anyone?

11:13 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

It is so funny about your uncle giving you this scent...a scent called Fleurs...why don't I have uncles like that? :-)

Wonderful review!

PS. I moved the blog to the so-called New Blogger, we'll see how it goes from now on ...

11:16 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

I just did the same. What a mess that was! I had to because when I tried to post to your blog, it didn't recognize me!

11:18 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

So, if others try to comment, they won't be able to either? GRRRRR

11:19 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Not sure. I have two (practically unused) blogs. Maybe that it why they got me.

11:22 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Was there a thing that just wouldn't let you into your blogs unless you move to the new blogger? It JUST did that to me, and I had to move literally 15 minutes ago. Hopefully those who don't have blogs, won't have to do anything like that. Not that it was difficult, but still, an inconvenience.

11:25 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Of course I was totally freaking out because I couldn't remember my sign in name or passwords (different for both accounts). I had to do some serious searching. Luckily everything is up and running on the new and improved blogger.

11:28 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I have no trust in Blogger *grumble grumble* I hope they prove me wrong and everything goes fine :-)

11:31 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

LOL...we will see if ANYONE else posts to this review except us!!!!

11:33 PM EST  
Blogger Bryan said...

Fleurs de Bulgarie was introduced to me as a rose scent for men. I laugh now because even back then I could not have cared less. I see it as a beautiful dark red rose. The best. Great review Kelley. I also adore the Tubereuse Indiana...tuberose and ambergris. Creed must love him some ambergris.

11:55 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Bryan! I have a bottle of Creed's Ambre Canelle, which is supposed to contain the most ambergris but I am here to tell you, it doesn't! FdB is loaded with ambergris. I haven't tried the Tubereuse Indiana (by the way, what's up with that name...Indiana?), but I plan on it. I would wear just about anything if it had ambergris in it.

12:11 AM EST  
Blogger Bryan said...

Kelley, I have no idea about the name. I have asked isn't French, but the Tubereuse is!! WTF? I will buy anything with tuberose (sometimes to my misfortune, but oh well). Love your reviews Kelley.

1:09 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I will have to give this one a whirl

tom/tmp00 in case this comes through oddly

1:27 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I guess whe you upgrade your own blog to the new one you get your old settings back. Whatever.

I assume that since they opened up gmail to eveybody, they are basically going to force everyone to upgrade.

1:39 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Maybe Uncle Steve knows his Kelley pretty well, hmmm ?

Hello, Angelfur !

I agree, so many Creeds are all about the ambergris- which is undoubtedly why so many have a love /hate relationship with them.

When they get it right, they really seem to nail it- and when they don't, the result is woeful.

Other delights in the ambergris camp would be:

Vanisia, Angelique Encens, Bois de Portugal,Irisia.

You'd probably like these [but I'll bet you've already smelled them].

kisses to you and my tiny Corazon, mi pollito !

6:48 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember enjoying sampling this one a while back, but in the end, it was too soapy for me. That must have been the ambergris that I was getting, though I did not know it then. I wonder how I would feel about it if I tested it now...

7:45 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Tom, I tried again to sign into my blogs...and couldn't! This is so frustrating. Of course I was finally able to, but this is a mess. Hopefully, with a "new" cookie on my computer from Google, this won't be a problem again until I clean up my computer.

10:12 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Bryan, the next time I am in the US, I will try the Tubereuse and then report back. I love Tuberose. I remember trying one of the Tuberose scents from Fresh years ago but didn't buy it...probably should have.

10:14 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Chaya, no I have haven't tried any of those! I own three bottles and two are the same thing (Fleurs de Bulgarie) and Ambre Canelle. I am not crazy about the Ambre Canelle. It's OK but very strange on me. There are times when I like it's spicy rose quality (rose and bay leaf and cinnamon) and then other times I think it smells like my grandfather!! Yikes!!!

I will look for them the next time I visit my sister in Oklahoma.

10:17 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...


This isn't powdery at all, which I read in lots of reviews. And, to me, it isn't soapy unless you have tried Goatsmilk soap from Crabtree and Evelyn. I think FdB smells like Goatsmilk soap, which I love!

10:20 AM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Tom, I'll send you a vial of this as well as the rest of my Montale samples. Remember, very rosy at first and stud!

10:22 AM EST  
Blogger ForTheLoveOfPerfume said...

Wow. I never knew what ambergris was so thank you for the wonderful description. Creed does it again. I have found all of those scents to grow on me over time. I'm so glad you're loving this!

11:43 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

This blog reviewed Angelique Encens and Love in White, the former is one of my most favorite scents of all time. Just sayin'.

11:55 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Damn! I'd let this slip out of sight on my list of lemmings and now you've reminded me how much I loved it w/ your all too wonderful review. Sigh. I need an Uncle Steve. Oh, and I thought I knew all about ambergris, but somehow I'd missed out on the fact that it is a result of a high squid diet. Yikes! I'm not troubled by the thought of it being whale vomit, but somehow the squid association is striking me as...less than pleasant. I think I'm mildly squid phobic.

3:12 PM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...


No need to go to Oklahoma-
Just email me and I'll send you some to sample, along with anything else you'd fancy...

4:12 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

faizanjax, thank for the compliment. I have never tried Green Irish Tweed, can you believe it? I, personally, love the Creed house note, but as you said it's not for everyone.

7:05 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

tmh256, yes, I love this one! You are welcome for the info about ambergris. I love doing the research. I am working on another review featuring the ingredients in Tiger Balm (yes, you read that correctly!).

7:07 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Elle, don't fret, there is almost no trace of squid in this!

7:08 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Chaya, thanks for the offer. I will be sending you my address in the States later tonight. Corazon sends a big wet kiss!!!

7:09 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Patty, will check out Wordpress later on. I don't know about anyone else but I have had to sign in almost before each post! What happened to my google cookie? I never had this problem before. I also have to click on a box to view all posts ever time I refresh or sign in. I thought this was supposed to be new and improved? If so, new and improved means a lot of work.

7:12 PM EST  
Blogger Kelley said...

Chaya, my email address is kelley at kelleyvandiver dot com (I am so sneaky! Hope this gets around those nasty email thieves). Talk to you later!

7:16 PM EST  
Blogger Vicki said...

Does anyone know if the Creed fragrances you buy from the discount houses are the real deal? I bought one off the internet--it had the Creed card in it, etc., but the color of the perfume was a bit different in color. I am just curious. Vicki

3:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

If one could get straight forward to the incredible drydown.

5:03 AM EST  

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