Ever wondered what makes the cut when it comes to a fragrance expert’s personal stash? Us too! Today marks the second instalment of our Inside Our Fragrance Expert’s Fragrance Wardrobe series, a candid look at Thomas’ fragrance collection to reveal once and for all the favourites that he turns to time and time again. The next stop on the journey? The white florals…
There are two types of people on this Earth: those who love and appreciate a big white floral, and those who are wrong. There really is nothing more joyful, more exuberant, more erotic, and heck, more euphoric than a big white flower captured in fragrant form. BWFs (as I like to call them) are beautiful but they aren’t for everybody and that’s because they contrast their decadent floral tones with waves of filth, skank, dirt and dinge. I’m a firm believer that there needs to be some grit with the glamour for life to be truly glorious and big white florals have both in spades.
So what is so special about white flowers? Well, unlike many of the flowers in the botanical kingdom, white flowers do not have the aesthetic attraction of colourful petals to entice insects to assist with their pollination, so they use another weapon: scent. White flowers have some of the most pungent and complex odour profiles, and as you can imagine, these strong smells lend themselves to perfumery in a variety of fascinating ways, resulting in bold and beautiful fragrances that often feel voluptuous and exotic.
Let’s dive into my fragrance wardrobe, dust off the shelves and pick out some of my favourite BWFs!
Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens
Fleurs d’Oranger was one of my early white floral loves and it’s a fragrance that displays the facets of many white flowers, but also manages to capture both the innocence and the carnal nature of these blooming beauties. It is, at its heart, a shining orange blossom filled with dewy sweetness and a cool neroli facet, but it’s also a lot more. Jasmine and tuberose, those daring vixens of the floral world, are blended with the warm spice of cumin to add a hot, sexiness that feels more human than floral. Contrasting this bodily warmth, there is a delicate coolness to the fragrance that appears as a glistening sheen, almost evoking the plastic wrap of a florist’s bouquet. Fleurs d’Oranger is so much more than just an orange blossom – it’s a heady floral creation with erotic intentions.
Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez
Gardenias smell tremendous but when it comes to fragrance, they hide their scent away safely. Despite their strong smell (which smells like fresh green tuberose mixed with mushrooms and blue cheese – a lot nicer than it sounds) gardenias yield no fragrant oil so getting them inside is actually rather difficult. Perfumers are required to reconstruct this iconic smell piece by piece, often to varying degrees of success. What I like about Narciso is the fact that it doesn’t try to be a true-to-life gardenia – instead, Narciso creates something more abstract, specifically the idea of a pure white gardenia displayed in a huge, cuboid space. It is soft, creamy and musky, with no note or facet more tangible than another, creating an olfactory impression of the purest shade of white.
No other jasmine can come close to Alien in my book. Forget all of your photo-realistic jasmine fragrances because this is THE ONE! Sure, the scent of jasmine in full bloom is like nothing else, but this one shoots the flower out of the stratosphere into space and back, which makes it ten times better. Alien is a bold perfume that focuses on a huge, syrupy jasmine note that is given a solar, sparkling character thanks to a touch of citrus. Contrast and friction comes from an equally giant dose of cashmeran, an aroma chemical that smells like blond woods. Together these two titans duel it out to create a perfume that is Amazonian in nature and hedonistic in its odour. Alien truly is one of a kind – a titan of perfumery that brings a solar, bronzed character to the world of the floral. It is simply out of this world.
La Panthere by Cartier
When Cartier launched La Panthere they called it a ‘feral gardenia’ which of course, meant I was destined to fall in love with it. Much like Narciso, the idea of abstraction is key here and as one can imagine, the flower presented it is somewhat different from the real thing in nature. What La Panthere does is take the sweet, heady notes of gardenia, and embellishes with fur and claws. A thick, gluey gardenia accord is sharpened by citrus and patchouli, creating a strange neo-chypre that purrs softly like a house cat. Whether La Panthere will curl itself up in a ball on your lap or go in for the kill is anyone’s guess – but the surprise is half of the fun!
Honour Woman By Amouage
All of these fragrances that showcase one flower are great of course, but every fragrance wardrobe needs a decent white floral bouquet, in fact, my wardrobe has several! My favourite though is Honour Woman by Amouage because it manages to smell like all of the flowers in the world all at once, but also none at the same time. Honour Woman is a cool, aloof fragrance. It feels like porcelain, almost as if it could break with a heavy touch. It’s not a warm, enveloping fragrance, instead it has a strange icy glare that has a melancholy air to it. It’s one of the most intriguing floral compositions out there, taking inspiration from Madame Butterfly and speaking of the fragility of life through its cool, floral tones.