A More Affordable Olfactionary
Amouage Interlude Man
Amouage Opus III
Amouage Opus VAmouage Opus VI
Amouage TributeAnnick Goutal Encens Flamboyant
Annick Goutal Heure ExquiseAnnick Goutal Petite Cherie
Annick Goutal Sables
April Aromatics Calling All Angels
April Aromatics Bohemian SpiceApril Aromatics Jasmina
At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)
At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante) At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)
Ava Luxe Café Noir
Carner Barcelona D600
Caron Aimez-MoiChantilly Dusting Powder
Clive Christian C for WomenComme des Garcons Daphne
Comme des Garcons LUXE ChampacaCostes by Costes
Creed Virgin Island WaterDeneuve
Gucci Eau de Parfum Gucci L'Arte di Gucci Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia
Guerlain Samsara Parfum
How I Store Decants
Il Profumo Cannabis
Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant
Kenzo SummerLa Via del Profumo Hindu Kush
La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe
La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project
Montale Black AoudNeila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling
Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps
Nez a Nez Ambre a SadeOmar Sharif Pour Femme
Oriscent Pure Oud OilsParfum d'Empire Azemour
Parfum d'Empire Cuir OttomanParfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs Parfumerie Generale Indochine
Parfums de Nicolai SacrebleuParfums Retro Grand Cuir
Paris, je t'aime
Pascal Morabito Or Black
Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk
Robert Piguet Fracas
Serge Lutens Borneo 1834
Serge Lutens Boxeuses
Serge Lutens Un Lys
Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette
Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)
SoOud Ouris Parfum NectarStone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)
Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain
The Diary of a Nose, Book Review
Tokyo Milk Ex Libris
Vero Profumo Mito Viktoria Minya Eau de Hongrie
Viktoria Minya Hedonist
Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb
Links to Other Blogs I Enjoy
All I Am - A Redhead
A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)
Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)
Australian Perfume Junkies
Beauty on the Outside
Bois de Jasmin
Bonkers About Perfume
Ca Fleure Bon
Eyeliner on a Cat
From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter
Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog
Grain de Musc
I Smell Therefore I Am
Katie Puckrik Smells
Memory of Scent
Muse in Wooden Shoes
Natural Perfumery by Salaam
Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume
Notes From Josephine
Notes From the Ledge
Now Smell This
Oh, True Apothecary!
Purple Paper Planes
Redolent of Spices
Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic
Scents of Place
Scents of Self
Sorcery of Scent
The Alembicated Genie
The Candy Perfume Boy
The Fragrant Man
The French Exit
The Perfume Magpie
The Scented Hound
The Sounds of Scent
The Vintage Perfume Vault
This Blog Really Stinks
Undina's Looking Glass
WAFT by Carol
Marriage of Opposites in a Rosewood Perfume:
Swiss Arabian Nouf
I’m not sure I could adequately describe the perfume Nouf, by Swiss Arabian Perfumes, if I didn’t do so by taking some artistic license. In this case (as is often the case), by taking a literary approach rather than a literal one. If this perfume smelled like the desert after the rain, or the inside of a vintage leather handbag, it would be an easier perfume to describe, but Nouf is both as straight-forward and as quirky as the act of writing about perfumes is in itself. Come to think of it, it’s as linear and neat, and as fuzzy and hard-to-pin-down, as the two characters in the story I’m about to introduce you to as a means of analogizing it. And as such, before I say more about Nouf—other than to let you know that it’s a perfume that smells mostly of rosewood (and that “mostly” does not equate with “simply”)—let me tell you about this couple.
They are the young, just-married Indian couple of Jhumpa Lahiri’s story, “This Blessed House” (from her Interpreter of Maladies book of stories, published in 1999), who have just settled into their first home in Connecticut. His name is Sanjeev and hers is Twinkle, and by name alone you can predict which of them takes a Type A approach to life and which one doesn’t. When we meet them, they are sprucing-up their home and getting ready for a housewarming party, an event important to Sanjeev, who has invited some co-workers from his office. Not long after moving into their home, religious relics left behind by the previous owners began turning up in otherwise empty shelves and other odd places, and because these items are also rather kitschy and symbols of a religion they don’t belong to, Sanjeev wants to toss them. Twinkle, however, won’t let him. She views them as found treasures—they are not only amusing to her, but somewhat meaningful—and every time a new one turns up she insists on displaying it on their fireplace mantel, where by this time there is a menagerie of things, including a framed paint-by-number scene of the three wise men on black velvet, a 3-D postcard of Saint Francis, and a kitchen trivet with a picture of Jesus delivering his famous sermon on the mount. Sanjeev finds her display irritating, almost to the point of distressing, and wonders aloud what their guests will think of it. Luckily for him, a period of time passes when no more items turn up—until a week or so before the party, when they find a larger-than-life-sized poster of Jesus rolled up behind a radiator in the guest bedroom. Twinkle won’t let it be thrown out—she promises to keep it in her study where it won’t be seen—and that’s when tension begins to build:
He stood watching her as she left the room, with her poster and her cigarette; a few ashes had fallen to the floor where she’d been standing. He bent down, pinched them between his fingers, and deposited them in his cupped palm.
Sanjeev went to the bathroom to throw away the ashes. The cigarette butt still bobbed in the toilet bowl, but the tank was refilling, so he had to wait a moment before he could flush it again. In the mirror of the medicine cabinet he inspected his long eyelashes – like a girl’s, Twinkle liked to tease. Though he was of average build, his cheeks had a plumpness to them; this, along with the eyelashes, detracted, he feared, from what he hoped was a distinguished profile. He was of average height as well, and had wished ever since he had stopped growing that he were just one inch taller. For this reason it irritated him when Twinkle insisted on wearing high heels, as she had done the other night when they ate dinner in Manhattan. This was the first weekend after they’d moved into the house; by then the mantel had already filled up considerably, and they had bickered about it in the car on the way down. But then Twinkle had drunk four glasses of whiskey in a nameless bar in Alphabet City, and forgot all about it. She dragged him to a tiny bookshop on St. Mark’s Place, where she browsed for nearly an hour, and when they left she insisted that they dance a tango on the sidewalk in front of strangers.†
As is typical of the stories in Lahiri’s book, “This Blessed House” explores the meeting place where alienation and the enticing siren song of the new rub up against one another; the place where Indian expat characters “arrive at a cultural divide” (to borrow a quote from the book’s dust jacket). That’s the pull of these stories, for while I imagine them to be exceptionally poignant for anyone who has embarked on a new life in another country, almost all of us have passed over similar crossroads. In this story Sanjeev is the expat; he’s an engineer who has done well in the States and who could have married any of the potential brides prescreened for him by his mother in India. Instead he has married American-born Twinkle (her real name is Tanima), who is his equal in caste and education but whose spirit reflects her California upbringing. Twinkle’s boho nature is evident in everything she does, from the way she takes a bubble bath—with her blue beauty mask on while holding a cigarette, a glass of bourbon and a thick paperback book of sonnets—to her master’s thesis, “a study of an Irish poet whom Sanjeev had never heard of.” Theirs is a love marriage (albeit one partially arranged by their parents), but is love enough? The story leaves the reader wondering just how certain their future is with its age-old question, Can two whose natures are so different manage to live under the same roof?
Maybe or maybe not—that’s for the reader to ponder. I’d like to believe they can, and that’s probably why I like perfumes such as Nouf, for it seems to beg the same question. Nouf is as yin-yang as the coupling of Sanjeev and Twinkle (not to mention as yin-yang sounding as the perfume house it comes from—Swiss Arabian—which struck me as odd until I read its history at this link). It is a beautiful perfume that needs some sorting out, because there’s not much information on the Internet about it, and what is there is misleading. The company describes it as an aquatic perfume, and if that’s true, all I can say is (thankfully) it does not smell like one. Reading the list of fragrance notes for it, one might then assume it's an amber perfume, as amber is listed in it twice:
Top notes: lemon, grapefruit, bergamot
Middle notes: amber, pepper
Base notes: palisander rosewood, amber, cedar
To my nose, Nouf is not at all ambery, either. It smells predominantly yet complexly like its base note of rosewood—a wood traditionally used to make guitars and, in India, furniture; a wood so-named because it has a sweetly floral nuance to its aroma. From what I’ve read, rosewood is rich in aromatic oils, and what is interesting is that Nouf, too, smells oily: it has a scent that is reminiscent of the spice-infused cooking oils of Indian cuisine, though not enough to render this perfume a gourmand. The predominant smell of this perfume is woody, and the oily-spicy facet imparts a sense of liveliness and energy to the rosewood, such that it vibrates like a sitar. In terms of character, this aspect of Nouf is very much like Twinkle: it pulsates and swirls and makes me feel as if the scent is lifting me up, yet in a dreamy and self-contained way. In other words, the effect is not that of the champagne-like burst of aldehydes, but there is something effervescently feminine about it. I’m not a nose, but I’ll credit this effect to Nouf’s citric top notes, so well integrated they don’t come off as citrusy. Instead, they assume the sweetly uplifting scent of a Meyer lemon gliding over the olfactory surface of the woody fragrance like a furniture polish.
I love perfumes that have a sense of private intoxication about them, and to some degree, Nouf’s self-contained character can be attributed to the note that reminds me of Sanjeev—the rosewood note itself. Not the spicy-lemony-oily component described above, but the sturdier wood smell. Linear, constant and resistant to change, it is masculine leaning (in the way that wood notes typically register to my nose as masculine) without going too far in that direction, but it definitely has an air of the authoritative about it and balances out the feminine aspects of the perfume. If it weren’t attached to everything I listed in the paragraph above, I don’t think I’d care for the perfume, because it would be too stationery, and already when I wear Nouf I have to be in the mood for a perfume that is not going to develop much on the skin. There are days, though, when olfactory constancy is what I seek, and Nouf delivers that beautifully and uniquely, thanks to the way it is attached to its aforementioned element of Twinkle. Also, for as linear as I make this perfume sound, there is actually a surprise that happens in the first few minutes after application: I get a phantom note that smells like spearmint—not a stand-alone spearmint note, but a very pretty drift of it, cool and green and sweetly camphorous—couched in the smell of the rosewood. It lasts only a few minutes, but it never fails to delight me.
In fact, it’s this phantom note that reminds me of “This Blessed House”—firstly, because it’s like a little treasure that shows up, and, secondly, because it reminds me of both Twinkle (her delight in the offbeat and unexpected) and of Sanjeev (who by nature and upbringing is too traditional to appreciate such treasures, but who is wise and grounded enough to accommodate them).
… In truth, Sanjeev did not know what love was, only what he thought it was not. It was not, he had decided, returning to an empty carpeted condominium each night, and using only the top fork in his cutlery drawer, and turning away politely at those weekend dinner parties when the other men eventually put their arms around the waists of their wives and girlfriends, leaning over every now and again to kiss their shoulders or necks. It was not sending away for classical music CDs by mail, working his way methodically through the major composers that the catalogue recommended, and always sending his payments in on time.†
My sincere thanks to Sigrun of Riktig Parfym (whose ingenious blog I love!!). She purchased Nouf while vacationing in Dubai and kindly decanted some for me.
Swiss Arabian Nouf can be purchased at Amazon.com, where a 50-ml bottle is currently sale priced at $37.92. The company has stores in various countries in the Middle East, though not in the US. (By the way, even though I took an Indian theme for my review of this perfume, Nouf is actually an Arabian name that means “the highest point on a mountain,” if my understanding is correct.)
†Excerpted from Interpreter of Maladies, stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, copyright © 1999 by Jhumpa Lahiri, published by Houghton Mifflin Company (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY, 1999, pp. 140 & 147)
Photo titled "Holding Hands" is by Jaci Clark for Kimberly Reed Photography.
Photo of Swiss Arabian Nouf perfume is from Swiss Arabian's merchant page on Amazon.com.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 3/20/2015.
If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
Attributed to Moslih Eddin Saadi, a Persian poet who lived about 1184-1291
The above little gem of a poem is well-known, and though I probably would have discovered it on my own, it came to my notice in my teenage years when I inherited a poetry book from my grandmother. On the inside cover she had written the titles and page numbers of her two favorite poems, and true to who she was—a passionate gardener—both poems were about flowers. (In addition to “Hyacinths,” she had also favored William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”.) True to who I was—the granddaughter who worshipped her—not only did these poems stay in my head, but their namesake flowers became favorites of mine. Daffodils are more of a visual treat for me: while I do enjoy their starchy, honeyed-pollen aroma (especially noticeable when one has a vase filled with them), it’s their sunshine yellow color that makes me happiest. Whereas with hyacinths, though they come in many lovely shades, from white to pink to deepest purple, it is the incredible richness of their scent that gets me. The perfume of these flowers is luxuriant, and one would think it would translate well into an actual perfume of the cosmetic variety, but if there is a perfume that fully and authentically represents hyacinth, I haven’t tried it. I can think of five perfumes I love which feature the note and use it to impart hyacinth’s coolness to their floral bouquets (the now discontinued Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve and Paris de Coty, as well as present-day Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 19, and Amouage Dia pour Femme, though it must be noted that the latter does so by way of cyclamen, a flower that smells like a blend of lilac, lily, violet and hyacinth according to Nigel Groom’s The New Perfume Handbook).
For a flower with such a heady aroma, there is something oddly cool and humid about the smell of hyacinths. I say “oddly” because flowers that have a thick perfume usually strike me as being sensual and warm, but hyacinths prove that’s not always the case. Their complex and bright floral scent also encapsulates an air of the damp springtime weather in which they bloom. This aspect is accentuated in perfume; quite often when hyacinth is listed as a perfume note, there will also be a galbanum note or some other type of green accord. As much as I’d love to find a hyacinth perfume that captures the richness of hyacinth’s distinctive aroma (Amouage Dia pour Femme comes closest), thanks to a perfume blogging friend, I did find a perfume that conveys hyacinth’s damp and cool, misty green breath in an ingenious way: Florist’s Fridge by Smell Bent Perfumes.
“Orchids, hyacinth and buckets of chilled flora” is how perfumer and brand owner Brent Leonesio describes the notes of this charmingly sylph-like scent which presents a shorthand sketch of hyacinth that reminds me of the Saadi poem.
Here is a breath of spring—and one of life’s simplest luxuries. Here is a reminder of both how easy and how important it is to treat yourself well, are my thoughts on hyacinths. How fitting that they bring their cool and humectant facet, as well as a floral sprightliness, to this perfume that does indeed smell like the air that issues forth from a florist’s fridge. Particularly the side that houses inexpensive bouquets of daisies, carnations, day lilies and mums. Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge doesn’t convey the extravagance of exotic blooms like roses, tuberoses or Casablanca lilies; it doesn’t put one in mind of a romantic, dramatic floral arrangement. Heck, it doesn’t even put one in mind of actual perfume, and that’s the novelty of it. It’s airy to the extent that I find it the floral equivalent of classic cologne. In the same way classic cologne refreshes one with its mix of citrus and herbal aromatics, Florist’s Fridge is a pick-me-up of delicate, chilled florals accented by an equally delicate spray of fresh greenery. Its sillage is quiet (longevity is good, in fact, much better than a citrus cologne), and thanks to its uplifting properties—the way that in name and in actuality, it anchors the feeling of being at a posy shop to the pleasure center of one's brain—Florist’s Fridge is, thusly, a fragrance you wear for your own sense of delight and well-being, rather than a perfume you wear to get noticed.
Mineral-like and green in the first minutes when it hits your skin, Florist’s Fridge has an opening accord that reminds me of Perrier water. It’s also has an iris-root smell—with the emphasis on 'root' and its vegetal connotations—in the first five minutes of its development. If you can imagine a blending of scents encompassing mineral-water bubbles, a root vegetable pulled from the earth in winter, and a hint of greenery, and do this while thinking of the hiss of air that hits you when you open the door of a cooler filled with flowers, then you’re fully grasped the delightful top notes of this scent. As it develops on the skin, a violet-like note becomes evident and the fragrance begins to sweeten without ever turning truly sweet. Hyacinth emerges and brings a delicate nuance of carnation spiciness and chilled-lilac floralness to the mix, and Florist’s Fridge stays in this vein for the duration of its wear-time on the skin (about five hours). This floral vapor also smells as if it has a touch of marshmallow-vanilla starch at its base, but only enough to suggest the pollen-like starchiness of flowers and not anything that could be construed as creamy in the oriental or gourmand sense.
One can’t really tease apart the blooms in this floral seltzer water—it’s simply a unique and ingenious form of effervescence. Perhaps inspired by this scent, or inspired by the fact that it was Valentine’s Day last week and the grocery store had all kinds of wonderful arrangements, I picked up an inexpensive bouquet when I was doing my shopping. These flowers don’t have much scent apart from a vague whiff of the florist’s fridge, but are so colorful they generate their own brand of pop and fizz. For $10.99, they’ve injected more cheer into my winter-addled brain than a box of long-stemmed roses could have, even if those roses happened to be fragrant (which they rarely are these days), and they’ve lasted for over a week. “Ooh, where did you get the flowers?” my sister asked when she came over for dinner, and though I think she was expecting that my husband got them for me, it felt good to tell her that I got them from the grocery story for about the same price as two, maybe three loaves of bread. (Not that I told her about the bread, but thinking about it now, that’s the equivalent cost.) Sometimes the most pleasurable indulgences are the ones we give ourselves, and sometimes they are of the “cheap thrill” variety. The orange and fuchsia-colored daisies in my bouquet were achieved with food dye, which was obvious the moment I put them in water and the water turned pink. That’s not a complaint. Sometimes novelty is a good thing, the splendidly inventive thing that will feed you when the hyacinths aren’t blooming yet, the snow is piling up, and you’re tired of running to the store for bread. What could be more novel than a profusion of ultra-colorful flowers in winter?
Florist’s Fridge doesn’t smell like perfume, or even intimately of the florals in its mix, but it’s an ingenious facsimile for the act of buying flowers, such that every time you put some on, your imagination takes over and you’re virtually picking out a bouquet of whatever flowers delight you. Just as delightful, one can experience the novelty of it in a dainty, travel-spray bottle priced at only $7 and still have dough left over for meat and potatoes.
Florist’s Fridge is from Smell Bent Perfumes, an indie perfumery based in Los Angeles, and can be purchased at the Smell Bent website: $7 for a 4-ml travel spray or $50 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. My thanks to my blogging friend Ann (of Perfume Posse) for kindly introducing me to this little number!
Photo of hyacinths on windowsill is by Kevin Lee Jacobs from his website www.agardenforthehouse.com.
Photo of floral bouquet in vase is my own; photos of Florist's Fridge perfume is from Smell Bent's website.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 2/20/2015.
Boardwalk Bliss and Eau de Hongrie by Parfums Viktoria Minya
White Blouse White Shirt
Snow falls on the boardwalk
where they never walked that winter,
Streetlamps in white boas, surf light
patching shuttered storefronts.
Where are they? The Ferris wheel
they once rode looks green.
In this other snapshot
she wears pedal pushers,
he’s in summer whites,
they swing cigarettes
and hold hands, walking toward me,
it seems, into breezy life,
where they don’t know I’m waiting.
Now they’re renting a rolling chair.
Inside the wicker cowl he says
“A five-dollar ride, chief.”
“It’s Chinese, like Charlie Chan.”
Sand buries the sea noise,
resin scents rise from the boards
into deft sea winds
as they roll past windows larvaed
with delftware and sable stoles,
licking each other’s fingers,
french fries in paper cones.
When did the boardwalk look like that?
When was that fresh love?
I stencil red-winged blackbirds
into the scenes, and lilac
brushing windowpanes, and crocus,
one garden of one season,
composite, where we look out,
and between them I become
an hourglass of sand and light
beside the ocean,
where the sun lets more snow
fall around our heads.
Thirteen years ago, I was listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition” and heard W. S. Di Piero read the poem, above, from his then-new volume of poetry titled Skirts and Slacks. It’s remarkable to think that something as small as a poem can stop on in one’s tracks, but the moment I heard it I knew I would have to seek out his book. I wish NPR still had the audio clip in which you could listen to the poet read it—the pitch perfect way it passed from his lips over the airwaves, like the slender edge of ocean wave arriving to meet the sand. However, I think that poems, the very best ones, are written almost in an onomatopoeic way, such that the thing they speak of is ingrained in the words themselves—their meaning arrived through a juxtaposition of images and sounds that is more direct than narrative. And as such, I think you can read this poem to yourself and have that same feeling of wistfulness and wonder wash over you, as it did me when I first heard it on the radio.
Because I like to fill the pages of my blog with things that inspire me, yet be as truthful to the nature of a perfume as it is possible to be, I've been waiting a long time to couple a perfume to this poem. Naturally, I had to find the right perfume and finally I have: the delicate and frothy, yet piquant and immediate beauty that is Eau de Hongrie, the latest creation of Viktoria Minya. Eau de Hongrie is actually one of three new fragrances by the Hungarian-born, Paris-based perfumer: there is also a lovely rose fragrance, watercolor-like in its olfactory hue, that I might write about later, and an iris-soliflore that is not quite my style. Eau de Hongrie, though, had me in its tender thrall immediately, for it is like the echo to the siren song of Ms. Minya’s first perfume, Hedonist. And what a fitting echo it is! Eau de Hongrie touches on the same olfactory tones as Hedonist—a perfume I compared to the honey-wine known as mead in my review—and actually takes its inspiration from a Hungarian dessert wine called Tokaji Aszu, touted as “the wine of kings and the king of wine.” But whereas Hedonist is a perfume that makes it case for pleasure by speaking in rich and lusty tones (it’s a scent of attraction, the catalyst to pleasure), Eau de Hongrie is the quiet cocoon-like response to having found that pleasure. Here is a fragrance of honeyed hush and sighs, of contentment that is too lemony fresh and new to be called comfort, and which might more accurately be filed under the surprisingly quiet category known as bliss.
Notes for Eau de Hongrie: Lemon, grapefruit, clove, jasmine, honey,
sandalwood, immortelle, labdanum, musk, tonka bean and Tokaji Aszu wine.
Eau de Hongrie has a lemon meringue-like opening accord that's every bit as airy as it is piquant. Softly aldehydic, it is an uplifting element of the perfume—a foamy bit of lemon almost immediately underscored by the creamier elements of the fragrance, signaling what to expect from this perfume. An intimately happy scent, Eau de Hongrie reminds me, like the White Blouse White Shirt poem, of that state of fresh love where two people explore their world together as if traveling in a bubble, occupying a plane of existence both contained and free. If the lemony start to this fragrance is gently buoyant, what follows next is richer yet equally immune to gravity: a light and sunny custard that lasts the duration of the perfume’s wear-time on the skin. It smells honeyed in the way of honeysuckle; fruited in the way of champagne; and creamy in the way of an egg-custard pie that is lightly vanillic and sweet. There is also a delicate woodiness to Eau de Hongrie issuing from a weathered-smelling sandalwood accord that allows the perfume to wear on the skin for many hours (about six). If you’re wondering if this suave perfume is detectable, it is. When I step outdoors into the chill December air, the fresh current easily volleys its scent to my nose (and I am only wearing one spritz on my wrist; I transferred my dab sample to a vial with an atomizer in order to get a feel for it sprayed). Even so, it doesn’t announce itself the way a big perfume does, and that’s part of its charm. Refined and elegant, Eau de Hongrie has a very natural quality, smelling as if it belongs on someone who is casually elegant, reminding me of a young Farrah Fawcett or Carolyn Bessette.
Last week, prior to writing this post, I spent seven days straight working at the college bookstore in my town, helping the staff ready itself for the onslaught of some thirty thousand students ordering their books for the new semester, and one of the benefits was witnessing the students who work there. Among them, a young woman of some authority: mid-twenties, honeyed blonde and sweet, also professional and calm in spite of a grueling schedule. Her boyfriend worked there too, and though these two were among the hardest working people in the store, I couldn’t help but notice their affection. The way he periodically, throughout the day, visited her work station to whisper something in her ear and lay his hand on her shoulder. The way they huddled over the lunch she packed for them, in the breakroom where she forked up morsels of pasta salad, offering him a bite of this and that. The way their knees and elbows and heads touched, their bodies forming a sanctuary that was private and sweet—noticeable not because it drew attention to itself, but because it resembled something pure, distilled and separate from the general hustle and exhaustion of the place.
When I say to you that Eau de Hongrie is a perfume that is analogous to this couple from the bookstore, or the couple from the poem, such a description might seem far-fetched, but it’s the best way for me to describe the mood of a perfume (the feeling I think it attempts to convey), and not just its scent. Because I could tell you that Eau de Hongrie is a gauzy, lemony, honey-custard scent with a side of sandalwood and champagne grapes, and you could interpret that to mean perky and confectionery, which it isn’t, or you could imagine it as cloud-like and aloof, which it isn’t either (though it encompasses the latter’s dreamy reserve). My hope is that when I say that Eau de Hongrie is the olfactory equivalent of romantic bliss that happens in the early stage of a relationship—the stage where attraction has been consummated and now you’re moving through the world together in your bubble—you'll understand what I mean. And even if you don't, my description might at least capture your imagination and allow you to recall that fresh love and its halcyon days before you committed your relationship to paper and settled down on terra firma to sow your seeds. Days when your children were still a gleam in your eye and a private expanse of boardwalk stretched before you.
Eau de Hongrie by Parfums Viktoria Minya can be purchased from the perfumer’s website or from LuckyScent.com, where a 100-ml bottle is currently priced at $165. My review is based on a sample I received from the perfumer.
†"White Blouse White Shirt" is from Skirts and Slacks, a book of poems by W. S. Di Piero, copyright © 2001 by W. S. Di Piero (published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2001, pp. 20-21)
Photo of couple on the boardwalk can be found across the Internet; author unknown by me.
Photo of Eau de Hongrie perfume bottle stolen from LuckyScent.com, where it can be purchased.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 1/19/2015.