Friday, March 24, 2006

White Floral: Narcotic Flowers and Sex Appeal

White Florals are typically perfumes containing essences of tropical (narcotic) white flowers such as tuberose, gardenia, frangipani and jasmine. These are intoxicatingly heady florals; for instance, the mysterious and sultry aroma of jasmine is said to befuddle the rational mind with aphrodisiac impulses. Jasmine, along with rose, makes up the heart of most perfumes, but not all perfume compositions are focused on jasmine. The most famous jasmine-based perfume (or one in which lots of jasmine is used) is Jean Patou Joy. To make Joy, you need only the finest ingredients that most perfume companies won't shell out for. In fact, according to an industry friend of mine, Joy is one of only two perfumes which contain any real Grasse jasmine at all (the other is Chanel No.5), and only in the pure parfum concentrations. In a time when most perfumes on the market are synthetic, Joy, created in 1930, is among the last survivors of the era of quality and artistry in perfumery.

If Chanel No.5 had been made with men in mind, Joy was made for women, for our pleasure and to make us feel not only beautiful but empowered. A favorite of silver screen actresses such as Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford and Marilyn Monroe (some say that Joy was her preferred fragrance, contrary to the belief that Chanel No. 5 was--I say she probably loved both), Joy is a bombshell that lights up a party room with a bright, charismatic presence. Joy opens up with sparkling laughter and reveals a character that is sweet, sensual and powerfully seductive beyond its haughty refinement. The two main ingredients in Joy are Bulgarian Rose and Grasse jasmine, but there is some tuberose in it which gives it the voluptuous, fleshy aspect.

Tuberose deserves its name, "Mistress of the Night"--its scent is so heady that once upon a time in Rome, young ladies were forbidden to walk through tuberose gardens at night for fear of the scent driving men mad. It isn't a flower that everyone can wear or wants to wear because it's strong even in small amounts. Perhaps its scent isn't exactly prim and proper but rather one that walks a thin line between refined and unrefined. Jasmine is often described as creamy but in comparison, tuberose has an even creamier, heavier, at times buttery texture to its scent which people will either like or dislike immediately. However, I'm a diehard lover of tropical white florals; tuberose, along with jasmine and gardenia, is a favorite. When the clean Greens and soft Powderies have bored me to tears after awhile, I crave the unabashed sex appeal of these bodaciously bold and suggestive flowers.

If you have a chance to smell Joy parfum, please do! You'll either get knocked out by its intoxicating, indolic character or you'll be swept off your feet like I was when I smelled it for the first time, making me fall forever in love with its heady, round, gorgeous and intense aroma. Some other famous White Florals are: Robert Piguet Fracas, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Cacharel Anais Anais, Perry Ellis for Women, Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle, Gianfranco Ferre, Kate Spade, Evyan White Shoulders, Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, Christian Dior Pure Poison, Tatiana by Diane Von Furstenberg, Coty Sand & Sable and Monyette. There's a new selection of lighter White Florals out there such as L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons (a favorite of mine--this is as light and delicate as a White Floral can be), Marc Jacobs and Marc Jacobs Blush.

(Image: Lady Day: jazz singer Billie Holliday wore gardenias, her favorite flowers, in her hair.)