Recently, I've started to get back into perfume in a major way. I don't know what triggered it ... maybe I'm a bit over makeup and it's only natural that I return to my first love. In my I Love Perfume Tag, I mentioned that my favourite scents were fruity florals. Since then, my stance has definitely evolved. I'm way into white flowers now. Gardenia, tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, honeysuckle, frangipani, the whole shebang. I think my obsession with Kai perfume oil was the start. I've even pulled out the ol' Perfumes: The A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez that I rushed out to buy when it first hit the bookshops. One night, I found myself reminiscing fondly about the fragrant white flowers that I smelled as a kid visiting Shanghai and Beijing. The ones arranged in bracelets and sold by old ladies on the street (after some stab-in-the-dark Googling, I think it's called Michelia × alba or white champaca?). I had this sudden longing to smell them again, though I doubt there exists a readily available perfume that authentically replicates their scent. Despite that, I've been uniformly thrilled with my three latest fragrance acquisitions.
Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia
Top notes: neroli, lilac, rosewood
Heart notes: gardenia, tuberose, orange flower, jasmine, white lily
Base notes: carnation, vanilla bourbon
Luca Turin describes this perfume as one of the few fragrances that actually achieves a real gardenia smell. In his words, the "tuberose note in PCTG is very quiet, while the rest of the fragrance is an utterly lovely gardenia accord on a refined, radiant white-flowers background." I've read other reviews online that express an opposite opinion that this is mainly a tuberose perfume. As much as I try to educate myself on the difference between tuberose and gardenia, the reality is they're probably not that hugely far apart, at least to a casual consumer like me. PCTG retails for a ludicrous $150 for the 30ml eau de parfum bottle in Australia, but I purchased mine from StrawberryNET for $90. It's definitely the most I've forked out for a perfume of that size in recent memory, but worth it. The opening is somewhat sharp and slightly bitter, but give it a bit more time and it's the middle notes that really shine. They're beautifully creamy (no dilution or wateriness here), sweet but not overly so and not at all artificial-smelling. If you like gardenia, you need this. It's a very ladylike, classic fragrance that would be perfect for a spring wedding. Lasts a decent amount of time on the skin as well.
Chloé Love, Chloé
Top notes: orange blossom, pink pepper
Heart notes: hyacinth, iris, lilac, wisteria, heliotrope
Base notes: musk, talc, rice powder
I remember when this first came out in 2010. It wasn't like anything I was used to smelling at the department store. I wasn't quite sure if it was my type of fragrance, but the more I sprayed it, the more it grew on me. There are a few perfumes that I've liked for a long time (and eagerly reach for whenever I encounter a tester), but haven't taken the plunge to purchase. I'm so glad I finally bit the bullet with Love, Chloé because I've ended up surprisingly loving this. At first, it announces itself as a distinctly powdery, almost soapy fragrance (a little bit like the original Chloé from 1975), but it takes on a more complex quality the more it melds with the skin's chemistry. There's just something about it that I can't put my finger on. I find it comforting and mellow, not typically sweet, floral or fruity, but slightly woody on a musky, powdery cloud, very clean smelling without being sharp or green, womanly, soft and sensual. The bottle is also pretty close to perfection.
Jo Malone Orange Blossom Cologne
Top notes: cedrat, green notes, clementine leaf
Heart notes: orange blossom, water lily
Base notes: orange blossom, lilac
I've been eyeing a Jo Malone fragrance for ages, but I wasn't prepared to spend $90 for a 30ml bottle here. I finally allowed myself to splurge in their boutique in the Marais, Paris, where it's €45.00 or about $65. It was truly a battle to pick out just one, but in the end I opted for Orange Blossom because it was one of the first Jo Malone fragrances I heard about from Allison of amarixe in her April 2012 Beauty Favourites video. This perfume is quietly glorious. It's bright, fresh, fruity, zesty, sweet, uplifting and a little soapy in the best way. Spraying it on a thin cardboard strip at the shop (with a few other fragrances competing for your attention) simply won't do it justice. It needs to be spritzed onto skin and worn in isolation for the whole day to be properly appreciated. I don't think I have anything in my collection that tops this as the ultimate springtime scent. The tall, rectangular bottle is also particularly handbag-friendly.