With the holidays behind us and still too many winter days ahead, it’s important to find ways to add a splash of colour to cold, grey mornings. I reach for my brightest dresses and scarves and add swirls of saffron and paprika to my food, evoking sunshine and warmth. Or I rely on white floral perfumes to create a vivid ambience. White flowers may call to mind bridal veils, but there is nothing prim and pastel about the scent of tropical blossoms like tiaré, frangipani, ylang-ylang, tuberose or jasmine. They have a voluptuous aroma reminiscent of warm skin, coconut milk and petals sticky with nectar. The synesthetes among perfumers swear that white flowers smell purple and pink, rich and saturated, and it’s true that wearing a white floral perfume makes me feel as if the day is brighter.
While “white” or “tropical” florals are imprecise terms covering too many botanical families and fragrance types, the one characteristic that these flowers do have in common is their heady and flamboyant aroma. Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage (£112 for 100ml EDP) is a good introduction because it showcases tiaré blossoms, redolent of peaches, in a delicate manner. The perfume opens on an étude of dew-covered buds and flowers and even as it warms up in the drydown, it retains its airy character.
More richly tinted is Parfums de Nicolaï Juste un Rêve (€125 for 100ml EDT), a jasmine blossom soaked in apricot nectar. It’s a bolder, sweeter fragrance than Un Matin d’Orage, with a cool touch of iris balancing out the creamy floral notes. True to its name, Juste un Rêve is dreamy, and putting it on is like stepping into one’s own tropical fantasy of sun-warmed sand and cool breezes that shake flowers out of tall frangipani trees.
Decadent and ornate, Tom Ford Black Orchid (£82 for 50ml EDP) is a fragrance that combines so many elements that on paper one might wonder how it could possibly work. From the fresh green leaves and cucumber peel to melted chocolate, incense, truffle and tropical flowers, it’s a kaleidoscope of sensations. Yet if the idea is to have fun rather than play it safe, Black Orchid satisfies on all counts. It’s seductive, with a lingering finish that clings to skin like wet silk.
For the greyest of days there is Vero Profumo’s Rubj. Created by indie perfumer Vero Kern, Rubj smells of Indian nights, indecently lush flowers, ripe strawberries and salty skin. The fragrance comes in three concentrations, eau de parfum, extrait de parfum and voile d’extrait. All three are so varied that they could be different perfumes, but my favourite is the voile d’extrait (£156 for 50ml) with its stronger accent on the tuberose and orange blossom petals. A few drops are enough to make me dream about the sunshine of Kerala.
Victoria Frolova has been writing her perfume blog boisdejasmin.com since 2005. Her explorations of fragrance touch upon all elements that make this subject rich and complex: science, art, literature, history and culture. Frolova is a recipient of three prestigious Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards for Editorial Excellence and, since receiving her professional perfumery training, has also been working as a fragrance consultant and researcher.