My wedding outfit wasn’t white. It was green, because in the western part of India where my husband’s family originally comes from, and where we were married, it means the colour of life, spring and rejuvenation. Since then I have been paying more attention to this colour, and the scents associated with it. In perfumery, green can be suggested by a variety of materials, from naturals like violet leaf and galbanum to synthetics such as leaf alcohols that smell of freshly cut grass.
Green notes, however, can be difficult to wear, which is why, though this perfume family has many loyal fans, it remains small. We prefer our scents of freshly cut grass and new leaves in the air, rather than in the bottle. Nevertheless, certain green fragrances have become classics. One is L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier (£85 for 50ml EDT). It creates its signature fig accord with the clever combination of ivy, leaves and galbanum. The latter is a fennel-like plant that produces a pungent-smelling essential oil. When carefully dosed, however, galbanum conjures up the vivid colours of spring — young buds, new leaves, damp earth.
Galbanum was also used in another classic, Chanel No 19 (£55 for 35ml EDP), that reinterpreted the familiar chypre accord (an interplay of moss, bergamot, patchouli and musk) in a green manner. Chanel No 19 also exists in a softer version called Chanel No 19 Poudré (£77 for 50ml EDP) that blends layers of downy musk with iris petals and leaves.
Another airy and soft perfume is Ann Gérard Perle de Mousse (€125 for 60ml EDP). Ann Gérard is a Parisian jeweller who worked with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour to create a collection of fragrances with the radiance of gems. Perle de Mousse is a word play on moss, mousse in French, and an allusion to the mossy notes of the composition. It’s an appropriate name for this luminous perfume, but the main theme here is flowers – the white of gardenia, the green of lily of the valley and the yellow of tuberose – wrapped in green leaves. As soon as the cold fizz of the top notes subsides, the intense green pales to soft pistachio, and you’re left with layers of white petals flecked with moss.
Wearing Perle de Mousse reminds me of another distinctive perfume that uses green and floral notes to advantage – Ormonde Jayne Tiare (£110 for 50ml EDP). Luminous and transparent, Tiare nevertheless retains a plush character. The peach and coconut nuances of tiare flowers are enhanced with jasmine and ylang ylang. This high-volume accord might have been overwhelming, if it were not for the green orange flower and iris. Yet it smells of more than just flowers. Tiare smells of places – a garden overgrown with tall grasses and lilies, a florist shop, an Old Delhi stall selling flower garlands.
As for my own wedding fragrance, I had two for each day of the ceremonies and both were inflected with green. One was Goutal Un Matin d’Orage (€87 for 50ml EDT), a vignette of frangipani blossoms scattered on grass. The other was Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower (£165 for 50ml EDP), a tuberose shaded green. It smelt of spring that held the promise of summer.
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.