The Thai dessert of mango and sticky rice seems custom-made to inspire a perfume. It has the sweet top notes of ripe mango, the creamy heart of coconut milk, the savoury finish of steamed rice and the delicate floral accent of palm sugar. Yet it wasn’t until perfumer Calice Becker created Moonlight in Heaven (£215 for 50ml parfum) for Kilian in 2016 that I could finally enjoy the delicious twists of my favourite pudding in a fragrance.
Voluptuous though it might be, mango’s aroma is difficult to capture. It is reminiscent of caramel, white flowers and strawberries – a fruit with which mango shares several aromatic compounds. Yet it also suggests butter, pine resin, overripe fruit and even bread. As a result, creating a mango accord that smells natural and wears well on skin requires skill and imagination. Becker found a solution in Moonlight in Heaven by emphasising the contrast between the fresh notes of ripe mango and the creaminess of coconut rice. The scent’s brightness comes from bitter citrus and pink pepper, which also cut down the richness. The result is mouthwatering and refined; sweet but with a touch of salt.
A more recent mango discovery of mine is the delightfully unconventional Vele (£210 for 100ml parfum), a fragrance by Italian perfumer Tiziana Terenzi’s eponymous brand. Wrapping the fruit into ylang-ylang and rose, warm materials like amber, vanilla and musk accent the indulgent character of her creation. Like Becker, Terenzi uses tart top notes to tone down the sweetness – in this case green fig and passion fruit.
While ripe mango has a heady aroma, green mango is verdant, resinous and intensely sour. Think of pine needles and unripe apples tossed with jasmine buds. This vibrancy was the starting point for perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour when he composed Bombay Bling (€205 for 60ml EDP) for Neela Vermeire Créations – a fresh and radiant scent infused with jasmine, patchouli, cardamom and frangipani. Here a savoury contrast is delivered by cumin, a spice that smells like leather and warm skin. True to its name, Bombay Bling is dazzling – and delicious.
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. @boisdejasmin.