Shiseido Perfume

The cherry blossoms are at their peak; we got up shortly after dawn on Saturday to see them. They are spectacular this year, owing to the warm weather and lack of rain recently. I love standing underneath them while the petals drift down. My younger children call it flower snowing, which I think is a perfect description and which prompted me to write something about a few non-export Shiseido perfumes I have tried, which are constructed in a way that smells, well, foreign and lovely to me, like flower snow:

cherry blossoms - shiseido perfumeShiseido Murasaki has notes of galbanum, hyacinth, fern, ivy, rose, lily of the valley, marigold, agarwood, sandalwood, Cedar of Lebanon, oakmoss, vetiver. Let me be honest, it’s a musty, bitter, old-fashioned smell at first, like a bottle of Dioressence that’s gone off after being left too many decades in the sun. However, if you can suffer through that, half an hour later you are rewarded with an exotic, dry oudh-incense accord. But that initial half-hour is a slog, especially since the drydown only sticks around for a couple of hours, and reapplying is painful.

Shiseido Saso and Myth of Saso I wrote about the Saso flower and the legendary Chinese beauty Xiang Fei in an earlier post. The name Saso literally means “Date Palm of the Desert,” but it actually belongs to the oleaster family and smells somewhat like osmanthus (Osmanthus fragans). Shiseido has two versions of this I have tried, and I think there might even be a third version. Patty and I nicknamed Myth of Saso ‘MoSaso’ because it’s stronger and sweeter. Patty prefers the MoSaso. I prefer the regular Saso, which is somewhat greener, considerably lighter, and reminds me in the drydown of the slightly herbal, jasmine-ish smell of the flowers of my beloved Russian olives.

Shiseido Tentatrice, French for ‘temptress’, was developed by Katsuhiko Tokuda, senior perfumer for Shiseido, and is a tribute to Chinese Cymbidium orchids. Notes: jasmine, oakmoss, lily of the valley, musk, and amber. An ethereal melding of jasmine and muguet that together represents a completely different floral smell (presumably the orchid). This might be my favorite: an exotic smell that is simultaneously more weightless and more sophisticated than your average mid-level American fragrance, but with excellent lasting power à¢â‚¬” mine is still there going strong eight hours later.

Finally, here’s a link to an excellent review on Perfume Smellin’ Things of Shiseido’s gorgeous Chant du Coeur.

Unless you’re in Japan, the only place I know of that these can be purchased is on eBay; there is a seller from Japan who carries these, mostly in the mid-$40s.

  • Clare says:

    I love this site its great:):):)but:-?

  • March says:

    Flora — I have to say, I can’t recall anything else I’ve smelled that went from being something I disliked THAT much to something I really liked, I think the first 5 minutes are just awful. PS Tune in tomorrow, we’re going to be doing some Blind Sampling — early results are funny and embarrassing…

  • Flora says:

    Oh, I remember when Murasaki was available here in the USA, when it first came out! It was very ladylike, maybe a little too much – I agree that it smells old-fashioned. I thought it had violet in it – maybe not?

  • witchygirl says:

    March- Congratulations! It looks like the plant you ordered won’t be in bloom when you receive it, which means you will have all of that pleasure of anticipation! Let me know if I can help you in any way. Maybe I should send you a decant of Dyna-gro! hee hee!

  • March says:

    witchy — ordered the Princess! Now I just need to find the food … I get the grocery store ones all the time, they bloom for maybe 3 months, then never again. I (and everyone else in the neighborhood) give them to the Korean guy at our local diner with the huge, deep picture window. Hey makes them all bloom.

  • March says:

    witchy — distracted with other stuff. I am ordering this tonight. I will look and see if I can order the Dyna-Gro from the website, otherwise will get some elsewhere online, I am sure it’s not too hard to find. Thanks for helping me find something else to spend money on!;)

  • March says:

    Victoria, I feel all global and sophisticated, and then you write something like that and I immediately feel like a hayseed sucking on a piece of straw. I cannot begin to imagine what that time was like in the USSR. I am going to get to Russia. I better go in the summer, though, I’m a weather wussy.

  • witchygirl says:

    I’m glad you’re pleased! At last I can make YOU buy something! It turns out that Cattleya orchids really need sun. Other types of orchids (like the kind you can buy at the grocery store these days) really usually don’t like bright light, and also require more water. Cattleyas actually need to dry a little between waterings. A west window would actually be fine. I keep my orchids in a south facing garden window but I’m realizing that I do have it shaded with a sheer curtain in the summer so they don’t fry. West is good! The only other secret to this plant is watering it with distilled water with Dyna-Grow liquid fertilizer, which is specially designed for orchids. I use the “grow” one when it’s just “growing” and the “bloom” one when it is, you guessed it, “blooming”. Piece of cake! The distilled water really is important because in the wild this type of orchid is an epiphyte (grows in a non-parasitic way on trees), so it only gets rain water. But only use the distilled if you use the fertilizer too, so that it gets the right minerals. This particular plant blooms everytime it puts up a new shoot, which is really great. Alright, end of Biology lesson!

  • Victoria says:

    Tendre Poison relies heavily on orchid. I keep thinking of revisiting it soon, because it was one of my first fragrances. At least, it was the first bottle of fragrance I bought for myself at a foreign currency store in Kiev. It was shortly after the collapse of the USSR, and the stores carrying imported goods were only beginning to spring up. One had to use foreign currency (dollars, lire, marks, etc.) to purchase their products.

  • March says:

    Witchy, that is is the most gorgeous, stunning thing, I am ordering it. Hmmmmm, will have to come up with a south-facing window (scarce due to weird E/W orientation of our shotgun-style house). I WILL DO IT. My few houseplants are in the western windows — PM light — not a good idea? I thought orchids liked bright, diffuse light? What do I know, you said south, and south it is… PS purple is my favorite color. Thanks.@};-

  • witchygirl says:

    March darling…….you simply must have the following plant:

    It’s called “Fragrance Princess” for a reason. It’s a really easy keeping plant, you can grow it in a south facing window sill. Water it twice a week with distilled water with liquid Dyna-grow fertilizer in it and you’re golden. I’ll talk you through it. And it’s on SALE! (Evil cackle!!!!!!)

    P.S. And I will be your Lady in Waiting

  • March says:

    witchy, PS — I am still waiting for someone to do an iris fragrance that smells like the glorious flower, not orris butter.:(( When I am queen, I will have this.

  • March says:

    cheez — I had NO idea, I have not been north and have all sorts of stupid assumptions that are wrong. Am surprised they’re blooming now so far north! Hmmmmmm, I must do some climate research.
    Yes, they DO have a fragrance. It is quite faint, though. They have Guerlain Cherry Blossom at the local Nordstrom but it’s just another randomly sweet smell.

  • March says:

    witchy — you’re going to get me into trouble, I have a serious real-flower fragrance addiction; gardening was probably what got me into perfumes. The only reason I’ve stayed away from orchids (thus far:d ) is I’m a crappy house plant owner. I have lots of heirloom roses and blooming herbs; a veritable bee paradise.
    Re Message — put it on your watch list on eBay, particularly internationally. They show up fairly regularly, for not-ridiculous amounts of money ($30 – $40?)

  • witchygirl says:

    March- My pleasure, I love your site! The truth is that there are thousand of different cattleyas and their hybrids, some of them don’t smell at all and some of them you can smell across the room! Many of them have unique scents, and I think that you could probably build a whole perfumery just on trying to duplicate different orchids. I have one blooming right now with five beautiful fragrant flowers that are each about 3 inches across. You can see one like it at:

    By the way, does anyone know where I can lay my hands on a bottle of Message from Orchids?. I must have that cinnamon orchid goodness!

  • cheezwiz says:

    Thanks for posting the beautiful picture of cherry blossoms. We have lots of them blooming in my part of the world right now too: beautiful pink and white clouds of flowers crowning the trees. I bet Southerners would be surprised to learn that magnolias also grow in profusion here in Vancouver!

    Last night I walked under a big row of pink cherry blossoms side by side. I never noticed this before, but they do indeed have a fragrance! (I had always thought of them as being odorless) It is very subtle and transparent, but definitely there. Soft and sweet (and nothing like the perfume interpretations I’ve smelled). Yay for spring!

  • March says:

    witchygirl — thanks for your comments. I was wondering about the Tentatrice, I’m not familiar with the smell of orchids except that one that smells like chocolate … Orchids and Cinnamon sounds delicious, doesn’t it? I have indeed smelled the Kanebo and it is lovely. I need to try the Murasaki on friends; I have a suspicion that it renders itself differently on various people.

  • witchygirl says:

    If cherry blossoms and Japanese perfumes are your bag, you really do need to try Kanebo Nihohi Sakura (cherry blossom) as Patty mentioned. It reminds me a little bit of Rose Ikebana. I just put on some Message from Orchids that I received just today and it really is marvelous, except I would call it “Orchids and Cinammon”. I actually grow cattleya orchids at home and I think Message smells much more like the real thing than Tentatrice. I’m a big Shiseido fan (Feminite du Bois is a favorite), but I just don’t get Murasaki. Everyone else swoons and I just smell green. It would be lovely in the bathroom!

  • March says:

    Katie — I think you would like these, they’re all a little offbeat and boutique-y. They avoid that dreaded Dept. Store Accord. What is that smell, anyway? Musk, I’d guess.

  • March says:

    Patty — I have you to thank for turning me onto all of these.:x They’re all interesting.

  • Katie says:

    Eventually I AM going to get around to trying Murasaki – even your description of a half-hour slog does not put me off, heh! I have never heard of Tentatrice, but sounds intriguing to me for some reason? I love the name, too.

  • Patty says:

    MoSaso, yum! Though I do love Tentatrice about as much, and the Kanebo Cherry Blossom one is probably my favorite sweet scent of the Japanese scents I’ve gotten so far.

  • March says:

    Marina — I wanted to include it and can’t find the fricking bottle (huh — too much perfume?!?) I just felt like I couldn’t write about it without smelling it again. It was really stunning. Scared the girls ran off with it.:o

  • Marina says:

    I liked Saso and Murasaski. Never got the aoud note in the latter, but it never was musty either. Tentatrice was too…fresh I guess for me. 😕

    What about Message from Orchids? You didn’t like it? For me it’s paradise in a bottle 🙂