My brother and I were driving down LA’s Sunset Boulevard with the windows down on a warm afternoon early last March. I was in town visiting from Denver at the time and I was ready for a break from the slow thaw of spring, ready for some greenery, the smell of warm earth and flowers. It was a beautiful sunny day and a distinct and lovely smell kept rushing in at us as we sped down the street. It was that of a white flower, not heavy and cloying but sweet, clear and inviting. I had to find out what this was, so at our next stop I followed my nose to the nearest, quite unassuming flowering shrub and discovered that the smell was jasmine and it was everywhere.
Jasmine was blooming in so many areas that at first I didn’t realize what I was looking at. It’s used as a common landscaping plant here. The same plant that brave gardeners try to keep alive as houseplants in Colorado is used here as common filler next to street curbs and sidewalks. Jasmine! It was all over town and it was in full bloom.
And it’s not like I hadn’t smelled it before, I’ve had it in small doses but never in such a car filling profusion. This was so intoxicating and fresh, and it was fun. Here was the perfect antidote for the winter doldrums and I wanted to have it as a reminder of the moment I bent down and discovered what it was.
So of course, being the fully formed perfume nut that I am, my thoughts immediately turned to finding this experience in bottled form. With several excellent fragrance hot spots nearby and a fully-charged sense of mission, I began searching for the closest thing I could find.
I knew that I wanted a solo scent, not a symphony. Not to knock large compositions, I have quite a number of them in my collection. But now was the time for a little simple something that replicated that face-in the-flowers sensation. Fresh, exquisite and hopefully not extravagantly expensive! So I went to one of my favorite stores and sat myself down with my reliable fortifier: a triple shot white mocha latte (good for a long haul at the counter) and began sampling all kinds of things.
After testing quite a few beautiful items the saleslady brought me a bottle. She said “This is really beautiful. I love it. I have it. Its one of the most lovely fragrances.” She sprayed a strip, handed it to me and I thought “Oh yeah, now we’re on the right track.” It was Le Labo Jasmine 17.
Have you had a similar experience: one that sent you in hot pursuit to find the fragrance you just caught a tantalizing wiff of? On the skin it’s soft and floral, definitely jasmine but not strident. Like a clear thread of scent wafting in the air. Since I had the luxury of several days before I went home to Denver, I could experience it unfolding over time before making a decision. I could also research it a bit. I found that it contains neroli, bitter orange, jasmine, orange flower, amber, musk, sandalwood. It’s really hard to identify the other elements besides the jasmine, the vanilla is there, lightly, and it helps to round out the white flowers. The other components are quite subtle and complement the primary jasmine note. It doesn’t change dramatically over time, but it does get a bit warmer. It lasted on my skin for several hours. It also passed the test I’ve been giving fragrances lately: would I put it on first thing in the morning? And the answer was “Yes.” It was gorgeous and I decided to order a bottle, which turned out took two days for them to mix up before it was ready for me, or before it gets shipped out for the customer. So unless things have changed recently, if you want a bottle you have to wait a bit. No immediate gratification, not yet anyway! But that’s OK, it was worth it. It’s perfect for spring and it has become a great addition to my “vocabulary” of spring scents. It’s now an integral part of a very happy memory for me. All it takes is one hit to bring me back to that warm afternoon, zipping down Sunset with the windows down and a car full of jasmine.
Do you thrill to the smell of jasmine in full force?
(ED – if anyone thought I would throw away my best opportunity in years to throw in a picture from one of my favorite movies of all time, you would be wrong)