Jasmine perfume – skanky, indolic, sensual…
Whoa, whoa, puuuump the brakes, Ethel.
If you’ve been around perfume and this rather quirky perfume crowd for any length of time, you probably already know about the more, fecal aspects to jasmine, but if your exposure to jasmine perfumes have been those meticulously well-blended florals that hide all the best the jasmine flower has to offer, we’ll need to cover a little bit of chemistry first.
I’ll take Floral Chemistry for $1,000, Alex
I’m kidding! You guys all know chemistry, along with statistics that don’t have dollar signs, research papers and Excel spreadsheets make me sleepy. So let’s just link it up to smarter people, and I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version. Indoles by themselves don’t smell like feces, more like musty decay, but hook it up with some musk and humidity, and inst-o-poop. The animalic piece of jasmine isn’t from the indoles – it’s from some other chemical they share with horses.
Okay, see, not painful!
Like all my other perfume choices in the single note series, I am not using perfumes that use it in some blend because jasmine is used in about everything, probably more than rose – it’s a basic building block of thousands or perfumes, all of which I’m not going to sniff for this piece. Now, it may be the prominent note in a floral blend, obviously, since I’m not doing only soliflores, but it has to be prominent – Patou Joy for example. Then I’m going to divide them up into groups in some weird way or another, but sorted as well by how indolic they are. If you hate when jasmine is indolic, it’s okay! There are plenty of beautiful ones to choose from that are pure as the driven snow and almost never hint of being slutty.
As a reference, if you’re not really sure what that indolic thing smells like, try Serge Lutens A La Nuit. It is perfectly balanced jasmine perfection. It teeters and ricochets and spins in between the walls of deeply indolic and just beautiful jasmine and holds that balance in some freakish tension for like an hour – my favorite part – before it settles down into a complete enchanting and mesmerizing jasmine perfume. So start there to learn about what jasmine does smell like. BTW, I ran across a study out there that said that Jasmine was a better sedative than Valium –
“…in a Plexiglas cage whose air contained a high concentration of the fragrance, the mice ceased all activity and sat quietly in the corner.”
Funny, that sounds a little like me. Or… you know… quite a few of you. And A La Nuit has it in spades. I can feel it unwinding stress as I lay my nose down into it. It’s also supposed to help you sleep. So grab a hit of jasmine for your bedside table if you have trouble sleeping, and you can stop dealing with that Ambien hangover. So let’s think of the most indolic of our jasmine perfumes as drugs, shall we?
The first major entry into perfume as drugs is Jean Patou Joy, and I’m talking the vintage pure parfum because I just don’t like to screw around with Joy. It has the real Grasse jasmine in it, which is pretty heady stuff. It is a blend, but when I smell it, it oozes old world luxury – days when you took an oceanliner to Europe or a proper train across Europe included one of those dark bar cars where you might run across mysterious, dangerous men over a gin and tonic. It was the scent of luxury and wild possibilities, especially in that drydown. Back when they made perfumes that smelled like a lady on the surface and a complete slut as you got closer. All that civet in the parfum of Joy is a wonder. I put it on before bed and woke up in the morning smelling like I’d had a shag or ten. Hey, it didn’t happen – the shagging, I mean.
Joy is the Madame of Jasmine Perfumes, she binds all that came after to her – in the dark and under the sheets.
Mainlining Jasmine Heroin
In the rock-paper-scissors Game of Jasmines of the very indolic variety, there are a few that should knock you to a heavy doped sleep that you may or may not wake up from.
AbdesSalaam Attar Tawaf – I think I said back in July that this one is feral and growls. I stand by that. Nothing has changed. The jasmine leaps from the bottle and clamps down on your nose and starts humping it. Kinda like that French Poodle, Jacques, my Aunt Ruby had. It’s loamy mushroom on the open, then the sink into lush piles of jasmine.
CB I Hate perfume Cradle of Light is hands down one of my favorite jasmines. Christopher Brosius told us about this when we were there in 2007, I don’t think it was out right then, but he basically started with his Musk and then threw in obscenely expensive jasmine absolutes, some tomato leaves and galbanum to green that dirt up when it first goes on. CB did some interesting things with this jasmine. It’s every bit as feral and offensive, but the green and earth notes hold it back, so the narcotic quality of it never really shoves you over the edge of “OHDEARGODGETTHISTHINGOFFME” which is what you’d think would happen when you read that list of notes. I’ll pull March’s review of it back in2007 –
“The initial two minutes of this fragrance is a wonder – at first dab it smells of almost nothing (huh?) presumably while the oils are warming on my skin; then there is a broken-stem fusillade of galbanum and other shrubbery so intense I was worried I´d met my first CB scrubber where I´d least expected it, along with a damp-earth note that conjures my beloved Black March; the greenness suddenly subsides; there is a brief pause for maximum effect, then comes a storm of white flowers that manages to come right up to my pleasure redline but not stifle me. I do this again and again, and it never fails to enchant me.”
Well, there you go, it sounds like a long, hot slow, um, something or other with no happy ending? And exactly!
Nasomatto Nuda opens, and I’m thinking someone did just take a dump on my arm. This is so slutty, and even with the broad array of skanky jasmine perfumes I have sitting on top of my coffee table and now on my left arm while working on this post, this thing is just flat out killing everything in its path. It is the jasmine version of a Category 5 Jasmine tornado. While some of the others go much earthier (Tawaf and Cradle of Light), Nuda just floats along on an indolic path. As much as I get the “idea” of a lusty jasmine, there is something restrained about it after the first 15 minutes. Like that socialite that is so buttoned up in elegant, almost prim gowns, but runs a fetish call girl business out of her penthouse – you can’t see that in public, except every now and then a glimpse of a malevolently sensual smile when she thinks no one is looking.
Serge Lutens Sarrasins explodes out with a ferocity that makes me gasp, and it never fails to surprise me. Leather, civet, jasmine, something a little mentholated. Sarrasins flies its freak flag proudly, with no apology, embracing that common note it has with a horse and keeps nosing into it deeper. In a good way! If you’ve ever ridden horses, when you are brushing them down, there is a smell when you put your nose in their neck that I think is amazing, and it’s that note that Sarrasins has, that skin/leather/horsey magic.
Montale Jasmin Full definitely hits paydirt for a mainlined heroin jasmine, but I don’t find it that skanky, just really narcotic and a lovely rendition of jasmine that feels the closest to what it would be in nature. No putzing around with a lot of other notes, just the full jasmine Monty. Easy on the appliation a drop or two of this can scent you, your house, your pets and neighborhood for the better part of a day.
Amouage Tribute – by special request and my unanimous agreeableness because I love it so much (Hey, Musette, and it’s in color just for you!). It’s got some jasmine in it, so exactly, yeah! Smoky vetiver oud rose infused jasmine. I really don’t get enough occasion to talk about this one or smell it, so I’m deeply grateful for the nudge. If you haven’t done smoky jasmine, this is the place to start and end. You may never recover, I warn you. You will either hate it, leave this blog and never come back, declaring us nuts, or you’ll just give your nose over to this beautiful, beautiful smoky sedative and never find your way back.
Jasmine all buttoned up and beautiful – Mainstream
Let’s get out of the way what I just hated the most. Maybe there’s some plastic cheap horrible jasmine scent out there that I haven’t smelled that would be far worse – but call me a skeptic that it exists. I smelled Thierry Mugler Alien shortly after it came out, and there is nothing that has happened from that day to this that has changed my mind about how much I hate that nasty thing. I don’t know what the hell Ropion was thinking, and I’m blaming his partner for whatever happened to it. Solar jasmine is something that shouldn’t exist, and I’m still trying to recover from smelling it again after I swore never, ever again.
Ropion No Longer Rulz
Jo Malone, on the other hand, has me somewhat happy with her two mainstream jasmine-centric perfumes – Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint and Honeysuckle & Jasmine. While I’m not completely bowled over by either of them, they are both pretty, easy to wear and would suit anyone who really loves jasmine but does not want it creeping out the guy they are setting next to on the transit. I always think what I just wrote is the Kiss of Death. It basically means boring, not offensive, smells like jasmine, not memorable. But, hey, sometimes that’s exactly what you want for some occasions. You can’t go tooling around the office smelling like you had a quickie in a jasmine bush on your way to work.
Annick Goutal Songes, on the other hand, just blows me away for a mainstream jasmine. Annick is a little niche, but since she can be found in almost any department store, I’m sending her to mainstream for this. Songes is so gorgeous, it almost makes me cry. Creamy jasmine silhouetted by gardenia, Songes can straddle the gardenia and jasmine category with her lusty thighs, but I tossed her over on the jasmine side because it just seems more prominent. This is so beautiful, but it’s got some tinges of naughty around the edges, and it is smoldering sensuality. It’s all warmed tropical islands, lazy days filled with sun and sex. And it probably could go up there in the seriously narcotic jasmines. I don’t know why, don’t ask my reasons, it just didn’t feel right! But Songes is so narcotic, it is mesmerizing, and this is the EDT I have, I understand the EDP is even more so. The Goutal I don’t have is Le Jasmin. I’ve never tried any of the Goutal soliflores, not sure why! It needs to be in this category, I just don’t have anything to say about it (insert all commenters who have smelled it telling me they can’t believe I’ve never smelled this incredible jasmine creation, at which time I collapse in tears because I haven’t and how could I possibly have considered publishing this post – besides a deadline – without having smelled it)
I have to admit, I’m not sure I ever really smelled Estee Lauder Jasmin White Moss until about now. Hey, this stuff happens. March reviewed it when it came out, so I didn’t really need to. It’s really lovely, feels old world, and it’s a great mainstream take on jasmine. It isn’t dethroning Songes as my favorite mainstream jasmine, but if Songes is just a little too interesting.
Fresh Pink Jasmine, Donna Karan Essences Jasmine, and Bvlgari Jasmin Noir are all varying degrees of okay jasmine mainstream fragrances, depending on your personal tastes. I throw them out here as options that I don’t really detest too much or if I do, I can see how they could be loved. They just aren’t really doing it for me. YMMV, to each his own, insert another 30 perfume platitudes that basically say don’t hate me if one of these are something you adore. I’m a cretin, what can I say?
Jasmine Flying Beautiful, Free and Mostly Virginal – Niche
By Kilian Love and Tears – crowned the winner unanimously by everyone present as the most beautiful jasmine perfume that skates completely over the cesspool of indoles after dipping it’s beautiful and pampered toe in the indolic waters right at the open. Listen, this thing is so beautiful, and I don’t have a full bottle, and I can’t think of one reason why I don’t, except I keep living off of samples. Calice Becker uses her radiating accord signature to diffuse what could be either too heavy or too saccharine and morphs it into its title – love and tears. It is the love that makes your heart burst, it is the tears that will last a lifetime, but won’t take back one second of the love.
It is the broken that reflects light. Akhilandeshvari, Hindu goddess, Never Not Broken, I’m sure I’ve talked about her before. Because she is fractured in a million places, healing, only to break again, she reflects light like a diamond. Calice Becker does that kind of reflected brilliance in her perfumes. They break your heart just enough to let in more light and joy.
I’m squeezing Ormonde Jayne Frangipani in here because it is so pretty. It is a white floral blend, and it may violate one of my rules of being jasmine dominant, but it followed me home, and I’m keeping it!
The missing perfume I am all weepy about is The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit. I would have sworn I had a teeny little bottle of it around, but it is nowhere, so I’m going completely on memory. Spices and jasmine, a completely different take by Celine Ellena. Not my favorite jasmine in the world, but its uniqueness and sheer pretty earns my love.
Le Labo Jasmin 17 gets a spot in this virginal jasmine niche area because it is just so damn pretty! Roucel did it.
Yeah, pretty perfumes!! Roucel Ruulz ALL!
Etat Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette is one I go back and forth on. I sorta love it because it’s so weird, but it’s just not something I ever wear. But it gets aces for being a little bit of a freak.
I really wanted to like Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge, and I was over the moon in love with it on the open, all big jasmine and those cute little spices came peeping out, and in retrospect, I just wanted it to end there. Like a love affair that’s gone on just a little too long, I grew weary of it trying too hard, ignored it, and then it just become boring by its repeatedly asking me why I didn’t love it anymore.
And those are my picks for mostly the best with a worst or two thrown in. There are a lot of jasmine dominant perfumes I did not try because I don’t have them. And I”m pretty sure y’all will point the ones I know I didn’t try out and the ones I’ve never heard of, so let me have it!
Surveyed some of the Posse, and here’s what they said –
Tom – It hasn’t been done yet. I’d love a jasmine that’s like the one that perfumes the nights here in Los Angeles, especially in the hills. Something that has the chill of evening the air off the ocean forcing the almost electric Santa Anas into retreat. With a soupçon of sage and a bare touch of dried pine as a nod to Coldwater Cañon. Add some leather and some of the oil that Andy Tauer came up with in “Hyacinth and a Mechanic” (ED – OMG, you know, I ran across this in a drawer looking for TDC Jasmine and screamed because I didn’t think I had any left!) and it could be a cruise up the canyon in a vintage Jag with the roof off. The life I’d like to lead. And musk. It’s a desert. We sweat. Heck, Beverly Hills will be 100 years old in 2014. Somebody do this, please?
Portia – Everything I thought was jasmine is some other white flower except Guerlain’s Lys Soleia. My current go to frag and it is AH MAY ZING!!! (ED. – Portia, are you sure about this being jasmine? I think it may wind up in that pile of perfumes that are some other white flower :Happy-Grin: )
Anita – That’s (Jasmine) another weird one for me. Like gardenia, I want to love it but…well, I love a good jasmine essential oil (usually distilled into a carrier oil, as the stuff costs a bomb ) – anyhoo I take a bit whallop of Cetaphil cream and drop 6-10 drops of jasmine EO into the whallop. A perfect veil of apres-bain jasmine! And Floris does a beautiful jasmine. In fact, the perfume is sitting on my table right now. Carnal Flower has a touch of jasmine but unless all conditions are perfect, the tuberose holds it hostage, in the corner, at knifepoint. Like Ann, I am in love with Alien, which I find hysterical as I hate Angel like a mongoose hates a snake. PLEASE put Tribute therein. PLEASE? It’s the smokiest jasmine on the planet. Such a perfect pairing, as if an old, woody jasmine bush was in its last, fullest flower – and the flowers were drying (and even more potent)…when the ta’if rose bush underneath caught on fire!
Ann – I don’t have a lot of jasmine fragrances but ones I do like are – By Kilian Love and Tears, Serge Luten Sarrasins (love that initial blast!), Dior New Look (not exactly the starring player in this one but I get a nice hint of it in there). And applied lightly, Alien is an other-worldly hit of jasmine — when you’re in the mood for it, there’s nothing better. For days when you’d like to wear it, but at a lower volume, the body cream is quite nice.
Arielle – I HATE jasmine perfumes. I feel like a jasmine flower is taking an ice pick to my brain just THINKING about it. Can I list my LEAST favorite jasmine fragrances, or is that a bit too negative? Well, I’ll tell you anyway. My least favorite jasmine fumes are Gorilla Perfumes Lust, Thierry Mugler Alien, Chanel Gardenia, and Guerlain Samsara.
(Disclosure – some of the perfumes for the samples are from my personal collection and some are donated by Surrender to Chance both for me to sample and as the prize)