Le Labo Jasmine 17 and Los Angeles (Kay)

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)

  • Connor says:

    Hey kay,

    I noticed you mentioned you’re in the Denver area. I Liv in boulder and was wondering if you had any recommendations for places to seek out niche perfume?

    Shoot me an email if you prefers [email protected]

    • Kay says:

      I go to the Hermes store in Cherry Creek, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms and Dillards has some unusual things at their Park Meadows store. Sephora and Macys has pretty much identicallines. There used to be a great store in Cherry Creek North called the Alchemyst but it closed afew years ago. They had a remarkable collection of hard-to-find, obscure lovely things. Other than that – I’m still on the lookout for stores in the area, too. Let me know if you find anything exciting!

  • maggiecat says:

    Love, love, love jasmine. I planted it all over my yard when I lived in Florida, and it’s one of the few things I miss. I enjoy Jo Malone’s Honeysuckle and Jasmine, as well as pretty much any other jasmine scent, including the Le Labo!

  • Olga (Warum) says:

    How funny, I’ve just been all over the place asking for recs for just that — a jasmine soliflore. I thought I was not into white flowers at all, and yet all of a sudden I tried on some Love and Tears (my friend shared a sample) and it sent me for a jasmine soliflore search. So yes, I’ve been thrilled to smell jasmine lately! I am even considering going back to all those “killer jasmines” I used to shy away from. Like A La Nuit. And because of this post, I just ordered a sample of Jasmine 17 🙂

    • Kay says:

      Hope you like the Jasmine 17! Thanks for the tip: I gotta try the Love an Tears now.

  • Julie says:

    Greetings Kay! Lovely post. I live in San Diego and there is jasmine all over the place here too. We have 2 big bushes right outside our front door that are blooming right now. What you smelled in LA (and all of SoCal) is more likely to be star jasmine, rather than the “real” jasmine used in perfumes (jasmine sambac), but it is very similar. Pacifica has a star jasmine scent that you might like.

    I love the scent of the flower, but can only take it in small doses in perfume. JM White Jasmine & Mint is about it, but very fresh and green for spring! I think I tried that Le Labo when I went to Barney’s, but I was so overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to try, that I only gave it a quick sniff.

    • Kay says:

      Yes, you’re right. The landscape plant used in LA is the star jasmine not the sambac used in perfumery. I think I would probably pass out with bliss if I was surrounded by the sambac! The Pacifica star jasmine scent is super, too. I think its their best jasmine scent.

  • DinaC says:

    By a piece of happy serendipity, I was drinking jasmine green tea when I read your blog this morning, Kay. 🙂 So I had the sensaround experience, if you will. I have and love Le Labo Iris 39, so I’m curious to try their Jasmine 17. As long as it’s the pure-ish, and not the idolic, I can deal. 🙂 I hope you’ll contribute again sometime soon.

  • Looove jasmine!! This year we planted some Carolina jasmine and are hoping–hoping–years from now it will give the same effect you describe. What we have right now is wild honeysuckle. It borders our property (grows profusely everywhere here in TN; should really be the state flower rather than the “refined” (so not TN! 🙂 ) iris). Coupled with the heavy, humid TN air, the honeysuckle is so lush–sensual but, as with the jasmine, so clear and pure. Sigh…it’s heavenly!

    Though I like jasmine soliflores, I prefer when there are supporting notes so it doesn’t get overwhelming (prefer Songes to Le Jasmin,for example). This one, with the sandalwood and vanilla, which are another two of my favorite notes, sounds awesome!

    I am so curious about these Le Labos. They mix them especially for you, is that right? I have only tried Iris 39 which was too much iris for me, but I appreciated it.

    I believe someone on Facebook Fragrance Friends is running splits on all Le Labos. I loved your post so much, I think I am going to see if I can sign up! Thank you & hope to hear more from you,Kay!!

    • Dionne says:

      It’s true, Monica is doing splits of all the Le Labos over at Facebook Fragrant Friends (anyone can join the group). It’s a great deal, people, and there’s still lots of space in the Jasmin split. (Obviously not affiliated, it’s just fun to see a split fill up). And now I’m seriously considering getting some myself, even though I haven’t sniffed Jasmin 17 yet.

    • Kay says:

      Thank you so much. Do try a sample and see what you think. Honeysuckle is sooo beautiful, you’re lucky to have it grow so profusely where you live! Hmmm, maybe I’ll try afew varieties in our backyard and see how they do!

  • rosarita says:

    Thanks for a lovely post, Kay! I’ve only been to LA a couple of times but I’m always struck by the different flora & fauna in California. I love the smell of fresh jasmine but haven’t found the One in perfume form. Glad you found the perfect scent to conjure up your vacation time.

  • Poodle says:

    I love jasmine. I’m also one of those poor souls who tries to grow it as a house plant every now and then. That and gardenia. It never works out well though. They always drop their leaves and die. Someday I hope to have a house with a window that gets just the perfect amount of sunlight and warmth where I can finally succeed in growing one of these. Or I’ll be able to move to a warmer climate and have them in the garden.

    • Kay says:

      Me too! I’ve had my fling or two in the past with gardenias with no regrets (what a treat while they’re in bloom!) even though I had no reblooms!

  • Jillie says:

    What a great story, Kay. I’m not too keen on indoles myself (remind me too much of my kitties’ poop in their tray), so I found Donna Karan’s Jasmine Essence a rather nice, simple, delicate jasmine – smells like jasmine in the early morning, just after a cool spring shower.

  • Ann says:

    Hi, Kay, and welcome to the Posse! What a great story of finding that perfect jasmine. You couldn’t ask for a better souvenir from your visit to L.A., could you?

    • Kay says:

      Thank you and yes its a great souvenir! I’m a plant nut, too and would love to take an acre or two of beautiful things back to Denver with me!

  • Musette says:

    Kay, great review! I spent many years working in LA and remember the smell of jasmine blooming everywhere. It’s like those giant rosemary bushes (or the avocado trees that people suck their teeth in annoyance over (“they’re EVERYWHERE” my friend complains, as these gorgeous, ripening avocadoes lay about on his patio….and I’m paying $2/per for them back at home).

    Alas, jasmine doesn’t always work for me. I seem to amp the blue cheesiness of it. I have a vintage Floris jasmine that is super-poopy – and it sort of love it for that – but would quail at wearing it in public!!

    xoxo :Devil:

  • Patty says:

    I adore jasmine – in person and in perfume. The more fecal’ish, the better! It took me a while to get there, but once you appreciate the indoles, there’s no turning back!

    Thanks, Kay!

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    I haven’t really explored jasmine. I’m starting to come back around to jasmine again. When I was going to a community college, I OD’ed on Bath and Body Works’ Midnight Blooming Jasmine. I have a small decant of A La Nuit and two large decants of Sarrasins. My wallet decided to run away when it saw me look at TPC and Surrender to Chance.