Freesias come from South Africa. To crib from Wikipedia, twelve of the fourteen species are indigenous to my home province, the Western Cape. When they’re in season, sadly for only a very short while in early spring, I stop by the side of the road and buy a bunch whenever possible, and their gorgeous lightly peppery, stem-y fragrance easily perfumes an entire room. I know me some freesias. They are by far my favourite flower.
So naturally I am in search of a perfume to give me that “just-rolled-in-freesias”-feeling. I don’t want a scent with an alleged freesia note, but a more-or-less soliflore; it’s a quite delicate smell and I feel sure most other notes would dominate it.
In my quest I have tried two alleged freesia scents. First up, Ofrésia by Diptyque. They’ve added black pepper, as I read in Jessica’s recent review on Now Smell This, which is understandable, as the fresh flower does have a peppery zing.
At first application of Ofrésia, I smell something crisp and fresh, rather like muguet, with some rosiness. And that… is it. I can’t really say I pick up on Diptyque’s addition of pepper. I mean, all springtime florals have some mild zing, right? That’s the zing I get from Ofrésia, not pepper. This is a somewhat crisp, very springtime-y scent, but there’s nothing of true freesia’s penetrating, gorgeous “hang”. Ofrésia sits close to the skin, and if you’d told me it was some random brand’s try at lily of the valley, I’d have lapped it up and maybe got out my purse – it is certainly pretty! But it scores low in diffusiveness and lasting power, and the major flaw: it simply doesn’t smell very much like freesia. After a few minutes there’s a pretty prominent soapiness, too, that the fresh flower never has, and which reminds me rather of Dirty Girl’s Lily body spray.
Nothing wrong with Ofrésia, but nothing very right, either. A quick look at Makeupalley reveals that some people register a feminine-hygiene-product smell, and they’re actually bang-on. It needs to be greener, more sap-like, and conversely somehow warmer, too, to really reach freesia’s aroma.
Maybe this is at least partly a case of dab versus spray? I have a dab sample of Ofrésia and I know scents can vary wildly depending on method of application, but I rather doubt this will suddenly turn true-to-bloom when spritzed. (For the purposes of this mini-review, I did dab quite luxuriously, so spraying would have been approximated.)
Recently a friend brought me a little spray bottle of Demeter’s Freesia from New York. Great was my excitement! I have a longstanding love affair with Demeter Dirt and enjoy a few others I’ve encountered, too, so I was pretty optimistic. But while Freesia turns into a semi-pleasing spring floral (though also short-lived), it has two major flaws: not smelling like freesia, and having a harshly synthetic topnote which terrifies the nose, if only for a shortish while. (This is a thing I find in some other Demeters, too; their Rain also starts off with a horrifically chemical… something.) “Old sweat” was the rather surprising pronouncement on Freesia of my boyfriend (a not-completely-untrained nose, I’ve been working on him). I wouldn’t quite go that far, but there’s certainly something very, very unfloral to the birth of this Freesia. Is it… perhaps nutty? That seems impossible, but this topnote is really odd, and the furthest thing from a green-white floral scent. And as I sit here sniffing, I note that in fact, it is not a one-minute-only topnote mistake which is therefore tolerable, but that something of its nature persists for quite some time.
After twenty minutes or so, what’s left of Demeter Freesia bears an extremely vague resemblance to a room in which there may have been freesias yesterday – freesias that had already gone slightly slimy. Maybe the very best description is cheap freesia shampoo (which I’ve bought in hope and discarded unused, so disappointed was I by the scent).
If given the choice between two bottles, one of Ofrésia and one of the Demeter version, I’d certainly choose the Ofrésia, and I doubt I’ll ever see the bottom of my Demeter 30 ml. But I’d never use up Ofrésia either, except perhaps as a room or linen spray. It’s just not memorable or nature approximate.
Any suggestions to aid me in my quest would be most welcome! I love Halloween by Jesus del Pozo, and I see there’s a freesia flanker – can anyone weigh in on Halloween Freesia? Are freesias easy to come by in the overseas, as we say here? It strikes me that they might be in bloom in the northern hemisphere at the moment. And what colour freesia is your favourite? I’m very partial to the buttery, warm yellow.