vendredi 18 juillet 2008

The Fragant Realm of Duende (II) : Jasmin de Nuit by The Different Company

I have perfumes of the duende, perfumes that tear up their voice to express their full beauty. The raspy, heady fragrance of jasmine is the star of the choir, the heart of all great classic perfumery. But every now and then, the flower the people of Grasse used to call “La Fleur” (definite article, capital “F”) throws away the regal garments she is adorned with in Patou Joy, Chanel N°5 or N°22

Sometimes, the flower with the Arabic name goes slumming with the Gypsies, kicks off her shoes like Ava Gardner in The Barefoot Countessa, threads manure and mud, rubs herself with herbs and aromatics spices to soil the beauty of her fragrant stars. This jasmine in Gypsy garb is Jasmin de Nuit, composed by Céline Ellena, who has taken over as head perfumer of The Different Company since her father Jean-Claude went on to work under exclusive contract for Hermès. And even though she can take a page from her father’s spare style in minimalist compositions like the stunning Sel de Vétiver, she’s shown she can go the other way with her first fragrance, Jasmin de Nuit (2005).

Jasmine doesn’t even dominate Jasmin de Nuit, though I did once smell a variety that came amazingly, heartbreakingly close to it, on a rainy day in a posh Parisian suburb. This is jasmine rounded out by a dab of blackberry and bergamot, set off by the cool-hot blasts of cardamom, star anise and cinnamon, then pulled into indolic darkness by a trio of witches: sandalwood, musk and amber. For those who feel overwhelmed by the gasoline fumes of the “death by jasmine” (in Tania Sanchez’s terms) that is Serge Lutens’ À la nuit, The Different Company’s Jasmin de Nuit is a suppler, more embracing, spice-drunk alternative. By giving up part of its haughty beauty, jasmine sings in a muffled voice – but in a way, it is even more moving when it’s a bit wrecked.

Like the dancer Maria d’Amato escapes the arms of her impotent but passionately loved husband to fall into bed with commoners, jasmine can get dirty to remind us that her heart, despite its virginal whiteness, is all corruptible flesh…

Image : Ava Gardner in Joseph Mankiewicz’s The Barefoot Countessa.

4 commentaires:

  1. So beautifully put, Denyse...

    I adore Ava [Jacob was supposed to be Vivian Ava - but he came out a bit differently, lol !], and JdN.

    It blooms in all seasons, for me; i would never relegate it to a particular time of the year....

  2. What's not to love about Ava? Was Vivian for Leigh?
    Again on the same wavelength... People will be starting to talk!

  3. Oh, it's suuuuuuch good juice. I adore it, too, although it is fleeting on me. And incidentally, Ihave a jasmine bush of a variety called "Confederate" which smells the most lke Jasmine de Nuit, with the spiciness in it. For me JdN is a comfort fragrance rather than a sexy one, unlike most jasmines. A warm & cuddly jasmine -- now, that's an accomplishment.

  4. It's warm and cuddly, yet somewhat off-kilter, not the traditional way of working jasmine at all. It's that weirdness I like, that warm-fresh feeling. I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one to recognize actual jasmine on the bush in it!