Let’s see… What have we got in the line-up? A vanilla gourmand? Check. A fougère-type lavender? Check. Tuberose, obviously. Something oudhy and woody for the boys… Rose, ok, done… We’ve added a variation on cologne and a fruity-type tobacco… An oudh and another rose for the Middle-East… Let me see, what are we missing? Looks like we haven’t done jasmine yet! Ok, get me Calice on the line!
I’ve said it recently: despite initial misgivings, I really like several of the Kilians. If money (and time to properly enjoy the stuff, and skin real estate) were no object, I’d add Love (the orange blossom meringue), Liaisons Dangereuses (the jammy rose), Pure Oudh and possibly Back to Black (the dried-fruit tobacco) to my collection alongside Beyond Love (the tuberose). The perfumes may not always be groundbreaking but the compositions are impeccable and the materials of above-average quality. Still, I couldn’t get my frillies in a bunch when I learned that next fall’s Kilian by Calice Becker, Love and Tears/ Surrender was a jasmine soliflore. Maybe that’s because I’m not crazy about them as a rule. Or maybe because I can’t help thinking the scent was added on not because Mr. Hennessy or Ms. Becker had some brand new vision of jasmine in mind, but rather because it was missing in the line-up. It probably makes good commercial sense for a niche brand to offer something for every taste; to keep the customer at the counter until she’s finally found a fragrance that falls within her preferred notes. (“What would you like, madame?” “I don’t know. Something fresh. Not floral.” “What do you usually wear?” “J’adore.”)
That “something for everyone” approach is not limited to Kilian (most niche brands do it), and obviously it makes sense to bring some variety to a collection, unless you’re Montale (“There must be an oudh plus something combination we haven’t done yet. C’mon, think harder, Pierre.”) or Les Parfums de Rosine (rose with everything is the brand identity). But filling out the missing slots (“OMG I can’t believe we haven’t done a vetiver yet!”) can feel a little uninspired.
Don’t get me wrong: Love and Tears is a good jasmine – Calice Becker couldn’t be bad if she tried, especially with a decent budget to play with. But it doesn’t shed a new light on the flower. Green top notes evocative of lily-of-the-valley and old-style gardenia merge with the green facets of the jasmine sambac, indoles turned down. The formula announces jasmine in all its guises – headspace, sambac, Egyptian, “solar”, and even “water jasmine”, and jasmine is pretty much what you get. Have I mentioned jasmine? Then a lactonic, honeyed heart with what feels like a frangipani accord – the notes list ylang-ylang, so that’s the tropical feel, and daffodil, which accounts for the honey -- fleshed out by musk. And an odd, almost metallic feel that creeps up and lasts into the drydown, giving Love and Tears an almost ink-purple hue (or maybe that’s just because it reminds me of the purple-died Serge Lutens Sarrasins in some phases).
There aren’t actually floods of jasmine soliflores on the market, probably because as a star player, it’s got so much character the number of variations it offers is somewhat limited. In the niche, Annick Goutal Le Jasmin (ginger-spiked), État Libre d’Orange Jasmin et Cigarette (self-explanatory), Parfumerie Générale Drama Nuui (bitter, green), The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit (spicy) offer quirkier interpretations ; Serge Lutens À la Nuit, a definitive rendition; Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s super-saturated, almost oily Jasmin, a stunningly vivid rendition I haven’t tested recently, so I don’t know what state it’s in. In the mainstream, you could do worse than seek out Dior J’adore L’absolu, centered on jasmine sambac and a rework by François Demachy of Becker's own J'adore.
To sum up, Love and Tears is to jasmine what Beyond Love is to tuberose: beautiful, almost hyper-realistic, but not necessary unless jasmine is to you what tuberose is to me, a note whose every nuance you simply must explore.
Note to my readers: You may have noticed I've slowed down the posting. I'm writing like crazy, but for posterity, or at least for something that'll end up on paper, namely my book. Can't do it all, but I'm around!
Illustration: Jasmine screensaver from Flower Spirit.