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Nose-to Nose – Our Top 10 scents for March – Green Notes - February 26, 2014

Photo - Wikipedia - Calamus plant

Kay:    Gwen  – quick! What’s your favourite colour?

Gwen:  Green. What’s yours?

Kay:    Green.

Gwen:  Really? Why do I not know that about you?

Kay:    I don’t know….do you also not know that it’s one of my most favourite perfume notes, too?

Gwen:  No, I knew that, because every year around this time you start to bring out your green frags.

Kay:    There’s nothing like a fabulous green note to signal the imminent arrival of SPRING!

Gwen:  Well, for you, yes, but for normal, regular-type people, Spring’s arrival is signaled by things like chirping birds building nests, green buds on trees,  and little baby lambs… But I jest, dear friend. I have to admit that I’m starting to reach for my frags with the green notes, too. I have this soul hunger for  scents  that smell of crushed leaves and snapped stems. I crave those herbal, vegetal, fresh, and bright notes that smell, well, green.

Kay:   They smell real. Like something growing. Outdoors. 

Gwen:  Exactly! And while it may be cold outside for a while longer, the light has changed and the long dark, brooding days of winter are gone. March is a transitional month rooted in winter but with the promise of spring… so it looks like our Top 10 favourites  for March are going to be greens…

Kay:    Yup  - frags with notes of  grass, leaves, galbanum, basil, moss, vetiver, iris, violet, bergamot, sage, lime, absinthe……

Gwen:   So which ones have you lined up on your dresser, ready for action?

Kay:    Thought  you’d never ask…

 CdG Series 1-Leaves – Calamus
Comme des Garçon’s Calamus is green, but a fresh green. The notes are bamboo leaf, celery grains, angelica root, rose berries. It’s fresh, opening slightly dry and slightly citrusy, but soon softening to a milky green scent that smells like crushed leaves, mixed with mud and wet stones. Mud morphs into iris, with that haunting dry, vegetal scent that’s like no other, with a hint of bitter chocolate. The scent remains milky and soft and - green. It’s the smell of the outdoors, and that’s what I love about it - not sweet, but savoury with sweet, not super-grassy, but milky, not sharp and intrusive, but soft and contemplative - Nature in a bottle.

Ma Griffe – Carven
Ma Griffe is a green chypre, with the distinctive aldehydes with oakmoss, bergamot, labdanum notes which characterize chypre scents.  The opening is shocking and starkly green – grass and herbs layered with citrus – and goes right into your brain. In a micro-second you are transported to the French countryside – walking and inhaling the cool green air from the fields, feeling the warmth coming back up from the earth. The intense green fades into the background a bit, and gardenia and jasmine inject an indolic note along with the sweetness of rose and ylang, keeping Ma Griffe from become flowery. Spices and resins in the base appear quickly and the fragrance expands into a green mossy cloud, close to the skin, never sweet or cloying, but with a soft musky base which I think is very subtle and sexy.

Balmain de Balmain – Pierre Balmain
Balmain de Balmain is also a green chypre and opens with a huge whip-cracking hit of bergamot and galbanum, mixed with pepper and black current. Galbanum is a bitter bitter green note – I see it as a stream of molten bright-green glass, shiny and translucent – but the bergamot gives it a citrus tartness, the black current a sweet tartness, and the pepper a wonderful dry spiciness. With vetiver and oakmoss, the green gets greener, but when the earthy floral notes – iris and violet and hints of indolic jasmine - rise up in the heart, the green becomes a little sweeter, and also darker, earthy, and slightly dirty. Creamy sandalwood and dark patchouli smooth out all the sharp edges and lighten the  damp oakmoss-vetiver mix, creating a dry-down that stays on the skin and, for me, hits all the right olfactory triggers, more savoury than sweet but with warmth at the end,  sleek, smooth and elegantly green.

Branch and Vine – Providence Perfumes
Branch & Vine is a green floral, which opens with a cool green sharpness which soon becomes an accord of tart orange citrus, tomato leaves and perfectly-red cherry tomatos. It’s divine, and becomes divine-er with the addition of a very soft floral waft - mimosa, muguet, neroli, and jasmine -  that seems to hover just above the tomato accord so that I can smell both distinctly at the same time. But before Branch & Vine can enter floral territory, vetiver, fir and violet leaf notes bring it back to leafy greenery, this time with an earthy and woody finish – the branch with the vine! The dry-down is so lovely!. It’s a natural perfume by Charne Ethier, and I think it’s gorgeous, and I’d wager that even if you aren’t really enamored of green fragrances, you would like Branch & Vine.

Onda – Vero Profumo
Onda is an aromatic chypre. The name means “wave” and the scent comes at you in waves, waves of single notes, waves of powerful accords….green green  vetiver grass and roots coated with black moist dank earth, mixed and ground with fresh ginger coriander and peppery spices, slathered on top of a fine English saddle coated with sweet wild honey, stored inside a cedar-log cabin where nude lovers lie on an herbal-scented featherbed in front of a stone fireplace sharing a snifter of Courvoisier, reliving their passion in slow intimate conversation while they watch the red embers turn to soft ash. All those smells, separate, blended, definitely sensual and erotic, in the moment, timeless….Onda is an hypnotic powerhouse, brutal and elegant, and it requires a certain confidence to claim as one’s own. It’s not for everyone, this scent, but it sure speaks to me, and makes winter seem like just a bad dream.

So, those are are my faves. How about you? What’s on your list?

Gwen: You mean what’s on my wrist? Well…..

Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum – Aedes de Venustus
I love this, and it’s in heavy rotation right now. Green, rooty, earthy, rich, opulent - in a word: perfection. It opens with a bitter citrus note that leads the way to tart, metallic, green rhubarb joined by earthy tomato leaf. At its core is rhubarb and vetiver. They remain present throughout the scent, but morph as it blooms over time. On me, the rhubarb/tomato leaf accord never really disappears, but the rhubarb becomes less harsh with the addition of hazelnut and green apple. The vetiver - woody, rooty and bitter - is tempered and sweetened with honeysuckle and red berries. Incense adds a resinous darkness that somehow seems to amplify the green aspect of the rhubarb instead of weighing it down at the base.

Six Scents, Series One No. 3 – The Spirit of Woods. – Six Scents
That fresh opening of green grass and fig leaves that gets all piney from cypress and elemi – oh, it is a gem! Coriander adds spice as well as warmth and a slight nuttiness. Vetiver keeps it green, while cedar and hinoki make it woody and almost camphourous like eucalyptus is. It is a green forest, with smells of green leaves, twigs and sap, that gets earthier and more resinous as it dries down. So perfect for March.

Le Chèvrefeuille –Annick Goutal
The sweet, honeyed smell of honeysuckle tempered with the bitter citrus tang of petitgrain. Petitgrain is extracted from the leaves and twigs of bitter orange and this gives the opening a crisp, fresh green note that makes me think of the honeysuckle vine. Like honeysuckle, narcissus is an early spring flower and its presence evokes the tender days of spring. As it blooms, the green note passes and jasmine comes forward. Le Chèvrefeuille is the essence of spring - fresh, bright and romantic.

Maison Martin Margiela (Untitled) - Maison Martin Margiela
Oh, I couldn’t get through March without it. It opens with a bitter green note from galbanum, boxwood and bigaradier. As this passes, animalic/floral jasmine appears at the heart, giving it a dirty phase that stops the EDP from being too sweet. Lentisque gives it an herbaceous, spicy warmth. At the base, cedar and incense add a woody warmth, while musk gives it a creamy softness. This is not a cool, clean springtime green scent, it has more depth and darkness than that. This is a woody, dark green, shot through with dirty jasmine, warmed by incense softened by musk. Deep, sensuous and gorgeous.

Yatagan – Caron
It opens up strong with an aromatic green/bitter accord of lavender leaf and peitit grain with geranium leaf adding peppery warmth. Then, without warning, comes a strong, sharp  wormwoord/artemisa accord – amped up absinthe – so green, so herbal that it just about takes your breath away. Pine needles appear and add depth and bolster the green, giving it a hint of turpentine. The effect is that it smells like celery - a very refined, multi-faceted piece of celery, but celery no less. As it blooms, it gets darker form vetiver and earthy and musty from patchouli. Leather and castoreum at the base give it a warm, swarthy dirtiness while styrax adds an exotic oriental/incense note.

Kay:     Wow! I want to try your frags…

Gwen:   And I want to try yours – would you like some decants?

Kay:     Thought you’d never ask…..