Sunday, 1 August 2010

Scents of the Mediterranean

I was invited to another joint blog project. Oddly enough, just now, I'm pretty far from the Mediterranean and it even smells different here so it might get a bit fuzzy.

When Ines reached me via Helg, the first thought was Eh, I wanted to make a perfume reflecting the stuff I smelled on my way to the library. Starting with two sorts of jasmine that grew in my street, and wisteria, cypresses, elder (might be the only elder shrub in Tuscany, though, growing in the curb there), cedars and dry grass.

I'm not absolutely positive that this is Jasminum sambac but this grows two blocks to the south from my Florentine abode. I'd often pluck a branch and wear it in my hair. It greatly complemented Une Fleur de Chanel and Shiseido's Vocalise.

Apart from my love for jasmine, growing on every other fence, there were magnolias, one under my windows (like, deep under, I lived on the fifth floor) and they mixed in an odd yet pleasing way with the smell of ozone and machine or whatever the railway smells of. Which brings me to the thought that I have yet to discover what are these 'technical' smells made off. I'm a sucker for gasoline, asphalt, wood paint and this sort of stuff and apparently, blending them with flowers might yield most interesting results.

At first, I thought that I could mention two myrrh fragrances I have, both of which happen to be Italian; to me, myrrh has an aspect of sea breeze. But I lived in Florence and, more importantly, I don't like sea. It's big and fish pee in it, I like to say, which sounds like a stupid joke but it points out the two things that put me off: it's too big to see what's in there and it may be pretty messy.
Nor are there orange blossoms, roses or what else. I have an orange tree in my office back north and where I was, oranges were a thing brought from Sicily. Roses... well, as far as I noticed, the local gardens and yards featured wisterias, jasmine, magnolias, mimosas, cammelias... roses not so much. After all, I lived in a city, not in some picturesque country villa. And outside the city, it was something for which I have an exact botanic term: ugly uninteresting undergrowth. Speaking of ugly uninteresting undergrowth, it's not that ugly nor uninteresting in the light of my latest studies

Whatever point of view I take, my Florence, and thus my Italy is mostly the strange green smell of hot asphalt and jasmine. And the famous Florentine iris? Must've skipped me. I think Santa Maria Novella and I Profumi di Firenze both have an iris fragrance but I'm not that mad after iris, I got Cuoio di Spagna from the former and Cuoio di Russia from the latter. Not to remind me of the famous and Florentine leather manufacture, I just like leather fragrances, the harsher, the better. Oddly enough, real leather smells somewhat different anyway.

Aaaaand, wherever I go, it's very likely that I'll be accompanied by some hand-dyed yarn, which obviously smells of sheep and vinegar. A bit of my private universe, I guess...

This joint blog project was organized by Ines of All I am, a redhead. Check out the other participating blogs:
Scent Hive, A rose beyond the Thames, Illuminated Perfume Journal, Perfume in Progress, Katie Puckrik Smells, Ayala Smelly Blog, Notes from the Ledge, Olfactarama, Suzanne's Perfume Journal, The Non Blonde, Waft by Carol, Hortus Conclusus, Bonkers about perfume and
I Smell Therefore I am.


  1. "Sheep and vinegar" - that sounds like a nose-tickler, fer shure. Your "jasmine and asphalt" puts me in mind of Etat Libre d'Orange Jasmin et Cigarette, which I'm now wishing I'd included in my Med list.

  2. It was your Florence and your Italy I was itching to read about and there, you delivered. Jasmine and asphalt sounds right (and do heed Katie's rec above about Jasmine et Cigarette; it sounds gross but it's excellent).
    Peau d'Espagne...ah the smell of woman's skin exalted, per famous writers and psychoanalysts (should send you the link to my article with the exact quotes). No wonder we find it intriguing ~although I have yet to smell a woman smell like that, but what do I know, being straight? ;-)

  3. Katie, unless you're a knitter, and unless you are into handdyed yarns, you're not likely to get the reference. In fact, yarn hardly ever smells of vinegar when it's dried, it gets rinsed pretty well and the remaining smell disappears pretty fast unless it's stored in airtight containers - and I'm all for free range storage. Wet sheep and vinegar is rather smelled during the dyeing process but however odd it may seem, it has a certain charm. But... I'm a knitter.

    Helg, call me weird but what I like about leather fragrances is that slightly chemical, herbal and somewhat harsh aspect. Peau d'Espagne from SMN is certainly medicinal, but rather akin to cough pastilles.... and well, I don't smell a person, or more frankly, someone's armpits in leather fragrances. Rather sofas, deerskin, that stuff.