Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Oh, Tulip, Where is Thy Scent?
I have always loved tulips -- planting tulip bulbs in the fall is an act of faith, and when they bloom in the spring I always breathe a sigh of relief that another winter has been successfully weathered. Besides that, tulips are just so beautiful to look at! But where is their scent? These brightly-colored, proud, long-stemmed flowers tempt us with promises of a gorgeous fragrance in line with their physical beauty, but, alas, they emit just the faintest scent of green (which is probably coming from the leaves anyway)!
What would a tulip fragrance smell like? I think it would be cheerful, sunny and bright, with a touch of humor and grace. And this is not just a rhetorical question. Clever perfumers have been creating fragrances from scentless flowers for many years. New York Times perfume critic Chandler Burr discusses this in a recent New York Times article, "Ghost Flowers."
He describes Flower by Kenzo as an example of a parfum based on the imaginary scent of the red poppy. The Kenzo website emphasizes this by stating, "The poppy is scentless, Kenzo invents its fragrance." Perfumer Alberto Morillas made the perfume using a natural violet leaf, essence of acacia flower, linalyl aetate, geraniol and citronellol (which are molecules found in rose and jasmine). He then made it smell "red" by adding synthetic and pure vanillas, heliotropin and benzyl acetate. The result, launched in 2000, is the beautiful Flower By Kenzo, a highly successful and popular fragrance.
Another beautiful flower having no smell is the camellia. Chanel's gifted perfumer, Jacques Polge, was assigned the task of making a perfume based on this flower, which was Coco's favorite. The result is the delightful Une Fleur de Chanel, based entirely on an imagined scent.
In light of that, shouldn't somebody be working on a lovely tulip eau de parfum?