Thought perfume just about divinely scented florals? Turns out those blooms have a saucy side, too.
…And nobody knows this more than the perfume industry. The key white night-blooming flowers – jasmine sambac, ylang ylang and tuberose, open and release their intoxicating scent, transforming from an innocent bud into an irresistible full bloom when the earth is shrouded in darkness.
Our favourite perfume, Alexander McQueen Parfum, £285, uses these heady white flowers and enhances them with hot and cold spices, woods and resins. The result? A deeply sensual perfume. “I didn’t want it to be a mediocre perfume,” said Sarah Burton, fragrance creator and creative director for Alexander McQueen. “It had to tell a story and that’s where the night-blooming flowers came in. These are the flowers used in early perfumery. I thought about the woman who explores the night and her obsession with perfume and the female symbols of beauty. I also thought it was very important for the scent to be linked to nature as it’s a strong part of the DNA of the McQueen house.”
We’re also seduced by these new night-blooming perfumes:
Jo Malone London Darjeeling Tea, £240 for 174ml – Richly floral with an exotic sweetness of jasmine.
Roja Parfums Rosa Parfum, £345 for 50ml – A blend of roses with geranium and ylang ylang.
Balmain Extatic Tiger Orchid, £69 for 90ml – Oriental-floral and woody, with ginger blossom and pink pepper, complemented by ylang-ylang and jasmine.
Narciso Rodriguez EDP Poudrée, £71 for 90ml – Opens with Bulgarian rose and white jasmine, while the powdery musk settles on the skin.
Miller Harris Lumiere Doree, £65 for 50ml (out June 2nd) – Bergamot and orange flowers refresh while notes of neroli and jasmine leave you energised.
OBSESSED WITH TUBEROSE?
Described as the Marmite of the perfume industry (people either love it or can’t stand the smell), tuberose is making a big comeback. It’s intimate and even sexual for some people wanting to increase their magnetism. The Victorians forbade young women to go anywhere near the tuberose flowers for fear of what their erotic scent might do to them. And even in India today rumour has it that only married woman are trusted to harvest the blooms as the combination of single girls and this heady scent might drive the men to distraction. Perfume guru Roja Dove is right when he says that tuberose is the “harlot of perfumery”.
Want to see what the fuss is about? We’ve found today’s modern fragrances that contain this heady note:
Stella McCartney Pop Eau De Parfum, £54 for 50ml
Elie Saab Essence No 9, £165 for 100ml (out July 4th)
Tory Burch Bleue, £84 for 100ml (exclusively from Harrods)
SAMBAC JASMINE LOVERS
Jasmine is the most romantic of white flowers, and most people have a very positive reaction when smelling the note as it’s connected with nights in warmer climates. “What makes McQueen Parfum so unique is the use of feminine floral notes that also have an animalistic characteristic thanks to the presence of indole,” says the Alexander McQueen fragrance house. “All three night-blooming flowers in McQueen Parfum – sambac jasmine, tuberose and ylang ylang emit indole as part of the many different odour molecules released at night, but the quantity varies between the three flowers. These flowers are often described as innocent during the day and a temptress at night; with sambac jasmine emitting a very high level of indole, it has an almost dirty quality and it is the contrast between those dirty notes and the fresh florals that makes sambac jasmine so special.”
After the sun goes down bright colours are useless, but white and pale cream reflect the moonlight. “These beautiful flowers have their own story to tell. They don’t rely on aesthetics to attract insects (moths – the beauty-inspiring creatures which of course also play a big part in the world of the Alexander McQueen fashion) for pollination,” says Burton. “The fact that these insects come out at night to visit these flowers was a concept of beauty that really interested and intrigued me.” The sense of smell becomes more important than ever. This is why the nocturnal garden is so rich in delightful scents.Many nocturnal flowers remain open during the day, but they don’t produce so much nectar at that time. This is the reason these smells provoke a provocative reaction.
I WANT MORE…
Several species of night-blooming flowers emit volatile components to attract noctuid moths and some of the chemicals are addictive: Phenyl acetaldehyde, found in coffee shows the addictive tendencies are evident. Phenyl ethanol, benzaldehyde and benzyl acetate are considered as sensual, unexpected and unconventional.