Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Monday, 7 April 2014
Sweet Violets and Perfume
you know that I love perfumes.
But I had to abandon 'Balenciaga Paris' for a while, because my nose became 'blind' to the fragrance. After being wrapped up some time in 'Shalimar', I could change back - the old wisdom that a little distance to something you love often works wonders was valid here too. (Don't let go - just loosen your grip! Don't try too hard - be patient, be self-sufficient - or, more my style: love yourself, then you will be able to love others for what they are, not out of need. End of Britta's Readers Digest).
Somewhere I read: "Balenciaga Paris wears like a minimalist's veil". It smells of violets (without being sweet, romantic or old-fashioned - Charlotte Gainsbourgh fronted it, and she stands for urban). It is the perfume where I got the most feedback and praise from men: "What is it? You smell so good!"
I love violets. So I tried to find the pure version, just as a room perfume. (Looking for a reason to speak of 'my boudoir').
At the stall of the perfumer Jo Malone, the saleswoman said: "I don't have violets. May I offer you bluebells?" I stared at her. We talked. And so I found out that this very young woman never ever in her whole life had smelled the fragrance of a living sweet violet. (It made me think of those poor children who believe that milk comes in beverage cartons from lilac Milka cows).
There are not many perfumes with violets on the market. They offered 'Violets de Toulouse' on the Internet. But I didn't want a mixture, so I contacted my lovely old-fashioned Zieten-apothecary (here I always feel I'm stepping back into another century - old wooden shelves and cabinets and brown glass-bottles that cry 'Drink me! Drink me!" - they sell Chinese medicine and homeopathic drugs too, you get the picture). Yes - they would order violet fragrance for me. The pharmacist read: "Petals of violets". I asked: "Excuse me - are you sure these are the petals of the blossom?" "Yes".
OK. Next day I went there by underground, happy. I was less so when I opened the little bottle at home. It smelled like - hay. It was the juice from the green leaves. "Oh, I'm sorry", chirped the pharmacist, "bring it back. I will order something else - a violet oil."
Underground again. Disappointment at home - which I almost had expected, because it was too cheap to be the real thing. (I didn't telephone - I just throw it away - it smelled like candy floss).
The next day I passed a very nice little perfume-and-soap-shop. Went in. Talked with the young man about the impossibility to get violet-perfume these days. "Wow", he said, "you are ahead of fashion". (Modest as a violet I thought: I know - often I comb shops for clothes that will come three years later). "They created 'Viola' in 2013', and next year", he said, "sweet violets will be the craze." "Ah", I said, "but I want them now."
(I'm not always a pure Taoist).
He thought for a long while, and than he made a telephone call to an Italian perfumer, L'Erbolario.
So, with a bit of luck, I might have found it. I will know it next week.
PS: If you want to read more about the sweet violet (and less about me :-), look at gardeninginhighheels.blogspot.com soon.