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.
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The quest can be everything.....buena fortuna.ReplyDelete
That's true! I love to hunt (not animals).Delete
There was a series of perfumes I enjoyed at one point, Tokyo Milk, and the one I liked best had notes of sugared violet. I am more into oils of every variety now.ReplyDelete
"Ah", I said, "but I want them now."
(I'm not always a pure Taoist).
On the contrary, my light. You are most exemplary. :)
You always find me out, Suze :-)Delete
'm curious how Tokyo Milk smells - and if one can find it in Germany.
I admire your persistence to get exactly what you want, and hope you succeed.ReplyDelete
So good to read that, Sue - will try to translate that for husband :-)Delete
Dear You, "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." - Margaret Atwood ---a favorite quote of mine as a gardener! But, I understand and appreciate your insistence upon violet petals. It is in the perfumer's best interest to listen to you.ReplyDelete
Dear Geo, the smell of earth in the sun or after a fresh rainshower, added a whiff of clean sweat, the smear of a crushed strawberry and the aura of happiness: a beautiful fragrance! I'd call it "Bliss".Delete
Britta...I am unsure if I have ever smelled a true violet. I don't think the potted window plants we have here give off fragrance. Something to ponder...just what I need! Will be on a quest for sweet smelling USA violets! Stay tuned...will report back!ReplyDelete
Oh Susan, I almost envy you the experience. Make sure you find the sweet smelling ones (because there are others that don't have any scent) Violets on the window sill - is that the African violet?Delete
Dear Britta - on your violet hunt have you smelt or tried the Yardley of London April Violets? - I don't know what it is like, but Yardley do tend to make quintessentially English fragrances such as Lavender, Hyacinth, English Rose, Lily of the Valley, and yes, April Violets.ReplyDelete
This is a marvellous tip, Rosemary. I tried it at Crabtree&Evelyn, but didn't think of Yardley (they are not so strong on the German market - more in the lavender-soap- corner). I'll try, thank you!Delete
There are violets at Pondside - wild violets, and they smell like my idea of heaven. I look forward to learning more about your search.ReplyDelete
so good to hear of you again! Yesterday I scrolled to your blog, and started to wonder. Now my heart is calm again - and yes: I will tell you whether my quest was a success.
Life has taken a sharp turn but I am well and looking forward to blogging again soon.ReplyDelete
I like this ideas pretty much. I know that cologne is good for men. I am also using this for so many days. Best Cologne For MenReplyDelete
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! best cologne for menReplyDelete