Friday, March 8, 2013

Real Poppies Are Scentless

At least, that's what I've read. Which brings to mind that scene in The Wizard of Oz, where they encounter the poppy fields, breathe in the "spicy scent of the bright flowers," and fall asleep. Did Baum ever smell a real poppy?

There are all kinds of associations with this bold flower - it's steeped in mythology, tied to sleep (opium), death, resurrection, and is also symbol of remembrance. Its bright red color and paper-thin petals are instantly recognizable, so it's no surprise that it is the inspiration for several perfumes; I have two, today: Coach Poppy and Flower by Kenzo.

To me, both of these play on different aspects of the poppy flower. I'm not sure if that actually makes them soliflores - perfumes meant to embody a single flower or note (from the French solifleur, a vase for a single flower - apt and poetic, non?), if real poppies don't have a scent, but suffice to say that they are meant to describe, in scent, aspects of the poppy.

I take Coach Poppy to be the brightness of the namesake flower - the bold, large, shapely petals, the saturated red, the large, inky center. It has notes of "Cucumber Flower Petals, Mandarin, Baby Freesia Buds, Jasmine, Pink Water Lily, Southern Gardenia, Rose Petals, Crème Brûlée Accord, Cedarwood, Bleached Sandalwood, Vanilla, Whipped Marshmallow" (from Sephora - sheesh, how huge!) and on me is crisp, bright, and happy, with a faint base of sugar and spice. It's broad enough that I wouldn't call it a white floral, despite the jasmine and gardenia in the listing. It's girlish, like a flared skirt, with just a touch of sass. I like it, despite all of my (unwarranted) prejudices against this pink perfume.

Spoiler: I like FlowerbyKenzo, too. A lot. But this one draws more from the dreamy mythological background of poppies; it's a breath of green stem and then it's richly violet, and dries down to the creamiest musk. It's as light as poppy petals, with none of the brashness of Tom Ford Violet Blonde. Violets and I are sometimes friends, and in this one, we're carrying on our own sweet love affair. This has gone straight to the wishlist - I need more of this one. Notes: "Wild Hawthorne, Bulgarian Rose, Parma Violet, Cassia, Hedione, Cyclosal, Opoponax, White Musk, Vanilla" (Sephora).

I find it interesting when people create perfumes around naturally unscented flowers. It's like giving them new life, you know? And it's open to interpretation - these are both so different. Have you tried either of these? What do you think a poppy should smell like?

[Also, this is the first post to kick off my non-basketball March Madness: Fragrances. I need to go through my perfume samples (swimming in them. SWIMMING IN THEM), so I'm going to make a concerted effort to bring you more fragrance reviews this month. Hopefully grouped in more, nice little thematic posts. I'm excited. Hopefully my nose is up to the task.]