Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Carnal Flower and Lys méditerranée

Summer is a-coming in, everything coming in to bloom at once. Time to switch perfumes too. In with Lys méditerranée, and my winter signature Carnal Flower into cool dark storage. Both are creations by Frédéric Malle. Why do I "need" perfume when the money could keep a family of ten in Burkina Faso fed for a year?  But on the other hand, a good perfume enhances your soul.

Carnal Flower turns heads because it's so subtle and unique. I love tuberose but it doesn't usually like me. I  love the idea of Tuberose criminelle but can't wear it. Carnal Flower, on the other hand, is natural, and works with you. Tuberoses need hot, sunny summers to thrive and usually come into bloom just as frosts set in in Europe. One year I brought them into the conservatory for shelter together with lemon and orange blossom. Unbelievably heady!  But that's what Carnal Flower is like - tuberose, citrus and something mysterious like the night. There's a hint of coconut, a smell I normally can't abide, but there's nothing cheap about Carnal Flower. Maybe Malle's comes from the young, green, fresh macapuno. Carnal Flower is carnal, but elegant and brainy.

Lys Méditerranée is more complex than the soliflores I used to wear when I was more cautious. Lilies are pure and fragile looking but they grow on tough stems. They have to be, to support as many as 20 blooms on each head.  A courageous flower, not for wimps. Lilies stand tall above the crowd.  I like clean, straight, direct. The plant hunter, Robert Fortune, discovered a valley in China with hundreds of thousands of lilies growing together. That was in Yunnan, I think, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Lys Méditerranée is crisp and fresh. like winds blowing in from the sea, so it's cool and very green. Once I was on a bus in Australia and an old Greek guy came on board, arms full of Madonna lilies, like he must have known when he was young and in Greece, growing wild on mountain slopes. So poignant.  Another time the stall holder I used to buy flowers from gave me his entire left over stock and this time it was me with an even bigger armful of lilies, so many that I couldn't walk far less get on the bus. So when I wear Lys méditerranée, memories and connotations enfold me.

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