Afghanistan Orange Blossom by The 7 Virtues 2010


Post by FeralJasmine


Lately I have been trying out The 7 Virtues. I do not mean by this that I have been leading a balanced and philosophical life. Far from it, in fact. But I have been thinking about the perfume habit that we all share and the effect that it has on the larger community. First, of course, there is the personal benefit: we are harmlessly occupied sniffing our own and each others’ wrists rather than other mischief that we could get into, and none of us is likely to get into a more dangerous addiction problem because, after buying perfume, we couldn’t possibly afford street drugs. If lovely scents lighten our moods at dark times and make us kinder to those around us, that certainly serves the greater good. Many Islamic cultures consider the wearing of scent to be a gift to others, and our sillage may lighten a moment for somebody else. And then there is the larger community, our nations and our planet. Do perfumes serve a purpose there?

Afghanistan Orange Blossom by The 7 Virtues 2010

Afghanistan Orange Blossom The7VirtuesPhoto Stolen The 7 Virtues

Definitely, in my view, and in all kinds of ways. Some are easy to define and some are more ephemeral. Lately I’ve become interested in a Canadian Company, The 7 Virtues, that wants perfume to serve a very specific and practical purpose. Their mission is to create perfumes that use raw materials sourced from communities in Afganistan and other war-torn areas that are trying to rebuild themselves. CEO Barb Stegemann wants to offer farmers a financially viable alternative to the poppy crops that create such hazards both in their communities and in our own. You can read more about their mission at

So okay, this is a noble mission that we can all appreciate, but how’s the juice? The one I chose to try first is their original scent, Afganistan Orange Blossom. Their website tempted me toward this one: “This precious organic oil is made from delicate orange blossoms harvested by Afghan farmers who bravely choose to tend these ancient groves instead of the poppy crop. We buy this excellent oil at fair market value from our supplier who is rebuilding his community. Poetry festivals are held during the harvest in Jalalabad to celebrate the historic orange blossom groves. If you look closely, you can see tiny flecks of orange blossom petals in your bottle of perfume!”

Afghanistan Orange blossom National GeographicPhoto Stolen National Geographic

The idea of reading poetry under blooming ancient Afghanistan Orange Blossom trees is irresistible, hypnotic, ironically narcotic. The fragrance itself goes on in a cloud of orange blossoms, but rather than hypnotic they are light, ethereal, and purely pretty. There is a slight touch of soap, enough for freshness but not enough to be annoying. The scent is not prim, but it is modest, entirely befitting a philosopher queen. Some jasmine joins the orange blossom as it develops but it is light, fresh jasmine with nothing of the narcotic or indolic about it. Freesia notes do appear as promised. This is a clean scent in the best possible sense: not some awful fabric-softener knockoff, but a sunlit natural smell that makes me happy for the moment that is given to me.

Afghanistan Orange Blossom MorgueFilePhoto Stolen MorgueFile

Afghanistan Orange Blossom is an EDP but seems more like EDC strength to me. Longevity is a few hours on skin for me, and I like to spray a scarf or put some on my blouse to continue the pleasure (no stains so far.) It has become my favorite work scent, and I can’t imagine anybody being offended by it. Do take into account that I live in a desert climate, and in damper air it may be stronger than I describe. You can feel good about buying this fragrance, and it will return the compliment.

Further reading: Perfume Posse and BoTO
The Perfumed Court starts at $5/ml

Check out The 7 Virtues Website for buying in North America & Europe

FeralJasmine x

Gucci by Gucci EDP by Ilias Ermenidis 2007


Post by FeralJasmine


Since the recent death of someone I loved deeply, I find myself preoccupied with white florals. At first this might seem like an obvious extension of the traditional funeral flowers, but I think it goes far deeper than that. Of all the fragrances, white florals are simultaneously the most indolic-animalic and the most transcendent. They remind us that death coexists with astounding beauty. When we approach the country of death, they waft us to the threshold and then anchor us from stepping through. They are hypnotic, narcotic, both mesmerizing and comforting. The purest and the dirtiest of scents, they call out our inner angel and our inner demon.

Orange blossom is perhaps the most dualistic of the white florals, sweet-angelic or earthy-animal or both. Orange blossom is my obsession right now. For days after the memorial service I floated around in Houbigant Orangers et Fleurs, feeling unanchored. The morning that I realized that I was returning to Earth, I sprayed myself with…….

Gucci by Gucci EDP 2007

Gucci by Gucci EDP FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

The Gucci that I refer to here is the original Gucci by Gucci EDP in the heavy square brown bottle with gold cap. This is worth stressing, since there is a lot of other Gucci stuff that I can’t stand and wouldn’t want anyone to think that I was wearing. The most frugal perfumista can afford it, since you can find big 2.5 oz bottles for under $50, and minis or decants for a lot less. There is some astounding twaddle about it online, much of which I think may really be about some other Gucci scent. On Fragrantica the notes are given as guava, Haitian tiare flower, patchouli, honey, and musk, which leads me to wonder if some people know orange blossom when they smell it. Patty of the Perfume Posse featured it in her guide to the best of orange blossom fragrances, and of course she got the notes right:
Orange blossom, heliotrope, orris, vanilla, citrus, musk, cumin, and thyme.
In fact, her opinion is so apt that it’s worth quoting:
“ I think Gucci EDP is one of the sexiest perfumes made. It’s skanky, but not vulgarly trashy. It handles orange blossom in such naughty, naughty ways, it takes my breath away. Gucci tore a piece page from the Caron Narcisse Noir Playbook when they abandoned any pretense of orange blossom being innocent.”

Gucci by Gucci Orange Blossoms KousKousRestaurantPhoto Stolen KousKousRestaurant

On my scent-eating skin and in our parched desert climate, the effect is subtler. Gucci EDP goes on in a happy haze of lovely and naughtily indolic orange blossom. The cumin is there from the beginning, but it is low-key and serves to emphasize the orange blossom and not overpower it. As the open fades, a very subtle hint of thyme combines with the soft musk and cumin to suggest a lovely soft earthy leather. Orange blossoms and soft leathery musk; what a combination! If the Houbigant is celestial orange blossom, this is mortal orange blossom, never far from its very earthbound roots. If I apply it lightly before leaving the house, I can wear it to work and my perfume-averse work buddy will sniff appreciatively rather than wrinkling her nose. If I spray more lavishly, the effect is more “Why, hello there!” and is no longer suitable for work, although lots of fun.

Further reading: Now Smell This and Perfume Posse
Fragrance Shop has $41/50ml tester
My Perfume Samples starts at $2.50/ml up to $7.50/5ml

Gucci by Gucci White Flowers Casket FloristExpressPhoto Stolen FloristExpress

Life is full of events that carry us to places we never wanted to be, and thank goodness for all the things that help us stay grounded, like love, friendship, beauty, truth, memory, as well as good food, wine and perfume.
FeralJasmine XX

Boudoir by Martin Gras for Vivienne Westwood 1998


Post by FeralJasmine



I did my undergraduate work at a university that was famous for its campus viburnums. Unfortunately it was even more famous for its student suicide rate, and many of them seemed to occur during the viburnum season, although I trust it had more to do with final exams than the flower itself. For me, on my way to exams, the extraordinary, penetrating, sweet and spicy scent of the viburnum was encouraging. It seemed to act on me as a kind of aromatherapy, and sometimes I would stand next to a bush in full bloom, huffing it up like fragrant crack. Those are times that I still remember as moments of pure beauty, when everything else steps aside and joy wells up in an fleeting but perfect moment. So naturally, when I tumbled into the perfume obsession, I began looking for a perfume that would express that scent.
For those who might be interested in a viburnum scent, the perfumes that list this note are:

Boudoir by Martin Gras for Vivienne Westwood 1998

Boudoir Vivienne Westwood FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

BaseNotes gives these featured accords:
Top: Viburnum, mandarin, bergamot
Heart: Rose, tobacco flower, coriander, orris
Base: Vanilla, sandalwood, amber

Boudoir. That’s it. One. It’s from the line of Vivienne Westwood, the punky fashion designer. Her firm still sells a reformulated version and here are the listed notes: viburnum, bergamot, mandarine, rose, tobacco flower, heliotrope.
I have the original version, and here’s a more accurate list of the notes: viburnum, heliotrope, powder, slight spice, skank. Faint but unmistakable skank. Like I was scurrying on my way to an exam, sweating slightly, and got laid under a viburnum bush. Which, I assure you, never happened. At least partly because it would have made me late for an exam.

Boudoir Vivienne Westwood Viburnum 66SquareFeetPhoto Stolen 66SquareFeet

There are viburnums that aren’t fragrant, and then there are the heavenly fragrant ones. If you have never smelled one of the fragrant viburnums in bloom, I can only describe it as creamy heliotrope with spice, especially nutmeg. It’s a sweet scent, you will have gathered, and if you dislike sweet scents then no doubt you’ll dislike this one as well. And I can’t pretend that this perfume smells exactly like viburnum, because nothing does. There is a strong sweet opening, then wafts of near-viburnum with faint undertones of skank, then a somewhat powdery and slightly spicy drydown. On my scent-eating skin, the whole show lasts about 90 minutes.

Boudoir Vivienne Westwood Bridal TheBestFashionBlogBoudoir Vivienne Westwood Bridal2 TheBestFashionBlog Westwood Bridal Photos Stolen TheBestFashionBlog

Now, let’s talk price. Some companies seem to hike the prices of their perfumes to create an aura of unattainability. I’m not thinking of anyone in particular here, just anyone whose initials are Killian Hennesey. If you want the priciest, then save your pennies and best of luck to you. But if, like me, you love a bargain, there are many to be had among the older scents that are all over Ebay. I have to add that most of these former mainstream scents are better than any mainstream perfume released within the last dozen years. Think back to the days when aquatic and ozonic notes weren’t around, melon barely ever appeared, and nobody aspired to smell like fabric softener. That’s what you get when you buy older scents. Some are dirt-cheap, and some are only moderately cheap. This one is moderately cheap. The old one and the reformulation are easy to tell apart; the original is cognac-colored and the reissue is pink. I’ve never tried the reissue, because my little flask of original will probably last for years. If you have no prior history with viburnum, the scent may not mean much to you. To me, it brings back those exciting nerve-wracking days when nothing, not career, not home life, nothing, was in place yet. I wouldn’t want to live there now, but I do enjoy visiting.

Further reading: Perfume Posse and Portia on APJ
FragranceNet has $48/30ml before discount
PoshPeasant starts at $3.50/ml

FeralJasmine x