“What do you wear to bed?” a journalist once asked Marilyn Monroe; “Chanel No 5,” she famously quipped in reply. In reality, although she was ‘the face’ of No 5 advertisements, she also wore perfumes more suited to her curvy sensuality: Piguet’s Fracas and Patou’s Joy, both abundantly animalic sexy white florals.
Where Joy focuses on copious amounts of jasmine however, the featuring flower in Fracas is tuberose. Many perfumers have a fascination with this heady and narcotic floral. Once referred to as ‘the harlot’ of perfumery, the Victorians reputedly banned young women from wearing it lest they develop amorous thoughts, heaven forbid!
In more recent years, there have been several new and very expensive iterations or ‘riffs’ on tuberose (not to be confused with rose incidentally; tuberose is a white flower that grows naturally in tropical climes). From Serge Luten’s Tubéreuse criminelle, which plays on the menthol/mint-like aspect of tuberose and full wax-petalled voluptuousness, to Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower, which contains the highest amount of natural tuberose in perfumery – the world’s most reputable and high-end perfume houses seek to capture the reality of this fascinating flower’s complex aroma.
Scents by Hiram Green
When perfumer, Hiram Green launched his tuberose-focused Moon Bloom in 2013, few would have expected this perfume – created entirely from natural perfume materials – to become one of the most popular tuberose perfumes in contemporary times.
If you adore sensual white florals, it must be tried. I say that as someone who really can’t wear Fracas for example – it creates such a fracas in my delicate nostrils! Tuberose can be a divider of tastes – not everyone feels love for its heady, indolic sensuality. Moon Bloom however is intense, yet humid and soft. I find it jungle-y, the olfactory equivalent of a Georgia O’Keefe flower painting. Its freshness is thanks to the menthol-like aspect of tuberose which lends this perfume a glow-in-the-dark white-green luminosity. Its creamy sweetness is enhanced by a natural coconut which never veers towards sugar-sweet or heavy. It’s like sinking into plush white velvet.
If you love lighter, more temperate florals, however, you’re going to adore Hiram Green’s Vivacious. I must confess I often feel that heady floral perfumes wear me rather than the other way round and although I love Moon Bloom’s sumptuousness, I feel that Vivacious is more suited to my style.
Some have compared Vivacious to those timeless Guerlain classics, Après L’Ondée and L’heure Bleue and indeed the spice and violet/iris aspect of Vivacious echoes those perfumes. What makes Vivacious unique though, to my nose, is the exquisite balance of frothy delicate violets and clove-like spicy carnation, with greener floral aspects, making it more contemporary. It reveals soapy facets like luxury triple-milled soap lather, yet also warm, tingly and sensuous spiciness. It’s complex but balanced into a lovely whole. When I wore a generous amount the other morning, my partner spontaneously remarked; “it’s grassy, as lovely as a genuine flower garden in spring!” This was music to my ears since my spring favourite, Cartier’s Baiser Vole, has been reformulated as a sweeter, less green perfume. I missed that green floral elegance; Vivacious has restored it to me!
Hiram Green clearly has an outstanding flair for classy florals; Lustre, launched in 2019, focuses on a delectable rose. Having once bought a very expensive sample of pure Bulgarian rose, I recognise its rich, almost peppery depth in Lustre. As it develops though, citrus and olibanum (Frankincense) add a fresh radiance as bright as an April morning. Beautiful. It makes me think of yellow roses in sunshine.
Though this is an article on spring and summer recommendations, mention must be made, too, of Hiram Green’s Voyage and Hyde. Voyage starts as a powdery, rich scent, which reminds me a little of that gentleman’s classic Knize Ten. I detect clean-cut geranium I think too, then it dries down to what I’d describe as a toasty warm amber. I want to highlight the fact though, that this is a supremely comfortable amber thanks to the fact it contains no synthetics. I love a rich amber, but often find it heavy-handed in some perfumes due to the addition of aroma chemicals that, to my nose, seem to expand and billow out until they fill the room!
Once you discover a perfumer who really knows how to create sophisticated, beautiful perfumes minus asphyxiating chemicals, there’s no going back.
Hiram Green’s Hyde, though, will be a challenge for some noses. I suspect it’s not supposed to be one of those ‘easy-to-wear’ crowd pleasers, but rather it’s there to provide nose-tingling enjoyment to the connoisseur of unusual scents. I may or may not be a connoisseur of perfume, but I do love smoky aromas. On opening, Hyde is quite odd, but given ten minutes I’m in peaty, smoky, mossy heaven.
Where I’d comfortably wear Kingdom Scotland’s gorgeous but gentler peaty/smoky scent; Metamorphic, I’d rather enjoy Hyde on my partner. It brings to mind one of my favourite lines of Irish poetry, from Padraic Colum’s ‘Reminiscence’ – ‘A stag, with his hide all rough with the dew.’
Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery: Luminous Lemurs, Jasmine Orange Blossom and Terrain
I’ve always found lemurs to be both adorable and weird in equal measure. Those big round kohl-rimmed eyes like oranges – cartoon eyes flickering sparks of yellow – strangely huge and out of proportion to the little tawny body. They look like a cross between a cat and a monkey – a fantasy animal dreamed up by Rudyard Kipling, maybe, to amuse his kids!
What could a scent inspired by such a creature be like? Well, pretty much like Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Luminous Lemurs as it happens. This utterly charming perfume opens with a big, lush, juicy sweet orange. Exotic florals (particularly ylang) waft in gently like a perfumed breeze, then very gradually this perfume settles into soft spices and tawny, nutty sandalwood. Delectable, warm, uplifting, and quite unique!
Less uplifting is the knowledge that Lemurs are an endangered species. They require a very particular habitat to survive, but the areas in Madagascar that provide this particular habitat are shrinking. It’s very good to know, therefore, that a percentage of every bottle of Luminous Lemurs goes towards protecting their habitat.
As owner and perfumer of Velvet and Sweet Pea, Laurie Stern, explains: “A generous portion of the proceeds from Luminous Lemurs benefit Centre ValBio, led by Dr Patricia Wright, who has dedicated her life to working with indigenous communities to reverse the damage done by deforestation in Madagascar, and help save the many species of animals and plants that live and grow there. Purrfumery proceeds will help build tree corridors for lemurs and other wildlife to roam and help girls from remote villages attend high school. These funds will also help local villagers who work at the centre so they can continue their efforts.”
Well done Laurie Stern. It’s an example to be emulated by all perfumers; a reminder that luxury need not equal indifference to our health, or towards caring for our world; much of it still so very beautiful. I’d describe Luminous Lemurs as a perfume to be enjoyed year-round. With its sensual fresh ylang, bright citrus and soft woods, it’s warm but not at all heavy or overpowering.
Many of Velvet and Sweet Pea’s perfumes feature a gorgeous jasmine. My favourite featuring jasmine from her collection is Jasmine Orange Blossom. Which lover of florals can resist jasmine and orange blossom combined? Natural orange blossom has an almost tea-like fresh aspect I find – a leafy, yet milky-sweet quality. Jasmine displays everything from the greenness experienced in jasmine tea to the milky sweet scent it exudes on a hot day. During the night, its flowers exude that rubbery indolic scent, described as ‘narcotic’ by perfume aficionados. All present in this perfume, which though it features white florals, is in fact relatively low-key. A touch of Tahitian vanilla merges all together with subtle sweetness and depth.
Terrain, in contrast, is all about refreshing citrus – lime is partnered very happily here with geranium, yuzu (similar in some ways to grapefruit but more dry and bitter) and olibanum (frankincense) which has lemony and resinous facets. All merge beautifully here into a bitter/fresh scent ideal for the hotter days of summer. If this perfume were a colour – polished peridot stone springs to mind.
All perfumes featured above use natural materials – no manufactured aroma chemicals.
Find out more about Hiram Green and Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery on the websites below, where you can order samples, discovery sets and full bottles:
Hiram Green: hiramgreen.com
Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery (email Laurie Stern on this website for sales requests): purrfumery.com