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Florist’s Fridge doesn’t smell like perfume, or even intimately of the florals in its mix, but it’s an ingenious facsimile for the act of buying flowers, such that every time you put some on, your imagination takes over and you’re virtually picking out a bouquet of whatever flowers delight you. Just as delightful, one can experience the novelty of it in a dainty, travel-spray bottle priced at only $7 and still have dough left over for meat and potatoes.
The above little gem of a poem is well-known, and though I probably would have discovered it on my own, it came to my notice in my teenage years when I inherited a poetry book from my grandmother. On the inside cover she had written the titles and page numbers of her two favorite poems, and true to who she was—a passionate gardener—both poems were about flowers. (In addition to “Hyacinths,” she had also favored William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”.) True to who I was—the granddaughter who worshipped her—not only did these poems stay in my head, but their namesake flowers became favorites of mine. Daffodils are more of a visual treat for me: while I do enjoy their starchy, honeyed-pollen aroma (especially noticeable when one has a vase filled with them), it’s their sunshine yellow color that makes me happiest. Whereas with hyacinths, though they come in many lovely shades, from white to pink to deepest purple, it is the incredible richness of their scent that gets me. The perfume of these flowers is luxuriant, and one would think it would translate well into an actual perfume of the cosmetic variety, but if there is a perfume that fully and authentically represents hyacinth, I haven’t tried it. I can think of five perfumes I love which feature the note and use it to impart hyacinth’s coolness to their floral bouquets (the now discontinued Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve and Paris de Coty, as well as present-day Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 19, and Amouage Dia pour Femme, though it must be noted that the latter does so by way of cyclamen, a flower that smells like a blend of lilac, lily, violet and hyacinth according to Nigel Groom’s The New Perfume Handbook).
For a flower with such a heady aroma, there is something oddly cool and humid about the smell of hyacinths. I say “oddly” because flowers that have a thick perfume usually strike me as being sensual and warm, but hyacinths prove that’s not always the case. Their complex and bright floral scent also encapsulates an air of the damp springtime weather in which they bloom. This aspect is accentuated in perfume; quite often when hyacinth is listed as a perfume note, there will also be a galbanum note or some other type of green accord. As much as I’d love to find a hyacinth perfume that captures the richness of hyacinth’s distinctive aroma (Amouage Dia pour Femme comes closest), thanks to a perfume blogging friend, I did find a perfume that conveys hyacinth’s damp and cool, misty green breath in an ingenious way: Florist’s Fridge by Smell Bent Perfumes.
“Orchids, hyacinth and buckets of chilled flora” is how perfumer and brand owner Brent Leonesio describes the notes of this charmingly sylph-like scent which presents a shorthand sketch of hyacinth that reminds me of the Saadi poem.
Here is a breath of spring—and one of life’s simplest luxuries. Here is a reminder of both how easy and how important it is to treat yourself well, are my own thoughts on hyacinths. How fitting that they bring their cool and humectant facet, as well as a floral sprightliness, to this perfume that does indeed smell like the air that issues forth from a florist’s fridge. Particularly the side that houses inexpensive bouquets of daisies, carnations, day lilies and mums. Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge doesn’t convey the extravagance of exotic blooms like roses, tuberoses or Casablanca lilies; it doesn’t put one in mind of a romantic, dramatic floral arrangement. Heck, it doesn’t even put one in mind of actual perfume, and that’s the novelty of it. It’s airy to the extent that I find it the floral equivalent of classic cologne. In the same way classic cologne refreshes one with its mix of citrus and herbal aromatics, Florist’s Fridge is a pick-me-up of delicate, chilled florals accented by an equally delicate spray of fresh greenery. Its sillage is quiet (longevity is good, in fact, much better than a citrus cologne), and thanks to its uplifting properties—the way that in name and in actuality, it anchors the feeling of being at a posy shop to the pleasure center of one's brain—Florist’s Fridge is, thusly, a fragrance you wear for your own sense of delight and well-being, rather than a perfume you wear to get noticed.
Mineral-like and green in the first minutes when it hits your skin, Florist’s Fridge has an opening accord that reminds me of Perrier water. It’s also has an iris-root smell—with the emphasis on 'root' and its vegetal connotations—in the first five minutes of its development. If you can imagine a blending of scents encompassing mineral-water bubbles, a root vegetable pulled from the earth in winter, and a hint of greenery, and do this while thinking of the hiss of air that hits you when you open the door of a cooler filled with flowers, then you’re fully grasped the delightful top notes of this scent. As it develops on the skin, a violet-like note becomes evident and the fragrance begins to sweeten without ever turning truly sweet. Hyacinth emerges and brings a delicate nuance of carnation spiciness and chilled-lilac floralness to the mix, and Florist’s Fridge stays in this vein for the duration of its wear-time on the skin (about five hours). This floral vapor also smells as if it has a touch of marshmallow-vanilla starch at its base, but only enough to suggest the pollen-like starchiness of flowers and not anything that could be construed as creamy in the oriental or gourmand sense.
One can’t really tease apart the blooms in this floral seltzer water—it’s simply a unique and ingenious form of effervescence. Perhaps inspired by this scent, or inspired by the fact that it was Valentine’s Day last week and the grocery store had all kinds of wonderful arrangements, I picked up an inexpensive bouquet when I was doing my shopping. These flowers don’t have much scent apart from a vague whiff of the florist’s fridge, but are so colorful they generate their own brand of pop and fizz. For $10.99, they’ve injected more cheer into my winter-addled brain than a box of long-stemmed roses could have, even if those roses happened to be fragrant (which they rarely are these days), and they’ve lasted for over a week. “Ooh, where did you get the flowers?” my sister asked when she came over for dinner, and though I think she was expecting that my husband got them for me, it felt good to tell her that I got them from the grocery story for about the same price as two, maybe three loaves of bread. (Not that I told her about the bread, but thinking about it now, that’s the equivalent cost.) Sometimes the most pleasurable indulgences are the ones we give ourselves, and sometimes they are of the “cheap thrill” variety. The orange and fuchsia-colored daisies in my bouquet were achieved with food dye, which was obvious the moment I put them in water and the water turned pink. That’s not a complaint. Sometimes novelty is a good thing: the splendidly inventive thing that will feed you when the hyacinths aren’t blooming yet, the snow is piling up, and you’re tired of running to the store for bread. What could be more novel than a profusion of ultra-colorful flowers in winter?
February 20, 2015:
If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
Attributed to Moslih Eddin Saadi, a Persian poet who lived about 1184-1291
Florist’s Fridge is from Smell Bent Perfumes, an indie perfumery based in Los Angeles, and can be purchased at the Smell Bent website: $7 for a 4-ml travel spray or $50 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. My thanks to my blogging friend Ann (of Perfume Posse) for kindly introducing me to this little number!
Photo of hyacinths on windowsill is by Kevin Lee Jacobs from his website www.agardenforthehouse.com.
Photo of floral bouquet in vase is my own.
Hyacinths and the Refreshingly Novel Florist's Fridge
by Smell Bent Perfumes