The sparkling, sunlit warmth of orange blossom, tuberose and jasmine falling on a cool mantle of grassy, mossy and woodsy base notes creates a rather distinct dichotomy in Jour Ensoleillé. (In addition to the previously mentioned notes, the fragrance includes neroli, beeswax absolute, labdanum absolute, myrrh, sandalwood, ambergris, vetiver, green leaves, and oakmoss absolute.) The sweetness of the flowers and the bitterness of the base notes seem almost equally weighted, creating the kind of marked contrast that first struck me as odd and discordant. But it was an intriguing kind of odd—not at all strident or grating, but rather the kind of odd that, at first whiff, makes one say, “hmm, that’s different,” instead of “ooh, pretty!” and then rather quickly becomes the very thing that keeps you coming back to the fragrance wanting more, realizing it really is beautiful. (Sublime, really.)

While the herbaceous, woodsy base lends a contemplative air to the perfume and keeps the white florals from running riot in their usual erotically-charged way, this perfume is still every bit as sensual as it is thoughtful in spirit. Orange blossom and jasmine do indeed express their indolic nature within Jour Ensoleillé, adding to the lushness of the scent—completing it in a sense—and entreating the wearer to dream not only of afternoon sunlight, but also perhaps of “afternoon delight”: a romantic tryst leisurely taken or perhaps stolen, like kisses, from the golden middle part of the day.

Though a fairly linear perfume, the manner in which this elegant composition vibrates across opposite planes—the carnal plane suggested by the vibrant white florals and the cerebral plane suggested by the sharper, more austere elements of its green base—truly does stir the senses. When I wear it, the first thing I think of is the 1994 Italian film Il Postino, with its Mediterranean landscape (not unlike the California wine country that Erickson calls home) and its gentle hero: a simple postman who falls in love with poetry and with everything (not only the sexy young woman he woos and marries, thanks to the help of Pablo Neruda, but the rustic fishing village he lives in, and with life itself). And, too, I think of a specific poem by Neruda, an intoxicating love poem that in its second stanza reads the way Jour Ensoleillé  smells:

                            Pinned by the sun between solstice
                            And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
                            We drifted for months and woke
                            With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
                            Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
                            And the sound of a rope
                            Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
                            We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
                            And lay like fish
                            Under the net of our kisses.*

Excerpted from the Pablo Neruda poem "Drunk as Drunk," as translated from the Spanish by Christopher Logue.

February 17, 2010:

Suzanne's Perfume Journal

"After school each day I spent my afternoons at a nearby barn riding horses and working until dark, and my favorite time of day was late afternoon when the setting sun created a beautiful golden glow on the hills in the distance and on the oaks all around me. Later on I lived in a more suburban environment and didn’t have that special view, but I still found places to see the golden afternoon light on the street trees out the windows. Now I’m back in a beautiful spot again and treasure the hills all the time, but the late afternoon light is still my favorite."

Sunny white-floral perfumes embrace a number of southerly latitudes, quite often steering towards the tropical, and who can argue with such a delightful direction?  Well, I’ll tell you who—not by anything she has said (for I’ve never met or talked to her), but by something she created—and that person is California perfumer Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio, who seems to have followed, like the famous poet Robert Frost, a road less traveled by to arrive at her quiescently lovely fragrance, Jour Ensoleillé. Erickson’s inspiration for Jour Ensoleillé (“sunny day”) is the rural area she grew up in “at the base of some beautiful wooded foothills,” she says on her website—and by taking this personal route with her white-floral scent, she created what she calls “a gentle chypre” scent that is much like poetry: uniquely personal, yet with a beauty that makes it universally understood.

Erickson’s Jour Ensoleillé evokes the sunlight of autumn reflected in the oak trees at the base of the foothills, where, as a girl, she rode horses. In notes about the fragrance from her website, she says:

Like a Perfume Poem: Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleillé

Jour Ensoleillée can be purchased from the Sonoma Scent Studio website, in prices currently ranging from $18 for a 5-ml purse spray to $80 for the 34-ml bottle pictured above. Sample vials of all of the Sonoma Scent Studio fragrances can also be purchased there as well.

Images: (top of page) the house that served as Pablo Neruda's fictional Italian retreat in the 1994 film Il Postino is from; (bottom of page) photo of the 34-ml bottle of Jour Ensoleille is from the perfumer's website.

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