Suzanne's Perfume Journal

January 19, 2015:

Eau de Hongrie by Parfums Viktoria Minya can be purchased from the perfumer’s website or from LuckyScent.com, where a 100-ml bottle is currently priced at $165. My review is based on a sample I received from the perfumer.


"White Blouse White Shirt" is from Skirts and Slacks, a book of poems by W. S. Di Piero, copyright © 2001 by W. S. Di Piero (published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2001, pp. 20-21)

Photo of couple on the boardwalk can be found across the Internet --  author unknown by me; photo of Eau de Hongrie perfume bottle stolen from the perfumer's website.




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White Blouse White Shirt

(by W. S. Di Piero)

Snow falls on the boardwalk
      where they never walked that winter,
Streetlamps in white boas, surf light
      patching shuttered storefronts.
Where are they? The Ferris wheel
      they once rode looks green.

In this other snapshot
      she wears pedal pushers,
he’s in summer whites,
      they swing cigarettes
and hold hands, walking toward me,
      it seems, into breezy life,
where they don’t know I’m waiting.
      Now they’re renting a rolling chair.
Inside the wicker cowl he says
      “A five-dollar ride, chief.”
“It’s Chinese, like Charlie Chan.”
      Sand buries the sea noise,
resin scents rise from the boards
      into deft sea winds
as they roll past windows larvaed
      with delftware and sable stoles,
licking each other’s fingers,
      french fries in paper cones.

 
When did the boardwalk look like that?
      When was that fresh love?
I stencil red-winged blackbirds
      into the scenes, and lilac
brushing windowpanes, and crocus,
      one garden of one season,
composite, where we look out,
      and between them I become
an hourglass of sand and light
      beside the ocean,
where the sun lets more snow
      fall around our heads.

Boardwalk Bliss and Eau de Hongrie by Parfums Viktoria Minya

Thirteen years ago, I was listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition” and heard W. S. Di Piero read the poem, above, from his then-new volume of poetry titled Skirts and Slacks. It’s remarkable to think that something as small as a poem can stop on in one’s tracks, but the moment I heard it I knew I would have to seek out his book. I wish NPR still had the audio clip in which you could listen to the poet read it—the pitch perfect way it passed from his lips over the airwaves, like the slender edge of ocean wave arriving to meet the sand. However, I think that poems, the very best ones, are written almost in an onomatopoeic way, such that the thing they speak of is ingrained in the words themselves—their meaning arrived through a juxtaposition of images and sounds that is more direct than narrative. And as such, I think you can read this poem to yourself and have that same feeling of wistfulness and wonder wash over you, as it did me when I first heard it on the radio.

Because I like to fill the pages of my blog with things that inspire me, yet be as truthful to the nature of a perfume as it is possible to be, I've been waiting a long time to couple a perfume to this poem. Naturally, I had to find the right perfume and finally I have: the delicate and frothy, yet piquant and immediate beauty that is Eau de Hongrie, the latest creation of Viktoria Minya. Eau de Hongrie is actually one of three new fragrances by the Hungarian-born, Paris-based perfumer: there is also a lovely rose fragrance, watercolor-like in its olfactory hue, that I might write about later, and an iris-soliflore that is not quite my style. Eau de Hongrie, though, had me in its tender thrall immediately, for it is like the echo to the siren song of Ms. Minya’s first perfume, Hedonist. And what a fitting echo it is! Eau de Hongrie touches on the same olfactory tones as Hedonist—a perfume I compared to the honey-wine known as mead in my review—and actually takes its inspiration from a Hungarian dessert wine called Tokaji Aszu, touted as “the wine of kings and the king of wine.” But whereas Hedonist is a perfume that makes it case for pleasure by speaking in rich and lusty tones (it’s a scent of attraction, the catalyst to pleasure), Eau de Hongrie is the quiet cocoon-like response to having found that pleasure. Here is a fragrance of honeyed hush and sighs, of contentment that is too lemony fresh and new to be called comfort, and which might more accurately be filed under the surprisingly quiet category known as bliss.

Notes for Eau de Hongrie: Lemon, grapefruit, clove, jasmine, honey, sandalwood, immortelle, labdanum, musk, tonka bean and Tokaji Aszu wine.

Eau de Hongrie has a lemon meringue-like opening accord that's every bit as airy as it is piquant. Softly aldehydic, it is an uplifting element of the perfume—a foamy bit of lemon almost immediately underscored by the creamier elements of the fragrance, signaling what to expect from this perfume. An intimately happy scent, Eau de Hongrie reminds me, like the White Blouse White Shirt poem, of that state of fresh love where two people explore their world together as if traveling in a bubble, occupying a plane of existence both contained and free. If the lemony start to this fragrance is gently buoyant, what follows next is richer yet equally immune to gravity: a light and sunny custard that lasts the duration of the perfume’s wear-time on the skin. It smells honeyed in the way of honeysuckle; fruited in the way of champagne; and creamy in the way of an egg-custard pie that is lightly vanillic and sweet. There is also a delicate woodiness to Eau de Hongrie issuing from a weathered-smelling sandalwood accord that allows the perfume to wear on the skin for many hours (about six). If you’re wondering if this suave perfume is detectable, it is. When I step outdoors into the chill December air, the fresh current easily volleys its scent to my nose (and I am only wearing one spritz on my wrist; I transferred my dab sample to a vial with an atomizer in order to get a feel for it sprayed). Even so, it doesn’t announce itself the way a big perfume does, and that’s part of its charm. Refined and elegant, Eau de Hongrie has a very natural quality, smelling as if it belongs on someone who is casually elegant, reminding me of a young Farrah Fawcett or Carolyn Bessette.

Last week, prior to writing this post, I spent seven days straight working at the college bookstore in my town, helping the staff ready itself for the onslaught of some thirty thousand students ordering their books for the new semester, and one of the benefits was witnessing the students who work there. Among them, a young woman of some authority: mid-twenties, honeyed blonde and sweet, also professional and calm in spite of a grueling schedule. Her boyfriend worked there too, and though these two were among the hardest working people in the store, I couldn’t help but notice their affection. The way he periodically, throughout the day, visited her work station to whisper something in her ear and lay his hand on her shoulder. The way they huddled over the lunch she packed for them, in the breakroom where she forked up morsels of pasta salad, offering him a bite of this and that. The way their knees and elbows and heads touched, their bodies forming a sanctuary that was private and sweet—noticeable not because it drew attention to itself, but because it resembled something pure, distilled and separate from the general hustle and exhaustion of the place.

When I say to you that Eau de Hongrie is a perfume that is analogous to this couple from the bookstore, or the couple from the poem, such a description might seem far-fetched, but it’s the best way for me to describe the mood of a perfume (the feeling I think it attempts to convey), and not just its scent. Because I could tell you that Eau de Hongrie is a gauzy, lemony, honey-custard scent with a side of sandalwood and champagne grapes, and you could interpret that to mean perky and confectionery, which it isn’t, or you could imagine it as cloud-like and aloof, which it isn’t either (though it encompasses the latter’s dreamy reserve). My hope is that when I say that Eau de Hongrie is the olfactory equivalent of romantic bliss that happens in the early stage of a relationship—the stage where attraction has been consummated and now you’re moving through the world together in your bubble—you'll understand what I mean. It's a perfume that recalls fresh love and its halcyon days. Days when your children were still a gleam in your eye and a private expanse of boardwalk stretched before you.