Garofano

Vintage mini bottle with an orange bow-tie and a label illustrated with stylized carnations, and real pink edged white ones.

Garofano means carnation, and this little Italian beauty–first produced in 1930, and reissued for gift sets in 1970–is exactly that, but amplified.

Jasmine sparkles up the carnation’s already sweet and zingy opening, and then the heady middle is augmented by roses, making it even more rich. The bottom is the best part, with added cloves (wild carnations are called clove-pinks) and pepper bringing out the floral spice.

My schnozz is healing!
I get all the facets, even the base notes (which are spicy enough to be worn by even the most alpha gents)–they’re just at 50% volume, rather than full blast.
Right now, I get two hours from it, three inches off the wrist–but I’m sure the performance is at least double that.

One of my favorites from the Borsari 1870 collection.

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Oasis’ cover of The Jam’s Carnation jam.

Lavenda Alpina

Tiny Borsari 1870 bottle with pine tree graphic label, and sprig of fresh lavender.

Lavender is distinct and multi faceted–a good one for testing the post-Covid nose.

The guy likes the soothing aspects–I put a drop of oil on his dryer sheets sometimes–to him it’s relaxing and clean.
I find it invigorating and spicy, a refreshing addition to lemon cookies and roasted potatoes.

First out in 1929, unisex Lavenda Alpina opens sharp, soapy with a vodka note, floral herbs with camphor, some alpine fir aromatics. I get all this, thank goodness, and from the source, too, when I rub the plant leaves.
The eau settles down quickly to the skin–but my sense of smell is definitely on the fritz, because I know this has better projection than what I’m getting right now–with sugary citrus and licorice feels. This is my favorite part of lavender fragrances, the bright sweet-savory-spicy heart, almost gourmand-ish. (What Would Love Do? by LUSH captures this gorgeously.)
Sadly, I get almost nothing of the base notes. There should be a bit of moss roughing up the bottom, and the soft woods–a bit resinous, like sweet balsam–that dried lavender flowers hold for years, are just not coming to me yet.

I’ll keep at it.

Lavender tips from my garden, cobalt bottle of essential oil, and a dried herb wand with purple ribbon, handmade by a friend using plants from a local pick-your-own farm.

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I love this little-known Kinks tune, a bonus track on an album remaster.

Gelsomino

Pooka sniffing a micro Borsari 1870 bottle with pale bow and amber eau.

Gelsomino is Italian for jasmine.
This vintage beauty from Borsari 1870 is a good reference–I’ve reached for it often this week as I attempt to retrain my nose–first formulated in 1930.

Jasmine is the soprano of the white flowers–the violin, while neroli is the viola and tuberose a cello–gorgeous when on pitch, shrill when off.
Jasmine can be milky, too–lactonic–with clouds in the tea that make everything soft, and also very indolic with skanky “Pollinate me, Baby” invitations.

I usually find elements of apple, matcha, and the top lemony opening of roses here, bright cheerful nectar–and I finally do again, though they’re muted. I have to shove my face into my wrist, when I remember it being loud as a struck bell.

So yay, my sense of smell is coming back intact, just slower than I’d like. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. Baby steps.
And sinus medicine.

Borsari 1870 Fragrance Collection, packaged in a gold edged black tome that holds 24 mini bottles`. A gift shop gem from the 1970s, this Italian floral sampler makes a great reference library.

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We learned the traditional Chinese “Jasmine Song” in elementary school. The amazing Song Zuying is joined here by Celine Dion, who takes it to Vegas.
(More sopranos.)

Orchidea

Tiny Borsari bottle with green ribbon and odd graphic label, and a green artificial orchid.

The scent we tend to think of as Orchid is usually a synthetic fantasy accord inspired by the Cattleya varieties, a delicate sweet vanilla floral, with hints of spice. (My sister-in-law grows very pretty varieties, but I get no smell from them at all.)

Borsari 1870’s interpretation from their library set opens green with wet white lily flowers on top, and sweet cardamom notes in the middle that slowly fade to a nice, effervescent cream soda on the skin.

I compared it with Tom Ford’s Orchids–Black, and Velvet (like Orchidea, they have a touch of sandalwood on the bottom) and Soleil–but other than a sense of fancy florals, this one doesn’t seem to match up with those three anywhere.

So perhaps an orchid’s beauty is in the nose of the designer?
This one doesn’t do much for me, but TF’s don’t either, much.

(Also, I have no idea what the art on that label is supposed to be. An abstract veiled face? A contorting cow?)

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I’m really enjoying lullaby rock lately.

Magnolia

magnolia edges
Micro Borsari 1870 bottle with Scandinavian folk-art graphic, and blue bow.

Vintage bottle from the La Collezione Borsari 1870.

There’s a fresh lemony zest to magnolia, a little more creamy/waxy than roses, spring rather than summer. I can find it in the middle of L’Instant de Guerlain, and at the opening of J’adore.

This baby sings in big white full bloom, with an oddly pleasant sour civet and traces of vetiver holding it in place–what research I found indicates it was released in 1970, and those were trendy bases then.
Lasts for decades, in a marvelous retro way.


The Muddy Magnolias are amazing!

Acqua di Mughetti

Acqua di Mughetti edgy
Borsari 1870 micro bottle with pale blue ribbon and label with a night sky and moon.

Pure Lily-of-the-Valley, first released in 1920.

The first notes are clean lemony florals, then the tune centers on delicate sweet white flowers with a creme fraiche texture.
Settles into gentle soap aldehydes at the end.

This might be a soliflore, but I get a tiny hit of orange blossom that curbs the usual green edge under the lily bells.
Lasts a pretty two hours close to the skin.


Another Lily-of-the-Vally.

Calycanthus

calycanthus edges
Borsari 1870 micro bottle with yellow bow and orange and red art deco label,

Vintage Calycanthus.

Opens sharp and sweet, like peaches, then settles into soft green forest floor leaves with a cinnamon/curry melange–calycanthus is also called “spice-bush” and “sweet-shrub” in the US–and ends with ferns with cardamom spoor.

Interesting and unusual.
Released in 1970 as part of Bosari’s Library of Fragrance, but I don’t know if it was sold apart from the reference set.
It’s a spicy scent–reminds me of the curry-plants the herb guy at the farmer’s market sells.

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I’ve always liked this one.

Acqua di Rosa Thea

Aqua di Rosa Thea edge
Mini bottle (it stands about an inch and a half tall) with orange bow and label with a (…tea cozy?) (…woman in a huge hoop skirt?) illustration in black and orange.

Vintage rose from an antique reference set.
(Perfumeintelligence suggests this one was first formulated in Parma, Italy, in 1880.)

So how do you define what a rose smells like? This one does a pretty good job of it–

Opens with airy pastel buds, lemony with sugar in the tea, then ripens with earthy green leaves and bright fruity rosehip wine. The dry down is exactly that, dried petals–dusty, musky and spicy sweet with a hint of powdery cloves.

So top notes to bottom, a good illustration of rose that would hold its own against Perfume Workshop’s Tea Rose and Annick Goutal’s Rose Absolue–though it doesn’t quite have the luxe of Fort and Manle’s Harem Rose.


Everyone’s favorite pizza delivery tune, Funiculì, Funiculà, came out in Italy at the same time. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so here’s some Sting.

Zagara

zagara edgy
Yellow bowed bottle with golden eau, and an art deco label of two ladies’ faces.

Orange blossom.

Starts out sugar sweet, the dust on marshmallows,  then turns jasmine-like, with a touch of honey.
Finishes fruity-juicy, more gourmand than neroli’s greener woody-spice edge.

It’s the floral note easily found in the opening of Coco Mademoiselle, and tastes delicious in Italian Cream Cakes.

This one was bottled for a mini collection for tourists from the Borsari 1970 Museum in Parma, in the seventies–the caps are hideous plastic, but they’re effective–it’s quite well preserved for being so old.


Honey sweet erotic tune from Princess Nokia–

Glicine

glicine
Micro bottle with pale purple bow and forties graphic label.

Vintage Wisteria, by Borsari 1870.

The middle of a Venn diagram of all the purples–where violet and concord grape and lilac overlap into a unique creamy/fruity/floral, with a hint of clove to spice it up.
A sharp leafy green at the bottom keeps it from going gourmand.

A nice reference–it’s the architecture of Nest’s Wisteria Blue, and the shaded garden of Azzaro 9.


Here’s another sweet Glicine.