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 soliflore 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, Velvet and Soleil–and 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?)
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.
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.
Vintage rose solifleur 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.
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.
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.