When I think of Asia, China in particular, I think of all of the smells that I encountered in my travels to the region. First and foremost, tea comes to mind and in reality, there was always a good cup of green tea to be had, wherever I have been.
Other olfactory memories involve the gorgeous gardens, rife with the fragrance of trees and flowers, teak wood and various spices. I have an affinity for China and Japan in particular and could not wait to get my hands on Guerlain’s latest release, Shanghai. I was not disappointed and a bottle promptly came home with me from my recent trip to Paris.
Here is what Monsieur Guerlain states about this newest release from the Une Ville, Un Parfum collection by Guerlain.
“August 2012. Guerlain’s city collection, “Une ville, un parfum”, gets its fifth member. The new offshoot is dedicated to Shanghai, the Chinese megacity that also inspired Vetiver pour Elle. Composed by Thierry Wasser, it features the transparent freshness distinctive of this collection, a woody floral scent of anise, ginger, orange blossom, almond, cardamom, ylang-ylang, jasmine, iris, mimosa, cedarwood, patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood. The bottle is designed by Serge Mansau and showcases Shanghai’s famous Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower. 100 ml EdP. “
What I have come to expect from this collection is to be momentarily transported to another city through smell. It works magically with Tokyo and I was surprised how well it works with Shanghai.
One of the most striking things for me, on my travels, were the temples, gardens and tea houses with their dark wood. The temples are filled with the smell of incense, but the wood itself resonates with a lively smell, the smell of earth, flowers and water. It varies in the different Asian countries, but it is always there. One would expect the smell of the wood to be dark (as the wood is dark) and brooding, but there is an airiness about it as well.
Shanghai captures the essence of the temples for me, as the temples are not about incense but about the peace and tranquility in the surrounding gardens. Gardens are abundant around many temples and that is where the floral notes come in.
This picture of my husband in Shanghai, in front of the wooden structure in the rain, is what this perfume encapsulates in its bottle (if you disregard the Starbucks in the corner!).
How does it smell, you ask? On first spray, I get a strong blast of orange blossom with just a tinge of ginger. The orange blossom turns almost buttery a few minutes later and then the floral heart arrives. I get about a half an hour of florals, especially iris mixing with cedarwood and patchouli, the latter being thankfully rather faint.
With this perfume, it is all about the drydown for me. Shanghai never gets sweet on my skin and it becomes all wood with a slightly dry vanilla in the background. It has soothing properties, just like the temples I remember from my travels.
Now I think I’ll go and treat myself to a cup of green tea and daydream about my next adventure!
Thank you Guerlain, for capturing the juxtaposition of the smell of the temples and the surrounding gardens so perfectly for me.