The New Cavendish Club is sadly closing so we gathered at the venue behind Oxford Street for one last time to explore the wide range of fragrances with a green facet.
Event organiser Lila Das Gupta led through the evening and started by explaining that whereas previous genres we had explored had been more ‘linear’, green was not. In Leather perfumes we had suede at one end and chorizo or newly ridden saddle at the other. When we explored iris perfumes we had rooty, carroty at one end and powdery, violet at the other. Green perfume was more like a country with very important regional hubs.
Green perfumes were described by Lila as having elements which reflect “The Great Outdoors” and crushed leaves and fresh smells from nature.
Gold Standard and Landmark Greens
Lila: So, tonight the regional hubs are made up of ingredients. And the most important ingredient of all, when it comes to green, is galbanum. When people come to visit me to help them find a perfume I use this fragrance to see if they like green perfumes or not. It’s a real litmus test because if they like this, they are definitely going to like something green. It’s very much a classic of the genre, by Jean Claude Ellena and released in 1973. It’s a full-on perfume that shouts ‘green’. It is a favourite of Grant Osborne, founder of Basenotes (and he’s a bit fussy about perfume). It’s quite linear, but lovely all the way through. Definitely stood the test of time…
It features tomato leaf and galbanum. Galbanum is probably the most important ingredient in green perfumes as I said. No self-respecting green perfume would be without it.
Here is some galbanum sap for you to try. The plant is an umbel and related to the carrot family, and it has a very strong, lasting scent.
Alliage, Estée Lauder
Lila: Released in 1974, sadly this one seems dated now, though I applaud Estée Lauder for keeping it in production for the people who like it. It feels like the Farrah Fawcett-Majors of the perfume world – it might have been fine then, but I’m not sure it’s doing too much now. Interestingly, it was the first perfume to be marketed as a sports fragrance – the ads showed women playing tennis and being active. We should definitely smell it as a reference point –it’s very much talked about on forums.
Comments from the group included “Horrible” “Essence of talcum powder” and “A bit musty”.
Lila: It’s a landmark in the land of green perfumes but hasn’t really stood the test of time. It’s a period piece.
Lila: This was the last perfume that Coco Chanel selected when in her 80s. It was made with her in mind. It’s classic but not old-fashioned. It has galbanum with iris which turns everything velvety. For me, wearing it feels like it’s a crisp, white shirt. I always feel well dressed in it. This is the EDP. I find it warm, soft and comforting at the same time (the opposite view to Luca Turin’s elegant description in The Guide). It’s a classic in the green canon.
Lila: This is light galbanum and clean jasmine. It’s often worn by women who don’t really like perfume or are unsure about which perfume to choose. This is the EDP but there’s also a fresher, Eau Verte version. It won’t frighten the horses, but it is really pretty. It features a lot of hedione which is the aromachemical answer to jasmine. A lot of you may not have smelled it. It’s certainly one everyone should know. It may be safe, but it’s popular because it’s lovely.
Eau Thé Verte, Bulgari
Lila: This is another Jean Claude Ellena perfume released in 1993. Michael Edwards gave a very good talk on the history of cologne at the perfume fair in Milan a couple of years ago. He said it was the first time tea was used as an ingredient in western perfumery and it was a milestone in the history of perfumery, spawning later blockbusters such as CK One. Thé Vert is very fresh and belongs to the cologne territory.
It was novel in its day and a surprise hit for the jewellers Bulgari, but it’s interesting to see it’s at the discounters now and not particularly popular. We’ve also got Elizabeth Arden Green Tea, a lovely, fresh perfume that was created by Francis Kurkdjian. He’s not too keen on his back-catalogue these days, which is a shame, because it’s still a very nice perfume.
Chai, Robert Piguet
Lila: A lot of brands have released tea and light jasmine perfumes to appeal to the Far Eastern market.
Group comments: “Inoffensive” “Not warm and milky like chai” “Teenagers first fragrance”.
Lila: And while we are on the subject of Cologne, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to smell the Thierry Mugler Cologne. It’s a wonderful one for people who don’t like what traditionally goes into a cologne. It’s not floral at all, it’s refreshing, light and green and wonderfully affordable.
Lila: Blackcurrant bud is another interesting ingredient in the green list of ingredients – it has an odour profile which can remind some people of box hedge and Sauvignon Blanc – for others that sour note is more like a pissy, urinal smells. It’s intriguing.
Enchanted Forest, The Vagabond Prince
Lila: This was the first perfume released by the perfume website Fragrantica. Elena and Zoran, the founders are both Russian and they started their own perfume company called The Vagabond Prince. Enchanted Forest was their first release. It’s supposed to be evocative of their childhoods in Russia and was created by Bertrand Duchaufour.
This was a rather polarising fragrance. The best comments were “Horrid and amazing” and “Blackcurrant flavour throat lozenges”. “It’s a strange sweet and sour fruity mix with a lot of strength”. Serge, from Belarus, who was in the audience said it reminded him of picking raspberries and blackcurrants at his grandparent’s house and brought back happy childhood memories. Callum from Les Senteurs did not like it but felt strangely attracted to it he said.
Lila: Other fragrances in this category are Blackberry & Bay which was is very refreshing and a best-selling hit for Jo Malone. Also Mad Madame by Juliette Has A Gun which I gave to a group of women to try and they thought it was really sexy. It’s down to me that a certain sector of suburban west London now smells of Mad Madame!
Aedes de Venustas
Lila: Aedes de Venustas is a shop in New York. I’ve never been but I’d love to go – it looks all baroque and mysterious. Anyone in the room ever been?
Grant (from Basenotes): It’s like a random aunt’s bad attic, in a good way.
Lila: It was done by Bertrand Duchaufour and for me it smells like the moment when you pull the rhubarb out of the ground, twist the leaf and toss into the compost heap. It’s very fresh rhubarb with a grapefruit note and a slight bit of incense. It has a lot of zing to it. Rhubarb is another popular way to get a green element into a perfume.
(For another rhubarb fragrance see Hermessence Rose Ikebana, a favourite of Olfactoria’s)
Lila: This one was criticised when it came out because it’s lovely rather than a self-conscious masterpiece like the rest of the Les Exclusifs range. For me, it doesn’t need to apologise for anything, it’s a beautiful haze when I wear it; it feels slightly white and slightly green. The pure parfum is my favourite strength.
Comment from the group “Lipstick-y”
Lila then ran through other kinds of green fragrances:
- Linden blossom (Ciel d’Opale by Ann Gerard and Tauer’s Zeta) which is a subtle, smell, like putting your nose in a pollen-rich, green flower.
- The modern Vent Vert we have here is perfectly nice but I can’t believe it’s anything like the great perfume by Germaine Cellier it once was. Sometimes described as one of the greatest perfumes of all time…
- Grey Flannel, by Geoffrey Beene is a cult fragrance on Basenotes, much discussed. Here for reference.
Lily of the Valley
Lila: Noses are getting tired, but we still have to talk about Lily of the Valley. Edmond Roudnitska nailed with Diorissimo (which we don’t have here). Muguet is still popular on the continent. Muguet by Yves Rocher which is wonderful and budget perfume you can buy on the continent. It’s a comforting smell and if you don’t like white flowers very much, lily of the valley is a good choice.
Lila: On the whole, I do not like fig at all. It always strikes me as very artificial because when you put your nose in a fig, it doesn’t smell like that at all. I love the fig note in Neela Vermeire’s Ashoka and last week this perfume landed on my desk, with a fig note I actually like.
Some vetivers are more green and citrusy and some are more smoky. We’ve had a whole evening dedicated to them, so we won’t discuss them tonight but we’ve brought them out because people love them so much. Highlights are Sycomore by Chanel, Vetiver Vert by Chech & Speake and Infusion de Vetiver by Prada.
- Violetta is a pretty violet by Penhaligon’s. If you love parma violets as many of us do, you will love this cheerful fragrance.
- Urura’s Tokyo Café by 4160 Tuesdays features a violet note along with rose, raspberry leaf and woods on top of a resinous base.
Green perfumes have long interested me and I particularly love wearing them in early spring and on hot summer days. Many thanks to Lila for showing us the wide range of fragrances this genre encompasses during another lively evening.
Are any of these favourites of yours or is there something missing?
WOW! What a great list. That would have been an excellent day of sniffing. Green is so good done right.
There are a couple on your list I need to get my sniff on ASAP.
Portia, I did really enjoy it as I like green perfumes but don’t know/own many.
Which ones do you like the sound of?
I am surprised I haven’t tried the Sisley, have put Vetiver Vert and Urura’s Tokyo Cafe on the list too. Coincidentally we have the Urura’s on APJ today, I think the universe is telling me something.
Ha! There is so often synchronicity in Perfumeland. I love it.
Tara this list comes at the most opportune time! I love several and must get myself samples of the others. Thank you for the information. Have a wonderful weekend. Xo
Sandra, I hope you find a couple of winners when you get your samples.
Enjoy your weekend too. I know you’re happy in the heat, unlike poor B!
Greens are by far my favorite genre. Cool moist scents that refresh the senses. Many of these sound super interesting
As a green fan I’m glad you found some new ones to investigate. I think it was great that Lila picked quite a few off the beaten track.
I love how refreshing they can be too, especially on a hot day.
Also one of my favourite genres, in fact almost all my favourite perfumes have a green facet! I love Chanel 19 in parfum, also Au The Vert. Recently I discovered Aroma M’s Geisha Green which is a revelation! – green yet flirty, excellent sillage, not so outdoorsy and very pretty. I also love the slightly challenging Ninfeo Mio – really earthy and leafy verdant.
Cristalle Eau de Toilete isn’t mentioned here, also, I’d say it’s not a hugely green perfume, or it’s more white/green. Oh and Philosykos has a lovely leafy sunny green, one of my all time favourites
I shall have to try No. 19 in parfum. I really enjoyed it on the night and didn’t feel it was too austere for me the way I have done in the past. Maybe it’s better for me in warmer weather.
Geisha Green sounds fantastic. I’ve only tried Ninfeo Mio once but I know it got some good reviews when it came out.
I love these posts you do Tara on the perfumista meetings. 🙂
I always feel like I was there. Plus, thank you for listing the perfumes so I can try some new – I’m always on the lookout for green. And refreshing at the moment.
I’m so pleased you get something out these PLL write-ups, Ines. Hopefully you will find some new green perfumes to love and cool you down in the heat.
Tara we are going to do some serious sniffing when I’m home. xxx
Woo hoo! Looking forward to it more than I can say Val x
I was wondering if I had missed your write up, Tara…
It was a lovely evening with lovely people, but I struggled with the greens. I think I liked only one of those we tested and am therefore very surprised to have found a green I love: Imaginary Authors, The Soft Lawn.
Yes, I’m later posting than usual for reasons I won’t bore you with.
The Soft Lawn sounds intriguing. Chanel No.19 was the only revelation for me but I’d been wanting to try a lot of these so I was glad to cross Aliage and Enchanted Forest (to name just two) off my list.
Hope you are OK, my dear.
I’m fine thanks, Sabine, hope you are too. Looking forward to seeing you at the Roullier White event. Should be a lot of fun.
I do love greens, almost as much as their counterpart, dark woody scents! A few not included here are Perles de Mousse, Scherrer I, Debut, and the old Eau Sauvage fits here too I believe. And perhaps Vero’s Mito, but I consider it more acid yellow than green.
Perles de Mousse and Eau Sauvage are great. I don’t know Scherrer I or Debut but have read good things about them.
Mito is a lot more than just green. To me it’s also acid yellow, creamy white, sky blue, mineral grey…
What a wonderfully comprehensive tour of green notes in perfumery – loved the concept of ‘regional hubs’. It was interesting too that more styles of scent were included than my narrower definition of green – fig for example or indeed rhubarb or blackcurrant. I can see their green facets but I would idly have classified them as ‘fruity’. Shame about the venue closing – it was such a grand setting for the PLL events!
Lila found a great way to explain the territory of green perfumes, didn’t she?
Yes, there were definitely a few genre crossovers going on but it was nice to be shown other ways to wear green if the straight-up versions weren’t your thing.
I’m gutted about the Cavendish Club closing too, V. It was such a great location too.
I love greens (and wear one today : Bel Respiro), so I was very sad I couldn’t be there on the Green Meet-up. A big thank you for the “protocol”, Tara ! (BTW, I was one of those who didn’t understand the Enchanted Forest…)
I bet Bel Respire is great in the heat and I know it is a favourite of yours. I need to get to know it better, I’m just afraid it won’t last very long.
I was dying to try Enchanted Forest but it wasn’t blackcurrant cordial as I had hoped, just sour and menthol. I’m sure some love it though.
Le Temps d’Une Fete! le Temps d’Une Fete!
A great spring-like green. Good call.
Mito is an amazing example of a green perfume, it should appear in the list! Also Piguet’s Futur is a sticky, resin-y, mossy green that deserves mention.
I think many hyacinth perfumes smell green – notably SL’s Bas de Soie. Not only are the flowers present, but the thick stems of the hyacinth are as well.
Yes, Futur is a good one. I really want to re-try Bas de Soie. Bet it’s lovely in warm weather.
Another beautiful green I just fell in love with: Bel Respiro!
I’m realizing that I have lots of perfume with green notes in my collection: No.19, PG Bois Blond, Demeter’s Linden Blossom, Dior’s Vetiver, Le Temps d’une Fete, Private Collection (original), Infusion d’Iris (crisp and green to me).
Yes, it’s funny how sometimes you don’t see connections in your perfume collection until something makes you think about it.
I’m trying to resist Bel Respiro but have a feeling it’s futile 🙂
Thanks for the write up, Tara. I enjoyed this window into the world of ‘green’ and the talk sounds very informative (as Lila’s talks always are). Green is the most difficult genre of perfume for me, so it’s good to get some ideas. I wish I had been there now!
I wish you had been there too!
Lila always amazes me with her depth of knowledge.
I didn’t know greens were tricky for you but you love Mugler’s Cologne, right?
Of course, it’s an old staple of mine! Gotta love Mugler 😀
I really should give it a go. Especially as it’s cheap as chips!
I love the old Gucci Envy, probably my favorite green fragrance. Also, a nice swapper sent me a dab sample of Cartier’s L’Heure Vertuese III, an extremely potent herbal green, which I might have bought if not for the hefty price tag!
Oh my goodness I wore Gucci Envy for the second half of the 90s. I LOVED it.
I didn’t know about L’Heure Vertuese III. I’ve been wearing L’Heure Brilliant a lot in the hot weather here. It’s also a great green with juniper. I got for a knock down price on Ebay.
I love articles that are so in depth. Thanks for taking the time. More to put on the try-a-decant list, greens are a 50/50 deal for me. I do not have anyone here to do in depth trips to perfume places with, it seems like a lovely evening with the knowledgable people.
Hi shellyw, it”s a shame you don’t have anyone to go on perfume trips with. I hope this is the next best thing.
I can’t say I get on with most greens but I like the genre and when I find one that works I love it. Silences by Jacomo is great and affordable.
Kermit the Frog said “It’s not easy being green”. Enjoying green fragrances is not easy for me. Eau de Patou has been the only one I’ve purchased more than once. Now I’m intrigued with several in this marvelous article.
I’m glad the write-up managed to pique your interest in a few new green fragrances.
One not mentioned that I think Olfactoria particularly liked is Maison Martine Margiela Untitled L’eau. I love Guerlain’s Sous le Vent but it’s sadly discontinued.
I’m with Ines loving your write-ups, but I guess I always say that 🙂
Unfortunately green isn’t easy for me, my skin amplifies the tardness and so I am always on the look out for the right shade of green. I will certainly check those of these recommendations that I didn’t already know. Two that work well are Narcisse Noir and Diorissimo, but only in vintage form.
I never tire of hearing it Asali 🙂
I do believe there is a shade of green perfume for everyone, it’s just a matter of trial and error I guess. It sounds like greens with white florals work well for you. Eau de Magnolia is pretty mossy green, I wonder if that could be a winner for you.
Great idea Tara, I am not sure it spoke to me as a magnolia, but when you put it like that, you’re absolutely right. I also think there will be some version of no 19 that should work for me, but since it has so many fans it’s an expensive game trying to track down the right one 😉
Yes, it’s not a magnolia soliflore at all. It’s a mossy green with magnolia under lemon sherbet! I should have thought of that before writing my review 🙂
Yes, I reckon some form of No.19 will be the one for me too. Love galbanum when It’s in the right setting. I agree that trying the whole gamut of green perfumes would be costly and time consuming with a pretty low success rate.
Hope you have a lovely weekend.
Thanks again for the fabulous write-up Tara. A sample of Mugler’s Cologne is waiting for you when we meet at Roullier White’s. I’m loving it at the moment, so refreshing, it’s great to have a spritz before you get on a crowded, humid tube in the evening. Very refreshing.
Green isn’t my genre either but the two I could wear any time and I think are good entry points are No. 19 and Cristalle. Another lovely one I was going to feature, but it sadly didn’t arrive on time, was, ‘Sacre du Primtemps’ by YS Uzac. Colin on Basenotes called it “an accord of lively pungent lawn grass, herbs and white flowers”. PLL will be at the October Gallery in London for the autumn season and we’ll decide after that if it works as our permanent home. x
I got on a hot, packed, bad-smelling tube train last night so I’d be very grateful for that Mugler Cologne sample. Many thanks.
I have really warmed up to No.19. I do rather think of it as my Mother’s perfume though she doesn’t wear it regularly anymore. Thanks for the tip about Sacre de Primtemps, it sounds terrific.
I’m so glad you’ve found us another venue for PLL. I’m sure if it works out we’ll be settled in no time.
Another great write-up, Tara! – and I really do love green perfumes. Of the ones mentioned at your talk, Grey Flannel is my favorite.
Other faves: Chanel Bel Respiro is so green and dewy and easy to wear; Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Vert Pour Madame is flat out gorgeous with a retro vibe; Annick Goutal Heure Exquise and Catherine Denueve’s namesake fragrance Deneuve both have beautiful green notes, although they are more complex than that. And Byredo Green is a perfume that has enough floralcy that it’s an easy-to-wear masculine that comes across to my nose as almost whitish-green (I think it was created as an homage to Grey Flannel, if I’m remembering correctly.)
Thanks, Suzanne! I’m very interested to read that Grey Flannerl is a favourite of yours. I’ve never taken much note of it before.
I really want to buy a bottle of Bel Respiro now. So many of my favourite people love it.
Undina once sent me a sample of Vert Pour Madame and I loved it’s retro green vibe too.
For some reason I’ve just remembered PD Antonia which another green perfumista fave.
I hope you have a great weekend and that it stops raining where you are.
Green fragrances are my favourite category. I love #19, Aliage, Mugler Cologne, Trumper’s English Fern, Grey Flannel, and so many more.
Thanks for sharing some of your favourite green fragrances, James. It’s a great genre with such variety.
I agree. Another I love that I didn’t mention before is Imaginary Authors- The Soft Lawn.
James, Sabine of Iridescents has just done a great review of The Soft Lawn which has really made me want to try it. It sounds great.
I’ve known Josh for a long time. So it may seem that I’m biased, but his fragrances are all very well-done. I’ve tried samples of all of them. But The Soft Lawn is my favourite.
I’ll be going to their new stockist (Roulier White) in London at the end of this month so I’ll be sure to try a few, but particularly The Soft Lawn. Many thanks for the recommendation.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Now, as soon as Spring arrives The Dandy is to be found rather too often for some people’s liking in green. It is perhaps, with chypre and cuir, my most favourite of the groups.
A great introductory list here though there are some classics I would suggest for inclusion:
Guerlain’s Chamade as an example of an aldehydic green, of which the equally classic Ma Griffe is another (rather wonderfully renovated of late). Diptyque’s Ombre dans l’Eau for huge cassis and Balmain’s de Balmain for the pairing of cassis leaf with galbanum to quite extraordinary effect. The abstraction of Piguet’s amorphous Futur is a scary wonder and Jacomo’s Silences set a No. 19 like accord across an intense muguet opening to startling three act effect. Finally, for something utterly contemporary Cartier’s Baiser Vole is that house’s best release in years and something of an instant masterpiece.
Suggestions only for someone a little too familiar with this hue.
The Perfumed Dandy
Lovely to see you and thanks for all those wonderful and much appreciated suggestons.
Chamade was on offer at the evening but we didn’t get to talk about it. The Diptyque has a lot of fans and Futur does sound intriguing. Baiser Vole is really well done and a great bottle too.
Funnily enough I just ordered a bottle of Silences. I hope I love it and am pleased to hear that you admire it. It’s certainly going cheap.
I do hope you like Silences. it has gone through a few iteration. I’ve never come cross a bad one, though some say there are a few rather pale and limey ones out there. The EdPs as a rule seem to be better.
Baiser Vole, is interesting as I wonder having worn it again today how green it is beyond the opening, an interesting, very well made perfume that deserves the attention it seems to be getting.
The Perfumed Dandy
I’m very much enjoying Silences thanks and hope to review it soon. According to Bois de Jasmine it’s now been reformulated again and sold under the name Sublime so I’m glad I’ve got a bottle. I’ll have to check the concentration.