Since writing my last post, I have received a surprise email from Alain, "Our Man from Havana" in Sahling best of beauty, Berlin. Right off the bat I should set the record straight and tell you that he is not in fact from Havana, but from Santa Clara, but that wouldn't have made nearly such good copy, so I am glad I didn't know as much at the time I wrote my Berlin Sniffathon post.
Anyway, Alain has now caught up with that post and the Flora Bella review. He agrees with my assessment of the scent and adds:
"It's a very unique 'floral', completely strange but still in some way very simple. Heavy, cool, salty, milky, capable of always touching my heart and soul and opening my eyes to my exotic and tropical dream-scenario. For me it is definitely one of Bertrand's best fragances ever."
I am also pleased to report that Alain was fine about being featured in this way - indeed I have a standing invitation to drop in any time I am passing, so that is all good!
He did, however, point out that either he misexplained the dream sequence which he associates with this scent, OR I misheard or misunderstood it, a much more likely explanation if you ask me. Yes, it was late in the day by this point and my German just wanted to knock off and go back to the hotel and put its blistered feet up. Moreover, I have become so accustomed to using a dictaphone in my interviews that when I have to listen and take notes without that safety net, I am liable to end up with a scrappy and muddled version of events.
So here is the dream evoked by the scent Flora Bella, straight from the horse's mouth. And look - we could have spoken English all the time! : - )
Oh, and as you will see, I assigned the raven hair and violet eye colour of the Flora Bella character to the surfer dude, and managed to lose her altogether! Also, I did struggle to find a photo to illustrate Flora Bella. It was jolly hard to find any picture that wasn't Elizabeth Taylor, to be quite frank, who actually brought out a perfume called Violet Eyes, as I have now learnt! Yes, you may need to morph the two women's faces into one mental image for optimum verisimilitude.
"A tropical island paradise. No big hotels, no luxury resorts. A small village where the tourist of the west world are coming to practice diverse aquatic sports, diving, fishing and of course surfing. A young surfer man (maybe from Germany or the Scandinavian countries) with blond hair and ice-blue eyes falls in love with a beautiful young woman. She has long wavy black hair and deep violet eyes. Her skin has been tenderly touched by the sun and her juicy lips always reveal the most beautiful smile. She's very warm and sensual but at the same time so feminine, so sweet, so delicate and fragile. They see each other and they both fall in love immediately. They spend a beautiful night together at the beach, in which she gives him all her heart and only the knowledge that her name is Flora Bella.
The next day he searches for her. He asks other people in the village. Nobody knows her. They never heard of her! He desperately searches for her, completely sad and devastated without any results. Was it real or was it a dream? The day he had to return to his home-country, he stood in front of the sea with his feet deep buried in the sand there where the waves die. It was morning. An old lady is passing by with a bouquet of frangipani flowers. He asked the old lady. She looked at him and smiled back very politely. Then in the same kindly and lovely way that a grandmother looks at her grandson she answered:
'My dear child, of course I know her. She's everywhere. Can you feel it? Smell it...'
She took a deep breath and then let it out in a very pleasant way like she had smelled the most beautiful perfume ever. A tear ran down his cheek and the morning breeze took away a frangipani flower from the old lady's bouquet making it disappear in the blue space between sea and sky. Maybe it was a dream, maybe it was really real. But the truth is she will always be there: in the flowers of the island, in the foaming waves, in the salty sea breeze, in the tropical rays of the sun, in his heart... Flora Bella."
So that is rather a lovely story for any romantics out there, and, as you can appreciate, it would have been rather a lot to scribble down on the back of a fragrance blotter and a folded up bit of google map...
And the humour of my mix up was not lost on Alain:
"Oh! And Vanessa, since I read your reviews now I have two dreams of Flora Bella. The other one involves the raven-haired surfer boy with violet eyes... and moonlight! It's beautiful and it's real! Thank you for that too."
Meanwhile, such was the hypnotic effect of Flora Bella on me, that I thought it worth getting some feedback from Mr Bonkers in this instance (I am quite selective these days, as he does reject 99% of what I ask him to sniff). This was his reaction:
"Yes, milk and babies."
"Why, that is almost an endorsement!"
A perfume Mr Bonkers almost endorses? Surely that is yet another reason - if one were needed - to blind buy this with confidence!
Photo of island from cdislands.com, photo of Santa Clara from blingcheese.com, photo of violet eyed girl No 1 and of frangipani from flickr, photo of violet eyed girl No 2 from twilightmoviefranchiseupdates.blogspot.com