Tuesday, 16 February 2010

"My name is VM and I'm a Ylangoholic"

I'm not sure about that spelling, but you are right to infer that I am addicted to the "intoxicating" scent of ylang ylang. And in case anyone is wondering, I am not also a member of AA, though I daresay "ylangoholic" would roll off the tongue more easily if you were half cut.

Now you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a thinly veiled Valentine's Day post, a mere two days late. Given the relaxed timing of my "Top Sniffs of 2009" piece, it would come as no surprise to find me celebrating V Day on Feb 16th. Well, "celebrating" is perhaps too strong a word - on 14th or any date this week. I did receive a Valentine's Day card from Mr Bonkers, intriguingly dated 2008. Could this be the last time he had feelings for me, so will future cards be similarly backdated? The possibility cannot be discounted. I did have to buy my own chocolates and Mr B wouldn't let me buy my own lilies - "too messy" - or roses - "too cliche'd". To his great credit, however, he pushed the shopping trolley round Tesco's on Sunday, which he hasn't done since November. There can be no greater display of togetherness. So yes, I am not "celebrating" V Day so much as nodding vaguely in its direction...

Which brings me back to ylang ylang. Just as I recently discovered saffron to be a favourite note of mine, so I have realised that ylang (single for the sake of brevity) pops up in varying degress in all sorts of perfumes I like or love, namely:

Guerlain Plus Que Jamais
Guerlain Chamade
Strange Invisible Perfumes L'Invisible
Chanel Bois des Iles
Chanel Cuir de Russie
Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere
Damien Bash Lucifer No 3
Penhaligon's Amaranthine
Hermes Vanille Galante
Cuir de Lancome (ylang ylang AND saffron!)
Ormonde Jayne Tiare
Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang
Gianfranco Ferre by Ferre EDP
Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles
Agent Provocateur Maitresse
Natori by Natori EDP
Lanvin Arpege
Kenzo L'Eau Par Kenzo Indigo Pour Femme

I am, however, not a fan of the following ylang-containing scents:

Annick Goutal Songes (too indolic)
Be Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful Cocktail (strange smell of petrol)
Givenchy Amarige Ylang Ylang 2008 (synthetic, headache-inducing)
Guerlain Samsara (screechy sandalwood and general loudness)
MPG Fleur de Comores (spoilt by MPG's distinctive sneezy, fusty "house note", though the drydown was nice)

Overall, though, I have to conclude that I like most perfumes I have tried where ylang is present, and it is not THAT common a note, after all.

So what have I gleaned about this flower, which I read somewhere described as "jasmine for the poor man"?

Ylang ylang (sorry, that was lazy of me, wasn't it?) is otherwise known as Cananga odorata, a fast growing tree of the custard apple family. Yum! I am liking it more and more. Originally from the Philippines, the ylang ylang plant was introduced by the French in the late 19th century to the Comoros ("Comores" in French), a group of islands in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique. Today, the Comoros export around 80% of the world's supply of ylang ylang essence.

I also learned that it takes 100kg of flowers to produce three litres of essential oil in a steam distillation process: the oil is produced in different quality grades (Extra, 1, 2 and 3).

As for the fragrance of the flower itself, I would characterise it as sweet, heady and "meaty" or "fleshy", with banana-like overtones. I did read somewhere that it is related to the magnolia, which I would also term a "fleshy" fragrance. Wikipedia is even more off the wall in its description of the scent (with additional recourse to hyphens):

"The fragrance of ylang-ylang is rich and deep with notes of rubber and custard, and bright with hints of jasmine and neroli."

Okay, I hear where you are coming from with the custard, but...ahem... rubber?

The other important thing to mention about ylang ylang is its role in aromatherapy. It is apparently good for high blood pressure, anxiety and depression, skin problems, and - perhaps most famously - it is considered to be an aphrodisiac. In Indonesia, ylang ylang flowers are strewn on the marriage beds of newly weds. The Victorians, with characteristic reserve, used ylang ylang in macassar oil to condition their hair.

Now I wear a lot of ylang ylang scents, and haven't found them to be good in any of the above applications. Admittedly I have yet to try them on my hair. And it may be that they work best in certain scenarios if you increase the rubber quotient.

: - )


lovethescents said...

Thank you for the "intro to Ylang" lesson, and I'm not being facetious here. I love ylang ylang as well and so many of your favorites are ones I own too...except for that scary EL Private one!

Now as for Mr. Bonkers, no flowers for you??? I could bonk him over the head! ---please ask him what that 2008 business means, we might have to have him committed:-)(pardon the pun!)

Liza Wade said...

Clearly, VM, we have very similar tastes in fragrances. I postd a comment on saffron and couln't resist leaving a little trail here as well. I have a special adoration for ylang-ylang, starting with the essential oil istelf which is so narcotic. Oops...borrowed a word from Mandy Aftel who describes it as a proven aphrodisiac (refer to my article www.examiner.com/x-10473-DC-Fragrance-Examiner~y2010m2d11-Fragrance-101-can-perfume-be-an-aphrodisiac) Sorry for the shameless plug!

Martha said...

Hmm. I do seem to see ylang ylang in a lot of the fragrances that I like as well, though I don't actually know what it smells like, as distinguished from the other notes.

Ines said...

Can I join your group of ylangoholics? :) I really enjoy it (in rare cases I actually know it is ylang I'm smelling).
Btw, this is the first time I read there is someone besides me who likes Maitresse.

Vanessa said...

Lovethescents, I do agree that Mr Bonkers should be committed - his poor colour recognition would be justification enough in my opinion!

Liz, am pleased to know a fellow ylangophile! I did see your Valentine's article, and was careful not to use the word "narcotic" for fear of treading on your/Mandy's authorial toes!

CF, if you want to isolate the ylang note, I recommend buying a bottle of aromatherapy oil (c$6). Add a few drops in your bath, and you will always be able to detect it after that!

Ines, out of mischief I sprayed myself liberally in Maitresse on Sunday. Remarkably it did not cause a domestic incident, as I feared it might. It was the first scent I introduced to a friend after the start of this hobby, prompting her to buy a FB. The body butter is pretty fab too. I also like Strip, though it is an acquired taste on account of the earthy geranium note.

Hebe said...

I like Maitresse very much, it was my honeymoon perfume. I like Strip too (though not enough to overcome my dislike of its bottle).

I would appear to like ylang ylang too, but would also have difficulty naming it.

Cocktail smelled of turps on me. Not nice at all.

Hebe said...

and what I meant to say was perhaps Ylang Ylang should be layered with Bvlgari Black in order to up the rubber notes.

Vanessa said...

Ylang Ylang and Bvlgari Black - inspired!!

lady jicky said...

I am really with you with Samsara - why is it that the scents you hate are the ones that have great staying power??? I had a sample and put it on at night (Oooo, huge mistake - you have to sleep with it ALL night) and I was so sick and headachey in the morning I had to strip the bed and wash the lot!
The second one I am "with you" is the Goutal Songes - its sells very well in Australia but not to me. My daughter likes it but its too buttery for me .
I am a huge Guerlain and Goutal fan but not those two!

Vanessa said...

How true about scents you dislike having staying power. Hence the name "scrubbers", I guess!

I would also call myself a Guerlain and Goutal fan generally, but those are definitely two exceptions.

The Left Coast Nose said...

I wasn't looking for ylang-ylang in my perfumes, but from your list I realize, I love it too!! I've got a sample of Bois 1920 "Sutra Ylang" that is moving to the front of the line thanks to you.

(And thanks to you for the ongoing comedy that is the Mr. Bonkers show. My guess: Misplaced the card two years ago, found it again, and he's "recycling" it. Good as new! And I am guessing he feels just about exactly the same about you then as he does now: can't live without you.)

Vanessa said...

Oh LCN, I hope you like the Sutra Ylang. I think I have tried it but I may be getting muddled with Sushi Imperiale, and my memory of both is fuzzy.

Now... your card recycling theory would be eminently plausible, were it not for the fact that N pointedly explained to me how he had had to write his greeting on a paper insert stuck to the inside of the card, because it was black and he doesn't own a silver pen that would have shown up properly.

So I think it is a recent mistake - either that or a very convincing concealment of a recycling stunt. I think I would have remembered a black card with a homemade insert if that were the case - or even a black card with an invisible message if this was in fact his second recycling attempt... : - )

Yes, on balance I think he quite genuinely doesn't know what year it is, but I should count myself lucky that he knows the day!

Mals86 said...

Flitter - your poor hubby! You get a card, and he gets made fun of! I'd bet he bought it a couple of years ago and then misplaced it, only to find it in time to give it to you this year...

But no matter, we have ylang to distract us. I quite like it. Creamy, tropical, sort of banana-y but in a good way - I think I really should get some of the essential oil. I actually smell a lot of it in my miraculous vintage bottle of No. 5 parfum.

Vanessa said...

Hi Mals - I know I may sound mean, but Mr B does approve all the copy about him - it may be a peculiarly British thing to show affection by taking the mickey out of someone as mercilessly as I do. But Mr B gives as good as he gets, you'll be pleased to hear, if not in a blogging context (he hates writing)...

lady jicky said...

Aussie men are like that too Bonkers! LOL

Mals86 said...

Flitter, I was teasing YOU! :) Clearly you two adore each other.

Vanessa said...

Oh, that's good then! Mr B is even contemplating putting a link to my blog from his own website, which is brave of him... :-)

The Left Coast Nose said...

Mr B has a blog!?!? Oh, I want to get the other side of every story!! ;)

Vanessa said...

Mr B has a website though not a blog as such, and it is currently hors de combat while more content is being uploaded. Will keep you posted when it goes live if you are curious!

The Scentimentalist said...

Flit, you should try Agent Provocateur's Sensuous Ylang Ylang Massage Oil ... very fine ...

Vanessa said...

Interesting - can you get one that comes with masseur/se? You know, like a banded pack?

Andreea said...

For the ylangolist in us try some organic cosmtic products. They are not seldom infused with ylang yalng, like Dr. Hauschka oil and milk (face).
Well, as a AG hater I did like only! Songes, that was a jasmine burst all over.

It happens that i a deeply in love with mustard, so I had to look this up in leo.org which told me mustard and custard are two different cups of tea.

Still, I love ylang yalng and I am happy and proud to be able to show off iwth my boyfreind who gives the best face treatment=masage ever.

Vanessa said...

Andreea, that Dr Hauschka product sounds delicious - must look out for it. Yes, "mustard" and "custard" are indeed as different as chalk and cheese. I wish Mr Bonkers gave massages of any description. He does sometimes kick my slipper off when I am resting my feet on the pouffe, which he finds hilarious, and I find merely silly. But I would not exactly call that a therapeutic interaction with my person.