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
Strange Invisible Perfumes L'Invisible
Chanel Bois des Iles
Chanel Cuir de Russie
Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere
Damien Bash Lucifer No 3
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
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.
: - )