Monday, 23 May 2011

Pump Down The Volume: Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 Fiore Di Riso - A Careful Whisper Of A Scent

Over on Boisdejasmin the other day, Victoria had written a review of Christian Dior New Look 1947, which - relative to her expectations for this scent - she found disappointing and lacking in chutzpah: "Such a beautiful idea certainly deserves to make a grander statement." Along with several other commenters, I weighed in with my own liking for this scent, however flawed the olfactory interpretation of a "red lipstick glamour look". Sweet cold cream and talc accord, bring it on, I say! I don't mind if it is a silk slip scent and not a wasp waisted pencil skirt teamed with a fur bolero.

Yes, as anyone who knows me will tell you, as long as my nose can physically register a fragrance, it can't be too wispy and nuanced for me. I have already waxed wimpy on this very topic in my review of Calvin Klein's recent feminine release, Beauty, arguing my point that "blandness is in the eye of the beholder".

Which brings me next to an article in our local paper last week, defending my adopted home town of Stafford from a charge levelled at it in the latest edition of The Lonely Planet travel guide that it is "a quiet little place, overshadowed by other towns in the county". The indignant journalist entitled her rebuttal: "Why our town is far from quiet..." and went on to list a whole clatter of events in support of her argument, ranging from the annual open air Shakespeare production, to a half marathon, town centre cycle race, plus a music and arts festival. So far, so sporadic...of which more anon. But the bit she wrote that absolutely tickled me - for its sheer grandiose irrelevance - is this: "the award-winning Victoria Park, (and) our river Sow that runs through the centre of the town".

Since when did a park or a river constitute cultural hustle and bustle, never mind the beating heart of the town's night - or even daytime - life? It is a park, for goodness' sake. Flowers grow and die back. Old men sit on benches. One or two may attempt to lie on them, till a special constable politely moves them on. Oh, and the river running through? Well, in case anyone is wondering, Stafford is not a famous centre for white water rafting...the river Sow drifts along quietly, suffering occasional bouts of indigestion from clumps of weed and the odd supermarket trolley.

I said above: "So far, so sporadic", for when the only events you can wheel out as evidence of a jumping community are annual - or static/stagnant civic amenities such as parks and waterways - you know you are protesting too much. Take it from me, Stafford is an uneventful place. From Monday to Thursday the wind whistles eerily through the deserted town centre, while on a Friday and Saturday night there are plenty of people about, some baring unseasonal expanses of flesh, staggering, throwing up and/or looking for a fight.

Yes, Stafford is quiet, and that is fine by me. And quiet scents are also fine, like my latest discovery, Fiore di Riso, the new release from the snappily named Italian house, Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561. Thanks to lovethescents for the sample of this one - the very name filled me with eager expectation: "rice flower" sounds so delicate and ethereal. That's never going to reek of camphor, or turps, or knock-your-block-off tuberose, or a badger's bottom - no, not with an apologetic name like "rice flower", surely. It sounds meek and demure and unassuming, and - unlike New Look for Victoria - the scent turns out to be wholly consistent with its name.

Luckyscent lists the notes as follows:

White flowers, ginger, vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss

Then I found a completely different note pyramid on the website of an Italian online boutique:

Mandarin, bergamot, rose, jasmine, vanilla, tonka bean, benzoin

Which in turn prompted me to turn to the website of Farmacia SS Annunziata dal 1561 itself, where I found some very elegant shots of their premises, but next to nothing on the fragrances themselves.

So instead, here is an extract from the Luckyscent website:

"Fiore di Riso is a soft, sophisticated skin fragrance with dreamy vanillic facets. The lightness of the white flowers gives way to a comforting, sweet, sandalwood undertone.... Not overly sweet, not very floral, Fiore di Riso is creamy and warm..."

I would agree with this summary of Fiore di Riso, and to be honest, the uncertainty about the note listing almost doesn't matter, as I can't detect much in the way of specifics anyway! On me it starts out quite sweet - vanilla-y and noticeably woody, with a very muted hint of florals that keep the scent from veering into overt gourmand territory, not that I would have minded that. It is more restrained than Love's True Bluish Light, shall we say.

It is in fact a foody vanilla scent given the Illuminum White Gardenia Petals or the New Look 1947 treatment - ie majorly reined in (nearly wrote "reigned in" - must be the Kate Middleton connection!), before ending up as the merest wisp of a vanillic floral. The wood is very smooth and I don't get any ginger at all, though maybe it is working behind the scenes to nip any gourmand tendencies in the bud. Nor do I have the faintest clue what white flowers might be involved here, despite the mention of jasmine and rose in the second note listing. Fiore de Riso is less powdery than White Gardenia Petals, but belongs to the same olfactory demographic - a polite, dainty, barely there white floral.

As you can imagine, I thought Fiore di Riso would be an ideal contender to present to Mr Bonkers for his critique. I have been on a bit of a roll, frankly, since the surprise hit of Le Labo Labdanum 18, and was quietly hopeful that he couldn't object to this one.

"Is it soap? It's not bad. It's inoffensive."


"Yup, I guess in your terms an 'inoffensive' from me counts as a raging endorsement."

(He means compared with "fly spray", "craft shop", "eugh, take it away!" and "GET OUT OF THE ROOM NOW!")

Yes, and "inoffensive" is a raging endorsement from me too. Let's make some noise for quiet scents!

Photo of Fiore di Riso from, photo of Stafford town centre from, photo of Victoria Park from flickr, photo of rice flower from, photo of Farmacia SS Annunziata dal 1561 shop from


Unknown said...

I love that even a river gets the anthropomorphic treatment from you :)

Wordbird said...

Ah, dear old Stafford. It has much in its favour. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Nick!

Ah well, in my defence it is called the Sow, and pigs have similar digestion systems to ours, I believe. Except that if you give them Coca Cola it is fatal, apparently.

Vanessa said...

Hi Wordbird,

Including a Pizza Express now! And the nice old Post Office in the house Sheridan used to live in is being converted into a seriously swish restaurant. Goodness knows who will eat there. Stafford is mostly wall to wall Baltis.

You are welcome to come up and visit your old haunts any time!

Unknown said...

Hi right back Vanessa!
You do not need to defend yourself - it always makes me laugh (in a good way!) :)
Ohh I do like Pizza Express, do they still make Pollo ad Astra? That was my favourite.

Carol said...

Bonks I cannot wait to come visit your Stafford, and you my dear have taught me to enjoy (if I can nuance, but not nearly as well as you) the wispy scents and I'm ever thankful for you for that!

Vanessa said...

Hi Nick,

You are quite right about my not needing to defend myself, and I do know that really!
: - ) I was mostly having fun with some cross-species intestinal comparisons. We and pigs are both monogastric, it seems.

Pizza Express still do that pizza you mention, though I always go for a salad, haha! My friend has the Bosco and I have the Nostrana with egg, chicken and avocado. Then my friend has no dressing, and I have hers ie the one that comes with her dish, not mine!

Vanessa said...

Hi BF,

It would be lovely to have you come and visit Wisp Central...

Wordbird lived here as a student, would you believe?, about four streets down from mine, and I had no idea. It only took me 20 years to get my act together and meet her in Switzerland instead!

Angela Cox said...

This sounds lovely for the Summer .I can take loud ,strong ,cat fights of scents ( probably because my sense of smell is working at 25% due to constant nasal problems ). I won some rather interesting things on E:Bay yesterday . I will tell you later . Mr Angie is being very annoying at the moment . I too keep asking his opinion on new scents and they are "quite nice" , " alright" and so on. I follow the trail of the Carven Vetyver , I bought him, every morning making sighing noises .

Anonymous said...

I think our husbands would take an instant liking towards each other, as burdened as they are with our scent obsession. They have a similar stash of favorite phrases to bond over. ;)
I eyed Fiore di Riso on First in Fragrance the other day, so glad you reviewed it. I was hoping for more steamy rice and foody warmth than white flowers is just as well, no need for another lemming.

Perfumeshrine said...

Absolutely fun making everything stand out into a lyric and satiric spin by your crafty pen.
Stafford looks as nice as ever, it's been years since I been there.

Suzanne said...

Echoing the sentiments of previous commenters, I can only say you are too much fun, Vanessa! (And by too much, I mean just the right amount!)

I absolutely loved reading about your town. I've been toying with the idea of writing about mine, too.

Also, I'm another fan of Christian Dior New Look 1947. This probably sounds somewhat incredible given most of my perfume tastes, but believe it or not, it's true. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Angela,

LOL at "loud, strong cat fight scents" - I know a few which would fit that description. And I am sorry that Mr Angie (I like that name too!) is not more forthcoming with his comments on the perfumes you ask him to assess, but at least he doesn't ask you to leave the room...

: - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

You are dead right about our menfolk - they would have lots of notes to compare. Mr Bonkers' most obscure phrase to date is: "the customer toilets at the back of the craft shop".

You are quite right about the lack of steamy rice - better off with Tan Giudicelli Annam for that - or Michel Comte Shared Water, or that Ego Facto one, the name of which escapes me!

Vanessa said...

Hi Perfumeshrine,

Thanks for saying I have a "crafty pen" - my idea of fun can be cringeworthy sometimes, I freely admit - well, the titles, anyway!

And you have been to Stafford - wow! I have been many times to Greece, but there again, it is a bona fide tourist destination. : - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for that! Do write about your town some time - I am always interested to read about places in America.

And I am glad to meet another fan of New Look 1947. Sanitised it may be, but I love it.

: - )

Vanessa said...


Poopoo Pidoo, that's the one!

lovethescents said...

Hi V! I'm so glad you're enjoying Fiore di Riso so much...I thought you would, considering our rice-themed loves (minus Annam for you, of course ;-i)

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

Ah yes, I think Annam was too ricey, somehow, though my memory is fuzzy now. Unless it was our old friend heliotrope - as in my enemy.

: - )

lovethescents said...

I think it's the heliotrope, although it is minimal in there! Can't believe you got rid of that!!

Vanessa said...

It was to you, though - isn't that a good thing?!

: - )

lovethescents said...

No, it wasn't to me! How quickly we forget...I'll email you....

Vanessa said...

Aha - the truth is in between, then - one Annam went to you and one to a US-based swapper. Though you are quite right, I could have kept it...