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 fragrantica.com, photo of Stafford town centre from yourlocalweb.co.uk, photo of Victoria Park from flickr, photo of rice flower from flash-screen.com, photo of Farmacia SS Annunziata dal 1561 shop from alessionesi.it