Sunday, 28 February 2016

Mimosa pour toi: Etro Rajasthan, and another tale of perfumed pedal power

Photo courtesy of Clare Chick
Back in 2008, I stood at the L'Artisan Parfumeur counter in a branch of Le Bon Marche in Paris for a good fifteen minutes, poised to make my very first purchase of a niche perfume. I was agonising between L'Ete en Douce, whose (as it turned out) fleeting linden note was reeling me in, and Mimosa pour Moi, a cheery puff of lemon sherbety-ness, which reminded me of my year living on the Riviera: of Mardi Gras parades at just this time of year, of an eclectic chickpea pancake called Soca, and of clouds of pale yellow blossom of mimosa trees in full cry. Reader, I plumped for L'Ete en Douce, and lived to regret its long tail of laundry musk at my leisure. In the end, it was only fit for stealth perfuming ex-Mr Bonkers in his sleep, and I eventually managed to lose it in a swap.

So the mimosa scent that got away has haunted me ever since, and I will always investigate any new mimosa-forward perfume whose path I cross.

Enter my friend Clare (again). Clare has made a number of appearances on the blog, while her 'calendar girl' spaniel Meg was the subject of my first guest post in Cafleurebon in 2010. Over on Bonkers there was her sodden 100 mile cycle ride for rhinos, when she wore Sarah McCartney's 'Eau de Wiggo' to spur her on, a couple of posts on sessions of Cake Club, one on her perfume j***ney, and a 'through the keyhole' look at her current scent wardrobe. And a few more posts besides, but that's quite enough hyperlinks for one paragraph.

Source: Etro

Then just the other week, Clare undertook another marathon cycle ride in India. I say 'another', because she went on a similar 'holiday' (my inverted commas) to Kerala last February, to mark the occasion of her 50th birthday. Having bonded so comprehensively with the two couples up with whom(!) she had been teamed, they invited her to come back this year and do another ride with them, this time in Rajasthan, a northerly province bordering Pakistan.

On hearing the name Rajasthan, I immediately went rummaging in my collection for a sample of the Etro perfume of that name, which Undina had given me some time previously. Here is her own take on the scent, and how she finally came to own a bottle. ;)  (NB I deliberately didn't read any reviews until I had written this post.) I remembered liking Rajasthan very well on first trying it - and was also hugely drawn to images of the sumptuous Paisley-patterned bottle - but I had sort of forgotten about it meanwhile, if I am perfectly honest. My vague recall was of something soft, and comforting, yet bright and slightly spicy, maybe citrusy - and that was about it.

So I gave Clare the remains of my sample, and on 12.2 off she went...

Lake Pichola ~ Photo courtesy of Clare Chick

Clare's Facebook updates were very sparse over the course of that week, but early in their itinerary she posted a photo of Lake Pichola. Lake Pichola?! Why, I could have given her a sample of Neela Vermeire's Pichola as well had I known. There followed a hiatus of about five days, so I was delighted to see her pop up again:

"It's my birthday and I have wifi! This is us at the end of our journey, which finished with a hard, seven-hour ride today.
400 miles.
9 dead dogs
2 dead men
0 hot water
I am SHATTERED and a bit discombobulated."

To which I replied: "But not too discombobulated to spell discombobulated, which I take as a good sign."

Photo courtesy of Clare Chick

The homeward journey was extremely fraught, however, owing to public unrest, which caused severe travel disruption:

"Have just arrived at Delhi airport, 15 hours after setting off. Apparently the riots have spread and some protesters have been killed. Transport, as a result, is chaotic. The roads to the airport are lined with soldiers.

I don't want to think about the train. Or the bus. I had an enormous gentleman slumped, snoring, right on top of me, all the way from Jodhpur to Delhi. He was too big to shove.

Next year I'm going to Wales."

Silk scarf courtesy of Jennifer Denitto (drummer in this vid)

But what of Etro Rajasthan, you may be wondering? Well, here is Clare's olfactory verdict on Rajasthan the place, and the perfume:

"As I cycled through rural Rajasthan I could smell insect repellent, sun lotion, chamois cream, curry, desperation, and death on the breeze. With an undertone of sewage.

I love the perfume though, Vanessa."

Photo courtesy of Clare Chick

Now, it so happened that Undina and I were planning another exchange of perfume packages around the time of Clare's trip, and I asked her if she could possibly make Clare another sample or small decant of Rajasthan, to remind her of her Indian 'holiday' - and to wear in Barmouth next year.

Undina kindly obliged, and also sent a small sample for me too, as I had given mine away, obviously. So last week, after hardly wearing perfume at all for work-related reasons, as previously documented, I started testing a couple of the samples Undina had sent through. First up was Jo Malone's Mimosa & Cardamom, which I absolutely loved and wore for three days straight. It deserves a post of its own really, but may not get one. And then on Day 4 I turned to Rajasthan, which I also wore for three days.

Who knew that they were both mimosa-centric perfumes? Here are the notes for Rajasthan:

Top notes: pink pepper, lemon primo fiore, polygonum 
Heart notes: cassie, mimosa, rose
Base notes: amber, musk, ciste

Source: Wikimedia Commons

(Hmm, and what's 'polygonum' when it's at home? Sounds like a crack French business school, or maybe one of those oddly shaped reception areas in a futuristic office block. "I'll meet you by the water cooler in the polygonum.")

But for me, the salient aspect in Rajasthan is the mimosa. It's like a silk sari of warm lemon meringue, with a velvet amber hem. Does it capture the essence of Rajasthan, the place? Absolutely not. Will it remind Clare of an amazing trip, with more highlights than dead dogs and dead weight fellow passengers on crowded buses? I do hope so.

And thanks to Undina, between the Jo Malone and the Etro scents, this week has also been about 'mimosa pour moi', finally...


Asali said...

" It's like a silk sari of warm lemon meringue, with a velvet amber hem. " not only does this sound poetic, I believe it to be something as rare as a Vanessa review :-D you have actually made me very interested in this one, which thanks to the clumsy name it really wasn't before. I'm very glad you got your mimosas in the end.

Undina said...

Vanessa, I'm so glad you enjoyed both of these perfumes since I like them a lot (and M&C will most likely be getting its own post on my blog soon).
Your friend is great, I admire her (though I would have never done anything like this trip!) and now we have a year to figure out how to scent her Wales trip (or wherever she decides to go once she recovers from this trip).

Ines said...

I didn't know Rajasthan was a mimosa scent. :) Now I'll check if I have a sample someplace and if not, go looking for one to try it. I do love the smell of mimosa. :)

Unknown said...

What a wonderful post, Vanessa. Loved every bit of it.

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

Haha - kind of you to say so. I must say that when that metaphor popped into my head, I thought: 'Where did that come from?', though I am not sure that it quite constitutes a review all the same. ;)

I like the name, personally, though it is not too easy to say, I agree.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I did indeed, and they cheered me right up. I look forward to reading your post on M & C. What appeals is the combination of spring cheer and winter warmth - it is a perfect transitional or 'sprinter' scent.

I laughed at the idea that we will put our heads together to scent Clare's Welsh holiday. Cycling may be involved, and hot water for sure. ;)

Vanessa said...

PS And a big thank you to you and the mule for facilitating all of this!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Yes, it took me by surprise when I found out I was enjoying two mimosa scents back to back. I could see the resemblance, certainly. If you would like this scent to smell like India you will be sorely disappointed, but in and of itself, it's prettiness - and cosy warmth - personified.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

Aw, thank you. ;) And as a seasoned traveller to Asia, I am sure you can relate to it very well.

Tara said...

Fantastic last line, V!

I've always avoided mimosa-centric perfumes believing them to be almondy. But as you seem to find them lemony maybe I should give one a try some time.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Aha - I don't care for almondy notes myself, so you can trust me on this one - and the Jo Malone.

Carol said...

Hello V: I have been wanting a mimosa, but I have to check to see if I already have one in my (fading away) collection.
I'm lemming here! ;) xo

Jennifer Wells said...

I have to admit that I am genuinely surprised that almondy notes could be disliked! For me, it's fig. I detest fig. I don't know why.

Mimosa seems like the cheeriest, although I think a sari made of lemon meringue would get a little sticky.

Unfortunately I work with someone who gets migraines easily, so perfume is out for the daytime. That makes me sad, I can see Azuree picking me up on a dreary day.

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

Hope you find you already have one, and that it is still in good nick! x

Vanessa said...

Hi Nora,

Trust me, it is possible, hehe. Now see, I love fig, so we may have the makings of a viable sample recycling loop.

Haha, yes, a lemon meringue sari doesn't bear thinking about.

Sorry you have to forgo perfume during the working day for your colleague's sake. Hope you can pile it on evenings and weekends instead.

Thinkingmagpie said...

Love mimosa. Where I used to live had a lovely mimosa tree in the garden. I miss it. I really liked Jo Malone's Mimosa & Cardamom when I tested at the store. That's definitely a possible purchase this year.

The Scentimentalist said...

Hey Doll, Mimosa Pour Moi currently going cheap in The Maxx!

Vanessa said...

Hi Yukiko,

Glad to meet a fellow mimosa fan, and hope you bag a bottle of the Jo Malone. Such a cheering note. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hey you,

I am going to investigate this weekend - I have a voucher for £17 I could put towards it if my branch has a bottle. Thanks for the tip off!

Vanessa said...

Update...They had a few l'Artisans - Voleur de Rose, Premier Figuier Extreme and another rose one I'd not come across, but no Mimosa pour Moi, sadly!

The Scentimentalist said...

Gah! I think I saw one recently. Do you wish me to pur-chayse on your behalf if I see it again?