My Favorite Linden Perfumes and the Eternal Question: To Back Up or Not To Back Up?

Being a fan of floral perfumes, I like many flowers and blossoms and enjoy many perfumes in that genre. But if by some cruel turn of events I were to choose just a single floral note for my perfumes, it would probably be linden.

Partially it is the scent itself, partially an emotional response to memories associated with it, but linden holds a special place in my mental olfactory catalog.

Linden Blossom

Years ago I did a couple of posts on the topic (In the Search of the Perfect Linden linked to above and Take 2). I can’t say that I found an ultimate linden perfume then or since: real tree in full bloom smells so much better than any perfume I’ve ever tried, but until anything even more realistic is created, I have two perfumes that come close, about which I want to remind you and warn you.

Linden and Perfumes: Jo Malone French Lime Blossom and April Aromatics Unter den Linden

French Lime Blossom from Jo Malone is one of the oldest perfumes in my collection that I still love and wear. People who are not familiar with the smell of linden blossom often talk about citrus component and sweetness from the (provided by Fragrantica but not mentioned by the brand) beeswax note while both of the facets are characteristic of the true linden blossom.

I was very sad to learn that French Lime Blossom has been discontinued (a kind reader informed me and then an SA at Heathrow airport Jo Malone duty-free store confirmed the news). You can still buy a bottle online from large department stores’ sites but it is the remaining stock. Jo Malone website does not have it any longer, so once gone I doubt it’ll ever be resurrected: it’s not one of those anemic “blossoms” they’ve produced in the recent years and keep redressing in pretty bottles. I’ve got a back-up bottle of French Lime Blossom but I would have been much happier knowing that it is still in production.

Rusty and April Aromatics Unter den Linden

In the Take 2 post I mentioned the second linden-centric perfume I discovered – April Aromatics Unter den Linden. Since nobody usually checks links to older posts, I’ll cite what I wrote back then:

It’s a very pretty perfume and I take back my original impression that Unter den Linden smelled like a more lemon-y version on one of my favorites Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom. Unter den Linden is lighter, more refined and blended more seamlessly than French Lime Blossom (I still like the latter though). What makes me unhappy is the price: however beautiful, this perfume isn’t unique enough or using really expensive and rare ingredients to justify to me $7/ml price for EdP. But if it weren’t for that I’d love to add a bottle of Unter den Linden to my collection. I still might.

And I did: once April Aromatics started offering a smaller bottle (15 ml), I bought one a year ago. It was the first all-natural perfume in my collection. Unter den Linden has a recognizable linden note but I wish it had a bit more of that sweet floral component of the real blossom. I also have a concern that all-natural perfumes might not be for me even if I like them because even with proper storage (cool closet, out of light), just a year after I bought it, I can smell changes in Under den Linden: there is a hint of dry linden blossom – the one that is used for tea. I do not dislike it but I’m afraid it’s a sign that my perfume turns, and I do not wear it often enough. I guess back-up bottles of Unter den Linden would be out of question, no matter what. Interestingly, the remaining French Lime Blossom in my 10 years old bottle is still fine.

So if you are, like me, mostly used to mixed media perfumes, go check on anything all-natural you might have and start enjoying those perfumes before it’s too late.

Linden Tea

Images: my own

 

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Are you a Perfume Extrovert or Introvert?

When asked about their perfume hobby some people admit that they are open and outgoing about it, others are secretive – not to be ridiculed, get disapproval or just because they are very private. I’m not sure if personality types are directly connected to how we communicate our love of perfume to the world or if it has a more complex correlation but there are definitely Perfume Introverts and Perfume Extroverts. I am the latter.

Rusty "extrovert"

I was sharing my love for perfume long before I discovered Perfumeland or started this blog. I would talk about new [mainstream] releases with friends and co-workers who expressed any interest in perfumes. I would be finding best online deals when somebody was looking for something (that was in pre- and early-Google times). And I would always try to recruit more followers into this not so secret society.

My tally? Not counting minor wins here and there, I have three success stories.

Two friends – one of whom has never worn perfumes before (because they all were too perfume-y) and one who did it very sporadically – under my influence and with my help found perfumes to love and wear. Interestingly, for both of them those were Jo Malone‘s perfumes – Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Vanilla & Anise and Black Vetyver Café for one of them and Wild Fig & Cassis and French Lime Blossom for the other. That’s why I’m persuaded that Jo Malone is a great “starter house.”

My best friend L., who lives half the world away from me, for many years stayed faithful to her signature scent – GF Ferre Lei-Her. After it got discontinued for a while she was able to find another bottle. When she couldn’t find it any longer, she started exploring the current offerings (very-very mainstream), got completely disappointed (who wouldn’t!) and almost swore off perfume. Last year when I visited her I brought with me more than a dozen samples and decants. That was the first time L. realized that there was something beyond pink fruitchulies that invaded the market. After that we went together to the high(er)-end perfume store (the one she was too intimidated to visit on her own before). There L. surprised me: while she did like some of the perfumes I suggested her to try – Prada Infusion d’Iris, Guerlain Champs-Élysées and Cartier Baiser Volé – she absolutely loved Juliette Has A Gun Midnight Oud and a couple of Montale‘s perfumes – not the most obvious choice for a newbie. She keeps exploring and I’m sure she’s on the right track now.

During her recent visit Suzanne (Eiderdown Press) told me one of her success stories. I liked it so much that I asked Suzanne to write it up to share with you. She did:

My friend M is someone I met in a writing group. It wasn’t even a group, there were only three of us, so we got to know each other fairly well in the space of a year—our literary tastes and styles, first and foremost. M wrote both fiction and poetry, and while her fiction was a poignant lens that allowed one to gain insight into the workings of a person’s mind (into the minds of characters who represented the baffling array of human behaviors), her poetry was different: it was more personal and sensual and often seemed to speak of “home”—of the rites of passage that sisters go through together, or the memories of a stepmother who’d been in Europe at the end of World War II, for instance. Given the nature of her writing—its private turning-point moments that hinge on such things as the remembrance of her stepmother giving M her first ‘perm’ (the smell of the hair perming solution, the fitful way she felt about it, and how it became an anchor for stories her stepmother told during this session)—I was rather surprised at the disinterested reaction I got from her when I first started talking about perfume.

By this time, our writing trio had disbanded because our other friend had moved away, and I was taking a break from fiction to start a perfume blog. I remember M’s puzzled look as she questioned how one would go about writing about perfume—and the look of even deeper puzzlement (the slight snicker and firm wave-off of her hand) when I asked if she’d like to sample some perfumes. I forget her reasons for declining my offer, so perhaps it’s unfair of me to surmise, but I got the distinct feeling that she saw perfume as something that would clash with her professional image (as a senior lecturer at the nearby university, teaching women’s studies and writing). Maybe because I was in the early stages of perfume infatuation … well, I’m not sure why I felt this deep conviction, but I did: I felt that anyone who wrote as M did would have to love perfume—would understand its deep connection to memory, to sensuality, to individuality. If she’d been a science fiction writer, I wouldn’t have bothered to try to convert her, but in November 2007, just before Thanksgiving, when the first snowflakes were floating in the air, I decanted some Chanel Coromandel for her, calling it “an early Christmas present” when we met for lunch. She accepted it graciously but skeptically—and I made sure to be nonchalant. I told her she could give it back if it didn’t suit her—that I simply thought it had a beautiful frankincense note that might appeal. In my head, though, I was convinced that it would be airy enough not to frighten her, and at the same time, have a sense of gravity that would appeal to her serious side—and I was right. M fell deeply for Coromandel and within a few days was requesting other perfume samples. Now, six and a half years later, she has a few other favorites (Montale Black Aoud is one) but Coromandel is pretty much her signature scent.

Hajusuuri, a guest writer on my blog, also agreed to share her success story:

Many years ago, more years than I care to remember, my sister and I went to Boston on vacation. For two shopaholics, there was no better place to window-shop than posh Newbury Street where we chanced upon a small perfumery. While we were not into perfumes, we browsed around anyway. If memory serves me right, that shop sold only custom-blended essential oils, which were available only in roll-on bottles. My sister bought several while I left without purchasing anything. Year after year, she would call the store to place an order to replenish. In 2008, she said that the perfumery moved to Colorado but that she was still able to call Dawn to place her order for China Rain blend and French Lily.

I fell down the rabbit hole around 2010-2011 and have grown a too-big collection of mainstream and indie/niche perfumes. In 2011, I somehow managed to convince my sister that she should expand her perfume horizon and consider checking out better mainstream perfumes because her little perfumery probably moved to Colorado due to a business slow-down, that it probably could not afford to stay in Boston and who knows for how much longer it will be open. Since then, she had acquired Elie Saab, Jo Malone Black Vetyver Café, Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede and Cartier Baiser Vole Essence – a pretty decent collection, don’t you think?

But wait! There’s more!

When Undina first suggested a Success Stories post, I immediately thought of my sister as my success story. Curious as to whether or not I could figure out the name of the perfumery that moved to Colorado, I googled “Newbury Perfume Colorado”. The first entry from that search yielded “Essence Studio – Boulder Colorado”. Clicking through to the entry and then the Visit Website link, I was shocked to be redirected to DSH Perfumes. The “Dawn” my sister spoke with to place her orders turned out to be none other than American perfumer extraordinaire, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz!

Now excuse me while I go sit in the timeout corner…

Rusty "introvert"

Are you a Perfume Extrovert or a Perfume Introvert? Have you converted anybody?

Share your success stories in comments (or give a link to your posts on the topic).

 

Images: my own

WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden

Early summer of my High school graduation year. Blooming linden trees in the downtown of the city where I lived. Bitter-sweet scent fills the air. Bitter-sweet feelings overflow me: I’m done with all the tests and school is almost over; he doesn’t love me anymore and isn’t coming to my graduation party. Even though I asked him to do it as a favor from a friend; even though I wasn’t creating any drama and behaved very mature (well, that was how I imagined behaving mature): most of our mutual friends had no idea we broke up more than two months ago, we didn’t want to complicate the group’s dynamic.

My heart was broken; it felt like the end of the world. And at the same time I fully realized it wasn’t the end of the world. But I hurt and it felt lonely and empty at the moment.

I remember walking the streets, inhaling the bitter scent of linden blossom and wanting to be happy… It was a very abstract thought. I didn’t define what exactly “happy” would mean, I didn’t have any specific wishes; I just wanted to change that one component of my life. I was longing for a combination of a warm evening, problems left behind, wonderful bitter scent of linden and a feeling of a complete happiness.

Many years later, while I still knew almost nothing about perfumes other than that I enjoyed using them and a couple of the most known brands and names, I thought it would be great to get a perfume that smelled like linden. You can imagine how much luck I had in late nineties asking SAs in department stores for this specific note in perfumes. Several years later I tried running Internet searches for that scent and again didn’t succeed.

French Lime Blossom by Jo Malone – created in 2005, notes include bergamot, tarragon, French Lime Blossom and some generic “floral notes”. This was the first Jo Malone’s colognes with which I went beyond samples. I bought a small 9 ml bottle of it. I do not remember if I liked it the most out of all I tested then or if I just happened to get a good deal on it, but I got it and enjoyed it … for a year (or even more) before I learned that the perfume I liked was actually based on the note I was looking for. I had no idea that French lime blossom and linden blossom were synonyms. I won’t even claim English not being my mother tongue because as I’ve learned since then many natives think French Lime is just some variety of citrus. Does it smell citrus-y? Not at all. But I wasn’t analyzing the scent, I liked it and wore often. I didn’t recognize it but after I knew what it was supposed to be, I could agree that it somewhat reminded me of a linden blossom. French Lime Blossom has an average sillage and a surprising tenacity – it stays on my skin for more than 8 hours with a very distinct smell, not just the remaining base notes.

This month I again decided to combine my Weeklong Test Drive and Single Note Exploration posts, so here are several more linden-centered perfumes I had a chance to test.

Linden by Demeter – as many Demeter’s creations this one is a soliflore. I couldn’t find any information on when it was created. All I can say, it’s an uncomplicated, slightly chemical scent that survives for two-two and a half hours on my skin. It’s too simple for me to want to wear it alone but I found at least one interesting combination for it.

Tilleul by Provence Sante (EauMG – thank you for the sample) – no information on notes or creation date available. This perfume doesn’t work for me. On my skin it smells too sweet. For some reason when I smell it I think of pollen. Tilleul lasts for about three hours and then goes away leaving just that slightly nauseating sweet scent. Since I read many good reviews of the perfume I assume it’s my body chemistry to blame.

When I first read about the upcoming release of Andy Tauer’s linden blossom theme perfume I was very excited. I didn’t have a good reason to expect to like it (since so far I found just one Tauer’s perfumes that works for me out of five I tested) but I had a hope. I was lucky to win a sample from Scent less Sensibilities (Tarleisio, thank you – I enjoyed the excercise) and was waiting anxiously for it to arrive, I even postponed this post to allow myself to wear it two-three times before reaching a verdict.

Zeta by Tauer Perfumes – created in 2011, notes include lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, ylang, orange blossom, neroli, linden blossom, rose, iris root, sandalwood and vanilla. The first time I applied it I was very disappointed: it smelled nothing like linden blossom to me (I’m not sure why I was surprised since for the life of me I cannot smell lily-of-the-valley in Carillon pour un Ange). But I was insistent. I kept trying it again and again – alone and alongside with other linden perfumes. I still do not smell enough linden but I rather like the scent than not. It’s the best perfume – as a perfume – among all I tested for this post. It’s very complex, unique and fascinating. As many (all?) Andy’s perfumes are. I like it as a scent that I test. I’m not sure if I want to wear it as a perfume. And I am sad: I like that green pentagonal bottle and really hoped I would love the scent enough to warrant a full bottle purchase. I didn’t. In addition to everything said, Zeta completely dies on my skin after just four hours of wearing. All five previously tested Tauer’s creations “wore me” (I don’t remember who was the author of the phrase but when I read in some blog “I wasn’t wearing the perfume; the perfume was wearing me” I felt it described exactly how I felt for most Andy’s perfumes and especially those that didn’t work for me).

I haven’t found the perfect linden perfume yet and I’ll keep looking. But recently I bought a nice tea with linden. It reminds me of the linden flower tea that my grandmother used to harvest from the linden tree in her garden. In my childhood it was used as an herbal analog of Theraflu.

Read more: French Lime Blossom review at I Smell Therefore I Am, Tilleul review and Loving Linden from EauMG; reviews for Zeta at Perfume Shrine, the Non-Blonde, Perfume Posse and WAFT.

Image: my own

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone