The axiom “absence makes the heart grow fonder” rarely gets a workout when it comes to my favorite perfumers. Only in a very few cases do I wait very long for something new to be produced. One of those perfumers who by his absence does make my heart pick up a few beats when he decides to turn to perfume again is Michel Roudnitska. M. Roudnitska has made a grand total of twelve perfumes since 2000. Number twelve is the second fragrance by him for the new brand Grandiflora called Madagascan Jasmine.
Saskia Havekes outside her store Grandiflora (Photo: Nikki To for The Design Files)
Grandiflora is the brand owned and creatively directed by Sydney, Austalia florist Saskia Havekes. Ms. Havekes’ experience with artistic floral arrangements has led to her wanting to design fragrances every bit as original. The first two perfumes released in 2013 examined magnolia from the viewpoint of two different perfumers; M. Roudnitska and Sandrine Videault. M. Roudnitska’s version, Magnolia Grandiflora Michel, had a very expansive quality to it which I compared to Gauguin’s paintings while in Tahiti. Madagascan Jasmine is the opposite as it is a very tightly controlled experience. While it has its moments where it is big; it spends most of its time in an introspective place. It is here where M. Roudnitska passes a few different influences past the central jasmine followed by observation at what happens. This is a probing technique full of precise movements as together we use these interactions to explore the nature of jasmine.
Madagascan Jasmine does not have a traditional three phases of development. M. Roudnitska places his source of jasmine front and center. This is full spectrum jasmine, very heady showing off its narcotic floralcy along with its skanky heartbeat. This is the kind of jasmine I live for in perfume as I don’t want it civilized I want it full of life. That is what M. Roudnitska delivers. Over the next few hours the very few other notes interact with this jasmine. First up is a translucent green accord. Jasmine is night blooming and I associate it with the latest part of the evening as the mist begins to settle on its petals and the grass below has a muted feel. This is the early moments of Madagascan Jasmine as if you’ve discovered a vine of fully bloomed jasmine growing just outside your window at 4AM. This is as good as a jasmine soliflore gets and if it stayed here it would have been enough. M. Roudnitska has something else in mind as he begins to add a series of musks to the proceedings. A clean laundry musk provides a foil for the indoles. By adding in freshness it almost seems like it provokes a response from the indoles. Next comes one of the more animalic musks and this accentuates the floralcy while it harmonizes with the indoles. The musk here provides a thrumming backbeat for the incredibly sweet nature to rise up on top of it. Finally there is a sweet honeyed musk which provides the final bit of perspective as it pulls together all that has come before into a complete accord which captures a complex whole.
Madagascan Jasmine has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
It would be fair to say I wish M. Roudnitska was more prolific. On the other hand it is the time he spends away from perfumery pursuing the other passions in his life which I believe makes his perfumes so special. M. Roudnitska spends his life observing as much of it as he can from differing points of view. When that is applied to designing a perfume the result is something as wonderful as Madagascan Jasmine. It is among the finest jasmine soliflores I have tried.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Grandiflora.