Where we live there are huge sunflower fields. At this time of year there is a constant question on our local Facebook page, “Are the sunflowers in bloom?” Ten days ago the answer was yes. Mrs. C, the poodles and I headed out to walk through the gloriously vibrant fields. Every year I am always struck at the lack of scent of these happy flowers. It feels like Mother Nature left something out. A flower which is meant for observing and not smelling. Of course perfumery is not bound by the laws of Nature. They are free to imagine what a sunflower should smell like. Floral Street Sunflower Pop tries.
Floral Street has been one of my favorite new brands because creative director Michelle Feeney has overseen an excellent collection. One piece of it is working exclusively with perfumer Jerome Epinette. His minimalist style is an ideal match to Ms. Feeney’s vision.
Another thing that has happened is she also looks for opportunities to collaborate with outside interests to bring scent into new venues. For Sunflower Pop the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is the partner. Ms. Feeney is tasked with creating a perfume which captures the vibrancy of sunflowers in the wild and on canvas.
When you’re standing in a field of actual flowers or gazing at a Van Gogh still life the one thing which leaps out is the intense yellow of the corolla. A citrus mixture of bergamot and mandarin represent that brilliance. Of course there is the dark center and so M. Epinette adds in a touch of passionfruit to create a deeper shading to the citrus. Instead of sunlight it seems more attuned to the yellow petals.
It is the heart where the “pop” in the title occurs. M. Epinette constructs a Bellini accord with peach lactone and aldehydes. This is a fizzy piece of fun. The smile that looking at sunflowers brings to your face. Plum blossom and orris add the same kind of depth that the passionfruit did in the top accord. Together the citrus and Bellini make as audible a pop as the prosecco used to make the cocktail.
The base is focused on the sweetly animalic honey. M. Epinette uses just enough so that the subtle growl is apparent. Some musk and amber make sure it doesn’t disappear. This is that moment as the sunflower is past its peak when the snap of the early color has given way to slightly droopy gold.
Sunflower Pop has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Given the freedom of imagination Ms. Feeney and M. Epinette have created a lively vivid example of what a sunflower should smell like.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.
The desert is one of my favorite places to be. Despite having lived my whole life near the east coast and the ocean I would be happy spending the remainder in the desert. The time there was a reminder that even in the seemingly barren places beauty is found on its own terms. My favorite activity at night when camping is to use my binoculars to stargaze. With little light pollution no fancy telescope is necessary to view the majesty of the galaxy. One night the desert put on its own show for me. As I was looking up this gorgeous scent began to wind around me. I kept looking around to figure out where it was coming from. Finally I put the binoculars down and searched for the source. A few yards away was a stand of cactus with a bunch of white flowers on top. I spent the rest of the night perched on a boulder nearby enjoying the conjunction of heavens and earth.
The flower I would learn is called Queen of the Night and blooms for one night every year; usually during the fall. It comes from a variety of cactus called a vanilla cactus. There have been a few perfumes which have evoked this flower mainly using vanilla. Floral Street Arizona Bloom takes a different tack which I think comes closer to what I found that night.
Floral Street is the British brand begun and creatively directed by Michelle Feeney. Arizona Bloom is her tenth release in three years. All the fragrances have been composed by perfumer Jerome Epinette. Ms. Feeney works by giving M. Epinette a moodboard accentuating a few phrases as his brief. Because of the success of many of these perfumes I would very much like to see one of these because they hit the mark so often. For Arizona Bloom the phrase was “total freedom and high-octane living”. M. Epinette delivers something which captures that energy.
Previous attempts at capturing an accord of Queen of the Night have used vanilla. M. Epinette goes for a surprising surrogate, coconut. Using two different ingredients he converts that beachy ingredient into the Queen of the Night. This accord building happens as soon as you spray it on. The two key pieces are black pepper and low-atranol oakmoss. Black pepper is perfect because the desert has a spicy scent in the evening and this captures it. It also attenuates much of the umbrella cocktail nature of coconut. The pepper cuts it so far back it does resemble vanilla but much less confectionary-like. Then the oakmoss, missing the bite of the atranol, provided a plush green vegetal carpet for the coconut and pepper to rest upon. This is remarkably close to the scent I remember that night in the desert. M. Epinette adds in the warmth of the boulder via amber and the vault of the sky through some white musks.
Arizona Bloom has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Arizona Bloom is a classic piece of perfume accord construction. All the pieces being used come together in something almost supernatural in its beauty. Ms. Feeney and M. Epinette have created a creature of the desert night.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Floral Street.
Usually the month of August is a sleepy time here in perfume land. I am receiving lots of fall releases that I can’t write about for a month or so. The summer releases have dwindled. It usually means it is a good time to catch up. Except this time I keep getting new interesting things I can write about. The latest discovery came from my box of new releases from Sephora.
I had head about a British brand called Floral Street which debuted in 2017. It was interesting to me because perfumer Jerome Epinette was the nose behind the collection. I’ll also admit some of the names were enticing, too. I was already interested in something named Ylang Ylang Espresso, Iris Goddess, or Chypre Sublime. Although the name which most enticed me was this year’s release called Electric Rhubarb.
Electric Rhubarb was released this past May in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual Chelsea Flower Show. The brand was founded by Michelle Feeney who collaborated with M. Epinette through a series of moodboards for each fragrance. She wanted to have a light-hearted style of perfume. Based on my sampling of the nine perfumes, so far, she succeeded.
I would love to see what the moodboard was for Electric Rhubarb. Based on the press release I am guessing “bubbly, effervescent, and a little bit unexpected” might have covered it. M. Epinette interprets the “little bit unexpected” by using the rhubarb as a modulator of gardenia. Based on the name I was expecting a kinetic rhubarb. What is in the bottle is a gorgeous green velvet gardenia.
Most of the time when rhubarb is on top in a fragrance you get both the grapefruit-like quality and the green vegetal quality in equal measure. M. Epinette manages to tamp down the citrus aspect while allowing that greenness to find an ideal partner in gardenia. Gardenia in perfume also has a green vein within. It is often sharp in nature. Part of what makes a good gardenia to me. M. Epinette takes the vegetal green and uses it to soften that sharp green inherent in the gardenia. It produces this lushly textural gardenia. Not only is it plush it is also opaque. I wore this on blazing hot days, and it was never too much. The perfume lands on a base of Australian sandalwood in all its desiccated glory. It is the kind of unobtrusive platform for the soft gardenia to shine upon.
Electric Rhubarb has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
This same kind of textural alteration of floral keynotes happens throughout the Floral Street collection. There are a trio of them I will wait for a little cooler weather to review because I think they are going to be awesome in cooler weather. If you’re a fan of floral perfumes Floral Street should be an avenue you want to take a walk on; start at Electric Rhubarb.
Disclosure: This revew is based on a sample provided by Sephora.