Jasmine, old and new

Jasmine, old and new

Jasmine is the sexiest flower. One could make the argument given that jasmine has reportedly been used as an aphrodisiac dating back to Ancient Egypt.

More recently, the Victorians likewise associated it with the flesh: its heady scent was considered too potent for anyone other than courtesans and working ladies. Delicate floral fragrances, after all, were the mode in the 1800s for the civilized set.

But lusty jasmine has returned to vogue. Not that it ever really went away. Post Victoria, the bloom has become one of perfumery’s most popular. Susan Irvine, in her book Perfume: The Creation and Allure of Classic Fragrances, reports that approximately 83 percent of all women’s spritzes contain jasmine or a synthetic version thereof. (She says more than 30 percent of men’s fragrances contain the essence of the white flower too.)

Why the appeal? And why especially now? Like many white flowers, jasmine contains indole, a molecule that gives the flower its drunken, almost animal-like fleshy scent. So you have a white floral perfume but with guts and nerve. How fitting for the modern day.

Not that various legendary perfumes don’t boast a defining amount of jasmine—Chanel No.5, Joy by Jean Patou, J’Adore by Dior. But it’s no surprise that this year’s fragrance roster is full of the heady jasmine-laden note.

Jasmine, redefined

Coach Love spins jasmine in a new direction with warm musk. Top notes include mandarin, dewberry, green violet and freesia; heart notes mix magnolia, jasmine and gardenia; and the base marries sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, caramel and musk. EDP, $72 (50 ml), www.coach.com

Chanel 1932 comes inspired by diamonds, which Mademoiselle Chanel revered as they “represent the greatest value in the smallest volume.” Perfumer Jacques Polge mixed jasmine, “the diamonds of the fragrance world,” with vetiver and iris to create this elegant new classic. EDT, $145 (75 ml), www.chanel.com

Guerlain Idylle Duet combines lilac with jasmine to create a powdery floral fragrance; the choice of Calabrian jasmine is also worth noting as it delivers a distinct but subtle hint of fruit to the toilette. EDP, $106 (50 ml), www.guerlain.com

L’Occitane Jasmin & Bergamote—part of the brand’s new Grasse Collection—counters the richness of jasmine with sparkling bergamot. The result: a refined four-season floral ideal for modern-minded white flower lovers. EDT, $75 (75 ml), www.loccitane.ca

Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle. This powdery medley smells positively luxurious thanks to a sophisticated blending of Egyptian jasmine with oriental and citrus notes such as Calabrian bergamot and lemon oils, saffron, nutmeg and clove; sandalwood oil, patchouli, violet wood; vanilla, sacrasol, Peruvian balm and musk. $300 (100 ml), www.fredericmalle.com

What’s your favourite jasmine-laced fragrance? Let us know!

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This article was written by

Ash is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She loves testing out all the latest beauty products and is currently working her way through a 27-fragrance rotation and has more pink lipsticks, neon Post-its and daily cups of coffee than the average human. When she’s not wading through the beauty aisles of her local Shoppers, you can catch her at a yoga class or watching endless hours of Netflix.