By Deborah Fulsang 30 DAYS OF FALL FRAGRANCE: AUTUMN SCENTS…
Wish peonies bloomed all year? A peony perfume could help with that.
In Chinese culture, the peony is a symbol of happiness, grace and prosperity. More broadly, the bloom is iconically feminine and a symbol of beauty. One quick flip through Instagram and Pinterest gives testament to our continued love affair with it these hundreds, if not thousands, of years later.
The peony is beloved by florists and perfumers alike—not to mention amateur gardeners the world over.
I walk into my garden early on a June morning, and the subtle sweet perfume of my peony plants greets me. The flower is so elegant at first bloom, especially when the blossoms unfurl beside big gorgeous buds all perfect and round. And then, they burst into full glory, all blousy and loose and live-for-the-moment.
I also love that they come with ants. It makes the peony’s beauty that much more profound when seen with those creepy-crawly minions sipping away on the sweet nectar of their buds.
Alas, the peony’s glory is short-lived: a few short weeks and then gone. Of course, that must be part of why we love them so. That rarity. But a peony perfume could change all of that.
The flower has enjoyed a resurgence of late with many fragrance brands embracing its signature sweet floral character.
In Giorgio Armani Privé Pivoine Suzhou, the flower’s notes are divine and dewy. The perfume is soft but with a subtle spice and warmth. Tangerine, pink pepper and raspberry meld with a heart of peony and rose; and then there’s the glow of amber, musk and patchouli. The perfumer’s hand is light and disciplined though, and the result is a peony spritz for the refined and aesthetically inclined.
More playful is Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede. It celebrates peony, but the party is lighter and there’s greenness in here too: Peony notes combine with a crisp and juicy apple accord as well as jasmine, rose and honey.
In a similar vein, but crisper and greener is L’Occitane Pivoine Flora.
Then comes Narciso Eau de Parfum Poudrée, with its peony in combination with jasmine and rose, but there’s also black and white cedar to give brightness. We also smell something warmer akin to vanilla as this wears down, but that could be the cedar wood drying. We imagine these peonies are the palest of pink and are sitting in a sublimely simple glass vase, in a perfectly appointed all-white room. A perfume palate cleanser of sorts.
The peony in Chloe Eau de Parfum is different still: Peonies with roses and lychee make this a flirty modern scent. We love its lightness and transparency and yes, its wearability.
A peony for all seasons
So embrace the magic of fragrance for its ability to bring the beauty of this flower to us year-round. A spritz or two of a lovely peony-hearted fragrance will do its best to transport you back to that June garden even in the depths of winter. Or scent your home or office with a peony-scented candle and channel a bit of that early-summer atmosphere during those dark days of February. It’s worth a try. And far less expensive than a trip south.
Armani Prive Pivoine Suzhou EDT, $170 (100 ml), www.holtrenfrew.com
L’Occitane Pivoine Flora, $55 (75 ml), www.loccitane.com
Narciso Eau de Parfum Poudree (not shown above), $130 (90 ml), www.thebay.com
Chloe Eau de Parfum, $145 (75 ml), www.thebay.com
Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede, $125 (100 ml), www.jomalone.com