Fleurs de Bulgarie (Creed)

Commissioned as a surprise birthday present for her beloved husband, a certain Winterhalter portrait of Queen Victoria reveals not a regal sovereign, but a woman full of fire and passion. Unruly locks of hair escape her coiffure, cascading over her shoulders. Only in the privacy of the conjugal bedchamber would the 24-year-old Queen have thus let her hair down. Obviously this painting is a visual billet-doux created exclusively for Albert's eyes-- its romanticism anchored safely within the propriety of marriage.

Composed for Victoria in 1845 by the venerable house of Creed, Fleurs de Bulgarie -- a free-spirited scent for an intensely feminine woman -- likewise hints at unrestrained delights to be enjoyed when backs are turned. I envision the tiny Queen blowing through her court like a rose-scented sirocco-- her ceremonial dress correct down to the last ribbon, but the scent of Fleurs de Bulgarie billowing like a banner of youth in her wake.

The rose that predominates FdB is, as promised, of the deep cerise Damascene variety-- velvety petals as soft as a lover's lips. It permits bergamot exactly three seconds to sound a fanfare before demanding that it step aside. This, after all, is a royal rose to which all other notes must defer-- except ambergris, whose sexy-salty tang reminds even a Queen of her susceptibility to tender emotions. The overall effect is of girlish joy contained (not suppressed) for a time and place when it may be set free. Did Victoria wear Fleurs de Bulgarie to state functions as did Jacqueline Kennedy wore Jicky-- to poke gentle fun at all the stuffed shirts? Or did its essence form the backbone of a private language between Queen and Consort? (Later, my love... later...)

My sample of FdB came from Bloody Frida, who must have known that the thirst for emancipation can strike a girl at any age. I put off wearing it over the winter, reckoning that I'd need it more keenly at that precarious moment when spring seems to withhold itself, coming close without fully committing, taunting us with its coy approach. That moment has stretched into an entire week, during which I've discharged my obligations to not one but two library programs while outside the rain falls and falls. Throughout it all, Fleurs de Bulgarie helped me keep my head above the waterline. (Thank you, dear Frida!)

Scent Elements: Bergamot, rosa damascena, musk, ambergris