Two jasmines, both alike in dignity...

Strange: I used to be so leery of jasmine. I told myself it was too overpowering, too scary, too suggestive of a long slide into sex (whoot!) and death (wait!). But over the last year, I've found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the mysteries of this note. Joy, Yin Hao, Calcutta, Samsara, Sophia, Crushed, LouLou, Opardu-- I've gone from never wearing jasmine at all to eagerly trying it whenever it crosses my path. I may not have reached the obsession point just yet... but give me a year or so.

A year would be a drop in the bucket compared to the ten years of dedicated searching it took Carol of WAFT to track down a genuine vintage bottle of Özbek, the eponymous 'fume of Turkish textile designer Rifat Özbek. Released in 1995 but given only limited release here in the US prior to a sad demise, Özbek still seems to crop up frequently on eBay, although it's hard to say whether those minaret bottles are 'for real' or 'faux real'. My sample came from a reliable source (Undina) and is perfectly splendid.

Isn't confiture de fleurs de jasmin one of the central accords of the new L'Artisan? Having never had the pleasure of sampling either, I imagine a jam made out of jasmine would taste the way Özbek smells: honey and white petals simmered down to concentrated sweetness, to be enjoyed with restraint equal to one's ecstasy. For even if Özbek were as readily available as Love's Baby Soft, by nature it's not the type of treat to serve up by the bowlful. A touch of this perfume is all it takes to bathe in wafts of bliss all the livelong day. Its peach note is especially fresh and optimistic, and the jasmine-freesia-mock orange combination conjures up visions of tropical beaches where gentle breezes blow.

Why Özbek fell by the wayside I will never know.  (Honestly, what's not to like?) But every moment of the decade Carol dedicated to finding it would have to be called time well spent.

If Özbek is the daytime face of jasmine, it's fair to balance this review off with an equal dose of twilight... and I have the perfect creature-of-the-night in mind. At last year's Sniffapalooza Fall Ball, Patty delivered into my hands a boxed flacon of old-school Lili Bermuda 'Bermuda Jasmine' cologne. Having wandered through the Lili Bermuda garden two summers ago, I was excited to finally encounter one of this 85-year-old perfumery's vintage offerings... but compared to the clean, hale profile of their current scent library, this sexy, sultry, unexpurgated fragrance came as a total curveball.

Spraying it on a blotter hardly keeps you safe from Bermuda Jasmine's indoles, which are ferocious. Even from paper, they leap right up, throw themselves into your arms and start cooing "Zou Bisou Bisou". There is no mitigating 'clean' aspect here to tame them, no line-dried-laundry note to make this racy flower seem more domesticated. This is the jasmine most likely to greet the milkman at the door wearing nothing but pearls, heels, a gauzy apron and a smile.

Even after you throw the blotter away, that little chanteuse keeps warbling its siren song for hours. I really had to build up my courage before finally spraying Bermuda Jasmine on my skin, but once it was there, I found some very intriguing smoky-green notes including something that smells quite a bit like wild thyme. I can't imagine wearing it every day-- but for some fragrances, nighttime is indeed the right time.

Since then, I've stumbled across other bottles of Bermuda Jasmine in various antique stores-- as if everywhere, all at once, the jasmine season of 1970 has finally arrived via time machine. I hope its sudden proliferation in the aisles of thriftdom is not a sign of cultural rejection. If society is turning its back on everything that good old dirty jasmine stands for, I shudder to think what the future will hold-- a lot of white musk and Febreze, I should imagine.

Scent Elements: Jasmine, greens (Bermuda Jasmine Cologne); peach, freesia, pittosporum, jasmine, ylang-ylang, hyacinth, rosewood, honey, musk (Özbek Eau de Parfum)