Florissa Eau de Toilette (Floris)

Florissa emerged in 1978, the same year that Cacharel launched its blockbuster hit Anaïs Anaïs. They share a similar dry quality, as if their flowers came from a jar of potpourri rather than a garden. They also hold in common an air of crisp-starched propriety, though not to an equal degree. Anaïs Anaïs could be called a little dirtier, duskier, and smokier than Florissa, which in turn is a little dirtier, duskier, and smokier than Ombre Rose, its subsequent next-of-kin. If the Eighties hadn't come along to crush us all under the weight of Poison and Giorgio, the 'clean rose-chypre' genre just would have gotten more and more anemic until it fell at last into an eternal swoon.

Now imagine that Florissa had been created a hundred years earlier. It would be available for purchase at the very time that Mrs. Newland Archer (the former May Mingott Welland of New York) begins to savor the London portion of her extended honeymoon abroad.

While Newland devotes his afternoons to the ministrations of the Regent Street tailors, May must have something to occupy her time. One can only write so many letters home without letting slip an inadvertent hint of one's boredom. So today, accompanied (naturally!) by Mrs. Carfry and Miss Harle, she allows herself to be coaxed down Jermyn Street and across the threshold of Floris. (Don't they hold a royal warrant? Surely this elevates them above the level of mere tradesmen...)

Here, she discovers Florissa-- and to a nose accustomed only to the sheerest St. Augustine orange-flower water, it's a revelation. Dabbing the tiniest droplet on the narrow field of exposed skin between glove and sleeve, May feels quite daring. Beneath her bravado, however, percolate doubts she cannot name and refuses to entertain. They seem to coalesce in a single person: May's aristocratic cousin, the Countess Olenska.

All her life, May has regarded 'dear Ellen' as a role model. Now -- at least subconsciously -- she recognizes in her cousin a sophisticated, even dangerous rival. Sniffing her wrist (incidentally, that of hand upon which her glove-hidden wedding ring gleams) she imagines herself to be Ellen's equal at long last...

Only Ellen would never wear Florissa. Why should she, with a standing order for the purest gülyağı from exotic Constantinople?

Pure soul that she is, May cannot grasp this distinction. The prim rose-chypre wafting from her wrist represents everything she can imagine of seduction, which is very little. It is just as well, for Florissa does not entice so much as merely tease-- flashing a fine hint of leather and moss, but then (like May) dropping "back into inexpressive girlishness" at closer scrutiny. Nevertheless (and much to the surprise of her companions, who find the notion of buying one's own scent "exceedingly modern") she purchases a bottle. Won't Newland think it brave of her?

No, but it would be a pity to spoil her lovely afternoon.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, greens, rose, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, hay, amyris, cedar, coumarin, musk, oakmoss