In my mind's eye, the scent of jasmine is a deep, saturated purplish-blue. I cannot say why. I know that Jasminum blossoms lack color altogether; their natural spectrum begins and ends with ghostly white. False jasmines such as Gelsemium or Cestrum share a sweet, heady odor and stray variously toward red, gold, and (yes) purple hues. But nowhere on earth exists the exact jasmine of my imagination-- a flower of twilight for whose velvety scent the term 'purple prose' was invented.
Notice that I said nowhere on earth. But on Pandora... maybe. The lush, bioluminescent home planet of James Cameron's Avatar certainly favors the spectrum where my dream jasmine blooms. Its plants, people, and animals all come in a staggering range of colors: cyan, amethyst, magenta, flame, fuchsia, phthalo, viridian. As if to match, the sensual and emotional pleasures of this world (including the mind-to-mind marriage known to the Na'vi as tsaheylu, or "the bond") are equally intense. Wouldn't it follow that Pandoran flavors and aromas would pop?
Enter Alien, Thierry Mugler's aptly-named 2005 xenofloral. It joins Jean Patou Joy, Cacharel LouLou, Guerlain Samsara, Serge Lutens Sarrasins, and Soivohle Yin Hao on my list of favorite jasmines-- but only Alien truly encapsulates that otherworldly blue-purple glow that my mind ascribes to Jasminum sambac. So resonant and penetrating is its aura that one can easily ignore the generic woody vanilla accord that grovels at its feet. I have no idea what elements comprise the "solar amber accord", but I do recognize its overall effect-- gentle, luminous, hospitable. This Alien comes in peace, bringing a message of intergalactic goodwill. (Just don't overapply, for it's ten feet tall and hails from a different gravity than you do.)
Advertisements for Alien feature British actress/supermodel Felicity Gilbert, who appears to have wandered into the Uncanny Valley for a Botox-and-gold-lamé makeover. I much prefer to imagine the lithe, ardent, and occasionally ferocious Neytiri in the spokesmodel role. Can you blame me? If an extraterrestrial visage is needed to front this unearthly jasmine, better a vibrant Na'vi warrior woman than an inert plastic Barbie doll devoid of soul.
Scent Elements: Jasmine sambac, Cashmeran, "solar amber accord", vanilla