Finally we had some beautiful, sunny days on this bit of earth facing the Atlantic ocean. Such days are few and far in between and they are celebrated with all the panache of colourful flip flops, Hawaiian shirts and cotton Bermudas revealing skin so white, it’s almost translucent. And despite the sharp breeze still giving everyone goosebumps, we try really hard to convince ourselves that, yes, the elusive creature called Spring, or even the other more sacred monster called Summer, has eventually graced our shores. Alas, despite the fervency, the blind belief, the masses of people spread on the park’s green lawns, I can’t buy into it. This is not Summer. Hell, is not even Spring. I know Spring when I see it, and mostly when I feel it, with my skin, my nose, the tip of my fingers and my tongue, because yes I used to lick dew off lilacs when I was young and I still feel an irresistible urge to inhale and taste every rain kissed flower I see. Oh, those gentle late Spring showers, lasting just enough to underline the beauty all around, how I miss them! And how I miss the warmth, that lazy, langurous warmth, so indolent, so relaxed, like a cat stretching on her back showing a fluffy belly and half closed slanted eyes. To know that heat and sun weren’t going to suddenly disappear, that they’ll be there the next day, and the day after that and so on, like a trusted, loyal friend, well, what can I say? It was pure bliss. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fierce, terrible beauty of Ireland with its rugged coastlines, sweeping winds over the evergreen fields, grey, foaming sea and laden skies. This beauty has made a lily-white Celtic warrior out of me, just like the rest. But inside my soft, yielding heart the rounded, sensuous, mellow Spring of my homeland lives on, brewing gently inside this nostalgic feeling I can never really shake off.
One fragrance that reminds me strongly of my childhood’s golden sunlight pouring through the fragrant canopy of blooming trees is Amouage Opus III, one of the many violet or mimosa scents I now own. Claire, my perfume sister, said that one day will probably wake up from our self-induced violet haze and will wonder how the heck we ended up having at least ten perfumes smelling more or less the same. Of course it was only a tongue-in-cheek remark but Opus III does remind me of Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue or Après l’Ondée or even Frédéric Malle’s Une Fleur de Cassie. And yet Opus III is holding its own: not quite as retro-glamorous as L’heure Bleue, nor as melancholic as Après l’Ondée and neither as demonstrative and shameless as Une Fleur de Cassie. What Opus III has is incredibly soft, luminous tenderness and vanillic warmth which is less apparent or missing from the others. The list of notes is complex and rich but the perfume’s touch is very gentle and subtle, from the delicately spiced, floral powdery beginning until the equally delicate, vanilla laced, woody-smoky drydown. The subdued frankincense note takes me back to the small church where I used to go for the Easter communion. After the confession, which wasn’t that private (we didn’t have a booth, the priest would just ask us to kneel down and he would throw one corner of his vestments on top of our heads), all the kids lined up waiting for the bits of holy bread and sweet wine. I still remember the doors thrown wide open, letting the perfumed spring air in, the sunrays playing with the gold ornaments and the soft, lilting murmur of voices talking about anything else but God. The entire Opus III composition feels like it’s bathed in a warm, dusty, yellow glow, with just a tiny hint of something seriously subversive: in the first 10-15 minutes I can clearly sense the smell of sperm, or at the very least something sharp and a bit metallic, like a cross between sour milk and diluted bleach, underneath all of the floral vanilla custard. The first time I wore Opus III I had a mild panic attack: I was running to catch the bus and the heat of the skin intensified the unsettling accord to alarming levels. All I could think of was that I couldn’t possibly wear this to work and how on earth will I wash this off and how did I end up spending a wad of money on something like that? But over the course of Opus III and I getting to know one another, I ended up craving that culprit note, which now brings back to mind the smell of horse chestnut trees heavy with candelabra shaped flowers, again one of the Spring’s iconic symbols. We have them here in Ireland, we have the lilacs and the acacia too, but somehow you never get that almost indecently strong, fertile waft off them, because they need real heat to truly open themselves up. Nevermind, I’ll gather the folds of my woollen coat around, I’ll bury my nose inside every spring flower I see and I’ll take my time. I have Opus III and my memories to keep me slow paced and warm.
*Image: my own
Top notes : Mimosa, Broom, Carnation, Nutmeg, Carnation, Nutmeg, Thyme
Middle notes: Violet, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Ambrette Seeds, Musk, Papyrus, Cedarwood, Sandalwood , Guaiac , Benzoin, Vanilla, Frankincense