Sul y Blodau Ten Fragrances of Remembrance The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Supplement

Dearest Ones

A word of explanation.

Where The Dandy hails from, in certain parts of about the most rural part of Britain where the most beautiful language of Cymraeg, also known as Welsh, is spoken, today is a rather special day.

Sul y Blodau, literally “Sunday of the Flowers” is the name given to the Sunday before Easter, known as “Palm Sunday” elsewhere in the English speaking world.

Here an ancient tradition of decorating Christian churches ahead of the forthcoming festivities has metamorphosised into a utterly moving celebration.

In place of decorating places of worship, the day is marked by the placing of flowers of remembrance on the graves or resting places of those departed. Or by decorating the home with blooms as a keep sake of those who are now gone forever or those merely temporarily absent.

Despite the awful weather today, The Dandy knows that churchyards and cemeteries will have become flower meadows and window sills, kitchen tables and hearths will be ablaze with the colour of floral tributes in this very small corner of the world.

This raises a wry smile and kindles a small, warm flame in the heart.

In tribute to this wonderful tradition, which now itself seems to be fading into the past, The Perfumed Dandy present his selection of Ten Fragrances of Remembrance, not all floral, for your contemplation…

1. Private Collection by Estee Lauder

A scent of solitary sorrow, Estee Lauder‘s Private Collection is perfume of private grief and almost immeasurable melancholy.

This is the fragrance of an unforgotten lost friendship. Of an affair left unfinished.

That this was Estee Lauder’s personal fragrance for many years before it was made available to the public testifies to its regal quality.

A tragic masterpiece, smelling irrevocably of chrysanthemums.

2. Jour by Hermes

This day of remembrance is all about the simplicity of flowers. Jour is all about the simplicity of flowers.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s new work seems to have divided the critics, personally I find it at once over abundant and sparse, a bitter sweet experience, a little like the act of memory itself.

3. Norell by Norell

The sharp green smell of unsettled soil and crisp spring air.

The smell of carnation buttonholes.

There is such a thing as a good funeral and if that funeral had a fragrance it would be Norell.

4. Dioressence by Dior

“In her heart she knew that spring was the hopeful season, yet this year it felt, if not cruel, then hard.

“It was hard too to let go of the rituals of winter, of early suppers and open fires, sleeping in until darkness ended and of hospital visits without, it seemed then, an end.”

You can read more of The Perfumed Dandy‘s reflections on the melancholy scent of the Spring in my Dioressence review.

As remembrance is also in part about keeping memories and in a way the people remembered alive, it is a pleasant thought that, of all the recently revived Dior’s, the current Dioressence is (with Diorella) is itself the most alive.

5. Le Baiser du Dragon by Cartier

One of the most wonderful elements of Sul y Bolodau is that it is about remembering the joy and happiness that those departed brought to the world.

These are memories of celebrations, high days and holidays, first meetings and whirlwind romances.

Thoughts of afternoons where one too many almond liqueur might lead to a decision that led to whole different and more fulfilled life.

Le Baiser du Dragon is a perfume that speaks of the happy acts of fate that bring so many of us together in the first place.

6. Cuir de Russie by Chanel

The most humane and humanly sensual of all animalic notes: leather.

Leather hints of polished boots, riding gear, handbags, wristwatches and wallets.

Leather is the stuff of the accoutrements of life. The things that people leave behind them.

Leather is, of course, legendarily the very fabric of love affairs.

7. Un Lys by Serge Lutens

The scent of lilies filling the house and celebrating the lives of those who once lived here.

8. Narcisse Noir by Caron

A perfume of new hope and new beginnings, of the cycle of life and of endless possibilities.

It is also one of the most refined renderings of the scent of the narcissus anywhere in perfumery.

Narcissi are mainly daffodils in Wales, the national flower of the country, the flower of the early spring and the signature of this amazing day.

They come in every colour so long as it’s yellow. They come a sun shinning profusion.

For more of The perfumed Dandy‘s thoughts on this redolent aroma visit my relflections on Narcisse noir.

9. Je Reviens by Worth

The ultimate promise of fidelity and unforgetting love.

Gifted by millions of American soldiers to the women they left behind when they went off to fight The Second World War, it is an icon of indissoluble amour.

Brought back from the otherworld of ghostly imitations and ghoulish cheapskate reformulations, the 2004 ‘Couture’ incarnation is a bold and demanding aldehyde worthy of unswerving devotion.

10. L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain

The Blue Hour.

The minutes between daylight and darkness.

A perfume of perfect, calm crepuscular contemplation.

A collective deep breath in before The Great War began.

A work of wonder.

So there we have it.

A list of the sorrowful, the spring-like, the joyous, the timeless, the unforgettable and most especially the fantastically fine fragrances of remembrance.

The Dandy is very curious to know whether similar tribute days are marked in other parts of the world, and if so when?

Do you, my friends, have a perfume that is especially redolent of a departed loved one or time long since passed?

If so, please do share.

After all, scent is the sense unlike all the others that is able to travel through time.

I’m away now to wear a little Private Collection and contemplate in the encompassing odour of chrysanthemums.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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31 Comments

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31 responses to “Sul y Blodau Ten Fragrances of Remembrance The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Supplement

  1. rosestrang

    Beautiful post Sir Dandy. Wishing a peaceful and good Palm Sunday to all those remembering dear ones. Le Baiser du Dragon has the warm heart I associate with the people of Wales, and of course there’s the symbolism of the oft spotted dragon!
    Dymuniadau Gorau
    Best Wishes

    • Diolch yn fawr cariad Rose.
      Well the inclusion of the emblematic dragon was a work of The Dandy’s unconscious – isn’t the mind a strange and wonderful thing.
      As indeed Cartier’s mythical beast – a lovely warm glass of Amaretto served in an Italian locanda… but more of that tale for another day!
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  2. Richness of bygone eras, love and melancholy and loss, and the hope of spring, a beautiful tribute.

  3. Lilybelle

    Not maudlin at all. That is a lovely tradition. I hope it doesn’t die out. I don’t know of anything similar here in America. In Mexico they have the Day of the Dead. Today was just traditional Palm Sunday here with the reading of the Passion in church. Yesterday I was looking at old photos, though, and I felt quite sad and melancholy…and bereft. I took out one of an old friend now long departed and felt his absence so keenly. If we made a point of telling the people who make a difference in our lives just how much we appreciate them – in anticipation of not having the opportunity to ever again – we would smother them in love and tears. His fragrance is frankincense and sandalwood.

    • Dear Lilybelle
      What touching words and what truth they contain.
      Frankincense is one of The Dandy’s very most favourite notes and my home is often scented with it, I will think of you next time I light a cone of incense.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. This was a beautiful tribute, Dandy. I think “Sunday of the flowers” is a lovely tradition. I wish we had something like it in the states but, sadly, we do not.

    • Dear Gripping
      It is a wonderful tradition, and really a small geographical peculiarity, not even prevalent across the whole of tiny Wales.
      I feel as long as my family is still on the earth it will have a fair few adherents.
      A small question, do you have a national day of remembrance in The States at all? We have Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day for those lost in war in November.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. brie

    Beautiful flowers, perfumes and touching tribute! The one that gives me melancholia is indeed L’heure bleue…but Private Collection brings up happy memories as my mum had many bottles of it which she always shared with me as a child. Lovely, Mr. Dandy!

    • Dearest Brie
      Indeed, L’Heure Bleue is a wall of grief as much as of flowers. For me it is a musical fragrance, a fugue though, rather than a requiem.
      Private collection is a poem that brings great joy to me too, but one tinged with sadness as chrysanthemums are somehow inherently unhappy flowers I feel.
      Thank you as always for being here.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  6. Another interesting, lovely post, sir! I recently put up a photo gallery about how we celebrate Palm Sunday in our side of the world. Catholics bring specially woven and decorated palms called “palaspas” to church on Palm Sunday. After the mass, they wave the palms while the priest sprinkles holy water on them. This is said commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

    • Dear Haef (if I may be so familiar)
      What lovely photographs.
      The way the palm leaves are cut and shaped makes them look very sculptural and modern.
      Yes, the tradition of Sul y Blodau also grew out of more traditional celebrations of Palm Sunday, it has just taken a turn.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. There must have been something similar the cultures predating the one from where I come but I grew up when they all weren’t a part of the contemporary society.

    • Dear Undina
      The Dandy suspects that you are right, that there were probably many more such high days and holidays throughout the year that have been gradually whittled away to the few ‘celebrations’ that remain.
      I think it a terrible shame and during the course of the year I will be marking many more of these that I remember from my childhood, and still mark today…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. Of all the exquisite unusual diamond things you have written and will write, I suspect this one might for always remain my favorite. So beautiful, so free, so poetic, so tender, so delicate. A unmistakably Dandyesque Dance of Associations and Eloquence.

    J’adore.

    S.

  9. Mae’n ddrwg gen i. I did not intend to silence a Dandy, quite the contrary.
    Sincerely,
    S.

  10. Reblogged this on The Perfumed Dandy. and commented:

    It’s been so busy of late, The Dandy’s been unable to post. However, I found time as always yesterday to observe this old tradition I remarked on in a quieter moment last year. In remembrance of times past…

  11. rickyrebarco

    That is a beautiful tradition. Since L’Heure Bleu is a sorrowful fragrance for me and a beautiful one, that would be my choice for the day.

    • Dearest Ricky
      It is a truly beautiful tradition, but one that seems to by be on the wane. Over the years we’ve noticed what was once the odd grave without flowers become a few, then a handful… and though the number is not anywhere near half, it would be a terrible shame if this small moment of remembrance were to fade from a world seemingly always consumed by the present.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  12. I’d love to be in Wales right now to see all those meadows of flowers placed in remembrance. As it happens I was painting primroses just as you posted. Thinking about flowers and people, my grandmother passed away at the grand age of 94 recently, after a long, happy and productive life.The diminutive, yet bright, charming and sunny primrose suits her well, she had the most infectious giggle!

    • Dearest Rose
      Mid and West Wales are the best places to observe the phenomena, as I guess in Scotland, the more Celtic the fringe the longer the old ways persist.
      94 is a grand old age indeed and I can think of no prettier or more sunnily disposed flower than the primrose. Their very near cousins the primulas are doing a grand job of carpeting Regent’s Park in many colours just at the moment.
      A wonderful display in time for Easter.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  13. I’m glad you reposted this, I must have missed it somehow. It’s a beautiful post, and it got me all moody and reflective… My dear grandmother passed away last July; she never wore any scent, being too poor to afford it, and so for me on the anniversary of her death I will not be wearing any perfume at all.

    Even so, L’Heure Bleue and Après l’Ondée are the most heartbreakingly melancholic and introspective perfumes to me, and I always wear them when I’m feeling just a tad blue.

    • Dearest Vagabond
      How soon we forget that just a few generations ago fragrance was a luxury well beyond the reach of most ordinary people the world over – indeed it remains that way for many millions in many countries to this day.
      What a fine way, I think, to remember your grandmother.
      On your choices, I couldn’t agree more, many people find both Guerlain perfumes warm and comforting, and so they are, but at once haunting and sad, like the care worn photograph of someone gone.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  14. Lilybelle

    Hermes Equipage in remembrance of someone dearly loved and recently departed. I loved this the first time around and I love it now. xo

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