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.
The Perfumed Dandy.