Blog post by Gwen
Bertand Duchaufour working on Ostara - Photo: courtesy of Penhaligon's
When a neighbour generously offered me some of her daffodil bulbs a while back, I was pretty excited to have them. My husband loves daffodils. Seeing those cheery, yellow flowers in early spring makes him happy. He calls them ‘optimistic’ flowers. Early bloomers, daffodils are harbingers of spring and are often associated with Easter. I must confess that there is something uplifting about seeing daffodils blooming in a garden or the countryside. But more than seeing them, I like smelling them.
Daffodil is the common name for the narcissus plant. Part of the Amaryllis family, narcissus has been cultivated since ancient times. The word narcissus comes from the Greek word ‘narke,’ which means stupor or numbness – a reference to the flower's heady, narcotic, sweet, green-laced scent. To me, daffodils smell the way spring feels, so I was pleased when English fragrance house, Penhaligon’s, launched Ostara, a fragrance inspired by daffodils, last month.
Ostara is an Old English name for the goddess who reawakens life from the death of winter. Her festival celebrates rebirth and renewal and takes place at the spring equinox, so she is the namesake of Easter.
Penhaligon’s has been reborn over the last couple of years, breaking away from its dowdy reputation with exciting new fragrances by talented noses like Bertrand Duchaufour, who signed Ostara. The line deserves more attention now than ever, and Ostara is the ideal way to renew your acquaintance with it.
Ostara opens with a burst of spring green from juniper, violet leaf and spearmint tempered by sweet, succulent clementine, tart red berries, aromatic blackcurrant bud and aldehydes. As it blooms, narcotic, sweet narcissus appears and lingers before leading to a bouquet of spring blooms: deep, luscious, hyacinth, sweet hawthorn, spicy, lilac-smelling wisteria and fresh, green-nuanced cyclamen. Beeswax absolute gives the delicate flowers a warm, honeyed depth. Ylang-Ylang, sweet and narcotic, echoes the narcissus, while it's banana and jasmine nuances hint at the summer to come. The base is resinous, dark and deep from styrax and benzoin, beautifully sweetened by vanilla and amber, balanced with a beautiful woody note and smoothed by musk.
The drydown is bright and soft yet surprisingly deep and complex at the same time.
I could say that Ostara is spring in a bottle – the juice is a lovely sunny yellow - but clichés are for lazy minds, and besides, there is nothing clichéd about Ostara. It smells like no other fragrance I know. It smells the way I want spring to feel.
My husband will be so happy when he sees all those daffodils in bloom next spring. Lucky me, with Ostara, I don’t have to wait that long to enjoy them.
Check out Ostara in our Shop.