Blog post by Gwen

Pélargonium – spicy and floral and woody

Sometimes, I get lost in the labyrinth of new niche lines and fragrances and I easily fall down rabbit holes that can leave me feeling confused and confined. When this happens I seek the comfort of the familiar and the brands I trust. My latest episode led me back the temple of beauty, literally, Aedes de Venustas, and their gorgeous Pélargonium.

Pélargonium is centered on pelargonium graveolens – a type of geranium. Pelargonium graveolens are not the geraniums that you see in window boxes. Instead, ‘graveolens’ refers to the strong-smelling leaves, which are rose-scented, giving pelargonium graveolens the nickname “rose geranium”.

The inspiration for the fragrance was the still life paintings of the Dutch Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact, the English term ‘still life’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘stilleven’. The Dutch were obsessed with horticulture during this time and their floral compositions led to a mania for this type of still life.

Pélargonium opens with bergamot, sweetened with juicy mandarin, spiced up with black pepper that’s heightened with a snap of Sichuan pepper. Clary sage and green cardamom buttress the herbaceous scent of the geranium leaves. The green cardamom is also sweet and resinous, leads to the star attraction: pelargonium graveolens (A/K/A Egyptian geranium). I do smell its rosy aspect but there is so much more to this fragrance. Nose Nathalie Feisthauer describes pelargonium graveolens on the Aedes de Venus's  website as “aromatic, with a crushed-leaf facet, less fruity and more balsamic than rose, almost incense-like” and she deftly displays these facets in a way that makes Pélargonium a real heart-tugger. The spices at the top warm the pelargonium while orris adds its distinctive violet-like odor that strengthens the rosiness, giving the fragrance a real floral presence.  But orris is also woody, warm and sweet, qualities it shares with carrot seed. They bring an irresistible earthiness to the juice. Balsamic, citrusy elemi resin emphasizes the balsamic aspect of the pelargonium. The base is woody from Cedarwood and Guaiac wood, which also gives the base a gorgeous smokiness. Moss, green and earthy, is softened with musk.

The drydown is elegant, refined but make no mistake, this is a big, not loud, but big spicy, floral, herbaceous, citrusy and woody scent. It’s an exciting fragrance to smell and to wear.

One advantage of the still-life art form is that it gives the artist license to experiment with the way elements in a composition of a painting are arranged. Nathalie Feisthauer has done this with Pélargonium and I appreciate this art form as much as I would a painting by an Old Dutch Master.

A spritz of a beautiful fragrance from one of my favourite perfume houses and I am righted again.

Check out Pélargonium in our Shop.