BWF January

Handmade paper flowers.  I'd rather have a ginormous bouquet of real ones, of course, but since THAT ain't gonna happen, here are these. (Click the picture for details on purchasing these. Not affiliated, I just admire.)
Handmade paper flowers. (Click the picture for details on purchasing these. Not affiliated, I just admire.)

So it’s January, and it’s dreary outside, and I want flowers. Big ones. Big smelly ones.  I keep hearing perfume friends talking about “picking up a couple of stems of tuberose at the market” with which to scent their houses, but I don’t live in a big city with a well-stocked flower market, so that’s out. (I could special order them… at a minimum $75 order, so THAT ain’t gonna happen.)

The Big White Floral, or BWF, is one of the most polarizing genres of perfume available. People either love it or they haaaaaate it, and they bring out the cross and the garlic to defend themselves (sort of the way I get with dusty tolu/patchouli orientals). I, of course, love me a BWF.

Andre', WWE baddie wrestler and consummate showman, who played Fezzik in "The Princess Bride," was a sweetheart... but he was huge. 7'4", 450 pounds huge. Sometimes BWFs are like that.
Andre’, WWE baddie wrestler and consummate showman, who played Fezzik in “The Princess Bride,” was a sweetheart… but he was HUGE. Like 7’4″, 450 pounds huge. Sometimes BWFs are like that. (Photo links to the book at Amazon, but I’ll warn you that the book is roundly panned by readers.)

BWFs can range from soliflores to mixed florals to floral orientals (and possibly even white-floral chypres, depending how strong a floral presence there is), but quite often, the operative word in the sentence is “BIG,” like Andre-the-Giant BIG, and that might be part of the issue. I’m not generally fond of potent sillage, and I prefer to keep my waft within a couple of feet of my person, but I’ll break that rule for a beautiful BWF.

I’m going to list a few of my favorites, just the tip of the iceberg, today, and will follow it up with more detailed listings, organized by central note, over the next couple of weeks. Here are some fragrances that come immediately to mind when I think of BWFs:

Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, the original. It’s still being produced (now by Parfums Chloe), but it’s strictly an online-stock thing now, and it’s had the heart sucked out of it long ago. If you loved it in the late 1970s, don’t bother smelling a new version now, it’ll break your heart. The vintage is still available on eBay, and the three samples I’ve smelled of 80s Chloë all smelled wonderful. This is a big, generous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink floral on a bed of woods and moss, with peach and citrus and a tiny flourish of aldehydes up top for sparkle.  Carnation and rose are also present, as are muguet, jasmine, and honeysuckle but it is, first and always, a BWF centered on tuberose.

Christian Dior Poison. Yep, the Beast That Ate My College Dorm. It’s tuberose and orange blossom, plus resins and a few spices and a jammy plum so overwhelming you could swim in it. Definitely a white floral and a huge one (the sillage on this, even the reformulated stuff, is monster), but I can only think of it in terms of deep amethyst. Is that marketing, or is it truly a purple smell? I don’t like big sillage, I don’t even like purple, and I still don’t know why this stuff is so addictive.

Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower. Centered on tuberose, with a lush, fresh jasmine backing it up, it is nonetheless somehow green, with menthol and green leaves up top. I first smelled it on a winter day so cold that warm breath turned to frost, and it was perfect. I’ve worn it on muggy summer days, too, and it was perfect. It’s never been not-perfect for me.

Robert Piguet Fracas. A ton of virtual ink has been spilt over Fracas, the first widely-popular tuberose-centered fragrance, created by Germaine Cellier to serve as the femme-est, pinkest, bombshelliest fragrance evarrrrr.  Despite assertions of it being THE Tuberose Fragrance, it is also completely and utterly jam-packed full of orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, lilac, peach, and a zillion other things. The orange blossom is particularly prominent to my nose, and Fracas smells like nothing so much as it does a starlet’s dressing table, complete with lipsticks and cold cream and swansdown powder puffs and lavish bouquets.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.  Big bad Black Orchid’s ingenue sister, this EdT version is discontinued. It centers on tuberose and ylang-ylang, with a milky, peppery veil over them. There is a light but persistent oriental base under it, with benzoin and woody notes.  I can’t find the right text color for it, but it’s a sunsetty orange-pink color, pretty but vivid.

More BWFs to come.




8 thoughts on “BWF January”

  1. Ooh, can I put in a plug for lily BWFs? Lys Mediterranee is lovely, and I still love Derae’s Debut. January is a perfect time for florals, if you can’t have them in a vase you can have them on your skin.

    1. Yep! I was thinking of doing a separate post for each of the BWF players, and lilies are wonderful. That Le Labo (Yeah, yeah, my usual Le Labo rant) Lys 41 is gorgeous, and I’d wear the heck out of it if I had it. That one’s only mostly lily, though – I think there’s tuberose in there too.

      Haven’t tried Debut. LM is lovely – I like the salty notes in it.

  2. Hi there! Have you tried Moon Bloom yet? Everyone seems to love it! My favorite tuberose is Do Son EDP, but I have only tried Carnal Flower on your list so I should get on it!

    1. I have *not* tried Moon Bloom yet! I was sort of waiting for StC to get it – they still didn’t have it last time I checked. Might have to go hit Lucky Scent…

      Heh. This is the UltraShort List. I’m working up a BWF Tuberose list that currently has 55 scents on it (47 of which I have tried!) and have started separate lists for gardenia, jasmine, ylang, lily, and “other.” I should probably do a separate one for lily of the valley, but somehow LOTV doesn’t come across as “BIG” white floral to me, just white floral.

  3. Hands in the air for Guerlain Lys Soleia and Mahora, Parfum Delrae’s Amoureuse Monegal Kiss My Name and SOIVOHLE Jasmine Summer.
    BWFs with attitude.
    Portia xx

  4. Another vote for DelRae Debut here and in similar vein, Aftelier’s Haute Claire – a sort of ylang ylang and green treatment. Actually, that also sounds like Zelda – BWF plus restraining galbanum. Love VdF, and your description of it as ‘ingenue sister’ – I always think of you in that connection as you introduced me to it a long time ago. I have Lily & Spice if anyone is suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

    1. Ah, three I have not tried at all. I’ve been resisting all the Afteliers because of their high price tag, and Debut… what was it that made me think I wouldn’t like it? I can’t remember. Zelda I thought was primarily an oriental.

      Voile de FLeur I find so very comforting.

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