To get through this wretched winter, I’ve taken to wearing some strange clothing around the house. Wool socks, day and night, and a ratty, pilled and snagged black acrylic sweater, which happens to be the warmest garment I have that isn’t a coat. Last week we had a couple of thaw days, and I hung it up. When put it again on I nearly swooned with pleasure at the scent it gave off. It was powdery, but with a subtle growl. I couldn’t identify it at first, but a bit of primary research revealed that it was Fleur Oriental by Miller Harris.
I guess there is powder and then there is powder, like some vintage Habanita EDT I have. That one has enough powder to bring on an asthma attack in sensitive individuals, as they say on TV in all those drug ads. I started thinking about some other sweet and powdery scents, and one that came to mind was Barbara Bui's Le Parfum.
There are certain fragrances that most of us here in perfumeblogland adore and no one else has ever heard of. This is one. It came out in 2004, a designer scent from the Paris-based Vietnamese Bui. It was discontinued, apparently in a fog of legalese, but is still available here and there at online discounters and on fleabay for very reasonable prices.
Barbara Bui is a gorgeous confection, on my skin the olfactory equivalent of my grandmother’s divinity fudge, white, light, rich melting decadence. It is my go-to sleep scent. The notes tell of incense and spices, but what I get is heliotrope, soft white musk and -- although it isn’t “official” -- vanilla. (Maybe more the concept of vanilla than actual vanilla.) And the powder-soft drydown, which lasts all though the night.
I’ve only worn Barbara Bui out into the world once, though. It just seemed wrong, somehow, like it didn’t belong anywhere but between sheets, or on a silk peignoir (not that I actually own one) or, in my case anyway, a flannel shirt. It’s for cold nights spent inside a cozy house.
The Miller Harris Fleur Oriental is another story. This, I’ll definitely wear out. There’s an edge to it’s sweetness, there right away. The notes mention carnation, but it’s citrus I smell, and I’m sticking to it. After it fades a little, there’s an darkish back note, reminiscent of tobacco, something like the vintage Shalimar EDT I have, but without that one’s “tar” quality. A little rose -- anything I swoon over is bound to have a little rose -- and there’s the heliotrope again. Sweet musk, amber (could be anything) jasmine and -- aha! -- “orange.” (This comes in EDT and EDP; it is the EDT I’m reviewing here.)
It’s one of the ones I’m in love with right now.
This has been the coldest winter -- go ahead and laugh, you folks in Chicago and Boston -- I’ve experienced in years. The week spent icebound was a record-breaker. Isn’t lack of such weather one of the reasons why my home town, Atlanta, is filled with Northern transplants? But what the hey. It’s nothing we can’t handle, as long as we have central heat, fireplaces, old sweaters and luscious powdery perfumes to spray them with.
“Notes” for Barbara Bui Le Parfum include spices, incense, jasmine, musk, sandalwood, heliotrope, amber and cedar. Perfumer: Anne Flipo.
“Notes” for Miller Harris Fleur Oriental include carnation, Turkish rose, incense, jasmine, sweet musk, heliotrope and orange. Perfumer: Lyn Harris.
Want to sample these? What is your favorite scent for sleeping? Leave a comment by midnight U.S. Eastern Standard Time, Monday, Feb 14. I’ll do a random drawing and announce the winner Tuesday, Feb. 15. (I’ll throw in samples of two more sleep-scent favorites of mine, too.)
Full Disclosure: The Barbara Bui is from my personal collection, and I was recently given some Miller Harris Fleur Oriental by a friend.
Used under license