Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review: FLORIS White Rose

Champagne and roses. There is a little scene in Colette's Chéri, in which Chéri is asked what he will drink, now that he is married, maybe chamomile, but he answers, 'Pommery' -- but the memory of another champagne, rose-scented, sparkling, vintage 1889, intrudes upon him. It was what his lover Léa had always reserved for him alone.

I don't know why that, out of the entire book (and its sequel), should have struck me so much and stayed with me for all of these years, acting as sort of a Proustian madeleine -- and for
Chéri, too, as he affects nonchalance in front of his dinner partner and the rest of the restaurant while privately brooding over the loss of Léa, which is an irrevocable loss, not merely the end of an affair with an aging demimonde but the loss of what she was, now that she, much older than him, self-consciously, with clear-sighted realism, has put herself out to pasture and him out of her life. That old-fashioned rose champagne Chéri remembers perfectly captured for me the entirety of all of that. The hard brilliance of chandeliers, the cheerful noisy indifference of the restaurant, and the sad jealous memory of something relinquished, a little démodé and comforting and close, of Léa's powdered, wrinkled, beautiful skin.

Floris White Rose is that champagne. It's a burst of crisp, dry brut, sparkling and citrusy, infused with a cold, sharp, almost shrill, rose and a violet that recalls old-fashioned talcs and lipsticks. In fact Floris calls White Rose a 'compliment to the early days' of the house and unsurprisingly so, to me, anyway, as Floris as a perfume house always seemed to me be stuck in some gilded, vaguely Belle Epoque time. And it's nostalgic in another way, too -- it also reminds me of dolls' heads. That sweet, slightly plasticky, artificial scent of toys. White Rose leaves a ghost of that, after the aldehydes and champagne have burnt off and the fragrance settles into its sharply green but sweet and lightly powdery violety-rose. There is for me something a little sickening in it, but even that itself is somehow kind of nostalgic. And so totally appropriate to
Chéri, coddled, dandied, selfish, and haunted by a fantasy of his perpetual boyhood with Léa.


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