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Floris Fumée De Jasmin

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Floris is a relatively rare creature, an English perfumery house. They are the oldest example of that breed, dating back to 1730, when the house was founded by Juan Floris, an immigrant from the Mediterranean island of Minorca. The first royal warrant (to make combs for George IV) was issued to the company in 1820, and they have had many famous clients over the centuries, including Mary Shelley, Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, and (fictionally) James Bond. From 1730 onwards, they have been headquartered on Jermyn Street in London, a famed center of British couture and perfumery.  I was recently given a free sample of their “Fumée De Jasmin.” to review.

Fumée De Jasmin

The company is now being run by its 8th & 9th generations of Florises, and they have been making some of their famous perfumes for decades (masculine “Number 89”, since 1951) or even centuries (“Limes”, from 1832, a masculine when initially produced but now regarded as a unisex fragrance). But what are they up to these days?
Fumee De Jasmin is one of their “by request” limited editions. Fumée De Jasmin (hereafter FDJ) is costly ($235 for 100 ml) and rare (only 100 bottles being produced in this run, all hand poured.) Smaller samples do not appear to be available for purchase from the manufacturer.
Fragrance Design : FDJ is a fragrance with an intricate backstory to it’s design, rather like Penhaligon’s “Sartorial” which claimed to simulate the olfactory environment of a 19th century bespoke tailor’s shop. FDJ, more appropriately, simulates the smells of the Floris family underground perfume and fragrance making workshop in the 19th century.  Notably, one of the company’s widely produced mainstays, called “Night Scented Jasmine”, was produced continuously during this period, originally made from 1806. (Discontinued eventually, this perfume was recreated in 2006.)
Obviously then, as this workshop produced so much of this fragrance during the period being “portrayed”, one expects a strong note of jasmine in the fragrance, but the clever conceit here is that the jasmine is fused with other workshop scents, such as the smoke from the fires being used to prepare various chemical mixes, the wood odor of the furniture and arches, the earthy smell common to basements, and the residue of all the exotic fragrance elements used to mix all the other Floris products. So the core of jasmine has many companions, most prominently smoke, hence the name of the fragrance.

Scent Elements: The manufacturer’s scent pyramid description on their website reads as follows:
Top Notes: Lavender, Bergamot
Heart Notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Black Pepper
Base Notes: Cedarwood, Oriental Resins, Woody Amber Notes, Vanilla, Javawood, Tobacco.
Initial Impressions: FDJ has a rich opening, with lavender and jasmine both quite prominent. Note that this means the heart note is appearing almost immediately with one of the tops. The bergamot is underplayed, and to my nose, fleeting.
Within a minute or so, the smoky elements appear, which are represented here by carnation. The “smoke” and jasmine accord last for roughly 1-2 hours, and the lavender fades away within a few minutes.
Intermediate Development: The eponymous smoky carnation and jasmine eventually become quite spicy at around the two hour mark, and are joined by notes of incense and pepper. There may even be a hint of (doubtlessly synthetic) oud in here, though such a note is not specifically credited in the note pyramid (“oriental resins” may include this note, or might not). This is my favorite part of the scent, but it fades all too quickly, mellowing down into a sweeter wood and tobacco accord, with jasmine persevering.
Long Term: In hours 3-5, the spicy and smoky notes recede rapidly, and we are left with a more conventional wood and tobacco scent, and even the jasmine takes a backseat. The amber and vanilla makes things quite sweet, and in the really late drydown there is almost a powdery note, perhaps from the vanilla.
Longevity: I could still catch vague notes of the base notes for about 7-8 hours after application, but the core complex elements of the fragrance recede greatly after about 4 hours. I have dry skin, so this longevity is not terrible at all, but, frankly, the most interesting part of the fragrance is not found in the extended drydown, but rather in the lively and odd middle part of the lifespan.
Projection: Sadly, FDJ becomes a skin note after about 2-3 hours, meaning only you and those intimately close to you will be able to smell the scent. Depending on your needs, this may be just fine, but if you want to entice and amaze those standing a few meters away, this will not do the trick.
Even after initial application, FDJ is not an extended range kind of scent, e.g. not at all like Terre D’Hermes, which can literally be smelled from across a room with only a few squirts applied. In comparison, one might call Fumee De Jasmin a regular English gentleman of a fragrance!
Quality of Ingredients: Impressive. No false notes here, no cheap smell of alcohol or overly synthetic cedar notes. I cannot speculate on the balance of essential versus fragrance oils here, (other than to note the likelihood that there is not any real oud in the mix) but whatever is used smells like high quality scent elements. In particular, the tobacco and carnation notes are very well done, with the carefully balanced carnation scent creating a scent of smokiness that is neither overly floral nor unpleasant.
Appropriate Usage Environment: The tasteful nature of the scent, and its minimal silage and projection make this a fine choice for the workplace. FDJ is not aggressive and does not project alpha male dominance across the room (try “Quorum” or “Encre Noir” for that!) so it will not be much of an olfactory weapon. The gentle appealing complexity of the scent make it fine for romantic and special occasion usage. I would say this scent could be used in all seasons, warm and cool.
Manly?: The woods and smoke balance out the floral elements nicely in top and middle phase. The sweet drydown may be challenging to some men, but I had no issues with those elements. This is a sophisticated and urban scent, suggesting industry and complexity, not outdoorsy or animalic in the least.
Value: Hm, a tough one! Would I personally pay upwards of $200 for roughly 3 and a half ounces of this? I tend to equate projection and longevity with value, so for me, if I was spending $200 on a perfume, I would want something like Amouage Gold, i.e. a robust, complex scent that also is not in the least subtle. Sadly, this puts me in the same camp as Vladimir Putin, a fellow not known for his understated demure nature.
If you like Bach rather than Mahler, Auden rather than Tennyson, Jaeger-Le Coultre rather than Rolex, chess over poker, and Spanish shaving cream rather than American artisanal soap, you may be more of the target audience for Fumee De Jasmin.
Bottom Line: Even given the high cost, I can honestly say nothing else in my collection of roughly 50 fragrances comes close to this interesting design. “Sartorial” by comparison is muddled and derivative, and the design of FDJ is more coherent and elegant. With such limited production, you won’t be smelling this on the subway, or in business class with any frequency, if at all.
If you want something sophisticated, complex, rare, and gentlemanly, this may be the fragrance for you. I also greatly appreciate the complex development of the scent pyramid over time, and appreciate the quality of the ingredients used. A distinct four to five phases of development is rare in a modern perfume, but FDJ manages this intricate transition. if you want to smell a fragrance “story concept” that works, FDJ is the poster boy for the idea.
If you like the concept of FDJ, but can’t quite justify pulling the expensive trigger, try “No. 89” from the same house. Much less expensive, a complex scent that projects better and lasts longer, and still relatively rare in the modern world, where everyone wants to smell “fresh”, “clean” and “marine”. Plus… you’ll be using the same fragrance that James Bond wears!
Craig K

Craig K

11 thoughts on “Floris Fumée De Jasmin”

    1. Ha! Way to overreact.
      I’m suggesting the overuse (or indiscriminate use) of cologne is actually resulting in the increase of resentment toward cologne wearers—and downright banning of it, in some workplaces. I think that is a shame, as I’m no fan of draconian measures to ban personal freedoms. A bit of consideration is usually all that is needed to avoid the backlash.
      Perhaps having a bit or restraint, and exercising some concern for others, BEFORE splashing on something that projects across the room (instead of focusing solely on what you are entitled to) would go a long way to keeping your right to wear your personal scent in tact.
      I smoke cigars. I understand some are offended by the odor (which I rather like) and the smoke. So even in situations where smoking a cigar is legal, I try to be considerate of others before partaking. I try not to smoke before going to public events, or visiting certain people, as I know the smell lingers and clings to the clothes. One reason I do this is, well because I’m not a selfish moron. The other is to help protect my freedom to smoke cigars. An ounce of prevention…

      1. Gentlemen, good to hear from you both!
        You both make good points on the whole issue of projection of a scent, which in turn leads to the whole question of why one wears a fragrance in the first place.
        Standards have definitely changed in whether male perfumes should be smelled from a goodly distance. Some classics of the 70s and 80s were known for being olfactory force fields, which were a none too subtle calling card for the wearer. Since then, arguably due to changing cultural standards of both masculinity and public aesthetics, there is virtually nothing around that equals vintage 80s Aramis or Polo in room-clearing power. (Except maybe for Maal or arguably Encre Noire).
        Many men younger and bolder than myself do want to make an olfactory impression in some settings, mainly clubbing. but there are various reasons why even a more conservative and older wearer might value projection impact: a fellow over on BaseNotes wears Quorum to business meetings with people he dislikes so he can bother them with his scent. A guy on Reddit wore a lot of Encre Noire to supplement his Halloween vampire costume. Vladimir Piutin likes to douse himself in costly perfume to demonstrate his taste and wealth to all around him.
        In more normal settings, sometimes we just want a particularly interesting scent to be “visible” to those around us so we can share the experience and possibly get compliments (which I feel are not always code for “stop being so smelly!” : D )
        Regardless of whether the motives for projection are objectively good or bad to another party, I think it important to comment on in a review. At least part of the reason why many spend the extra dollars on an EDT instead of a mere cologne or splash is because they want more “firepower” in terms of projection and / or longevity, so I think it pertinent to at least discuss the issue in a review. If one did spend a goodly sum on FDJ and was then disappointed because it didn’t “reach out and touch someone” as you wanted it to, then I, as a reviewer, did not serve you well.
        I like FDJ just the way it is, but then with a few dozen bottles of stuff lying around, I can mix things up a bit. As for my own standards, I wear some stuff to work, some stuff to social outings, and some stuff only when I know I will be mostly solitary. I apply a fairly consistent 2-3 squirts of whatever I am using to the base of my neck and one or both sides of the collarbone. Stuff I know that is powerful like Dior products, Terre D’Hermes, or Timbuktu gets 2 squirts, most stuff gets 3. Encre Noir gets only one, and nothing so far has gotten 4.
        I think that number of squirts and the torso based application spots serve to give me a fairly moderate and reasonable level of projection. But then as Dean says, many who smell a fragrance wearer and are offended seldom mention their offense to the projector, so I am fortunate (in many ways!) to have my wife around, as her sense of smell is far keener than mine, so she will let me know if I reek overly much…

        1. Excellent response, Craig.
          Keep in mind, though, my initial post was driven by your use of the word “Sadly” to describe the lack of strong projection of this scent. That really sounds like a value judgement to me, and seems to suggest a negative aspect of the product.
          I had a girlfriend who used a rather strong perfume, but she sprayed it into the air, then walked through it. She always smelled good to me (and I imagine anyone else very close by), but never projected that scent into a room. Seems like a win-win, to me.

          1. Hey Dean,
            I guess the ideal fragrance for me personally is one whose initial base level projection can be controlled by dose – i.e. 3 squirts should be a moderate level of projection, 2 squirts should be “intimate range” and one should be a personal scent. Although I did not try 4 (or more) squirts for FDJ, my impression is that it moves to “intimate range” very quickly with my standard 3 squirts and then becomes a skin scent for most of its lifespan. But if you want an intimate / skin scent, FDJ is fine from the initial stage.
            Encre Noir disappoints me in a different way, being unbearably powerful with 3 squirts, and really even too intense with 2 squirts. (The first time I wore that frag with a fill 3 squirts probably caused a great amount of olfactory distress for many strangers on the subway and coworkers.) But I would not call that a negative aspect of the fragrance in a universal sense…
            Does that make more sense?

  1. I wear cologne because others are perfumed with garlic breath, less than ideal body odor, and smelly feet. When The Dean can ban those scents from the public arena, I will stop wearing cologne. 😉

    1. The rudeness of others is rarely canceled out by your own rudeness. I would suggest you put a dab of cologne under your nose, if you want to smell yourself. Wearing a scent that fills the room only contributes to this war of odor.
      And remember that one man’s pleasant scent is another’s nasty odor.

  2. Craig, I rarely (if ever) comment on these scent posts, as fragrances really aren’t my thing. But I did want to chime on one one statement in this post. You say, “Sadly, FDJ becomes a skin note after about 2-3 hours, meaning only you and those intimately close to you will be able to smell the scent.” Sadly? IMO “if you want to entice and amaze those standing a few meters away” you should have your “license” to wear colognes/perfumes/etc, in public, revoked.
    When people comment on “how nice you smell” from a few feet away, I believe as often than not they are politely telling you “Dude, you are wearing way too much cologne.” (BTW, I don’t mean you specifically, but anyone in general.) I have been in many situations (elevators, offices, etc) where someone (male or female) was complimented on their scent, only to be ridiculed and insulted (by these same people) once they exited the situation.
    More and more workplaces are becoming sent free, and I think it is due to those who don’t understand: nobody outside your intimate space should be able to smell you (let alone being able to be noticed across the room). Just IMO, of course. But I know from experience many agree with me.

    1. The issue with fragrance at work isn’t someone who wears a fragrance like they’re supposed to. I think the issue involves people who marinade in the stuff such that you can smell their presence from twenty feet away half an hour after they left. Those types of abuses are causing workplaces to be scent-free.
      It is true that the scent should only be detectable when someone is basically in your comfort zone. That, I believe, is several feet. Across the room? Should not be able to smell it. Seated next to me at lunch or shaking my hand? Should be able to smell it. If by “intimate” you mean someone should only smell it if they’re necking me, I disagree.
      As far as those who compliment someone on their perfume only to mock them when they’re no longer present, that could be due to the person bathing in their fragrance, it could be because they did not care for the scent, or it could simply be a snobbish attitude towards someone who wears a fragrance, whether the fragrance is offensive or not.

      1. Hey Christian,
        I think the arm’s reach standard is reasonable for projection, but there are some fragrances that just seem inappropriate for the workplace as they are too polarizing or “evening” oriented to be delicate. Amouage Gold, Encre Noire, Muscs Koublai Khan — all seem a bit much to be smelling at a board meeting or in the cafeteria even at arm’s length!
        And I fully agree, some folks do overdo it to an immense degree. One fellow on Basenotes posted (with apparent honest sincerity) that he wore 17 squirts (!) of Terre D’Hermes to work every day, and he was offended that a woman coworker at the next cubicle over complained about him.

      2. Arms length is what I consider to be the maxim distance for a scent to be detected in a work situation (or really, any situation, IMO).
        If others should be able to smell your several feet away (across a table, for example), then you must agree the same standard applies to others. I’ve been to too many meetings where the war of odor is waged across a conference table. Often, these scents do not play well together.
        Even at arms length, in a situation where people are grouped in a small room, the cacophony of various perfumes and colognes can lead to people getting headaches and other negative reactions.
        I understand that others don’t necessarily agree with this standard. But that’s where I stand on the matter.

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