Mimosa

Mimosa. You are the first flower of the year, announcing Spring, embalming the Mediterranean hills and dotting them with your yellow puff-balls. You perfume the flower shops with your sweet and subtle scent. You look like hundreds of miniature Suns that warm up our hearts when they need it most, worn after a long and dark winter. Some say that the nostalgia of your birth place, Down-Under, made you bloom in the coldest months of the year, in the Northern Hemisphere. You are for me the symbol of love and friendship and sold in the streets in Switzerland in late January, in remembrance of the adoption of thousands of French orphans just after the Second World War. In Italy, you celebrate Women’s day on March 8th.

Mimosa sales by children in Switzerland in January. The funds will support humanitarian causes.
Photo: Christian Galley / Le Locle

Our dear botanists did not make our lives easy here. The Legumes, called scientifically Fabaceae, are the third largest botanical family of flowering land plants including peas and beans, as well as a myriad of herbs, shrubs, and even trees. A sub-family of the Fabaceae called the Mimosoideae, comprises plants characterized by flowers with small petals and numerous prominent stamens. This sub-family is itself divided into several genera, among which the mimosas, the acacias, and the albizias, all of which were known casually in the past as mimosas. Silk trees, for example, are albizias known as mimosas in the US. Proper mimosas are small shrubs and herbs with sensitive leaves that can fold when touched or exposed to heat.

The Persian silk tree (Albizia julibrissin) is also often called mimosa, especially in the US. (Fotolia/dadalia)

Eventually, what we commonly know as mimosas, in our flowers and perfumes shops, are in fact a genus of plants called acacias. Adding to the confusion, these acacias are sometimes called “cassie” in french which sounds like “cassia”, a type of cinnamon from China.

Acacia Dealbata in full bloom in South of France

The absolute of mimosa flowers used in perfumery is extracted by solvent from the two species of acacias found in South of France and Italy. The Acacia Dealbata, mostly found in Provence and originated from Australia, and the Acacia Farnesiana found in Italy is from Central America. These trees were imported in the nineteen centuries from the New World for their exceptional fragrance, beauty and winter efflorescence. To obtain one kilogram of absolute, we need almost half a ton of flowers and twigs, making this essence expensive indeed.

The mimosa absolute is used in soaps, cosmetics and perfumes and its note is floral, green and powdery. In perfumes, we find mimosa in bouquets with other floral notes, or as a main note, or even sometimes as a soliflore. My picks of the week are amomg my favorite mimosa fragrances.  I want to share them with you:

A new bohemia awaits. Mists of honeyed, golden mimosa float above the spiciness of freshly crushed cardamom.
Warm, ethereal, mesmerizing. (Original text by Jo Malone)

Mimosa and Cardamon by Jo Malone is a perfect fragrance to celebrate the return of Spring. The note of mimosa, usually very volatile and with a short longevity is here surprisingly long-lasting, with a decent sillage. Cardamom and tonka are noticeable and well harmonized with mimosa, without shadowing the flower until then end. This is a very sweet floral scent that will comfort you and release your stress during the day, and gentle and sensual for the night as well.

Les Infusions de Prada – Mimosa with anise, mandarin, and rose.

Les Infusions de Prada, an exclusive fragrance line of the fashion brand, proposes a vibrant Mimosa EDP with mimosa in the heart, topped by anise and mandarin, supported by a rose accord and lying on a woodsy base. The juice is rather long-lasting and is a perfect blend of Mediterranean Spring notes. For the lucky one of us who lived or visited this spectacular part of the World at this season, we will surely feel some nostalgia here. Highly recommended!

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle – Une Fleur de Cassie by nose Dominique Ropion

The nose Dominique Ropion, famous for his creations such as Pure Poison from Dior, or Armani Code for women, is behind many exclusive fragrances from the Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle. One of them called Une Fleur de Cassie is a floral fragrance with mimosa on the front stage, accompanied with a carnation accord, rose and jasmine, and robinia (or false acacia). Sandalwood and vanilla are the base of this sensual fragrance. The perfume has sweet acacia honey note with some animalic character that I like, but can perhaps not be for everyone. The dry down is smooth towards a nice sandalwood note. This fragrance is an exquisite olfactory composition that provides easily six hours of pleasure to the acacias lovers.

The French movie star Sophie Marceau in the launch campaign for Champs Élysées of Guerlain. The handwritten text says:”life is more beautiful when we write it by ourselves”

One of the most classic fragrance with mimosa in the heart is Champs Élysées from Guerlain. This perfume was first created in 1904 by Jacques Guerlain. A new modern version was released again in 1996 by Guerlain soon after their acquisition by LVMH. Champs Élysées was created this time by the nose Olivier Cresp, winning a controversial in-house contest against Jean-Paul Guerlain, the grandson of Jacques. How scandalous! This perfume is a modern fruity-floral, with many flower notes such as lilac, lily of the valley and peony, all decorating the main heart note of mimosa. Peach and melon create the unique fruity effect, while sandalwood, almond, and cedar build a solid base. Some hate it, especially because of its controversial history, but for me, this is a light and rather long-lasting elegant floral scent, ideal for Spring.

Let me wish you all, my dear readers, a Happy New Year of the Rooster. May peace, fortune, and prosperity be with you always my dear readers.

Cheers, Laurent

 

 

 

 

 

 

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