By Andrea Toochin

In our chaotic, commercial world, fragrances are the last place I’d expect to encounter spirituality. While the term aromacology may be new, the philosophy is not. As referenced in our hand cream article, the term refers to the connection between scent and mood. Kenzo’s latest fragrance, FlowerByKenzo Oriental, reminds us there are temperaments between elation and depression; this rich perfume inspires a demure, sultry state of mind.

Inspired by the traditional Kôdô ceremony, a Japanese ritual where partakers ‘listened to incense,’ the perfume is comprised of floral notes and Kyara, a strong, woody incense from Agar tree resin. Chinese incense and Kyara constitute the spicy component while Bulgarian rose and violet balance it with feminine, floral notes. Sichuan pepper adds an extra punch while barely noticeable traces of musk and vanilla neutralize potentially overpowering tones.

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This is a strong scent not meant for lighthearted, girly women who flock to fruity or floral fragrances. It smells like a combination of concentrated woodsy oils found at health food stores and a classy version of your grandmother’s traditional designer scent. It fades as time passes but lasts far longer than other scents. The tall, sensuous bottle is emblazoned with Japanese characters that conjure images of calligraphers working with long brushes and thin black paint. The finishing touch shows that presentation has made its way from the dinner table to the department store – before placed in the box, the curved, cylindrical bottle is wrapped in textured calligraphy paper.

50mL bottle $70 available at Sephora.

Originally published November 2005
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