Saturday, July 4, 2009

Osmanthus by The Different Company

Osmanthus by TDC (The Different Company) holds a very special place in my heart. It is my first love in the modern perfume. Before finding Osmanthus TDC, I was only attached to the classic perfumes like Diorella and Diorissimo from Dior, or Cristalle and NO.19 from Chanel. Oftentimes I stop by the airport duty free shop trying to sniff the new comers, I was always disappointed; since they all smell the same to me, very sweet and sugary with no personality. I thought to myself, may be I am just attached to the memories of the past, perfumes worn by my mom during my childhood.

In the autumn of 2004, my husband and I had a wonderful trip to Europe. One of the places we visited is the town called Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como. Bellagio is a magical place ! The view of the lake is incredible, the winding small roads across the little town are charming, full of lovely stores and cafes. But most surprisingly, it has lots of beautiful gardens dotted through out the hillside town. I remember it was a cool October day, small drop of rain drizzling from the gray sky. We were taking a ferry from Como; when the boat arrived at the shore of Bellagio and we stepped onto the pier, instantly both me and my husband smelled the most incredible fragrance that can only be described divine ! The whole town were infused with this pungent sweet peachy fragrance that we recognized it right away. It was the familiar smell of osmanthus flower ! The flowers are very popular among Chinese, since many people grow this plant in their garden or on the patio and used it in making tea and cooking. My mom used to have several on our tiny balcony, every year during September and October, I anxiously waiting for the white dainty flowers to bloom, so I can carry some in my pockets to school, hoping I will smell just like that ! We were very surprised to find osmanthus bushes and trees in this Italy lakeside town. The damp cool air seems to intensified the fragrance. We inhaled luxuriously everywhere we went ! For me, the smell of osmanthus will forever link to Bellagio !

Three days later, we left Italy to Paris to enjoy the city of lights. We were wondering around the gift shop of Pompidou Museum, and saw this beautiful modern clean line heavy bottle by a strangly named perfume house, The Different Company. I sprayed the tester of Osmanthus, and the rest is history ! Even my husband ( who is always indifferent to perfume, his only comment is this is good, that is bad !) admitted Osmanthus TDC smells wonderfully, totally captures the essence of osmanthus flower in real life. Actually, in real life if you get too close to the flowers, and purposefully smell them, you will not be able to smell much ! To me it is the mystery of osmanthus, that the fragrance is only spread by winds or air and reaching you unconsciously. The feelings of "it is there and it is not there" strike me as both sweet and innocent, like children playing hide and seak. Needless to say, we carried the heavy bottle back to US with lot's of happy memories !

After this triumphant discovery, I am starting to feel interested in modern perfumes again. Later I found out that Osmanthus TDC was created by the famous perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. And his modern approach to the creation of perfume is well documented in the book "The Perfect Scent" by Chandler Burr ( an interesting book ! ). Ellena prefer his perfumes to be genderless and simple. He believes "A good fragrance becomes part of the wearer", which melted into your skin and mixed with your bloodstream; instead of commenting "That's a wonderful perfume", people might said "you smell great" ( from The Perfect Scent, Chandler Burr). For me Osmanthus TDC gives me that feeling. It creates the illusion of osmanthus flower without over powering, which capture the flower's characteristics of "it is there and it is not there" perfectly. When I compare the classic perfumes with TDC, I gradually grasp the meaning of a perfume that is very closed to the skin. The more I think about it, the more I feel classic type of perfumes are like an opulent piece of jewelry or a red satin evening gown of Valentino, they are certainly pieces of fine art but probably will not look right on me. This new philosophy has broaden my views on how I perceive myself wearing perfume, and the effect on people surrounding me.

Classic perfumes are still part of me, the girl tore off photos of Chanel from Vogue magazine, and hoping one day she can look just like those models ! However, I have learned to appreciate the more approachable and casual modern perfumes, they may be more suitable for my everyday jeans and summer dresses. Sometimes, less is more !

If you like to know more about Jean-Claude Ellena, here is a great interview by Perfume Shrine.
Osmanthus TDC is available on-line at TDC has very innovative packaging !
I have bought a large Osmanthus TDC Estagnon Aluminum (250 ML) from for $150. What a luxurious feeling when you can spray abundantly ! Be sure to call them and verify if they have the item in stock before placing order.
Photo Credits by order: Bellagio by Martin Hapl, TDC Perfume bottle by anne makaske , Valentino red dress by Karen Lee