I recently realized how much I love osmanthus as a summer perfume note. I adore it in Uncle Serge's Nuit de Cellophane, I skip the stairs two at a time wearing Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus and it looks like I might need a full bottle of Osmanthus Interdite by Parfum d'Empire because it has everything I love- from the tactile velvet of the honeyed apricot note to a very leathery musk dry-down.
An osmanthus flower doesn't look all that impressive. It grows in clusters of tiny white or yellow florets- cute but nothing more. I don't think I've come across a live osmanthus, so I can't comment on the way it smells other than in tea and in perfume. Harney & Sons (harney.com) have a wonderful Osmanthus Oolong tea that has a round and satisfying fruity aroma while still retaining the strength and richness of oolong. It's as far from a wimpy fruity non-tea as Osmanthus Interdite is from an apricot body spray.
Parfum d'Empire's collection was inspired by the empires of yore, some more questionable than others. While this is not my favorite theme (emperors are usually more Palpatine than the Childlike Empress), at least in the case of Osmanthus Interdite the Chinese connection is clear, even if it's China from a romantic westernized fantasy. A secret garden inside an imperial palace, flowers and fruit artfully engraved on vases and ornaments. It's very very pretty. I especially love how despite the very low sillage the perfume is warm and enveloping; the leather note is smooth and soft.
This Parfum d'Empire creation is very low-key compared to the more famous apricot and suede perfume Daim Blond (Lutens). The latter gets in your face and waves its iris note, making sure your nearest and dearest are aware of your superb taste in fragrance. Osmanthus Interdite is a lot more reserved which makes it easier to wear in summer. My only complaint is the lasting time- less than four hours is not my idea of perfection and the only reason I'm still living on samples and haven't succumbed to the allure of a full bottle (yet).
Osmanthus Interdite ($75, 50ml) is available from BeautyHabit.com. Luckyscent carries the 100ml bottles ($110) as does Aedes, though the price is inexplicably higher there ($130). Someone should clue the Aedes guys of this little issue.
All art by Carol Chambers (carolchambers.biz)