The name. I know.
I'm a salad-loving vegetarian with a vague affection for celery, but even I won't claim that it's my favorite leafy green. It's... celery. But I urge you with all my might to ignore the name of the newest perfume from Montreal-based Monsillage and try it anyway (see my previous reviews of Aviation club, Dupont Circle, and Ipanema Posto Nove, and I promise to write about the 2012 fragrance Vol 870 YUL-CDG in the coming weeks ).
It's worth it.
Neither the husband and I not a bunch of friends whom I more or less forced to try Eau de Celeri think it's smells like something from the farmer's market. It's green, though. Incredibly GREEN, but the overall impression is far more elegant than a juice stand in Brooklyn. This shouldn't surprise anyone who'd followed perfumer Isabelle Michaud, the creative mind behind Monsillage, who is classically trained (ISIPCA perfume institute in Versailles). Eau de Celeri is a modern take on galbanum and vetiver, not quite Vent Vert, but it should appeal to the same fan base. The modern elements come in the form of a very realistic fresh cut grass note and a bitter citrus that seeps into the softer sweeter green leaves. Coriander leaf (aka cilantro) is listed as one of the notes, but I can't say that I get a Vietnamese salad anywhere in the composition. Just tender spring leaves everywhere, surrounded by the more sophisticated and edgy galbanum.
There's a lovely innocence to the lush grassy background. I'm reminded of a childhood memory of the house and yard where we lived when my sister and I were little. My mother would settle us on a blanket right under her bedroom window with books and toys, the grass around us soft and inviting to roll in it. A Rose of Sharon tree was in full bloom, as was some kind of a daisy-like bush that we both loved (to the chagrin of the upstairs neighbor who hated seeing my toddler sister tear the flowers apart). It smelled kind of marigoldish, green and slightly bitter, a scent I love to this day. But the biggest temptation was the ravine behind the house. I remember pink flowers on labdanum shrubs and a trailing path that some said lead all the way down to the beach (it did. Years later my boyfriend and I climbed it all the way up from the beach to the old neighborhood), but we weren't allowed to set foot there. You could hear the jackals at night, and who knew what else lurks there? But my sister and I were safely ensconced in the little green universe that surrounded us and protected us with delicate green fingers.
The husband swears that he gets celery seed when wearing the perfume, and I agree that there's an earthy spice lurking somewhere behind the galbanum. Some of it is probably the woody-vetiver base, which to my nose smells toasted with a slight burn at the edges. This dry-down helps ground the leaves and creates a good longevity. It deepens a little as the perfume develops on skin, but the core is consistently green and very satisfying.
Notes: Coriander Leaf, Galbanum, Grass, Bergamot, Lemon, Grapefruit, Flower Buds, Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedar.
Monsillage- Eau de Celeri ($95, 50ml eau de toilette) is available at Twisted Lily. The press bottle for this review was sent by the perfumer.
Image from Vogue Italy, April 1971.