I was standing on my back porch trying not to inhale while I brushed fur from the cats’ rugs before washing them. Life was dull, and my sample of L’Artisan’s Traversee de Bosphore had still not arrived. But hurrah! The puppy-like roar of the postman’s little motor bike announced that this could be the day, and thankfully it was. I was feeling like you could traversee me anywhere just then, and the Bosphorus would do just fine.
My initial impression of Traversee was one of disappointment. I had been expecting leather and iris but I got little of the former and none of the latter. I was sad about that because they had sounded so intriguing combination with the fruit and Turkish delight which my brain does register very loudly. I had to tell myself that those darker notes must be there, grounding and providing structure to what would otherwise be just sticky syrupy fruit.
I had a colleague once who would travel to Turkey once a year for work and would bring us all back a box of Turkish delight. This was very generous, but the price to be paid was listening to his annual lecture about how this was genuine Turkish delight because it included pistachio nuts and was dusted with confectioner’s sugar. A far cry from that chocolate coated stuff you buy in the supermarket, he always said. I was never brave enough to advertise my plebeian tastes by remarking that I adore the chocolate version. A bar of Fry’s Turkish Delight, gobbled in a few greedy bites, has helped me through many sticky situations. I liked the ‘genuine‘ Turkish delight but the pistachios would catch in my throat and make me cough.
Actually, according to Wikipedia, the Turkish delight most favoured in Turkey consists almost solely of chopped dates, pistachios and hazelnuts or walnuts. It seems that it is Westerners, including my credulous colleague, who prefer the jellied sort. Likewise, Traversee du Bosphore is surely a dream of Turkey. Our own dee found it evoked for her not Turkey so much as
the courtyard of an English manor on a brisk fall morning just moments before the hunt.
L’Artisan claims of course that the fragrance captures ‘the scent of a languorous day exploring the narrow streets and influences of Istanbul’. Well, I’ve never been to Istanbul but I reckon there are as many sky scrapers and shopping malls there as in any capital city, and as far as I know they don’t smell of anything very much except stale air conditioning.
Still, perfume is about fantasy. Jacques Polge apparently said of his famous oriental for Chanel that Coco was his interpretation of an Orient which begins and ends in Venice. When writing about Escale a Portofino Luca Turin suggested that the Portofino of today is not necessarily one we would really want to escale to. And, well, there might be a stinking alley behind 31 rue Cambon but I couldn’t care less.
I’m still not sure about the opening of Traversee du Bosphore. Perhaps it will be better for me in cooler weather. I’m thinking of Sonoma Scent Studio’s Femme Jolie (sadly discontinued), a combination of fruit, spice and cedar which for me it is unwearable in the summer. I lose the cedar and get lots of jam. What I do love in TdB is the waft of the drydown – not so sweet, but woodsy, nutty and creamy. Beautiful, as I’m sure Istanbul must be too.