40 Days and 40 Nights of Fragrance Notes: Bergamot
Something About The Sunshine
by Patti F
The lovely, light bergamot note in perfumes is not usually seen on its own. Unless you take a little trip to Sicily, where you can find a bottle of Bergamotta from a street vendor for about $5 USD. This citrus fruit is grown in the south of Italy in the Calabria region and also in Sicily. From what I've been reading about bergamot, the fruit is grown mostly for perfumery purposes and it is not eaten at all. The scent of bergamot is used to treat depression! And its essence is used as a cure for malaria! On the tree it might more resemble an orange, and is actually categorized as an orange, but the scent of bergamot brings forth a freshly squeezed lemon, peel and all. In the little bottle of Bergamotta, I smell lemon tree flowers. Bergamot notes in fragrances can smell like fresh lemon juice or lemon peel, or sometimes like lemon leaves or lemon tree blossoms. But it is different from a regular lemon note, which can tend to smell sometimes like household cleaning products
In perfumery, bergamot takes its place along with oakmoss and patchouli, the Holy Trinity of notes that make a fragrance a classic chypre. I've loved chypre scents even before I knew the word chypre. Back then we called them woodsy-mossy. My first chypre was the original formula of Cachet by Prince Matchabelli, still absolutely beautiful if you can find it, but stay away from the reformulation that bears no resemblance to the original. My Mom bought me a bottle of Chanel No. 19 when I was a teen, and we both still love and wear it. Chanel also uses bergamot in its lovely, fresh Cristalle. I have a bottle of Cristalle, which I purchased when I found out that Chris Noth (Mister Big) once said that this fragrance can bring him to his knees. Just in case I ever run into him, I'm tucking a vial of Cristalle in my purse.
Dior loves to use bergamot in its fragrances. The Escale series started with Portofino, a breezy, clean scent you might want to try if you wish to capture the feeling of standing on a balcony in the fresh air of that Italian port city. Dior is famous for its green Diorella, a classic chypre with beautiful florals. Guerlain's timeless Jicky starts with bergamot before it brings forth the lavender that is loved by its wearers. One of Guerlain's oldest scents, it still seems totally modern. You'll find bergamot in the hauntingly lovely Apres L'Ondee, too. That is, if you can even find Apres L'Ondee at all.
Bergamot tames the heaviness of the rose notes in Fragonard's Baroque. It adds a lemony-peppery feeling to Acqua Di Parma Profumo, which contains three types of bergamot (source: Barney's website.) Profumo is a fascinating scent that delivers so many levels and layers, starting with the light lemony fizz, and moving through rich florals, ending in satisfying woods. Be careful, though, I've read that there is now a reformulation. I hope it's not true. From Italy you will find many scents with bergamot, including Aqua Di Genova Lady (with a sad wave goodbye to Takashimaya, where I found this gem.) From the markdown tables at TJMaxx, Borsari's Il Mio Sogno was a happy discovery, with light white florals and oakmoss. You'll find bergamot in many Italian perfumes, since it's grown right there in Italy.
The lemony bergamot note dominates the opening of my beautiful Zen by Shiseido. Hard to find, to say the least, Shiseido has lent this name to at least two new fragrances, both of which have nothing at all to do with the original in the gorgeous black bottle. This white floral blend has been a favorite of mine ever since my college roommate insisted that I borrow it from her for a first date with a new beau. She was so worldly and glamourous, of course I took her advice! I dated that young man for a year and purchased my own bottle of Zen. Chinatown by Bond No. 9 begins with bergamot before it gives you its heart of beautiful florals.
Bergamot in fragrances gives an initial appeal, but is not too fruity or clinging. It is not meant to linger, but just to entice. Chances are that many of the perfumes on your own fragrance tray have bergamot in them. From the first known perfumery blends to the latest launch, bergamot is a very important ingredient in perfumery and well-respected as a fragrance note in perfumes all over the world.
Do you have a favorite perfume that contains bergamot?
Disclaimer: All bottles in these photographs were purchased by the writer, with the exception of Jicky and Diorama, which were gifts.
Reviewer: Patti F aka Cavewoman
Photo Credits: Patti F aka Cavewoman
Graphic Credit: Melanie Parker
Title: Ann Margaret's Something About The Sunshine