The Flowers of Good and Evil. Our New Eden Garden Temptations.

2023 . 11 . 30 | written by Laurence Arrigo Klove

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A Different Eden, In the Garden of Good and Evil.

Instead of the mythical forbidden tree of knowledge, our garden is made of fields of flowers where we are free to explore and indulge in perfume temptations. Our own imagination will decide if there are candid and innocent, or wicked and evil. The story holds in store no severe exclusion from the garden but a peaceful fragrance freedom. The fields are open, welcoming all genders, ages, geographies and walks of life. A universal kingdom, where all types of flowers grow, blossom and fade. Void of vivid drama but full of renewed beauty.

: Kilian Hennessy, featured representing the perfume collection the ‘Garden of Good and Evil’.

The original perfume collection created by Kilian Hennessy named the ‘Garden of Good and Evil’ was uniquely daring. The talent of the perfume composer, Calice Becker, beautifully shined throughout the fragrance collection. The scents ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’, ‘In the City of Sin’, ‘Forbidden Games’ (amongst others) were unequivocally inviting to a sensual experience, made of an olfactive metaphor of the object of temptation:

“My florals are built like a narcotic dependence. I love to explore the different facets of a flower, specifically those that are unapologetically sensual.” Kilian Hennessy

Our Renewed Attraction to The Flowers of Evil.

Maison Guerlain Flagship Store Magnificence - Author's photo

This fall, Maison Guerlain decided to showcase ‘The Flowers of Evil’ in their flagship store on the Champs Elysées in Paris. Inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s famous poems published in 1857, the art exhibition was a real success with visible queues outside of the shop. The prestigious French house has a long tradition of patronage of contemporary art. This mesmerizing exhibition curated a selection of artists of different styles and backgrounds under the common theme of ‘The Flowers of Evil’.

Our Floral Romance Knows Its Fugitive Presence.

We are aware of the fading nature of flowers, so that I was particularly interested in the still life by the artist and writer Jean-Philippe Delhomme. Here, our attention seems to be challenged between the fading beauty of the flowers and the permanence of the book. We are to question ourselves and reflect upon the ephemeral over the durable. Flowers grow, fade, and disappear. Is their beauty more precious to us as it is fugitive and short lived?

Roses et Matisse, painting by Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Our Flowers Fascination. A Colored Attraction.

Out of the Guerlain exhibition, I also decided to pick Thandiwe Muriu, a female Kenyan artist. The vivid colors of her art series called ‘Material Culture’ triggered my curiosity. The traditional fabric typically used as a head cover by woman in official occasions seems here to represent a symbol of strength and beauty. The power of the red flowers appears to be immense. The pattern strongly and simply conveys the person’s presence and aura. The pure power of the flowers shines through.

‘Not my mother’s headdress’ by Thandiwe Muriu

The Flowers Intrigue. Virtuousness and Wickedness.

The naturalness of flowers is precious to us. Together with water, mountains and forests, flowers are a strong symbol of nature and of its beauty. What would our world be without the beautiful fields of jasmine, roses, mimosa, lavender, violet and tuberose? A very poor and sad world surely that we do not want to imagine. The sight of flowers is as ravishing as the scent they produce. The production of fragrances is also an important cultural element. This is why Grasse in France has earned a World Heritage status by the UNESCO. Around the world, there are more and more initiatives on the sourcing of sustainable ingredients and on the production of perfume oils. The positive impact mission consists in preserving the natural environment as well as contributing to the development of the communities growing the ingredients crops.

However, there is an ambiguity in the nature of flowers. Behind their apparent innocence lies a wicked essence.

There are many illustrations of flower creations with a dark side. I decided to select two of them in this article. ‘La Nuit de l’Orchidée’, or ‘The Night Orchid’, by the well-established French brand, Pierre Guillaume, is a perfect example of the voluptuous side of the flower. The perfume belongs to its most intimate and exotic collection named ‘Pierre Guillaume Confidential’ and is made of an imagination of a ‘sin’:

“Witch flower, with a fruit similar to a leather sheath, the Vanilla Orchid is a sinner containing a sensory storm”. Pierre Guillaume
La Nuit de l’Orchidée by Pierre Guillaume Paris
La Nuit de l’Orchidée by Pierre Guillaume Paris

Another irresistible flower temptation belongs to the perfume collection of Grandiflora. The Australian brand is the creation of Saskia Havekes, a female artist who opened a florist studio named ‘Grandiflora’ in Sydney. For more than 25 years, she has focused on creating emotions for special occasions and found her creative inspiration in the magic of flowers. The magic comes from her understanding of their psychology, architecture, colours, and composition. Saskia’s desire to build a fragrance house blossomed from Grandiflora’s unique and lush space and her veneration for the artistry of flowers. Her international scent profile and reputation has grown strong as she has carefully curated each fragrance by collaborating with some of the world’s more celebrated perfumers. Composed by Bertrand Duchaufour, the mystical fragrance, the ‘Queen of the Night’ is her venture into the darker blooms’ universe. The sensuous scent is inspired by the flowering cactus; a mysterious and elusive flower that opens in the heart of the night and only once a year. Saskia plays with the forces of natural elements in her fragrances; her last perfume ‘Saskia’ captures the feeling of her verdant studio, full of wood and water with personal notes of the ‘bush’, a landscape where heavy rainfall mixes with the rich earth, reminiscent of her childhood.

‘I am most interested in flowers that are not just pretty. I am after the ones that capture an unusual beauty’ Saskia Havekes, Grandiflora florist and perfumer.
Saskia Havekes in her shop Grandiflora
The Queen of the Night by Grandiflora

The Creation of New Florals Category Families.

We are all acquainted with the seven main fragrance families (woody, oriental, aromatic, leather, citrus, chypre and floral) and of the usual four categories of florals: soft florals, fruity florals, amber florals, and floral florals. But given the new sulfurous florals that are blossoming all over the perfume world, there seems to be a lack of categorization. I would like to suggest the creation of two categories based on a new angle that incorporates the good and evil dimension. There are endless duo titles variations. Names made of opposed forces: innocent | forbidden, good | evil, blissed | wicked, light | dark, day | night, virtuous | poisonous, natural | sensual, candid | narcotic, white | black, pure harmony | dark mystery, sun | moon, pious| sulfurous …

This reflects our attraction to flowers and of its contradiction. We are seduced by their complexity. We admire their beauty. We are attracted by their ambivalence. We are tempted by their innocence. We fall for their romance. We are impressed by their power. We cherish their eternal renewal.

This is a True Love Declaration to Flowers.