Victoria's Personal Fragrance Story. How to Enjoy Life Extensively.

2024 . 06 . 20 | written by Laurence Arrigo Klove

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The People of Niche Perfumery

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An Unquenchable Curiosity As A Key To Life Mystery

It is quite impossible to summarize Victoria with a simple definition. Her cosmopolitan personality, her intense curiosity and high proficiency in a variety of disciplines leave us with an unresolved equation. What is the sum of being a trained perfumer, a fragrance history teacher, a book writer, a globe trotter, a journalist, an expert in flower compositions and food creations, and a lover of poetry, music, and nature? The only transparent answer is her transient essence. Made of poetic correspondence, of fragrance redolence, and of travelling elegance. She is fleeting by nature, like a perfume trail vanishing and beautifully passing through. I managed to catch one evanescent moment of her.

Victoria Belim-Frolova amid a ‘savory’ reading experience at home.

A Permanent Student. A Cosmopolitan Inhabitant.

Victoria Belim-Frolova was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. She left the country and moved to the US. With her husband, they decided to move back to Europe and have lived in Brussels for the last fourteen years. Victoria does not define herself with her nationality, as she feels she belongs to all the places where she has been. Every place has left such a strong imprint on her that she cannot possibly choose one. This is when I must reveal that Victoria speaks eighteen languages with a high level of fluency, including Persian, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Bulgarian, Spanish... A self-taught polyglot with her own method, she embarks on the project of learning the local language of her next travel destination. A challenge that is both vital and achievable as she tells me ‘the more one learns, the easier it gets’.

Victoria studied political science in the US and this has had a major influence in her work and life. She still taps into the ability to do complex research, to apply analytical thinking and persistently resolve problems. She created a blog called ‘Bois de Jasmin’ as a hobby and a distraction from her studies. A pure creative outlet launched in 2005, Bois de Jasmin remains to this day immensely popular.

I am on a sensory pursuit of everything that makes life more interesting and bewitching. I explore the world of senses through my lenses, capturing art, literature, culinary traditions, and history’.

Victoria Belim-Frolova, founder of Bois de Jasmin.

Home-made Japanese delicacies by Victoria.

The name ‘Bois de Jasmin’ is intriguing, quite simply, there is no jasmine wood or forest. Victoria’s intense love for the jasmine flower led her to imagine a fantasy, a forest full of jasmine. The blog is highly informative as it features perfume notes, fragrance vocabulary, scent guide, and perfume reviews, filtered by house, creator, note, rating, mood, plus a section for candles and beauty. I find the moods section particularly interesting filtered by “Big Sillage”, “Big White Floral”, “Opulent”, “Classics & Vintage”, “Elegant”, “Casual”, “Winter”, “Fall”, “Spring”, “Summer,” “Refreshing”, “Seductive”, “Film Noir”, “Cheap & Chic”...The blog rating system is based on a scale of five stars, with 5 stars for an ‘outstanding’ perfume. For Victoria, a 5-star scent satisfies both all her yearnings and fantasies but is also technically impeccably well-crafted. I must say that I have always been quite drawn to finding out Victoria’s opinion on a perfume and to gage how I would be influenced by her evaluation.

Now, it is our turn to be curious and wonder where her perfume expertise comes from. Her passion for perfumes led Victoria to work for a prestigious scent company. In the IFF New York headquarter, she worked as an olfactive evaluator and coordinator. Studying raw materials was the favourite part of her training at IFF. When she left the company, she embarked on writing columns for major publications such as The New York Times, The Financial Times, Vogue… and won two Fragrance Foundation FiFi awards for Editorial excellence. I found the following quote of the Financial Times on Victoria’s work:

She muses on the inadequacy of the language commonly used to describe perfume, while expanding it considerably with her own words and thoughts.

Next to her writing endeavours, Victoria undertook consulting work and developed creative concepts and projects while travelling around the world in search of beautiful raw materials.

The still-life beauty of flowers picked in Bereh, Ukraina.

A Writer. A Teacher. An Olfactive Explorer. As One.

She was quick to grasp educational opportunities and develop course trainings. Victoria practices both physical and digital trainings. Her three-class ingredients digital training is currently advertised on Bois de Jasmin and is quickly fully booked. She feels profound felicity from the sharing of a perfume discovery experience. To no surprise, she has put much emphasis on the teaching of raw materials such as woods, spices, citrus, orange blossom, iris, and rose. Victoria has also enlarged her learning capacity by becoming an ISIPCA teacher in November 2023. Her semester course, included in the master programme, tackles fragrance history, and covers the evolution of the perfume industry. This year, twenty-five students passed the exam prepared by their elated teacher. A fragrance history ‘trans-mission’ accomplished.

Victoria in a teaching session, photo taken by Anna Kozlova.

A Family Biography Based on a Tragedy. A Solved Mystery.

Released in December 2021, ‘The Rooster House’ has already been published in seventeen countries and it made the BBC cut for ‘books of the week’. Victoria worked relentlessly on the memoir for four years as it involved significant research. She tells a mysterious piece of her family story and the lingering effects of an unresolved chapter of history. Tragically, a member of the family was taken inside ‘the rooster house,’ the nickname of a prison, and his disappearance remained undocumented and unexplained. Victoria’s investigation finally sheds the light and gives the whole truth. The contribution of Victoria’s mother was particularly precious in terms of ‘proof reading’, checking facts and adding precise information. The book is a tribute to Victoria’s great-grandmother Asya; a strong woman who never gave up fighting through tough situations. Her love for her grandmother Valentina also shines through as she was the one who taught Victoria the love of nature, plants, and flowers. “Nothing disappears without a trace” is the key line that Victoria picked out of ‘The Rooster House’ as it was her grandmother’s favourite sentence to express the persistence of events into our memories.

‘The Rooster House, My Ukrainian Family Story’ By Victoria Belim.
Family album pictures, featuring Victoria’s great-grandmother and grandmother.

An Extraordinary Glimpse Into Victoria's Intimacy.

Despite the mystery exuding from her personality, I decided to be bold and ask some personal questions. I first questioned Victoria on her perfume favourites; she was quick to answer and resolutely gave me the following three scents, Chanel N°19, Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens, and Songes by Annick Goutal. When asked about her preferred ingredients, she explained she immensely enjoys galbanum for its intensity (N°19 understood), iris for its elegance (Iris Silver Mist too) and osmanthus for its apricot leathery facet. The choice of Songes is for us to assume, surely by its beautiful roundness and softness. I continued with my questions and interrogated her on people who are inspiring her and whom she truly admires; this is when Victoria gave me the names of three perfumers (here after I selected for the reader three iconic perfumes for each perfumer). Sophia Grojsman, who happened to be her mentor when she worked at IFF, a visionary ‘legend’ perfumer (Bvlgari pour Femme, Paris by Yves Saint Laurent, White Linen by Estée Lauder). Calice Becker, master perfumer at Givaudan and director of the Givaudan Perfumery School whom Victoria knows well (Love Don’t Be Shy, in the Good & Evil original collection BY KILIAN and J’adore by DIOR). Maurice Roucel, master perfumer at Symrise, an iconic expert from the industry that she had the opportunity to engage with (Musc Ravageur by EDP Frédéric Malle, Guerlain Insolence, Hermès 24 Faubourg).

A glimpse into Victoria’s home interior in Brussels.

To continue the exploration of her eclectic essence, I asked Victoria to select her kaleidoscopic preferences. The hereafter list of her favourite things and places is quite revealing. It shows her intense curiosity for a diversity of topics. Given her love for nature, she picked three parks, the ‘Parc du Cinquantenaire’ in Brussels, the ‘Jardins du Luxembourg’ in Paris, and the Botanical Gardens in Kyiv. For music, she selected the Iranian singer Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, the cello suites from Bach, and the Basiani ensemble of Georgian music. In terms of poetry, she chose a female classical Ukrainian writer, Lesya Ukrainka (1871-1913) and, two thirteen-fourteen century Persian poets, Sa'di and Hafez. She cherishes ‘Pillow Book’ by Sei Shõnagon, a book of observations by a court lady in the early 1000s during the Heian-period in Japan. Closer to our times, her choice went to a Japanese fiction novel ‘Spring Snow’ by Yukio Mishima published in 1969, a masterpiece of Japanese literature, an intriguing story of love and power... In Victoria’s world, the East holds a prominent position with a special attraction; a place of inspiration, mixing tradition, history, and poetry.

When queried about her future, she explained to me that she has no real planning but only one objective which is to keep on learning new things. Ultimately, she does admit that she has in mind a new book. Anything else remains a mystery.

Victoria’s family home in Bereh, Ukraina. Time 16h55. She was there but has now just left...


Catch Her if You Can’.

An appropriate line referring to the character of Victoria Belim-Frolova. An apt title for a fleeting traveller’s nature. If you want to ‘catch’ her you may possibly see her in the Loire Valley this summer. If you can.