Jasmine IS the cornerstone of perfumery: a perfectly unisex note, present in an impressive percentage in so many perfumes, for so many years. It’s always been talked about among perfume lovers: Le Fleur, „The Flower“. A source of inspiration or a challenge to excel for many a perfumer, used since forever in fragrances in so many different ways. I was just thinking about how the season of jasmine has begun.
And then, after a long time and all the finest (or less so) interpretations, I came upon one that made me stop right in my tracks: Fado Jasmim by Miguel Matos Perfumes. What has jasmine to do with Fado? Everything.
Grandiflorum! Saudade! Fado Português. All that, and more, in a limited edition release of 24 bottles. A reflection of the perfumer’s soul? A destiny? It seems to me like all the previous fragrances in the brand’s vivid portfolio lead to this one.
Fado has something that holds the soul of the people
A nothingness that is not seen, and everything that we feel.
-Destino Marcado, Ricardo Ribeiro
Fado (fate, destiny) as a music genre specific to Portugal. When you start thinking about it, if defined like in the verses of the song above, Fado bears similarities with perfume. Fragrances too hold our souls, can’t be seen, and yet can make us feel, and wordlessly expose and express our feelings. And – really – who could create a fragrance about Fado, if not the self-taught, Portuguese perfumer Miguel Matos:
If there is something that touches me deeply and awakens my emotions, it’s Fado. This becomes even stronger when, for example, I am far away from my country and I hear the deep voices and the whimsical sounds of the Portuguese Guitarra. It makes me cry instantly. Fado is about sadness and making it beautiful.
My first contact with Fado happened many years ago when I was an eight-year-old kid that hasn’t yet traveled anywhere beyond my country’s borders, but my parents did. Their trip to Portugal was my very first memory connected to the big world outside the borders, even more, exciting because it happened at the time when traveling abroad was nearly prohibited to us, very rare, and quite controlled.
The night before they left, my mother brought a big plastic terrestrial globe that I had in my room, took my hand and led my finger to one small spot: „Whenever you feel like you are missing us, just put your finger on this spot right there– this is where we’ll be.“
When they returned, they brought gifts for me: one small Azulajo tile – a souvenir from Lisabon, and one LP record: Fado by (the famous, beautiful, and one and only) Amalia Rodrigues. I still have it.
And gifts of stories they told me every night before sleep for weeks, stories about the Atlantic Ocean and the river – Rio Tejo, how long it is (with my finger on the big plastic globe following its trail), how Romans settled there first, and how important it was during the Age of Discovery. I listened to the stories they told me about Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan – before they even let me listen to the record with Fado songs.
They said that I was too young to understand what saudade means and that I should be first aware of why Fado carries undertones of mourning, mentions sea often, and usually has an air of resignation and melancholia.
They spoke about multiculturality that influenced the development of early Fado songs, the sadness that makes you happy while you’re accepting your life, and all the good and bad things that spin the wheel of it.
Later on, when I visited Lisbon by myself, the first thing I did was to find a music store and equip myself with dozens of Fado music CDs. The second one, of course, was to look up a Fado pub and just FEEL the music and songs over a glass of red wine.
Did I cry? Yes. Without understanding most of the words. But…the emotion! It was there, the kind that touches you regardless of the language spoken. Just like Jasmine does, just like Jasmine does…
A movement of the soul. And the best part is that I’m looking forward to repeating the experience!
All these memories flashed vividly in my mind, once I sprayed this fragrance on my skin: Miguel Matos spins his story around Jasminum Grandiflorum – the floral, fruity, light and dark, animalic-leaning beauty that befits his style and expression so well, with elaborate and finely executed, smooth and elegant notes and vivid composition, rhymed and blended with grace. He certainly got his hands on some fine material to work with!
If you look closely and know Miguel’s other creations, the specific handwriting is there: you’ll find elements of some previously composed perfumes he made for other brands, but Fado Jasmim has a very strong identity of its own.
The arrow of beauty is moving slowly:
With the piercing of desires
From the lips burning with kisses
That kiss the air and nothing more… – Amalia Rodrigues, Fado Português
The fragrance opens with a fresh and fruity, joyful explosion of colorful sparkle and juicy, spontaneous sensuality: moderately sweet, well-balanced opulence of tastes, so promising and optimistic. It feels sunny, with a warm timbre: the flow of notes is moving slowly, it’s dense and opulent.
Little by little, fruity freshness fades away slowly and hues change: the vibrant optimism gains darker tones, with a feeling of the haunting, like an overindulged romance that was once a fresh summer morning, but it has now turned into a humid, brooding summer afternoon. Jasmine slowly exhibits its slightly spicy, thick white blossoms with dark-colored indole edges, flowers that have fully bloomed and are ready to be picked as dusk settles in.
Not only are the indolic characteristics of jasmine finely wrapped around solid, buttery-soft tuberose that can be felt in the background, but jasmine here feels intrinsic to tuberose just as tuberose feels locked in a sensual relationship with jasmine, melting together at a deliberately slow pace. Passion lurks from the dark shades, melancholic and mesmerizing at the same time, expressed by well-restrained but expressive animalic tones.
The dry-down reminds me of old, wooden benches in a Fado Pub after the show is over and everyone has left: those silent witnesses of time and events are pushed aside, empty and forgotten until the next evening, and a new performance of fadistas.
When everything quiets down, a slightly mineral-salty streak can be felt on the skin. Like an ocean breeze, dense, soft, and comforting as it touches the skin and becomes a salty-musky layer of relief. The overall feeling in further stages of dry-down is still warm, but dry, and stripped off all the animalic undertones. It feels calm and serene, melancholic in expression, and it’s quite long-lasting.
The presentation of Fado Jasmim is elaborate: every 100 ml of fragrance is poured into unique Art Deco bottles, found forgotten and dusty at the Marinha Grande Glass Factory in Portugal. These fine bottles were made 70 years ago – 24 bottles were left, Miguel bought the whole lot and gave them a new life.
There’s more: Claudia Simoes aka Little Stitches Portugal – an embroidery artist – made a unique embroidery of jasmine to accompany each bottle, in the art of Castelo Branco Embroidery, silk over linen – very traditional.
This perfume IS the expression of its creator’s Fado-struck soul, poured into unique bottles: 24 pieces a 100 ml eau de parfum, limited edition. Available at Miguel Matos Official Online Shop, here.
Notes (as listed by the brand):
Top Notes: Banana, Lemon Petitgrain, Passion Fruit, Plum
Middle Notes: Jasmine Sambac, Indole, Rose, Tuberose, Peach
Base Notes: Civet, Oud, Amber, Ambergris, Oakmoss, Musk, Coumarin, Coconut
(Non-IFRA compliant – please do a test on a small patch of your skin.)
There’s another fragrance from Miguel Matos Perfumes that I would call a part of his “Heritage” Collection (entirely my categorization): Miracle of Roses, a fragrant tribute to the legend of St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal. I think there are only 3 bottles left of this fragrant story about bread, roses, and kindness – there were 4, but mine is on its way. I’ve tested it and had it on my mind ever since Esxcence last year, so I’ll let you know more about it soon!
The Plum Girl
Photos: Miguel Matos, Wikipedia, The Plum Girl
A sample of Fado Jasmim was kindly provided by Miguel Matos Perfumes for my consideration. Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed are, as always, of my own.