Childhood pleasures and sweet innocence, captured in a bottle. Heliotrope Blanc surprised me, beguiled me, and charmed me against all odds. So many of its elements are things that I normally struggle with in perfumery, quite deeply at times, but there is something about this fragrance that is incredibly soothing and comforting for me.
It’s a cozy snuggle scent that made me think of Mary Poppins, almond milk and marshmallow cream, babies in soft blankets, a mother’s loving embrace as she puts her child to sleep, and childhood treats. Heliotrope Blanc’s sweet innocence completely blew away my longstanding issues with iris and powdery scents, leaving me coming back again and again for another sniff. In the end, I simply sprayed some on my sheets and pillows, and snuggled into them with a happy sigh. Apparently, one should never underestimate the impact of childhood comforts.
Heliotrope Blanc is an eau de parfum from Oriza L. Legrand (hereinafter just “Oriza“) that originally debuted in 1886 and was recently re-released last week as part of Oriza’s affordable line of soliflore fragrances. Its notes are as follows:
Top Notes: Orange Blossom, Heliotrope & Violet Leaves.
Heart Notes: Almond, Heliotrope, Mimosa & Iris.
Base notes: Musk, Heliotrope, Rice Powder, Benzoin & Tonka Bean.
As the list and name make clear, this is a scent that amplifies heliotrope in all its aspects. And that means that you really have to love heliotrope in order to love the fragrance. I do. In fact, heliotrope is one of my favorite notes, which is why the perfume was such a hit for me. Yet, in the past, not even heliotrope has managed to overcome my difficulty with iris or my loathing of powdery fragrances — and Heliotrope Blanc is a very powdery scent in its first hour. I loved it even then, due primarily to some magical alchemy of the other notes that manages to evoke a very sweet innocence for me, but I don’t think Heliotrope Blanc is for everyone. You must love the main note in all its facets, as well as the powdery quality provides by the accompanying elements.
We should probably start with a discussion of just what heliotrope is and smells like. It is a plant with white or purple flowers that is sometimes called “the fragrant delight” due to its almond, vanilla, or cherry scent. On occasion, it takes on a marzipan or pate d’amandes quality, as it did for me in Guerlain‘s much-loved Cuir Beluga, while at other moments it smells like meringues, as in Carner Barcelona‘s wonderful Tardes. Frequently, heliotrope has a soothing scent that is simply like sweetened powder with a slightly floral aspect to it. I think that is especially true when the heliotrope is combined with iris, as it was in SHL 777‘s Khol de Bahrein. In a few instances, however, skin chemistry can turn the heliotrope into something like baby powder or scented talcum powder, and that’s usually when people start to complain.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can read about heliotrope and the various ways that it has been handled in perfumery in a detailed Fragrantica‘s article but, for now, all I’ll do is quote one line from the piece: “The characteristic comforting scent of heliotrope has been proven to induce feelings of relaxation and comfort, a pampering atmosphere that finds itself very suited to languorous oriental fragrances and delicious ‘gourmands.’” I completely agree, and it’s one of the main reasons why the note is such a favorite of mine, as well as why I found Heliotrope Blanc to be so comforting.
Heliotrope Blanc opens on my skin with heliotrope, and then more heliotrope. It smells just like marshmallows with a touch of fluffy meringues. The heliotrope is soon followed by a variety of different types of powders. There is vanilla powder, floral powder, almond powder, rice powder, golden mimosa pollen, and powdery, clean iris. Lurking deep in the shadows are minuscule flickers of something smoky, dark, and a little bit woody, leading me to think that the “benzoin” in question may actually be styrax or perhaps Tolu balsam.
The whole thing sits atop a base that is surprisingly milky. I can’t figure out where that comes from, because it’s more than just the usual creaminess created by tonka beans. No, here, it’s actually something lactonic. Whatever the source, it works beautifully with the other notes, particularly the almond, creating something that reminds me a lot of almond milk. The rice powder is also surprisingly appealing. It doesn’t smell like heavy makeup powder, the way it often can and the way it does in some of Oriza’s other fragrances. Instead, it smells like crushed rice that has been sweetened with milk and sugar, then rendered into a fine powder. It’s like rice pudding, in short, only in granulated form.
The florals are much less dominant. There is never any orange blossom on my skin, but there is some mimosa. It’s a very subtle, minor touch at this point, and doesn’t smell like hardcore mimosa, per se, but little whiffs of the flower do occasionally poke their way through the heliotrope, almond, rice powder cloud. The iris is more noticeable and combines with the other notes to create a fresh aroma that reminds me a lot of baby powder.
None of this is usually my thing — to put it mildly — because I generally run from powdery fragrances as though the devil were on my heels. In fact, the Oriza fragrances that I haven’t liked have consistently been the powdery florals. One of them, Jardins d’Armide, was so powdery that it was a complete scrubber for me, and I still wince a little at the memory. So that long list of various powders that I gave at the start for Heliotrope Blanc is precisely the sort of thing that would make me avoid a fragrance like the plague, no matter how much heliotrope were involved. But something about the scent really stopped me in my tracks and made me pause, even in the first hour when the powder is at its peak. It really comes down to the comforting nature of the main note, and how cleverly Oriza has handled it here. Or, perhaps, I simply can’t resist marshmallows, rice pudding, vanilla powder, and almond milk, all wrapped up in a soft floral haze and then, much later, infused with endless amounts of really delectable cream.
Plus, something about the overall combination really seems like the epitome of innocence to me, and I think a large part of it is due to the iris. Yes, it adds a definite talcum powder aroma to the fragrance, but it also combines with the other elements to produce a scent that is a lot like the fresh, clean, milky sweetness of a baby’s head or breath. Neither the baby powder nor the “baby head” lasts for long on my skin, perhaps 20 minutes at most, but I was a little surprised by how much I liked the tender whiffs, particularly as I’m not the sort to go crazy for babies. Puppies, yes; babies, no. Yet, something about the note just works perfectly here.
Heliotrope Blanc starts to shift 15 minutes into its development. The dark, smoky hints of benzoin in the background fade away completely, and their place is taken by a warm, slightly vegetal, musky note that makes me think of ambrette seeds. At the same time, the mimosa and the milky accord grow stronger, while the iris starts to weaken. The heliotrope begins to transform from slightly powdered marshmallows into marshmallow fluff or cream. In the same way, both the almond and the rice powder feel less like fine particles, as a growing flood of creaminess floods over them. I think the reason for much of this is because the tonka has woken up in the base, and is seeping upwards. Still, it’s all a question of degree and, at this point, Heliotrope Blanc continues to be largely centered on heliotrope marshmallow powder and mimosa pollen, with sweetened almond milk, rice powder, rice pudding, and golden warmth, all dusted with lingering traces of clean baby powder and a baby’s sweet breath.
It all changes at the end of the first hour, when Heliotrope Blanc begins its journey away from powder and into cream. With every passing moment, the various powder elements turn into a solid substance dominated by milky and creamy smoothness. The fragrance itself actually seems to change texturally, turning deeper and smoother, taking on a silky quality that coats the skin in the loveliest way. Now, Heliotrope Blanc is a whiffed soufflé of marshmallow cream, almond cream, tonka cream, and rice pudding, with only a light sprinkling of sweetened vanillic powder and mimosa pollen dusted over it.
Heliotrope Blanc changes again a few hours later. Roughly 2.75 hours in, the fragrance suddenly turns significantly more floral in nature. The whole bouquet is still heavily seeped in creaminess, but it no longer feels quite so gourmand now, no longer heavily focus on marshmallow cream and almond rice pudding. Now, both the heliotrope and mimosa have blossomed, resulting in a scent that is more of a silky, milky floral musk. In fact, the musk is stronger now as well, and I continue to wonder if ambrette has been used, because there is a golden warmth to the note.
The really interesting things, though, are all happening in the background and away from the heliotrope dancing about on center stage. Deep in the shadows, there are tiny flickers of something like cherries, either from the heliotrope or from the almond’s pit and core. The cherry note is heavily blanketed by the heliotrope’s more vanillic side, but it’s there nonetheless. At the same time, I occasionally detect a hint of the violet leaves. While there continues to be zero orange blossom on my skin and the iris vanished long ago, the styrax-like benzoin is starting to re-emerge. It adds tiny, subtle flickers of something woody, dark, and a little bit smoky to the mix. There is also a wisp of something like sweetened hay, probably from the coumarin within the tonka beans.
Heliotrope Blanc’s drydown phase begins about roughly around the middle of the 4th hour. In essence, the fragrance is golden heliotrope cream that is infused with vanilla and flecked with a slightly woody, dark resin, along with a touch of musky warmth. The almond butter, tonka, sweetened rice, marshmallows, and cherries have all merged into a blur that is subsumed within the heliotrope, and no longer have a clear, individually distinct shape of their own. There is no powder or mimosa at all.
Heliotrope Blanc remains that way without any major changes until its dying moments when it finally fades away as a blur of sweetness. All in all, the fragrance consistently lasts around 8 to 8.5 hours on my perfume-eating skin when I applied 2.5 or 3 little spritzes from my tiny atomizer, equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle. The sillage was generally about 2.5 inches in the opening moments, then dropped to about 1 inch at the start of the 2nd hour, and about 0.5 at the 2.75 hour mark. The perfume stayed there for quite a while, and only turned into a true skin scent on me at the end of the 5th hour and the start of the 6th.
Heliotrope Blanc was my favorite of the 3 new Oriza fragrances that I’ve tried but, as I’ve said, I love the main note. In contrast, I am not crazy about violets or aldehydic florals, so Violettes du Czar and Marrions-Nous obviously didn’t suit me as well but, as with everything to do with perfumery, it all comes down to individual taste and skin chemistry. Someone who isn’t a hardcore heliotrope fan but who loves violets will probably be blown away Violettes du Czar instead, while people who like things in the vein of vintage Chanel No. 5 (with a touch of Bal à Versailles) will probably love Marrion-Nous. In general, I think Heliotrope Blanc skews quite feminine, unless the man in question happens to love slightly powdery scents that veer between the gourmand and floral genres.
You should try Heliotrope Blanc if you like fragrances like Cuir Beluga or Khol de Bahrein, or if you enjoyed the fluffy, meringue notes in the base of Carner Barcelona‘s Tardes. I am warning you now that you are likely to detect a clean, fresh, baby powder note in Heliotrope Blanc’s opening phase, thanks in large part to the iris, but it should pass, and hopefully quite quickly. If you’re patient, all the powdery qualities should fade away by the start of the second hour.
Heliotrope Blanc is too new to have an entry page on Fragrantica or Basenotes yet, but the fragrance is already out on Oriza’s own website, with free shipping to the U.S. for all full bottle purchases. As part of the Soliflore Collection, Heliotrope Blanc is priced lower than Oriza’s other creations, and is €90 or $125 for 100 ml of eau de parfum. I think it’s a great price for the size, and it shows just how unpretentious and honest Oriza is as a brand. They’re not claiming Heliotrope Blanc is a complicated fragrance, nor a dramatic, distinctive one. It’s a completely straightforward scent with a simple nature (albeit one that they’ve refined with lovely polish and smoothness), and Oriza has priced it accordingly. I really respect that.
Mary Poppins once said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but I think that heliotrope is better. There is just something so soothing and relaxing about its scent, and Heliotrope Blanc further amplifies its comforting qualities to great effect. The mix of sweetness, creaminess, and softness with a whisper of baby innocence and warm muskiness somehow reminds me of what it was like when my mother used to tuck me in bed. So I plan to use Heliotrope Blanc as one of my night-time comfort scents, spraying my little atomizer sample over my pillows to help me dream of simpler times or childhood pleasures. I have no doubt that I’ll eventually buy a full bottle, because I really find something rather addictive about it all. If you love heliotrope, I think you will as well.
Disclosure: My sample was courtesy of Oriza L. Legrand. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.