San Francisco Chinatown New Years parade 1950’s. Photo via San Francisco public library archives.
Originally published at http://www.cafleurebon.com 5 February, 2019
Growing up in San Francisco in the 1950’s, Chinese New Year was a big deal. A VERY big deal. Living in a culturally diverse neighborhood meant having next-door Aunties and Uncles of almost every ethnicity, religion, creed & culture. And Chinese New Year always felt like the whole city came to a standstill. San Francisco’s Chinatown (founded in the late 1840’s) was and still is one of the largest concentrations of Asian-Americans outside of Mainland China. The sights, sounds, and especially scents of Chinese New Year are indelibly etched into my memory. Standing in the crowds on Grant Avenue first and foremost the sulfurous smell of firecrackers; then and still described erroneously as “cordite” (which went out of favor right after WW2) but is actually a mixture of black powder and flash powder, burnt paper on the street, incense, teak, and the sweet pungent smell of the mahogany bronzed and burnished roast duck hanging in the windows of all the Chinese markets.
Hong Kong Today©
Then the inside at parties; smells of more incense, tangerines, and especially the smell of wheaty steamed dough from the various dumplings; Kuo Te (potstickers), Xi Long Bao and Char Siu Bao (soup dumplings, and spongy buns filled with barbecued pork) still to this day my favorites.
Flats (what we called apartments) filled with the luxurious scents of the mothers most cherished perfumes, and the “good stuff” colognes of the fathers, all trotted out for these special occasions. A whiff of what I now know was Shalimar or Evening In Paris, and my own mother’s Joy Parfum. One Japanese mother from the neighborhood (Mrs. Kobayashi if memory serves) wore only a dab of pure jasmine oil which was so remarkably pungent that her sillage followed her throughout the night.
Perfumes for Chinese New Year 2019:Photo By Robert H. 2019©
So what does one wear for Chinese New Year 2019? I think certain fruit scents like plum or citruswould suffice, but this is not a time to skimp so spraying a luxurious and beloved perfume, one saved for very special occasions will fit the bill. Here are my three: Natori by Natori is a very inexpensive choice that delivers a real firecracker-bang for the buck with its rosey plum notes that drydown to a really beautiful warming amber/patchouli. And that bottle! Heavy and substantial Lotus-shaped purple-black glass with a clear window to glimpse the heart of the perfume. Next up would most likely be Amouage Dia Femme Extrait, quite possibly one of the most extravagantly luxurious perfumes in existence. A Jean-Claude Ellena masterpiece that feels surprisingly airy yet wears as perfectly as a vintage full-length mink coat. The peony, rose, and cyclamen deliver a three-in-one knockout punch while the musky orris and wood create a forested background shot through with luminous beams of sunshine. Last but certainly not least would be Guerlain Iris Ganache (read my reviews here) either vintage or contemporary versions. Both are smashing and really feel like a perfume meant to be worn for Chinese New Year 2019 and a night on the town.
Stock Photo apped by MC
Any of these three perfumes (or the two “Dragon” scents reviewed here) will be perfect for the Chinese New Year 2019 and Year of Pig festivities that kick off on February 5th. To you and your families we at CaFleureBon wish you a very “Gung Hay Fat Choi!”
Disclosure: The perfumes and opinions are my own.
-Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor
Note: The Year of The Pig is one of luck and wealth!!! may it be an auspicious year for all.