Hasu no Hana: A fragrance that divides and conquers

by Katie on January 2, 2011

Never have I seen a reaction quite like the one I received with Grossmith’s timeless and legendary fragrance, Hasu no Hana. 

Originally created in 1888, Hasu-no-Hana was born in a time when Grossmith was favoured by Royalty and renowned for their romantic and exotic fragrances.  How different they still smell to the masses today, who, over indulged by weak compositions, ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ celebrity fragrances and masstige fashion brand names that the power of a real, true, powerful burst of exotic floral overpowers most. 

“What is that?” to “It’s a bit powerful…” were the most common reactions I received when I wore this, (perfectly as I thought) approaching the heady indulgence of Christmas.  For me, such a reaction only makes it easier to decipher the discerning.  One either falls into the ‘interesting’ category if a beautiful fragrance such as this arouses the inquirer’s interest to the plain ‘to be ignored’ if met with a derogatory comment.

I do find that legendary names like Grossmith and the more niche and just as interesting upstarts such Frederick Malle, Francis Kurkdjian and Stephane Humbert are naturally divisive.  One either seeks difference, daring and a walk on the wild side or chooses to smell like someone else.  Why?  I’ve often wondered why someone would willingly want to smell like hundreds upon thousands if not millions of others (cue famous fashion brand fragrances).  It surely imparts little character for the wearer?  Then, perhaps that’s it.  People mostly like to fit in, to be accepted.

However, if choosing to wear Hasu no Hana has me cast out as ‘a bit much’, I’ll take it willingly.  A teeny spritz transports the wearer to a time when Royalty were regal and not hanging out at over attended, jewellery brand funded Polo matches, where the swish of  heavy duchesse satin and organza worn with high collars and long gloves reeked of noblesse oblige.  It was the ruling classes ‘right’ (in their minds at least) to be over indulged, over attended and treated with (literally) kid gloves.  They walked, behaved and smelled differently.
Hasu no Hana jars today only in  that it takes the wearer back to these times. 

Inspired by the Japanese Water Lily, a reoccurring theme in Japanese Buddhism – the idea that such a beautiful, fragrant flower can grow from murky depths, ergo the idea of changing karma and circumstance, something the ruling classes of the time would have balked at (plus ca change in Cameron’s ‘Broken Britain’), the fragrance thwacks a powerful, hedonistic punch.  Top notes of bergamot and orange quickly alter to the heart notes of ylang, ylnag, jasmine and rose with base notes of sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, cedarwood, oakmoss and Tona Bean. 

The fragrance seems to sit in the air and surround the wearer, further distancing them from the hoi polloi.  If anything, this will get you a seat in a crowded hotel bar.  I’d suggest wearing with caution.  Like the best clothes for the best circumstances, Hasu no Hana deserves the respect that it has earned over the years.  Give it room to breathe and just rewards are delivered. 

See Grossmith fragrances at www.grossmithlondon.com  Perfume from £150 for 10ml.  Eau de Parfum from £125 for 50ml.  Also available from Fortnum & Mason.

Are you a wearer of niche fragrances?  Please feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below and let me know your thoughts.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Harriettasophia January 5, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Hi Katie,
You really seem to know your perfumes! I am so fed up of the “blink and you’ll miss it” types that seem to be so readily available. Any advice for long lasting rose based fragrances? I don’t mind a largish price tag if it delivers!

Thanks – love the blog! Harry


Mim January 6, 2011 at 10:24 am

My husband got me samples of all the Grossmiths from Les Senteurs for Christmas. They’re really beautiful. The modern niche houses I favour are Ormonde Jayne and Serge Lutens, although usually I prefer perfumes formulated in the past (like clothes, perfumes from a particular time have a style, and most of my favourites date from the teens to thirties).

It’s great seeing posts about classic perfumes like this one.


Anonymous February 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

So not a bit elitest then?


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