At first, it didn't look like my quick pass through a neighborhood thrift store would yield much. I did find a 1950s Red Wing dinner plate with a lotus on it that matched plates I had at home, and I considered buying a bundle of satin-padded hangers in peach, pale yellow, and coral. But just as I was ready to leave, I saw a familiar bottle on a shelf next to a stack of bruised guest soaps. It was a full bottle of Keiko Mecheri Passiflora Eau de Parfum. I'd just seen bottles at Takashimaya in New York for $115. This one was $10. How the bottle made its way to Portland and ultimately to the thrift shop, I'll never know. A gift from a spurned lover? A sudden allergy to scent? Who cares? It's mine now.
The Keiko Mecheri website lists Passiflora's notes as passion fruit, floral notes, lychee, green mango, yellow fruits, and white musk. It says that Passiflora is "a perfume from a remote paradise island, an abundance of exotic notes, a zesty green and tangy touch comforted by crystalline musk" and adds that it is "mischievous, sparkling".
Yes, Passiflora is a fruity floral. Normally that would be enough for me to put it back on the shelf, even at the screaming deal that it was. So many fruity florals are loud and sticky, and end with a punch of patchouli or are laced with "ocean" notes or coconut. They smell like they should be served with paper umbrellas stuck in them at beachside bars. The worst of the fruity florals smell slightly synthetic, like berry-scented car air fresheners.
But, of course, this is a huge generalization. Some fruity florals are divine. For instance, I know the new Parfums MDCI Le Rivage des Syrtes is labeled an Oriental floral, but it smells like a fruity floral to me. While Passiflora doesn't have Le Rivage des Syrte's complexity, it isn't aimed at teenagers, either. (I'd love to hear about other fruity florals that you like that don't smell like Hawaiian Punch.)
To me, Passiflora smells like ripe peach skin, tart mango skin, and peppery vetiver served on a wooden plate. While it may not make the pantheon of classic perfumes, it smells more like Dorothy Lamour than Britney Spears. Passiflora is drier than it sounds, given its list of notes. The musk is barely noticeable. Passiflora is quieter than you might expect, too. I can spray it on both arms and my chest and not overwhelm. The downside of the scent's reticence is that it only lasts a few hours.
I'm looking forward to making a dent in the bottle this summer for barbecues, drinks in the backyard, and any time I feel like seeing friends and laughing. Passiflora is the perfect fragrance to wear with an old Liberty maxi dress with Polynesian goddesses walking around the hem (what good luck! I just happen to have one of these), and it would be a good substitute anytime you can't find a hibiscus to tuck behind an ear.
Keiko Mecheri Passiflora is $115 for 75 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see Keiko Mecheri under Perfume Houses.