From the moment you hear the brand name, an enigmatic portmanteau of Floral and Haiku, you are instantly clued in to Floraiku’s main theme. The brand, created by Clara and John Molloy of MEMO fame, is so tightly spun here, so well developed that I’m struggling to think of a comparable house that is themed with such strict imagery. From the Bento Box presentations, to the use of the Sakura emblem or “Mon” as the main logo, this is a brand that has so completely wrapped itself in a Japanese aesthetic that it could only possibly have been conceived in the West, which of course, it was. France to be exact. Fortunately, Floraiku embodies the spirit of such lofty philosophies as Yugen (subtle, profound grace), Shizen (honesty, sincerity) and Kanso (simplicity) to such an extent, that by it’s very nature it manages to avoid the common pitfalls that so many fall foul to. You’ll find no overt use of “exotic” Japanese characters and crass, inky brush strokes that have been so overused in an effort to capitalise on traditional Japanese chic. This is cliche done right.
Launched in 2017, Floraiku’s perfumes are as exclusive as they are beautiful. In the UK, distribution is restricted to Harrods, London, whist in the US, you can find them in Saks, New York. They have expanded into the Middle-East, with a boutique in the Mall of Dubai and elsewhere, but the point remains, they’re not easy to track down. They do, mercifully, have a website with global shipping, however, they have a price tag that matches their exclusive nature, and as such, do not really lend themselves to a blind buy so the average consumer is caught in somewhat of a pickle. Luckily, they do offer a discovery set on their website that includes their first 11 fragrances released at launch, which allows us mere mortals to at least give them a sniff before we toss our money into the great big shopping centre in the sky and cross our fingers.
Presentations on the retail bottles are truly sublime. The printed fabric-wrapped lids of each bottle double up as a travel atomiser, with the capacity to house a 10ml refillable spray bottle included in the presentation. If you buy online, you can chose to have the lid of said travel atomiser embossed with your choice of “mon” or a single letter, which is a nice little touch.
The Discovery set is really nicely presented in itself. You get a solid, blue textured box with the Floraiku name and logo embossed in gold on the front, whilst inside, the eleven 1.5ml vials nestle inside a soft, velvet topped sponge. You also get a small, fold out booklet that lists each fragrance and includes both the notes along with each fragrances corresponding Haiku, which if you buy the retail presentation, can also be found etched onto the back of each 50ml bottle.The booklet itself is packed away inside a frosted envelope, once again, fully branded. The whole neat package is really very well put together.
Moving on to the fragrances themselves, in the box you get nine regular fragrances, split into three collections, three from the Enigmatic Flowers collection (I See The Clouds Go By, First Dream Of The Year & Cricket Song), three from the Secret Teas and Spices collection (I Am Coming Home, One Umbrella For Two & The Moon & I) and three from the Forbidden Incense collection (My Love Has The Colour Of The Night, My Shadow On The Wall & Sound of a Ricochet). The final two are what Floraiku have chosen to call their “Shadowing” fragrances, of which there is a “Light” (Sleeping On The Roof) and “Dark” (Bewteen Two Trees) and if you chose to play by their rules, are intended to be worn layered alongside the other nine scents to suit your mood. Personally, I didn’t find much use for this and found the individual fragrances fulfilling enough without them, but then I’ve never been one to layer my scents anyway, so I fear I am not their market here. It does leave me to wonder who might be in all honesty and I can’t see it as much more than a bit of a gimmick that I’m sure the sales assistants in their boutiques are equally unimpressed by.
Beautiful packaging and romantic branding aside, it really is time to talk about how these things smell. I tested all eleven on both blotter and then later, I wore them on skin to get a good feel for each one before attempting to write this review.
I See The Clouds Go By
I See The Clouds Go By opens with cassis that plays heavily on it’s fruitier elements. It is a strong blast of candied blackberry with a slight green undercurrent tempering the fruit and stopping it becoming overwhelmingly sweet. The fruit here is syrupy and thick and is bolstered by the clean white musk that blends well with the fruitier top notes and creates a very fresh, clean laundry feel to the whole composition. In nature, cherry blossom has no scent, so here it is a fantasy note that is presented as a vague pink floral that teeters somewhere around the area of a sweet peony. The opening is really the highlight, with the ripe, syrupy blackberry but once that calms down and settles, around thirty minutes into the wear, the whole thing begins to feel a touch stale and boring. The rise of the floral that sets it in line with the cassis is not overly welcome and as the green elements shine through the fading fruit it all begins to feel a touch ammoniac and sharp.
Unisex, whilst leaning feminine with the Peony-ish feel of the cherry blossom, I See The Clouds Go By has average longevity but fairly weak projection, becoming a very close wear after just thirty minutes or so and a practical skin scent after just one to two hours. In all honesty, I think that is actually fairly acceptable for a scent such as this, where loud performance would just screech and come across tacky, crass and frankly, nauseating. As it happens, after the initial fruity burst, which is enjoyable, the scent here is two of those three already as it is.
Cricket Song opens with a big, white waxy floral that quickly settles in to a bold magnolia. If there is any bergamot here, it is slight and whispy, perhaps working in the background and blending into the lemony aspects of the flower to keep things a little buoyant, but in practice, everything feels utterly swamped by the ginormous floral accord. Everything here is fresh and clean, floral with a touch of green. The vetiver is nowhere to be seen for the first fifteen minutes, but once the magnolia bouquet finally begins to settle, it broods just below the surface lending the fragrance a warmth that contrasts with the white musk and blending alongside it to lend Cricket Song an almost chocolate and caramel base.
Longevity and projection are both above average with a couple of sprays enough to fill an entire room easily. It is a very mature, feminine scent that feels sophisticated but very old world. This is very traditional french perfumery, by far the most traditional of all the Floraiku scents and as such, it does feel a touch too mature for most, with the promise of a spicy vetiver giving the composition a modern kick never really fulfilled.
First Dream Of The Year
The opening of First Dream Of The Year is all subdued, tempered citrus, with a quiet grapefruit note just slightly edging out the soft, fleshy orange blossom for the initial spotlight. The orange blossom here is not the heady white floral it can sometimes be represented as, rather a far more dialled back, restrained, almost tea like scent that gives way in the base to a violet iris concrete that adds a touch of depth and dimension to the bouquet. After the initial burst, the grapefruit quickly slides right back into the rear of the fragrance, losing much of its zip and zing to sit alongside the iris, allowing the orange blossom and white musk to take centre stage. The iris itself here is not dark, cold or gothic, rather a soft, buttery violet sweetness that works to quietly fatten and sugar the base of the scent.
First Dream Of The Year is a very romantic blend, that feels whispy and ethereal. It is solidly on the feminine end of the spectrum and whilst it maintains the clean, white musk and traditional floral bouquet of the rest of the scents from the Enigmatic Flowers collection,the grapefruit does give it a more modern twist. Perfectly versatile, this is a scent for any season and any occasion. Longevity is above average, whilst the projection is restrained and wearing closer to the skin after just an hour. The grapefruit does its best to drag the scent into the 21st Century, but we’re still very much in classical, mature, sophisticated territory here.
The Moon & I
Mate is a strongly herbal, traditionally South American tea and here it is instantly put on full display from the opening, which kicks off with a woody, toasted herbal tea. Macha quickly springs up alongside, a thick, green Japanese tea with its own herbal and sweetly vegetal facets, making The Moon & I the strongest straight tea scent from its secret teas and spices collection. Tea is apologetically the main star here, but there is a spice in here too, provided by what smells like a very soft pink pepper which doesn’t dominate at all, rather works to enhance the natural spiciness of dried tea leaves. Somewhat dark, The Moon & I has an earthy, grit that is helped along by the cedar in the base, which acts very quietly here, sitting below the dominant tea note to support and hold the whole composition up, providing a solid backbone to what might otherwise have been a touch too ethereal and fleeting. At times I feel like tea scents can be somewhat cold and unloving, perhaps a little too rigid and formal in their sparkling, reflective surafaces, The Moon & I, however, maintains a depth and warmth throughout from the mate which at times carries a caramelised sweetness. This caramalised element works to give it an approachable, cosy undercurrent that helps it to straddle the line between rigid class and cosy blankets.
Straight unisex, it has versatility, being thoroughly wearable in all seasons, barring the very high heat of summer where you might look for something just a touch more fresh and uplifting than what this slightly darker, vegetal tea can offer. The biggest downside is in performance, The Moon & I wears very close after just an hour or so, settling to a skin scent just a couple of hours after application, which might disappoint some, though possibly suit others. Purely based on scent, however, The Moon & I has a chic classy feel that sits on a level many of the other Floraiku scents aspire to, but don’t quite ever reach.
I Am Coming Home
I Am Coming Home opens with a strong kick of fresh ginger. The ginger here is so fresh it’s almost tart and I swear there is a subtle tangerine, or fresh, young orange note sitting right below it that is used to bolster the zip and zing of the ginger without displaying the truth of its citric reality. Once the initial burst of the fresh, almost damp ginger begins to settle down, which only takes 10-20 seconds, the tea note begins to appear. It is actually a fairly run of the mill tea you’ve smelt a hundred times, except here it doesn’t feel boring or run of the mill since it remains sandwiched by a zippy ginger in the top, whilst the cardamom slowly blooms below, creeping out of the composition. At first it is almost indistinguishable from the ginger and the two blend together so well, that it feels more like the ginger note is fattening rather than the cardamom note flourishing. Over time though, the cardamom continues to grow until the notes do separate and you can feel where one begins and the other ends, though they still retain a similar spicy edge. I did wonder if the cardamom and tea might turn the whole thing down the route of a chai tea or something similar, but I Am Coming Home always seems to manage to stay fresh and light, far more buoyant than what chai might have felt like if the two had reacted in such a way.
Instead, you get a fragrance which remains spicy, yet fresh and almost fruity and zesty throughout the entire wear. This duality makes I Am Coming Home a very versatile scent and places it fairly firmly into the four season bracket for me. Perfectly unisex, there isn’t a single accord here that pushes it either masculine or feminine and the fairly strong tea keeps it reeled in, straight down the middle, whilst also giving it a classy, slight dressy feel. Projection and longevity were both excellent on me, and I wore it for a full 12 hour day without it really ever shrinking away at all. Overall I thought this was an excellent tea scent, thoroughly versatile, with enough uniqueness in the ginger and cardamom pairing to hold interest and provide complexity.
One Umbrella For Two
One Umbrella For Two is the comfy Floraiku scent. It opens with a soft, pillowy sweetness that smothers everything just enough to round off the traditionally hard, gritty cedar below. Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea mixed with roasted brown rice, but the pillowy mallow-like sweetness offsets the bitter edge of the green tea, so that instead, it just provides a subtle, branch like, twiggy feel that pierces through the pervasive softness helping to keep the whole thing balanced. The blackcurrant in the top is jammy and syrupy and feels like a genuine blackcurrant note, which is nice and not something you smell too often and the whole thing is dusted off with what feels almost like a subtle desiccated coconut topping. One Umbrella For Two is a really special scent, so much so, that when I first sampled it on a blotter, I couldn’t help but smile every time I put it to my nose. It has gentle gourmand leanings, but the woods keep it from ever dipping too far into that territory and also help to keep it feeling just a touch avant garde.
It does lean slightly feminine for me, but nothing too far one way or the other, keeping it solidly unisex. Versatile in regards to seasonal wear, I would say One Umbrella For Two will work just about anytime except perhaps on hot summer days when the marshmallow sweetness might feel a touch cloying and heavy. In terms of occasion, I do feel like it has a degree of versatility and I’m absolutely certain it would never offend, on the contrary, I think this is Floraikus “crowd-pleaser”, however, I personally think this one might be better suited to more low-key, personal affairs as it just feels a touch comforting and homely for me. Projection and longevity were both above average on me, but nothing nuclear or out of this world. On first sampling, this was the one with the wow factor for me. It was instantly different yet familiar, chic and yet comforting and cosy. As I came to know a few of the others in the discovery set, it did fall back a touch, but I would still place it up at the top with my favourites from the house. Most enjoyable.
Sound Of A Ricochet
With the note listing it has, Sound Of A Ricochet has all the making of a delicious, woody comfort scent. The reality, however, is something a touch different. Sound Of A Ricochet opens with a glossy, lacquered wood that carries a sharp mentholated edge. It is a peculiar addition to the centre of the fragrance, which lies in a caramelised tonka bean and soft vanilla. It is much drier than it has any right to be and the vanilla is a world away from becoming heavy or cloying. There is a hint of booziness that threatens to swallow the sandalwood whole, but it remains dialled in and never quite overrides the wooden base for the spotlight. The sandalwood here is the soapy, gently herbal variety, with a buttery, wooden heart. The tonka and vanilla add the creaminess so often associated with sandalwood so that we’re left with a fragrance that feels a touch like a traditional sandalwood accord placed under a microscope to consume the entire focus. That really is the long and short of it here, a sandalwood on steroids and I have to say, I’m not sure it’s a scent I particularly enjoy. There is something a little too polished, like heavy, lacquered paper from a glossy magazine or the varnished and thoroughly unused furniture in a high end boutique. Like a waxy wood polish, it feels at once thick, creamy and heavily synthetic. Of all the Floraiku scents, this is the one that I think would benefit the most from their “shadowing” which may well take the onus from the sandalwood, removing it from under under the spotlight, attempting to captivate an audience with a somewhat damp routine.
Sound Of A Ricochet is pretty unisex overall, leaning slightly feminine. Both the projection and longevity are average. One for the colder weather, I cannot imagine really wearing this in the summer, where the thick, waxy facets have the danger of becoming heavily cloying and oppressive in hot weather. For me personally, I struggled to really like this one, but those who are fans of Chanel Coromandel et al. may find something to enjoy here.
My Shadow On The Wall
My Shadow On The Wall starts off with a somewhat bitter, vegetal opening that is underscored by a quiet medicinal edge produced from the beginnings of a chalky violet that bubbles away just below the surface. The main body of the fragrance is dominated by the mimosa which is resinous and honeyed with sweet floral elements and a subtly astringent green streak that spikes through the top of the scent with a genuine sharpness. After the initial five minutes, which feel a little tumultuous, the mimosa settles in to a sweet honey with whisps of spice that grows over time into a more milky, curried honey feel. This calming down gives the violet space to breathe and move more to the forefront as its Parma Violet familiarity begins to peek out above the cloud, though it’s natural blend with the mimosa keeps it always feeling somewhat subdued. The composition as a whole has a fresh, light vibe that unfortunately flounders in a no mans land between being an interesting, unique floral and an unpleasant, sweetly spiced dessert which leaves it feeling neither truly captivating, nor avant-garde enough to ever really be called chic. The sandalwood here is beyond subtle, never really having an opportunity to shine as the strength of the mimosa and violet notes swamp it out leaving you to only guess at a soft, cream that nestles into the corners at the very bottom of the scent.
Again, this is a very unisex fragrance despite the attempts by the violet note to pull it feminine, the mimosa always tempers it and drags it back to the middle. It has versatility in its sweet and spiced facets but overall I’m left wondering when I would ever want to wear this. Longevity is average with projection being more restrained, keeping the fragrance close to the skin after the initial 15-20 minutes. All told it is a pleasant scent that I’m happy to smell, I just don’t particularly find myself wanting to wear it.
My Love Has The Colour Of The Night
My Love Has The Colour Of The Night first opens with a strong, woody blast that is not rough per se, but as rough as Floraiku’s scents seem to want to go. The Gaiac wood is forefront and give it a decidedly dark edge, whilst the patchouli, which is strikingly clean, offers a touch of sweetness on one hand, whilst dragging it darker again on the other. Let’s not kid ourselves here though, this is not am intimidating or deep, dark scent and it is definitely more shades of grey than black. Whilst the wood does feel raw, it never goes full diesel oil like some Gaiac woods can go, but instead keeps its head fully above ground with a slight processed feel that keeps it respectable. The vetiver in this is really beautiful, the sort of sweetly spiced vetiver, leaning very much towards an incense feel rather than a grassy, fibrous, woody roughness. As it dries down, it begins to lose some of its woody edge and instead replaces it with a sweetened, spiced incense that has an almost fruity base, though it maintains a much drier overall feel to ever really be considered as such, rather it just uses that feel to remain light and refined. I did enjoy My Love Has The Colour Of The Night, but for me, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking. It is a safe, very pleasing gently woody incense which would never offend or come across as either crass or cheap, but it just wasn’t overly exciting either. I would like to have smelt this with a mustier, earthier patchouli to see where it could have gone, but instead, it was all very clean and above board, leaving me feeling a bit like it never really had the chance to shine.
Projection was average whilst longevity was good on my skin. It leans ever so slightly masculine, but this is pulled back and tempered by the sweetness of the vetiver and incense. Again, perfectly versatile, maybe suited slightly more towards evening wear, but unfortunately not as dark as it should have been to be truly interesting.
Sleeping On The Roof
If your intended purpose is to add some of the more feminine, clean white musk and old world facets from the Engimatic Flowers collection to any of the above perfumes, then layering Sleeping On The Roof will do the job with aplomb. Lily and orange blossom star way out in front with the amber musk, clean, laundry-like and barely perceptible in the composition but playing an important stabilising role in the base. The florals here are fleshy and colourful, with a thick sweetness cut through by a sharp streak of green that keeps the entire thing from cloying or becoming overly heavy. For me, Sleeping On The Roof works to add an unbearably clean, light, fresh laundry vibe to any scent it is layered with and though it is well done, these are not facets that any of the Floraiku scents lack as they are by themselves, making it somewhat redundant. As a standalone scent, it is far too clean, making it a fairly unbearable wear, feeling overtly like straight laundry conditioner. Absolutely one to swerve.
Between Two Trees
Dry, herbal and citric, Between Two Trees is a nice scent in itself, despite its supposed usage as a “shadowing” scent. The mate here is tempered in comparison to that of The Moon & I and it marries well with the sharp, zingy grapefruit that perches atop. Considering the onus here is to carry the dark shadow, it is not for me a dark scent in the least, instead it is a quiet tea scent with dusty herbal and earthy facets that give it a warm base with a vegetal edge. The vetiver here is grassy and restrained and offers a light pepper that sits in the very back of the fragrance and the whole is underscored by a fruity, juicy citrus with a soft, powdery floral that is buried at the very far reaches of the fragrance, barely susceptible but stopping it from ever feeling especially dark. Frustratingly, this for me is one of the more chic and interesting Floraiku scents, but it has such a soft projection, one cannot see how to wear this as a standalone, assuming the muted nature of it is intentional as a scent created specifically for layering. I did wear it alongside several of the other Floraiku scents with mixed success, finding it worked well with all three tea scents, though it is not something I really felt was overly necessary.
For the most part, the Floraiku brand seems to want to play it safe. The fragrances are all pleasant and almost entirely linear and carry a minimalist approach which, whilst not always the easiest to pull off, is done here well. They feel high quality and maintain a refined class that would suit almost any occasion, but at the same time, they’re never really pushing the boundaries or exploring any of their more interesting facets. At times, they still shine and there are certainly scents here which I enjoy and will purchase in the future, namely I am Coming Home, One Umbrella For Two and Between Two Trees, but too often I felt like they were taking their understated philosophy just a little too seriously and I would have liked to see them ease up and go off piste, even if it could have only been a detour. They have a reliability, but no edge. In the end this left them feeling a little underwhelming, often lacking the interest to make them truly chic or exciting. The Secret Teas and Spices collection is the jewel, with all three proving to be very nice to excellent tea scents that wear with an enjoyable ease and lack of fuss, whilst still providing interest. The Forbidden Incense collection was somewhat hit and miss I felt, ranging from just good, to very good, with no real standout stars, whilst the Enigmatic Flowers collection, brings a classical elegance to the brand with solid florals. Overall I think the entire collection does have appeal and I can see them being popular to a certain crowd that just wants class without any fuss or experimentation. There will always be the occasion where you do just need something servicable and reliable and for that, Floraiku certainly has you covered.
The Floraiku Discovery Set is available online from floraiku.com and us.floraiku.com for €25 and $35 respectively, with the price given as a voucher against a full bottle, should you later go on to chose to buy. Alternatively, they are available in Harrods, London and Saks, New York. 50ml bottles come included with a 10ml refillable travel atomiser for 60ml total and cost €255 or $350.