We were sleepy and a little grumpy when we arrived in Jaipur. We’d been on a plane, then a bus, bumping along a hot road. There were beauty editors assembled from all over the world; maybe we were feeling a bit small. The bus turned down a lane and suddenly—a palace. The palace. The Rambagh Palace Hotel, until fairly recently the palace of the maharaja (ruler) of Jaipur. It was two or three in the afternoon, but trumpets sounded, flags flew, elephants pranced, cannons fired! A luncheon waited on an eastern terrace, and flowers—pink and red and orange and white—had been not scattered but placed (art-directed extensively, in fact) into intricate designs that created a path along which we walked, overwhelmed and enchanted.
The scent of them woke us right up. I think of flowers in fragrances in a particular, flouncy-feminine way, but flowers in India—whether artfully arranged about a palace or heaped in a bin on a street corner—are something else. Someone hands you a deep red rose and you realize, really, you know nothing. You can’t believe the scent of a jasmine necklace at the flower market, but what you really won’t believe is what it will still smell like six weeks later, when you extract it, dusty and barely recognizable, from a forgotten pocket in your suitcase. Fittingly, this Bulgari perfume, inspired by the flowers of India and the jewels of Jaipur—the city is bursting with jewelry, cocktail rings and bracelets and chokers studded with gumdrop-size rubies and pearls—is like nothing you’ve ever smelled. Somehow they’ve woven the flowers (osmanthus and Indian tuberose) with the freshest mandarin orange, incredibly clean, smooth sandalwood and a gorgeous saffron note in a way that’s so feminine, so wearable and so original. Like a late lunch on the terrace with dancing painted elephants and cool citrus cocktails, sophisticated and wild all at once.
Bulgari Omnia Indian Garnet, $48, ulta.com