Every year I wait for the summer impatiently, even if I know that once the mercury levels start rising, I shall be miserable and cranky. Yet, the idea of a summer escape, of azure waves, of golden sand sticking to the skin, of ripe peaches, of jasmine scented nights is too irresistible, too seductive. My summer of 2008 is none of these things (save for jasmine and peaches.) It is filled with work projects, and whatever escape I manage lies in books and perfume. A spray of something orange blossom scented, and I am transported to Riviera. A hint of dark woods and cardamom, and I am having a cup of coffee someplace in the Omani oasis. The perfumes below are just that—tickets for my escapist fantasies.
Neroli is one of my favorite Annick Goutal soliflores—gauzy, sheer, with a beautiful green note that shoots through the radiant whirlpool of orange blossom petals. Remarkably natural and very easy to wear on hot, humid days.
My idea of bliss this summer is to light a bit of oud incense in the evening and leave my silk scarf to be scented with its aroma. I also wear blended oud perfumes–in minute doses oud perfumes are pure seductive. A Saudi based company, Arabian Oud, offers several oud based perfumes I enjoy for this rich and opulent presence— Wafi, Mukhalat Ghoroob, and Siraj.
I realize that Cristalle appears frequently in my lists of fragrances. “Cristalle is the essence of Sicily, its magical fragrance that seems to combine the scents of dry, sunbaked earth, the citrus peel and the salty seaweed. The EDT is sparkling and dry like white wine, while the EDP is sweeter like moscato. I wear both depending on my mood, although just like in my preference for dryness in wines, the EDT is my choice more often than not.” (from Scents of Spring) I suppose, it is a perennial favorite!
A modern orange blossom cologne, Escale à Portofino is an effervescent blend of citrus, neroli and woods. Wearing it, I truly understand why orange blossom is considered a soothing, relaxing scent. As a side note, I have also taken to mixing a bit of neroli oil with alcohol and water and spraying my sheets before going to bed.
Carnal Flower is a great example of a white floral bouquet that works beautifully in the summer heat—the floral heart of jasmine, tuberose and orange blossom unfolds particularly well in the humid air, while the green notes temper the heady quality. Angéliques Sous la Pluie is a polar opposite—peppery, woody, dry. Yet, both suit the summer perfectly, allowing one to move from day to night with an effortless grace.
Guerlain colognes are renowned—Eau Impériale (1853), Eau de Coq (1894), Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat (1920), Eau de Guerlain (1974.) While Cologne 68 maintains a bright citrusy quality, it weaves a lush Guerlinade accord of tonka bean, iris and rose, thus adding a beautiful twist to a radiant composition.
Another neroli cologne, Monsieur is slightly more herbaceous and more conventionally masculine than either Annick Goutal Neroli or Christian Dior Escale à Portofino. The top green notes of bitter orange leaves and buds are deliciously, refreshingly crisp.
I love the sensation of stepping under the cold arches of a church on a hot summer day and finding myself surrounded by the scent of incense and cold stones. Moreover, a lover of incense cannot resist having a light, fresh incense to indulge in on a balmy summer evening. Passage d’Enfer is just that—sheer incense layered with cool floral notes. Serene, introspective and gentle.
Re-reading Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen, I found myself thinking of Andalusian nights scented with oranges, jasmine and tobacco. It was then that Sarrasins clicked with me—with its headiness of jasmine paired with the tanned leather, its seductive, ravishing presence, and its romantic aura.
Image courtesy of Kevin from Now Smell This.