Summer: 93 posts

Perfumes that put me in a summer mood, all year round

Acqua di Parma Colonia and Pleasures of Colognes

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Patricia on Acqua di Parma Colonia and other citrus favorites, from Parfums de Nicolai and Annick Goutal to The Different Company and Guerlain. 

Colonia by Acqua di Parma is a fragrance with a past. Created in 1916 as the first fragrance of a small perfume factory in Parma, Italy, it was first used to scent the handkerchiefs that men carried with them at the time. Later it was the darling of worldwide celebrities seeking Italian chic in the early and mid twentieth century. Acqua di Parma then fell on hard times but was revived, along with Colonia, in the 1990s.

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I must confess a partiality for aromatic citrus fragrances. Like one who works out real-life problems at night through recurring dreams (being caught unprepared for an examination is a personal favorite), I repeatedly buy citrus colognes very similar in nature, the most recent of which is Colonia, purchased on a hot sunny September afternoon in the South of France.

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Bitter and Sweet Chamomile : Perfume and Tea Note

I am spending a summer afternoon at my grandmother’s in my favorite manner–stretched out on the grass, reading a book. Absentmindedly, my eyes glued to the page, I pick a small flower from a patch in front of me and bring it to my nose. In that instant, I forget about the book, and the only thing capturing my attention is the poignantly familiar aroma of chamomile, of bitter honey and green apple.

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The reason chamomile, a simple, ubiquitous flower, puts me under its spell so quickly is that the herb used to be a favorite cure-all remedy in our household during my childhood. It was used in tisanes to help me sleep, lotions to soothe rashes or hair rinses. It’s the smell of summer in the countryside, and when my great-grandmother was alive, at this time of summer we picked baskets of chamomile and dried them in the shade. These days we don’t bother anymore, and my grandmother is happy just to buy the ready-made chamomile teas from the pharmacy. But since I have nothing but time and plenty of chamomile around me, I find an old wicker basket and gather a few handfuls of flowers. Spread out in a thin layer, they look like a polka dot extravaganza, and the scent intensified by the sun is unexpectedly lush.

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Tom Ford Mandarino di Amalfi : Perfume Review

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Mandarins smell unlike any other citrus fruit. Cradled inside their zesty, bright aroma is a sweet orange blossom, and this nuance gives mandarin essence complexity and richness. (For fragrance nerds: this orange blossom note is given by methyl anthranilate, an aromatic compound also present in Concord grapes and wild strawberries.) Because of its sweetness and juicy effect, minus the strident sharpness, mandarin is used in many fragrances as a top note. It’s inviting and refreshing, and it works in many different contexts.

tom ford mandarino

By contrast, mandarin based colognes are less common, with bergamot, orange, and lemon forming the trifecta of favorite cologne citrus. Mandarin can be used generously, but I have often craved more than most colognes offer. And here comes Mandarino di Amalfi by Tom Ford.

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Searching for Perfect Roses : Financial Times Column

I have a new article in the Financial Times Magazine’s fragrance column, The Best Rose Perfumes. It was inspired by my trip to Grasse, where I harvested rose de mai and learned how a flower ends up in a perfume bottle. One of my most vivid scent memories will always be the moment when I entered the storage facility filled with burlap sacs of rose petals. I could almost feel the texture of that shimmering, warm scent–of pink petals, sticky nectar, dusty pollen, crushed buds, mineral dust, jute ropes and sunbaked earth. I have been searching for something that comes close ever since.

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After several days of being surrounded by roses, I return home to Brussels. The city is overcast and rainy, and all I have to remind me of sunny Provence is the handful of dried roses, still richly scented, in my suitcase. I begin to experience rose-withdrawal symptoms, an affliction I need to address with perfume. My scent shelf contains plenty of beautiful roses, but my quest is for the airy, fresh and citrusy blend that smells of summer and champagne. That’s my idea of rose de mai. Please read the rest by clicking here.

Do you have favorite summery rose fragrances?

Wildflower Walk on The Eve of Ivan Kupala

Bonfires are being prepared on the sandy beach lining the Vorskla, a river that cuts Poltava in half and hugs our hamlet within the city’s suburbs. One group of girls is busy weaving wreaths from wild flowers. Heaps of daisies, yarrow and cornflowers are spread out on the ground around them. Further along the bank, grills are being set up, and people are staking out spots with towels and empty crates. It is still early enough, several hours before the sun takes a dip in the river. The scent of hot sand, hay, wild thyme, cigarette smoke and water lilies hangs heavy in the still air. We are waiting for Ivan Kupala’s Eve.

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Ivan Kupala is the Slavic version of the midsummer festival marking the summer solstice. According to the old style Julian calendar used by the Orthodox Church, it’s celebrated on the night of 6/7 July in Ukraine. (In neighboring Poland, Noc Kupały, just like the Swedish midsummer celebrations, takes place on 23/24 June.) Ivan means John (as in John the Baptist) and Kupala comes from the Slavic word for bathing. Although Christian traditions are woven into the festival, the roots are clearly pagan. Water and fire intertwine in various rites, and the river is worshiped as much as the saint himself. Today, the celebrations may involve more beer and barbecue than romantic rituals, but women still float wreaths in the streams to divine their future. Candles are still lit on the river bank. Couples still jump over the bonfire to test the strength of their relationship.

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Latest Comments

  • jillie in Scent Diary : Silk and Linen: Hi, French Mistress and Claire! I just had to say that our two cats smell completely different from each other – I can tell which one is which in the… July 26, 2014 at 5:00am

  • Tourmaline in Scent Diary : Silk and Linen: Claire, I enjoyed reading about the shower gel and the scent memories it evoked for you. When I was growing up, a lot of plastic toys and other items for… July 25, 2014 at 11:47pm

  • Brenda in Scent Diary : Silk and Linen: Greetings…..the photograph is beautiful. The comments regarding older linens reminded me that for many years I, too, used to scout out and purchase beautifully crafted, hand decorated linens. The coloured… July 25, 2014 at 11:06pm

  • Hannah in Scent Diary : Silk and Linen: I wasn’t very conscious of scents today. I did make Mexican hot chocolate–warm milk, chocolate, and cinnamon. I mostly just wanted to talk about what perfume I’m wearing today. Serge… July 25, 2014 at 9:34pm

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