Summer: 114 posts

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

Apple Perfumes for Autumn (and Anytime)

Elisa offers you an apple. Or several.

Late in H Is for Hawk, a memoir about grief and falconry, author Helen Macdonald recounts bringing her goshawk, Mabel, to “Apple Day” at a local farm:

I walk into a white marquee, and inside, in dim green shade, find trestle-tables displaying hundreds of apple varieties. Some are the size of a hen’s egg; some are giant, sprawling cookers you’d need two hands to hold. Each variety sits in a labelled wooden compartment. I walk slowly along the apples, glorying in their little differences. Soft orange, streaked with tiger-spots of pink. Charles Ross. Berkshire 1890. Dual use. A little one with bark-like blush markings over a pale green ground. Coronation. Sussex 1902. Dessert. Miniature green boulders, the side in shadow deep rose. Chivers Delight. Cambridgeshire 1920. Dessert. Huge apple, deep yellow with hyperspace-spotting of rich red. Pasgood’s Nonsuch. Lincolnshire 1853. Dual use.

apples

I love the painstaking attention to detail in this passage – the appreciation for the subtle color variations, not only between varieties but over the skin of a single apple, and for the poetry in the names themselves. It’s almost like a dog show for apples!

Earlier this year, I noticed how many perfumes I love contain an apple note, and how apple notes can range from crisp and tart all the way to lush and compote-y, which means there are apple scents appropriate to any time of year. But what better time to talk about them than in fall? Here are some of my favorites (plus some misses, and a few more to try).

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Apricot Poppyseed Cake

The smell of a ripe apricot is mesmerizing enough to make me want to give up perfumery and tend an orchard instead.   It smells of cream, sweet orange, bitter almond, and a hint of rose. Unfortunately, unless you have access to an apricot grove, finding such a perfect specimen is difficult. Apricots are invariably picked green, and even if they soften, they never develop the perfume of tree-ripened fruit.

apricot-poppyseed2

There is, however, one technique to unlock some of the apricot’s fragrant potential. It’s to cook it. Even the hard supermarket variety becomes luscious and perfumed, especially if you add a touch of vanilla. I often sprinkle apricots with vanilla sugar and rosewater and roast them just until they start to turn jammy and tender. You can add cream, but that’s already gilding the lily. Or I make a poppyseed cake topped with apricots, an ideal late summer-early fall dessert.

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Scent Diary : Summer Highlights

What were your scented summer highlights? What interesting fragrances (bottled or otherwise) have you discovered?

summer-room

 

For most of the summer I was on the road, but even so, I tried and fell in love with Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate and Néroli Doré, by Kilian Moonlight in HeavenAntonio Alessandria Fleurs et Flammes, Rubini Fundamental and The Different Company Adjatay, a deliciously dark leather.

The best discovery, however, was courtesy of an eight year old who took part in a perfume class I organized for children in Ukraine. She combined blackcurrant and orange, with a generous dose of rose–no prompts from me, I should add. The result was dramatic and complex.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Portable Perfumes for Summer Adventures

Whatever your destination this summer, Patricia shares her selection of travel sprays and rollerballs.

Summer is a time I like to take things down a notch, kick my shoes off, and wiggle my toes in the sand. Food becomes simple salads, boiled shucked corn, and barbecued meat and veggies; clothes are less restrictive and in lighter fabrics and colors; and summer hours are the norm at many workplaces.

sea

Serious perfume also takes a backseat in the warmer months, as my nose and my brain crave a respite from anything too complicated or fussy. What suits in February becomes too much in July. Because of recent problems of evaporation and separation in many of my homemade decants, I’ve increasingly turned to travel sizes and rollerballs offered by the manufacturers. Small and generally well priced, the following are what I’ll be popping into my beach bag this summer.

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White Acacia Tisane

Acacia blossoms mark the beginning of summer in Poltava. White clusters appear on craggy trees that ordinarily get noticed only because their powerful roots crack the pavement around the city. But come May, the streets are filled with their perfume of sweet orange and jasmine and the sidewalks are covered with a carpet of white pointy blossoms. “Now it’s really the end of spring,” remarks an elderly woman to no one in particular. She rearranges bunches of green onions and dill on a makeshift stall she set up near a bus stop and brushes off the fallen acacia flowers onto the pavement.

white acacia

I count spring not in months but in flowers. First come apricot blossoms and star magnolias. Then cherry blossoms make their brief entrance turning dreary Soviet-era street blocks into Impressionist etudes. Apples, lilacs, and viburnum move in successive waves, and finally it’s the time of acacias. In their heady perfume I smell the blistering heat of summer and dusty chestnut leaves.

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