Summer: 105 posts

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

Top 10 of Summer: Light and Easy Edition

Elisa on some of her favorite summer perfumes.

Earlier this week, Victoria wondered if summer perfumes are necessary, or if the “summery” designation is just marketing spin. In past years, I’ve mostly ignored the supposed seasonality of my perfumes, often most enjoying smoky ambers or patchouli gourmands when amplified in the heat. (Perverse, I know.) But this year, I’ve been in more of a relaxed, hammock-lounging mood, and traditionally “summery” perfumes like citrus scents and light florals are just what I want. So here are some of the easy, almost humble perfumes I’ve been reaching for at home and packing with me when I travel.

roses in blue

Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus

Far from the most renowned perfume in the Ormonde Jayne line, for good reason; Osmanthus is not as opulent or distinctive as some. But it’s an incredibly pretty rendition of the apricot-tea scent of osmanthus, mixed half and half with pomelo juice like a spa version of an Arnold Palmer.

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Is Summer Perfume Necessary?

Sady Dole of The Guardian has written a very nice piece on summer fragrances, and one of the questions she poses is whether such a thing as a summer perfume even exists. My voice is a skeptical one in the story, while Angela Sanders of Now Smell This and Alyssa Harad of Coming To My Senses provide other perspectives.

strawberries1

While I think that seasonal divisions are mostly about marketing, why not have fun with it? Wearing Angel, rain or shine, is fine, but I think that it’s more interesting is to pick a fragrance to reflect my mood or the changes in nature around me. A summer perfume may be something lighter, brighter, with a cooling effect like Guerlain Vétiver. Or it may be a lush tropical floral–Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower–to remind those of us immured in the concrete office buildings that there is summer out there.

The only type of perfumes I avoid are the ubiquitous summer editions every brand brings out, the “Light” or “Summer” versions of their current top sellers. They are not always bad, but they’re rarely exciting.

So, what do you say on the subject of summer fragrances–do you always switch scents in the summer or not?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, one of the best summer perfumes.

Rose Jam

“Do you remember Asia’s recipe for rose jam?” I ask my grandmother as I return to the house with a basket full of rose petals. A craggy shrub by the fence has suddenly sprouted into a mass of frilly pink blossoms, and I feel inspired. “No,” says Valia, with an expression that accepts no arguments. “She wasn’t much of a cook. She never made jam.” I’m confused, because I do recall gathering roses for jam with my great-grandmother. Did I make it up, just like I concocted the story of my father being a Bollywood actor? Then my grandmother reconsiders. “You’re right, she did. Every summer. But it was terrible. Dark and overcooked.”

rose-jam1

The saccharine stories that preface many cookbooks, of learning cooking at grandmother’s side as she tenderly explains the right way to cut carrots or hull strawberries, aren’t part of my childhood recollections. Valia has so little tolerance for imperfection, or deviations from her way of doing things, that cooking with her is as relaxing as being a Top Chef contestant. Asia, her mother, had no patience for mincing and sauteing; her passion was the garden. Perhaps, this is why I don’t remember eating her jam, only the intense honeyed fragrance of roses as we picked them.

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Coconut Notes: 21 Perfumes that Take You to the Beach

Elisa explains how coconut is used in perfumes and offers 21 examples with 5 different themes. Summer fun begins here. 

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the middle of a cultural coconut renaissance. First came coconut water, touted to be a low-sugar super-hydrator, like nature’s Gatorade. (I think it’s gross; with the high potassium content, it feels like I’m drinking soup.) Then, widespread reports of the virtual all-purposeness of coconut oil: Clean your house! Remove your eye makeup! Moisturize your body! (Again, I haven’t succumbed. But if you don’t mind glistening all over and smelling like a Mounds bar at all times, more power to you.)

coconut

If I’m skeptical of the head-to-tail approach to coconuts, I am a longtime lover of coconut scents and of coconut flesh and milk in food. It’s one of those magical ingredients, like lime or cilantro, that can completely make a dish. I love it in desserts – I still think about a bite of exceptionally moist coconut cake I had when I was 17, and Caramel Delites were always my favorite Girl Scout Cookie – but I think I love it even more in savory applications, for the unctuousness it adds to dishes like Thai curry.

In perfume, coconut is usually represented by one or more lactones – from the Latin root lact- meaning milk, lactones give a fruity, fatty creaminess to compositions. Coconut lactones can range from fresh and milky to peachy to waxy to toasted and nutty (with an almondy coumarin facet) to downright buttery, like coconut oil with butter flavoring.

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Hermes Le Jardin de Monsieur Li : Perfume Review

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The connection between eyes and nose can play funny tricks. The first time I smelled Hermès’s Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, the most recent release in its ethereal Le Jardin series, I thought that it was “dewy, refined and intriguingly minimalist.” When a couple of weeks later I revisited it during a blind smelling exercise, I was no longer thrilled. “Well, this thing is somewhat dull,” I thought to myself, and I was a little surprised to discover the name of the perfume I was sniffing. Surely, I couldn’t have come to such different conclusions about the same perfume?

hermes le jardin

Hermès is one of the renowned brands on the market, and its fragrances have quality, style and elegance. Simply holding the heavy glass bottle in my hand, I already expect that it will contain all of the above. Unfortunately, selecting perfume based on such preconceived notions will lead to a wardrobe full of expensive designer brands and little to thrill you. The only criterion that matters for finding the right fragrance is whether it gives you a jolt of pleasure. For all of its appealing traits, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li leaves me indifferent.

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  • elisa p in Recommend Me a Perfume : June: Hi all, I bought a sample of Robert Piguet Bandit from an online site. I’m very perplexed because it doesn’t smell like any of the descriptions I’ve read. I get… July 3, 2015 at 11:10am

  • Orange_cat in Recommend Me a Perfume : June: Thank you SO much, Aurora, for giving me a new direction in my exploration of perfume. For several years I tried to break away from the “ordinary” with not much… July 3, 2015 at 9:13am

  • Figuier in Recommend Me a Perfume : June: Incense might be a good alternative – woody but not too much – the Comme Des Garcons has some lovely ones, my favourite being Kyoto; or Annick Goutal’s Encens Flamboyant… July 3, 2015 at 9:08am

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume : June: I think I will list some general ‘nichey’ names and let you explore their perfumes: One loved on this blog is Annick Goutal for its flower offerings, Songes for eg… July 3, 2015 at 7:56am

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