How To Guides: 71 posts

5 Perfume Masterpieces for Summer

Beautiful fragrances can lift your mood. Over the past few months I have been wearing my most opulent perfumes without being concerned that they might become associated with a dark period in my life. I needed colors, texture, and vibrancy, and my beloved classics satisfied me. Complex fragrances have the benefit of being multifaceted, so that each time you wear them, you discover a new layer or create your own story to match the mood. Perfume may be a dispensable luxury, but like all beautiful things, it serves to elicit positive emotions and boost the spirits.

For my summer-themed selection, I’ve settled on a list of five masterpieces. These are the perfume equivalents of novels by Tolstoy and George Eliot because of their layers, nuances, and twists. Some are elegant colognes; others are lush florals and bittersweet chypres (mossy-woody blends.) The list is personal, but I think that you will agree that these are among the classical perfumes to try. Some of them might be ideal as an introduction to classics.

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7 Effervescent Scents Against Summer Heat

These days I look at the weather forecast with a sense of dread as we are in the middle of another heatwave. I like the indolence of summer and the long sun-filled days, but I don’t enjoy the oppressive heat and humidity. My primary methods to make these days tolerable include copious amounts of mugicha, a traditional Japanese summer drink made of roasted barley, and a selection of light, effervescent perfumes.

The natural choice for summer is citrus, but your selection need not be limited to simple colognes. Modern floral and green notes offer a refreshing effect, without the sharpness of citrus. Look for compositions that are accented with woods, rather than vanilla or musk, as the sheer blond wood finish contrasts beautifully with the brightness of fresh notes.

How to amplify the freshness of a fragrance? Follow the good old advice of leaving your scent in the fridge but beware that drastic temperature changes can affect perfume negatively, and for this reason I recommend making a decant of your favorite summer fragrance. A spritz of cool liquid is the ultimate refreshment. If you would like an even more intense cooling experience, select a mint fragrance like Aqua Allegoria Menta Fresca or Herba Fresca. Menthol triggers cold-sensitive receptors and plays tricks on our brain. When the mercury levels are soaring, such an effect is welcome.

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Three Classics and One Great Novel

The first time I encountered a perfume that beguiled me was on the pages of a book. The sultry red-haired witch in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita enticed women with the promise of “Guerlain, Chanel No. 5, Mitsouko, Narcisse Noir, evening gowns, cocktail dresses...” It would be some years before I smelled these perfumes, but their names left a “baffling but seductive” imprint, just as suggested by the novel.

It is no accident that Bulgakov selected Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse Noir. Those were the fragrances worn by his wife, Elena Bulgakova, the muse for Margarita in the novel. Elena Bulgakova’s granddaughter from her first marriage used to be part of my family. She often mentioned how much her grandmother loved fragrance, especially the three perfumes mentioned in the novel. Chanel No 5 evoked elegance for her. Mitsouko conveyed sophistication. And Caron was pure magic in its opulent glamour.

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How to Find the Right Perfume and Seduce Yourself

“What perfumes do men like?” is one of the most common questions I am asked, followed closely by “What perfumes will make women fall for me?” For both I have the same reply: each to his or her own, and instead of bothering to entice others with our perfume – a task of rather dubious merits – why not seduce ourselves instead?

Selecting perfume, however, can be tremendously complicated. The market is full of new launches, each making lofty promises, but with many smelling almost identical. There are also considerations of brand, packaging and marketing that influence us more than we are willing to admit, even to the point of obscuring our real preferences. And then there is the problem of the sheer volume of choices.

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Rose for Men and The Freedom to Choose Your Perfume

The arbitrary nature of gender divisions in fragrance becomes obvious as soon as you examine scent habits around the world. Both men and women splash themselves with sharp citrus colognes in Spain. Jasmine attars are shared in India, while rose is a favorite essence among men in the Gulf countries. But try to convince a lad in North America to don some flowers and you are met with a quizzical look. Aren’t roses just for ladies? Of course, this won’t hold true for the regular Bois de Jasmin male readers on both sides of the ocean, but gender associations with fragrances can be hard to break.

renoir

Francois Robert, the perfumer behind the niche line Les Parfums de Rosine, doesn’t think so. Les Parfums de Rosine is devoted to fragrances based on rose, and it includes a dizzying array of roses in all guises, including roses for men. Rose d’Homme is a rose in soft focus blended into leather and patchouli. Rossisimo wraps the red blossoms around a zesty accord of bitter orange and bergamot, with a dash of lavender for a cavalier spirit. Both fragrances require a willingness to experiment, but the classical masculine scents like leather and citrus take so well to rose that the outcome is refined rather than radical.

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