seasonal scents: 39 posts

Summer Cologne for Winter

I’ve noticed over the past few years that my most worn winter perfumes have been the most summery ones in my collection. Or at least, the ones that feel crisp, bright, and effervescent. Enveloping ambers, dark musks, or plush leathers edge in, but they are not as prominent. While Belgian winters have been getting warmer, the main reason is that radiant, uplifting fragrance fit my mood better during cold days than anything rich and heavy. For instance, Hermès Eau de Citron Noir gives me an instant boost with its combination of citrus, spice, and woods.

Another favorite category is white florals, from dewy Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée to opulent Guerlain Cruel Gardénia. This genre of fragrance behaves so differently during cold weather that it’s fascinating to wear and compare one’s impressions. The blossoms open up slower, the dew lingers, the freshness persists. Sometimes I don’t even get to the final drydown before the day is over and the winter dusk falls.

What about you? What are you wearing today?

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Perfume, Poetry, Spring

Patricia talks of spring and early summer and regales us with poetry and fragrance.

April

Spring always sneaks in with an edge, as noted by T. S. Eliot in The Waste Land, “April is the cruelest month.” April promises, then takes away, tantalizing us with a hint of green shoots pushing through the hard earth and following up with a snowstorm. I always crave green fragrances during early spring and none more so than the late, lamented Gucci Envy, created in 1997 by Maurice Roucel. Notes of hyacinth, lily-of-the-valley, rose, and jasmine are surrounded by a strong green presence that has always said spring to me.

cherry blossoms1

I still have half a bottle of Envy from my original purchase, but in the search for an alternative that is currently produced, came upon Début by Parfums DelRae. Debut, created by Michel Roudnitska, starts out with a sharper green than Envy, but then goes more floral in the dry down with notes of ylang-ylang, linden, and cyclamen. Although I prefer Envy, Debut has a permanent place in my collection as a well-crafted floral green fragrance.

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The Week of the Roses : Vacation Perfume

Today Patricia, our new contributing writer, talks about the dilemma of picking a perfume for vacation and why she decided to make her latest vacation a rose scented one. Patricia graduated from her mother’s perfume table to her very own bottle of Miss Dior as a young teen. This discovery started a lifelong love of perfume in general and green mossy fragrances in particular. After 30-plus years in the publishing industry, she works as an office manager in Boston, Massachusetts. Besides perfume, she loves long novels and spending time with her horse. Please give her a warm welcome!  

In Massachusetts we have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute,” so I wasn’t unduly concerned when the first few days of our summer vacation were cloudy and rainy. Still, the beachy fragrances such as Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess and Bobbi Brown’s Beach that I’d packed in my suitcase seemed to mock me, and even my favorite summer citruses didn’t satisfy me.

patricia-sea-beach

Fortunately my packing style has always been of the “everything but the kitchen sink” variety, so I had brought plenty of sample vials and small decants, including many roses, many of which I had not yet tried. But it turned out that variety was not what I wanted. What I craved were roses, and lots of them. Even after the sun came out on the third day, the roses and I were on a roll.  Rose perfumes turned out to be unexpectedly versatile: the heavier, darker blends suited the foggy and rainy days, while the crisp, bright ones were perfect companions for sunny beach outings. Here are six that I enjoyed on my vacation.

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Mix and Match Summer Perfume

Last summer I arrived in Brussels with a severely limited perfume collection. You know how sometimes perfume lovers ask themselves what five fragrances they would take to a desert island and then agonize over their choice? Well, that was me at this time last year. In the end, I packed Chanel No 19Annick Goutal Néroli, decants of Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Iris Silver Mist, Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver, and Carnal Flower. I had a small bag of samples I needed for work and reviewing, but I mostly kept myself happy with my little collection.

brussels-summer-rainhay

Wearing an edited set fragrances last summer was enjoyable. For one thing, good fragrances are beyond seasons, and it’s fun to play with seasonal associations. Don a crisp citrus cologne on a cold January morning or turn up the heat with spicy orientals on a languid summer evening. Many fragrances have specific connotations for me–oranges and cinnamon make me think of winter holidays, but there is nothing to stop me from creating my own Christmas in July.

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Sakura Tea : Tasting Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blooming season is nearing its end in Japan, but our trees are just now bursting into bloom. “The cure for/This raucous world…/Late cherry blossoms,” wrote the great Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa, and as I walk to the subway each morning, I notice how the pink froth lights up the austere grey of the streets of Brussels. I take longer routes so that I can see more cherry trees and sometimes I take my lunch to the park where I experience my private hanami, flower viewing. Then I find stray petals tangled in my hair and clinging to my coat–reminders of our very late spring.

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Don’t believe the perfumes named Cherry Blossom–real flowers smell nothing like the cherries we associate with cough syrup or flavored candy. They have a fresh, green scent, with an earthy rose accent. It’s as delicate as the pink confetti of cherry petals. Given the love the Japanese have for sakura, cherry blossom, it’s not surprising that during the spring season you also find all sorts of cherry blossom flavored delights, including soft drinks, chocolate, pastries, ice-cream and candy. Pierre Hermé, the renowned French pastry chef, even offers cherry blossom flavored macarons at his boutiques in Tokyo.

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