April 25, 2010
Clear and Sheer Perfumes
Fashion is so reactive, passionate about short and smooth for a season or a few, and then the inevitable reaction and we long for the opposite, the long and rough. (the mini/the maxi, opaque hose, no hose, smooth blunt cut hair, rougher layered messy hair, unisex, ultra feminine, it's an inevitable back and forth). I think the depth of the interest and involvement on one side of the divide leads to the overuse, the overdone, and then rejection and abandonment to the opposite aesthestic. This happens so often in a cycle, in what we wear and what we want to express in our self image. Having been around the block more than once or twice, I have seen this cycle repeat a number of times. At this time, it appears to unfold in the realm of scent and a wider social acceptance of it, too, away from the dense and rich to the sheer and natural, from the exotic to a link to an olfactory simplicity in our pleasures.
As most famously in the eighties and nineties, there were the florid scent bomb trailing perfumes that made a big name for themselves, such as Poison and Opium and the various Estee Lauders of the day. After, there was a very quiet period for perfumes in the popular culture, with almost no attention to scent, until CK1 raised its nose above the waves and it was evident that people were again interested in wearing a scent, so long as it was very clean, and unisex and expressed a youth and innocence and simplicity that was a weekend vacation from the strict glamor of status and exclusivity.
Whatever feels modern feels right and attractive, whether that is strong and deep at one time or a sheer lightness replacement immediately afterward. Fashion alternates from one to the other, back and forth, and scent is no different as an element of style. And now, it appears, after a period of strong oud woods and balsamic/incense, we have entered into a period of the sheer, airy, watery non-perfumey perfume. This time, as opposed to the citrusy last time, it is naturalistic, painting a portrait and a connection to the specific elements and atmosphere of cleanliness. What we long for now is the beach at dawn, or a sunny city day off, or clean linen drying in the sun or the rain on the slate sidewalks with a few flower petals strewn underfoot, or the cooling evening breeze running through an urban night.
Personally I am ready for this now. As much as I love the strong woods and incenses, I now look for the mood uplift of brightness and light. I know that certain commercial scents used in ordinary grooming products are evocative of a brighter mood, and I've been wondering if that direction was going to manifest itself in a more developed way in carefully composed fragrances. And it has, in feeling if not in notes and materials. A move to the lighter versions of green and sheer, to water and air has taken the public attention at the end of this long hard winter, and we look forward to different times this spring and summer.
I've been enjoying the Dayna Decker Bardou Essence spray (a room, clothing and skin organic freshener in a mix of aloe, cucumber, chamomile and subtle floral). Also Voyage d'Hermes (the breeze of a horseback ride in the morning), Nightscape by Ulrich Lang (the rising clarity of night in NYC), White Suede by Tom Ford (creamy soap and cotton, & I am so in love with his film everything he does now has much more resonance for me - A Single Man - if you haven't seen it, do). I've been trying the DSH Butterfly Nectar (our beautiful most natural friends floating in the air with color), Jo Malone Lotus Blossom and Water Lily ( a blooming wake up, floating on clear water) and Serge Lutens L'eau (the way you feel better after you've washed your face and put on a fresh white shirt). Thanks to the samples provided at the Spring Sniffa, organized by the two Karens as always. They provide an enlightening and energizing exposure to what's new all at one time, in the company of other perfume addicts.
Now next, I want to find the dark sheer! Moss with earth overlaid with a watery air.
Above image, Frederic Church, Niagra Falls from the American side.