Perfumes for the rain:
It's been grey and raining most days since the end of October, and that's influenced those of us who tailor our perfume to the variable conditions of our lives. Perfume is a force that can fight the greyness.
Perfumes can bloom out more fully in the humidity of the rain, though in the winter months when there is a cold wind and enough rain coming down, it takes perfumes with strong personality to counteract the pull of an almost gravitational force that wants to bring them down almost close to the ground.
I have recently become aware that I am operated by the sun, so now I pay more attention to balancing my withdrawal from its presence through the winter months. Thank heavens perfume is an infinitely varied and effective aid in this specific regard.
Recently a thickly foggy grey morning, one in a line of many, condensed into rain but then turned into a fragrance festival when I received a welcome mail delivery of two minis from Aftelier, of the new Wild Roses and a prior favorite, Fig. Two that go together well.
Fig has a deep and thick honey/musky tone and Wild Roses has enough indole and pure floral that together they heighten each other's inherent golden summer personality and situate me within the magical realms of pure Nature under the smile of a gentle sun. They enhance each other, the notes crossing over and heightening the effect of the other. They both have such a gloriously warm and sweet animal tone that they make me feel closer to the power of a true animal consciousness in myself.
I brought them with me on that grey morning, on an errand with a friend, the writer and illustrator Kris Waldherr. The fog and rain outside intensified the perfumed atmosphere within the car as we rode through the old fashioned neighborhoods of central Brooklyn.
Wild Roses - the notes are listed as Top: rose CO2, heliotropin, bergamot, geraniol, m-methyl anthranilate, damascenone. Heart: apricot, Turkish rose absolute, pimento berry, p-ethyl alcohol, rose petals attar. Base: tarragon absolute, vanilla absolute, indole, aged patchouli.
It's especially the apricot, the rose absolute and attar, vanilla, indole and aged patchouli that pull the rope and chime the gigantic inner bell that awakes and connects to the freshly opened summer roses still on the bush I have been lucky enough to experience in my life so far. The very last of the dry down (on me) is a soft powder with a whiff of fresh green air. There are enough important less purely decorative elements within this perfume to keep the composition clear and bright and sparkly.
Meanwhile my friend was caught up in the full on Fig perfume experience, which her skin drank like it was thirsty for it. We made sure to apply enough to last her into the afternoon to aid her in all the paperwork ahead of her later that day, which worked because I saw an afternoon Twitter that she was still enjoying the ambiance around her. She was having a dreamy experience sitting at her desk and the perfume sweetened a demanding and detailed task. By that time it was steady rain for the rest of the short dark day.
Fig: Featured Notes
Top: grand fir, pink grapefruit.
Heart: pink pepper absolute, jasmine sambac.
Base: Africa stone, fir absolute.
This fig perfume contains no fig (not available as a natural essence). It is built with an accord whose main components are a fruity Spanish lavender and a jammy fir absolute (which I have and prize as beautiful and dimensional enough to wear alone as a perfume in itself). I will testify that it does endow the skin and air with a subtle and softly intoxicant mood, something like a small glass of sherry to sip on a mental visit to a Mediterranean summer. I think the touch of jasmine sambac at the heart of the perfume is a key component too, not recognizable or standing out as jasmine but wielding influence.
These are both all natural and more lasting than is usual for fully natural perfumes.
Another recent perfume in the rain experience came later, when the temperature was still colder and it was fully dark with a stinging fine rain cooled by a strong wind that soaked my coat sleeves and turned my umbrella inside out several times one night. The wind suddenly kicked up as I took the wrong turn when going to a perfumed food and drink party hosted by Mindy Yang of MiN. I went astray further into Tribeca on a Sunday night of dark and empty streets, and so got even more soaked than absolutely necessary.
I need not have feared anyone being bowled over by too much perfume, which selfishly I had not worried about, because all that cold rain and wind whipped most of it off before I got there. I was glad I made the effort, because I am interested in the modern combinations of perfume and drink and food. The occasion reminded me of those Tales of Genji stories where people gather and refine their sensibilities with experiences of exquisite versions of normally ordinary things.
Lapsang Souchong tea that had steeped for an hour, lightly warmed by body heat, and diluted by the energy of all that wind-whipped rain. I felt like the perfume helped propel me out the door into a cold rainy Sunday night when otherwise I would have stayed home. It took that much to create an aromatic aura around me that brought my comfort zone out into the world with me.
I have written about Opium and Chergui before. They are two of my favorite classics and powerful spirits that are a match for a chill dark winter night full of rain and wind. I think of them as almost supernatural perfumes, with powers and lives of their own created by my history with them and all the women who have worn them before and along with me. Sometimes it takes such spirits and forces of nature to withstand and gracefully live within the forces of nature.
Music to listen to perfume by:
40 winks Melancholia
Top: Rainy Day in NY from Nicko's Big Picture; Aftelier perfumes from the Aftelier site; Raindrops on branches from Celebrate Canada; Fog in NYC by Nichole356; Lapsang Souchong from the James Beard Foundation
Images above are not mine, if they are yours and you wish them to be removed please contact me.
Disclosure: The perfumes were purchased by me. My opinions are my own and I am not compensated in any way.