|'The Waterfall Fairy', illustration by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite|
Tempers flare, the news is terrible, and the physical discomfort of Summer in a crowded big city heightens all these factors and adds to every form of anxiety. To remember that there's more to life than trouble, and to reclaim what is good about this Summer, I use perfumes to transport myself and experience an alternate olfactory reality for a better frame of mind.
Summer brings out all the languorous lyrical aspects of perfumes. Winding down the multiple curves of an aromatic road, mirroring an olfactory Art Nouveau atmosphere, softly building up and dying down, over and over until complete evaporation makes room for the next.
A beautiful perfume will hold its frame and structure, so the humidity and heat will coax out the details of each note one after the other, until you are entirely covered by a blanket of sinuous aromatic tendrils that entertain and stimulate and even soothe, depending on what you've chosen.
I set aside a repertoire or variety of perfumes to match or magnify the mood or purpose of the days and nights, because I know all things that are truly special are highly idiosyncratic. Nothing really good is ever going to act as one size fits in all occasions.
Instead of note lists, these will be my impressions, as the note lists are all available online and most have been well reviewed elsewhere already.
I think this set of perfumes as a whole creates a harmonious, seductive if wordless narrative. Maybe when I look back at the end of the season, after repeated use in my personal order of impulse, as driven by an unconscious internal logic, I will know and appreciate all the more how my experience of everything from now to the Fall was toned by their influence.
May I suggest, introduce, re-introduce, offer, these gorgeous scent beings with their many varied and distinctive personalities for this Summer's consideration:
1. Rozy Voile d'Extrait by Vero Profumum. How can something be so light and so rich and so highly dimensional at the same time? There are a thousand facets of rose in this, wrapped up in moist fresh green with a deep soul beneath it all, that tethers the floating ethereal beauty above it under the light weight of its cool hand. It wears like the sheerest of silk sleeves on the arms, to make every movement a graceful release of delicate charm and earthy charisma, yes, both simultaneously.
Yet another original from Vero Kern, who never ceases to amaze with one after the other exquisitely unique sensations in perfume form. Inspired by Anna Magnani who throws us a rose as she blows a kiss, we may wear this in honor of her performance in The Rose Tatoo.
Gentle soft and tenacious, and not like anything else. It carries an experience of intoxicated admiration for the life force of all original woman artists straight into our own minds and experience and so inspires renewal and faith and pleasure in that strength.
Watch The Rose Tatoo original trailer: http://youtu.be/ApP-pTRnufA
2. Mohur Extrait by Neela Vermeire Creations. A fairy-tale rose, almost sacred in its powerful elegance, with the strength and longevity to carry through all the aromatic details within its phases of trance-inducing pleasure. A true "perfume" reminiscent of classic European perfumery, this is an emotional union between France and India, and will transform you into a Parisian socialite of the early Sixties, thinking of an exquisite garden party she once threw in another lifetime, in a secret rose garden, within the Taj Mahal.
Created together by Duchaufour and Vermeire, this is refinement taken to the verge of aesthetic hedonism. What I get is roses within the view of a freshly bathed elegant lady whose silken skin has been smoothed with powdered sandalwood, so the air between is infused with meditative gentleness, as she is enveloped in the a breeze from a distant forest that stands at the edge of her known world. It's an impossible and beautiful combination of eastern and western traditions, ideas and values, hence the fairy tale reference. Romance, beauty, heroic compassion, enlightenment. A perfume that is fully capable of taking you out of yourself (in limited edition, naturally).
I expect La Belle et la Bete's rose from Cocteau's film was conjured up and used to prepare this perfume as it was mixed under the blessings of an ancient Indian goddess.
Excerpt from the film La Belle et la Bete: http://youtu.be/0aUKrOMrtPk
3. Saveur de l'Abricot by Artemisia (Lisa Fong). I have written about this perfume before, and I find my first infatuation deepened into true love. The soft nectar of fresh apricots, fur, worn yellow silk velvet wallpaper, creating the effect of a permanently sun dappled wall, the most fragrant aspect of the bitten or cut fruit, emanating itself, with notes of soft suede anchoring it to the skin. A red head's dream perfume.
It holds one of those dimensional natural scents you can't get enough of, triggering a hunger to draw it deep within, and inhale as much as possible. There appears to be an artless casual quality but knowing how difficult it is to render delicate and specific nuances using only fully natural perfume materials, I understand this is a tour de force that offers the appearance of effortless-ness as an experience of grace. This recalls the taste and fragrance of a summer fruit that has captured the beauty of the sun within itself. This apricot seems to have a special affinity for the skin, sinking in to become one with you. Feather soft, it turns deeper as time moves on, while still holding that beautiful edge of apricot throughout the experience.
4. Miel de Bois by Serge Lutens (Christopher Sheldrake). Forest honey, yes exactly that. I am well aware that some have been quite vocal in finding this too feral, especially for summer, and that is partly the reason why it was withdrawn from the American market into European exclusivity. I don't know if there was a reformulation to remove that edge, but I don't get anything other than the most gorgeous honeyed musk and soft woods. This one instantly transports me into calm and contentment, somewhere where the bees and the nectar they crave are in abundance. It is the satisfying scent of abundance itself.
This is one of those perfumes that can call up mental images from some past life -- if you believe in past lives. Along with the thick honey, I sense a touch of waxed parchment or thick good paper, perhaps an illuminated manuscript with bright colors depicting angels and demons, held fast together in a leather binding. Or perhaps hand-painted cards held by hands busy with a glass of fragrant brandy, drunk deeply and long into a candle lit 18th century night. Several forms of flirtatious and alcoholic intoxication result in a remote country estate being gambled away. In the morning the new owner arrives to take possession of the beauty of the landscape, the native honey, the hum of the bees, to sink into relaxation and intoxication with the ultra-oxygen rich air, to appreciate such great good luck. Some are blessed with good fortune, and this is one way to participate in a great big whiff of it.
5. Les Nombres d'Or Musc by Mona di Orio. This is an invisible perfume that brightens and lightens yet soothes the atmosphere all around you. There is no way to grab hold of anything, but in the heat of summer it transforms the skin into the most decorative, sumptuous human beauty, enveloped in the purest country air, bathing the heart and mind with millions of tiny particles of goodness made up of traces rain, earth, a variety of fruit tree blossoms, dry twigs, pebbles, still clear water, sunlight. It conveys the warmth of a companionship that is supportive and unconditional, as a comfort scent that is a hug in olfactory form. There is a sense of powder without falling over the cliff into outright femininity, there is also an emergence over time of distant floral notes that are combined so smoothly as to meld completely together and travel consistently from top to bottom through the life of the perfume's wear. This one will last and help to gently bring you through any scorcher of a day that is too crowded with delays and frustrations. It is the scent of equanimity, and if worn at night, even enhances the sensations of rest before dropping off to refreshing sleep.
Part 2 to come soon, five more perfumes that are saving my life this summer!
Above image: 'The Waterfall Fairy', illustration by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite,
with a devout wish for her blessings this hot and humid day.
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