I know, it's a hard life. As a perfume critic, I don't often get to wear scents from my personal collection; I'm usually covering myself in stuff which I'm evaluating for a review. But then along comes the summer and all such commitments are shoved to one side: I'm free to smell as I please. The decision about which fragrances to pack into the suitcase is rarely easy (I told you: it's a hard life). But once the holiday is over, the sand has been shaken out of the beach towels and the eye-watering heap of junk mail has been flung into the recycling bin, I always find it interesting to look back and consider why I picked the scents I picked and, indeed, whether they were as enjoyable as I'd hoped they would be.
Sadly, Aqua Vitae (Maison Francis Kurkdjian) didn't 'perform' quite as well as I'd wanted it to. To be fair to Kurkdjian, it is designed to be a quiet, low-sillage composition, so perhaps it was unfair to expose it to scorching Med temperatures. But I thought it might create a more noticeable 'aura' than it did. Never mind; I shall return to it when the grip of autumn grows stronger. As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed wearing Captain Kurk's Oud for the second summer running. As transparent as it is heavy, it's a piece of work which continues to impress me with its expert handling of both western and eastern fragrance codes. Jean-Claude Ellena's Eau De Narcisse Bleu (Hermès) turned out to be a little on the weak side too, but at least it doesn't sell itself as anything other than a cologne. And it smells unlike any other 'light' scent I know, so I'm not complaining.
My little Travalo vials of Tom Ford's Plum Japonais, Dior's Leather Oud and Amouage's Interlude Man did the trick every time. Bold and bolshy, they were more than a match for the ravages of the sun. Rien (Etat Libre D'Orange) made me wonder, not for the first time, if some scents actually stick around too long. Any of you who have tried this leathery monster will know that its tenacity is extraordinary... and that's fine... but for a smell to be noticeable after you've showered and washed your hair is almost impolite. I guess that's the point, though.
Reminiscence's Oud isn't very well known outside France. I may review it here soon, but for the moment, suffice it to say that it's one of the better agar creations, carefully balancing sweetness, spices and synthetic sandalwood notes with the gutsy woodiness of the eponymous ingredient. And speaking of Franco-centric creations, I also managed to pick up a Vetyver eau de toilette made at the Notre-Dame monastery in Ganagobie. It's no masterpiece, but at around €15 per bottle, it shows that it is possible to make something more-than-palatable without charging a bomb.
Bertrand Duchafour's Mon Numero 8 (L'Artisan Parfumeur) provided a dose of old-world powderiness when I needed it. And Kiehl's Musk revealed greater depths than I'd noticed on previous wearings. I keep meaning to review - and I keep getting distracted by other goodies - but if you've never tried this reasonably-priced purr of a perfume and you like your brews animalic, you need to head for your nearest Kiehl counter without delay.
Oh, and I must just mention a soon-to-be-released little gem, a sample of which joined me on my travels. Byredo's 1996 was an intensely interesting experience, combining paper-parched dryness with sugared calories of near-sinful proportions. Again, fingers crossed, a review should/might/will appear here soon.
And as for Madame Persolaise... she sensibly decided to keep her fragrance wardrobe light this summer. She gave herself a break from her beloved Portrait Of A Lady (partly because she feels that regular usage may be making it harder for her to detect the scent on herself) and packed only three bottles: Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia, Amouage's Opus V and Lutens' Ambre Sultan. The former induced a rush of solar endorphins with each spray... and the other two... well, they took no prisoners and made no compromises. All three were knockouts, in their own ways.