Friday, 26 September 2014

What We Really Wore This Summer - 2014


Guess what, I think we have a regular feature on our hands. About a year ago, I posted an article about the scents which Madame Persolaise and I actually wore over the summer, as opposed to those I sprayed upon my person for the purposes of a review. Then, last winter, I published a similar piece on our favourite fragrances of the cold season. So now - given that both articles were well received - I've decided to dig out my diary notes and compile a list of the juices which we took with us on our recent travels around Europe.

I was rather surprised by the frequency with which I reached for Christopher Sheldrake's Laine De Verre (Serge Lutens). I say 'surprised', because the scent also featured on my Winter 2014 list and I wasn't sure if its sci-fi crispness would translate well to higher temperatures. But the sun drew out the coolness of the incense, thereby softening the scent's more garish angles and lending it an air of contemplative equilibrium. Madame Persolaise was particularly pleased to smell this one on me, repeatedly saying that she found it "comforting". Unexpected softness aside, it's still a commendably weird piece of work, which may explain why I found myself thinking about it whilst listening to We Were Evergreen's equally kooky Towards album. Perhaps the band ought to scent their gigs with this stuff: both the perfume and their music possess a futuristic quirkiness which comes across as unmistakably '21st century Gaul'.

Music came up again whilst I was spraying myself with Michel Roudnitska's Noir Epices (Frederic Malle), a bottle of which I picked up at the charming Mûre Favorite in Lyon. For this scent, the musical link I made was with Roberta Flack's greatest hits: her seemingly effortless handling of smooth low notes was not unlike Roudnitska's treatment of heavy spices and woods, especially in that gorgeous drydown, where the cinnamon and patchouli feel as though they're thinner and lighter than a peacock feather.

Several days saw me indulging in liberal spritzes of Carlos Benaïm's Eau De Magnolia (Malle again). Inevitably, the intense heat had a detrimental effect on the juice's longevity, but never mind. Whilst it lasted, the watery luminosity of the expertly-constructed magnolia was a joy.

As in previous years, I couldn't leave home without Francis Kurkdjian's Oud, which never fails to impress me with its balance of a convincing agar wood note against tons of pepper and a large helping of modern musks.

Francois Demachy's Cuir Cannage (Christian Dior) turned out to be a winner too: its diffusive, retro leather - inflected with a pronounced ylang ylang note - conjured nostalgic visions of hat-wearing gents and parasol-carrying ladies strolling along a shaded promenade.

And then, of course, there was Monsieur Jean-Claude Ellena, whose work seems to breathe the very essence of the sun-caressed Provencal landscapes he inhabits. As ever, I packed my trusty bottle of his Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (Hermès), but this year, I also persuaded myself to make friends with Un Jardin En Méditerranée (Hermès) once again. Most of you will be aware that the scent revolves around fig trees, but in the same way that Nil's much-vaunted green mango facet is bolstered by an incense note, Méditerranée's star ingredient is made more striking with the inclusion of Ellena's speciality: tea. Both were wonderful to wear. And I must also mention his Terre D'Hermès Eau Très Fraîche: its lip-smacking grapefruit + bitter orange opening was a delightful complement to the sight of sunshine reflected in pristine waters.

Madame Persolaise couldn't allow many days to pass without reaching for her Portrait Of A Lady, but I suspect regular readers are well aware of her (entirely justified!) adoration of the scent, so I won't bore you with repetition. Suffice it to say that her loyalty shows no sign of diminishing.

When she was feeling more adventurous - and I use the word loosely - she sought out two other roses: Jean-Paul Guerlain's Nahema extrait (whose opening is pretty much guaranteed to transport me into another dimension each time I smell it) and Francois Demachy's new Rosa Nobile for Acqua Di Parma. The latter - a commendable soliflore with a prominent green facet - turned out to be far more likeable than I thought it would. And Madame P insisted that I let you all know how much she enjoyed its body cream version, the bottle of which seemed to be by her hands almost all the time.

My better half has long been a fan of Chanel's scented output (Coco is one of her all-time favourites) so it's no surprise that two bottles bearing the double-C logo made it into her suitcase. The first was one which she's been using fairly regularly since last winter: Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake's Coromandel. The summer heat seemed to strip the top notes off this stuff almost instantly, leaving a forceful, surprisingly physicalised patchouli: an earthy beast only just concealed beneath a veneer of elegance.

The other was 31 Rue Cambon (also by Polge and Sheldrake). I'm always surprised that Madame P doesn't wear this one more often. For years, the original Femme was her signature, and she always enjoys smelling the likes of Mitsouko, so she's certainly fond of classically-structured chypres. But somehow, this particular one has never managed to work its way into her soul. Then again, she did spray it quite a few times this summer - treating everyone around her to that stunning combo of only-just-overripe plums, velvety mosses and Nina-Simone-soulfulness - so maybe it'll soon find a permanent spot on her dressing table. If it does, I'll be very pleased indeed.

Over to you. Which scents did you reach for this summer? Which ones did you enjoy... and which ones turned out to be a disappointment?

Persolaise

18 comments:

  1. This is my first time commenting on your blog after lurking. My summer was marked by wearing quite a bit of L'Heure de Nuit and no 5 with a lesser degree of Courtesan. It hasn't been a hot summer in Cleveland so I could get away with heavier perfumes.

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    1. Eldarwen, I'm so pleased you decided to come out of 'lurk mode'? I like your choices... and as far as I'm concerned, there's never a wrong time for No 5.

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    2. But I can never make up my mind on which variation I want to wear. But I don't break out the vintage EDC too often.

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    3. Eldarwen, I'm a big fan of the EDP, and the extrait too, of course.

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  2. Loving the music associations, Persolaise. Please keep them coming.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

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  3. My favorites this summer were Byredo's Flowerhead, Mona di Orio's Tubereuse, Carner Barcelona's D600, L'Artisan's Seville a L'Aube and on every wet day either Mona's Violette Fumee, Oud or Atelier's Sous le Toit de Paris. And oh how happy I am Fall is now arrived and I can add some heavier gems into my rotation :)

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    1. Kathy, you've got some wonderful scents in that list. I'm a big fan of Seville A L'Aube.

      Here's to a peaceful autumn for us all.

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  4. Well, at the start of this summer I bought Atelier Cologne's Cedrat Enivrant, after the lovely people at Les Senteurs gave me a sample with another purchase. It's a lovely summer scent, redolent of gin and tonic, and it's been a trusty standby for sprightly, sunny days.

    MFK's Aqua Universalis Forte has been another favourite this summer, with its bergamot headrush immediately transporting me to Italian citrus groves.

    Atkinson's Oud Save the King has to rank as one of the worst-named fragrances ever, but its mix of oud and sandalwood lightened by bergamot (again) and Earl Grey tea was a revelation and worked surprisingly well across the summer season.

    And finally my favourite from this summer - the stunning Odin 07 Tanoke, which smells exactly like a walk in the the Californian chaparral, with its gorgeous black sage-y notes twisted around misty redwood and salty bitter orange.

    I said finally - I should mention one more delight that I discovered just two weeks ago: Dom Rosa by Liquides Imaginaires. I have a small sampler of this and I love it. I've never experienced a fragrance that's so effervescent; it truly captures the scent of fine champagne and I highly recommend it. I'll be buying a bottle ready for next summer!

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    1. Wayne, thank you so much for the wonderful descriptions. It sounds as though you had a supremely scented summer ;-)

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  5. Persolaise - Former "lurker", first-time commenter as well... enjoy your blog and your web site, having discovered it from Andy's blog. Will be buying your book soon as well.
    This summer I sported Tauer Pentachord Verdant, Vetiver Dance and Carillon Pour Un Ange while the missus wore Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain and Incense Rose, and TerraModerna55 Parfums Uve Lambusche and Aceto Balsamico. It was a gloriously fragrant summer... Cheers

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    1. Michael, thanks for venturing out of the darkness :-)

      Incense Rose is one of my favourite Tauers. I confess I don't know the TerraModerna brand; I'll have to check it out.

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    2. Persolaise, We discovered TerraModerna55 and owner Daniele during a trip to Italy. It's very limited production and distribution, but very delightful fragrances based on ingredients specific to certain locales in Italy. Typo in my original post - I meant Lambrusche, derived from the sparkling red wine in the Modena vicinity. It sounds strange but is quite mesmerizing. Ditto for the balsamic fragrance.
      I forgot how we discovered Andy Tauer, but both he and his fragrances speak for themselves. My lady and I are both major Andy fans. Your interview with Andy was very enlightening and enjoyable. I hope to meet you both some day during my travels.
      Lastly, we really should venture out and sample some of the other perfumes you have reviewed, but the two favorites mentioned do not leave us feeling limited.
      Cheers!

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    3. Michael, thanks for the explanation. And thank you so much for reading my interview with Andy. I really enjoyed my chat with him, despite the fact that it was conducted through email.

      I will definitely keep an eye out for the TerraModerna :-)

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  6. In the Los Angeles heat vintage Chanel No 5 EDC was a huge winner and got me lots of compliments. Also Ramon Monegal Kiss My Name--lemon blossom and tuberose smells great in 90 degree weather.

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    1. Danica, how wonderful to have a stash of vintage of No 5!

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  7. There's not a massive difference between seasons in what I wear. Chanel Cuir de Russie has been my most consistent over the past few months. I also love the tropicality of Carnal Flower. And of course there is never a time when Portrait of a Lady is not welcome!

    I reallyreallyreally want a bottle of Cuir Canage. It's not cheap so I think I may have to treat myself for Christmas if I want it!

    Jo

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    1. Jo, you're right, Cuir Cannage isn't cheap at all. In fact, I believe Dior recently raised the prices of the Collection Privee by quite a margin.

      I do hope you manage to get a bottle for yourself.

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