As I write, it's 95 degrees Fahrenheit/35 degrees Celsius in Seattle. On scorchers, I usually opt for colognes they make me feel refreshed and clean. Apparently, most of my citrus scents are too hot to work today (even 10 sprays result in only minutes of refreshment). I don't want any "sugar" in my perfume on hot days, and cumin and grapefruit are risky ("That man needs a shower!") And I'm not interested at all in the army of white musk-infused citrus scents on the market that remain on skin till Kingdom Come; the last thing I want today is to be reminded of a steamy laundromat.
My hot-weather choice? I often opt for a vetiver-focused perfume; vetiver makes me feel clean and "cool." Too bad my latest vetiver purchase (Etro Vetiver) is a failure in this oven-like heat; it disappears from my skin in under 10 minutes. So, thinking of that old phrase — "fight fire with fire" — I turned to a new vetiver fragrance: Montale Red Vetiver1.
Red Vetiver begins with a vibrant pepper-and-vetiver combo: torrid pepper (black and red) says "Meh!" to Seattle heat: "I've experienced worse...Egypt anyone?" Vetiver does not stand alone for very long against the sizzling pepper onslaught; it's joined by cooling "turpentine" made with grapefruit peels (not "sweaty" smelling at all) and — SURPRISE! — an incense-y red rose. I don't know if this "rose" IS rose or the result of a brilliant fragrance note mix, but the rose note is fat and happy. As the rose fades, beautiful cedar (let's call it red cedar) appears. This cedar note is soft and talc-y (and talc makes me feel cool, too). Red Vetiver joined my to-buy list the moment I smelled it (too bad I have to wait till autumn...I don't want my bottle broiled en route from L.A. or New York).
If you love vetiver with a twist, give Red Vetiver a sniff. Even a dab of it on one finger outdid Etro Vetiver sprayed over my arms and chest. Impressive.
What scents cool you off when the atmosphere shimmers in desert-like heat?
Montale Red Vetiver Eau de Parfum is $120 (50 ml) or $170 (100 ml). For buying information, see the listing for Montale under Perfume Houses.
1. Listed notes of vetiver, cedar, patchouli, grapefruit, elemi, black pepper.
Note: top images by the author.