What to do when it's hot as hell outside and laziness is an option? I decided to stay in a cold room, sip a cocktail (watermelon and lime juice with tequila), and climb (no sweat generated) my perfume sample "mountain." I found some fun and interesting fragrances that go well with this crazy weather.
Anya's Garden Strange Magic
listed notes include Aglaia odorata, orris, gardenia, chamomile, white champaca, ylang ylang, white ambergris, Clerodendrum philippinum ("Cashmere Bouquet"); 15 ml, $125
Strange Magic is strange indeed! The first time I tried Strange Magic, Anya's Garden's PR (with its floral descriptions of the perfume) was fresh in my mind. The fragrance I smelled was "off-the-charts" different. By the time I tried Strange Magic the second time, I had forgotten what it was made of and approached it simply: "What does this smell like?" My grandmother made sensational coconut custard pies, full of cream, fresh coconut, nutmeg, vanilla, sugar and butter; the custard was nestled in flaky, rich crust and the tops of the pies were covered by a dome of glistening meringue (we're talking at least eight-inches/take-out-some-of-the-oven-racks high). Strange Magic smells like all these things to me: a dense, semi-sweet, spiced "custard," coconut, browned meringue, pastry. Though Strange Magic is not marketed as a gourmand scent, it's one of the few food-y perfumes I can wear happily — and recommend to men. Strange Magic won't give you a headache or a toothache, and it's not juvenile in style.
Fitzgerald and Guislain Nuit à l'Opéra
listed notes include natural bergamot accord (blend of bergamot essential oil and linalyl acetate naturally derived isolate), pink pepper, jasmine sambac absolute, orris butter, alpha ionone natural isolate, Indian sandalwood, benzoin resin; 30 ml Eau de Toilette, $140
Sacramento, California-based Fitzgerald and Guislain (boy, there are lots of California perfumeries these days) created Nuit à l'Opéra just for me (well, not really...but it's the type of perfume I crave during hot weather). The fragrance smells of citrus blossoms and fruit, jasmine, a genteel touch of dry orris and violet, and benzoin (an ingredient that helps Nuit à l'Opéra go from bright citrus to "sunset" citrus, gold-tinged and deep). Though I've loved wearing Nuit à l'Opéra on searing days, I think it will be perfect in autumn as well.
listed notes include bergamot, basil, cyclamen, jasmine, “Dry Cleaning Cover,” Philadelphus flower (mock orange), Australian sandalwood, white sandalwood, green Hazelnut, bread note, woods, carrot seeds, Amyris wood; 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $175
How could I resist trying a perfume with "Dry Cleaning Cover" in the notes list? (I notice Twisted Lily has removed that ingredient from its description, though Mendittorosa's website keeps that laundry-esque ingredient in place.) And what is a dry cleaning cover? The flimsy plastic wrap that's a menace to dogs, cats, children and sea life? A translation error?
South has done some washing up: giving a strong-armed lather and rinse to all its ingredients: the fruits and leaves are limp, mock orange is rain-rinsed, sandalwood is bleached. What saves South from becoming an ordinary/clean laundromat scent is the aroma of baker's yeast, and the yeast cake addition seems inspired: it's a great match for the sandalwood, carrot seeds, unripe hazelnut, even the flowers. South is like a retro laundry day...there's soap for sure, but the damp laundry is hung over shrubs, on the lawn, on tree limbs to dry. If you love "clean" perfumes and have a soft spot for a hint of high-quality white musk, give South a go. This one lasts forever and a day on skin; just TRY washing it off — the irony!
Plus: there's not a hint of anything "dry cleaning cover" to be smelled. Un mistero!
Euphorium Brooklyn Butterfly
listed notes of violet, lilac, lavender, geranium, marigold, wild mint, laurel, hyssop, milkweed, scarlett sage, armoise, clover, grasses, moss, brook water; 50/30 ml Eau de Parfum, $180/$120
There's a great story behind Butterfly:
Situated on the migratory path of the Monarch butterfly’s incredible journey from Canada to Mexico and back, the butterflies discovered the rich flora on Greenpoint’s [in Brooklyn] water’s edge for themselves, establishing a marvel of nature with seasonal clouds of butterflies signalling the start of summer in this otherwise grey industrial corner of New York City.
Butterflies are sustained by a wide variety of colourful and fragrant nectar flowers and weeds of all types. Most unique is their relationship to the milkweed plant. Highly toxic to most animals, claiming the lives of horses that forge on milkweed, the butterfly is able to utilize the milkweed’s toxins to protect itself. With an ability to safely ingest the toxins and move them to their exoskeleton, the butterflies themselves become toxic to predators to defend themselves and also lay eggs to become larvae on the milkweed plants to protect the next generation.
This year we ignored the front garden at my house and it was taken over by milkweed. The plants, at their peak, scented our part of the neighborhood and stopped traffic. On the best days of their bloom, you could hear what sounded like swarms of bees and hummingbirds feasting on the blossoms. Butterflies abounded (but no Monarchs in this part of the world).
Butterfly, the perfume, does not smell like milkweed (look to Astier de Villatte Eau Chic for that amazing scent). Butterfly goes on smelling of minty geranium, lavender leaf, mint, armoise (artemisia), tangy fresh grass and sage. This is a heady mix; a herbal/vegetal mix no flower can compete with (I smell no violet, lilac, marigold...let alone "brook water"). Still, if you want a pungent herb perfume (as in herb garden, not spice rack), sample Butterfly.
Euphoria Brooklyn offers a Butterfly Seed Set (8 ml perfume and seeds, $50); "Curated to sustain butterfly life and habitat, a seed packet contains a variety of seeds including; milkweed, butterfly bush, lavender, violet, marigold, mint, sage and a variety of nectar flowers."
Thanks to Florida (Strange Magic), California (Nuit à l'Opéra), Italy (South) and Brooklyn (Butterfly) for helping me through a heatwave. Everyone, enjoy the rest of your summer (why all this talk of Labor Day so soon?)