Perfumes for Midsummer
'Tis the time for solstitial celebrations. Time to gather midsummer plants, time to lit and jump over bonfires, time to dance around a maypole, time to float flower garlands on rivers, time to perform rituals to look into the future, a good time to get married...and generally a chance to get in touch with your inner pagan...None of which I will actually do, I am sure, opting instead, as usual, for honoring the season by wearing the scents evocative of or suitable for the occasion.
So what kind of scents are Midsummer-appropriate? As bonfires are an important part of celebration in many countries, smoky scents like CB I Hate Perfumes Burning Leaves, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles, Le Labo Patchouli 24 and Parfums Regence Kolnisch Juchten immediately come to mind. For a subtler smoky effect, L'Artisan L'Eau du Navigateur, Annick Goutal Vetiver, Lutens Chene and Guerlain Bois d'Armenie would be perfect.
In Russia and Ukraine, the Midsummer Night is known as Ivan Kupala (the old name for John the Baptist), and along with fire, water is an important element of the celebrations. The maidens would float flower garlands and tell the fortunes by their movement...Perfumes that combine floral and watery elements, like Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee or En Passant or Dior Dune, thus seem to be fitting.
In some countries, young people gather several kinds of flowers and put them under their pillows in the hopes of seeing their future suitors in a dream. That calls for luscious bouquets like Guerlain Jardin de Bagatelle, Patou Joy or 1000, L'Artisan La Haie Fleurie de Hameau, and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Jardin Blanc. Their generous headiness would also signify fertility, one of the primary aspects of Midsomer rituals. Other scents that to me are "fertile" are very earthy ones, like CB I Hate Perfume Black March or Memory of Kindness, sumptuous, sweet, darkly-fruity, patchouli-amber blends like Chanel Coromandel or Tom Ford Black Orchid, and, of course, "dirty" musks, like Kiehl's, CB I Hate Perfume's, Malle Musc Ravageur or Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan.
It is believed that herbs gathered at Solstice are especially potent, and so wearing a herbal fragrance like Diptyque Virgilio, L'Essence de Mastenbroek Eau de Polder, La Base For Him, Lorenzo Villoresi Spezie and Yerbamate, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Garrigue feels very appealing. Decorating with greenery is considered to be auspicious and so "green scents" in general are requisite, and here the choice is almost limitless. Among my most favorite green perfumes would be Chanel No 19 and Bel Respiro, Jacomo Silences, Lancome Climat, Tauer Reverie au Jardin and all sorts of lily of the valley scents.
The celebration of course wouldn't be complete without a lot of eating and a lot of drinking, and so a scent of excess and merriment like Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe or a warmly-boozy fragrance like Idole de Lubin, Ginestet Botrytis, D'Orsay Le Dandy, Lutens Mandarine-Mandarin and any number of Rich Hippie scents would hit the spot quite perfectly.
In general, the perfumes that are nocturnal, a little strange, rather mysterious seem to me to be perfect for Midsummer: perfumes like Mona di Orio Nuit Noire, Czech & Speake No 88, Montale ouds, especially the ones featuring prominent rose notes, L'Arte di Gucci, Shiseido Nombre Noir, Tom Ford Black Orchid or Velvet Gardenia, Strange Invisible Perfumes Black Rosette or Moon Garden, and Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle.
Happy Solstice everyone, have a wonderful summer!
Images: P.S. Krøyer: Midsummer Night's Bonfire at Skagen Strand, from ucl.co.uk, Ivan Kolozdra: Ivan Kupala Holiday, from artukraine.com, and Vitaliy Bartenev: At Kupalo Night, from artshopua.com.