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Friday, June 22, 2007

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.

44 Comments:

Blogger tmp00 said...

I of course love and wear most if not all of these and am glad to have an actual holidya as an excuse.

Of course, I also use Tuesday as an excuse..

1:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous Maria B. said...

Your post made me think of Ingmar Bergman's film "Smiles of a Summer Night," which is set at Midsummer. I haven't seen it for years, but one element that has stayed in my mind is the country folk's going off into the fields or woods (it has been a while!) for a fun tryst on the longest day of the year. Coincidentally, I'm wearing Antonia's Flowers Tiempe Passate, a wam skin scent that is perfect for a snuggle. :-)

2:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Marina, you surprise me again & again : Kroeyer is one of my favourite painters...

3:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Tina said...

thank you, M for this informative end evocative post :)!
this summer, my favourite perfumes are: for daytime Bvlagi White tea, Diptyque Philosykos, L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons, Etro Messe de Minuit and YSL Paris Roses des Bois. warm, balmy evenings outdoors in a good company of DH, friends and a glass of cabernet sauvgnon call for heady florals: AG Songes, POTL AMAZE, SL Fleurs d'Oranger, FM Carnal Flower.

have a wonderful summer, M, it's my favourite part of the year and I think it is yours, too :-D!

3:55 AM EDT  
Anonymous violadiparma said...

Never smelled either of thouse but who cares today? "Kupala, Kupal nocka bedziem tanczyc do polnocka" "Kupala Kupal-night we will be dancing do the midnight" as its called Kupala here too.

5:03 AM EDT  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

Nuit Noire is sultry summer evening perfection, too true.

Happy summer back at you.

7:06 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Great choices! I actually did break out the KJ last night - my smoky scent of choice. I absolutely associate the scent of bonfires w/ midsummer's eve due to family traditions (bonfires and parties w/out fail each year for midsummer's eve - very pagan parents).

7:45 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

What a fun post to ponder. KJ (the vintage) smells surprisingly good in the heat, doesn't it? And I think Datura Noir would be good for some nekkid nighttime goddess dancing...

Hey, hon, your water section was a little light. Where's Cool Water? Acqua di Gio? (snerk)

-- Maleficent

PS I'm going to embrace the solstice by wearing all my jasmines again at the same time. Dang, that was fun. Wrong, but fun.

7:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous newproducts said...

What fun! There are so many scents to choose from! I will have to think quite a bit before I choose my scent today. :-)

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Gail S said...

Hmm, I think I'm feeling the herbal scents right now. Would really like to try Virgilio, it's been talked about a lot lately on the boards. I made the HUGE mistake yesterday of deciding that I could get away with Chergui in 95 degree heat. I will not do that again.

8:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
Every day is an excuse for me too :-)

8:41 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Maria,
Tiempe Passate is lovely, and totally fit for a snuggle...or more :-P

8:42 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Sumer is icumen in, indeed! What a great post! I will have to try KJ in the heat; I've never done that. Two scents that I hit hard in the summer, though, are MeB 3, Green, etc., and MH Sel de Vetiver.

8:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

M,
I love him too! I wish his Summer Evening on the Skagen Southern Beach wasn't used so much on greeting cards and things like that, and often with some cheesy "inspirational" message across it, you know? I am sure you have seen those.
I think his paintings are...tender, for the lack of a better word.

8:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tina,
Great choices, all of them! Why did you have to say, A Maze...I almost managed to forget how much I need it. I am going to gather herbs tonight and make an A Maze Attracting potion :-)

8:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

E,
When will be the Noc Swietojanska (sorry for the spelling!), is it on June 23?

8:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
Since we are on the subject of paintings today, there is one by Magritte (actually there are several, but especially that one), which always makes me think of Nuit Noire, and vice versa - Le Seize Septembre.

8:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
I wish we had that kind of tradition!!

8:55 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

March,
I tried to think of more watery florals, but realized that those three were the only ones I was prepared to, um, endorse :-)
Vintage KJ is totally wearable in the heat. More than the "new" one, because the "old" one has a brighter, herbal-citrusy feel to it.

8:57 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Minsun,
So what did you choose? :-)

8:58 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Gail,
Ouch! Chergui in 95 degrees weather is not for the faint of heart :-) But! It could have been worse. Imagine Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum in such weather. I made that mistake once. I still feel sick just remembering it :-)

PS. I love your avatar!

8:59 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,
...lhude sing cuccu! :-)
Love all your scent choices! MetB 3 is Green, Green, Green and Green, right?

9:02 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

Yes, indeed! And then some more Green:) Definitely will be hitting all of your wonderful green scents, too!

9:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,

Me, I am wearing rose ouds :-)

9:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Teri said...

It was 99 here yesterday and was still in the high 80s at dusk. I was sitting in my 'reading chair' with the window open behind me, drinking in the scent of a honeysuckle vine in full luxurious bloom which was wafting in the window with the evening mountain breezes. And I was thinking....No matter how sublime a fragrance creation I chose to apply, it could never compete with that crafty old perfumer, Mother Nature.

I wonder if it would be in the spirit of Johannesnacht (the German form of midsummer's night, also named for St. John the Baptist and also based upon an older, Druidic, fecundity celebration)to doff my clothing, wrap myself in honeysuckle vines and leap wildly through a johannesfeuer in the moonlight? It would certainly cause merriment among my neighbors, and consternation to the local fire department. lol

Apart from this flight of fancy - lol - I'll probably just keep reveling in my summer jasmine epiphany for another day or two. :)

11:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Teri,
I dare you to do that! :-)
So which jasmines are you loving right now?

11:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Midsummer... I think I tend much more towards the dirt and vetivers because it pulls me in tune with the more earthy scents, and provides a beautiful accompaniament to my flowers.

Wonderful post, M!

12:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

And Dzing too. Reminds me of the fair time of year, just a happy, beautiful, sweet leather.

12:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Patty,
Vetiver and dirt- great choices!

1:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

...and so is Dzing, of course!

1:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Ina said...

Midsummer for me is associated with the national holiday in Latvia called Ligo. It's all about beer, caraway seed cheese, jumping over the fires, and staying up all night. I can only come up with one scent that represents the fire part - Kolnisch Juchten. As for caraway cheese and beer, hmm... maybe CB Musk for cheese and a Rich Hippie for beer? No idea.

1:20 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ina,
Another vote for KJ then! CB Musk is perfect for cheese. Or we could of course use Jardenia or Velvet Gardenia, he he he. What perfume has caraway?
I'd give anything for a slice of Latvian bread (with caraway) right now!

1:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

"Tender" is right, Colombina : he painted a tender world - or he painted the world in a tender way...

3:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

M,
Very beautifully put!

4:06 PM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp (Judith) said...

I know you don't like this, but Hypnotic Poison has caraway. I miss the (hot, rye and caraway) bread of my childhood, too. My mother would get it fresh from the bakery, and we would eat most of it before we got home.

4:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

J,
That's the only way to eat bread, greedily and fast, while it's still warm :-)

And no, really can't do HP, caraway or not :-(

4:51 PM EDT  
Blogger pitbull friend said...

Hey, Marina: What a delightful post! Many good ideas I haven't tried. For caraway, though, I would do Parfumerie Generale Querelle. To me, caraway is the strongest note in it -- which makes it more of a vehicle for reminiscence (good Jewish rye bread of my youth) than a perfume, per se. --Ellen

11:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

Ahhh ,the summer Solstice, which I spent with about 6 of my closest girlfriends feasting on fresh lobsters and champagne! My fragrance of choice for this evening was Demeter's Cannibis Flower! Having made the pact with myself when my son was born 19 years ago to not indulge until we were through the "chaotic" years, I have found this wicked little pleasure to be an a delightful balm to my aging hippie soul! In truth, I dicovered that for me there is more pleasure and mystery in wearing that soft, deeply sensual herbal scent then there ever was in smoking it! It draws my husband's lips to my neck like a moth to a flame and makes me feel not just a little enchanting!
Hoping everyone is enjoying the revelry to be had on this very sexy weekend!

12:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ellen,
Querelle has caraway! I thought I knew of a scent with caraway, which I really like. So that what it was.
You know, I tried buying bread at Russian and Polish stores here, and it still doesn't taste quite right :-(

3:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
OK. I have got to get me some of that Demeter :-)

3:55 PM EDT  
Blogger violadiparma said...

i remember now, another word for this here is Sobotka.

3:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

E,
Sobotka...I'll have to remember that one!

3:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I just got samples of the Tom Fords, so I wore Moss Breches for Midsummer Eve. I also wore a garland of fern, iris and roses, among other stuff from my mother's garden. I didn't, however, dance any of the silly dances around the Maypole...

7:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

T,
That scent and the garland...absolutely perfect!

7:59 AM EDT  

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