Fraîche & Easy
Last summer practically forced me to wear citrus scents. Ever since, my taste has been gradually becoming fresher and fresher. I learned to appreciate clean, fresh perfumes for three reasons: a) the noli me tangere quality, the icy, poker-faced feeling that they lend me; b) the cooling effect in the heat; and c) the easy, relaxing comfort that they provide. A good fresh scent to me is an olfactory equivalent of a good chillout tune. A no-brainer, calming sound/smell in the background. And if that seems like I am damning the genre with faint praise, I am not: being able to make to one's life easier without being obvious about it is a great quality in a perfume. Or indeed in a person.
This summer my fresh scent wardrobe (already including L'Eau de L'Hermine, Vanille Galante, Puredistance, Lotus Blossom & Water Lily, Eau de Fleur Magnolia and Cristalle) benefited from the discovery of the following:
Cristalle Eau Verte by Chanel. Sweeter, more floral, in no way a chypre and significantly softer and gentler than actual Cristalle, this is basically...a different scent entirely. Please, don't look in it for a variation on Cristalle that will still be recognisable as the classic favorite. Taken on its own merit, however, it is a lovely, harmonious, incredibly easy-to-wear citrus fragrance with a pretty magnolia note in the heart. The citruses in the top are slightly sugary, with a floral accent added by neroli; the heart enhances the floralcy with jasmine, honeysuckle and the aforementioned magnolia; and there is something dry and green in the base that lasts, discreetly, all day, long after the citrus sparkle is gone, and adds some of that hard, brisk Chanel-y edge to the overall very easy-going composition. Elegant, versatile, youthful...as much of a little white dress (a summer must-have) as the original Cristalle. Only, while the latter I imagine as a somewhat haughty shift dress, Eau Verte is, perhaps, more of an egalitarian and more flirty baby-doll. (Bergdorf Goodman, $105.00 for 3.4oz.)
Eau Divine by Divine offers the dry, spicy freshness that I love in summer. Anise, ginger and nutmeg add an interesting twist to what could have been a rather ordinary unisex blend. I also love the unexpected presence of violet in the heart. The slightly powdery solidity of the note adds body to the fairly transparent mix and a certain retro feel. It smells "French" and a little old-fashioned to me. It should come in a huge retro splash bottle (oh, wait, it does!) and a tome of Bonjour Tristesse, because the Sagan's France is where Eau Divine takes me. And that is one of my favorite places. (Divine.fr, 50€-145€)
Cote d'Amour by L'Artisan Parfumeur inhabits approximately the same territory, but very now. Celine Ellena's characteristically gauzy and modern composition is the smell of skin heated by the sun, salty from the sea, with a saline, weedy undertone that seems to stick to one after a day on the beach. In that respect, I find this quiet, chilled out scent quite sexy. With its spa-like, herbal ambiance, in reminds me a lot of L'Eau de Jatamansi, however, Côte d'Amour has much less of that "I am natural and choke-full of the ingredients that are good for you" feel that I resented in Jatamansi, although there is still some in the blend of immortelle, rosemary and pine...still, when I am in Côte d'Amour, I am not aware of wearing an ORGANIC blend, but of wearing a perfume. A very non-perfumey one, but still. (Luckyscent, $155.00 for 8.4oz)
Bigarade Concentree by Editions de Parfums. There are perfumes with an animalic undertone. Jean-Claude Ellena's citrus masterpiece smells...human. I can't describe it in any other way. Few citrus scents easily blend with the wearer's skin. They tend to sit on top, sparkling as if in a myriad of tiny unmeltable crystals. Bigarade Concentree melts into the skin. A friend with a very keen nose suspects that there might be some cumin, and I agree. Nothing humanizes a perfume like that warm, dirty spice. Put too much of it, and -voila!- the scent is animalic. Clearly, only a touch (might have) been added to the bitter orange overdose of Bigarade C. It also might be hay, with its strangely fleshy aroma. In any case, a unique take on citrus that I couldn't get enough of this summer. Men should be forced to wear this, as the perfume smells even more human on them. (Barneys, $85.00-$200.00)
Eau des Lagons by Comptoir sud Pacifique is another scent to be shared with a male. It is, perhaps, more unisex that any of the scents described here; read: it is rather masculine. Like Côte d'Amour, it manages to be evocative of the sea without smelling too obviously aquatic. Unlike the quietly languid Côte d'Amour, Eau des Lagons is brisk. I would even call it sharp, but in a good way. It is a wake up scent, a "I need to be alert at work" scent. A friendly sort of slap on a cheek that would prevent one from nodding off in the heat and the boredom. The beginning of the scent is momentarily fruity; immediately, the sweetness disappears, and it becomes all about rind, zest, sap, salt, driftwood and very white musk after that. I see Eau des Lagons as transparent white. Pure, almost sterile white...If you need a politically correct, but not boring office scent, this is the one. (Comptoirsudpacifique.us, $85.00 for 3.3oz)
What are your fresh perfume favorites? Do share. If you would like to be in a draw for samples of Eau Divine, Cote d'Amour and Eau des Lagons, please say so in your comment. The winner will be announced on Friday.
Image credits, Numero, Miles Aldrgidge.