Five for Summer, 2015

summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons
summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons

HOLY MOSES, it’s summer already. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t like summer. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s boring. I’m not a beach person. Gah. But I do change my seasonal perfume rotation to deal with summer, and here are a few fragrances I really enjoy wearing in hot weather.

Cool and refreshing: Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl. Go ahead and roll your eyes, perfumistas. I’ll wait.

You done? Okay then. There is something so unmussable about Tommy Girl, which survives heat and humidity with aplomb. Her hair doesn’t go limp (or frizzy) in the heat; her clothes don’t wilt. She goes on radiating relaxation and freshness for a long, long time, and that effect of drinking iced lemon tea on the porch near the flower beds is very welcome to me when I’m outside in our muggy summer weather. Don’t shoot the messenger, but Luca Turin was right about this one.

So Pretty: Carven Le Parfum. I know a lot of perfume people found this one underwhelming, but most of them have less interest in the Just Pretty than I do. I love a just-pretty, and this one is wonderful if you like that kind of thing. I like that kind of thing. It’s basically mandarin, sweet pea, jasmine, rose and a very cleaned-up patchouli/quiet woody base that lasts fairly well.

Green and composed: Jacomo Silences, the original. My bottle is the old 80s parfum de toilette, which has aged very well, probably due to its black bottle. It’s an air-conditioned blast of galbanum and the restrained elegance of iris and moss, with florals, particularly rose, in between. I have the reissued Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, and it’s nice, but it lacks the bold eerie calm of the original, which has just been discontinued. Go buy some now, before it disappears from the discounters.

Zingy floral: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune. Grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, petitgrain, something floral that I swear smells like rose to me, neroli, clean herbal patchouli and woody notes. Yeah, sure, it’s got that almost sulfurous thing going on up top, but I love it, and this citrus/floral thing is really refreshing in the heat. I’m less happy about the patchouli in the drydown, but I don’t like patchouli in general. It’s saying something that I don’t want to scrub this off when the patch floats up; instead I just want to reapply.

Most people love citrus fragrances. I usually don’t – the only traditional citrus/herbal/floral cologne I own is a small decant of 4711, and I don’t use it all that often. But I love a citrusy floral, and Pamplelune hits the spot. I’ve gone through a couple of minis so far, and I keep waffling on whether to buy a real bottle. Perhaps I will, when my Moschino Funny! is all gone.

And of course, I have to have a BWF. Always need a Big White Floral. Doesn’t really matter which one I pick, because they’re all good in the heat. Maybe not so great if you’re trying to get work done, because they can eat your head and monopolize your senses. But there’s nothing more swoony. Suggestions: Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower or Le Galion Tubereuse (the rerelease), if you like your BWFs joyful and lighthearted. Escada Margaretha Ley (discontinued. #sorrynotsorry) or Honore des Pres Vamp a NY (bonus: all-natural) if you like them coconutty and tropical.

(Heh. I just crammed four perfumes into a one-perfume slot – how about me?)

So – what’s for summer wear in your neck of the woods?


Tuberose Series 16: Vamp a NY

A new scent from the Honore des Pres house, which specializes in all-natural fragrances. Vamp a NY is part of the We Love NY series, which also includes I Love Les Carottes and Love Coco.

Perfume Review: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

Date released: 2010

Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti

Sample provenance: sample from Honore des Pres via giveaway at Grain de Musc

Sub-category: Loud dressed-up party composition – except that it’s not all that loud.

As you might have guessed from the post title (if you didn’t already know, because I’m not quiet about it), Tuberose is my BFF. I love it, and tend to feel very comfortable in tuberose scents. When I read at Grain de Musc that Denyse was excited about another new tuberose scent, and that it was very different than L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse but that so well-done that she wanted both, I got excited too. Until I read her review – which mentions the Dreaded Tolu Balsam. If you didn’t already know this little bit of trivial, tolu doesn’t play nice with me. It’s not even a frenemy, it’s a Mean Girl. I sighed a little and decided not to enter the very generous drawing offered by Honore des Pres. I said so in my comments there. But when Denyse gave us the update that HdP had made more samples available and I was eligible for one, I decided to give it a shot. I’m very glad I did.

Vamp a NY starts off with the now-familiar rubber-and-camphor opening of good tuberose absolute, and then there’s a big fruity hit of something – ylang-ylang, with its banana preserves note, perhaps? (Edit: since reading Annelie’s comments about cucumber at Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, I do smell something aquatic-cucumbery in the opening, just after the mothballs. It doesn’t last more than a minute or so, though, and I’m not surprised I missed it the first six or seven times I wore Vamp.) I think there are some other tropical florals (jasmine sambac? frangipani?) in the mix too, although it smells very tuberose-y from start to finish. The heart of this scent, in my opinion, is a big pas de deux with tuberose and coconut, with all the romantic flourishes you could wish for – sweeping violins, purple sunsets, soft caressing winds, crashing waves, golden sands, the whole Tropical Honeymoon deal.

I like it very much. (My own honeymoon was spent in Maine, hiking around small lakes and up granite mountains… in early May. It was cold enough to wear sweatshirts. And on the way home, I’m not kidding here, we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play. Well, The CEO went to see the Red Sox play; I just tagged along. You could say that Capital-R Romance, at least in terms of setting, was a bit lacking, and perhaps I’ve longed for Capital-R Romance ever since.)

Luckily, Vamp a NY delivers. Eventually, up under the tuberose-coconut heart come warm spices and a rich vanilla. I can’t identify the spices (Edit: Denyse suggests the spicy notes are coming from the balsams, so color me shocked – the Dreaded Tolu isn’t bothering me here!), but they assist in keeping the fragrance from becoming unbearably sweet. It is sweet – very sweet – but the vanilla is rich and buttery rather than sugary and marshmallowy, and I just dig this thing right down to the ground.

Back in January, I was testing Havana Vanille and enjoying the way that the very far drydown, some twelve hours after application, seems to be a clear vanilla liqueur, very intense. I dabbed some Beyond Love near the HV, intending to test it, and found that tuberose + vanilla is a gorgeous smell. At the time, I lamented, “Why-oh-why doesn’t somebody make a tuberose-vanilla scent?” Apparently, Honore des Pres already knew how terrific the combination is, and I need search no longer.

Vamp a NY lasts five to six hours with one spray, which is rather long-lasting for me. Of course, it helps that it’s primarily composed of the few notes that tend to hang around a long time on me – but that’s good. Sillage is probably biggest during that fruity stage, but with only one spritz you’re not going to asphyxiate anybody. If I’m going to be at home, I’d do two or three spritzes, but that amount would be too much for work, in my opinion.

I’ve used up about half the generous spray sample HdP sent. I don’t know how big the bottle is, but it’s bigger than the 2ml spray bottles I have on hand – my guess is 3ml? – which is a fantastic size for a sample. I’m impressed, too, by this marketing strategy. Scenario: You’re a niche company, with limited distribution outlets, and you’re bringing out a new scent. How to get cost-effective publicity? You find a way to get your fragrance in front of as many noses as possible – the more fragrance-savvy, the better – and let them tell everybody else how great it is. Genius, my friends, genius. Kudos to Honore des Pres, and I wish the company much success.

I did several testings of Vamp a NY in the same timeframe as I was testing Nuit de Tubereuse, although I did not actually do a head-to-head contest. I found NdT on the “difficult to wear” side – its earthy, rooty nature is odd and borderline unpleasant for me, the tuberose is somewhat muted, and the woody-incense drydown is lovely but not very tuberose-y. Vamp, on the other hand, is pretty much tuberose all the way through, which suits me very well. It’s comfortable and relaxed, pretty and flirty, and is capable of making pleasant conversation. Simply put, it just makes me feel happy. And what’s better than that? If I want intellectual exercises, I’ll wear Jolie Madame, not tuberose.

Quality: A Smells natural, and the notes harmonize well together. Once it gets to where it’s going, it smells the same for quite a long time, but who minds that?

Grab-scale score: 8

Short description: Tropical gourmand tuberose.

Cost: $$  Vamp a NY has not yet been released in the US; the US launch is scheduled for September. However, it is available at Colette now, at 76 euro for a 50ml bottle plus VAT and shipping. (Don’t think I haven’t been monitoring the currency exchange rate.  I’d love a split.)

Earns compliments? Yes. A coworker said I smelled “like dessert, if desserts were made out of flowers.” Three out of four of my immediate family members like it very much. However, the one that dislikes it does so intensely until it settles into its tuberose-vanilla base. The bad news? It’s Gaze that doesn’t like it, and he’s the family member with what I’d call the most discerning nose. He says that when Vamp gets to its drydown, it’s pleasant and smells like candied flowers.

Scent presence: Moderately strong, with moderate sillage. Lasts several hours; after 4-5 hours, the sillage is much less and the scent stays close to the skin.

Review report: Grain de Musc, All I Am – a Redhead, Confessions of a Perfume Nerd, From Top to Bottom – Perfume Patter, Notes from the Ledge, The Perfume Chronicles, Perfume Posse, Scent of the Day, Perfume-Smellin’ Things.

Image of Vamp a NY from Fragrantica.  Second image is “White tuberose” from Buttersweet, and third is Madagascan Bourbon Vanilla Beans from jannza; both are from flickr.