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?

Share

Perfume Review: Jacomo Silences eau de parfum Sublime, plus a sample drawing

Some of you might remember how much I whined over the news of a reformulated Silences last year, because, yeah, I was whiny on the level of an  overtired three-year-old. Sorry ’bout that.

First, because I made you read it. Second, because I was wrong.

The new take on the very-70s original is that good.  You do have to be a fan of green scents, I’d hazard, but I definitely am.  Just the other day I was listing my extensive collection of scents I wear in spring, and most of them are green florals, of course.

This color combo looks a lot like my mental image of Silences.
This color combo looks a lot like my mental image of Silences.

Silences edp Sublime reminds me not so much of its predecessor, which is relentlessly, eerily green with lashings of rose and iris, as it does of a gentle version of Chanel No. 19.

I was disappointed in Chanel’s updated flanker of No. 19, titled Poudre, as to my nose it was barely green at all and seemed to be mostly clean white musk with hints of dry iris. While pleasant, Poudre seems more closely related to Prada’s ubiquitous, nicely-done Infusion d’Iris, with perhaps a tiny green veil.Silences edp sublimeSilences Sublime, as I’ll call it for the duration of the review, opens up with the gentle bite of galbanum and a very small hint of blackcurrant bud, both rather subdued, along with a light veil of aldehydes. You might not even notice the cassis bud at all – it’s gone quickly and doesn’t have that big cat-pee hit (hey, I like the cat-pee thing, but I know it’s controversial). More prominent is the floral heart, where rose is joined by a delicate lily of the valley note and  a tiny bit of floral dirt from the narcissus.  The iris seems to pop up with the basenotes (woody notes, vetiver and musk), and it’s lovely in a very quiet way for a good four hours.

Sillage is mild to moderate unless you try the spray-until-wet technique, and then it’s only moderate; longevity is really more like edt than edp on my skin. Silences Sublime strikes me as being really a hot-weather kind of fragrance, a dry cooling breeze that soothes my grizzled temper and lends a bit of elegance without the ramrod posture that No. 19 evokes.

As for comparing the Sublime to the original – well, for one thing, the original version of Silences that I own myself is parfum de toilette, and it is a galbanum monster that lasts allll day even in humid summer. (I feel certain that more modern Silences eau de toilette is lighter than the almost-oily pdt.) Silences is the sweet pink color of rose, the calm blue-purple-grey color of iris, the clover green of galbanum and the olive green of moss, satiny ribbons that trail out behind you in unexpected, arresting beauty, as you wander in quiet contemplation.  Silences Sublime has much less presence, and as I say, seems much closer to No. 19 in character than to Silences. I suspect the addition of aldehydes to Sublime and the base’s focus on vetiver-musk rather than moss creates that likeness.

This looks like the color scheme for Silences Sublime, too. Well, perhaps it needed a bit more pink, but it's close.
This looks like the color scheme for Silences Sublime, too. Well, perhaps it needed a bit more pink, but it’s close.

I am enjoying Silences Sublime very, very much, and find it even easier to wear than Chanel No. 19 (which can be a little demanding of my attention – delightfully so, but still demanding).  It’s quite reasonably priced, and I bought my 100ml bottle via New London Pharmacy’s website for under $80 shipped. Lovely stuff. Jacomo really should make it more easily available in the US, because I predict it would sell beautifully.

Sometime soon I really should create a diagram showing Silences, Silences Sublime, Chanel No. 19 in various concentrations including Poudre, Annick Goutal Heure Exquise (in edt and edp), Calandre, Rive Gauche, and Madame Rochas on a continuum, because they all seem somewhat related to me along an axis of green notes/galbanum, aldehydes, rose, iris, vetiver, moss and musk.  Clearly that note combination is a favorite of mine (though I’m not as fond of Rive Gauche and Mme Rochas as I am of the others).

I’m offering two 2.5-ml spray samples of Jacomo Silences eau de parfum Sublime.  To enter, please say you’re interested and tell me whether you like any of the scents on my hypothetical continuum.  (It’s okay to say you’ve never investigated any of them. I hope to pull you in!) Drawing will close on Thursday at noon Eastern Standard Time. Drawing is now closed.

Share

Spring: An Embarrassment of Riches

 Redbud in the Morning Sun

My scent wardrobe is, like the climate in which I live, very seasonal.  We have weather distinct from one season to the next, and it can range from below 0F in winter, with snow and wind and hail, to 98F in summer, hot and practically humid enough to grow mushrooms on your skin.  The most comfortable seasons in this area tend to be spring and fall, with moderate temperatures and cool breezes and sunshine, though we certainly get plenty of rain (the average annual rainfall in my county is approximately 38 inches).

There are certain fragrances I wear at just about any time of the year, perennial go-tos.  There are other fragrances I associate with certain seasons or weathers, and I never think of wearing them at other times.  I love changing my fragrance with the season – I bring them out of the perfume cabinet and place them in the decorative hatbox on my dresser for easy access, and tenderly stow away the out-of-season back in the cabinet.  I try to wear my seasonal fragrances when they are in season, appreciating each  one like a beautiful day, though choosing among them is often a challenge.

Winter is easy: Alahine.  Ubar, Lyric, Memoir. Tiny dribble of Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant, if the weather is cold and damp.  Carnal Flower or La Myrrhe, if the air is so cold it turns to crystal.  Dolce Vita parfum.  Parfum Sacre. Vanille Tonka.    

Autumn is easier: Tabac Aurea, always. Champagne de Bois, Organza Indecence. Shalimar Light.  Vintage Magie Noire, if the weather is just right: cold, rainy, windy.  Smell Bent One.

Summer is easiest, with the fewest season-devoted scents: Fleur de Matin, Hanae Mori Haute Couture.  Ines de la Fressange first edition. Moschino Funny!, Rose d’Ete.

But spring?  Spring is hard.  I hate choosing in spring.  Green scents?  Violets? Lily of the valley?  Green florals, floral chypres, straight-up florals?  There are so many, and I love them all, and they all say “spring” to me in some way.

What to choose? And how to make sure nothing gets left out?  I still don’t know.  I have no real plan, I just get up and pick something to delight in.  Some favorites for spring:

Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet – “the greenest of all flower gardens.”  A big green juicy smack of galbanum and marigold gives way to very, very tender white flowers, from a wisp of tuberose to a hint of lily of the valley.

Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete – a shifting green-and-gold symphony like sunlight dripping through green leaves.  Galbanum, green notes, narcissus, hyacinth, patchouli, moss and woods combine to create the essence of happiness for me.

Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve – this long-discontinued, much-coveted floral chypre gem gleams like good pearls.  Very elegant yet gentle, with a powdery softness due to aldehydes and oakmoss, it is a reserved and quiet pleasure.

Jacomo Silences – cool, silver-green perfection.  Contemplative, streamlined, nothing extraneous at all.  Satin ribbons of galbanum, iris, rose, oakmoss.

Penhaligon’s Violetta – simplicity itself: green leaves, purple flowers, a whisper of sandalwood.  Shy but lovely.

DSH Perfumes White Lilac – the true delight of lilac sweetness, garnished only with a handful of leaves and a sprinkling of spice.  A joyful scent.

Guerlain Chamade – the essence of romance, it slowly blooms from chilly green opening to the budding jasmine-ylang-rose heart and on to the full-blown warmth of mimosa and vanilla in the drydown.  A perfume for surrender. 

Balmain Jolie Madame, in vintage parfum – a gorgeous juxtaposition of green notes, violet and gardenia against smooth leather.  Bittersweet in the best sense.

Chanel No. 19 – the Seven-League Boots of pure beauty and empowerment.  Galbanum, iris, oakmoss, and a whiff of leather, elegance with a riding crop.

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse – Languorous and vibrant all at once, with green notes, richly sensuous white florals, spicy notes, and honey set against a slightly-mossy sandalwood background. 

Christian Dior Diorissimo – the essence of spring, in the form of lilies of the valley.  That is all.  And it is spectacular.

What’s on your spring list?

Share

Oh, the tragedy! the loss! Jacomo Silences to be revamped

Thanks to a tweet from Robin at NST (@nowsmellthis), I’ve read the news: Jacomo has revamped its classic green-floral-chypre Silences.  I feel a rant coming on…

This article at CosmetiqueMag, dated February 13, 2012, describes the changes in French.  I don’t speak or read French (I took Latin and Spanish, and precious little good it does me with perfume, I tell you), so I went to Yahoo’s BabelFish translation page to get a better handle on this news item, which reads like this: 

Image from CosmetiqueMag.

Jacomo renoue avec Silences: Propriété de Sarbec depuis 1995, la marque remet au goût du jour Silences, son classique de 1978. Le jus, un chypre-vert aux facettes animales, a été revisité par Serge Majoullier (Mane). Il en a fait une composition plus moderne et lumineuse, tout en gardant le caractère vert de la fragrance, avec du galbanum et du cassis, un trio floral rose-iris-narcisse et un fond boisé-musqué. Le flacon noir garde la même allure mais la typographie du nom a été modernisée.

I suspect that BabelFish isn’t a particularly good translator.  This literary gem is what it managed to come up with:

Jacomo joins again with Silences:  Property of Sarbec since 1995, the mark gives to the last style Silences, its traditional of 1978. The juice, a Cyprus-green with the animal facets, was revisited by Serge Majoullier (Basket). It made a more modern and luminous composition of it, while keeping the green character of the fragrance, with galbanum and blackcurrant, a floral trio pink-iris-Narcisse and a wooded-musky bottom. The black bottle keeps the same pace but the typography of the name was modernized.

Ummmmyeeeeaah.  I’m going to mess with the English version myself to see if I can induce it to make sense:

Jacomo relaunches Silences:  Owned by Sarbec since 1995, the brand has revamped its 1978 classic Silences for modern tastes. The juice, a green chypre with animalic facets, was revisited by Serge Majoullier (Mane). The composition was made more modern and luminous while keeping the green character of the fragrance, with galbanum and blackcurrant, a floral trio of rose-iris-narcissus and a woody-musk base. The black bottle remains the same, but the font of the name was modernized.

Better?  I hope so.  (Mane is an aromachemical company and its name should not have been translated.  Basket??  Pfaugh.  Also, the verb tenses were inconsistent, and I don’t know enough French to tell whether that was the fault of the original article or not.) 

NOW we get to my real point:  They’re messing with Silences again.  Is there oakmoss listed in the notes? Iris? Nope.  Dang it, this gorgeous otherworldly thing, the greenest smell possible, this galbanum genius, is likely going to wind up smelling like the revamped Lanvin Rumeur.  I’m going to be ticked.

Of course, I have two big bottles of Silences parfum de toilette, and it’s probably a lifetime supply (and Bookworm hates this galbanum anyway so I have to be careful where I wear it), but I am going to be ticked if they screw it up.  I suppose that A) it’s been reformulated before, maybe multiple times, and B) there was no way they could have kept all that oakmoss in the formula anyway – but if it loses that strangely eerie, meditative, coolsmoothsatin quality, they might as well scrap the darn thing.

floating on green satin
This is what wearing Silences should feel like.

There’s so far no word on when this will take place.  It may very well be that the revamped Silences will be decent, if completely different in character than the Silences I know and love.  I mean, if they’re putting real narcissus in there with the rose, it might have a chance. But in that case, I think I’d prefer that Jacomo discontinue Silences and give the new thing a completely different name.

Awkward Silences, anybody?   (Apologies to the amazing Jack Mason.)

Share