Friday, July 17, 2009

More Best of Summer : Brian's Picks

Recently, I discovered that I don't really care about light scents at any time of the year. I prefer heavier fragrances not just in the Winter, when they're said to make sense by serving as something approaching a comfortable blanket, but in the Spring, when they start mingling with the fresh, open air. The biggest surprise for me has been how much I like the power scents in the Summer. I think I might like them most of all at this time of year. It isn't just that citrus scents are so fleeting, though that's part of it. They hit the heat and poof, they're gone. Citrus scents and eau de colognes, however long they last, turn sour on sweating skin, as if trying to hide some basic facts of nature. Summer in the south isn't clean and composed. It's sultry and animalic, and the fragrances which make the most sense on my skin are the ones heat and sweat can only be complimented by, as opposed to struggled against.

1. Habanita (Molinard): Try it on in the Summer. The powder isn't there. It's as if someone blew off a coat of dust Habanita was submerged under, and now you can smell the basic structure underneath, more of those tobacco nuances, the weird peachy top notes, the push and pull of vetiver and vanilla. Infamously, the EDT lasts all day in the winter. It lasts just as well this time of year, and smells like sex warmed over.

2. Fougere Bengale (Parfum d'Empire): I only bought this last month, but I imagine the tangy, herbal thrust of the lavender gives it an interesting Summer dissonance it would be too well behaved to let show in the Winter. Immortelle and spices run like a strong current underneath, pulling you along.

3. Moschino de Moschino: This is indeed, as Tania Sanchez says, joss stick. However it distinguishes itself from many lesser orientals and even some of the superior classics by its weird, smoked florals.

4. Bandit (Piguet): There is no wrong time of year for Bandit. It spans the calendar, covering the bases. Grassier this season than last, to be sure, this green leather seems like a saddle left out in a field of chamomile. I never get that in the winter, when it seems like something you've snuggled into a pocket to keep warm.

5. Karma (Lush): Orange incense. People love it or hate it. In the winter, I...lurv it? In the summer, pure love for Karma. The heat activates subtleties that the cold leaves dormant, merely strident.

6. Daim Blond (Serge Lutens): I was so disappointed when I bought it last summer that I put it away and had only smelled it periodically ever since. Lately I pull it out and it makes perfect sense. The peachy cured leather smell lights up the skin. The heat makes it moodier, less the cheerful happy-go-lucky it is in the winter and fall, more unpredictable. It has issues, suddenly. I can relate.

7. Encre Noire (Lalique): Someone will have to convince me this isn't the best possible summer fragrance on a guy's skin, bar none. It smells virile without resorting to that chest thumping feeling you get from cruder peers. It's both fresh and filthy, inviting and repelling. Vetiver doesn't get much better.

8. Miss Balmain: A sister to Aramis for Men (born in a man's body), closely related to Aromatics Elixir, Cabochard, and Azuree (also great this time of year). This stuff is twenty bucks a bottle and based on the vintage bottle I own smells just as good presently as it ever did. It seems to grow warmer and thicker on the skin as it wears. Wonderful dry down, leather in deep floral hues.

9. Arpege (Lanvin): Especially the most recent reformulation. It smells of aldehydes, forals, and vetiver and sticks with you for the long haul.

10. Broadway Nite (Bond No. 9): the heady, almost waxy impressions of this fragrance are strong enough to get the point across, whatever the point is.


Ines said...

Hmmm, I've been thinking about spraying sth more eloquent than an edc, and now you've given me perfect ideas - I'll definitely try some of your picks. :)

Olfacta said...

Hi Brian! You know, you could be right -- I'm already sick of citrus, and the Dog Days have just started. I got some essential oil of orange blossom a few weeks ago at S & S, going out tonight, it's going to be humid and sweaty...hmmmm.

Or some of that Miss Balmain, which I love as you do.

I've missed reading your posts, welcome back!

Perfumeshrine said...

Love that you're unapologetic about what you like! Why stick to something if it doesn't suit?
From your list I love Miss Balmain, find WEncre Noire one of the better mainstream issues in a while and find Bandit the perfect heat scent (it cuts through the heat something uncanny in the bitter green edp)

Anonymous said...

So glad you've made it clear that you're picking perfumes for a swampy summer! Readers who live in a place with hot, DRY summers (as I do) will adjust their expectations. Those who live with cool, moist summers (the San Francisco fog belt) will merely shake their heads in wonder.
-- Gretchen

Brian said...

Oh, Gretchen, if only my purely subjective opinion weren't being formed in a swampy locale. Though I think, these all being great year round scents, I would wear them in the areas you mention as well. Any little excuse to spend more time with them. Thanks for reading.

Tania said...

I gave up seasonal perfuming. If I feel like wearing citrus in winter, or Habanita in summmer, that's what I do. Though the real heavies (Spellbound for instance) and strong florals like Fracas make me feel sleepy in hot weather, so I'm more likely to reach for a versatile chypre like Y, or Bandit.

Gaia said...

I'm all for real perfumes all year long. I wear Lonestar Memories on the hottest, most humid days in NYC. It cuts through the air and keeps my feeling oddly refreshed.
Encre Noire is, indeed, perfect. The husband and I share the bottle and can't agree who smells better in it.

Flora said...

Oh yum, Habanita in summer, now that's my idea of embracing the season! ;-)

Ayala Moriel said...

Thank you so much for contributing the one and only male perspective on this summer blogging project!
Again I'm surprised at how many dark scents are chosen.
I guess there is only one way to find out how they react: trying it.
I like certain spicy scents in the heat, but I don't know about heady florals...
Hope to do something like this again soon.

Anonymous said...

Brian -

All the things I think about perfume (the ridiculousness of feminine scents vs. masculine scents - the recognition and empowerment of often snubbed drugstore and department store fragrances - the idea that fragrance should be seasonal, etc) are all the things you write about perfume....weird.

I couldn't agree more with you....I actually look forward to the desert-like heat of So. Cal summers just so I can wear my heaviest scents and enjoy their development on "hot" skin (instead of "cold" skin covered by layers of clothing).

Have you tried Malle's Carnal Flower in the sticky air of Southern summers yet? I just scored some Une Rose and it's glorious in the heat, and Encre Noire is almost always in rotation for me not matter what the season. I also like Histoire de Parfums' 1740 Marquis de Sade and DKNY Fuel for Men in summer (the recent reformulation - which smells like over-ripe pineapple and gasoline with some leather thrown in).

I could go on and on - but I'll spare you....

Your writing rocks, your choices rock -


Brian said...

Aw, Marko, you're a sweetheart. I always look forward to your feedback. The masculine/feminine divide is ultimately so silly, especially when you consider how sophisticated, evolved, and cool so many perfume lovers are. It's remarkable how this community rewards shared interest. I've really never experienced anything like it; for the most part we're all so respectful of each others' opinions, sincerely interested in hearing what everyone has to say. I know I am.

Une Rose is very special. I've worn it a couple times in the past few weeks and am impressed by how it holds up in the heat and what magic it does under the circumstances. I first smelled it on a rainy, moody day in Seattle, and now it's very hard for me to wear it with as much enjoyment any other time than fall and winter, the association is so strongly ingrained. Wearing it in the summer feels like taking one of those fish which have lived blindly in cave streams for years and brutally exposing them to direct sunlight. Call me melodramatic.

I'm so curious about Carnal Flower. I mean, it's Dominique Ropion, which about says what needs to be said for me. But I tend to ignore it among the Malles, I think because I've heard reports it doesn't last long. What do you think?