The Heady Smell of Summer

The season has changed and so apparently should our scent. Because it is summer, there’s an excuse to sell us season-appropriate stuff, and the marketing people would like to convince all of us to smell of coconut with a hint of fruits rouges, and to generally lighten up on the perfume front. 

Not so fast. If ever there was a season to go all out on the heady and heavy perfume department, is it not summer? It is fabulously refreshing to wear an insanely crisp vetiver or citrus during the Christmas season when everybody else smells of turned potpourri and vanilla. Equally, whipping out the most potent of white flowers (I’m thinking tuberose in particular) in the summer heat makes all the sense in the world. 

Weleda’s shower cream (the one that does not make you lose weight) for this summer is ylang ylang mixed with copaiba (fyi, I also had to google what copaiba is). The cream delivers a bit more oomph than your regular mid-priced citrus deal, and quickly became my absolute favourite amongst the natural shower creams. It is limited edition, so go get yours asap, I have pretty much raided all shops within a 10km radius from Brussels centre, so try your luck. 

We shall continue with limited edition products. Swedish Byredo have recently done interesting collaborations, and Elevator Music with Virgil Abloh (men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton) is one of them. It is available basically nowhere, except maybe on eBay for an extortionate price, I got mine at Byredo’s shop in Stockholm last year where it was sold out soon after (I’m not being very helpful here I realise). In terms of scent it is very woody: bamboo, burned woods, amyris, that sort of thing, but also it is very light, as in it is not wintry in the obvious “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” –manner. My latest thing with Elevator Music is layering it with…

… ​Floral Oud Gardenia by LA-based flower-wizard Eric Buterbaugh. We are talking about semi-serious niche-geekery here: it was an in-the-know friend who tipped me about this brand and off I scooted to Saks NY, which is the only place outside Los Angeles where Buterbaugh’s juice is made available to people who are not Demi Moore and/or ​Naomi CampbellEverything in this brand is so over the top (the cult-following, the price, the fact that he was flown to the Windsor Castle to do the flower arrangements for Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party because really, why not) that I cannot not like it: the perfume is sublime, and also I like exclusive things that come with an off the wall side-story. 

So yeah as the name says, it’s an oud, a lovely one, with gardenia (duh). It’s mixed with my perennial (flower pun!!) favourites of santal and tuberose, and it is absolutely beautiful. The bottle is a heavy crystal-deal with an old-fashioned topper so it does not travel at all, but also you don’t want to travel with it unless it has its own insurance policy and a first class seat. I decanted mine. 

Speaking of tuberose, the ultimate summer-night scent is Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion for the Frédéric Malle Collection. Chosen the sexiest perfume in the world by many people (including a few whom I personally take seriously, such as Sali Hughes, though I otherwise find it strange to rank the sexiness of something so personal). Carnal Flower contains the highest concentration of tuberose in the perfume industry, it’s a spectacularly heady deal.

Top tip: Do like I did and buy a couple of bunches of tuberose at the market, wait for the blossoms to open and spritz yourself with Carnal Flower. Sensory overload if ever there was one. 

Oldie but goldie: Diptyque’s Philosykos. My first niche-perfume, so it will always have a special place in my heart, reminding me of the bygone era of computer labs where us students could send email. I was drenched in Philosykos those days and remember being complimented on my perfume in the computer lab of Edinburgh University. The bottle cost me many a night shift as banquet waitress, but the compliment: priceless

Anyway, Philosykos is a classy fig scent, however without the often overpowering sweetness of fig. The base notes are much more on the woody side again – cedarwood and sort of trees? It’s a very green scent for me personally, many people are wary of sweet perfumes and fig often is. This one isn’t. 

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