Friday, July 17, 2009

I Know What You Did Last Summer ~the Perfume Edition

In a feverish summer stroke of genius Ayala of Smelly blog aided by the ever resourceful Gaia of The Non Blonde came up with a project more substiantial than simply a list of summer favourites: here you will find assorted creative minds proposing scents for almost every summer eventuality, in essence the ultimate summer scent wardrobe! Perfumes which you can take or leave, arguably, yet these lists are by no means exhaustive and are intended to give a little nudge into finding your own special fragrances for this summer. So, have fun and tell us what your preferences are for your own summery occasions!
I have been hearing how this summer has been rather cool for most of Western Europe and North America so far, but let me tell you in the Hellenic land of the Gods, it's never a summer without a mean case of the heat (and inevitably the hots!). We have been having cloudless skies ever since May and temperatures above 32C for 2.5 months now and you can see lightly bronzed, slick bodies aplenty on the beach and in the streets, so I have pretty much adjusted myself in the fragrance department pretty well by now. Here are my preferences! (click the links for reviews)

Hitting the beach is but a stone's throw away and even if not dipping in the cool Aegean waters, just inhaling the iodine-rich smell of the sea-spray is invigorating. We used to count our summers by how many swims we had taken when we were children (much like others did by counting how many ice-cream sticks they consumed), but nowadays I find that even a leisurely walk on the sugar-spun sands adds a special something to my day. When I go for a swim I prefer to pack Dior Bronze Monoi Gelée in my little nécessaire, a perfect monoi smell (tiaré and amyl salicilate) which I put on both body as a moisturizer and on hair. It wafts deliciously, isn’t photosensitive and never clashes with my trusty La Prairie sunblock.

Sailing is another typically Greek expedition for summer and apart from afternoon lazy fishing we also discover many unchartered, unreachable from tourism beaches that way! (I call this heaven, don't you?) For lounging on the deck you can't beat the light and refreshing vetiver and light smoke of Chanel’s beautiful Sycomore; it even takes a subtle chocolate nuance when in the sun! The iodine aroma of Goutal's Vetiver is more hard-core, reminding me of days seeing workers doing metal-working on large boats, the fiery metal-induced sparks bursting all around mingling with the scents of tar and salt.

Al fresco eating in summery tavernas ~often right after that sea dip, hair up with a silk scarf and body wrapped in a Pucci-printed sarong~ demands something uncomplicated. If I had opted for only the monoi gel I follow with a spritz of my purse-sprayer of Malle's Carnal Flower. Its green tuberose along with the subtle coconut touch is the epitome of summers outdoors (and would also be fabulous for a summer wedding, but more of that on a seperate article). For a warmer feel I have been also using Tauer’s Une Rose Chyprée and Chanel’s Bois des Iles parfum a lot.

If it’s a Bar-B-Q I am attending (Greeks are infamous carnivores, but we also roast our seafood to great aplomb) I can get away with a smoky little something: lately that’s Encens Flamboyant from Goutal’s "Les Orientalistes" collection.

Jet Setting is another option. I try to travel light and bring few key pieces that match each other in multiple combinations, usually in the palette of white-red-blue. My suitcase has room for vintage souvenirs, foreign editions of books I've meaning to hunt down and of course new local fragrances! Two scents which are comforting and non obtrusive on airplanes and trains are Vanille Galante by Hermès and Bois d’Iris by The Different Company. I am also flirting with the limpid, coolly spicy Un Jardin après La Mousson.

Walking around town visiting open-air book fairs is one of my favourite past-times: The view of all the titles stacked neatly beside each other, the exhibition cubicles all identical creating a long uniform line of knowledge and the smell of new paper and freshly printed ink is intoxicating. I don’t want to compete with them, so I choose the complementing Messe de Minuit by Etro which really comes alive only in the heat of summer.
Sometimes there's even a school band performing! If I am only out shopping and walking I pick Guerlain’s Vétiver pour Elle or Diorella: elegant and exuberant! And if there’s a heatwave, nothing but the most bitter green chypres will do: vintage Shiseido Zen, Silences by Jacomo and Piguet’s Bandit.

Siesta napping in a cool room while the heat blazes outside is one of the great comforts after a hot morning. The lazy, languid feelings evoked are perfectly encapsulated by L’Artisan’s Extrait de Songe (re-issued as L’été en Douce), a scent of dry white cotton, smooth sheets and the hay nuance of coumarin. (come to think of it, if you can locate a bit of the African Dreams home oil of The Body Shop to put on a burner it’s just as clean-cool). For an upscale indulgence I bring out the cool Iris Pallida by L’Artisan.

The fun fair is brash and weird and I love the illusions in the mirrors chambers or the terror train: Dzing! by L’Artisan with its cardboard and zoo animals' aroma captures the warm, yet strange atmosphere perfectly.

Cinema in Sicily, Naples and Greece is often an open-air affair during summer evenings, big yards with fine peeble, rows of seats across the silver screen and gigantic vines of honeysuckle, ivy and jasmine garlanding the perimeter. There’s a nostalgic air about it, either watching Stromboli with Ingrid Bergman or Nuovo Cinema Paradiso and I like to bring out my most romantic scents: Grand Amour by Goutal exploring lilies, honeysuckle and hyacinth, Molinard by Molinard, a cherished gift of that special someone with jasmine under green and fruity accents or Chamade by Guerlain with its blackcurrant buds and hyacinth heart.

A big night out in the big city demands a different, sexier approach and I have curiously gravitated towards ambers and spices lately: Perfumerie Generale liquorish Cozé, a tiny dab of Ambre Sultan on pulse points or Opium Eau de Toilette over my navel so it wafts upwards. I also love the honeyed sensual smell of Une Fleur de Cassie by F.Malle and the silken polish of Tubéreuse Criminelle by Lutens .

I am leaving you with Loukianos Kelaidoni's nostalgic song Summer Cinemas about the passing of youth:

Please check the following participating blogs for more ideas:

Smelly Blog, Legerdenez, The Non Blonde, I smell therefore I am, Scent Hive, Savvy Thinker, Moving & Shaking, Bittergrace Notes

Vintage pic found thanks to The Non Blonde, Santa Monica Pier 1920 from Dr. X's Free Associations. Pics via,,,, and Life mag (Greek billionnaire Stavros Niarchos on his sailing boat)


  1. Fiordiligi15:25

    Thank you, dear E, for a gorgeous post to cheer me up on a wet and stormy Friday afternoon!

    I love the Dior Bronze Monoi too and take that on holiday with me. Not so sure about that photo of the octopi (octopuses?) on the clothes line though.

    My summer scents include Jardins de Bagatelle and Chamade - colognes are really not for me. I think I might also add the heady jasmine goodness of Clive Christian's X and, like you, the evocative Bois des Iles. Just call me old-fashioned!

  2. Your list gives me ideas--I never thought of Chamade as a movie-going scent, but I'll be dabbing some on the next time I go to a film. (Unless it's "Bruno," in which case I might need something a little less refined ;-)

    Wonderful song--LOVE the horn section!

  3. Alexandra15:42

    *Infamous carnivores*, heh, sounds familiar... Over here, not that far away from you, real summer started 5 days ago. Unbelievable.
    Great choice of summer frags. I`ve just discovered that DK Black Cashmere works fabulous in this heat!

  4. Dearest D,

    it's so good to hear from you and learn the post gave you pleasure on what seems like a gloomy day (sorry about that!)

    I won't call you old-fashioned, I will call you exquisetely scented!!
    As to the octopuses, yeah, I'm afraid they're hung like that so as to dry out and make for a better roast, poor things.

  5. M,

    I did, didn't I? Well, you know me, I'm going by totally personal associations. I found your list idiosyncratic as well (and will come aboard to comment). Do wear the Chamade in the summer evenings, it should be great in balmy weather up in T.

    Thanks for mentioning the song, it's a classic for us, since it has such great lines as:

    "Our best years are going by, someone is stealing them in secret;
    years that pass by, which will never come back.
    And what I see remaining is some nights with a full moon inside summer cinemas;
    nights that won't ever come back, with honeysuckle and jasmine".

    (which if anyone has ever been here knows is totally true> when are you coming btw??)

  6. A,

    yeah, I knew you'd totally "get" it! How shocking that you only had summery weather recently! I have been wishing for a cool breeze for days, we only had a short respite and now it's sea-hitting weather again (phew...not a day for the city, to be sure!)

    The clove in BC should be cooling in the heat, I suppose, do try Kretek by AL too!

  7. Ooooh Opium in summer. That's a good idea. Just a dab will do, but it might be wonderful. I'm going through an Opium phase, I just ordered several limited editions and can't wait to try them all.

    Vetiver pour elle....why does this have to be so exclusive? (rhetorical, you don't need to answer!) I've wanted to get this for a long while now but have never sniffed it.

  8. E,

    Have not worn Sycomore in the summer heat. Chocolate you say? It's going to be 94 degrees F today!


  9. Rappleyea16:39

    Inquiring as to the cost of Helg's Heavenly Helenic Tours? Would love to book a reservation!

    Loved this post, the pictures, the song, and the imaginative accompanying scents. The outdoor cinema took me back to my childhood when all of my brothers, my sister and my parents would pile into the family station wagon to go to the drive-in movie. My mother would pop grocery bags full of popcorn. What a great memory!

    Chamade and Mitsouko are summer staples, but I've been on a mad sampling spree for the last month or so. Currently loving OJ's Orris Noir, L'Artisan's Saffron Troublant, and Sonoma Scent Studio's Champagne de Bois.

  10. Abi,

    in the intense heat Opium is only good if it's a single discreet spritz or dab on some part of the body that is under clothes. It wafts well and if there is not great humidity seems to expand nicely. More and it's overkill. The LE of it are all quality stuff, they're done very nicely, so I know you'll enjoy them.

    And since I have been myself so well catered by someone's generosity on VpE and have a bottle on hand, please allow me to send you a little to try out!! (mail me with a shipping address and I will have this out in no time)Hope you fall under its spell yourself! :-)

  11. T, darling, do bring it out, it has a very refined bitter choco edge to it, delicious and oh so elegant. Sycomore acts as a virtual deodorant on hot days, it's instantly refreshing!

  12. Donna,

    LOL, for you it will be free! (I guess I do tend to mix so many things in my posts, sorry if I am becoming a little hellenocentric sometimes)

    It is a great memory you have there, funny how little things like these tend to stay on our minds, eh? It makes for nostalgic daydreaming.

    I love Saffrant Troublant (then again as evidenced by my Saffron series, I love saffron, so...)! It's another one which is panseasonal and very cuddly even in the heat. Love your choices!

  13. Rappleyea18:20

    Never apologize! Hellenocentric is a good thing, especially for those of us who have not been lucky enough to visit!


  14. Dear Helg,
    Thank you for a fascinating insight into your Greek summer!
    In Vancouver we have an unusually hot summer. It's been mostly nice out since I came back from France. I feel so lucky!
    As always, we have a few shared choices on our list - Sycomore, Un Jardin Apres la Mousson - even if not for the same purposes...
    I'm surprised at some of the heavier scents you picked though. When I'm in Israel in the summertime I hardly can wear anything but the lightest scents (i.e.: Philosykos, and light orange blossom scents in general; I think UJALM would be perfect there now!).

    By the way, BitterGrace, I went to see Bruno yesterday and was wearing a scent that had nothing to do with it. It was Kyoto. And the movie was hillariously distasteful, just about the same as Borat but perhaps a tad less shocking.

  15. I admit I never considered Dzing! for summer, but now I find the idea very appealing. And I'll have to try Sycomore in the sun. I wonder if it's anything like the vetiver+chocolate in Vetiver Oriental.

  16. Ελισάβετ17:50

    I wish I was there, too. It sounds lovely. and I haven't been to Greece since 2001. Have some γαλακτομπούρεκο for me...:-)

  17. The other day I revisited Sycomore and had a duplication of an experience I've had before. It's been very humid and the temperature has been all over the map where I live. The Sycomore, which I find very dry (which I like), starts to feel claustrophobically cloying as the day (and I) become warmer. Twice, I've had to scrub it after a few hours. Of course, this is a very personal response, and it disappoints me, for I do love the scent.

    I agree the Safran Troublant is a scent for all seasons, but it's one of my favorites.

    I think I'd wear Bulgari Black to see Bruno.

  18. A,

    thanks for chimming in! I imagine Israel must be HOT right now, so do grab any cool days you can. I'm surprised to hear of a hot Vancouver. Your choices sound very fitting!

    To tell you the truth this is the first summer after a LOT of years that I curiously picked up on some heavier scents. Probably realised that with the shortening of winter I won't be able to finish the bottles ever! LOL! I had been wearing Premier Figuier, Philosykos, In Love Again, Rose Iekabana, Vetiver and Passage d'Enfer for many summers now, it was time to bring in a little variety I guess. The trick is in the application: Whereas I love to spritz away even heavy scents in winter, I now do the one (small) spray/dab over the navel technique so I can keep it low and discreet and not overwhelm myself. Seems to work well with some things.

  19. G,

    oh yes, I got a new bottle of Dzing! recently and have been a little carried away with it. It's quite appealing if used sparingly, do try it.
    As to Sycomore, no, I don't find it as orientalised as VO, cooler and less "opaque" (love them both!). Maybe they're seasonal alternatives to one another.

  20. E,

    hope you get here soon, then! Γαλακτομπούρεκο eh? It's so fattening, but so yummy too...Sending you a virtual piece on the ethernet! :-)

  21. J,

    ouch that does sound like a nasty experience, I wonder why it happened to you. Have you tried spraying on clothes instead? (in my experience it doesn't stain cotton or linen; don't spray silks though)

    BB sounds like a great choice for Bruno! Thanks for suggesting it! (not that I am tempted by the movie, personally, but I really have no opinion on it as yet)

  22. I seem to have the same reaction to every Chanel I like, so it's something personal, though I haven't figured out what it is. Now, I want to try Beige, which I hadn't bothered with because of this, because I'm looking for a good scent with a hawthorne note but I'm afraid that it, too, will be like this for me.

  23. J,

    a ha! That'sa pity...Well, let's just cross our fingers Beige proves to be everything you want it to be. It's a pretty and rather innofensive, non challenging scent anyway.


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