Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Weather-Beaten Awakenings: Let it Go

"You must have brought the bad weather with you,
the sky’s the colour of lead,
all you’ve left me was a feather
on an unmade bed”
~It’s Over, Tom Waits

The thunder came crushing down like release from heavens last night. The humidity and the city's torpor of the last few days came to an abrupt end. The foliage, dripping wet and cleansed, as if a giant rubber had erased all dust off it, shone with a newly found brilliance this morning. Mitsouko eau de toilette (with one drop of parfum extrait on the hollow of my neck) wafted off my cleavage in spicy puffs of selfish enjoyment.

How neatly arranged that the demarcation falls on the first calendar day of the month of October; almost as if the skies were conspiring or rather scheduling things with the precision of a conscientious housekeeper. It's official; autumn has started and with it the glorious melancholy that the promise of decline is giving us each year at this time. The moment when nature is rubbing its weary eyes a bit, starts yawning soon to plunge into a short nap. Hypnos (sleep) was the mythological brother of Thanatos and I'm reminded of this little fact as I see the fallen blossoms, yesterday still so orange red, today trampled underfoot in the muddy pools on the ivory pavement, a dark rotting mulch.

Mitsouko by Guerlain, my default rainy-weather-perfume, has often been linked to a certain wistfulness, seeing as it's inspired by a novel concerning cross-starred lovers. But I'm convinced there's something more to it than just mental associations, especially since raindrops make me exceedingly happy, as they're not incessant on these latitudes. As I savor the mowed grass freshly fragrant in the air by the scent of geosmin mixed with chlorophylle rising up, I sense anew that certain aspects of the fragrance are enhanced; its mossiness, its cinnamon-clove kick, its citric tang, its fiery heart torn by unspeakable passions...Although Mitsouko is also customarily linked to glamor, to me it will always remain an introspective affair, something to keep like a secret that puts a smile on your face no one knows anything about.

I'm reprising a ritual and this small tradition aids me more effortlessly slide into the slots of this giant machine of which we're all bolts and wheels in the end. Vaille que vaille...

And how about you? Do you have specific fragrances you wear in rainy weather?


  1. Dina C.11:47

    I often enjoy Guerlain's Apres L'Ondee on rainy days, especially in the spring and summer. Your post has made me eager to wear Mitsouko during a fall rain. Lovely description. Thanks.

  2. i also love mitsouko on rainy days! especially warmer rain. on cold rainy winter days, i go for something balmier. in the middle of summer, if we get a rainy patch, i'll wear some of the florals: carnal flower, DK gold---they have a rich opulence in warm, damp weather that suits them and lifts them. but mitsouko is my favorite rain match...

  3. Beautiful writing to read in early morning :) On chilly, rainy fall days I enjoy Bond 9 New Haarlem. It's rich coffee and patchouli feel like ducking into a shop to meet good friends for a warming cup. Summer rain invites Donna Karan for Women, in the tall frosted bottle; a fantasy of wet pavement, tomato leaves and jonquil.

  4. This was a truly beautiful read, Helg, and I say that as someone who has neither the appreciation of rain nor of Mitsouko that you do. Even so, like you, I enjoy pairing green scents (like the original Estee Lauder Private Collection) with rain. Unless it's a cold rain, in which case I prefer something gourmand or slightly smoky or both, like L'Artisan Tea for Two or Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque, both of which say autumn to me.

  5. Astrid14:29

    Lovely post - it inspired me to spritz the old Eau de Cologne Mitsouko I picked up in a local perfume store and only very occasionally use.

    It wafted luminous citrus mushrooms for about an hour, then faded to a bit of moss.

    Then, cuz it's October 1, followed up with a Magie Noire (new one is still quite good to my nose) reinforcement. Currently wallowing in incense and moss.

  6. You are right, the moss in Mitsouko fits really well.

    Here in DC, rain means a lot of humidity in the air one needs to cut through. So big leathers work for me, Knize Ten, Bandit. I guess if true chypres with leather still existed (Tabac Blond of yesteryear) they'd probably fit even better.


  7. Miss Heliotrope08:22

    Prada's Infusion d'Iris goes well with our rain - today.

  8. Anonymous10:47

    Mitsouko on a cold, dark, rainy day where it the sky looks like it's 5pm but it's actually only midday. The waft of Mitsouko in this instance is equally as glamorous as any other perceived 'glamorous' situation. Of course, it would have to be vintage heavy, heady Mitsouko (or as you've stated, at least a drop of EDP). Great taste in your choice of song. Tom Waits is more often than not, beautifully dark.

  9. Dina C,

    thanks, glad you enjoyed my take and you were inspired!

    Perhaps it can be said that ALO is the warm weather rain and Mitsouko the more autumnal. (Not quite cold weather though)

  10. NFS,

    indeed there's something to be said about rich florals opening up in the summery weather, especially when humid. I suppose it's because most of these flowers are tropical citizens and they feel at home in those conditions :-)

  11. Rosarita,

    thanks, that's so nice of you to say.

    I admit I have a soft spot for New Haarlem, though I don't like the company's practices. But I hadn't thought of the DK in those terms, eons ago when it first launched: jonquil? tomato leaves? wet pavement? Why oh why haven't I noticed before? Need to check again.

  12. Suzanne,

    high compliment coming from you. Thank you!

    There's something about greens and rain, they pair well because they're meant to :-) (how cute is that!)
    We agree on the smoky things in cold weather; somehow the smoke rising up chimneys pierces the cold, ringing air and demands an ashy smelling remnant on the hands to accompany it. Or so I feel, especially when the fireplaces burn olive wood logs emitting their very particular castoreum-reminiscent scent....

  13. Astrid,

    thanks for the nice words :-)

    Citrus mushrooms sounds pretty fun, actually. I find many of the EDC Guerlains have kept surprisingly well and they have a clarity that is sometimes mucked in the heavier concentration when it has sit for a while. They're meant to be brighter.

    Ah, Magie Noire...is there a more magical and tragic story in reformulation archives? I doubt it.

  14. M,

    I find leathers (especially the kind you pick) DO cut through the humidity and the heat. I wear Bandit in heatwaves, it's so cooling! (also Chanel No.19 edt or parfum) The pungent bitter feel is nicely non nauseating in the heat and stickiness and the powderiness that some of the chypre leathers have lends a dry edge, welcome when you feel like you're swimming in your sweat. (well, gross image and hyperbolic, no doubt, but you know what I mean).

    BTW, many thanks for the little something which I'm delving on right now. Soon we'll share details ;-)

  15. MH,

    it's a real passe-partout, I find that scent is miraculous in working in almost any situation from weddings to office to intimate evenings. Now rain too!!

    (hope there's a silver lining to the clouds...)

  16. Anon,

    there's something about it, no doubt, and it can still move us. :-)

    Thanks for noticing the song choice. I'm always thrilled when people mention/comment on the multi-media adornments of the posts; I find they add value to what I humbly write....Tom Waits is fabulous!

  17. Cheryl14:27

    Lovely post! Jolie Madame, Parfum Sacre and Mitsouko are in my rainy day rotation.

  18. Thank you Cheryl!

    What delightful choices, some of my favorites. :-) (Though I have yet to wear them in the rain, apart from Mitsie of course)

  19. Anonymous21:20

    I love Infusion d'Iris in the rain. The first time I really grew to love the perfume was when I visited a friend in Normandy in late winter/early spring. I was wearing a lot of wool so the perfume lingered and I noticed how lovely it felt while walking along the beach in slight drizzle. There's a cosy melancholy about the perfume that I love.

    In Scotland I like Feminite du Bois in the rain. It often rains in mid August and the combination of warmth and rain makes me feel comfortable in my skin, which is how I feel about Feminite du Bois so they go together in a grounded sort of way somehow

  20. Early autumnal rains evoke a soulful melancholy beauty for me. I will definitely break out my Mitsouko! I have been wearing SL Chergui and Ginestet Botrytis since our rains started a few weeks ago, and they are deliciously warming. They both capture the essence of harvest time.

  21. Anonymous03:39

    I like Bois des Iles or Parfum Sacre - depending on whether I am curling up with a good book and a glass of wine in front of the fireplace or out and around other people.

    On a similar theme, I'm now reading "The Perfume Collector" which you reviewed recently. Do you know if the 3 main perfumes the author describes in such detail are based on reality, and what they might be? I am still learning and don't know my vintage fragrances that well yet. But they sound so beautiful and evocative of different moods I want them (if I can find them in "real life"). Really want them.

    What an interesting topic for a rainy day reading about perfume :) Thank you.


  22. Rosestrang,

    I also love Infusion d'Iris. Because it's so easy and so woody-resinous (despite the name) I find it's fabulous in just about any season. Usually I don't have any special problem with wintertime choices, everything goes (those florals or citruses can be uplifting, though the citruses don't really come out that often), but summer is difficult, so things like the Prada are priceless. It's good to hear it works even in the humidity of the rainy days. It does have a nice coyness about it, though it projects quite a bit!
    Love it!

    Feminite du Bois is such a perfect scent, I can imagine it being absolutely fabulous anywhere, much more so in Scotland which is fabulous by its own right! *sigh, nostalgizing about the beautiful Edinburgh right now*

  23. Bluepinegrove,

    ah, the harvest. There's heavy symbolism in that season, isn't there. Love your choices and will need to break out the Chergui soon!! (it's been beautifully crisp this day)

  24. Panna,

    that's a category I would love to make a compilation of: fireplace and a good book scents! Yours go on my list right now, as they're so amazing.

    Thanks for asking about the perfumes in the book. I don't really recall right now and don't have the book at hand, but certainly My Sin (Mon Peche) by Lanvin is a real perfume and circulates on auctions and on etailers. I have some myself. Worth checking out!
    If you have more data to offer for the other two, please do so, to refresh my memory.

  25. Hannah04:16

    What a lovely post! I'm writing this rather late, but today was just the kind of day you were talking about. However, the sun came out every now and then, turning the dripping trees into liquid gold. Because of this post, I've ordered Mitsouko and am anxiously awaiting its arrival (and DVT Rouge, Parfum Sacre, and L'Heure Bleue).

    In the meantime I'm wearing Ineke Sweet William, Poison, and Darling Clandestine's Tapadero. Nothing compares to the smell of fall in the Midwest, though.

  26. Hannah,

    thank you for the most nice compliment.

    It's never late ;-) Thanks for taking the time and bother to share with us about your experience and to tell me you have ordered Mitsouko (and all those lovely scents as well; I believe you will love them).

    Not familiar with Tapadero, will check it out. And -sadly- not familiar with the Midwest, which I'm convinced is full of nuanced autumnal landscapes, but...maybe sometime. In the meantime, dreaming, alongside you. :-)

    Thanks again for commenting!


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