Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Goodbye Summer Hello, uh, transitional scents

This is a difficult time of year.

You want summer to be over, but it isn’t, and you don’t, but you know it will be.

Here in the hot and humid South, we’ve got another month before we can pull out the long-sleeved shirts; two before we can wear flannel (not that we would). But everything, the nearly golden afternoon light, the slight blush on the leaves of the trees – they’re tired of pumping out chlorophyll, day after day, they want to rest – says so. The squirrels and chipmunks are busier and fatter than ever, thanks to our backyard “bird” feeder. The Black-Eyed Susans out front are blooming like there’s no tomorrow. Summer’s nearly over.

I’m sick of the lightweight citruses and aquatics we have to wear in hot weather here in the Land of Manners, where it’s considered impolite to choke innocent bystanders. Even a white floral is just too…too, when it’s 90 degrees and 80%. This time of year, I want impact. I want those ambers and incenses and woods. Alas, it’s just not time yet.

But…remember “transitional” clothing? Stuff you wore when it wasn’t quite summer/not quite fall? Not sure what happened to that. It seems to have gone the way of patience.

Anyway, here are a few fragrances, which I (just coincidentally) happen to own, that work well in this time of time standing still.

Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron – This is the 1934 Fleurs, the plural. I’m pretty sure it’s the modern version. (How I’d love to get my hands on some of the vintage Carons, but the perfume budget is a little tapped right now and where do these people get off charging what they do on Ebay!? Okay, I’ll stop now.) Anyway. I’ve chosen this one for this week and next, because, although it is a white floral, it’s cool, somehow. (The bouquet-like notes include gardenia, violet, lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lilac, mimosa, iris, sandalwood, cedar and amber.) There is a slight heaviness to it, the jasmine, which comes up fast on my sugary skin, but not too heavy. And, much as I’d love to wear Tubereuse Criminalle to church, not that I go, that sort of thing just isn’t done here. But this, you could wear to church. And then to the Colonnade, in Atlanta, for that after-services Singapore Sling.

Kelly Caleche by Hermes - starts out citrus, then floral, then a smooth leathery drydown. It’s mid-August to mid-September in a bottle, but there’s no question that Kelly Caleche is a difficult scent. These transitions are bumpy. It’s a Jean-Claude Ellena, and it has that clarity. But it was named after a purse, which was named after a mercurial, perfectionist actress, and a spindly carriage. I’m not sure what to make of the horsey references (hay, saddles) other than hey, it's Hermes, and the flowers (violet, mimosa, the dreaded tuberose, although it’s very subtle here) other than the reference to Grace Kelly.

This is one that must be tried on skin. On mine, it’s completely different than on paper. It’s sweeter, of course, but the notes of mimosa and hay predominate, whereas on paper I don’t even perceive them. There, it’s the tuberose and a wood, possibly cedar or sandalwood, maybe a little patchouli, and the synthetic molecules like quinoline that comprise the “leather” drydown scent. Kelly Caleche is, ultimately, as elusive as Grace was. But we are talking about transitions. This one has them and then some. I wonder if Ellena knew what Grace was really like, in her day?

Habanita by Molinard – Ahhh, Habanita. It really deserves its own post, and I will do that one of these days; so much history (flappers! Used to scent their cigarettes!) but right now it just seems perfect for the season. Because it’s sweet, but smoky, definitely too strong for church, even in the EDT. And it lasts. The kids are back in school, or on their way to college or otherwise out of house and hair, Thank God. Looking for something to spritz on just before you run to the Costco?

I have the modern EDT and some vintage parfum. Now, we definitely don’t wear the vintage perfume to the Costco. No, you put that on (long) after the kids are asleep. Or save it for when you’re by yourself. The notes (orange blossom, ylang-ylang, vanilla, heliotrope, iris, leathery base) are well-mixed, but that unmistakable topnote – can it be? Cigarette smoke? In this day and age? Well, yes. That’s what makes Habanita so…daring. More daring now than it was in 1921. The checkout person might think you’re one of those...(shudder) smokers.


Interesting, isn’t it, how history repeats itself?
All of these scents are readily available in the usual places, and vintage Habanita isn't too hard to find on Ebay or in flea markets.


ScentScelf said...

Confession: I am NOT a smoker. Don't enjoy being around active smoking. Don't enjoy the lingering evidence of smoking activity.

I enjoy Habanita .

There's no doubt there's cigarette smoke floating around there. But such an interesting fragrance underneath...

Very much enjoying your blog!

Perfumeshrine said...

I generally agree with your assesments on these (FdR is especially tame, great description!): the Kelly Caleche is a sleeper classic and definitely needs to be tested on skin ~I think many dismissed it because it's completely speechless on paper.
Habanita has a glorious powdery effect, doesn't it?