This summer has amounted to one long heat wave. Today is the first day the high might not quite reach ninety. I’m holding my breath, as are we all, hoping for an early autumn.
There are a few signs. The leaves on the dogwood trees are blushing, just slightly. The birds are unusually ravenous, emptying our feeder (which holds a pound or so of seed) almost daily. The garden has gone to seed, too.
All summer, I’ve been switching back and forth between Claudie Pierlot’s “Eau de Pierlot” and Etat Libre d’Orange’s “Je Suis Un Homme.” On the surface, it would seem as though they haven’t much in common, but they do; chief among that is a heady peppery note and, of course, citrus, which is lemonish in the Pierlot, and citron with orange bigarade in the Je Suis.
There’s hardly any information available on the Eau de Pierlot. It isn’t sold at retail here in the U.S., although it’s fairly well-distributed in Europe. Claudie Pierlot is a French fashion designer, specializing in a sort of punkish gamine look that made me think of Jean Seberg in “A Bout de Souffle,” Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1960 film that was retitled “Breathess” for its release in the English-speaking world. (If you haven’t seen the film, you must do so immediately!) The fragrance is a sprightly orange blossom with citrus and peppery aldehydes that hit the trigeminal nerve, giving that little dart of effervescence. That's followed by a light citrusy orange blossom -- the lightest I've ever smelled -- and a gently animalic musk. I’ve been wearing it almost every day this summer. It layers well, with anything I’ve tried -- other summer scents, teas and citruses. And one of my favorite combinations pairs it with Etat Libre de Orange’s “Je Suis un Homme,” which I regularly swipe off my husband’s dresser-top; one on each arm, one on the front and the other on the back of my neck; you get the idea.
“Je Suis” has been around for awhile, a relatively early offering from Etat Libre d’Orange, the renegade Paris perfumery. Reading the list of notes surprised me, because this is one of the few scents that doesn’t send me to databases to figure them out. I don’t really care, truth be told. I’ve picked a few, of course -- orange bigarade, citron, check. Definitely there. The rest, though, are so well-blended that I haven’t ever tried to deconstruct them -- things like myrtle, and something slightly tarry, cognac, and some animalic base. Je Suis isn’t sweet, at all, in any way. Eau de Pierlot is just slightly so. Worn together, they compliment each other in a classic sum-of-the-parts way. Eau de Pierlot calms the Je Suis, which some have called a rough ride.
I guess I’ll be putting these away soon, getting out the early fall scents and the take-no-prisoners stonking winter orientals I adore. We have four distinct seasons here. I try to celebrate them by living seasonally in every way, with food and wine as well as perfume. In Southern California, where I used to live, there are seasons, but they’re subtle. It’s not unusual for summer to extend well into October. Here in Atlanta, we can count on autumn. Sometimes it’s short, but it always shows up.
Do you wear perfumes differently in different seasons?
“Eau de Pierlot” is hard to find, but I know somebody….(details below). “Je Suis un Homme” can be ordered from the niche perfume sites and stores.
“Eau de Pierlot” by Claudie Pierlot may be found, in very limited quantities, at WAFT's niche perfume boutique. Decants are also available there.
“Breathless” is available from Netflix, and shows up in revival houses sometimes. Seaberg plays Patricia Franchini, a bohemian American student who gets involved with a small-time hood (Jean-Paul Belmondo). The story was written by Francois Truffaut, screenplay and direction by Jean-Luc Goddard.
The photo of Jean Seberg is a still from the film, and falls under general fair-use designations.