Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Summer 2011 Top 10 Fragrances of the Moment

Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld (1975)

It's the end of June already! Dear friends, I regret I've neglected to tell you what fragrance I wore to the FiFi Awards ceremony. I chose Cartier XII L'Heure Mystérieuse, as my faithful readers probably already figured, since it has been No.1 on my most recent Top 10 favorites list (and it still is, although it's gotten pretty warm here in NYC to wear it all the time). Yes, I love it so much I *must* have it! I haven't felt this way since forever! Most of all, I find it so divinely ironic that my holy grail is a PATCHOULI based Woody Oriental, since I've done everything I could to get away from that note: the bug repellent from India that's become one of the most essential ingredients in Western perfumery. You just never know. Earthy and tenacious, it's a very useful note, one I've used in perfume blends to anchor the base. I can't say I've ever been moved to create a fragrance featuring the note, but I'm glad someone (really great) did. I'm so happy I finally found one perfect patchouli composition that works for me, in a truly fine fragrance by Cartier, no less.

But, like the perfume gods, even the divine Mysterieuse isn't 100% perfect; poor lasting power is the biggest issue, but then again, it isn't: how could such a frankly heavy and distracting smell of burning incense be appropriate in high society where the name Cartier belongs, unless it was turned into this sheer veil of an arrangement (the first of its kind that I've ever known)? Comme des Garçons Avignon (the Sarah Jessica Parker fave) is a similar type of dry, gothic church incense-smoky, almost ashy scent, but the bold strength of Avignon doesn't invite me to apply it on skin quite as liberally. If I'm to rock this popular post-Angel patchouli accord like the rest of the perfume-loving world and blogosphere, I need it to be a gauzy film (with no detectable musk) in which the patchouli note is as dry and diffusive in the air as firecrackers.

Jasmine - yes, I'm sure it helps that my favorite Fragrance of the Moment has a sweet, all-loving jasmine heart, at times reminding me of the original, fabulous, inimitable Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld circa 1975, a sweet but very deep tuberose perfume so beloved by Olivia Newton-John, she named her daughter after it...or so the perfume legend goes.

That's how I came to wear Chloé original again. I've been wearing the pure parfum out of a vintage mini. It still has the dry, pencil shaving-like cedarwood base married to sweet amber, with peaches, coconuts, fleur d'oranger and all the fun-filled accoutrements at a summer buffet table, but I just realized how mossy it is, too (it's a lovely note, although the oakmoss revival hasn't caught on the way patchouli has). Best of all, this is a white floral lover's dream, a perfume redolent of fleshy hothouse flowers, the warm southern wind. This is some big white floral phase I'm in; at this rate, I'll be reaching for Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle and Gianfranco Ferre soon. Miller Harris Noix de Tubereuse has entered the scene as I began craving something beachy again, while Carolina Herrera returned to show me what a bombshell perfume is unafraid to smell like: indoles, honey, flowers and sex. Perfumes smelled great when we used to call them "perfume", not "fragrance", didn't they?

Back to patchouli: Another patchouli based beauty I'm wearing is a classic perfume worn by Rita Hayworth called Lanvin Arpège (1927). You might recognize it from seeing it on your mother's, or grandmother's, dresser. Lanvin was once as well-known for Arpège as for their mother-daughter Lanvin logo. Arpège was the perfume couturier Jeanne Lanvin dedicated to her daughter, an opera singer, on her 30th birthday. It's an acquired taste, a verrry sophisticated scent for those of you unfamiliar with Aldehydic Florals of this type (it's similar to Chanel No.5 (1921): powdery with what may smell to modern noses like a slightly sour, synthetic aroma). I'm convinced the cool, green and soapy Aldehydic Floral is the new chypre. This one is a bit warm because of the patchouli-vanilla-sandalwood base (ooh, and there's lots and lots of moss!), and also because it's a grand, complex composition made of many notes creating olfactive density, but it's as smooth as silk, elegant worn with black or white.

I'll probably post another Top 10 list before the summer's out, but here's one to kick off the season. I think my fragrance choices this time around could work all year long...Have a peaceful, fun-filled Summer / Winter wherever you are.

My Summer 2011 Top 10
1. Cartier L'Heure Mystérieuse
2. Lanvin Arpege
3. Chloe by Karl Lagerfeld
4. Miller Harris Noix de Tubéreuse
5. Eva Longoria
6. Carolina Herrera
7. Odin 04 Petrana
8. Jean-Paul Gaultier Le Male
9. Xerjoff XJ Elle
10. Cartier La Lune