My Favorite Things: Jasmine

As spring begins to take hold I find I am already looking forward to the summer nights when the jasmine scents the air. Jasmine is one of those ingredients which has multiple faces in perfumery. The reason is there are very few perfumes with a high quantity of jasmine essential oil. It is there in small quantities to flesh out a synthetic source like Hedione. That hasn’t kept it from still being one of the most popular florals in fragrance. I already mentioned that Serge Lutens Sarrasins is my Gold Standard but that is a beast. Here are five more which are a little lest feral.

Jean Patou Joy, I think, was my first introduction to jasmine when one of my parent’s friends wore it to a party and I was fascinated with how she smelled. It would be years later that I found out Henri Almeras took the very best florals of Grasse in rose and jasmine and combined them over a musky base. Joy is a masterpiece because of that attention to quality.

For those of you who think Sarrasins is too much Serge Lutens A La Nuit is a much more genial alternative. Christopher Sheldrake mixes two sources of jasmine and layers it over spices, honey and musk. While it sounds similar to Joy it is entirely something else and it is entirely pretty.

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Calice Becker might have created the most stunning jasmine soliflore in By Kilian Love and Tears. In this perfume the jasmine pretty much stands alone. For most that kind of scrutiny would cause it to wither and die. Mme Becker creates a multi-faceted jasmine from a whole group of different florals and multiple jasmine sources. It smells like no single jasmine; it smells like all of them. It is utterly fascinating to try and dissect. It is much better to just let it whisk you away.

Krigler Juicy Jasmine 30 is a different take on the soliflore. It is a light fun perfume where the jasmine is lifted up by orange blossom, muguet, and hyacinth. Juicy Jasmine 30 always feels like it is taking me to a fabulous garden party.

Le Labo Jasmin 17 by perfumer Maurice Roucel is what happens when you take a bouquet of white flowers lead by jasmine and capture them in sweet sticky amber. This is the richest jasmine I own and the one I most often wear during the winter. It is comforting and warm underneath the jasmine.

If you like jasmine these five should be on your sampling list. If you want someplace to start these are great starting points.

Dsiclosure: I have purchased bottles of all fragrances mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Aquatics

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As it becomes more believable that the snow is in my rear-view mirror I have been looking at my perfume vault. I’ve been considering which warm weather perfumes should begin their seasonal migration and I noticed a change in my attitude. For many years the aquatic perfumes in my collection stayed at the back of the cabinet. Two years ago with the release of two very different takes on this overdone style of perfume I suddenly craved some of the older ones. In the list below you’ll find those two and three others which might make you move aquatics back to the front of the shelf.

The entire class was created with 1988’s Davidoff Cool Water by perfumer Pierre Bourdon. This would launch, literally, thousands of imitators in the years since. None of them have the soul of the original. M. Bourdon created what was meant to be a fougere but instead lived up to its name as a splash of cool water. Still to this day I always get an unsolicited compliment when I wear it.

There were so many bad aquatics that came after Cool Water that I was really taken by surprise by Truefitt & Hill 1805. Created in 1998 by perfumer Mark Zini I didn’t discover it until I started wetshaving in 2003. Truefitt & Hill is one of the venerable houses of wetshaving and when I was getting a professional straight razor shave the barber finished me off with this. After ignoring aquatics for so long 1805 woke me up with a veritable bit of spicy driftwood in the presence of cardamom, nutmeg, and vetiver floating on the water. I’ve always seen this as one of the most sophisticated straight aquatics available.

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Heeley Sel Marin by James Heeley in 2008 would go for something entirely different. Most aquatics go for the actual water. Sel Marin evokes the sea spray and there is nothing like this. Every time I wear this I am sitting in the bow of a speedboat cleaving the waves as the spray comes up over the bow. Mr. Heeley conveys speed and salt spray together. When I want to take an imaginary boat ride Sel Marin is what I wear.

These three were my staples and I wore them but rarely and then like a one-two punch in 2013 the next two perfumes gave me very different visions of this class of perfume.

The first was Maria Candida Gentile Finisterre by Maria Candida Gentile. This is the smell of huge waves crashing against a cliff in a battle the rock is destined to lose. Sig.ra Gentile combines an aquatic accord complete with algae with a rocky flinty accord to represent the cliff. The mix of earth and water makes me love Finisterre more each time I wear it.

Barely a month later Hermes Hermessence Epice Marine by Jean-Claude Ellena would present me a gourmand aquatic. I didn’t know I wanted one of these but working with Chef Olivier Roellinger; known for his spice blends, M. Ellena created a tidal pool with spices floating gently on the surface. Cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin are the mix developed by M. Roellinger and that is what M. Ellena placed into the aquatic matrix. It makes for something I have worn regularly when the heat is on.

If you have tired of the same old aquatics I really encourage you to try the last two on my list. If you haven’t discovered the class this list might save you from wading through the ocean of aquatics for sale. In any case dive right in the water’s more interesting than you think.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of the perfumes I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Rose

Like all things perfume has its seasons. When it is spring it seems like many perfume brands consider it time for a new rose perfume. Rose is one of the most crowded categories in all of perfumery. While it might be true that there is nothing new, talented perfumers manage to find new ways to interpret this most ubiquitous of notes. As I receive new rose perfumes I have a group which I use as comparators. I’ve already written about what I consider The Gold Standard, Guerlain Nahema, in rose perfumes.  I’ve also lauded Vero Profumo Rozy Voils D’Extrait as the best post-modern rose ever. For this edition of My Favorite Things I’ll add five more worth trying.

Francis Kurkdjian has produced a number of spectacular rose perfumes including his most recent Maison Francis Kurkdjian A La Rose. No matter how many times M. Kurkdjian interprets rose I always go back to one of his earliest takes, MDCI Parfums Rose di Siwa. In this perfume M. Kurkdjian takes rose from dewy petaled ingénue through to sophisticated adult. So many rose perfumes tend to choose one of those and with Rose di Siwa you get both with the mix of Moroccan and Turkish roses in the heart supported by hawthorn and lychee on top and a beautifully sensual musk in the base.

I once described Le Labo Rose 31 by perfumer Daphne Bugey as a rose which is doing the walk of shame after a wild night. Mme Bugey has cumin, vetiver, and oud convince rose to join them for a rowdy ride. By the time it is all done rose is left holding her shoes as she squints into the sunlight wondering where the night went.

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If rose is the most interpreted note in perfumery, oud would have to be a close second especially in the last five years. In eastern attar making rose and oud are the classic pairing. In By Kilian Rose Oud perfumer Calice Becker westernizes that combination. The oud is surrounded by exotic spices saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. The Bulgarian rose is presented in a very French style to stand up to the oud. Together it makes something undoubtedly eastern as seen by western eyes. One of my most complimented fragrances I wear.

Creative Director Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake have produced a number of great rose perfumes for the Serge Lutens brand. While Rose de Nuit and Sa Majeste La Rose have more fans it is La Fille de Berlin which is my favorite. M. Sheldrake composes an explosive rose which detonates on my skin every time I wear it. There are many more complex rose perfumes out there but few with more presence.

Last year’s Ann Gerard Rose Cut has risen steadily in my opinion. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has created a crystalline rose full of shiny facets like a rose diamond. The rose in the heart is topped by pepper and rum and supported with a base of oakmoss and vanilla. This is brilliant in both aesthetic and composition.

As I said at the beginning this is a list which could go on and on. Give these five a try and you will explore five singular interpretations of rose.

Disclosure: this review based on bottles of the perfumes I have purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Tobacco

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I’m not sure what it is about the dead of winter, dead trees, and snowstorms that makes me want to wear a tobacco perfume. Like clockwork I start wanting to wear them from January to February. I have a lot of them in my collection and the five I’ve chosen could easily be joined by another five or more. If you, like me, are craving a tobacco perfume on these midwinter days here are my favorite five.

Aramis Havana was composed in 1994 by a team of perfumers consisting of Nathalie Feisthauer, Edouard Flechier, and Xavier Renard. Havana was the last of a dying breed as in a sea of fresh perfumes it was a hairy-chested powerhouse. It is a powerhouse with a ridiculously complex tobacco-laden heart that should fall apart under its own weight. The perfumers throw in twelve ingredients to capture a night of rum and cigars in the final days of Old Havana. This was discontinued for a time before returning four years ago essentially untouched. It was one of the great perfumes of the 1990’s and it stands the test of time today.

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While many turn to tobacco and rum when they think of Havana, in 1921’s Habanita de Molinard there is a reminder Cuba is a tropical island. This comes courtesy of a floral heart of jasmine, rose, and ylang-ylang. From out of the florals a tobacco accord rises and curls among the bouquet in the heart. When I also want some flowers with my tobacco I reach for Habanita.

If there is a flagship perfume for the Tom Ford Private Blend collection it very well may be 2007’s Tobacco Vanille. Perfumer Olivier Gillotin takes not only the tobacco leaves but also the tobacco flower. All of that is spiced up with ginger, clove, anise, and coriander. The promised vanilla comes along and completes this ultimate comfort scent. On a frigid night Tobacco Vanille acts as a snuggly cashmere sweater in fragrant form.

By Kilian Back to Black is one of the greatest modern perfumes. Perfumer Calice Becker, in 2009, pulled off the ultimate olfactory illusion. She created a tobacco perfume without using any tobacco. As a result this artificially constructed tobacco accord has more depth and nuance than any tobacco perfume I own. As the early notes begin to assemble on your skin until after a few minutes you are enveloped by the smell of narcotic tobacco, it is all a trick. I think this is one of the modern masterpieces of perfumery.

2012’s Diptyque Volutes by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin has broken its way into my top tier tobacco rotation by adding in a number of my other favorite perfume notes. M. Pellegrin adds immortelle, myrrh, and hay to add different sweet components to pick apart the sweet facets of tobacco. Throughout piquant notes of pink pepper and black pepper add a roughness to all of the smooth sweet tobacco. If you think you have enough tobacco fragrances try Volutes you might want to find space for one more.

There are my five favorite tobacco perfumes, no Surgeon General warnings necessary.

Disclosure: I purchased all of the perfumes mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Gingerbread

Ever since I was a child gingerbread has inextricably been associated with Christmas. As an adult Starbucks has only confirmed this association with my favorite coffee drink, Gingerbread Latte, only offered during the Holiday season. On Christmas morning the Colognoisseur house will be filled with the smells of gingerbread baking. It should then be no surprise that I will also be wearing a gingerbread focused perfume on Christmas Day. There aren’t a whole lot of gingerbread perfumes and I find I like all of them for the variation the perfumers brought to their interpretation. Here are my five favorite.

Every year Christopher Brosius puts out a yearly version of CB I Hate Perfume Gingerbread. Mr. Brosius has an uncanny ability to bottle real-life smells in perfume form. Gingerbread is unique because it isn’t the smell of the finished product. Instead it is the smell of the ingredients you use to make gingerbread; nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and a particularly potent ginger. As I am whisking these ingredients together I am always amazed at how well Gingerbread the perfume captures this. The yearly variations are like the difference from batch to batch of your own gingerbread.

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Pierre Guillaume has a well-earned reputation as one of the best perfumers in the gourmand category. The reason he is so good is he doesn’t just serve up the focal note without adornment. It is precisely the notes he chooses to adorn his central note which turns it into something memorable. Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique is his take on gingerbread and M. Guillaume chooses osmanthus as its partner. The apricot quality of the osmanthus coalesces with the ginger and the leather uplifts the sweeter bread-like qualities. There is also a bit of mate tea to give the overall effect of sitting at a table looking out on the snow holding a gingerbread man cookie over a cup of mate on a December morning.

A more formal version of tea and gingerbread comes courtesy of perfumer Christopher Sheldrake in Serge Lutens Five O’Clock au Gingembre. This is high tea in a salon decorated for the holidays. The pot of Earl Grey tea is steeping right next to cakes fresh out of the oven. The smell of the wreaths and the Christmas tree are underneath it all. M. Sheldrake has created a gingerbread perfume as fragile as a crystal tree ornament. It is so full of subtlety and nuance it catches my breath every time I wear it. Also the more I wear it the more I think this might be one of the best perfumes M. Sheldrake has done in his tenure with Uncle Serge. It is the most sentimental of the perfumes on this list which makes it perfect for the season.

When perfumer Claude Dir was asked to design Bond No. 9 Manhattan there are many smells I associate with NYC but I didn’t expect gingerbread to be one of them. M. Dir has a different view and the heart of Manhattan is a chocolate covered gingerbread paired with jasmine. This heart rises out of a spice filled opening like the ingredients all come together to form the gingerbread. A beautiful sandalwood closes it out. As with the osmanthus in Un Crime Exotique the jasmine illuminates the gingerbread with a different floral contrast.

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One of the nice offshoots of moving is I had to pack all of the bottles of perfume and it allowed me to find a long-lost gem, Dinner by Bobo. Yes it is a silly name but perfumer Sylvie Jourdet serves up a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party of citrus, jasmine, ylang-ylang, patchouli and gingerbread. Surrounding it all is the slightly sweaty smell of the Mad Hatter rushing around as a very light application of cumin and musk over incense and vanilla remind you there is someone else at this party. As I wrote this I did a cursory look to see if this was still available. I think it is and I hope I am not setting off a chase for something impossible to find. I have been enjoying this Dinner a lot over the past two Holiday seasons.

Merry Christmas to all and if you need a gingerbread lift for Christmas in July the five perfumes above should provide that.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Immortelle

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One of my favorite off-beat notes in perfume is immortelle. It also goes by the name everlasting flower or helichrysum. When asked to describe the smell of immortelle most will tell you it smells like maple syrup. Even though the harvest of maple syrup takes place in the early spring as the sap rises back into the defrosting maple trees I have always associated it with autumn. Immortelle is not one of the most common of notes found in perfumes. When I looked it up in Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World I found that there have been 101 perfumes made which contain immortelle. Most of those fragrances use it as a bit of added texture; but for the perfumers who embrace it here are five which give you the most immortelle you can get.

Annick Goutal Sables by Isabelle Doyen– Prior to its release in 1985 I can only find two perfumes which contain immortelle. Mme Doyen takes immortelle and she not only embraces it she adds it in overdose. This much immortelle could have been as treacly as to be unpleasant. Mme Doyen recognizes this and adds a healthy dose of pepper as foil to the sweet and balances it perfectly. Creamy sandalwood, amber, and vanilla finish it off. Sables has become an autumnal rite of passage as I never really feel it is fall until I’ve worn it.

Guerlain Cuir Beluga by Olivier Polge– In 2005 Guerlain invited M. Polge to be one of three perfumers to compose the initial L’Art et La Matiere collection. It was interesting having perfumers whose last name was not shared with the brand, design for Guerlain. M. Polge turned in one of the most un-Guerlain Guerlains with Cuir Beluga. An opening of mandarin and aldehydes full of sparkle and light shifts dramatically to an immortelle and patchouli heart full of depth. The patchouli is really a supporting mote to the immortelle. The sweetness gives way to a supple leather accord in the base. Cuir Beluga does contain the Guerlinade in the base but in many ways that is the only trace of the brand to be found in this perfume.

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Etat Libre D’Orange Like This by Mathilde Bijaoui– This is perhaps the very pinnacle of celebrity inspired perfume as actress Tilda Swinton was the creative director for Like This. It is Thanksgiving dinner in a bottle minus the turkey. From ginger on top through to a pumpkin pie accord matched with the immortelle. The latter reminds me of those sweet potato casseroles with mini marshmallows melted on top. It all finishes with vetiver and musk.

Nez a Nez Immortelle Marilyn by Karine Chevallier– Marilyn Monroe has been a favorite muse for many perfumers. Mme Chevallier under the creative direction of Stephane Humbert Lucas makes one of the most intricate immortelle perfumes I have smelled. They take the traditional beauty of orris and leather and wrap it in immortelle. First in all of its gourmandy maple syrup quality matched with hazelnut and pinch of raspberry on top. Then later the immortelle returns and now it has a slightly salty dried flower quality as the syrupy character is dialed way down. A judicious use of ambroxan helps enhance the late arriving immortelle.

Arquiste Infanta en Flor by Yann Vasnier– Arquiste Creative Director Carlos Huber sets a time and place for each of his perfumes. Infanta en Flor is set in 1660 as the infant Maria Teresa of Spain is offered to French King Louis XIV as a peace offering. This perfume captures the innocence of the infant as it opens with a halo of orange blossom. It leads to a leather heart where the immortelle more than holds its own as a complement for the animalic leather. The base is a mix of musks, benzoin, and tonka. The leather and immortelle heart of this is something I would like to see more perfumers try as the foundation for a perfume.

If you have never tried any of these perfumes give yourself over to the potential pleasure you will get at discovering a new note. If you have already come to enjoy immortelle as much as I do hopefully there is a new one on the list for you to try.

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of all the perfume reviewed.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Chocolate

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With Halloween just a week away my mind turns to candy and confections. Specifically my mind turns to chocolate; big piles of chocolate. Hershey’s, Kit Kat, Twix, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers; you get the idea. My dentist probably wishes I didn’t get the idea. For the next week there will be plenty of chocolate to eat. What if you’d rather wear some chocolate? There are some really amazing chocolate perfumes out there and these five are among my favorite perfumes with a prominent chocolate note. This kind of chocolate my dentist approves of.

When you speak of chocolate in perfumery you have to start with Thierry Mugler Angel created in 1992 by perfumer Olivier Cresp. It is the perfume which single-handedly created the gourmand category. It is a great perfume but when I want the Thierry Mugler version of chocolate I reach for perfumer Jacques Huclier’s A*Men from 1996. M. Huclier took the patchouli, caramel, vanilla, and chocolate base of Angel and stripped away all of the fruit and replaced it with strong black coffee and lavender. When I get the urge for chocolate my eyes always alight on my bottle of A*Men.

My favorite kind of chocolate is a dark chocolate and orange bar. Montale Chocolate Greedy by perfumer Pierre Montale in 2007 is just that. Chocolate Greedy has a bit of the bite of high percentage cacao dark chocolate with bitter orange. This is as simple a perfume as it gets but in that Montale over the top way it seems like much more.

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Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake is a luscious mix of chocolate and patchouli. M. Sheldrake turns this as dark as it can get even adding in a few licorice whips to tint it even darker. One of my favorite of the entire Serge Lutens line it completely re-invents the chocolate and patchouli beat from A*Men into something much deeper.

I think it was 2009 when I discovered perfume Charna Ethier’s Providence Perfume Co. I am sure it was Cocoa Tuberose which was the first perfume I tried from the very talented Ms. Ethier. This all-natural perfume delivers exactly what it promises although if there was truth in labeling the cocoa would be in all caps while the tuberose would be in lower case. Ms. Ethier’s cocoa is rich and nearly overwhelming so it takes an extroverted white flower like tuberose to make any headway at all. It’s an uphill battle all the way for the white flower but once she gains a foothold the tuberose really proves to be an excellent companion to the chocolate. Ms. Ethier has delivered on the promise I felt when trying Cocoa Tuberose as she is now among the best independent perfumers working.

One of my favorite cold weather drinks is Mexican Hot Chocolate where high quality cocoa is dissolved in milk and adorned with cinnamon and chile powder. Perfumers Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux capture the rich spicy drink as a fragrance in Arquiste Anima Dulcis. From the sprinkling of cinnamon in the opening into a piquant heart of not only chile pepper and cocoa but also clove and cumin with a hint of jasmine blowing in through the window. The heart of Anima Dulcis is one of the most unique gourmand hearts in the genre. It finishes with cedar and vanilla to soothe the palate.

If I come Trick or Treating to your doorstep give me candy but I’ll be wearing one of these favorite chocolate perfumes as I walk my neighborhood. Happy Halloween to all the readers of Colognoisseur.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of the fragrances I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Lime

The smell of lime seems synonymous with summer to me. From the slice in my gin and tonic. Squeezing it lavishly into my guacamole or over grilled shrimp. Key Lime Pie never tastes better than in August. I use so much lime this time of year my hands seem naturally perfumed from the most organic of sources. There are some great perfumes which allow me to smell of limes as much as I want. Here are five of my favorites.

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Jo Malone Lime, Basil & Mandarin– Probably the fragrance which put Jo Malone on the map. Perfumer Lucien Piguet creates one of the greatest citrus top note accords ever. Lime and mandarin are the key notes but grapefruit also plays a significant role. The basil, along with thyme, provides a fascinating herbal contrast before finishing with a refreshing vetiver base. 2008’s discontinued Sweet Lime & Cedar replaced this in my affections until the bottle ran out.

Floris Limes– I doesn’t get simpler than this venerable English brand’s lime and musk perfume. Really many of the classic English brands like Geo F. Trumper and Truefitt and Hill also do single lime perfumes but Floris’ choice to go with a musky finish instead of woods makes it stand apart and above the others.

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Frapin L’Humaniste– My favorite Gin and Tonic fragrance complete with a big wedge of lime included. You can almost feel the beads of condensation running down the side of the glass while wearing this. I think perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur must like the smell of G&T, too.

Creed Virgin Island Water– Whenever I wear this I sing Harry Nilsson’s most famous lyric, “She put de lime in de coconut”. Creed turns that song into a perfume where the lime is in the coconut along with jasmine and musk.

Charenton Macerations Christopher StreetDouglas Bender’s debut fragrance, with an assist from perfumer Ralf Schwieger, is much more than the lime top notes but they are fantastic and prominent. There are many who never get beyond the limes but the rest of Christopher Street is full of the joys of life lived well. The lime may pull you in but the rest of Christopher Street is just as exhilarating in a different way.

Grab a slice of Key Lime Pie make yourself a G&T and wait for the lime marinated shrimp to come off the grill all while wearing one of my favorite lime perfumes.

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of all the fragrances mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things-Wear Sunscreen

There are many things that are not perfume which smell great to me. One of those things is sunbaked skin coated in suntan lotion. The Coppertone my mother slathered on me before allowing me to make sandcastles. The Bain de Soleil the European women wore poolside at the Fontainebleau Hotel on South Beach. As much as the salt and the sand it is the smell of the tanning products that evoke the beach. The five fragrances listed below all remind me of lotion coated tan skin glinting in the sunlight.

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Jean Patou Chaldee began its first incarnation as Huile de Chaldee an actual sun tanning product which was mostly castor oil which Patou perfumer Henri Almeras added orange blossom, narcissus, and vanilla to make it smell better. They knew they had a hit when they found women wearing it at night as a fragrance. Perfumer Thomas Fontaine has re-formulated Chaldee and in that reworking has hewed closer to its suntan lotion beginnings, which I really like.

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CB I Hate Perfume At The Beach 1966 is constructed around a central “Coppertone” accord. Coppertone was the suntan lotion of my youth exactly in 1966. The suntan lotion used an overdose of coconut to attempt to disguise the medicinal sunblocking agent. It turned into a pleasant smelling tropical laboratory accord. Christopher Brosius gets this picture perfect and he places it in a beach milieu full of drift wood, crashing surf, and sand. It is a time machine in a bottle for me.

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If I wasn’t on the beach I was spending time by the humongous pool at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. This was where I came into contact with Europeans using this tube of orange gel called Bain de Soleil as their lotion. In Bond No. 9 Fire Island perfumer Michel Almairac captures that odor plus the sun warmed skin underneath. I can almost see the row of chaises and smell the breeze blowing this to my nose. It is another perfect rendition of a scent memory for me.

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The more modern takes on the smell of less scented sun products come from two of the great fragrance producers. Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is a very close wearing fragrance which takes the warm skin accord in the base and over the top of it adds magnolia and tiare. Perfumer Alberto Morillas turns out a summer perfume which is all about living in the sun.  

The final suggestion is the new Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum 2014. Guerlain in-house perfumer Thierry Wasser takes the same sparkling tiare flower and sandwiches it with coconut milk and bergamot on top and the signature Guerlinade of vanilla on the bottom. This is a limited edition only available for 2014 and it is as good a mass release as Guerlain has done in years. It is perfect for the summer.

I am not recommending wearing perfume instead of sunscreen as you head out this summer. If you want to carry the day into the night any of these five will keep the summer vibe going into the wee hours.

Disclosure: I purchased botlles of all the perfumes mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Vetiver

For those of us with more than one bottle of perfumer the change of the seasons signals a change in the perfumes we look forward to wearing. With Memorial Day in the rearview mirror for 2014 the summer days have begun and for the next three months my perfume tastes tilt towards the citrus, the colognes, and the vetivers. I wear vetiver fragrances all year round because it is one of the more versatile notes in perfumery but there is something about a hot day which elevates my favorite vetivers to something even more enjoyable. I thought I’d share my five favorite vetivers as I dust them off and move them to the front of the shelf for the summer.

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The Different Company Sel de Vetiver might just be the perfect summer fragrance as perfumer Celine Ellena created a near perfect mix of vetiver and sea. Mme Ellena wanted to create an accord of “salt drying on skin after swimming in the ocean” and she does. Before getting to that a very grassy vetiver along with grapefruit and cardamom lead into that accord. Ever since trying this in 2006 it has been one of my summer staples.

For nearly as long another summer staple was Guerlain Vetiver but in 2012 Roja Parfums Vetiver Extrait supplanted it. Roja Dove takes the same spine found in that fragrance and turns it into something as brilliant as the noontime summer sun. The bergamot is bolstered by lemon. Jasmine and rose provide an amuse bouche for the vetiver main course. Vetiver is swirled in a sirocco of spices and woods. Nutmeg, pepper, and caraway match up with gaiac, cedar, and amyris. This carries a luminous inner glow all day and into the night.

Like I said I also use my colognes a lot during the summer and Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal checks both cologne and vetiver boxes. Perfumer Jerome Epinette uses a higher distilling fraction of vetiver which produces a much greener, less heavy, woody vetiver source. M. Epinette weaves it into a traditional cologne structure of citrus, orange blossom, and cedar. The unique raw material turns this Vetiver into an opaque vetiver breeze and because it is a cologne absolue this breeze blows all day long.

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If Sel de Vetiver has been my summer days Lalique Encre Noire, also released in 2006, has scented the nights. Perfumer Nathalie Lorson uses a simple structure of woods to coax out the woodier character of vetiver and turn it into a sultry night. Mme Lorson sandwiches her Haitan and Bourbon Vetiver with cypress and cashmere woods over a musky base. This is the scent of potential as you head out into the evening.

My all-time favorite vetiver fragrance is Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire. The entire Frederic Malle collection was a sensation when it was released in 2002. I remember trying it for the first time and it was Dominique Ropion’s smoky vetiver which exerted the strongest pull upon me. It was also the first bottle I purchased from the line. M. Ropion has made the perfect vetiver fragrance when I am wearing my linen ensemble at a summer outdoor event. It has a perfect casual sophistication for the season. What sets this apart is the “floral ozone accord” which energizes the vetiver in the heart. The vetiver here feels more virtually alive than in any other vetiver I own. All of this lands on a base of smoky resinous wood as myrrh, oakmoss, sandalwood, and musk complete this. I have always envisaged Tom Wolfe wearing this.

Enjoy the summer and get your vetivers out!

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of all of the fragrances mentioned above.

Mark Behnke