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Fragrance Finds: Summer Bloomin’

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Tuesday May 31, 2011
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It’s in the air - everywhere. That freshness, the green, the peonies in bloom - and the azaleas and the iris. Soon the roses will be popping, heralding the advent of another summer. Who can resist the charms of summer? Who doesn’t want to inhale deeply - and fill the lungs with summer’s bounty?

Our sense of smell might be most stimulated during summer. When we process a smell, we return to the event that goes with it. Hence, the acute association between smell and memory.

Often, the fragrances of summer return us to locales, and experiences, that we recall from years before. And that’s one of the joys of fragrances that are as multi-layered as memory. Nothing is ever lost: it’s all embedded in our sense of smell and memory.

Inhale deeply of the season’s smells - and linger where you land.

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Ormonde Jayne: Ormonde Man

Recently we found ourselves deep in the rain forest, deep in South America, following the lead of an intrepid Argentine naturalist who would, periodically, stop and point out various indigenous fauna: creepers, lianas, orchids, and bromeliads - as well as one root whose reputed power as a tea was equivalent to 10,000 Viagra.

There’s something equally arresting - and intriguing - about Ormonde Jayne’s signature fragrance for men, Ormonde Man. It’s enough to make you stand up.

As complex as the rain forest with its carefully-balanced ecosystem, Ormonde Man is a mystical fragrance whose woody notes evoke a morning spent wandering through a mossy forest. Initially, you’re aware of the juniper berry, with notes of pink pepper, but it’s the pungent, almost medicinal smell of oudh that transports you to a time as distant and removed as your location in the forest. There’s a nineteenth-century quality about the fragrance, like a silvery daguerreotype of Darwin traipsing across the continent - and yet, at the same time, it’s as modern and classic as Ian Fleming in black tie, with a very dry martini.

The heart note of oudh and black hemlock is both smoky and sweet (a bit like absinthe) - and harks back to colonialism and before, to an epoch when the world’s most prized essences traveled in ornately-carved vessels containing hand-blown flacons. And when Ormonde Man reaches its base notes of vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, and musk, it feels equivalent to the arrival of the three magi bearing regal gifts.

Introduced in 2004, Ormonde Man is the creation of Ormonde Jayne founder and perfumer Linda Pilkington - and a favorite of such sophisticates as Bryan Ferry, Elton John, and Yasmin le Bon. Chandler Burr declared the Ormonde Jayne line the future of perfume. That’s a lot of heady praise - and yet once you’ve worn Ormonde Man, you find yourself a little woozy with intoxication. It’s not unlike witnessing a rare orchid in the rain forest. The guide may have pointed it out to you, but now that you’ve found it, it’s under your skin.

PRICE: £70.00 / 50 ml Ormonde Man Eau de Parfum
£44.00 / Discovery Set / one dozen 2ml mini-sprays of Ormonde Jayne eau de parfum
LINK: Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Man

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soOud: Ouris

When we were very young, there was a lovely girl who smelled as sweet as her smile. With the softest voice, she was unfailingly polite - and it was no wonder to us that she was homecoming princess as well as "Most Popular" in her class. And whenever we were with her (and her very pretty boyfriend), we felt as if we’d slipped into a secret garden where butterflies fluttered about our heads.

You don’t forget nice people - and particularly those blessed with beauty. And recently, as we dabbed our wrists with soOud’s Ouris, that beautiful girl returned to us with startling clarity. Ouris opens with a joyful burst of sun-ripened fruit, including peach and plum, swirled together with honey, alongside a bright orange marigold. Right away, we were stretched on the grass in that girl’s backyard, her saddle shoes inches from our own. There’s jasmine in the heartnote, along with almond and white cedar, which gives this fragrance a lingering depth - as well as a bit of the boyfriend alongside the girl in the knee socks.

It’s in the drydown that the boyfriend becomes more evident with base notes of sandalwood and tonka bean, warmed by vanilla. It’s the combination that is so alluring: the feminine and the masculine. Him alongside her: she has made him even kinder - and therefore more beautiful - than he would be otherwise. He dotes on her - and the smell of iris butter clings to him too. They’re sublime together, here in the backyard as carefree as a summer day in the midst of adolescence.

Inspired by the beauty behind the Arabian veil, parfumeur Stéphane Humbert Lucas created the soOud line of fragrances. About his work, Lucas has said, "I am like Rousseau with his naïve paintings." It was Henri Rousseau who, with his paintings of lush jungle settings, created a world both evocative and exotic. Ouris means "sublime" in Arabic - and what Lucas has created is nothing less than the sublimity of nature and young love.

soOud Ouris is available in parfum nektar with a concentration of 35% or, for those who wish something lighter, an eau fine with a concentration of 11%.

Inhale soOud’s Ouris - and return to the innocence of first love.

PRICE: 125,00 € / Parfum 30 ml
LINK: soOud Ouris

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By Kilian: Prelude to Love / Invitation

In the opening montage of Max Ophuls’ stunning "The Earrings of Madame De..." (1953), the camera glides around a sumptuous boudoir in fin-de-siècle Paris - and right away, you’re drawn into the elegant life of Madame de and her adulterous affair.

In a similar fashion, By Kilian’s Prelude to Love/Invitation, the eighth perfume in Kilian Hennessy’s L’Oeuvre Noire collection, beckons to you, its name evocative of every invitation you’ve ever received with subliminal promise.

If you could bottle anticipation, it might well smell like By Kilian’s Prelude to Love. With an opening burst of citrus, comprised of Italian lemon, bergamot, and mandarin, Prelude to Love brings to mind the giddy possibilities inherent in a Saturday night. Whether it was a drive-in, a slumber party, a cotillion or a prom, the air was so ripe with promise that you could hardly keep your leg from shaking.

And then, once you’re in it, deep in the clutches of the fragrance, where the heart note awakens into freesia and a Florentine iris, your leg might have calmed a bit, but now it’s your heart that threatens your equanimity. Dreamy and velvet soft with an earthy richness, the iris in Prelude to Love is akin to resting your cheek against the one you’ve sought and found. You’re dizzy with transgression and the adrenaline rush of being discovered.

Created by parfumeur Calice Becker, Prelude to Love lingers like a long, last dance. The base notes of cardamom and pink pepper berries mingle with Russian leather and musk. You might be in the back seat of a Cadillac, your face pressed against white leather. The windows are down and from outside you can still smell orange blossoms and freesia on the night air - but inside the car, next to you, it’s musky and close and you’ve never wanted anything so much as what you have right now.

Madame de wasn’t the only one who knew how to get what she wanted.

PRICE: $225 / 50 ml. / 1.7 oz.
LINK: By Kilian Prelude to Love / Invitation

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A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.

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