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Misty Watercolor Summer Love: Fragrance Finds, Summer 2012

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Wednesday May 30, 2012
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One of our first fragrance memories is the smell of lilacs in the spring; Running out into the yard before coming to a complete stop at the base of a large lilac bush at the edge of our mother’s rock garden. That smell, so intense and intoxicating, hovered in the air like a lavender cloud.

We fell in love then with the beauty of fragrance. (Only later did we discover that lilac flowers are bisexual, with stamens and stigma in each flower, which only increased our love for them.)

All of us recall moments when the beauty of fragrance has caused us to pay closer attention. Recently we were greeting a friend with a hug and air kisses, when his eyes widened as he said, "That’s the one; that’s the fragrance I’ve been trying to find." It reminded him of a man he’d known, one he’d hoped to know better, one who’d slipped away.

This season let fragrance waft into the recesses of your memory and unearth anew the joys of first love in summer.

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By Kilian: Water Calligraphy

On a recent trip to China, on a mist-laden day, we found ourselves nestled in a secluded hot spring where calla lilies bloomed on the terraced fields surrounding us. Far from the city, we relaxed in hot water pools built into a natural landscape dotted with flowering shrubs and trees.

This bucolic setting returned to us upon smelling Water Calligraphy, the latest fragrance from By Kilian. Inspired by the ancient culture of China, By Kilian’s newest collection, Asian Tales, launched with two scents. Created by Calice Becker, Water Calligraphy is homage to aqueous fragrance: water lilies in a pond, magnolias in summer rain, night jasmine wet with dew.

Founded in 2007 by the scion of the Hennessy cognac family, By Kilian’s line of deluxe fragrances are grouped in collections designated L’Oeuvre Noire, Arabian Nights, and now, Asian Tales, which are available in perfumes, travel sprays, and candles.

Water Calligraphy opens with the slightly metallic tang of grapefruit before gracefully segueing into the delicate sweetness of wild white mignonette (reseda). Leave it to Becker to resurrect this Victorian favorite flower, once so common in British window boxes and, based on this fragrance, due for a revival.

One of the wonders of water is its habit of awakening fragrance. Rain on pavement, night jasmine in the air as you speed through Los Angeles on your way to the airport. Water Calligraphy’s heart notes of jasmine and magnolia linger long after you’re aloft, heading for China. Flying at 38,000 feet, you find your fountain pen and write a missive to someone you love. Once upon a time, your mother put a gardenia in a glass by your bed - and all through the night your dreams were sweet.

As delicate as a dream, unfolding in images, Water Calligraphy writes its words upon your memory.

PRICE: $225.00 (refill $125.00) / 1.7 fl. oz.
LINK: By Kilian

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Lacoste: Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Pure White

What’s more classic than a crisp white shirt - and especially when paired with a summer tan? And what shirt is more classic than the Lacoste polo shirt? Since 1927, when French tennis player René Lacoste designed his first polo shirt, Lacoste has epitomized a certain je ne sais quoi marked by elegance and ease.

The Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 fragrance collection introduced by Lacoste in 2011 (now numbering four scents marked by color: Blanc, Bleu, Vert, and Rouge) is an homage to Lacoste’s timeless savoir faire, with the L symbolizing the founder, followed by the numbers 12, which represent the piqué material, the classic short sleeves, and the twelve original prototypes.

Packaged in a sleek opaque white bottle evocative of Venetian milk glass (complete with fabric crocodile), Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Pure White (or Blanc in the original French) is as fresh and clean as a set of new tennis whites. As late as the early 20th century, tennis players were still wearing long-sleeved, white button-down shirts, worn with the sleeves rolled up (Lacoste was the first to wear short sleeves) - and this fragrance is reminiscent of an Oxford shirt, fresh from the laundry with a hint of violet around the neckline.

Think of the collegiate tennis players in Tom Ford’s cinematic version of Christopher Isherwood’s "A Single Man." Imagine them - or your college roommate - fresh from the shower after a morning on the clay courts. How clean they smell! Bright citrus notes of grapefruit commingle with the astringency of rosemary. How fresh they look! Their hair combed back, a razor-sharp part on the side. How virile, how sexy - as they stride across campus in a pair of khakis, dirty bucks, and a bright white polo shirt.

While some might argue that there’s nothing new here, Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Pure White reminds us anew why we first loved a classic. Boosted by white florals such as tuberose and musk, which are followed by notes of cedar, suede, and vetiver, this woody fragrance is as sexy as a boyfriend shirt - and every bit as easy to wear.

This summer, fall in love with the crocodile again - and don’t be surprised when someone tells you that you smell like their first love, the one they still long for.

PRICE: $62.00 / 3.3 fl. oz. spray
LINK: Lacoste Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Pure White

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Jacomo: It’s Me For Him

We once fell in love with a nineteen-year-old boy who arrived at our country house in the middle of a summer night.

The son of our mother’s good friend, this young man arrived after driving many miles through multiple states - and after he’d showered, he smelled so good that all our defenses were down. What he was wearing (apart from jeans that accentuated his physical attributes) was the fresh elixir of seductive youth - which is what we recalled upon inhaling Jacomo’s new fragrance, It’s Me For Him.

With top notes of lemon and grapefruit, It’s Me For Him is as stimulating as a freshly-scrubbed youth running through a meadow. A hint of lavender lingers in the air, mixing with jasmine. And when he trips and falls, laughing as he rolls in the grass, gazing upward, it’s the scent of patchouli that you smell upon his neck.

Founded in the late Sixties by an American art collector and a French pianist, the Jacomo boutique in New York was a haven for aficionados of fashion and luxury. Their popular fragrance Jacomo de Jacomo launched in 1980 to become one of the top ten fragrances of the decade.

The sleek and lightweight packaging of Jacomo’s It’s Me For Him resembles a smartphone, making it as portable as an iPod or iPhone - and as easy to pack in a carry-on as to carry in a gym bag.

One of the signatures of Jacomo fragrances has been a graceful and elegant dry down. The base notes of It’s Me For Him are a very masculine mélange of amber, rosewood, and musk. It’s the scent of a morning after - when he’s still hungry for more.

PRICE: $50.00 / 1.7 fl. oz.
LINK: Jacomo It’s Me For Him

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Spadaro: Sole Nero

On holiday Sunday mornings, when we were young, our mother would caramelize grapefruit halves with brown sugar and the ambrosial scent would waft through the kitchen and upstairs to the bedrooms. Who wouldn’t get out of bed to eat something so delicious?

A similar gourmand nostalgia is what provoked Kim Spadaro to create her fragrance, Sole Nero (meaning "Black Sun"). After a trip to Sicily to reconnect with extended family, Spadaro was inspired by her recollections of quotidian life along the Mediterranean - and the resultant fragrance evokes the morning sweetness of outdoor markets bursting with citrus, spices, and honey.

Grapefruit notes melt into almond and honey, as if you’re enjoying breakfast al fresco while sea breezes wash across the terrace. Base notes of sandalwood and musk linger in the air like a bouquet of promise for the day ahead. As sunny and sweet as an early summer morning, Sole Nero is the epitome of vacation bottled.

Encouraged by her mother’s artistic vision and joie de vivre, Spadaro has created a collection of three perfumes that are as beautifully packaged as they are luxurious on the skin. Each Spadaro fragrance is formulated with high-quality essential oil blends and bottled in a square Italian glass vessel, accented with a retro bottle stopper.

You’ll want to lick your wrist and live again the sweet innocence of a childhood summer.

PRICE: $135.00 / 100 ml. (Sample set of three mini-spray vials / $10.00)
LINK: Spadaro Sole Nero

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Aveda: Men Pure-formance™ Aroma Spray

Hard to imagine, but some men seem to have an aversion to fragrance - unless it’s gasoline or beef.

A spicy, woody fragrance redolent of masculinity, Aveda Men Pure-formance Aroma Spray might well have been the scent emanating from Paul Bunyan. Imagine a log cabin in a timberland forest, surrounded by pine trees. Hudson Bay blankets on the single bed and LL Bean gumshoes at the front door. If such elements evoke your fantasy life, then this outdoorsy elixir has your name on it.

Potent and strong, Aveda Men Pure-formance Aroma Spray is as virile as a woodcutter who grows and grills his own food. Essential oils of spearmint and citrus are undercut with a whiff of lavender, while vetiver hovers in the air.

This is the Appalachian Trail of fragrance - and a perfect scent for those who seek to emulate the Teddy Roosevelt embodiment of a man.

PRICE: $65 / 1.7 fl. oz.
LINK: Aveda Men Pure-formance™ Aroma Spray

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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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