Perfumers have recently become somewhat less interested in long leave takings. They are not inclined, like my daughter, to draw out the business of saying “Good night”. They come to the end of the formula and do not say “sweet dreams” or “don’t let the bed bugs bite” or “see you in the morning”. They get to the end of the ambroxan in the formula, and terminate the conversation, after all, they had nothing further to say.
The only problem here? I love a good dry down best of all.
My favorite scents are either the ones which stay beautiful all the way through, however long their lease on life, or else the ones that make a point of making a graceful exit, trailing a train of rich ingredients after them off your skin. You are delighted and left with the wonderful feeling that whatever it was you were wearing actually got better as time went on, the scent increased in complexity and charm, these are the sorts of perfume, that like your best friends, improve on long acquaintance.
I can’t think of anything introduced in the last year or so that does this. There probably is something, but I haven’t run across it, so I will instead mention three perfumes that I know do have this wonderful coda and mention them instead.
The first is Molinard de Molinard. This perfume dates back to 1980 and the notes according to Nigel Groom are: top galbanum and blackcurrant heart: jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, narcissus, lily of the valley and bottom: labdanum, frankincense, amber, musk, vetiver. Molinard de Molinard is grand. It is the scent of a grande dame if anything ever was. I can’t help but think of various Grand Duchesses, all dressed up for a soiree in St. Petersburg ca. 1880, trailing silk taffeta across priceless Persian carpets and sporting fortunes in diamonds on, or in the near vicinity of, their décolletage. This is the scent for that kind of woman. Needless to say, and, despite its green credentials, I think this is a winter or an evening perfume.
The next one though is for summer. Eau de Patou came out in 1976 and is discontinued now, although the bottles that are available aren’t all that expensive. Nevertheless, and as with anything done by Jean Kerleo, this is a complicated, almost over-engineered production, and Eau de P’s not what it appears to be at first, which is a classic citrus scent. This one is a surprise in liquid suspension. The notes don’t give the secret away at first, the top is conventionally citron, Guinea oranges, and petitgrain, but the heart gets a little freak on, with pepper and nasturtium jostling orange blossom on the dance floor, and can I say, gives Serge Lutens a run for his money in the perverse Orange blossom category of Fleurs d’Oranger. In the end, Eau de Patou puts some extra speed on and outruns its competition, even with everything but the kitchen sink in that dry down: musk, moss, amber, labdanum and just when you thought it was going to gloss over the whole subject of its sexuality, a bit of civet. This is a scent which only begins conventionally, it ends rather like La Cage Aux Folles.
The last perfume is more recent, done in 2008 for DSH’s Holiday scent series, Nourouz is a rich almost autumnal mixture of fruits, that smells like the cornucopia sitting on side tables at Thanksgiving. This is one of those perfumes that have a color, though there is none in the packaging, but this one is dark, barn red, and full of the scent of the pomegranates
Persephone didn’t have the common sense to leave alone when she was wandering the market stalls of Hades. The myth is that she ate several seeds and had therefore to stay in the kingdom of the dead for that number of months a year instead of returning to her mother. That pomegranate like note is the beginning of Nourouz, but the finish, which is very like Dawn’s perfume Minuit, is an opulent wonderful thing, and is truly one of the most beautiful endings I have ever smelled in any scent. You should really give it a try if you haven’t. It restores all your faith in the idea of the dry-down, what it is, what it should be…what it can be.