Summer has come in again, and this makes me think of pineapples. Other people may not think of pineapples in June and July, but I do, because of their associations with beaches and summer fruit salads. They are a symbol of hospitality, at least in the States, where you can often find door ornaments dating back to the eighteenth and sometimes even seventeenth century in the shape of pineapples. Who knows why? Pineapples were rare then, so perhaps as a design element they appeared not only friendly but aspirational, up and coming, the equivalent of marble counter-tops in the kitchen. In which case, the so-called Dunmore Pineapple on your left must have been extremely social, as well as ambitious.
Heat though is essential for pineapple scents. They don’t really work in other seasons of the year because of their erstwhile associates, coconut and rum. Coconuts and rum are forever wasting away in Margaritaville and sometimes still do in perfumes like Creed’s Virgin Island Water. Time was that the note lost its tropical connotations and worked at respectable jobs in the beginning of a number of well known scents, for instance Lauren, the first Ralph Lauren perfume, or Revlon’s Scoundrel, acting as a sort of scent moderator.
Then there was Azzaro 9. That was an oddball perfume if you like, but pineapple was a floor walker there as well. Azzaro began with this strong pineapple and then proceeded on to a big yellow smelling spring flower bouquet. The only thing I have ever smelled like its formula, is the pineapple perfume that L’Artisan Parfumeur sells, Ananas Fizz. That one also makes the transition to a spring flower perfume, but does that less well than the Azzaro did.
Another place where pineapples break the surface of the sea of contemporary perfumes with hardly a ripple is Worth Courtesan.
Now that is such an epically strange perfume. Courtesan is a floral oriental I should say, despite the other characterizations it has gotten, and although not much like anything else out there, Courtesan is a little like Chopard’s Casmir, although lacking the vanilla note you smell in Casmir. Instead you get pineapples, and other fruits, but mostly, I pick up pineapple. Then Courtesan transitions to a mid section that is mostly cinnamon, but manages not to make you feel that you are standing next to the local Cinnabon concession. The end of the perfume reminds me of incense. I don’t believe any is listed in the notes, but the coda of the perfume imitates incense and something earthy, possibly patchouli. It is very sophisticated, and unlike the Casmir which is mostly a winter scent, Courtesan will not down tools in heat, and I am wearing it in 100 degree heat as I write this, so you know it performs. Courtesan does tend towards the synthetic side of Pierre Bourdon’s works, which is to say more Cool Water than Feminite du Bois, so if you like a little naturalness in your scents, maybe this is one to pass on.
Another option still in production is Caron’s Acaciosa. This is one of those urn Carons that sometimes coalesce and sometimes do not. It depends, is the best that I can say. You have to go periodically and smell them and see what you think, but in theory anyway, Acaciosa is a jasmine scent with a pineapple opening. Acaciosa was very nice the last time I checked in on it, which was about two months ago, but not the slightly animalic little thing it once was, the formula had become a trifle bland like one of those F. Scott Fitzgerald heroines, who are flaming in their youth, but burnt out alcoholics in middle age. Once upon a time Acaciosa recalled Mona di Orio’s Oiro, only the jasmine note was better and went on much longer, and there was that pineapple at the beginning.
Of all the pineapples on the wind, I still prefer my old Colony from Patou. It is a fruity chypre of great lightness and great blackness, sort of a whistling in the dark perfume, which when you consider that it was released in1938 seems prophetic. Wearing it is like playing under the arcades of a Tuscan square at noon, alternately blazing brightness and deep shadow like a de Chirico painting. It smells of pineapples and dark irises, and opopanax. The combination is rather like the smell of snuffed beeswax candles. Many people say that it smells like Mitsouko, however I find Mitsouko very segmented, very peachy, very woody, and much less resinous than Colony.
But then in 1938 it must have felt as if all the candles in Europe were about to be blown out at once. Colony is a peculiar parti-colored refugee from that black and white world.