A Taste for Cashmere

 Knits are the obligatory accessory of Italian autumns.*  There’s that moment when all the treasured sweaters are unearthed from their estivation and placed back on the shelves of wardrobes lovingly. The reason is a distinct change in season that happens around September always heralded by mists which burn off early in the day.  Elizabeth Romer in The Tuscan Year describes it “… the days have a curious Technicolor depth and brilliance about them.  The colors of the landscape are deeper and richer…a sort of mini-spring has occurred.”

To deal with the change in temperature the woolens have to be brought out. There is something about good Italian knits that invites burying your nose in them, something about the clean wool is so appealing. It’s animalic, but in a gentle, comforting way, like the smell of a thoroughly domesticated animal after a bath.  This scent is another one that you come across frequently in Italian perfumes, and even the barest suggestion of it seems to be popular there.

Some years ago I smelled Rhapsodia in Blu, a fragrance of Cristiano Fissore.  The bottle was wonderfully designed with deep blue fading to transparency on the sides.  The scent was this sweetish vanillic cashmere fragrance, just as Italians love it, and I was not surprised to find, a day or so later when I went back on Luckyscent to check, that he also had released a perfume for women called Cashmere.  I decided not to bother with it because I assumed that if Blu already smelled so warm and fuzzy how much further could cashmere possibly go?

There are lots of others.  Farmacia SS Annunziata’s Regina is another of these sweet, fuzzy, blurry perfumes.  Not a bad stand in for the very short lived Lancome Limited Edition perfume Peut Etre, if you missed it.  If there are florals in Regina then they’re so subdued as to be nearly undetectable.

On the whole, I think I smell an insubstantial rose levitating above this cashmere wrap, but I couldn’t swear to it. This rose may be a simple conjuring trick of the perfumer’s.  Of course I could give you the notes, but there are times when the notes are simply misleading.  Regina is an expensive cashmere throw, and not for summer, but practically ideal to cuddle in on those first days of fall.

Finally, and if you want to take this idea of warmth and fuzziness in a distinctly gourmand direction there is Farmacia SS Annunziata’s Chia.  This is a very sweet scent that initially smells like cotton candy. The fuzz melts, and I begin to smell something like pralines, and subsequently caramel.  Chia is a smell that only masquerades initially as a warm cashmere scent. Over time, I even think I catch a bit of rum in the heart.  What do cotton candy and pralines and caramel and rum all have in common?  Good old sucrose in all its sticky glory.  This makes Chia a very good first perfume for a young girl.  It has gotten the same sort of idea as Prada Candy in its little head, but it is a lighter, subtler, airier, and showcases more facets of the sugar molecule than Candy.  The dry down is also softer and more floral and higher pitched.

So there are three felted perfumes for the first days of autumn, some you could even carry over all winter, notably Regina, Chia too could take you all the way to Christmas, but what a notion.  Let’s stick around for a while at the end of summer, even if we have to get those sweaters out.

*As opposed to New Jersey where the indispensable fall garment is the waterproof 60/40!

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