It is axiomatic that people fall into one or two categories in life and that they are selected for these categories by whether or not they are active before about eight a.m. You are born either an owl (someone who is most alert in the evening and at night) or else a lark, (someone who correspondingly is most wide awake and productive in the morning). Perhaps the reason is genetic, though all adolescents go through a period of time when they seem to be owls, no matter how they started out, and all small children, to their parents’ dismay, are larks.
My question though is: can larks wear orientals?
Think about it. Your oriental is predisposed towards darkness, warmth and the cessation of the work day. Owls wear these sorts of fragrances easily and indeed the oriental suits the lifestyle of the owl admirably well, but what about the larks? Do they forgo orientals altogether?
It won’t take anyone very long to guess that I myself am a lark, and always have been except for the hibernation period that nature imposes on all adolescents. I also seldom wear orientals and when I do it is usually Emeraude, of which I am inordinately fond. Emeraude is, however, a most un-sultry oriental. The green notes and the powdery phase make it elegant, but not sexy or dimly lit. This is in contrast to Back to Black, or Bal a Versailles for which I have a good deal of admiration, but not much time to wear. By the time Back to Black and Bal have really hit their stride, I have hit the hay.
Are there any orientals that work best in daylight? My answer is yes, though the numbers are pretty small. Ineke Ruhland’s Field Notes From Paris is an oriental that is both diurnal and friendly, in the warm clattering crockery manner of a coffee house. It puts together a collage of orange flowers, coriander, tobacco, and tonka beans that result in a comforting array of orange tones. Chatty as a coffee klatsch, and good natured as a cappuccino, this perfume is one that will even go to work with you, and will probably not raise any hackles if it does.
Another good candidate for the daytime oriental is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Poivre Piquant. This is a good deal drier and more pointed than the Ineke. Whatever the notes, Poivre smells like pepper and to be more specific it smells like white pepper to me. The dry down is wood of a kind that recalls well sharpened pencils. Poivre Piquant is nearly the ideal work oriental because of this dry insistence upon precision. It is the perfume of the accountant, the sort of individual who interprets the numerate soul of any enterprise, and Poivre Piquant is right there with him, compressing the chaos of everyday commerce into the tranquility of numbers. (This is what I like to think accountants do, a few moments of rational conversation with an accountant would probably disabuse me of the notion.)
Lastly, there is Demeter’s Gingerale. This is a simple fragrance but it does have a nearly unique punch to it. There are not too many ginger fragrances out there in the first place, and this one has gotten the effervescence of gingerale down just exactly. Origins Ginger Essence is not as decisive to my mind. If I were wearing ginger, I would want to do it in a incisive way. The draw back to the Demeter is that it is not lasting, it is really not much more than an opinionated little cologne.
But what an opinion it is, and how forcefully Demeter delivers that ginger message! You could go a lot farther and do a lot worse, especially for about $18.00 a bottle.
Having answered my own question about orientals for larks, I think I also see the point that the lark, like me, probably uses the oriental formula as a pick me up for the later hours of the afternoon or evening, because everything I’ve mentioned is a stimulant: Coffee for Field Notes, Pepper for Poivre Piquant, and of course, Ginger for Gingerale. An alternate title for this piece might have been uppers for morning people.
I suppose I could just spritz myself with Red Bull or Red Zinger Tea, but the glamour quotient in that would be deplorably low.