Orientals, Larks, and Owls

Old Man BeardIt 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.

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8 thoughts on “Orientals, Larks, and Owls

  1. I’ve been an owl my all conscious life, as long as I remember myself – from when I was 4 definitely. But oriental perfumes weren’t my favorite genre ever. I have some in my collection (Field Notes From Paris is one of them) but they are a minority.

    • That surprises me, because all the little kids I’ve known are early to rise, early to bed, and then at twelve or so it all changes.

      Not a strong correlation perhaps, in your case. Now that you mention it, the only oriental I remember you remarking on was Encens Mythique, which almost doesn’t count, because it is beautiful and who wouldn’t like it? Field Notes From Paris is listed as an “oriental fougere” by Fragrantica, and that is just to complicate things I suppose!

  2. Is there a perhaps a third group? What of us who can’t get up before 8 and really fall asleep at 10? I’ve felt like a pumpkin most of my life. I DO like orientals, though. And your idea may explain why I am not impressed with Field Notes from Paris. And I thought I would LOVE it. Give me Cinnabar or Coco (preferably pre 1990 or parfum) any day. And the ambers and leathers and tobaccos.

    • Have days like that myself, and so I know what you mean.

      Field Notes From Paris turns out to be a hybrid of sorts, FNFP reminds me of Mouchoir de Monsieur (also a fougere)sometimes, so maybe that’s true. But I really don’t smell any lavender in there, and I thought lavender was in all fougeres. Maybe this explains why you did not love it, because as a true orientalist, you just couldn’t smell enough real resins in there.

      If you love original Coco and Cinnabar, I’ll bet that’s the case, because those two are either seriously oriental floral (Coco) or else no fooling oriental (Cinnabar).

  3. Hmmm. I’m trying to determine whether chronic insomnia makes me an owl or lark. I can’t fall asleep (owl) and I can’t stay asleep (lark) and then I’m growly in the morning (owl) but also more productive (lark). However it falls, I adore all of the Orientals you name and for the very reasons you name them: against their spicy-amber backdrops, those zingy notes of ginger, pepper, and coffee thrill me.

    • We should trade off sleep disturbances because sometimes I think I suffer from narcolepsy. Also that “falling asleep thing” that everyone does? Well, I pass out.
      For these less than esthetically thrilling reasons, I like all the stimulants I can get.

      Speaking of ginger notes, have you ever tried the Brit candies called “Chimes”? They are very gingery indeed.

  4. What a fascinating concept of night owls/larks each having something they are drawn to, with the former group loving orientals. I adore the very notion. I think it’s definitely true in my case: I’ve had sleep issues and insomnia since I was a child, and I’ve always been a night owl. (The whole concept of early morning hours….. well, let’s just say that you don’t want to deal with me at 6 a.m., even *with* a lot of coffee! LOL.) And there is nothing that I love more than super potent, super spicy, utterly opaque, resinous, heavy Orientals! I plan for (vintage) Opium to be the very last thing I ever smell, if I can help it. :D (Bathe me in it, please!) As for light, fresh green, powdery or aldehydic floral scents, well, not my style. At all. So, I think there definitely may be something to the connections that you’ve drawn! It’s really a fascinating theory and one that I’m going to ask others about to see if they give similar answers. :)

    • If you get around to doing an informal poll I would love to hear the results myself. Have always suspected that the late hour keepers, (Owls) like the heavier darker fragrances as well, while the larks like me, are never able to appreciate those scents at their finest.
      Orientals seem to require firelight and flickering light and warmth to really bloom, and that requires late hours.

      Everything else is just fine at 10a.m. an hour which does not lend itself to exoticicism.

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