Perfume for a Wet Day in May

renoir-the-umbrellasThe day in question would be one of those puddle jumpers of late spring, you know, umbrella and Wellington boot weather.  This has been our lot for weeks on the eastern coast of the US, where the spring has been tardy and cold.

This unexpected weather has played hob with my usual perfume choices for this time of year.  Normally, I would have cracked my Carons, and it would have been a Bellodgia fest with a bit of En Avion and Narcisse Blanc to break up the rose/carnation cabal. That is what it might have been like.  However it’s been too raw for all those scents, and frequently too wet.  I kept Coty’s l’Aimant in rotation, as the sole floral, because that smells  dry and slightly peachy, a comforting perfume for cold, raw days.

Instead what has happened is that I’ve turned to gourmand perfumes to get me through an unusually chilly season. The winner, and this surprises me too, was largely Mugler’s A*men, which I turned to on the rainiest days. Very odd I know, then there was the offbeat incense Vraie Blonde from EldO on changeable humid days, on the rest, coffee scents like Ineke’s Field Notes from Paris, or tea fragrances like Robert Piguet’s Chai, and Guerlain’s Tokyo.  When I wasn’t wearing those, I wore Hermes Ambre des Merveilles, which is marvelously comfortable, and has much better lasting power on skin than Elixir des Merveilles.

This switch made me wonder – how everyone else does on these unexpectedly chilly days?  Perhaps other people are better organized than I am and have a number of floral orientals that smell good on wet days all ready to go, or perhaps they join in the fresh green puddle jumping of the outdoors with Vent Vert or Apres L’Ondee?  It’s another way to go when the weather is uncooperative.

But it seems that when I am feeling cold, my impulse is to go and sit in the virtual café that A*Men is, and if I had to choose other scents to perform the same purpose, then they would be Hilde Soliani’s Bel Antonio, or else DSH’s Café Noir.  It is, I realize a bit belatedly, the comfortable illusion of sitting somewhere warm and dry and indoors, over something hot and caffeinated, while watching the rain amble down the windowpanes.  This is something that no respectable American does. Well, not in the greater New York area anyway.  We do not sit and contemplate anything, unless we are scheduled to do so by a yoga class. What words do we employ for this culture of ease that Italians call la dolce vita, or more anachronistically, la dolce far niente? Eh?  We call it loitering, dawdling, and, in the South of my childhood, lallygagging!

Being a bustler by nature, perhaps I prize my imaginary coffee bar more highly than the rest of the world, but there is a lot to be said for the sit down, the coffee break, especially on a day in May that is stubbornly cold and rainy, when you have forgotten your boots and umbrella in your headlong dash out the front door into the torrential rush of activity that is New York.

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13 thoughts on “Perfume for a Wet Day in May

  1. I lollygag on a frequent basis. But then, I’m a Southerner. :)

    I’ve been going floral-leather for these chilly wet May days, with an occasional foray into white-floral-gourmand (Sweet Redemption and Vamp a NY) – I think I’ve worn Jolie Madame on a far more regular basis than I ever would have dreamed of before. I only like the parfum (the edt being far too fiercely green-leather for me), and I have limited quantities, but nothing else has been right.

    Even Chamade hasn’t seemed right, and the green florals that I SAY are my favorites? Have barely reached for them this month. Not sure why.

    And of course, over the last couple of days we’ve had temps in the mid-to-upper 80s. It’s like we skipped May altogether.

      • This is the sort of scene made memorable to me by the Hub’s disgust once when watching a movie containing the sexalicious Jacqueline Bisette. Nudity, it said, I think it was Under the Volcano, and so he stuck around, and nudity there was, but it belonged to Albert Finney. Whoa! The look of pained annoyance on his face when he saw Albert (all of Albert) in that shower scene! Now we just yell “Manbutt” to put him on the qui vive.

    • I need to brush up on my lollygagging. Is it lallygagging or lollygagging? If you’re Southern, you should get your regionalisms facing the right way round. How else can you mystify foreigners?

      ANYWAY, hasn’t it been a weird spring? Cold, wet, cold again, and then yesterday the atmosphere decided to imitate a pressure cooker, and we all had to heave the air conditioning units into position, and just so we didn’t get bored or anything, the living room ceiling fell down!

      Jolie Madame is something I would not have associated with you, even in parfum! Leather child? Really? I mean I wore that once upon a time and went on to Miss Balmain, which goes bat crap crazy on the leather in the end. Vamp a New York on the other hand sounds just like you.

      • Oh, I suppose I need to try that Miss Balmain. The Jolie Madame I tried first in parfum – a tiny 2ml micromini that I bought unsniffed on ebay, and which resisted opening to the point that I spilled a drop on my shirt when it finally surrendered.

        I was immediately struck dumb with happiness. I notice that the parfum is very very floral-sweet, not only with violet but also with gardenia or some sort of white floral. The leather is sort of a counterpart to that, and I love it.

        • Miss Balmain (of which I used the edt) is herbal and then leathery with a gardenia note in the upper registers. The dry down is leathery not as strong as Cabochard, but more emphatic than Jolie Madame. I wore it for a couple of years, and always felt that earlier versions were probably better. It’s very mid century adult, if you know what I mean.

  2. It’s funny to hear that it’s been cold and rainy for you on the eastern coast, Blacknall. Funny because, while that type of weather typically describes Spring in central Pennsylvania, this year we had a mostly dry April with lots of warm sunlight, and May has been quite warm as well. I don’t know how we got lucky this Spring, but I won’t question it and just count my blessings.

    When it’s cold and wet, I do like a nice gourmand, too–especially a perfume with a coffee or tea note, like L’Artisan Tea for Two. I used to think that a heady floral like Carnal Flower would make me feel better in cold and rainy weather, but oddly enough, it doesn’t work that way for me. I prefer to wear my big florals on days when it is sunny and they feel complement the weather.

  3. And big floral bouquets do just that. They give you a big virtual bunch of flowers to bury your nose in. I do the same when it’s sunny.

  4. I almost envy you: we had just a couple of rainy patches this year – so not only we’re still in the state of drought but I can’t thinkof a single rain scent. How disappointing!

    • There is always Olivia Giacobetti’s Idole, or that wonderful Encens Mythique. The first is so resiny /sweet dry that you can’t feel too cold, and the second is just, well you know, you own some. Have been wrestling with self over that perfume. Love it, my favorite Guerlain SA has got her hooks into me, and she knows I love it too. But the price! Anyway great for cold or wet weather.

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