Counter – Intuitive Cool

parasol5Currently it’s about 95 degrees in New Jersey, and outside of life-guards, boardwalk hawkers, and beer sellers, not many of us are happy.  “97 tomorrow!” the librarian moaned to me this morning.

This was not cheerful news.

Of the various options for beating the heat, not many are currently open to me.  I can’t leave town for family reasons, and my house is a plastic shrouded mess while the sheet rock crew who were supposed to be here four days ago make themselves conspicuous by their absence, and the construction makes air conditioning a non-event. The cat has disappeared for the day- presumably heading to the Antarctic, or else snoozing under the neighbor’s hydrangea- either way she’s cooled off.  If anyone ever needed a cold perfume, I do, right about now.

This is when, in spite of the remarks I may have made about Parfums de Nicolai being a bit abstract, I search for them anyway.  No one composes for hot weather like Mme. De Nicolai. She comes into her own as a perfumer when the temperature and humidity rise.

I’ve worn a platoon of her brilliant and puzzling perfumes, but my best luck has always been with her masculines and her “colognes”, and the quotes are there because the colognes smell a lot like perfumes to me, lighter than Guerlain edps, but heavier than  L’Artisan edts. Cologne Sologne is a staple in my wardrobe, and I wear Haute Province as well, an underappreciated perfume, a modernization of Jicky up there with some of the best things that Jean Claude Ellena has composed.  It works year round.  I still mourn the passing of an indolic green lily fragrance called Eau de Lude which made my skin and my guest bedroom smell like a field’s worth of Easter lilies and cut grass.  And for getting you up in the morning, nothing was more sparkling and icy than Balle de Match or its cross-dressing companion Rose Pivoine, both of them like splashing cold water in your face first thing at first light.

My favorite of hers for summer, however, is an obscure perfume that everyone seems to ignore but me: Baladin. “Minstrel” is the translation, I guess, and it’s a leather perfume, with some herbs in the mix, rosemary and tarragon, some citrus, grapefruit and bergamot, and some vetiver, styrax also.  The effect though is darkness.  A wonderful darkness that follows you about and reminds me of Nuit de Noel, not because the scent smells remotely similar, because it doesn’t, but Baladin has that same trick of making you think you’ve understood the fragrance completely, before throwing out a note on your skin which colors the whole production differently, like the gels in theatrical lighting hitting a stage, and taking the same set from noon to dusk in an instant.

Baladin is dense and complicated, but the effect is shadily elegant, and since the formula has a traditional air to it, though not the usual components of tradition, the fragrance has a practiced ease that reads well on anyone. I wear it like obsidian jewelry, and in this weather, like a black parasol, opened against the sun.  Call it Goth sun protection SPF 200.

Do you have a parasol perfume?

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6 thoughts on “Counter – Intuitive Cool

  1. Right, they go my try list for summer. I have never smelled any of Nicolai’s summer fragrances except Le Temps if you count that. I also really want to try L’eau a la Folie, have heard nothing but good about it.

    • I think that most of her perfumes are suited to summer! And have heard good things about L’Eau a la Folie myself, so will have to try it as well.
      Haute Provence is gone now, but bottles turn up on Ebay for not many bucks, and are worth trying if you love Jicky but would like something less fin de siecle for the office.

      • Mais non! Haute Provence is there:
        I was intrigued at your mention of it b/c I had not heard of it before, so I zipped over to the Nicolai website, and – voila!

        The website has been redesigned and looks better but it is still a bit creaky. It would not be Nicolai otherwise! For instance, L’Eau a la Folie is not in the main list of perfumes at the top of the page, but it pops up at the bottom of the screen if you are browsing summer fragrances (‘Other products in the same category … ‘)

        • Well shut my mouth! I had just looked over there a day or two ago and it was the same old Nicolai site we all know and love and now everything has changed.

          Thank goodness, is my feeling over all, because the website did need updating, and now you can try Haute Provence anytime you like.

          Now what I wonder about is Rose and Santal…

  2. Since I tries just a couple of PdN’s perfumes I don’t know how they are in summer but I want to say that I sympathize a lot with your weather situation :( I hate when it’s hot an humid.

    Are your perfumes safe?

    • I may be broiling but my perfume is either in the cellar (and it’s a nice cool cellar where we keep the wine as well) or in the refrigerator! And I do spray on nice chilled cologne too!

      You know you’re a perfumista when you have this kind of situation all thought out in advance, and have an emergency perfume evacuation plan as well.

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