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?