The Rejuvenating Grapefruit

grapefruitThere was a study done some years ago now that indicated women of a certain age could be perceived as younger if they wore a particular scent. The scent was grapefruit.

You may remember the residual hoohah, with some people grumpily declaring in my family, they didn’t care if the grapefruit made them look like Miley Cyrus (in her pre-twerk Hannah Montana days), they just didn’t like the smell.

It’s true that grapefruit has a certain sulfurous something lurking in its clean, crystalline depths.  The sulfur tinge in grapefruit is sort of like taking one of those glass bottomed boat tours they give in the Virgin Islands and spotting a giant squid in the aquamarine waters below you.  It’s disconcerting and liable to capsize the entire expedition, and the only takeaway will be squid, and nothing but squid.

This is the reason that I’ve always been sort of on the fence about grapefruit in perfume, I fear the appearance of the deadly sulfur monster.  I smell it even in wonderful productions such as Pamplelune, and the Guerlains do some of the very best citruses in perfumery.  So I was surprised to like Miller Harris’ Le Pamplemousse  as much as I have.  It came via a parcel from the generous Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume, and I have been as pleased with this as with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Pamplemousse, which was my previous favorite.

I say previous because there is a good deal going on in Le Pamp.  This is really a citrus chypre with a warm woody base to it, and I find that the result is one of the best such efforts I have smelled in years.  But then Miller Harris is good-very good as a perfumer- and her work these days is more natural smelling than Lutens’, fuller than most De Nicolais, and has a complexity to it which doesn’t come simply from using a lot of naturals.  Ms. Harris thinks about her perfumes clearly, and Le Pamplemousse has a kind of fidelity to the plant and food aspects of grapefruit that I find rejuvenating.

She lets you smell the fruit on the tree and in the garden, and in that sense Le Pamplemousse is like Parfum d’Empire’s Azemour Les Orangers in walking you through the citrus grove but happily without the cumin that was in Azemour.   This pamplemousse is more wearable than the Guerlain which always manages to give me a headache and then leaves a distinct sulfur note on my skin as a souvenir of our intimacy, which I would prefer to forget as soon as possible.  This is the sort of encounter I try to avoid, and suspect that Pamplelune is not quite what it once was. Didn’t it smell more like candied grapefruit ands grapefruit flowers once upon a time?

But never mind. Now I can wear this instead.

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8 thoughts on “The Rejuvenating Grapefruit

  1. Hmm … I haven’t smelled many grapefruit-y perfumes but the ones I have have never given me any sulphurous bother (love your glass-bottomed boat metaphor!). Guerlain’s pamp smells like a grapefruit flavoured boiled sweet – nice I suppose, but not what I’m looking for in a perfume. Why bother when I have a FB of the lovely Un Jardin sur le Nil? So I might do okay with the Miller Harris.

    I had to Google ‘twerk’ I’m afraid. Rhymes with ‘beserk’, appropriately enough.

    1. When you have a thirteen year old at home you soon find out what twerking is-and then wish you hadn’t.

      It sounds to me as though you have a good candidate in the citrus perfume category with the Jardin. This MH is mostly appealing because it’s a citrus chypre and they don’t toss up that frequently.
      As for sulfur, It does a stalking act on my skin in all grapefruit and most black currant perfumes-lucky for you that it doesn’t emerge and spoil the fun.

      1. Ah, my daughter is only 11, so she has not mentioned twerking, although she knows that Miley Cyrus has gone very strange.

        I’m fine with black currant as well as g’fruit. Both appear in the top notes of Laura Biagiotti’s Roma, which I love. You are right about leather chypres. Sadly I could hardly smell Azemour, and what I could smell was dirty ashtray. I’m normally fine with chypres, so goodness knows why Azemour goes bad on me.

        1. My daughter pines for the days of “the old Miley” so I’m guessing the transformation didn’t go down so well with all the girls-oh and I hope the twerking fad is long gone by the time your little lady hits thirteen.

          Yeah, the ashtray is not a bad way of describing Azemour. I smelled some oranges and then something rather like ashes and cumin-not a favorite combo. Roma on the other hand is very nice indeed, and still around. One of the better Italian perfumes I think.

  2. I have actually tried that perfume which claims to make the wearer smell 8 years younger (Harvey Prince Ageless) and was underimpressed. It smells like shower gel. Which, okay, it’s inoffensive… but boring.

    I do really enjoy Pamplelune (one of the few Guerlains I dig, along with Shalimar Light, Vega, Apres l’Ondee and Chamade), but then I get along fine with that blackcurranty sulfury thing. Either it doesn’t go cat-pee on me (as in Pamplelune), or it DOES (as in Enchanted Forest), but either way I do fine with it. I don’t really do citrus, though; I usually find it very dull, and I couldn’t even be bothered to try Azemour.

    Moschino Funny! is another grapefruity thing I like.

    1. Moschino is a house I always forget about and they do grapefruit really successfully. Nobody in perfume land writes about Moschino’s hit I Love Love, but that is nearly all grapefruit all the time, and naturally it slipped my mind. You find it these days on the shelves at off-pricers like Loehmann’s in my neck of the woods and Marshalls probably everywhere else. Only got to smell Funny! once and it was like citrussy iced tea as I recall, and that’s no bad thing.

      Pamplelune seems to be either you can wear it or you can’t judging by the comments on Fragrantica!

  3. I have historically shied away from grapefruit, not because of the sulphurous note per se, but because I don’t care to eat grapefruit as a fruit, or drink the juice. Which makes it all the more curious that the one perfume I owned in the 7 years leading up to my scented epiphany was Estee Lauder’s Intuition, which has a prominent grapefruit note along with the rose and amber accord it shares with Stella.

    Also, I conducted a test of Pamplelune on my brother (who owns it) and me to see if I could detect this much trumpeted cat pee note, but it was fairly well behaved I must say, and rather fresh and wearable, even to a non-lover of the note. The Miller Harris I agree has yet more of a natural character, possibly because of the herbal, green facet. Thanks for the mention – my MH sample quest is still ongoing!

    1. Odd how close our gustatory likes and dislikes veer towards our olfactory ones. I liked Pamplelune when it first came out since I do love grapefruit juice etc, but found that it always turned into cat wee on my skin darn it!
      The Miller Harris Pamplemousse I can manage and that’s a relief frankly. Have yet to find a Miller Harris I can call home, but keep looking.Thanks again for the sample.

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