Smells Like a Rainshower

 

impressionist rainshowerDid aquatics begin with Apres l’Ondee?  We are all habituated now to the inclusion of Calone and other such chemical diluents in out fragrances to simulate water, everything but the kitchen sink and the faucet since L’Eau d’Issey, but what about a hundred and ten years ago?

Apres of course is one of those scents that perfumistas always have in their collections. You can’t properly call yourself a perfumista if you’ve never worn or at least tried Apres L’Ondee, the reputation is that compelling, but these days the formula is not what it was.

Most perfumers try to re do Apres at some point. Jean Claude Elllena was the most famous experimenter, with Eau d’Hiver, which does not smell like much of anything to me, and again with Angeliques Sous La Pluie, which also to my mind did not quite work.  Angelica will dominate a formula pretty easily and that was what happened to him.  His Paul and Joe Bleu may be his best modernization of Apres, ironically, but I have not smelled that in years.

parisian rain I have just tried Miller Harris’s version of the great classic called La Pluie and although I was supposed to smell lavender and mandarin and wheat in the top, all I got was the wheat.  The heart notes are similarly pallid, no discernible jasmine, ylang-ylang or black current, only some indistinct white flowers.  The base, which could have been a triumphant variation on Habanita with vetiver and vanilla in double harness, was no such thing. A ghostly evaporation of powder is all I smelled, and  very briefly.

What I smelled sequentially: heliotrope, wheat, sugar, and powder.  Bottom line, for the third time in a row, for two days running, I can’t smell this thing for beans.  Color me, not an aquatic mauve and gray lavender, but red from embarrassment.  I like Miller Harris really I do, and no one appreciates the price of London real estate more, and therefore the awful cost of running a business in England’s green and pleasant, but this is not a perfume so much as a short lived cologne.

Better I like En Passant, as an idea of how to translate the idea of Apres to the twenty first century, there is the ethereal quality, the floweriness that should be part of the perfume but also a reasonable staying power and the substitution of lilacs for the hedgerow hawthorn and heliotrope flowers of Apres is brilliant.  En Passant puts me in mind of  the song for voice and piano based on the Maurice Bouchor  poem Le Temps des Lilas:

“ Le vent a change, les cieux sont moroses,

Et nous n’irons plus courir, et cueillir

Les LIlas et les belles roses:

Le Printemps est triste et ne peut pas fleurir”

rainy street Melancholy is one of the aspects of some perfumes most neglected by modern writers, and as it’s also one of those parts of life integral to all experience, not very well neglected.  Well, maybe to smell like a rain shower is to weep, just a little bit.

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7 thoughts on “Smells Like a Rainshower

  1. I would love to dive in each of the three pics you chose!
    The colors!
    I love the serene melancholy a rainshower evokes!
    As for smells, in my conscious perfumista life I have not encountered a succesful rendition of “rain” in a perfume – wether the rain is pouring on urban landscapes or on varyious kinds of greenery…
    As a kid, however, I would smell a mini of jardins de bagatelle and be reminded of those rainshowers that happen with the sun still shining through some opening in the clouds, so that the sky gets that unusual and blinding greeninsh/yellowish color… I should revisit JDB and check if I get under the same spell!

  2. You should try JdB again just for an experiment, sun after rain is such a cheerful sight.
    If you happen across it, Plus Que Jamais is the more gourmand version of JdB, and de Nicolai has a white rose, dry variation on JdB called Jardin Secret still available online. JS is very sophisticated, almost bone dry for a floral.

    On the wet side, perfume showers are hard to recreate. I sort of liked Demeter’s Wet Garden, and something very similar is in Chris Brosius’ line , called To See a Flower. Happy puddle jumping!

  3. And I totally neglected to address Apres l’Ondee… which is sad. I have heard that with the recent refo, it’s far more irisy than heliotropey (if they were going to skew that balance, which was pretty much perfect, they went the wrong way with it for MY taste). I have a small decant, and it is Debussy in a bottle.

    Soivohle Violets & Rainwater had that lovely wet-floral concept too. I don’t know of anything else that does. Except maybe Vacances.

    • Last time I tried Apres was spring 2013 and then it smelled about the same to me, wonderful beginning, ending sort of dark and a bit iris-ey. Had they already re-done the formula I wonder?

      Apres is bottled Debussy! Love the description, and is there anything else wet out there? Oh yes, Strange Invisible’s Epic Gardenia, now that is very watery, though I don’t know how they manage the wet feel.

      Haven’t tried Violets and Rainwater though I have now tried a few other Liz Zorns and they’re really good.

      Jardin Secret, hm, very dry. I was going to recommend it to Vanessa who loves vanilla, but I think she will not find it a patch on Plus Que Jamais. It’s nice but very… white roses drying in a vase. That sort of dry, drying vegetation dry.

      • I like a wet gardeny floral. Doesn’t matter – I can’t find Jardin Secret on the PdN website at this point.

        Yes, I heard reports probably 15-16 months ago of Al’O being refo’ed… gah.

        • Stop the madness! I say leave Apres alone, but I suppose they just can’t do that 😉

          Beautyhabit has Jardin Secret, and sometimes Ebay…

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