When you divide the lengthening nights by the dwindling sunlight of the days the remainder is what’s left of summer. We used to call it Indian Summer, probably because it was the last of the growing season in this part of the world, a time the native peoples still used for gardening. Myself I begin to worry about the dahlias and tomatoes during cold nights.
I like to to use up the last samples I have of summer florals during the warm days. Those samples are not going to be right a month from now. Today it’s Musc Monoi which Parfums de Nicolai gave me in Paris. I think they should sell it as an Eau Fraiche though the scent’s currently one of the line’s Eaux de Toilettes
. Eau Fraiches are recent, created largely by Edmond Roudnitska as something in between cologne strengths and the Eau de Toilettes. Like colognes the beginning is citrus but the center of the perfume is a bouquet of flowers, or possibly a chypre arrangement. The concentration is about 4.5% maybe up to 6 %. The very first Eau Fraiche was Eau Fraiche de Dior from 1952*.
Eau Fraiches are a French thing, like six weeks of vacances, a scent vacation from the heavy fragrances that people use in other seasons. Eau Fraiches are just for fun for a
few months. You buy a bottle, use it up, recycle. Done.
I grew up with this idea which was very much favored by Italians who love anything with citrus (especially oranges for why- who knows?) in perfumes. The best are a mixture of natural ingredients and some lifting synthetics to give lasting power and buoyancy. If your fall and winter fragrances are the equivalents of woolens and corduroys, the Eau Fraiches are linens and light silks.
Well anyway, few French perfume houses bother with them anymore. There’s so much confusion in the market place between scents sold as colognes or other strengths that most people are pretty mixed up about them: Jo Malone’s “Colognes” (probably edts) or Atelier “Colognes” (my guess is stronger than the 2-3% which is the technical tipping point from cologne to something else) along with heaven knows what else. However Parfums de Nicolai still does make and sell Eau Fraiches, BUT sell this one as an edt. Go Figure. Musc Monoi with coconut and monoi notes familiar from so many French sun tan products is hardly the stuff of florals which disappointed me. I like florals. Musc Monoi is actually a sun tan lotion from the eighties. To a Gallic nose this formula may be nostalgic, as according to Madame de Nicolai, the perfume recalls Ambre Solaire.
I smell some jasmine, more ylang ylang, also whichever material recalls coconut which seems to congregate in the heart of Musc Monoi. Then there’s a flash mob of Calone. This is an inexpensive formula, but makes no bones about being that, suntan lotions were never pricey. To be fair, there are probably more naturals in here than in many grand Eau de Parfums currently on the market. The lasting power on me is not very long, about two hours. Musc Monoi is not the best of the de Nicolai edts, but if they threw some of the Calone overboard, and took on more florals they might float a very pretty Eau Fraiche-why not?