Anyone who remembers the nineties remembers Eau d’Hadrian. I loved that and wore it almost as much as everyone else, and to this day the smell brings back Westport Ct during the height of the boom years, when cigar smoke and Porsche 911’s seemed to be everywhere along with Hadrian.
Now it’s pretty much gone. The notes for this little perfume vary, but the ones I have from 1993 are simply: lemon, grapefruit, citron, and cypress. At the time the perfume was made, that probably included oakmoss, which was the likely basenote for Hadrian, hiding underneath the cypress. This recipe was not very expensive. The whole point of the frag was to spritz lightly in the morning and get on with your day. The perfume was not masculine and not feminine and Hadrian reminded me of Italy with all the old cypress trees shading churchyards.
O de Lancome was slightly more complex. There was substantially more in the bottles: every kind of citrus you cared to name in the head, a very pretty classic bouquet heart, the evaporation was light and powdery dry, with vetiver and sandalwood, and a trace of amber, oakmoss, and cistus. O was classic and you can still smell a very emaciated version in France. It is not the same.
Then there is Diorella. In order to like Diorella, to really like it, you must not mind the synthetic melon that Roudnitska so often included in his perfumes. This note was just at the beginning of Diorella and I have to confess that I never cared for the material. I admire the work, the clean open air quality of the perfume and its inedible elegance, but I really don’t like melon as a rule-except for lunch. The perfume probably used real jasmine as opposed to Eau Sauvage, which popularized hedione but even this is not enough to make me love it.
However I felt about the formula, the perfume was a great hit. Diorella is an inextricable part of my adolescence, as my French teacher wore it, and so Diorella weaves back and forth in my memory on warm mornings during dictees, which got downright hypnotic after a while, what with open windows, bees buzzing outside in the oleanders, and Mademoiselle’s jasmine laced Diorella on the air.
The trouble with all of these scents is now twofold: they rely on a few natural ingredients which mainstream perfumes are unwilling to include, or which violate IFRA regulations, and secondly, the fact that citrus ingredients do not last well. Citrus perfumes since they are so dependent on those initial tart tinglings in the nostrils, are not much good once the head notes decay. You can store yours in wine refrigerators, or wine cellars, or your basement if its reasonably dry and cool, off season, but I think it is best to use a bottle up in summer.
This is less true of newer citrus chypres like Tom Ford’s popular Neroli Portofino. That does not smell very natural to me and so is more likely to keep. I suspect a neroli product instead of real neroli, and something longer lasting and synthetic in the head, so that like the newer O’ series from Lancome, or new formulations of Eau d’Hadrian, you may have them for more than one summer.
I still think you can do worse than a bottle of Emeraude in July, or else a bit of grapefruit, bergamot, and sandalwood in a salt and sugar scrub*. That gives you the zing for little money and it’s super easy to blend oils in salt, sugar, or an organic shower gel for a great fragrant shower. The ghost of real citrus is better than a hologram any day.
- If you don’t know an oil, always dilute it in a carrier oil first at a one to ten ratio, and patch test for allergies on a wrist or ankle. Some oils can go straighrt on skin like real rose otto, or lavender, which I use for cuts and scrapes.