The evoca­tive scents of sum­mer

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - NATHALIE ATKIN­SON

There’s noth­ing in the com­po­si­tion of Drakkar Noir that should rea­son­ably re­mind me of a beach on Prince Ed­ward Is­land. And yet one whiff of the stuff ’s fa­mous herba­ceous laven­der and bal­sam, with per­haps a bit of clammy sweat, and there it is: the rust-red sands of Cavendish un­furl in my mind.

My cousin Julie and I scam­per on scruffy dunes high above the beach, rush­ing back to the cottage where our par­ents thought we were still play­ing UNO around the kitchen ta­ble, not mak­ing clan­des­tine meet­ings with boys.

At least, that’s how I re­mem­ber it now. The edges of the mem­ory are in­dis­tinct, melt­ing into the re­fresh­ing cool of the twi­light At­lantic breeze, the rat­tle of the tall grass, the colourful, hastily shuf­fled deck. All that’s left of the boy is his cologne. Given the choice, I’d rather have a bot­tle of the other mem­o­ries, waxy play­ing cards and all.

Per­fumers have been think­ing along these same lines, with scents that are ex­er­cises in idio­syn­cratic translit­er­a­tion — and of sum­mer nar­ra­tives in par­tic­u­lar. Mai­son Martin Margiela’s new Replica col­lec­tion has just come out in Europe (it will be in Canada in Oc­to­ber) and the three per­fumes specif­i­cally of­fer “re­pro­duc­tions of fa­mil­iar scents and mo­ments of vary­ing lo­ca­tions and pe­ri­ods” — in­clud­ing a 1990s evening carnival on the Santa Mon­ica pier and an er­satz spritz of Cor­si­can beach idyll at Calvi beach, circa 1972. Body Shop’s new Honey Bronze sum­mer scent. Fire Is­land by Bond No. 9 pushes the idea fur­ther — it’s es­sen­tially the scent of al­ter­nately par­ty­ing and bak­ing, nearly naked, in that he­do­nis­tic sum­mer community while slathered in Euro­pean so­lar oil.

The brand Deme­ter evokes this lit­er­ally with one of its sin­gle-idea sprays called Sun­tan Lo­tion. Those same notes of old-school Cop­per­tone sun­tan lo­tion are why Bobbi Brown’s Beach has been a best­seller for 10 years, and how CB I Hate Per­fume first gen­er­ated head­lines for its lit­eral At The Beach 1966 scent.

But from the lat­ter, and not least be­cause of its in­spired cin­e­matic name, I pre­fer Mr. Hu­lot’s Hol­i­day, which prop­erly be­longs in the next cat­e­gory — the salty — with its dry drift­wood, salty North At­lantic spray and a bit of leather.

Saltwater scents, a trend I wrote about last year, have made their way from earnest niche per­fumes such as Ce­line El­lena’s Sel de Ve­tiver at The Dif­fer­ent Com­pany and Hee­ley’s Sel Marin, into more main­stream scents like Bath and Body Works’ Sea Is­land Cot­ton. Pierre Guil­laume’s 10-year-old niche line Par­fumerie Gen­erale’s in­cred­i­ble lim­ited-edition Bois Naufrage (cre­ated in spring 2010, there are still a few bot­tles left) is named for ship­wrecked wood and has notes of fig am­ber­gris (to evoke sun-kissed skin) and min­er­alic fleur de sel.

Notice how when­ever main­stream and even niche per­fumers con­jure the beach, it’s the best stuff, never too lit­eral: I note there’s no elixir of dried al­gae with dry­down of the slight pong of de­cay­ing fish in any lineup, for ex­am­ple.

At least they aren’t toploaded with the typ­i­cal marine note calone (which is the stuff of David­off Cool Wa­ter) — small mer­cies!

Kenzo Tribouillard, Gettyimages

In­stead of flo­ral or spicy notes, per­fume houses are push­ing the lim­its with scents that set a scene.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.