Today, as I pack for my first summer vacation, quick reviews of two fragrances perfect for summer wear, on vacation or otherwise.
Parfums de Nicolaï L’Eau à la Folie
We've had debates here before about fruity florals — a segment of the perfumista community frowns on fruity florals simply because they're so ubiquitous, and let's face it, many (maybe even most) of them are pretty dull. But I've said it before and I'll say it again: some of my best friends are fruity florals. French niche house Parfums de Nicolaï made one of my favorites, the sadly discontinued sparkling mango summer-cocktail Eau Exotique. The brand's latest, L’Eau à la Folie, is a citrus fruity floral that I'd likewise describe as a sparkling summer-cocktail, this time with peach, juniper berry, pink pepper, mint, lime, jasmine and rum. It starts with a lovely fresh burst of peach and citrus, sheer and lively and slightly spiced, and dries down to a still-sheer jasmine-y blend with a lingering hint of fruit over a warm but summery woody musky base. The juniper berry adds a nice kick, but don't worry, L’Eau à la Folie doesn't really smell like you're wearing an alcoholic beverage.
L’Eau à la Folie is a perfect pick-me-up for hot days. The lasting power is good for such a thing, but if you're looking for a fragrance to make it through an 8 hour day at the office, it probably won't suit. Then again, the small 30 ml bottle can be had for $45 — one of the last great bargains in niche perfumery — and you could always toss the bottle in your purse for late afternoon refreshers. It's going on my buy list.
Parfums de Nicolaï L’Eau à la Folie is available in 30 ($45) or 100 ($115) ml; for buying information, see the listing for Parfums de Nicolaï under Perfume Houses.
Ayala Moriel Etrog Oy de Cologne
There are a number of wonderful indie natural options for summer citrus. I'd recommend Anya's Garden Kaffir or Aftelier Candide or Tauer Perfumes Cologne du Maghreb as potential candidates, and now I can add Ayala Moriel's Etrog Oy de Cologne to the list — and who can resist something called Oy de Cologne?
Moriel tinctured the citron (etrog in Hebrew) herself, and you can read about it, complete with DIY instructions, on her blog (and you can also follow the development of the scent by cycling through the posts under her etrog tag). The result is a must-smell for serious citrus lovers. Like many (but not all) natural fragrances, it lacks the sparkle and diffusiveness of a mainstream scent, but Etrog makes up for that with depth and complexity. It starts as a gloriously zesty honeyed citrus, and slowly turns greener and woodier, and takes on an almost herbal cast. What starts as a hint of light and airy incense in the early stages develops into a rich resinous base which lingers for hours, and the citrus lingers on for much of that time as well.
Etrog is both invigorating and relaxing — it wears nicely in summer heat, and I found it perfect for reading in bed at night. I don't generally spray perfume on my sheets, and couldn't afford to spray Etrog all over my bed in any case, but this is what I'd like my pillow to smell like, all summer long. Another for the buy list.
Ayala Moriel Etrog Oy de Cologne features notes of citron zest, pomelo peel, green myrtle, honey, mint, balsam poplar buds, lemon myrtle, citron leaves, incense and olive tree resin. It is available in 4 ($48) or 15 ($120) ml Eau de Parfum; for buying information, see the listing for Ayala Moriel under Perfume Houses.