Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2016

I didn’t realize how much I missed summer bugs (animals, not diseases) till I left Virginia as a teenager. Living on Manhattan, then Los Angeles and now Seattle doesn’t compare to the South when it comes to insect life. My childhood summers were filled with the sounds of crickets and cicadas. Butterflies put on a non-stop show in the flower gardens. Nighttime was when my grandmother and I would sit on the front porch (swatting mosquitoes, one bug I do NOT love) and watch the fireflies as we took in the heady scent of gardenias — whose white blossoms also lit up the darkness. I’d love to see a grasshopper or praying mantis, a big black-and-yellow garden spider shimmering in the sun, or a dragonfly flitting about my yard.

Here in Seattle I do get to see some beautiful moths, living their brief moments on earth holding fast to my deck screens or circling a light bulb. Tiny spiders are everywhere, inside and out, and I would never think to kill one — they work so long and hard to live and make a living. Right now in Seattle it’s the season for ten-lined June beetles (a type of scarab beetle); my cats (to my chagrin) love to chase, torment and kill June beetles, who, as they fight for their lives, raise up their antlers (yes, antlers) and make puffing sounds to ward off attacks. Here’s to bugs! (AND summer perfumes!)

Coqui Coqui Rosas Secas ~ This wonderful rose perfume smells of dried rosebuds mixing with a fresh rose bouquet; there’s also a pinch of tobacco leaf. Rosas Secas is a great rose perfume for men…

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Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris ~ perfume review

Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris advert

Yves Saint Laurent updated their 1983 classic rose, Paris, with Parisienne, a vinyl-accented modern rose, in 2009. I liked Parisienne, but I don’t think it ever gained any sort of major traction with consumers despite the steamy Kate Moss advertising. So now for 2016 we have Mon Paris, which is “about vertigo, love that makes you lose your senses”. The advertising features plenty of kissing, but little if any writhing, and Crista Cober keeps her clothes on — it takes Mon Paris a small step closer to the original underpinnings of Paris as a fragrance about roses and romance.

There are no roses in the 2016 advertising, though, which is your first clue that Mon Paris, the juice, isn’t an updated version of Paris, the juice…

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Liquides Imaginaires Saltus ~ fragrance review

Liquides Imaginaires Saltus

Who’s having trouble keeping up with new niche perfume lines? I definitely am. I’m even starting to get a little resentful about it. Enough already. It seems like every designer who fancies himself a tastemaker tosses together a branding campaign and a line of “edgy” perfumes.

I see two big problems with this. First, good design sense does not mean an experienced nose. Next, a lot of these lines are treading the same ground. They either latch onto an era or cultural mileu (the 1920s, writers, historic figures), or they shoot for the now banal take on naughty, artistic, and hip. We get a lot of sizzle for a gristly burger at a ludicrous price tag.

So, you’ll understand why I didn’t jump on sampling Liquides Imaginaires fragrances…

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Christian Dior Poison Girl ~ fragrance review

Christian Dior Poison Girl

Who else but Camille Rowe could have embodied the alluring and nonchalant femininity of Poison Girl? At twenty-six years of age, and with one hundred and twenty-eight thousand and counting Instagram followers, the model represents a generation of uninhibited, fun-loving, optimistic young women.1

Ah, who else indeed? In case you were wondering how many Instagram followers you might need to front a major youth-oriented fragrance campaign circa 2016, now you know.1 And you know Christian Dior’s latest, Poison Girl, is geared young, because they’re talking up Rowe’s Instagram in the first place, plus she is writhing on a dance floor wearing hotpants and later, strutting around in not even so much as that, whereas Natalie Portman, who fronts the somewhat more “mature” Miss Dior (Ms. Portman is thirty-five), wears Dior couture and smells rose petals and whatnot, plus, she isn’t even on Instagram. (Then again, Charlize Theron, who fronts J’Adore and is now forty years of age, has 1.2 million followers.)

So anyway, Poison Girl is geared young, and not surprisingly, it smells like it…

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Faberge Straw Hat ~ vintage fragrance review

Fabergé Straw Hat, vintage advert 1

I seem to be in the mood for vintage fragrances this summer, whether they date to the 1980s or much earlier. This week, I spent some time with Fabergé Straw Hat, a scent that was originally released in 1938 and discontinued in 1976, after being offered every spring and summer as a limited edition. I only became acquainted with Fabergé’s other fragrances a few years ago. Aphrodisia is still my favorite, but Straw Hat feels is more seasonally appropriate this week!

Fabergé (the cosmetics brand, that is — not the jewelers to the Russian imperial family!) was founded in 1937 by the Russian-born businessman and philanthropist Samuel Rubin, who sold the company to a competitor in 1963. Fabergé continued to release new perfumes and toiletries, was subject to further mergers over the years, and had most of its products discontinued under Unilever’s ownership in the 1990s. I remember the magazine ads for Babe (1977) from my youth, and the Brut men’s collection is still available…

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