Endless Summer

by angeliska on September 2, 2009

Yes, so I’m aware it’s September and autumn is creeping in,
but here in Texas it’s going to be summer for a while yet!
It’s strange- Fall has always been my favorite season,
and yet despite this hideous drought and blaze we’ve been
experiencing down here, I must admit I’m a bit sad to see summer go.
I want more skinny-dipping, more slip wearing, more nectar sipping!
My body loves being warm here- it’s like floating in amniotic fluid.
Muscles unfurl, neck loosens, shoulders un-hunch themselves
and the smell of hot cedar sap and baking asphalt are a strange balm.
Popsicle season. Sweaty sassy dance party time. Sunset hour.
Summer! Who knew I could ever grow to love it so, especially after
years in the South- swearing up and down that I would never subject
myself to another blistering Texas or muggy Louisiana summer.

Here’s the thing though- I’m a perfume fanatic, and my tastes lean
far more to wintery or autumnal scents. I like manly, leathery, smoky,
spicy, woody tea and green notes. Almost exclusively.
I know what smells good on me, and yet my love of perfume
always leads me to try new things- sometimes this results in
fantastic discoveries. Or not. I’ve been disappointed far too often,
but still find myself engaged in late-night flurries of fancy on
perfume blogs and ebay, determined to find the perfect one.

Summer usually catches me off guard, you see- and my signature
scents are really far too heavy for hot weather. Hence my frantic
night-owl trawling. One day I will find something so heady and
amazing, that captures my vision of what summer should smell like.
It might involve snatches of some the the perfumes below,
which I have been experiencing this summer.

My secret dream is to be a perfumer, so perhaps one day
I shall just have to make it myself! Isn’t that always just the way?

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermès

The notes are: green mango, lotus flower,
aromatic rushes (calamus), frankincense, sycamore wood.
I adore green scents (in junior high it was Prescriptive’s Calyx)
and I bought this one on a whim in the Airport (I think it was Schipol)
on route to Serbia. This perfume is a huge reminder of the ability of scent
to powerfully evoke memories! Everytime I wear it, I am instantly transported:
washing off days of grime from the Guča Balkan Brass Festival in the mountains of Dragačevo.

Finding calm and respite in a too-snazzy Belgrade palace hotel. It makes me think of traveling with my grandfather, my favorite music, being a stranger, and dark green mountains. I had long looked for a perfume that utilized sycamore, one of my core home scents – so this one drew me in. I love it so much- it’s almost time for a new bottle!

Banane Vanille by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

“Direct from the French West Indies,
sparkling orange basted with banana cream on top,
clove wrapped up with banana leaf in the heart,
vanilla pod and white rum in a mellow background
for a super rich and surprising fragrance.”

I have no excuse for this one, other than that I have a sick
predilection for fake banana flavor. Give me your runts + laffy taffy,
I eat it up. I know it’s wrong, and I don’t care. This is way, way
sweeter than I can normally ever stand- but I wear it when I want
to masquerade as a fluffy sundae, or a tropical maiden. Mmm, nanners!
Oh, also it’s has kind of an effervescent quality, and my dog chewed
on my bottle of it, which is made of metal and now has bite marks.
It must be good, because Grrizelda gave it her seal of approval.

Demeter – Firefly

“Demeter’s Firefly seeks to capture the essence
of an early northeastern spring evening at dusk,
the smells associated with the kind of magical night
when the first fireflies of the year appear.”

This has been my number one summer scent this year.
Very reminiscent of Demeter’s Thunderstorm,
with a more earthiness, a bit of verdance, and luminescent
bug-butt squish. At least that’s what I perceive. The bottle
leaks a bit onto my hankies in my bag, and that’s quite nice.

Navegar by L’Artisan Parfumeur

I wear Navegar now and then, but it’s a bit light
for my tastes. Very elegant and understated.
I’d like more spice, more manliness. As usual.

“Inspired by the “black diamond”, pepper,
Navegar perfectly showcases the dual nature
of this king of spices, its warmth and its bracing freshness.
With notes of rum, lime, ginger and anise,
it is a piquant cocktail resting on a luxurious base
of precious woods and incense.
Navegar features notes of red pepper, ginger,
lime, absolute rum, black pepper, incense,
star anise, juniper, cedar wood, guaiac wood.”

“Navegar is a scent of stones, shells and driftwood collected on the beach.
The woody dryness almost makes me feel sand grains scratching my skin,
and as the composition begins its panoramic unfolding, I notice a touch of
salty freshness, which provides an interesting counterpoint to the spices
and woods comprising this Olivia Giacobetti’s creation for L’Artisan Parfumeur.
This imaginary beach is a deserted one–just as the sandy dunes slowly
descend into the dusky mist in the evening, the citrus shimmer of Navegar’s
top notes fades into the raw silk warmth of woods. The luminosity of
Navegar’s woody accord is accented by the spices, from the resinous
dryness of pepper to the pungent bite of ginger. The lovers of Olivia Giacobetti
will find much to enjoy about this L’Artisan—wistful aura, gauzy treatment
of woods and caressing whisper of spices. On the other hand, this ethereal
quality might disappoint those who prefer their spices fiery.”

From Bois de Jasmin

Vetiver by Hove of New Orleans
This is my all-purpose summer scent.
It’s good for layering, great alone.
It’s pretty butch, yes- very dry and airy.
Just Vetiver, nothing else.
It comes from Hove,
which is very sentimental and special for me.
Such a magical place, do visit it when you’re
in New Orleans, and send me a bundle of vetiver root.
I’m always on the look out for the perfect Vetiver.
We wear the raw essential oil, which is very wintery
and intense. Most of the commercial vetivers are too
powdery and light! This is dark, dirty elder-god goat sap!
It is a grass, and all- but really. Roots! It needs to be rich.
I’ve tried Vetiver Tonka by Hermès as well as
Fig & Vetiver by Anthousa and found both too light.
The hunt continues on..

Check out this description of Vétiver Extraordinaire,
from Elena Vosnaki of Perfume Shrine:

“Direct vetiver fragrances emphasize the character of the root
in a straight-arrow way, hitting bull’s eye every singe time.
The prototype Vétiver Extraordinaire by Frédéric Malle
(composed by Dominique Ropion) contains possibly
the highest levels of vetiver essences on the market today:
it resembles verdant wet patches amidst cobblestones
in a Medieval Italian town where students of medicine
sharpened their pencils with knives.”

Hello, I’m swooning. She is my favorite perfume writer
because of passages like that. She intrinsically gets it,
and always finds the most perfect language to explain it.
I’m reading Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses
right now, and in the chapter about scent she writes that
we have no words to describe scent. Elena Vosnaki
has proved that wrong again and again.
Oh my, how I admire her! Too, too sublime.

Fig by Marc Jacobs
“Unfolds with the richness of fig and the freshness
of yuzu zest and Tuscan cypress—
warm and enveloping without overwhelming.”

Fragrance Notes: Wet Cut Grass, Wild Strawberry,
Clementine Zest, Dewy Cypress, Tropical Rain Accord,
Passion Flower, Sunshine Flower, White Orchid,
Beech Amber, Musk, Tree Moss, Teak Wood.
I bought a giant bottle of this and now sort of regret it.
It’s not dark and figgy at all, really. Oh well.
Anybody want to buy it from me?
It’s very pleasant and summery,
but just not right for me.

Dame Darcy – Sexy Summer Man
“It’s made from the leaves of Tomato plants
and smells like a wonderful citrusy dark green summer.
Many claim that it has helped their love life as well!”

I just got this in the mail from Dame Darcy
with a big bundle of Meatcake Comics
I bought to replace the ones I lost in the hurricane.
Crushed tomato leaves evoke
my most powerful summer memories:
Laying down between the rows,
looking up at the moon, making out.
Chin bristle and dirty fingernails.
The prickle and sting and sharp green
smell of trampled plants and sweat.

It seems like summer scents are usually either green or fruity and fluffy.
I need something versatile, sultry, long-lasting, and a little mean.
Lazy, blends well with my armpit smell, and totally irreverent.
I’m thinking: cedar, sycamore, fig, asphalt, pink pepper, vetiver, grapefruit, storm.

How do you solve this conundrum? What are your favorite summer scents?

(p.s. I can’t recall where I found either of these wonderful photographs, alas.
If you know where credit is due, please let me know!)


I was always very partial to Vieux Carre, but I might have lost the ingredient list when my books drowned. The top note was gardenia, and the base oakmoss, but the middle was a concoction of oils that I stumbled on which smelled like an open grave.
Perhaps it is best for mankind that the recipe is lost.
And, I don’t know if it’s a summer scent, but I bet you’d just love Halston I-12, if you can round up a bottle. Tell me what you think.

by Jeff on September 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm. Reply #

dang, I was going to ask about the first photo…in a weird way it reminds me of one of my favorite art pieces ever, the room made entirely of mirrors with string lights reflecting into infinity, at the Whitney Biennial, in, I think, 2002.
My favorite summer scents include this Geisha perfume (the daytime one)
Also rose oil or eucalyptus-based perfumes.

by Nica on September 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm. Reply #

also just discovered that Yayoi Kusama, the artist who did that room at the Biennial (the 2004 one I remembered after posting) has a piece called Fireflies on Water
here she is:

by Nica on September 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm. Reply #

I don’t know if you’ve ventured here before: https://www.dshperfumes.com/index.asp
but they have both a perfume and an essential oils section. I haven’t been there in a while but they also have done “recreations” of fragrances such as the ones Marie Antionette wore (or some sort of nobility) from back in the days of yore. Might be worth your time checking it out.
I prefer spicy or earthy and woodsy or green scents as well.

by Elizabeth M on September 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm. Reply #

I love sandalwood for Summer. It’s metallic tinge works well with my own scent.
I found that last pic. I can’t remember who took it though. It’s somewhere on RCS.

by Bean on September 2, 2009 at 5:52 pm. Reply #

any local austin places you think have good perfumes?

by circusavatar on September 2, 2009 at 6:15 pm. Reply #

ohhhhh, these photos are so magically amazing! I LOVE the vine covered Ferris Wheel that is only used on nights when the moon is full and the faerie people are flitting about…
I have a most recent perfume confession that I will share…yesterday, while visiting Grandpa Charlie in the hospital, he was all neatly propped up in his bed…when in comes an earthy “traditionally built” Black woman to clean his room. Grandpa straightens up and asks if he will need to move…she replies
“No, honey, you just stay right there…I’ll clean all around you”…she goes into his bathroom and suddenly I smell the most delicious musky fragrance…and I ask “Is that you who smells so good?” Grandpa pops up with, “it’s not me” as does your Poppa…and the lady says “yes, it is!” I ask “what is that fragrance you are wearing?!”
She replies, “why, that’s Michelle Obama!” I say, “I’ve got to have me some of that…where do you get it?” she replies, “why, right here on my cart!” I say, “ohhh, is it very expensive?” She replies “Naw, it’s only five dollars”. We do the transaction and I am now a happy camper.
Wore it to work today and got compliments…

by karimomma on September 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm. Reply #

I must agree with you, I prefer the autumn and winter as well. Summers are meant for nights only in my book and maybe that would sway my decision to scents.
Partially related, once in a chemistry course some time ago, my class prepared synthetic banana oil… which apparently is also synthetic strawberry oil. I did not know that the human tongue has some overlapping receptors in that regard. Anyway, I’ve never been a fan of juicy fruit bubble gum, but if you like bananas you probably would have loved the smell of 30 plus vials of synthetic banana oil in our laboratory.

by Gabriel on September 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm. Reply #

Oh I really hope you start creating perfumes! If they were anything like your blog, they’d be so wonderful & very unusual. 🙂
I’ve been unusually apathetic about wearing perfume this summer, but normally I like ambery-spicy-woody or dry, haute bergamot-citrus in the heat. With Southern summers, you definitely have to take sweaty-sticky humidity into account (some of my favorite “perfume moments” have been when I was unbathed & a bit rank & wearing some spicy-woody oil that complemented, rather than camouflaged, those “notes.” LOL)
Here are some personal favorites and some vetiver-inclined recommendations. (Most of these are from luckyscent.com – you can buy lots of samples there & read customer reviews on the website. Very helpful!)
biehl parfumkunstwerke – mb03
unisex wood-spice-incense; smells like a japanese incense shop.
biehl parfumkunstwerke – eo02 – is a strongly masculine vetiver-bergamot that you might like. (I can manage some of the unisex perfumes, but the masculine ones are too harsh for my nose, alas.)
The Different Company – Bois d’Iris
cedar-bergamot-vetiver scent – really refreshing summer scent (although the cedar note was a bit strong for me)
Il Profumo – Vetiver de Java
I adore this one – but I don’t think it’s a typical vetiver. It smells more like spicy unisex lavender with other hidden notes in it – like a vintage English cologne.
Jalaine – Amber
One of the best Amber scents I’ve tried. Blends PERFECTLY with general summer sweatiness & lethargy. Amber is queen!
Juozas Statkevicius
Really lovely wood-scented incense with a bit of amber and vanilla.
Comme des Garcons – White
Smells like the spicy wood in the Metropolitan Museum’s Chinese Astor Court. (If you’re ever visiting there, lean over and smell one of the wood pillars in the garden court – so wonderful!)
Comme des Garcons – Kyoto
Somewhat masculine wood-incense scent. (You might like this one. I don’t remember if the Vetiver really stands out, but it is one of the notes listed.)
Comme des Garcons – Quarzazate
Gorgeous, perfectly-blended wood-pepper-musk-nutmeg-vanilla scent. Probably my favorite of the series.
Montale – Aromatic Lime
Doesn’t smell like limes at all to me – smells like sweet wood.
Montale – White Aoud
Wonderful deep & rich scent – perfectly blended wood & rose notes. (For anyone who’s been interested in trying an aoud note perfume, this is a good one to start with because the notes are so well-balanced.)
I second Elizabeth M’s DSH perfumes recommendation & especially recommend:
DSH – Cathedral
One of my all-time favorite scents (I actually wrote Dawn a fan-email about this one, which she responded to – she’s one of the nicest online perfumers I’ve ever encountered – unfailingly responsive & friendly). Bergamot, Oppopanax, Frankincense, Olibanum, Myrrh. A truly glorious, woody-musty scent, like a forgotten, decaying estate library hidden in an impenetrable woods. (Deep perfume swoon)
DSH – Parfum de Grasse
Smells a bit like vintage Guerlain Mitsouko, but gets spicier as it wears.
BPAL – Dragon’s Milk – spicy ambery vanilla
BPAL – Perversion – gloriously dark & spicy oil (reminds me of a very dark & strange hippie musk my mother gave me when I was a kid – a whole world in a bottle)
BPAL – Xiuhtecuhtli – jucy flowers
(Sorry to leave such a long comment – I have trouble being brief about scent. 🙂 )

by OdetteOdile on September 2, 2009 at 11:19 pm. Reply #

That last photo is a wonder…
Perfume-wise, I really like Serge Lutens’ “Arabie” which smells exactly like an arabic spice bazar to me. I especially like to smell it on my scarfs and (faux) fur collars. But I might try something else soon, maybe from L’Artisan Parfumeur.

by Stella Polaris on September 3, 2009 at 3:53 am. Reply #

Have you tried anything by CB I Hate Perfume? http://www.cbihateperfume.com/ His shop is here in Brooklyn, and he is like the Willy Wonka of scent. I wear his Fire from Heaven, and it is smoky, yet also has a light sweetness to it, so I think it works year round. Love it so.

by Pam on September 3, 2009 at 7:05 am. Reply #

PS A Natural History of the Sense is one of my all-time faves: http://www.phantasmaphile.com/2008/02/histories.html

by Pam on September 3, 2009 at 7:13 am. Reply #

I should have known you were a fellow fancier of fine fragrance! Someone already mentioned my favourite, Kyoto from the CdG Incense series. I love wearing it in the middle of a steamy, sweltering summer – it’s sort of a cool temple of calm amidst a soggy miasma mugginess. Black Phonenix Alchemy Lab’s Danube is a lovely, cool scent as well…sort of like sinking to the bottom of a clear, velvet blue pool and seeing the dim sunlight filtering down through the water to you.
Lastly, if you’re a “just go with it gal” instead of an escapist sort (nothing wrong either way, I say!) then Origin’s Ginger Essence is sassy and Spicy and Fiery and perfect for hot, sassy days when you just want to tell someone “Kiss my grits!”

by Ghoul Next Door on September 3, 2009 at 9:55 am. Reply #

I too am a sucker for fragrance, don’t forget the Egyptian Goddess from Auric Blends (hands down favourite for me). The only word i can describe for it would be “Divine”.

by Angie on September 3, 2009 at 11:56 am. Reply #

What a beautiful post~

by Nix on September 3, 2009 at 12:14 pm. Reply #

P.S. Good grief, I can’t believe I forgot to mention my very, absolute favourite in the whole stinkin’ universe (though, it is a fine, fine stink!)
Nasomatto makes a scent called Absinth which is described on the Luckyscent site as ” … a wild tumble of earthy browns, woody greens, ” and it positively enchanting, like you’re dame dryad for a day!

by Ghoul Next Door on September 3, 2009 at 12:37 pm. Reply #

Totally unrelated. I was wondering if you might have some good sources on Kitsune? I’m trying to find out if there’s anything out there about Kitsune with spots/dots on their tails.

by Gabriel on September 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm. Reply #

Gardenia from Madini oils~made by the Madini family
of Tangiers, Morocco. High quality no alcohols
Check out the Madini website!!

by Rose on September 4, 2009 at 9:59 am. Reply #

Oh, Vieux Carre! I loved the phial you gifted me al those years ago..
It was divine. One day I shall endeavor to recreate it.
I’ll have to give the Halston a sniff!
Well, there are a few:
Essential oils and fancy skincare. The former owner was a perfumer.
My friend does facials here, and I really need to go get one!
Blue Elephant
Foo-foo-la-la boutique with an interesting selection of scents, soaps and what-not
Haven’t been here yet, but I met the owner and both her perfume
(something with grass + cowgirls) and her concept intrigued me.
I need to check it out sometime soon!
This guy carries a lot of my favorite lines, Fragonard, L’Artisan, etc.
but they acted like I was some ragamuffin street urchin (okay, okay I am- I know!)
and basically ignored me, but then treated me like a thief. Lame.
But go and sniff around anyway. Maybe he was in a weird mood.
Mmm, I adore Serge Lutens! I want to try them all one day…
  I’ve not yet tried anything by CB I Hate Perfume, but I’ve been lusting for quite a few
in his collection for awhile! Fire from Heaven is definitely one of those, it sounds incredible.
When I venture to NYC next week, his shop is at the very top of my list!
Also- I love your blog, thanks for pointing me towards it.
There’s much to fascinate me there- we have a lot of favorite book in common!
Oh, these all sound so delicious! I forgot! I used to wear Thyme’s Ginger Milk,
but I think they discontinued it.. I’ve always wanted to try the Origins version.
I love wearing gingery perfumes- people always stop me on the street when I do!
“Kiss my grits!” is one of my favorite expressions as well!
I’m a southern girl, you know- and I do love my grits!
Hmm.. I seem to recall reading something about that when I was researching kitsune..
There’s a lot of significance with their tails- spots, glowing lights, many tails etc.
Pray tell, why do you ask? Kitsune costume or art-project burgeoning?
Oh, it’s one of my favorite Yayoi Kusama pieces as well!
I’m re-reading Ghostwritten, and thinking of you.

by Angeliska on September 6, 2009 at 2:09 am. Reply #

Sorry, responded via email. Long story short, I’m analyzing some dreams I had in the past.

by Gabriel on September 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm. Reply #

This is an impressive and inspiring list. I’d love to know your top choices for fall and winter. your taste in scent is so similar to my own, but summer has already passed for me.

by Johanna on September 10, 2009 at 2:41 am. Reply #

oooh, i think our tastes in perfumes are very much alike. i love anything amber-y, incense-y, earthy, dark, and spicy.
have you tried prada perfume? http://www.perfume.com/prada/prada/women-perfume
it is strong and woodsy with a touch of strange forest flowers and amber, of course.
also, oddly, one of my favorite perfumes is rapture from victoria’s secret. a high-school beau gave it to me as a gift and it immediately reminded me so much of something my mum wore when i was very wee and it has wonderful spicy but sweet (not cloyingly so) hints to it. so lovely!
but plain ol’ amber oil is always good and works well in armpits when you have no (or don’t want any) deodorant.

by katinka! on September 10, 2009 at 10:25 pm. Reply #

I was thinking of Hove’s Vetivert this morning. I bought a bar of soap from there ten years ago when I was in New Orleans and for some reason fancied buying some perfume now. Your blog came up when I searched for it. And what a wonderful blog it is. Thanks, I am enjoying reading it. I think I would like to try the hermes scent. For fig scents I like Jo Malone’s (very grassy) wild fig and cassis.

by Ottilia on September 12, 2009 at 2:02 am. Reply #

I don’t know much about perfume but I’ve been dreaming of finding one with a sweet full rose(they kind that almost smells like a juicy ripe apple), clove, and cinnamon. Other ideas include adding pink pepper, maybe a hint of coconut or amber too.

by Johna on September 26, 2009 at 12:40 pm. Reply #

This Ferris wheel is located in Mississippi near the Shiloh National Battlefield

by Isaac on October 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm. Reply #

Thanks for the tip, Isaac! I’ll have to go visit it one day…

by Angeliska on October 13, 2009 at 11:03 pm. Reply #


by Springtime Scents « Angeliska Gazette on April 5, 2012 at 2:13 am. Reply #

[…] ENDLESS SUMMER – Summer Perfumes […]

by Thief of Roses « Angeliska Gazette on June 13, 2014 at 4:09 pm. Reply #

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