First off: you can now follow me on Instagram @graindemusc, where I’ll randomly post pictures of the perfume events I attend (plus the usual flowers, cats and landscapes).
I was in London this week for the intelligent, elegantly-executed Perfume, a Sensory Journey through Contemporary Scent at Somerset House, curated by Claire Catterall and Lizzie Ostrom. The heat-seared city felt like a remake of the 1961 nuclear-scare movie The Day theEarth Caught Fire. But Hyde Park was irradiated with a fine gauze of linden blossom, just like Paris: a heady, honeyed scent whose volume can’t be conveyed by any bottled perfume. The closest may be my first seasonal pick...
by Françoise Caron for Astier de Villatte
This tribute to the great lime trees shading the late painter Balthus’s Swiss home, the Grand Chalet, captures what the writer Colette called “a volcano of bees, a bush of russet flowers, the rival of the orange tree, the insidious lover, the golden rain of pollen”.
Jasmin de Nuit
by Céline Ellena for The Different Company
Spilling out in scented nebulae from hidden city gardens, star jasmine smells somehow oilier and spicier than true jasmine. The cinnamon and star anise-spiked Jasmin de nuit, though named after Cestrum nocturnum, captures its early-summer headiness.
by Julie Marlow for Parfum Beaufort London
The 2017 winner of the Independent category of the Art & Olfaction Awards given out in Berlin, which I had the honour of both judging and presenting. Inspired by Ariel’s Song in The Tempest -- “Full fathom five thy father lies” -- an eldritch land breeze wafting lilac and crushed leaves; the latter, the acrid swig of brine inhaled just before drowning, its saline sting of vetiver, salicylates and moss whipped into foam-crested waves by a peppery gale.
by Annick Menardo for Une Nuit Nomade
With Peau d’Ailleurs for Philippe Starck, Menardo gave us what was, to my mind, the most original fragrance of 2016, a mutation on Féminité du Bois that was sadly overlooked by the Prix des Experts at the French Fifis (but a finalist of the blogger-led Olfactorama Awards). Rosa America is another radically contemporary interpretation of the aquatic floral: a seaspray-splashed Atlantic rose. Algae absolute takes on the role of oak moss; fenugreek adds an extra lick of saltiness.
by Annick Menardo for Une Nuit Nomade
A rework of the Patchouli 24 theme, minus vanilla, with added tobacco absolute and a big, sun-seared carnation planted in its heart, a ghost of L’Origan. Like Rosa America, this is a riff on Warhol-era Montauk, sparked off by a picture of the Rolling Stones rehearsing Black and Blue. And it’s been my go-to scent since I got hold of a preview decant, even in the blistering heat: fighting fire with fire.
by Delphine Jelk for Guerlain
Another flare-up in this season’s Carnation Revolution, Lui feels as though Delphine Jelk (now an in-house Guerlain perfumer) had skimmed L’Heure Bleue’s carnation and benzoin to whip them into an ethereal floral oriental. Totally unrelated to Jacques Guerlain’s 1929 Liu.
by Rodrigo Flores Roux for Carner Barcelona
After the fireworks of Oeillet Bengale for Aedes de Venustas, Rodrigo Flores Roux revisits the iconic Spanish clavel in a more naturalistic style: Sweet William is built around a headspace capture of Dianthus Superbus.
Jimmy Choo Man Ice
by Michel Almairac for Jimmy Choo
To fend off the heat, Michel Almairac’s mint-cool splash, built on a rosemary-ambroxan-patchouli axis, offers a chill, chic, original alternative to classic colognes. The maestro says he’s particularly pleased with it, as it was practically accepted as is by the brand. Proof that the mainstream can go stealth-radical.
by Jean-Christophe Hérault for Thierry Mugler
Another twist on cologne: the smell of the business class on an early-morning flight, after the citrus-scented hot towels, and while coffee is being brewed in the galley -- a distant waft that somehow seems to float above the scent.
Jasmin Perle de Thé
The Grasse-based Fragonard’s Fleur d’Oranger has a cult following among arty Parisians. Jasmin Perle de Thé offers the titular jasmine tea scent at a fraction of the price of Guerlain’s now-discontinued Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra or By Kilian’s Imperial Tea, in an adorably colourful packaging.
For more summer round-ups, please see