Cool off with Colognes

There’s no better time than to cool off with Colognes than during a heatwave, and with temperatures set to soar to record levels in the U.K. let’s all take a breather with a quick refesher on the fascinating history of Colognes – including why they used to be drunk, and while we certainly don’t recommend you do that anymore, why they should still be splashed on with abandon in the heat, and why that ‘c’ of Cologne should be capitalised…

 

Firstly: what denotes a true Cologne? Well traditionally, Colognes contain a blend of bergamot, neroli, lavender and rosemary oils diluted in grape spirit, and though volumes differ, tend to be poured at a strength of 2-4% – meaning that’s the amount of pure fragrance within a carrier (usually alcohol in spray or splash form). They were made at this strength because half the pleasure is in the re-applying of these cooling scents, particularly delicious if that Cologne has been stored in the fridge, we find!

 

The Cologne style of scent has proved to be incredibly popular for hundreds of years, the original recipe proving such a success that it’s remained remarkably unchanged, and much copied, to this day. With contemporary Colognes also abounding, it’s intrestesting to ponder why this style of perfuming ourselves has remained so stable through the centuries. Perhaps, posits Christine Nagel, in-house perfumer at the cologne-loving brand Hermès, because the composition conjures ‘immediate pleasure and a universally shared register of emotions.’

 

The Cologne is often assumed as male in origin, but was 100% unisex from the get-go, and with many later directly marketed to women. Indeed, this universally pleasing experince of lavishly splashing yourself with something immediately refreshing and reviving to the spirits is, ‘…a trick that Cologne has been pulling off for more than 300 hundred years.’ fragrance writer and vlogger Persolaise told us in a previous summer edition of The Scented Letter Magazine.  He recounts the story: ‘Back at the start of the 18th Century, the Italian barber and entrepreneur Gian Paolo Feminis moved to Cologne, Germany, and began selling a blend of bergamot, neroli, lavender and rosemary oils diluted in grape spirit. Dubbed Aqua Admirabilis, the product was such a success that Feminis summoned other members of his family to northern Germany to help develop the business.

 

 

His nephew, Giovanni Maria Farina – a.k.a. Jean Marie Farina – tweaked the formula, committed it to writing and, crucially, began advertising the product as a miracle potion not just for scenting one’s person but also for drinking and combating all sorts of ailments, including skin, stomach and gum problems. ‘This perfume refreshes me,’ Farina wrote to his brother, ‘and stimulates both my senses and imagination.’ When travellers and soldiers began taking what they called ‘eau de Cologne‘ back home with them, its reputation spread, causing high-profile figures to take note.

Madame du Barry is reported to have spent a fortune on the fragrance. The composer Richard Wagner once wrote in a letter that he expected to use one litre of the stuff per month. And no less illustrious a figure than Napoleon was a fan. After washing with England’s Brown Windsor soap, he would use liberal amounts of Cologne, apparently getting through several bottles in one day.

 

 

Throughout the 20th Century, the classic cologne appeared in the portfolios of several brands – notably Hermès, Acqua di Parma and Dior – as there was always a supply of customers seeking its weightless, approachable personality. But in recent years, this demand has stepped into a higher gear.’

One could almost say demand for these instantly cooling and soul-lifting fragrances is at something of a fever pitch amidst a heatwave, so indeed this is the perfect time to seek the shade with these so-enduring and still universally pleasing Colognes…

 

 

The Cologne whose formula began it all was been a closely guarded secret for centuries, but atill wafts beguilingly of a walk in a Mediterranean walled garden. Within, the distilled, precious essences of flowers, herbs and citrus simply sing through. It’s one to liberally apply and sigh with relief while wearing on the kind of day that provokes ‘Phew! What a scorcher’ headlines in red-topped newspapers. Nuances of the herbacious breeze tinged with the sunshine-evoking lemon zest cut through cloudy, dull days, too. Keep in the fridge for occasions of overheating or undue stress, we say.

Roger & Gallet Jean Marie Farina Eau de Cologne Spray £29.75 for 100ml eau de Cologne
escentual.com 

 

 

An all-time (now timeless) classic that surely nobody can fail to fall for, as Colonia unfolds you find yourself entering into an elegant floral-herbaceous space, as if you’ve wandered into an Italian sunlit idyl, Sicilian citrus, bergamot, lemon, sweet and bitter oranges infusing your soul with sunshine. Finally the warmth of the woody base notes comes through, wrapping around you like a cashmere sweater as the sun goes down over the Tuscan riviera. Simply said, it’s bliss in a bottle.

Acqua di Parma Colonia from £56 for 20ml eau de Cologne
acquadiparma.com

 

 

 

No round-up of Colognes could be complete without this classic (and so pocket-friendly). Still popular since 1792 for a reason, it’s often reached for on hot days, but you absolutely don’t need to keep it only for summer – experience the mood-enhancing quench whenever you like! Colognes take on a new aspect in the cooler months, any way, and of course on sweltering days breathe a welcome breeze, here it’s the classic lemon, rosemary, lavender and neroli notes, which feel like sunlight filtered through unfurling leaves. Heavenly.

4711 Cologne from £4.80 for 25ml Cologne
escentual.com

 

Hydrating, toning, and revivifying via essential oils of lemon, patchouli, petitgrain, ginseng and white tea, it’s immediately mood-lifting. And this one came long before today’s natural beauty trend was even a twinkle in Gwyneth’s eye (or, uh, whatever). Clarins pioneered the use of aromatics and botanicals in skincare; their Eau Dynamisante was the first eau de toilette combining principles of aromatherapy and phytotherapy (plant therapy) in fragrant form, back in 1987.

 

 

Close your eyes and imagine riding the crest of a wave, or perhaps rise like Venus emerging glamorous from the ocean – far easier to evoke while spritzing this whoosh of ozonic sea water, the saltiness a seasoning to the bracing bitterness of Marram grass and the rounded, grounding warmth of beechwood. Vesuvian lichen clings to wet rocks, the herb-y sense of home shores nearby. A lovely version of a modern Cologne, it almost feels you’ve been to the seaside and back with none of the pesky traffic queues or train cancellations. Just add ice cream and you’re there!

Prosody London Ocean Commotion from £57 for 30ml Cologne
prosodylondon.com

 

 

The cooling sensation of Cologne at Eau de Parfum strength, from spicy beginnings, the woody heart andwarming base resonate with unanticipated thrums of juicy freshness and mouth-watering appeal. Then, a surprise appearance of heady patchouli in the heart nuzzles a balmy resin-rush of styrax as the Cologne dries down. With this fresher spin on their bestselling Aventus, with luscious mandarin replacing pineapple of the classic, and a long-lasting, fruity/musk dry-down, it resonates beautifully in the heat.

Creed Aventus Cologne from £190 for 50ml eau de parfum
creedfragrances.co.uk

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Let there be light – scenting the summer solstice

With the dawning light of the summer solstice comes a seasonal welcoming of midsummer (actually the begining of true, astronomical summer) and the longest day. More than the Earth tilting its face fully toward the sun, for Wiccans and other nature-based faiths it’s a reminder to seek inner growth and, along with celebrating the power of the sun, also to nurture the light within.

The light forms fragrant inspiration for perfumers, too, capturing the sunshine (and moonbeams), bottling gradients of luminescence in solar scents like some kind of fairytale’s miracle made spritz-able reality.

  

 

In a fragrance, ‘solar’ is a term that’s gained popularity recently in the descriptions houses have given, even being placed in the names of perfumes themselves. It denotes a feeling of sunshine, of course, but with it a physical feeling of being uplifted, of turning our own faces toward the light source, a languidly perfumed purr of warm-cat contentedness. Citrus notes are vital, as you might expect, but in this new genre they’re often mellowed by breezy blossoms, dappled with cooler herbs or touched with a tingle of spices and warm woods, depending on the time of the day or the place they’re attempting to conjure.

 

Because the light source illuminating perfumer’s imaginations isn’t limited to the ‘rosy-fingered dawn’ of Homer’s Odyssey, or a sunlit beach-scene in scented form – there are fragrances that capture the ‘mad dogs and English men’ intensity of late afternoon or a blissfully dappled shade; scents evoking spectacular sunsets, the ‘blue hour’, forest nymphs bathed in moonlight, midnight’s velvety caress and even particular qualities of light from specific locations around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Why are these light-filled fragrances so popular right now?  As Louisa May Alcott puts it in Little Women, ‘Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow.’ And quite frankly, with all we’ve gone through and the state of the world at the moment, even an ex-goth like me has grown somewhat weary of shadows.

So, with the spirit of the summer solstice and welcoming whatever new beginnings you wish, use these scents as an olfactive sundial, to form your own fragrant ecliptic – the invisible path the sun follows across the sky – and bring on the light, whenever you need it most…

 

 

 

To the Fairest Aubine £85 for 50ml eau de parfum tothefairest.com
Sun-kissed softness celebrates new beginnings, orange blossom strengthening a honeyed hopefulness.

 

 

 

Ruth Mastenbroek Dagian £70 for 30ml eau de parfum ruthmastenbroek.com
Grapefruit’s gleam pierces Stygian clouds, a shaft of amber warmth the olfactory embodiment of optimism.

 

 

 

 Björk & Berries Solstice £85 for 50ml eau de parfum  gb.bjorkandberries.com
Dazzling neroli and deep amber celebrate ‘the never ending light’ while swathed by soft cashmere’s nuzzle.

 

 

 

 

 

JUSBOX Good Morning £125 for 78ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
Tangerine-tinged sea breeze a scented snapshot of the second sunlight peaks the snow-capped mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

Lalique Soleil £100 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Pale gold fingers of light stroke pearly skin, a sip of coffee, a moment of peace, a hushed sigh of satisfaction.

 

 

Parle Moi de Parfum Wake Up World £98 for 50ml eau de parfum  johnlewis.com
Nurturing soul and spirit, bursts of citrus mellow to a hug of warm woodiness, a reminder to be kinder.

 

 

 

 

AKRO Awake £140 for 100ml eau de parfum  fenwick.co.uk
The bewitiching allure of a cosy coffee shop on a dull day – lemon-washed steamy windows, bitter luxury.

 

 

 

 

Tom Ford Eau de Soleil Blanc £178 for 50ml eau de parfum  tomford.co.uk
A shiver of sunshine refracted through dewdrops, the glitter of sunlight on cresting waves.

 

 

 

 

Goutal Un Matin d’Orage £119 for 100ml eau de parfum  johnlewis.com
Sunlight scatters the clinging mist of a storm’s wake, a phosphorescent unfurling as the garden awakes.

 

 

 

 

CLOON_KEEN_LA_BEALTAINE.jpg

 

Cloon Keen Lá Bealtaine £120 for 100ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com
A celebration of bright citrus craves heat-bloomed flowers, floaty sundresses, lemon sorbets, drowsy dreams.

 

 

Elie Saab Le Parfum Lumière £45 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com
Amidst orange blossom’s blizzard the tulle swirl of a white gown, dancing barefoot on sun-warmed stone.

 

 

 

Fragonard Soleil £39 for 50ml eau de parfum  marksandspencer.com
Drowsy afternoon’s opulence on velvet cushions, a Provençal garden glimpsed through half-closed eyes.

 

 

 

 

Roja Dove A Midsummer Dream from £45 for 7.5ml eau de parfum rojaparfums.com
A warm Chypré fever-dream drapes the zing of grapefuit in a silken spiced cloak with a secret mossy lining.

 

 

 Lalique Soleil Vibrant £72 for 50ml eau de parfum lalique.com
Safari big cat energy via ginger-spiked jasmine, orange blossom’s meridian headiness radiating happiness.

 

 

 

Tom Ford Soleil Brulant £240 for 50ml eau de parfum tomford.co.uk
A sizzle of honeyed seduction in the gilded high noon sun, somewhere ridiculously fabulous.

 

 

 

 

Parfums de Marly Cassili £210 for 75ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
Peach-blushed skyline viewed atop a romantic rooftop, flushed face turned expectantly toward another kiss.

 

 

 

 

Coach Dreams Sunset £37.00 for 40ml eau de parfum escentual.com
Inspired by ‘golden hours and one-of-a-kind journeys with friends’, pear sorbet teases twilit jasmine.

 

 

 

 

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue £109 for 75ml eau de parfum  guerlain.com
A heartstoppingly romantic harmony of powdered pensiveness, heliotrope prolonging the suspended hour.

 

 

 

Moresque Midnight London £310 for 50ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Rebellious rhubarb sashays in leather trousers to an incense-infused club so cool you’ll never know about it.

 

 

 

 

Prada Olfactories Mirages Midnight Train £230 for 100ml eau de parfum (in Prada stores exclusive)
Chilled ebony chocolate sucked lasciviously within the wood-panelled seclusion of a night train’s affair.

 

 

 

Penhaligon’s Luna £152 for 100ml eau de toilette  penhaligons.com
Moon-bathed goddess slinks her way in a silver robe through a jasmine-swagged fairytale forest.

 

 

 

 AromAtom Moon Walk (try it in their Discovery Set, £69 / £65 VIPs)
Serene landscape in fragrance form – a world of sparkling dust and silvery mountains.

 

 

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Don’t sweat it – how to wear fragrance in hot weather

In hot weather, you may find some fragrances seems ‘stronger’ or more overpowering, or that your perfume simply ‘disappears’ on your skin when the temperatures soar. How can you help your scent survive the heat…?

Personally, at The Perfume Society,  we enjoy switching to brighter, airier perfumes for the warmer months, because fragrance can almost feel textural. So, just as we’ve long since cast off our opaque tights and cardis, so too do we crave something that feels sheer, gauzy and less stuffy.

Often you’ll find brands offer lighter versions of bestselling scents, for the summer. Of course some people still enjoy wearing the heavier more full-bodied, comforting, almost ‘cocooning’ scents throughout the year – but again, this is individual and depends on how you want a fragrance to make you feel. Whatever style you reach for, there’s no doubt hot heather can make a scent behave differently on your skin. So, why is this and how can you prevent a favourite from disappearing so quickly?

 

 

Hot Weather Perfume Problem #1 – Your scent doesn’t last as long

The weather can dramatically alter how long a scent lasts, and even how it smells on your skin. Skin and climate temperature are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favourite fragrance will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in hot and colder conditions (depending what countries they’ll be selling in). Though we tend to reach for brighter, citrus fresh scents in summer, these molecules are lighter, so can evaporate even more rapidly in high temperatures.

Solution:

– Try using a body oil, rich body balm or moisturising lotion before you put any fragrance on (and even afterwards, too), as scent takes longer to evaporate on nourished skin. This helps the fragrance ‘cling’ to your skin more easily, and so you get to actually smell if for more than a few minutes without frantically re-spraying.

– Spray pulse-points you might not usually think of. Behind your knees is a good example – it’s a warm spot that, once spritzed, will mean you leave a fragrant trail…

– Spritz the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into your hair and on clothes – BUT do check by spraying a tissue first that it isn’t going to mark your hair or fabric a strange colour, or leave an oily residue! We adore this way of wearing perfume, as hair and fabric are porous without heating up as much as your skin, allowing the perfume to stay all day.

 

 

Hot Weather Perfume Problem #2 – Your favourite fragrances now smell too ‘heavy’

Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already love on its own, but if it’s suddenly feeling smothering rather than sensual or bulky instead of beautiful, there are brilliant ways of beefing-up a sadly flimsy fragrance, or adding a zing to something that’s a bit too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a go, because, as we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!

Solution:

Add freshness by layering with citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often desribed as being like Champagne bubbles).

 – Spray on a lightweight scarf that way if it gets a bit ‘too much’ or you want to wear something different, you can simply take the scarf off and you’re not stuck with it on your skin all day. Do test on a tissue first, to make sure it wont stain the fabric, but also consider typing a scented scarf to your bag if you want to carry around a beautiful scent all day without having it on your skin.

 

Hot Weather Perfume Problem #3 – Nothing you’ve got seems to smell right in the heat

We empathise, because you’re definitely not alone! Just as weather can dramatically alter our mood, our mood plays a huge part in how we perceice a perfume – even if it’s something you’ve adored wearing for years but suddenly just don’t feel like wearing anymore.

Solution:

Have a think about exactly what you’re looking for in a scent – is it to boost flagging energy levels, to comfort and help you feel protected, or to give you immediate mood-lifting feeling of trying something new? We’ve all be craving change these past few months, so why not treat yourself to a brand new selection of scents with the just-launched Eau So Fresh Discovery Box? Each fragrance has been especially curated to work well in hot weather, because we believe everyone’s olfactory wardrobe deserves a fresh start. Priced at just £19 for VIP Club Members, and £23 RRP, this could be the ‘newness’ your nose needs right now!

By Suzy Nightingale