Thursday, July 03, 2008

What's Your Holiday Perfume?

First off, I need to come up with something better than this lame "What's Your [X] Perfume?" for these posts. They're all starting to run together, and me no likey.

I thought I'd get a head start on the weekend and post today, since it's Friday for most of us. Today I'm wearing Laurence Dumont Vanille Violette, from a sample sent to me by reader Nikki C. I can assure you that I will most definitely NOT be wearing this perfume tomorrow, though, because there's no way I'm going to be that casual with the precious drops I have left. This was one of those perfumes that as soon as I had dabbed it on my wrists, I knew I was going to be in trouble, because the first thought in my head was to look it up online and see if I could get my hands on some. Wouldn't you know, Sephora is out of stock, but they kept the image and description up just to taunt me, along with the fact that at some point in time this lovely juice was marked down to $10 a bottle! That's right! TEN DOLLARS!

It occurs to me that maybe I shouldn't be telling you how pretty this is, because there's likely no way you're going to find any unless you know someone who has a bottle. (The Perfumed Court doesn't have it, and Nancy over at Fishbone Fragrances is on vacation until July 14 and is not displaying her current inventory. Bah!) The notes are rose, ylang-ylang, bergamot, violet, lily of the valley, sandalwood, and benzoin, but I smell nothing but the most perfect, sweet summery blend of violet and vanilla, just enough of each so it is neither candied or foodie. This is how I had hoped things would work out between me and Christian Dior La Collection Particuliere Passage No. 8. We all remember how that turned out. This is a much happier ending--or would be, if I could get my mitts on a bottle.

Now, something else I've been thinking about: patriotic perfume. Stay with me here. For the holiday season, the wondrous events from October through January, we have all sorts of choices in terms of holiday perfumes--beautiful spicy, incense-y scents that reflect both the season and its spirit. For those who celebrate Easter, you have your choice of perfumes based on lilies, or anything that means, essentially, that spring has sprung.

But what about the Fourth of July? Let me admit right off the bat that this is my least favorite holiday of the year. In the few places I've lived in my life, this holiday is generally represented by drunk rednecks towing boats to and from various lakes, whilst wasted on Budweiser. I like fireworks, but I hate crowds, particularly when said crowds are filled with the aforementioned rednecks, who are usually so drunk by twilight as to be more obnoxious than usual.

I guess if I were being literal about it, I would say that any perfume representing the Fourth would contain notes of hot asphalt, grilled hot dogs, beer, lake water, sweat, watermelon, and firecrackers. (Are you listening, Christopher Brosius?)

Ugh. Let's not be literal. Let's instead think: what's the best perfume to represent the Fourth, and what are the criteria? Obviously, the perfume must be an American perfume, or at least by an American designer. I feel like it should also be somewhat classic, although I'm not averse to having more modern releases on the list. Most likely it would be friendly. I also believe it should be iconic, and therefore most likely popular. I know that makes some of you shudder, but think of it like the flag. Someone may have a niche flag out there that he thinks represents America better than the Stars and Stripes, and his friends may know about it and love it and agree--it's much better--but, uh, who cares? I've come up with some ideas, and you can either weigh in on these, or add your own. Here are a few I thought of (and these all happen to be "women's" fragrances, and all of them launched in the 1970s. Does this have something to do with my childhood, I wonder, or a particularly good era for American perfume?), but I'm amazed how short my list is:

1. Lauren, by Ralph Lauren (1978). Notes: green notes, violet, rose, carnation, spices, woody notes. I hear this has been reformulated, but it's image is still classic to me. This was a popular perfume when I was growing up, and to me it represented all sorts of chic Americana: monogrammed cable knit sweaters, penny loafers, deck shoes. This is what you wear watching fireworks from your sailboat in the Cape, no? (Do they have fireworks there? Can you watch them from boats? Doesn't matter. This is my fantasy. And note that the boat here is a SAILboat, not a motorboat pulled behind a giant pickup truck sporting a confederate flag sticker.)

2. Charlie, by Revlon (1973). Notes: citrus oils, peach, hyacinth, tarragon, jasmine, lily of the valley, cyclamen, carnation, cedarwood, sandal, oakmoss, vanilla. You cannot get more American than some kicky gal named Charlie in her white suit and bright smile. I loved those commercials. I wanted to grow up to be a Charlie gal, much more than I wanted to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. (Name that perfume!)

3. Private Collection, by Estee Lauder (1972). Notes: green note, orange blossom, linden, jasmine, reseda, chrysanthemum, rose, sandalwood, heliotrope, musks, amber. Sure, I could have gone with the more obvious Youth Dew, or even with White Linen (see sailboats and Americana above), but Private Collection is sort of like the American Chanel No. 5, don't you think? I would like to think of Private Collection as sort of an American perfume ambassador, representing us in its stately, sophisticated yet casual way. I fear, though, that people think of us more like Giorgio of Beverly Hills--loud, obnoxious, and insistently cheerful. I'm also going on record here: I think Estee Lauder might be THE American perfume house. What say you?

I would be tempted to add a few others, like Elizabeth Arden Bluegrass, which was my very first "grown up" perfume aside from Love's Baby Soft. Or how about Clinique Happy? Anything by Calvin Klein? I know I must be leaving off the most obvious, and I will want to come back and edit as soon as I've published this! Oh well, I'd rather hear from you all, anyway!

Have a safe and happy Fourth!

*images from Sephora and OsMoz