December 30, 2011

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Co-Founder, creator and artist of A Dozen Roses, Sandy Cataldo, signing bottles
Four Scents For The Australian Summer
By Clayton Ilolahia
While residents of the northern hemisphere celebrate the festive season with snowmen and winter foods, this annual holiday takes on a different flavour in Australia. Thanks to the planetary tilt, December marks the beginning of our summer. Christmas is a time of extended daylight hours and weekends at the beach. Here in Sydney, the sensory journey December provides by way of sights, smells and tastes is very different from the white Christmas experienced in the world’s great cities of the north such as New York, London or Paris.

December in Sydney smells of sun kissed skin, barbeques, salty beach air, humid earth and the summer flora that has begun to bloom. As backyard jasmine and orange blossoms begin to diminish with the rising temperatures of summer, gardenia is the first fragrant summer flower to form. Wild frangipanis, ginger flowers and lilies follow them. I must admit at the time of writing this we have had a rather anticlimactic start to summer. Uncertain weather patterns have given Sydney residents a rollercoaster ride of temperatures to manage. Blue skies, grey skies, rain, heat and cold, we have experienced it all in the past three weeks. Yesterday we saw a small window of summer before a dramatic sweep of storm clouds decided to rain on my beach parade.

The morning sun I did experience was nature’s reassurance summer was indeed coming. On my beach walk I began to ponder some perfume choices for the season ahead. As I passed other beach walkers, I began to imagine what they might wear. The occasional silage flirted with my nostrils giving an insight into what those around me had on their perfume agenda for the warmer months ahead. An elegant lady in a vibrant printed summer dress smelt of a narcotic white floral, a type of modern Amarige. A man with his small children passed me and I detected the faint trail of mossy woods. Unsurprisingly, most of the early twenty somethings I encountered did not provide much evidence of perfume wearing. The scent had either been washed off in the surf or they choose not to wear perfume.

For young Australian women, fruit and candied flowers prove popular. Unlike the female population, scent is something young Australian males have not yet incorporated into their daily grooming routine. Often it is reserved for nightclubs (but not pubs), dates, weddings and formal occasions. When worn, their choice of scent vibrates somewhere between monochromatic shades of water and fruit or dry woods and spice.

So what could be some great perfume choices this summer? I made a visit to the two major Australian department stores in search of the perfect summer scent. I came away with two realisations. The first was that shopping for perfume in the lead up to Christmas is not much fun. If I had taken every scent card that was offered to me by the army of employees taken on to manage this gift-giving season I would have left more confused than when I had entered the department store. My other realisation was that while spring is a symbol of all things new, summer could be a time to rekindle old romances with perfumes from previous years.

This summer for women, I am in love with Chanel’s Beige. As part of Chanel’s range of Les Exclusifs, this charming floral hits all the right notes for summer down under. In the grading of precious gems, stones are endowed with value based on their clarity, colour and the skill of the cutter who facets the stone. Here, if I may relate the work of Chanel’s perfumer, Jacques Polge to that of a fine jeweller; for Beige, his metaphorical flowers are transparent and glisten like precious stones. The fragrance is never opaque or tainted with impurities. Instead it is pure, radiant and filled with light.

The aroma of honey, a note Polge identifies as an important aspect of the centifolio rose Chanel farms in Grasse has been used like a golden setting for the perfumer’s precious flowers; freesia, hawthorn and an Australian garden favourite, frangipani. Beige’s wearer is carefree and fun. She wears it during the day and there is a sophistication one would expect from a Chanel creation that makes this smell divine on skin during humid summer nights at dinners and cocktail parties.

CLAYTON ILOLAHIA | Australian Correspondent

Clayton currently works in the management of training and development for the luxury retail sector and has worked with brands such as Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Cartier. A resident of Sydney, Australia, he was born in New Zealand and considers travel one of life’s real luxuries. A perfume collector, Clayton decided to combine his love of perfume and travel in a blog entitled What Men Should Smell Like ( where he writes about men’s fragrances encountered on his travels around the world. “I graduated university with a degree in Visual Arts. For me perfume is an extension of this study and allows the exploration of creative ideas through the sense of smell”.

The Perfume Magazine welcomes our new Australian Correspondent, Clayton Ilolahia as he gives us a sneak peek into fragrances "Down Under".
For women less inclined towards this type of floral I recommend Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. Now housed in turquoise packaging with a number of complimentary products, this is the colour of summer. Once the more volatile notes bid their farewell the orange flower accord paired with amber exudes a modern take on the traditional eau de cologne concept. Suitable for both women and men, Tom Ford’s eau de parfum transports me to a coastal Italian barbershop filled with the smell of orange blossom water, shaving soap and talc.

Another gender free scent I have recently rekindled my desire for is Poivre Samarcande, created by Jean-Claude Ellena in 2004 for the house of Hermes. Described as “burning pepper softened by mellow wood”, I cannot help but feel a connection with Eau d’Hermes, created by Edmond Roudnitska in 1951. In his book Perfume, The Alchemy of Scent, Ellena recalls as a young perfumer, imitating Roudnitska in an attempt to discover the secrets concealed within the master perfumer’s formula. Although he could decipher many of the components in Roudnitska’s work, Ellena found they could be interpreted in many different ways. It is this type of olfactory illusion Ellena professes to be interested in as a perfumer. He is not merely reproducing nature; a rose perfume that smells like a rose.

Creating Poivre Samarcande, Ellena shares a personal story of an oak tree that once grew in his Mediterranean garden. The name is an homage to the city of Samarkand, whose ancient walls have stood for over 2500 years, offering safe passage to the spice caravans that once transported spice from the East to West. Poivre Samarcande’s pepper is green and pungent. Notes of cedar and oak add a sense of weight and smoke that is further enhanced with a hint of chilli. Ellena uses Chinese moss and musk creating a carnal note that recalls Roudnitska’s classic Eau d’Hermes, which Ellena executes in 21st century style.

This is the sweet odour of men’s sweat. With perspiration being unavoidable in Sydney’s summer, instead of constant showers, bottles of antiperspirant and eau de toilettes that make you smell clean and refreshed; Poivre Samarcande is my answer to celebrating the scent of the human body. If Jean-Claude Ellena’s unobtrusive style is too delicate for your nose, my final summer suggestion for both men and women is a fragrance I had the pleasure of discovering in Europe earlier this year.

Montale’s Aoud Lime is a fragrance I take pleasure in wearing during warm months. With Aoud becoming the ‘open sesame’ ingredient of the past two years, Montale places the odorous substance in the background presenting instead a rich bouquet of Indian roses dusted with saffron, precious woods and resins. With a candied lime opening, Aoud Lime is the perfect way for men to explore a rose perfume in summer. Used sparingly, it gives birth to a short silage that will have bystanders tracing the origin of this heavenly scent where ever you go. It may seem cliché to propose flowers as a theme for summer, but with some consideration, an exciting assortment of florals paired with exotic ingredients exists for this summer’s male and female perfume shopper.