Style » Grooming

Fragrance Finds: Summer Songs

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Tuesday Aug 16, 2011

Summer fragrances, like summer songs, linger long in the memory. It was William Faulkner who wrote "Memory believes before knowing remembers" - and our sense of summer is invariably linked with its smells.

Just as summer songs from the past immediately send us back to the lake, the pool, the beach, where we realized that he was the one we'd love forever (so what if we were wrong, the song still works us) - so, too, does the smell of the ocean and summer roses and rain-wet grass remind us why summer is when we feel most young at heart.

Spritz these summer fragrances on your wrists - and let yourself slip into the romance of summer.


Jean Paul Gaultier: Classique Summer Limited Edition

One recent Sunday, we took the ferry from Stockholm out into the Swedish archipelago, where we spent the day with a woman whose home, Summerhouse, had been in her family for four generations. On a hill above the water, the house was brilliantly rose red against a verdantly green lawn - and inside Summerhouse, the red and pink roses were as abundant as they were in the gardens outside.

Rose fragrances are often unfairly saddled with a hoary reputation - and yet rose remains one of the world’s most favored scents, which is perhaps why Jean Paul Gaultier latest summer edition of his Classique fragrance opens with rose.

Each summer, Gaultier tweaks his 1993 Classique, updating or reformulating it, not unlike the way an interior designer freshens up a summer home. This year’s edition of Classique opens with rose and orange blossom, before blooming into a heart of Sambac jasmine and ylang-ylang - and yet, even with the profusion of flora, the scent is as light as linen.

In spite of the drizzle at Summerhouse, we sat outside, sipping Champagne that was crisp and slightly redolent of vanilla. A vanilla base note in this year’s edition of Gaultier’s Classique mitigates the floral notes, leaving a trail of sweet muskiness, not unlike the smell of roses in light rain.

As lovely as a light rain and a glass of Champagne, Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2011 Classique is a perfect summer rose.

(Note: for this limited edition, the iconic "tailor’s dummy" Classique bottle is adorned with Maori tattoos in red and blue, one of Gaultier’s favored themes, which, interestingly, also evoke Tennessee Williams’s "The Rose Tattoo." Collectors will be charmed.)

PRICE: $64.00 / 3.3 fl oz
LINK: Jean Paul Gaultier Classique 2011 Limited Edition


Lubin: Gin Fizz

Icy blondes were Hitchcock’s specialty - and perhaps the most famous was Grace Kelly, the Philadelphia Main Line beauty, who mesmerized the Prince of Monaco. A Hollywood star and Oscar winner for her role in "The Country Girl," Kelly was celebrated for her classic all-American elegance - and in 1955, the House of Lubin, one of France’s oldest perfume houses dedicated their newest fragrance, Gin Fizz, to Kelly.

Named for the fashionable American cocktail served in Paris, Gin Fizz was originally created by master parfumeur Henri Giboulet - and re-introduced in 2009 in a more modern formulation. As might be expected from a fragrance named for a summer drink, Gin Fizz bursts with a sparkling bouquet of bergamot, Sicilian lemon, Messina mandarin, and juniper berry - and the first spritz is as intoxicating as the first sip of a gin tonic.

Almost immediately, you’re in summer, walking across a manicured lawn, drink in hand, toward a garden lush with iris, roses, lilies, and Turkish jasmine. Gazing around at the other guests in their white linens, you’re reminded of Irwin Shaw’s "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses."

From its citrus and floral opening, Gin Fizz segues into the more earthy base notes of vetiver and oak moss balanced with white musk. It’s as if you’ve knelt at the garden’s edge, inhaling deeply of the grass and loam - and for a moment, you consider reclining completely on the lawn. Instead, you sip from your gin - and toast to the timeless beauty of icy blondes.

PRICE: $120.00 / 50 ml.
LINK: Lubin Gin Fizz


Issey Miyake: L’Eau d’Issey Summer Fragrance 2011

We still remember our first time: the first time we fell in love with L’Eau d’Issey. It was in 1992, at the uptown apartment of a pair of well-heeled interior designers with impeccable taste - and there, atop their bathroom vanity, displayed like an objet d’art, was a frosted bottle evocative of the Eiffel Tower, topped by the moon.

Nearly twenty years after its phenomenal debut in 1992, L’Eau d’Issey’s bottle (based on the view from Miyake’s Paris apartment) has become as iconic as the fragrance within. L’Eau d’Issey (a play on the word "odyssey") ushered in an entire generation of light, aquatic floral fragrances. Since 1995, L’Eau d’Issey has introduced summer limited editions that have become as coveted and popular as the original.

Evocative of a blue lagoon, the 2011 Summer Limited Edition of L’Eau d’Issey arrives in a turquoise-tinged bottle, flecked with branches of tropical red coral. You might be snorkeling off the isle of Capri, your yacht anchored alongside you. With top notes of rose and pear water, the fragrance (created by Jacques Cavallier) is a reminder of summer’s simple pleasures: fresh fruit, pink flowers, Prosecco, and sun. Someone arrives onboard with a bouquet of white peonies in full bloom, their scent wafting over the water. When you sit down to lunch on deck, there’s a carnation at your place setting,

Later, as the captain pulls anchor and you head for the shore, the salt air mixes with a base note of osmanthus that wraps around your shoulders like a velvet fog.

The truth is, resistance to L’Eau d’Issey has always been futile; this fragrance has always been irresistible. You have to smile at its sweet, insouciant allure.

PRICE: $64.00 / 3.3 fl oz
LINK: Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Summer Fragrance 2011


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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