Eaux Là Là
A recent exchange with a fellow Sniffapalooza member occasioned some thoughts about the coming (not fast enough) change of seasons, and indeed my eye has been wandering to the lighter end of my fragrance spectrum: scents like Fréderic Malle Cologne Bigarade, Creed Citrus Bigarrade, Annick Goutale Eau de Sud, Bois 1920 Classic 1920, Parfums d’Empire Iskander and Lubin L’Eau Neuve, not to mention the classics-in-our-midst, like Roudnitska’s Eau Sauvage and Guerlain Eau de Cologne Impériale, granddaddy of the lot, at almost two-hundred years old.
Unfairly perhaps, I dub many of these as my “bathroom” scents. The qualifier has nothing to do with their quality – only, rather, with the comfort they provide when easily grabbed while toweling off from a shower or bath. None tries to make a particularly bold statement, except maybe to tell us that everything is going to be just fine. In warmer climes, the application of such scents is cooling. Their predominant néroli, citrus and wood notes, combined with a high level of alcohol, refresh nose and skin alike. These are the sorts of scents I’d love to find on the locker-room counters at my gym in spanking new atomizer bottles. (Instead, all I get is a gush of eucalyptus steam from behind some clouded door, rank towel hamper odors and the almost ubiquitous smell of styling gel.) Heck, I’d be happy with an oversized bottle of 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser.
Eaux de colognes are the ultimate accessory to basic personal hygiene, like mouth wash for the skin. In the days before deodorant, these scents separated the sheep from the goats. And in some parts of the world – the Mediterranean comes to mind – they still do. One jaunt on a packed Roman bus in the late June is all you need to learn this vital lesson.
Of late, Guerlain has released an eau de cologne that should earn its place alongside the greats: Cologne du 68, inspired by the street address of their Champs-Elysées flagship. Created by nose Sophie Labbé, it contains 68 notes, including green tangerine, lemon petitgrain, limette, jasmine, rose, tuberose, peach, orange tree wood, petitgrain, musk, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, star anise, coriandre, cardamom, pepper, immortelle, opoponax, and cedar. It has a ravishing pink-tending-to-apricot hue and is as beautiful on the skin as on fresh linens or dispersed into the air. Not as overtly masculine (or implicitly genderless) as Impériale or Eau du Coq, Cologne du 68 is a light, refreshing floriental which clearly takes a nod from the compositions of Guerlain’s Mathilde Laurent (creator of Guet-Apens/L’Attrape-Coeur and Shalimar Eau Légère). It goes on cool and citrusy and ends up just short of lightly confectionary in the floral notes. It is the essence of Guerlain, a perfect evocation of the heights to which the brand aspired in the midcentury and an auspicious sign of where they can still go when all engines are pushed to throttle.
Cologne du 68 is available exclusively at 68, Champs-Elysées and the Guerlain boutique at Bergdorf Goodman. Contact Jason Beers to order, 212-872-2734.