One early summer afternoon at the end of a certain August, the lovely ladies of Cologne and Cotton, a very nice shop in the Warwickshire town of Royal Leamington Spa, introduced me to their wares.
Among their thick white towels; triple-milled soaps; the shop’s own range of perfumes (worth looking into), and the embroidered cotton sheets (the blue downy coolness of Wedgewood summer bedrooms) I discovered some intriguing new things. The reassuringly domesticated, soothing air of the shop itself smells lovely enough for a second visit.
I didn’t actually get to try the samples they gave me at the time properly, though, until I was back in Japan a couple of weeks later, feeling homesick and watching an episode of Inspector Morse (which had come as a freebie with my parents’ Daily Mail): murder and sexual intrigue behind closed doors and twitching curtains of middle class Oxfordshire homes, all to a wonderfully civilized backwash of Bach and Vivaldi.
It was the perfect backdrop for these pleasant, spritely, home counties scents.
The hostess with the mostest.
Givrine is intensely, shockingly pretty: a modern re-orchestration of a 50’s Coudray creation with a lovely sheen of hesperidic fruit and floral notes, in the brightest, shiniest aldehydes possible, almost maniacally intent on being more immaculately house proud than thou.
Not a brainwashed housewife though, like some recent releases , because underneath it all is a clever, light, catch-me-if-your-can femininity; a devil-may-care spriteliness that is quite refreshingly sexy.
It is perfect for feather dusting and other games during your annual spring cleaning.
NOTES: Bergamot, kumquat, watermelon, aldehydes.
Peony, lily of the valley. Musk, blond woods.
AMBRE ET VANILLE (1935)
Soft and sweet as a baby’s bum, this fluffy, powdered, honeyed scent is one of the few vanillas I know whose raison d’être is not sex. While still significantly kissable, Ambre et Vanille suggests snug, clean, homes; children tucked in bed, and brand new cotton pyjamas. A perfume for the bathroom dresser or any of your preferred comfort zones, Coudray’s creation is a truly happy scent; sweet, yes; but delectably innocent, gentle and lovely.
Head: sweet orange, bitter orange, ylang ylang.
Heart: cinnamon, heliotrope, iris, tonka.
Base: vanilla, amber, patchouli.
JACINTHE ET ROSE (2003)
Jacinthe Et Rose is a young Emanuelle Béart on a cold April day getting herself ready for a day in Paris: out of bed: rouge à levres, white blouse, tweed suit. The scent is marvellously dualistic: at once crisp, coquettish and innocently flirtatious (a clean, magic note of hyacinth and rose), yet casually sensual in the manner of all the best French perfumes.
Underneath the floral top notes is an earthier, sexy, yet extremely subtle dry down reminiscent of the great No 19 (Chanel), the whole amounting to a beautiful, lithe, and effortlessly chic young girl. Like all the Coudrays, reasonably priced and probably worth your attention.
NOTES: Hyacinth, bigarade, peach.
Rose, peony, orange blossom.
Cedar, vetiver, patchouli.
MUSC ET FRESIA (2002)
Musc et Frésia goes even further in the ‘eternal feminine’: a delicate, delicious concoction of rasperries, freesia and icing sugar, at first as light as a meringue, just as sweet, but with seriously erotic musc-driven undertones. There are few scents around as disingenuously jolie as this: I can seriously imagine it driving someone wild: a crisp and spritely, summery eau de toilette for budding Lolitas, sex-bombs, and pouting mademoiselles, so if you are ‘over the hil’l or you think it is in sight, I would possibly avoid it.
On the right temptress, though, regardless of such ageist nonsense, I have the instinctive feeling it might, if you are in the right silly, girly mood, work wonders.
Raspberry leaves, freesia, aldehydes.
Cyclamen, lily, muguet.
White leather, teak wood, musk.