Now that we are able, or will soon be able, to start going out again and enjoying summer evenings in public, as places gradually,slowly open up a little, country by country around the world, cautiously pretending we are hunky dory and untraumatized, that first gin and tonic dissolving some of the residual fear, it is surely the time to start letting rip with our perfume collections. It was all very well spraying away at home as a kind of anaesthesia, a way of blocking the world outside and sealing ourselves within our own safely scented cocoons, but we know in our hearts also that perfume is also a form of communication. A way to connect to strangers without words.

I am already half planning parties in my mind for later in the year; looking forward to seeing friends and talking to them unreservedly without always looking at their mouth shape moving from under their masks: the whole ritual of bathing, dressing, scenting, heading out. Forgetting myself for a while and entering another person’s space. Smelling nice. And not only in subdued and elegant perfumes – those that let you try to keep a level head during times of insanity – I feel like some humour and flamboyance, something more gorgeous, to bring out the more gregarious members of the set.

Today’s semi-randomly selected trio of scents I have woken up feeling like talking about are not at all a bad way to celebrate the newly sociable world we will soon be re-entering.. Matiere Premiere’s Parisian Musc is a rather simplistic, but quite immediate, blast of what smells like figgy coconut but what is actually a syntheticconglomeration of ambrettolide, ambroxan, musk mallow, or ambrette, all wrapped around a fuzzy centre of Virginia Cedar. It puts me in a good mood; the D likes a daytime musk, and this worked well yesterday – just one dab to the wrist creating almost nuclear levels of sillage throughout the house as he ran up and downstairs and all around doing filming for his latest project: within an hour or so it had gone completely, and it wasn’t the most elaborate concoction, but I can still imagine him using this one as a social lubricant : just a dot to the skin before a meet-up with friends, and the transparent barriers that divide (particularly given that people have been so isolated and for so long, a little wary and trapped within their own membranes ) will immediately be mollified and softened. This is a friendly perfume.

Another genial fragrance is the new Lost Alice by Masque Milano, which also to me smells like a musky coconut (it must be this ambrette which has been very du jour for quite a while now; binding the biscuit in a way that threatens to take over any subtle flavours that allegedly lurk therein), in this case English Tea, Steamed Milk, White Roses, and other allusions to Lewis Carroll’s young heroine as she navigates the Hatter and all the other nutters at her hallucinatory party in the woods. While some reviews of this pleasant gourmand see visions of entire raspberry scones and teahouses, I myself smell something more akin to a Body Shop oil or a toned down version of Lush’s sandalwood-tastic Vanillary. Textured, but a little too fixed. Still, it is quite nice, cute, if a little monolithic, which wouldn’t nevertheless stop me from smelling it on someone walking by me at a restaurant and smiling quite contentedly. I know she might bring something new to the table: while my skin tends to bring things back to the basics, others bring out more faceted intricacies.

What I love about House Of Matriarch’s Coco Blanc, summer in a bottle, is the fact that it doesn’t pretend to be a conceptual compendium, relying on any gimmicks or superfluous ingredients or conceits to get straight to the point – which is a lovely natural sandalwood vanilla with a breezy cream of coconut and white chocolate running through it that is ethereal rather than sickly: the second you smell it, you either have the immediate desire to wear it, drink it, or, resisting its massoia milkiness – for me, this lactonic quality works perfectly, like solar oil on suntanned skin; others may find it a little too……….delicious; at least enjoy it immensely on another human walking by: there is something gorgeously, sarong-drifty exuberant about this scent: warm: a real mood booster. A perfume truly made for skin. For living, not for thinking. The time for mingling again, on beaches, at bars, on the streets, will soon be upon us: and if people smell like this, like any of these perfumes I am mentioning today, actually, I will be nothing but all for it.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Robin

    Oh, what a (cautiously) celebratory mood you’ve just put me in, dearest Neil.

    This was just what a needed to read. Talk of going out, being social, getting ready, choosing fragrance, being fine with easy, friendly, mood-lifting smells. No analysis required. Good god. I feel like I’ve been in a kind of purgatory, now that I think of it and contrast it with this. “Genial fragrance.” I love it. I’m feeling genial, dammit! Bring on the near-normalcy. With a side of white chocolate, musk or coconut.

    • XX X


      We are no way near that, but I was out for a cans on the street night out two weeks ago and was genuinely moved by HIS SKIN and the Dior Sauvage edt he was wearing ( and which I didn’t recognize : I had to ask….)

      It was captivating, like some new language of the capillaries and sweat glands.

      • Robin

        A bit like learning to live all over again after being in a state of suspended animation, comatose. Or, for some reason, a snake analogy popped into my head. Shedding our old skin, out in the world newborn and sensitive.

      • no really.

        It will actually be like that.

  2. Ethereal chocolate was what I was expecting when I first tried the horror that is Angel. Coco Blanc sounds like a lovely replacement for my Guerlain Terracotta. Even if I can’t go on a tropical vacation, at lest my nose can!
    My nephew was wearing Sauvage in the car yesterday as we were all being parboiled in the Monsoon weather. That raspy & lemony Sichuan peppercorn note really blooms on the skin in humid or dry heat.

  3. I am going out tomorrow to meet a dear friend for lunch, al fresco of course, and this will be my first time eating out in almost a year and a half. Now you have me thinking of what to wear for the occasion and I am drawing a blank, which is astonashing given the number of scents I own. /thinking of the Coco Blanc you mentioned made me think of Tiare by Comptior Sud Pacifique which has touches of coconut mixed in with the tiare flower, maybe that will be the scent of choice. We shall see
    Lost Alice sounds interesting though, wish I had access to it.

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