As we´ve complained ad nauseam, we’ve barely had a spring here in the east, only to suddenly wake up to ninety degree temperatures. It´s been a bit disorienting to say the least, but it definitely puts into perspective the approaching misery of summer. I say misery because my bikini beach days are decades behind me, and my mid-forties are fast approaching. That means loading up on sunscreen and setting the air conditioning at a temperature somewhere in the vicinity of meat locker. This will be my first Mid-Atlantic summer, so please feel free to inform me what I am in for. As of now, there is no escaping to north of the 49th for me, so unless I can get a cheap ticket to Antarctica (passage on the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin, perhaps?), I´ll most likely go crazy in the heat. And, I´ll be bringing along some of my favorite kitschy summer scents:
Creed Virgin Island Water: I never thought I would refer to any Creed scent as “kitschy”, considering they´ve been around since 1760, but this scent is a total departure for them. From the quintessentially feminine Fleurissimo to the bracing maleness of Green Irish Tweed, Virgin Island Water does not smell like a typical Creed scent. Even their more recent compositions like Spring Flower and Silver Mountain Water have that Creed signature something that Virgin Island Water does not. It is a tropical cocktail in a bottle, with notes of coconut, lime, white rum, bergamot, Mandarin orange, hibiscus, ginger, ylang ylang and jasmine. Is there such a thing as a “refined” pià±a colada? Virgin Island Water is a fun and easy scent to wear, regardless of your frozen cocktail of choice.
Bond No. 9 Coney Island: When I was a kid in Brooklyn, Coney Island had a somewhat dubious reputation. You didn´t go there for any reason but for a few rides on the Cyclone, the landmark roller coaster that the Astroland amusement park was famous for. After that, you hauled what was left of your cookies to Jahn´s Ice Cream Parlor on the corner of Avenue U and Gerritsen Avenue, and ordered their Kitchen Sink Sundae, which was 16 scoops of ice cream along with various toppings. A couple of plates of French fries would inevitably arrive at the table, to use in lieu of spoons. Hey – don´t knock it; think of it as dipping pretzels in chocolate.
None of Coney Island´s notes have anything to do with the Coney Island experience, but it still manages to strike an emotional chord in me. The combination of margarita mix, guava melon, cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, musk, vanilla, cedar wood and sandalwood might strike some as noxious. But, if you´ve ever gotten a whiff of the real Coney Island – Nathan´s hot dogs, ripe garbage and the polluted Atlantic Ocean, you´d beg for the bottle. I think it´s what I always wanted Coney Island to smell like, but it never did. Coney Island the scent makes me smile, and gives me a serious craving for ice cream and French fries. A ride on the Cyclone, however, would now be followed by a recuperative forty minute rest before I could even think about food.
Bond No. 9 Fire Island: If this one was named Bain de Soleil Orange Suntan Gelée, it would be instantly recognizable. Having only been to Fire Island once in my life, I have no memory of what it smells like, only that I was totally paranoid about going in the water and getting bitten by a shark. All these years later, I still can´t watch the movie “Jaws” without shuddering. The notes of cardamom, neroli, white musk, tuberose and patchouli don´t exactly scream suntan lotion, but I can´t think of a better interpretation of the iconic orange gelée than this one. It only has an SPF of 4, so anyone as pasty as me wouldn´t be caught dead wearing it. Thank goodness for Fire Island.
Marc Jacobs Daisy: The kitschy-est thing about this scent is the bottle; those white vinyl daisies on the cap instantly bring a smile to my face. And the green ones on the new limited edition bottle totally remind me of my family´s green vinyl kitchen chairs and white Formica table. Yeah, that kitchen set was the epitome of late 60s-early 70s stylish home decor. With the exception of the plastic slipcovers on my grandmother´s chesterfield, nothing hurt worse than having to peel myself off those chairs in the summertime. I think enduring simultaneous laser hair removal and a bikini wax probably doesn´t hurt as much. As for Daisy the fragrance, it just works in the hot weather. Not too fruity, not too sweet, just enough sparkly grapefruit to keep me happy.
Here are a few that are no longer with us, but deserve honorable mention:
Ava Luxe Coconut perfume oil: This was quite possibly the most perfect coconut scent I have ever smelled. It wasn´t overly sweet, and not at all plasticky. It had a boozy rummy-ness to it that gave it depth and personality. If you´re reading this Serena, please bring it back!
Majenty Hidden Cove: I can´t remember what the notes were, but this oil was a tropical masterpiece without the dizzying intensity of pikaki or gardenia. It doesn´t seem to be available anywhere anymore, and the bottle I had is M.I.A. Figures. Update: I’m trying to find out if the company is still producing the scents, or if they’re out of business. Their website is still up, but I’m not sure if it is active.
VIP Room: I have a bit left in the bottle I bought at Aedes de Venustas, and I could swear I had a backup somewhere in my stash, but no such luck. This was a limited edition scent named after the famous Parisian nightclub, and now it is nowhere to be found. The combination of leather and pineapple shouts insanity from the highest peak, but it is genius; even on the doggiest of summer days.
The title of this entry is from the song “Escape (The Pià±a Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes. My apologies for any earworms.
Image by artist Bella Pilar: magnetreps.com.