I’ve mentioned before that I’m a city-dweller and a homebody with a very low degree of wanderlust. However, after the forced confinement of 2020 and early 2021, I felt the need to escape my urban surroundings and my daily routine for a few days. A few days at an inn in a wooded riverside landscape turned out to be just what I needed; even two hours’ travel from New York, there’s enough greenery and quiet solitude to shift my perspective.
Returning to my metropolitan perch, I found myself reaching for a few nature-themed, “green”-heavy fragrances that I’d gathered into a little pile earlier in the summer. They’ve been helping me to extend that outdoorsy mood a little longer, even as I settle down at my laptop with my window view of adjacent apartment buildings. Here are three I can recommend for sensory refreshment and mental wanderings.
Floraïku‘s In the Rain Eau de Parfum, like all Floraïku fragrances, is accompanied by a short verse: “Green water lily / In the rain / Opens up to spring.” Its composition includes notes of bergamot, cedar, woody musk, lentisk [mastic] and sandalwood for a “vegetal and powerful” impression. It’s certainly more powerful than I expected — it’s a surprisingly long-lasting citrus perfume, heavy on the bergamot, with intense green notes lacing the fruit and woods together. I wore it over Thymes Neroli Sol body lotion on a very hot day and felt happily fragrant all afternoon. The only thing about it that confuses me? Its name, or the connection between the fragrance and its name and poem. (I remember Kevin experiencing some similar bafflement over this issue.)
Régime des Fleurs Rock River Melody Eau de Parfum is even greener, with notes of sap, galbanum, ivy, bergamot, narcissus, rose, patchouli, cedar, sandalwood, amber and musk. It was developed by perfumer Christopher Niquet and suggests “a horseback ride in sparkling green Fontainebleau forest,” something I personally haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing, although that does sound very pleasant indeed. Régime des Fleurs’ fragrances have often taken flowers as their points of departure (hence the brand’s name), and florals are often culturally categorized as feminine notes, but Rock River Melody was designed with men in mind.
As a “portrait of gender that’s more maximalist than minimalist” (as a recent article in GQ put it), this composition does have a conventionally masculine feel — but, despite a big dose of super-green galbanum and musky cedar, its greenery doesn’t end up feeling like a “sport” cologne or a bar of Irish Spring soap. There are some subtle rose and white-floral notes peeking through all that lush foliage, and the wood is natural-smelling enough to frame this idyllic landscape without becoming a distraction. I kept trying to remember which early-2000s greens-themed perfume Rock River Melody seems to echo — Diptyque Eau de Lierre? Annick Goutal Eau de Camille (minus the honeysuckle)? Gobin Daudé Sous de Buis? I still haven’t figured it out, but Rock River Melody’s olfactory song keeps running through my head.
Lastly, I’ve spent some time with Homesick. (the period is part of its name), a scent created to evoke a “dual interpretation of homesickness: the tension between nostalgia and wanderlust…wet hewn-stone foundations, a mossy old-growth forest along a battered coastline.” This is the debut fragrance from the Observer Collection, a lifestyle-goods brand founded by photographer, designer, and world-traveler Robert Spangle. The Observer Collection is new to me, but I’m familiar with the work of Homesick. perfumer Will Inrig, who created Éditions M.R. Acide a few years ago.
Homesick. is a marine-woody fragrance with top notes of aldehydes, geranium, lime and marine notes; heart notes of ambergris, frankincense, iris and pine; and base notes of leather, patchouli, tonka and vanilla. (You can view the complete formula on the Observer Collection website; the fragrance is shown just below.) According to Will Inrig, it’s primarily intended to be applied to a handkerchief or pocket square or a watch band, or even a ceramic diffuser, although it can also be worn directly on the skin.
I spritzed a paper blotter with Homesick. and found myself coming back to it over and over. As promised, it sketches out a scene of water and woods. But it’s different from the sunny snapshot of In the Rain or the dense, cool thicket of Rock River Melody. Homesick. conjures up a briny low tide, driftwood encrusted with dried salt, cloudy skies, some storm-battered pine trees in the distance. Its complex character is partly due to the use of real ambergris tincture plus a heavy dose of the synthetic molecule Ambrinol; I’m not normally much of an ambergris fan, but here it works well to create a mood.
Homesick. is tenacious as well as evocative; a week after I’d spritzed that blotter, the fragrance was still very present. In the intervening days, I’d made my own trip to the river and the woods. I was pleased to find these scent-traces still waiting for me when I returned home, to aid me in prolonging the memories of that travel as well as the comfort of walking through my own front door again.
Floraïku In the Rain is available as 50 ml Eau de Parfum plus an accompanying 10 ml travel spray ($350 for the set). Régime des Fleurs Rock River Melody is available for pre-order as 70 ml Eau de Parfum ($225; samples are also available) via Régime des Fleurs. Homesick. is available as 50 ml Cologne ($200) at the Observer Collection website.