My brief holidays in Greece have come to an end and they have left this strange aftertaste. For the first time in my life I experienced Athens and Greece as a tourist. I do not mean that I felt a stranger of course, it would take a lot more than nine months living in Switzerland to erase all epigenetic information etched under my skin to achieve this. The best way to define what I mean is that from the first day I knew that my time there had an expiration date, something that usually defines the tourist experience. And since I am not a big fan of things that expire I had to distance myself from all of this. I kept making a mental note to myself that this is not where home is, Geneva is home now. I managed to escape this escapist compulsion only when I left Athens for a five day stay on the island of Spetses. Only there did I manage to lose track of the clock ticking. And it was there that in my new capacity as tourist I managed to smell the scent of summer in the Greek islands. It opens with thyme flowers and thyme leaves, a cross between lavender and rosemary. Pine needles and pine resin give it depth and an oriental fougère vibe. The dryness of the climate, the soil baked by the sun to powder, add a rough, woolly texture that I associate with fougère. I get hints of resins and an ozonic aura coming from the sea. In my 2014 flanker of the Scent of Summer the fumes of the rented bike (only locals are allowed to drive on Spetses, the rest move around on rented bikes and hired horse-drawn carriages) added a hint of black leather. As soon as the sun began to set, the salty humidity of the sea started colonizing the dry land. Every golden twig of dry grass was kissed by it and revitalized. As the night fell a sweet hay note was added to the Scent of Summer, honeyed and herbal. Whiffs of jasmine passed unexpectedly making this more of a floral oriental. The Scent of Summer on a Greek Island, both in its Day and Night versions, are not warm weather scents. They are narcotic, sweet and resinous.
I am quite trained by now in the downsizing selection process so I easily chose to take with me only two bottles, Parfums Divine L’Homme de Coeur, a favorite for summer wear, and Parfums Montale Vetiver des Sables. This is one of the least known Montale’s and quite a polarising one. It gets a lot of bad publicity for being synthetic and for not being so much about vetiver. I have accepted and embraced however that most Montale perfumes have a bright, technicolor palette. Some perceive this as a synthetic quality. Without trying to defend the characterisation, I perceive them as vibrant. Vetiver des Sables is not the exception to this rule. Sandflowers is! Vetiver des Sables opens with a very cool but brief citrus note, rounded by calone. Very quickly a pleasant iodine note is evident. This is nothing like the iodine monster from the deep seas that characterises Annick Goutal Vetiver. This is much closer to the smell of the Aegean sea breeze. Cool and energising. Then there’s vetiver but this is one of the tamer versions of this note. It is not smoky, nor dirty nor very green. This is a dried vetiver. I have read that vetiver is woven into screens hung as curtains which when sprayed, exude the energising aroma of vetiver. I have always wanted curtains like these for my home… Vetiver des Sables smells exactly how I imagine them to smell. There is a distinct hay note in this one, very well balanced, that never goes as far as smelling honey-like. Together with vetiver they create this woven screen effect, this cooling sensation of being overcast by shadow after a long walk in the sun. Mahogany plays an important role in this. I wear Etro’s Mahogany and I have learned to pin down this note thanks to it. It is bitter and polished at the same time, one of those woody notes that carry the shine of their polish as well as the natural grain of the wood. What I find quite unique in this perfume is its tactile quality. Without being cloying, it is the exact opposite of ethereal. In a way it reminds me the Scent of Summer on a Greek Island. Editions past, present and coming.
Notes from Parfumo: Spices, Mahogany, Seawater, Vetiver
Notes from my nose: citruses, sea breeze, vetiver, hay