Friday, 28 February 2020

Easy listening with harmonious chypres

I have a passion for the easy listening music genre. I still love to dance myself daft to some grizzly drum and bass or steep a dark mood in the haunting howls of Beth Gibbons. But there is a peaceful joy in the honeyed jazz of Henri Mancini or the soulful samba of Brasil 66 from Sergio Mendes.

It’s all about mood. 

Moody marbles - it's a thing now

Our moods fluctuate. At times there may be euphoria, excitement and thrill or darkness, anxiety and melancholia. We hope for contentment punctuated by frequent moments of joy, but the reality is that much of the time we are in stasis, a state of unremarkable equilibrium as we go about our daily routines and habitual behaviour. 

Easy listening complements that equilibrium. 

When I prepare for a night out, I consider my scent choice with great care. Do I want to ooze glamour? Or lay a scented trail of indie quirkiness? Do I want to immerse my companion in a cloud of exotic spice? The selection of a special occasion scent is pleasurable, and one of the reasons why many fragrance lovers own far too many bottles of perfume!

When I consider my own collection, these ‘special’ fragrances are not my most valued. I often fear for their molecular breakdown as they are worn so rarely. I buy the smallest bottles available and store them with the care of a Museum Curator. I don’t own many.

My true love lies in my easy listening scents. The bottles that I can reach for early in the morning, those that will anoint me with companionable grace. Throughout the day I will catch gentle whiffs as they harmonise with my surroundings rather than shout for attention.  

My most melodic easy listeners are the classic chypres: Guerlain Mitsouko, Chanel Cristalle and Clarins Eau Dynamisante. There’s a theme here, they all smell natural. 

Mitsouko and Cristalle both feature an earthy dollop of oakmoss and lush layer of fruit. The mossy undergrowth is reassuringly grounding, the fruit, cheering and summery. They are the opposite of a Northern Winter. Whilst Mitsouko is warm, subtle and sensual, Cristalle is vibrant and full of daylight. Both have the capacity to be sprayed through my skin into my soul. They feel like me.

Oakmoss - prozac for witches

I rocket through bottles of Eau Dynamisante, at least one supersize Scarlett flacon per year. It’s the only bottle that I keep in my bathroom, safe in the knowledge that I’ll have used it up before the light and the humid heat can get their molecular meany mitts on my scent. Nothing refreshes like Eau Dynamisante and I will never be without her. 

A browse through the forums of Fragantica or Facebook often reveals threads where members ask ‘how much is too much?’ Or ‘when does a hobby become an addiction?’.  The answer is a personal one, we all know what we can and can’t afford to buy, what we can realistically use up before it turns and what will make us feel joy rather than guilt. 

When I observe my own collection, I see fragrant friends, the number of easy listeners far outweigh those that will only anoint only ‘the right’ mood. These infrequently worn exotic beauties are loved, but ruthlessly edited. I am happy in the knowledge that I will actually wear most of my perfumes to the end of the bottle. Maybe this is the answer to a carefully curated collection? 

Henry Mancini breezes easy in the med


  1. I have a tendency to buy “special occasion” perfumes more often than the “regular wear” ones: since I go mostly for high-end perfumes, while I don’t need any more of any kind, it’s easier to justify spending money on some special projection bomb rather than on a quiet skin scent.

  2. Hi Undina,
    Good to hear from you. I think lifestyle has a lot to do with my current taste for the gentler scents. I get up so early for work that applying one of the fragrant giants would feel like eating a full roast dinner for breakfast. Maybe I need more nights out!

    1. Wait... I didn’t say I had where to wear those ;) I wear quieter perfumes to work as well. And then whenever I have a special occasion, I have a hard time choosing. And still... Well, at this stage of my perfume life it doesn’t really matter what I buy if I buy: I’m beyond the point where I need any new perfume of any kind. I just thought it was funny that I felt this way when buying unnecessary perfumes.
      But you definitely should have more nights out! (And so should I :) ).