Maybe it’s because I’m British and I simply have no choice, but I love the rain. My favourite moments are those cold nights when one is all tucked up in bed as the rain and wind lashes against the house. Not to mention warm summer days peppered by hot showers of rain that bring a welcome breeze through open doors and windows. These rainy moments are some of my absolute favourites and we haven’t even discussed the smell! The odour of rain is mineral, but it’s also an atmospheric adaptor that relies heavily on the landscape around it. Summer rain on hot tarmac smells different from muddy winter downpours, and so on. The one constant however, is the fact that rain always smells and more importantly, feels beautiful.
In this piece I’ve selected five fragrances inspired by the opening of the Heavens, which we’ve certainly seen a lot of in the UK over the last few weeks. They range from the grey nimbus clouds that precede and promise rain through to storms in the summer and the city, all the way to the odours left by the rain as it moves on. Each and everyone presents a different idea of deluge and downpour, crafting through olfaction, the spirit of nature’s temperamental emotions. So prepare yourself for precipitation and a veritable storm of scented rain!
If, last year, you read my piece about perfumer Lyn Harris’ exciting new venture, Perfumer H, you will know that I was pretty much obsessed with the whole idea. There’s an organic authenticity to the house that is not only attractive but also incredibly comforting in a world of perfumes pushed solely by gimmicks. Lyn’s first collection was wonderful, but it is an entry from the Summer 2016 collection of scent that really has this blogger falling head over heels. That scent is Rain Cloud.
Rain Cloud is a fluffy and dewy orange blossom with a rich base of vanilla and vetiver. The whole thing smells delightfully delicate, with a lightness that is empyrean in its softness. Like many of the scents in this list, Rain Cloud does not smell like actual clouds (although I’d like to think that real clouds smell like orange blossom – that’s a happy thought) but it does have an overcast feel to it that is both melancholic and hopeful. Rain Cloud is the beauty of nature’s temporary greyness, executed in a positively pretty way.
Here’s a little back story about Rain, the standout in Marc Jacobs recently-relaunched Splash Collection. Before my husband and I got together I searched quite thoroughly on my quest for love, if you catch my drift. Amongst my numerous dates, there was one gentleman that I courted purely because of his fragrance, which possibly tells you more about me than you need to know, but also gives you a good idea of the power of perfume! That particular scent was Rain by Marc Jacobs and whilst that brief relationship never really got off the ground, my obsession with Rain stuck around for a very long time, through discontinuation to relaunch.
Rain is an abstract take on summer downpours, pairing an ozonic strawberry note with cut grass and musk. It is a hugely diffusive perfume that evokes the idea of ice cold rain heating hot tarmac. The steam that this creates is the diffusion of Rain and it smells utterly beautiful. What I like most about the fragrance is just how abstract it is. Sure, it’s aquatic and it certainly has a rain-like vibe, but on the whole it’s an imagined picture of deluge rather than a photorealistic snapshot. If one could 3D print the smell of rain, this is what you’d get.
Is it me or does the rain fall differently in London? Whenever I’ve been caught in a downpour in the city the whole experience has been intense, more so than in any other place. Perhaps its the whirlwind of activity that is the heartbeat of the big smoke that makes it feel this way – the buses splashing pedestrians as the drive past and the hoards of people hiding anxiously within bus stops and tube stations to avoid the floods. Perhaps it’s just the rush of the rain mixed with the rush of the city itself.
Jo Malone London’s Rain & Angelica is hands down one of the very best rain fragrances. Not only does it capture the glassy scent of raindrops, it also has an urban feel to it, evoking the idea of crowds of professionals marching through a summer storm. Rain & Angelica beautifully presents an abstract and sweet aqueous note that feels almost glassy, as if it is created by hardening sweet drops of water into delicate crystals, suspending the rain and maintaining its rounded shape. These hard drops of glassy rain smash as they hit the concrete, releasing a wave of scent. Yup, it’s wonderful.
No list of rain-centric scents would be complete without GUERLAIN’S legendary Aprés L’Ondée (After the Rain). In fact, a list of the greatest classics of all-time would be remiss not to include it. To me, Aprés isn’t a watercolour of a landscape after the rain, it’s more abstract than that. No, this fragrance is the olfactory equivalent of the mood of a downpour. With its ethereal iris, heliotrope and violet notes, GUERLAIN’S most wistful fragrance is a pastel-coloured snapshot of the reflective mood of rain. Smelling it, one feels contemplative but not sad, no, Aprés L’Ondée is far too beguiling for sadness.
It’s not just the smell of rain that is fascinating, gorgeous and transporting, the smell of nature post-rain can be equally as beautiful. Somehow the world feels different when the rain stops. Dew drops jump from plants and trees, steam rises from the ground, the air moves slowly in a sleepy pirouette, almost exhausted from the rush of atmospheric tears, and the ground burns warmly with petrichor. After the rain is a magic time.
Frederic Malle’s Angeliques Sous la Pluie (created by none other than Jean-Claude Ellena himself) was created to smell like a bouquet of Angelica flowers after the rain. No scent better captures the scent of rain-soaked vegetation as this one. It’s fresh and green but also peppery and gin-like. Sniffing it, one is transported to a lush garden under dark skies. The flowers are drenched in mist and the stone slabs hide under murky puddles. Where else is better than that?
Join the Discussion!
Tell me, Dear Reader, what is your favourite rain fragrance?
Image one and four are my own.