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Eau Fraîche – fresh and natural and summery – July 25, 2016

Eau Fraiche bottle  - monsillage.com

I remember the first time I smelled Eau Fraîche from indie niche line Monsillage. I was sitting across a table from Monsillage founder, perfumer Isabelle Michaud, in a café in Montréal and she smelled fabulous.

I asked her what fragrance she was wearing. She told me it was one of her own called Eau Fraîche. I could not get that scent out of my mind or my heart or my head. That summer, I was gifted a bottle – the first of many – and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
I live in a place of extreme temperatures, and I like it. What I don’t like are rules. Such-and-such is a winter scent or this one is a summer scent. I don’t disagree with such labels, I just find them confining and I end up rebelling against them. So, I have no trouble wearing a heavy-hitter in summer heat, in fact I think summer heat can really animate them. But sometimes I do want a scent with a fresh, natural lightness in the middle of a sweaty heat wave and that’s when Ms. Michaud’s Eau Fraîche is called into service.

‘Eau fraiche’ means ‘fresh water’. And as well as being a fragrance from Monsillage, it is also a fragrance category. According to the Guide to Perfume Types:
Eau fraiche is similar to eau de cologne in that the scent will generally last for up to two hours. Eau fraiche has an even lower concentration of fragrance than eau de cologne, normally only 1% to 3%. While eau fraiche has a low fragrance concentration, it does not contain a high amount of alcohol. Along with the fragrance, the remainder of eau fraiche is mostly water.

Eau Fraîche from Monsillage is in fact, an eau de toilette, which has a higher concentration of fragrance than either an eau de cologne or an eau fraiche. Got it? Good, because I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this Ms. Michaud’s summer stunner because of semantics.

Eau Fraîche opens fresh and vibrant from lemon-scented verbena sweetened by juicy mandarin. The second I smell it, I relax into it. Soon, the fruits make way for a note of aromatic, heady lavender to emerge. The lavender moves forward while the verbena recedes, playing a supporting role in the background throughout the developemt of the fragrance. Then the herbs show up – thyme, spicy and warm and rosemary, minty and woody. This is the phase I caught coming from Ms. Michaud that summer’s day. It’s what made her Eau Fraîche memorable for me. But when I started wearing it, I realized there was more to love. Like the lilac at the heart. Here it’s aquatic and soothing with the top notes shimmering above it. The base is woody base from cedarwood and vetiver, which also gives it some depth.

The drydown is fresh and soothing. A combination of ingredients in harmony and with a natural richness that make Eau Fraîche the perfect foil for summer heat. But what stands out to me is that it smells real and that speaks to the quality of the ingredients.

The first time I smelled Eau Fraîche was on a woman, but if I had smelled it on a man, the effect would have been exactly the same I’m sure.

Looking back on it now, I realize two things. First, Ms. Michaud is an immensely talented perfumer on the rise and second I should sit across a table from her more regularly. I end up smelling better after I do.

Eau Fraîche is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml.