Puckrik On Perfume

Katie Puckrik ON Mar 05, 2010 AT 9:00 am

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Reader Request: I want to buy my the new lady in my life a perfume that smells like a Thunderstorm.
By Katie Puckrik

Hi Katie,

I’m hoping you might be able to help me find a fragrance. A little backstory: my fiancée recently ended our engagement at the beginning of August. As a result, I am slowly re-entering the dating world and recently met a nice woman. Her birthday is coming up, and since it is very early in what is yet to be called a relationship, I want to get her something, but something small. This is where you come in.

She loves thunderstorms. They are one of her favorite things on the planet. I was on the phone with her tonight and she happened to mention that she had read about a perfume that smelled like the period immediately following a thunderstorm. I thought I heard her say “they were able to capture the ozonic (something) and make it into a perfume.” 

Perfume seems like the perfect gift for the situation I am in (new relationship and don’t want to give something that screams “I brought all my emotions from my old relationship and placed it with you!!!”). Plus, I would like to demonstrate that I am paying attention to the things she says, so I would really like to make sure I find what she is talking about.

So far my research has turned up Thunderstorm by Demeter (which I know does not have a lot of staying power). Am I on the right track?  Are there any other suggestions?

Thank you,

Well, that is certainly a tale, Jason! Congrats on getting back in the saddle. Your lady friend is right about the connection between thunderstorms and ozone. Apparently, the high voltage electrical discharge in thunderclouds creates ozone, which is carried to earth by downdrafts. And bizarrely, the same kind of electrical reaction occurs in photocopiers and laser printers.

The ozonic period of thunderstorm is specifically the period before the rain, not after. That afterglow smell of rain on sidewalks actually has its very own word: petrichor, “the smell of rain on dry ground”. But as those two odors go hand-in-hand, I’m just splitting nose hairs with my quibbling.

With all that to go on, you can point your umbrella in few directions. Demeter Thunderstorm would indeed be a sweet little gift. You’re right, longevity is not Demeter’s strong suit, but the scent is pretty holographic, and will provide at least 15 minutes of sheer delight until it’s time to spray again.

The most thunderstorm-like scents I can think of are by Comme des Garçons: Odeur 53, Odeur 71 and Dry Clean.

Dry Clean is almost pure ozone and conjures up the carbonated fizz sparkling off the top of Diet 7-UP, or smelling it another way, charged, lightning-filled air. Unfortunately, this one no longer seems to be available.

Odeur 53 is an ozonic soapy floral with a clean, pre-thunderstorm smell.

Odeur 71 is an ozonic woody incense with a wet-asphalt, post-thunderstorm smell.

And finally, a leap over a giant puddle from post-modern scents to a classic, “proper” perfume from 1906: Guerlain Après l’Ondée. French for “After the Rain Shower”, it’s a melancholy blend of iris, violets, herbs, and almondy heliotrope. This eau de toilette is not a dramatic reenactment of a thunderstorm, but an interpretation of the wistful mood a rain shower puts you in. Maybe wait for your first anniversary for whipping out the Après l’Ondée.

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