A friend who regularly sends me perfume samples recently asked me what I thought of the Prescriptives Calyx that she included in her last package. It was the perfect question to ask a woman who has been in a funk, wearing Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khän for perhaps too many days in a row (though in truth, I wouldn’t mind wearing it for another week or two, I love it that much). But Calyx is not the kind of fragrance one wears in a funk, and as different as it is from Muscs Koublaï Khän, this too is my kind of perfume: a sparkling green chypre encompassing both fruit and floral notes—very feminine; very refreshing, upbeat and beautiful. It is the kind of fragrance that defies heat, drowsiness and fatigue of any kind, so why should it shoulder a bad mood? Let me tell you, it won’t even consider one. As such, it’s the perfume that has helped me get myself turned around again. I’m sure that if it could talk, Calyx would prefer to be my olfactory companion to garden parties, outdoor summer concerts and fancy beach weddings on the Cape, but for the time being it has silently consented to accompany me on my daily runs. Yes, Calyx is my running perfume—at least until my sample runs out.

It might seem pointless and wasteful to wear a perfume while running, considering that profuse sweating and an après-run shower makes for a very short wear-time. But when you’ve already got enough perfume to float a boat—and especially when this particular fragrance enhances one’s appreciation of nature, boosts flagging spirits and makes one feel indefatigable—then it seems more than appropriate to use it in this manner.

That Calyx is produced under the brand name Prescriptives is right and fitting: for me it’s an antidote to self-centeredness because it seems bent on pointing out beauty at every turn—its shimmering green notes making me hyper-aware of the growthiness of the farm fields that I run; of the bamboo-like beauty of corn stalks and the herringbone-pattern of leaves on the black walnut trees; of the tangle of wild grapevines that so thoroughly entwine themselves along abandoned fence rows and tree lines, I can’t help but think of them as gypsy plants, wandering and full of secrets, intent on guarding all the mysteries of the world. I love to run in these fields, where grass occasionally bumps up against gravel paths, along which the disturbed soil encourages pineapple weed to grow. When I trample through it, the air becomes perfumed with the scent of pineapple fruit and something resembling chamomile tea.

However, this does not tell you what Calyx itself smells like—which I assume you’d like me to tell you about without further ado, and which, as you might have surmised from my opening paragraph, is a much more manicured green scent, though there is something a bit wild and tropical mixed in with it, too. Calyx is the scent of lush green lawns and fizzy, peach-flavored cocktails, with a gardenia corsage thrown into the mix (though there is no gardenia or tuberose listed among the notes, so what I probably smell is lily). It’s the scent of your high school prom at the Elks Club, sneaking out of the clubhouse with your date and another couple to stake a claim on your own private green on the fairway, with a bottle of cheap champagne and a lot of laughter, telling jokes and making-out on the velveteen grass, not because you’re in love with each other but because you’re in love with your youth and the beauty floating all around you.

It’s the scent of peach daiquiris and fine Southern women and Spanish moss in the trees at a cocktail party in Augusta.

It is a scent that embraces both sunlight and shade, such that I tend to think of it as being representative of those hours just before twilight in high summer: that time of day when the sun is sinking, a light breeze kicks up, and the time seems right for pleasures of every kind: social gatherings, the prelude to an evening of light romance, or maybe just a stirring, solitary run through a sun-dappled green landscape.

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Calyx by Prescriptives was created by perfumer Sophia Grojsman in 1986. Per the Prescriptives website, Calyx is composed of top notes of grapefruit, mandarin, passion fruit, mango, papaya and guava; middles notes of freesia, muguet, neroli, rose, lily, jasmine and marigold; and base notes of oakmoss, orris, sandalwood and vetiver.

Calyx can be purchased online at the Prescriptives website, where a 1.7 oz bottle is currently $52. [Note: In the time since this post was written, Prescriptives reorganized its business and Calyx perfume is now sold under the Clinique cosmetics brand.

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July 13, 2011:

Suzanne's Perfume Journal

The Green Cure: Calyx by Prescriptives