You owe it to yourself to look good
June '08
By Liz Armstrong

Everything we think we know about Queen Boadicea, the Celtic tribeswoman who led Britons in a revolt against Roman invaders in the wee AD years, is legend. Who her family was, what she really looked like, even where, exactly, she died is a mystery. She and her followers torched the hell out of London while on a rampage avenging the rape of her daughters, and shortly thereafter she was defeated. Design team Boudicca, founded in the spirit of the brazen queen, has turned everything we think we know about fragrance into legend as well. Equal parts perfume and thermoreactive invisible ink, Wode, as it's called—an olde and proper term for rabidly insane—sprays on in an alarming stream of inky cobalt blue, supposedly the color of the war paint Boadicea wore, attacking skin and fabric and anything else in its path. But it's eventually conquered by the human touch, fading into a colorless waft of hemlock, the poisonous herb Boadicea is rumored to have swallowed when she realized the Romans had won. It launches next month in Paris at Boudicca's showroom and will become available worldwide this fall.

When nature has started to bloom from a corpse, or you spray on the latest perfume in the Hermès Jardin series, a sort of bright sadness ensues. Un Jardin Aprés La Mousson (A Garden After the Monsoon, in case ne parlez pas le français), a cool-handed blend of cardamom, coriander, pepper, ginger, ginger flower and icy vetiver, wears sheer and sparkling as a Bob Mackie gown, once skin digests the breakfast-in-bed melon plate aroma. This quality is endemic to perfumer Claude Ellena's creations, and like the others in his Jardin series, its notes mingle just out of reach from one another, then overlap at the last second—just the kind of exquisite distance that those of us who like a challenging piece of ass find intriguing. Exclusively at Saks until September, at Hermès boutiques thereafter. $85 for 50 ml, $125 for 100 ml.
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb
A confession: we don't wash our hair every day. No, it's not a huge admission—we know almost no one lathers the scalp that often, and hair does look better tousled with a bit of mange—but that slight malodor wafting from our scalps on hot summer days is rather unacceptable. A spritz of Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb-scented Bomblicious Hair Mist ($40) leaves us less indigent—as in bums who's hair is twisted into a single revolting dread—and more fair maiden at the ball. Pre-order at Nordstrom.
Karin Herzog
The husband-and-wife team behind Karin Herzog hold the patent on oxygenating skincare products (if that doesn't impress you, one is the Nobel-honored genius responsible for inventing the respirator)—and they're totally no-nonsense, probably because it was born in Switzerland. Packaging frippery is non-existent, the website is chock-full of unpoetic science-talk and product names are minimal to the point of silliness. Take, for instance, Oxygen Face ($36), a refreshing, mildly antibacterial moisturizing emulsion that also works as a cleanser and a toner. Not only is it a triple-threat, in terms of regimen, it's also extremely low-maintenance. Do not rub me upward and out in small circles, it says. Just slap it on with minimal fuss and let it go to town.
Pierre Hermé
A candy store and liquor cabinet are united as one in a mold of wax, thanks to pastry chef Pierre Hermé, who's famous for his heavenly macaroons, and who applied his gourmand taste buds to candles (€26 or €38). No, you can't eat them, but with Herbe de Amandes, a fragrance that blends digestif and marzipan, you'll try anyway.