The best of our fragrance edit for late Spring falls neatly into two rough categories; lights and darks. As the temperature increases and blossom unfurls, we’re traditionally supposed to lean towards a lighter, brighter fragrance, and we have indeed been seduced by some exceptional citrus and green florals for this season.
However, there’s a movement in perfume towards deliciously dark scent scents with original and exciting stories that have nothing to do with the weather. A new type of storytelling is quietly changing the narrative in fragrance, breaking away from the tired marketing cliches of old. Instead there’s a focus on adventure and mischievousness, with little regard for the climate.
As ever, we’ve sniffed a lot of new releases and old favourites so you don’t have to. Here are what we consider the most interesting and delightful perfumes you should consider experiencing for late Spring.
Let’s start with the light brights…
Madagascan Jasmine by Grandiflora. Oh my, this is beautiful. A blast of pure jasmine flowers, imagined as only a florist could, with a fresh green-ness that makes you think you are immersed in the heart of a greenhouse or with your head in a bouquet of spring blooms. This is the third fragrance from relative newcomer Saskia Havekes, a renowned Australian florist, who recruited a nose with a good pedigree, Michel Roudnitska (his father Edmond created Diorissimo and Eau Savage, among others) to translate her floral heritage into perfume.
The burst of jasmine has longevity and richness, while remaining dreamily ethereal. The uplifting opening notes smell exactly as we imagine a florists, rich with a mix of crushed woody stems, aromatic leaves and that hit of take-your-breath-away tropical floral-ness that makes you want to move to Madagascar immediately. A complete joy and one which has swiftly transfered into our personal scent stash.
Shantung by Etro. If we could pick any designer to be granted a supermarket-sweep shop in, Etro would be high on the list. Its elegant way with a paisley print and tendency to use only the most deliciously covetable fabrics make it a luxury brand that is quietly stylish rather than shouty-clever with its clothes. Often fashion fragrances seem to have been made with completely different values and target markets in mind to the clothes (ahem Gucci, looking at you here), but with Shantung, Etro have kept the quality high.
This is a classy, elegant citrus, with a lemony start – think fat Amalfi lemons rather than that mean Jiffy sharpness – and a soft, unexpectedly rosy centre. It is a gender free ‘sharer’ of a scent, meaning it smells good on both sexes and is very likely to be ‘borrowed’ by your partner. Again, on our bathroom shelves already.
Soleil Blanc by Tom Ford. We’ve become slightly obsessed by Mr Ford’s Private Blend collection, having been talked through it by his team last month. Our weakness here at WWP is patchouli based scents, and Mr Ford does patchouli very well. This summer addition to his Private Blend range is like a very expensive holiday in a bottle; think private, sun-drenched tropical island beach (private, obvs), luxury loungers, a handsome waiter on hand bringing coconut based cocktails to your side, the gentle whiff of expensive sun tan cream and the promise of a stylishly good time.
Soleil Blanc is all of that, a creamy. dreamy amber base that evokes hot skin and ambiguous (but probably very expensive) florals. There’s patchouli in there somewhere too, we just know it. A very good summer smell indeed, I can’t help thinking this might be the perfect honeymoon scent and of course, good for men and women alike.
Coeur De Noir by BeauFort London. We interviewed BeauFort’s founder Leo Crabtree recently, his new range of dark, uncompromising, adventure-story led fragrances from the Come Hell Or High Water collection have been a delightful discovery. All three fragrances offer grown up men (and women) a chance to plunder their school-kid dreams of sailing into battle aboard HMS Trafalgar or risking life and limb and pirates on the Trade Routes of old. Notes of thunder, birch tar, smoke, gunpowder, rum and pipe tobacco abound in 1805 Tonnerre and Vi Et Armis, but it is the quieter, inky-based Coeur De Noir that has our hearts.
Leo used his own tattoos, his grandfather’s pen drawings of luxury yachts and his dad’s library of nautical books as inspiration here, mixed with notes of vanilla, rum and warm amber. We’re not the only ones to love it, Coeur De Noir was nominated for Best New Independent Fragrance in the Fragrance Foundation’s 2016 awards.
Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens. This fragrance came to our attention recently as a scent of some importance, in terms of fragrance history. Originally created by Mr Lutens as part of his first collaboration with Shiseido, the scent was considered ground breaking on its launch in 2009, due to its tough-feminine angle, a flora with a woody, fruity, spice angle that was a long way from the traditional view of a ‘feminine scent’. Now the fragrance lives in Serge Lutens’ own collection and has risen to almost mythical status as a best seller and star performer.
We love it because it is beautiful; slightly spicy and fruity on the first blast, but as if inhaled through a fine muslin veil. It is understated, elegant and subtle, warming on the skin into a honeyed cedar wood shot through with the vague-est hint of floral. We also love the gothic violet colour. If you were thinking of darkening your collection with a warm, spicy scent, start here.
La Belle Otero by Les Cocottes de Paris. There is something deeply appealing about the darker nature of the velvety violet, such a tiny flower in real life packs such a punch in olfactory terms.
This is another slightly gothic floral, a quirky mix of orange blossom, pear and lavender, beefed up with a punch of sexy violet and iris, then shot through with absinthe. Over the top of this unexpected mix is a whimsical dusting of authentic narcissus, the whole adventure is then grounded with frankincense (and we swear patchouli, but maybe it’s just us). Mad as it sounds, it comes together in a gorgeous warm mischievous fug of vintage, spicy violet that we find intoxicating and original, We feel a bit Eva Green in Penny Dreadful wearing it.