Can we start this look at our favourite scents for summer with a bit of myth busting?
Tradition has it that, come sunny days, we’re supposed to want a light, airy fragrance that is often citrusy in nature. While we understand this desire for a fresh note to your scent-spritzing, it can be a little limiting. Of course a sparkling burst of lemon can feel immensely refreshing, and if that’s what you like, then go for it! But we’d also suggest being a little more daring.
To us, nothing smells more like a summer’s evening than glowing, sun-dappled skin sprayed with a sultry amber-vanilla note. Likewise a beautiful sunny day spent on the beach can be made even more magical with a hint of delicious incense. And if it rains, well then you need a unique scent to help you glow from within.
So we’d urge you to cast off traditional thinking and consider our edit of the best fragrances for summer, and beyond.
For anyone who dreams of idle summer days relaxing on an Ibiza beach, clad in a kaftan, bare toes pressed firmly into hot sand, perhaps after a spot of meditative yoga, this delicious powdery vanilla floral Cierge De Lune is the one for you. Inspired by the night scented Queen of The Night flower, this reminds us of warm, musky skin and sunshine. It’s a sensuous and dark, velvety vanilla, tinged with incense (top quality though, none of your cheap joss ticks here), exotic ylang ylang and a leathery-chocolate note that is slightly addictive, and makes you want to bend in further to smell more. It says ‘stylish’ but in a relaxed, elegant manner. Glamorous Bohemian sums it up nicely, We adore it.
If you feel more drawn to a well tailored jacket and a more minimalist, urban style-vibe, then this supremely chic, modern scent from Andree Putman is one to consider. Herby and fresh in its top notes, it has hints of coriander and black pepper to keep it lively and a gentle woody dry down to add stability and roundness. It feels cool and refined, like the inside of a contemporary art gallery or perhaps Phoebe Philo’s wardrobe (for the fashion crew). Designer Andree Putman created this scent back in 2001, and it has recently been re released, due, in part, to it being adored by original users. Absolutely gender-free, It’s the perfect white shirt in a bottle.
Sarah McCartney’s enticingly named fragrances are like a breath of freshly scented air blowing through the fragrance world and are particularly loved by some of the younger people we’ve interviewed. There’s something very modern and ‘real’ about her approach to fragrance construction, we are big fans of her work. Tokyo Spring Blossom started life being called Urura’s Tokyo Cafe, made for Sarah’s Tokyo- based friend Urura and her Green Ginger Cafe. Now one of her best sellers, the fragrance is a jammy floral, opening with a raspberry sweetness, tinged with a golden warmth, then it blooms into a cherry blossom heart with sunniness that makes us think more of summer than spring. It has a delightful eccentricity to it, with a creative streak that would appeal to anyone who wants to own a really interesting scent rather than follow the crowds.
One of our absolute favourite British perfumers, Angela Flander’s award winning Precious One is a classic, grown-up floral that says warm sunny days in a country-garden idyll, with clotted cream teas, happy children and possibly a gin and tonic to hand. There’s a heady bouquet of tuberose and jasmine flowers at the beginning, bound up with garden-green foliage and a hint of smokiness, possibly from a summer bonfire. It all sits on an oakmoss base that could be a walk thorough sun dappled woods, with mossy twigs and herby foliage crushed under flimsy summer sandals. If this were an item of clothing, it would be the perfect printed cotton sundress looking for a summer adventure.
For a more intimate approach to perfuming your skin, look no further than the pure perfume oils from Signature Fragrances London, one of the most interesting perfume-finds for us this year. Solomon Odegbune is passionate about his unique scented oils, with their rich, complex characters and clever way of surprising you with unexpected meanders as the scent develops on your skin. The have great longevity and come in breathtakingly lovely bottles. Lola, possibly our favourite, although there are many good ones to chose from, has an orange blossom opening, with a jasmine heart and all sorts of rosy, patchouli and honey tinged developments in between. The rich perfume oil is dabbed onto the skin with the glass stalk attached to the bottle stopper, a ritual that feels quietly intimate and romantic. It’s also a ‘greener’ approach to fragrance, with no alcohol sprays, totally reusable bottles and good value for money.
For a touch of full on, sophisticated summer glamour, Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne is worth considering, A beautiful, heady rose, constructed from the Ta’if rose grown in Ta’if, a town that sits above the Red Sea and overlooks the Arabian Desert. It is a sensuous and stylish perfume, beautifully balanced and quietly impactful. Linda Pilkington, who owns Ormonde Jayne and is another of our favourite perfumers, spritzes this generously, and we agree, ‘more is more’ would be our thinking here. She describes it as a perfume that loves exotic locations, parties, promises and assignations. The rose is enhanced by a touch of orange flower, lightly spiced with saffron and sweetened with a hint of date. All this sits on a base of glowing amber, which anchors it firmly in the ‘super-sensuous’ zone. What could say hot summer nights better than that?
Photography Kate Anglestein