The Long Read: The Growth Of New Green Scents

Fragrance is going green, reflecting our need to be sustainable and our renewed passion for plants and nature.

If’s there’s one thing we can be confident about as we tiptoe cautiously into this unpredictable new year, it’s the need to be proactive with our actions to save the planet. Regardless of whatever else is thrown at us, and I’m sure we aren’t the only ones wearily braced for another impending crisis, adopting greener and more sustainable daily rituals and lifestyle habits – including our attitude to fragrance – is non negotiable for anyone who has an eye on living into the next decade.

It’s not coincidental that one of the biggest perfume trends we’ve noticed during Covid reflects our desire to be more planet friendly, NPD’s* recent figures state that 33% of consumers want to buy from brands that support environmental causes, so many fragrance houses are working hard to make themselves more sustainable (we wrote about it here). From mushroom grown packaging at Ffern, to in-store refilling stations and reusable bottles at diptyque for its best sellers, to more sustainably harvested ingredients at Floral Street, ’going green and sustainable’ is a driver for many new launches.

Even more interesting is the parallel move towards green scent profiles, with brands bringing out new launches that champion leafy herbaceous and botanical based ingredients that make you think of freshly cut grass, wide open, natural spaces and lush jungle foliage – with the odd herby stem thrown in. Perhaps this new influx of green scents isn’t surprising when you look at how passionate we’ve all become about nature, outdoor spaces and our own gardens over the last two, tumultuous years.

According to UK government data**, more than 40% of us now say immersing ourselves in nature and visiting green spaces is essential to our mental wellbeing since the pandemic. With a similar story in the US where, according*** to Forbes, 20 million Americans planted a vegetable garden for the first time during the pandemic

Green notes have a terrific range, they can veer from the refreshing notes of raw apple and cool cucumber through to smells-like-my-greenhouse tomato and geranium leaf botanicals, via more grounded and earthy smudges of damp moss and cleaner, fractionated versions of patchouli. There’s a lot for perfumers to play with.

And who can blame perfume brands for thinking we’d like to smell like our newly cultivated allotment plots or houseplant collection, particularly if we know it’s helping our emotional health. By surrounding ourselves with an olfactive version of an aromatic garden, we can hoodwink our brain into thinking we are outside and closer to an abundance of plant life.

Also, green notes are delicious and exciting. As well as reminding us of leafy nature, they can be as upbeat as sunny as citrus notes; think of that euphoric, almost medicinal rush of scent that comes off crushed eucalyptus leaves, or the intense, lemony tang from freshly picked lemon balm leaves. In the hands of talented perfumers, these natural verdant ‘highs’ make for vibrant fragrance vibes.

Green notes with crisp, clean characteristics also make the perfect palate cleansing fragrances to act as a seasonal circuit breaker between winter and spring, if you – like us – change your scents with your wardrobe. A swift spritz of one of these scents can help you elevate your mindset, helping you switch from wintery sluggishness to something more upbeat and hopeful. So with much to chose from, we’ve selected five of our favourite new green scents we think you should consider as starter scents for 2022.

Evernia by Ormonde Jayne – the mossy green with an elegant heart.

Regular readers will know we are already lifelong flag-wavers for Linda Pilkington’s Ormonde Jayne fragrances and her new Evernia, from the Signature Collection eau de parfum, which champions the oak moss note, is a winner. The lichen-y oak moss (latin name evernia prunastri ) is a rich and earthy green ingredient used in large quantities by perfumers of old in their chypre-style scents, where it acts as a scent fixer, holding the fragrance composition together.

The new fractionated versions of oak moss (where the skin-irritant molecules have been removed) have a cleaner aromatic profile and offer a modern anchor for updated versions of grown up fragrances. Linda has taken full advantages of this with Evernia by putting this elegant note centre stage.

On the initial spritz there’s a spiced green hit of euphoric cardamom, coriander and gently fruity pink pepper. There’s a host of florals listed as being in the heart, including rose, freesia and green-tinged lily of the valley, but they play a quiet, under-the-radar role here, adding depth and texture, but you’d shy away from calling this a floral. Instead, its the modish mossy thread woven through the velvety sandalwood, cashmere and musk notes that deftly hook you in.

Your first inhale feels like a walk in a deciduous woodland in early spring, where the trees feel like they are exhaling out their wintery bleakness and young ferns and mossy green shoots tinge the air with verdant hope. Not surprisingly, this fragrance has become an instant hit with Ormonde Jayne regulars, according to the brand. Voyeur Verde by Maya Njie – the wistfully nostalgic green

Maya Njie is deservedly becoming a go-to fragrance name, as her terrific and newish brand is discovered by more people. She’s recently launched with Net-A-Porter so her entire collection can be bought more easily by those in the EU, as well as in North and South America, which we hope will see even more scent wearers appreciate her contemporary-but-touched-with-nostalgia fragrances. We have to admit to having something of a girl-crush on Maya, having Zoom-met her back in 2020 and been hugely impressed with her quiet calm.

Maya’s fragrances are inspired by visual moments captured, with pleasing vintage-polaroid style, from when she was growing up in Sweden. She combines these artful snapshots with, as she describes it, ‘the soul of her esoteric Gambian heritage’ to create easy to wear and wonderfully modern, small batch, refillable scents. The new Voyeur Verde takes its cue from an old, faded Mercedes car, abandoned to nature and slowly disappearing under a weave of dense greenery and the heat of the Spanish sun.

The result is a warmly vibrant scent profile, anchored with a very light touch on leather and cypress notes that feel like they are gently pulsating under the midday sun. The verdant notes climb thickly over this car-interior scent like smudged, herbaceous tendrils, bringing the scent to life with wisps of sage, bergamot, rosewood and fennel. There’s ylang ylang and buttery iris, but the florals again take background roles, and its the botanical shrubbery that really shines, albeit quietly. Maya’s fragrances never seem to be shouters.

When wearing Voyeur Verde, its seemed to melt onto the skin like it was supposed to be there, with a very comforting, friendly vibe, it would be excellent layered under brighter florals, a bit like layering your herbaceous borders. A strong new addition to this burgeoning collection. Wild Meadow by Bamford – the rewilding green

If you require a swift shot of the outdoors; a herbaceous hit of greenness during the darker days of late winter, then nothing will quite hit the spot like a burst of Wild Meadow, by Bamford. Its clear and boldly green top notes of rosemary and lemony bergamot wrap you in such a feel-good hug it probably does you as much good as a massage at one of the brand’s luxury spa retreats. Well perhaps not quite the same, but you get our drift, it’s a meadow walk through a stylish, blossom-heavy Cotswold field in a bottle.

The fragrance reminds us of the appeal of No Mow May, organised by Plantlife in 2021, where the gardeners amongst us will remember we were encouraged to leave our plots of manicured lawns to grow longer, allowing wild flowers and grasses to grow and flower to encourage more insects. You could argue that Wild Meadow is re-wilding in perfume form.

Bamford put sustainabilty and mindfulness – particularly regarding the ingredients used in its products – at the heart of its brand right from launch, it was ahead of the sustainabilty game with its pared back, organic and natural strategy. The Wild Meadow and its sister green scent Woodland Moss both come in useful 10ml bottles, which are ideal for trying out the fragrance before you commit to a larger bottle. Synthetic Jungle by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle – a neon-bright masterpiece

For us, the most exciting new green fragrance of recent months is Anne Flipo’s beautiful, neon-bright Synthetic Jungle for Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfums, a scent that is so dramatically, vibrantly verdant that it should really glow on the skin. This is how you might fantasise that your most luscious, tropical houseplants should smell if you were to slice into their lush foliage, or what a forest-sized bunch of fresh basil, mint and lemon balm leaves might smell like if you were to scythe through their herby flesh to release a massive aromatic cloud of olfactive brightness. It’s a scent that really is a wonder of greenness.

We first properly appreciated Anne Flipo’s work as a master perfumer when in 2016, she created the Herb Garden Collection for Jo Malone London, allotment-fresh scent profiles all inspired by lesser championed botanical notes such as nasturtium, clover, lemon thyme and sorrel. They remain amongst our favourite ever Jo Malone London smells.

With Synthetic Jungle, she’s reached back to memories of the tended gardens she grew up with in France, taking inspiration from the abundant grasses, flowers and herbs. The green notes here are as clear and bright as sunshine, to which she has added swathes of headily scented hyacinth, itself a green floral and sprigs of lily of the valley, along with jasmine and ylang ylang, to make this the most floral of our selection, but in a supremely contemporary way. It’s a knockout scent, a blast of stimulating neo-nature and a joy to wear. Venise, from Le Grand Tour by diptyque – the transporting green

While we were all cooped up inside and unable to travel, diptyque helped us move around the globe via our sense of smell last year, with its Le Grand Tour collection, an olfactive version of a global voyage of discovery, launched to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary. The trip touched down in Paris, Greece, Venice, Byblos and Kyoto, capturing each sense ( or scents) of place in a candle or eau de parfum. Venise, our favourite of the limited edition eau de parfums, is inspired by the vegetable gardens of the Venetian lagoon and the secret gardens scattered around the city.

It is remarkable for its use of the unexpectedly rich and sensual bell pepper note, which it combines with tomato leaf and assorted citrus notes to offer up a beautiful earthy riff on allotment-style greens. The perfumer is Cecile Matton, who claimed in a recent Perfume Society interview that the green chypre accord was her favourite.

As we’re talking diptyque and Venice, this is no rough countryside veg-patch green, instead it’s a smooth and urbane take on the herbaceous story, somehow combining the earthy warmth of Venice’s sun baked, ancient architecture with the watery cool of the lagoon and the fresh lushness of the vegetation. It entirely captures the feeling of being outside, in nature and close to the earth.

Images by the talented Kate Anglestein

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