PERFUME houses have leapt upon the new season like never before, releasing dozens of spring/summer scents for 2010. To help guide your choices next time you’re in Duty Free (assuming the ash cloud clears), we spoke to the poetic-voiced James Craven, perfume consultant and archivist of London’s top perfumery, Les Senteurs.
“This spring/summer is all about green scents, anything woody, or with exotic fruit. Think aqueous, not marine – the smell of lakes, streams, lagoons,” says Craven. The good news is that as long as it’s sensual and striking, it’ll work – “those straightforward fruity, citrus and light florals have been done to death and the world has moved on,”
“Right now, people want to get away from winter perfumes, away from that rich power type of scent. Anything with salty notes and coconut, palms and vanilla, brings on a sense of beachy langour.
“The salty note is what makes it like suntan oil drying on salty seawet skin – it sharpens it up, gives an exotic oily smell.” If you are going away somewhere exotic and hot, Craven recommends using a scent full of the flowers of the land, such as tuberose, jasmine, ambrose, and gardenia – “they really come alive” in the heat. And anything woody, or smoky is “heavenly on the beach” – while incense, heavy scented wood, and tonka bean “evoke clouds of wonderful smoke drifting down from temples.”
And when you’re in London, don’t feel you have to wear light scents all the time either. “There should be no reason why on a summer evening you can’t wear a rich, heavy scent, full of exoticism. Hot house florals, such as gardenia, tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, and frangipani are all part of that. You want something that suggests you’re wearing a flower in your hair.
“Obviously in the office, you’re less likely to go for the flower look. Here, it’s all about crispness: think lemon, lime, anything green. If it’s clean and crisp it’ll make you feel good, elevating your mood and helping get you on ball mentally – and it won’t offend anyone else. The scent in the office should be reminscent of a fresh linen skirt.”
You won’t find one scent for all occasions, moods, and times of day: Craven says a woman should have three as a bare minimum at all time. Duty Free here we come....
OUR NEW FAVOURITES FOR OFFICE, SUMMER NIGHTS AND THE BEACH
Best for the office
SPRING FLOWER BY CREED (£133, www. creedfragrances.co.uk)
Vibrant fresh green notes, combined with succulent fruit notes including peach, apricot, melon and apple over an exquisite heart of jasmine and rose. The dominant effect is enlivening lemon. Upbeat and pleasing, but sophisticated and feminine too.
212 ICE BY CAROLINA HERRERA (£34 AT ALL MAJOR DEPARTMENT STORES)
Feminine and sophisticated, the fresh citric top notes of bergamot and grapefruit will keep you alert all day. Softened with sweet floral middle notes of rose and red forest fruits, and delicate and sensual base notes of sandalwood and musk. “Aqueous”, “fresh” and “natural” sum it up.
HIGH LINE BY BOND NO. 9 (£100.00 AT HARRODS, www.harrods.com)
Based on smells of New York, this fragrance is being called a "metro-perfume". It conveys “a whiff of urban wildflowers and a hint of industrial grit, with bits of Tenth Avenue energy and Chelsea gallery style added to the mix” – think prairie weed, a sense of the Hudson River, citrussy bergamot, zesty Indian rhubarb, tulips, grape hyacinth and rose. Who new New York smelled so good?
Best for the beach (and après-beach)
PRADA INFUSION D'TUBEREUSE (£47.50 AT ALL MAJOR DEPARTMENT STORES)
Perfect for an Asian retreat with a mix of Indian tuberose, Italian blood orange and frangipani. There’s also dynamone, an aromachemical with an ambery character derived from the Moroccan plant cistus ladaniferus. The overall effect is relaxed, sophisticated and sensuous.
GELSOMINI DI CAPRI BY CARTHUSIA (£72 AT SELFRIDGES, www.selfridges.com)
Jasmine and Egyptian geranium, clove and ylang-ylang from the Comoros islands give an exotic feeling. Middle notes blend Moroccan zagara and Texan cedar wood, culminating in musky amber notes of French beeswax, vanilla and Turkish rose. Good for pretty much any beach you might go to.
ROSIER ARDENT BY NEZ A NEZ (£98 FOR 100ML AT FENWICKS, www.fenwick.co.uk)
A flirtatious scent anchored around the delicious ripeness of plums, about which swirls sparkling star aniseed, warm cloves and cinnamon plus jacaranda, cedar, leather and musk. Playful yet seductive – perfect for warm skin and cocktails.
Best for summer nights
FLEUR NOCTURNE BY ISABEY (£130 AT LES SENTEURS www.lessenteurs.com)
A rich but delicate fragrance based on a classic. The top notes burst with white peach, apricot blossom and mandarin; the heart is a blend of jasmine, magnolia and gardenia prolonged with a base of patchouli, amber and vanilla. Evocative and
THE VICTORIOUS REJUVENATING BY BOADICEA (£85 AT SELFRIDGES,
Iris root concentrate is mixed with vanilla and blended with cedarwood and sandalwood to create a revitalising scent – enlivening in the heat (like all Carthusia perfumes) but also exotic and alluring.
BLACK FLEECE BY BROOKS BROTHERS (£95 FROM BROOKS BROTHERS, www.brooksbrothers.com)
A first foray into women’s fragrance by the menswear gurus, this potion is infused with amber crystals, molten incense and precious agarwood, modernized with an edgy twist of gilded citron and Asian star jasmine. For a confident, professional woman who loves the heat.
Pick of Summer’s New Scents
L’EAU BY SERGE LUTENS
(£96, Les Senteurs, www.lessenteurs.com)
“It has over 200 different ingredients and smells of woods, fruits, and that lovely salty note. Reminiscent of cold, iced peachy lime and green tea. It’s cool and sophisticated, sexually ambiguous.”
NINFEO MIO BY ANNICK GOUTAL
(£51 at House of Fraser, www.houseoffraser.co.uk)
“This new one is a brilliant combination of fig, coconut and earthiness. Ideal for sultry evenings and the beach.”
VIRGIN ISLAND WATER BY CREED
“I'm very fond of this – the coconut scent is lovely. There’s bergamot, lime, mandarin, copra (the white inner portion of the coconut), jasmine, hibiscus, ylang-ylang, ginger, tonkin musk, white rum, and sugar cane limes. Holiday in a bottle.”
GARDENIA GRAND SOIR BY PIERRE GUILLAUME (£80, WWW.BOUTIQUE-PARFUMERIE-GENERALE.COM)
“A superb replication of a gardenia. As fresh as if just plucked from a bush – it’s velevety and light, and not oversweet. It’s a young scent, not matronly at all – and perfectly evokes tanned honey-coloured skin.”