Top 10 of Summer
No season should be allowed to pass without being honored by a Best Of list. So today some of us, perfume bloggers, (participants listed at the end of the post) teamed up to simultaneously post our Top Tens of Summer.
This summer, unexpectedly to myself, I fell in love with aoud-rose blends; I realized that the headiest, most sumptuous florals only truly blossom in the heat; and confirmed for myself once and for all that aldehydes are perfect in any weather. I can’t in all honesty say that I am much of a believer in seasonality in perfume. Granted, I haven’t been drawn to ambers and leathers in the last couple of months, but I suspect that is more to do with my fickle tastes rather than the temperatures outside. I intend to continue wearing the fragrances listed below when autumn comes (although as usual I am in denial about its imminent arrival)…as long as I still love them.
(In alphabetical order)
1) A Maze by People of the Labyrinths
Not being a fan (to put it mildly) of the original POTL scent, Luctor & Emergo, or of roses, I had serious doubts about even trying A Maze. I am so glad I opened my mind up a crack, because it was love at first sniff. The dark, luscious blend of roses, spices, woods and – I swear! - oud, is exquisite, sensual, blissful…I could go on.
2) Aoud Roses Petals by Montale
Another aoud-rose blend on my list, this is a simultaneously drier and, paradoxically, a little more delicate, dare I say, more girly rendition. Whereas I see A Maze as a contrast or rather, harmony of maroon and black, Aoud Roses Petals pairs black with pink. If you are afraid of wearing aouds in the heat, please, trust me on this, start with a tiny drop and give it a try before summer is over. The amazing sensuality of these scents really comes to its on when the weather is sultry…
3) Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle
…and so does the sensuality of white flowers. I have not been especially kind to Carnal Flower before, so watch me eat my words now. I think it is amazing and special. And I think I realized how beautiful it is exactly because I tried when the thermometer was about to explode from the heat. Its sumptuous, slightly mentholated, even more slightly coconutty sillage is absolutely gorgeous.
4) Chanel No 22
One of my favorite aldehyde scents, one of my holy grail scents in general, this beautiful classic is appropriate in any weather, any occasion, any surroundings. A true lady of a scent.
5) Diorama by Christian Dior
Everytime I put on Diorama I am filled with a sort of trepidation, which comes from being in the presence of greatness. To me, this sublime blend of dazzling flowers and animalic base is one of Edmond Roudnitska’s most divine creations.
6) Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle
Another one of my favorite aldehydic fragrances. Its shimmering, velvety, sensual composition is nothing short of olfactory perfection.
7) Le Maroc Pour Elle by Andy Tauer
I wear Le Maroc with much pleasure during the day, but this luscious, fiery, slightly indolic jasmine-rose blend is my perfume of choice for the sultry summer nights. In my feverish imagination, the sensuous scent transforms me into a Veronica Lake-like seductress and turns the surroundings into a set of an old, romantic Hollywood movie.
8) Mea Culpa by Les Parfums de Rosine.
It is said that one of the healing properties of tuberose consists in its ability to bring serenity to the mind and heart. That is certainly true about Rosine’s sun-lit (and sadly discontinued) creation. Its dazzling, warm aroma comforts me and lifts my spirits.
9) Une Fleur de Cassie by Frederic Malle
Ropion’s enigmatic creation is one of the scents I’ve been wearing the most this summer. I say, “enigmatic”, because it is incredibly soft and yet harsh, sunny and nocturnal, a beautiful paradox of a perfume.
10) Vintage Gardenia by Jo Malone
The naturally-creamy scent of gardenia is underscored here by the presence of myrrh. I find the combination irresistible. In general, I love it when gardenia is paired with a contrasting, darker note. Another example of such combo would be Tom Ford’s Velvet Gardenia, which by all rights should also be on my Top 10 list.
Choosing ten favorite summer scents is not as easy as you would think: I think that making a light but really interesting scent is truly one of the hardest things for a perfumer to pull off. Some try with just a bit of citrus, a touch of sweetness and a bit of wood, as if they had just diluted something that wasn't too interesting to begin with. These ten, some new and some old are certainly not going to be construed as falling into that trap. Since we have mostly covered them extensively (what with them being favorites and all) I will only briefly describe them, and they are only in some order of notes; I love and reach for them all equally in the heat of summer.
First, the citrus group:
1) Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien
The first Niche fragrance I ever smelled back in the dim, dead 80's at Bergdorf Goodman. As refreshing on a hot day as a cool citrus rain, this is perfection in a bottle. For me winner and still champ as the best citrus ever, and way up there in the pantheon of best fragrances ever.
2) Annick Goutal Eau de Sud
Leave it Annick Goutal to come back years later with a worthy counterpoint to the butterfly kiss of Hadrien: the peppery citrus of Eau de Sud is also wonderful. It's a sultry evening where you just melt into the warm twilight, a cool drink and a view of the moon on the water.
3) Acqua di Parma Colonia
More bracing and buttoned-up than the last two, this is the sort of scent that men or women can wear to the office, the playground, the boardroom or the beach and never be less then wonderful smelling. Cary Grant wore it. Don't we all want to be Cary Grant?
4) Hermes Hermes D'Orange Vert
Another one that I've never written of? What was I thinking? Hermes introduced this in 1979, at the time when most fragrances were as heavy as a Peterbilt and about as refined. A perfect blend of citrus, fruit and the barest whisper of oakmoss, this is a trip to the Riviera in a bottle.
Now a bit of spice:
5) Andy Tauer Reverie au Jardin
On a sultry day there is nothing nicer than lavender, and it's hard to think any could possibly be as refreshing as the cool mountain lavender in Reverie au Jardin. There are other gardens of course in this reverie that are equally suited to cold weather, but on a hot day that transportive chill is especially welcome.
And on to the vetivers:
6) Guerlain Vetiver
Guerlain's Vetiver is of course a classic: the gold standard of vetiver. It is also a truly brilliant bone-dry cocktail of a scent that like Acqua di Parma is as at home in a boardroom as it is on a boat. If Parma is Cary Grant, then Vetiver is Gary Cooper. How bad could that be?
7) Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel
Lyn Harris' newest and one that has completely taken me over. Dry salts that never get to the dreaded aquatic and cool vetiver: the scent of green waters lakeside and dappled shade. This will be in my cupboard just as soon as Saks in Beverly Hills gets it in, which better be damned fast...
8) Frederick Malle French Lover
Some days in summer you just have to dress up. Since summer is of course usually blazing this means white duck pants and a polo shirt or seersucker blazers. Nothing better to go with that than French Lover (I point blank refuse to call it Bois d'Orage): it has the solid, bankerly feel of a rock-ribbed Republican but with a poet’s heart. It simultaneously dresses you up and slyly dresses you down.
And two that absolutely should not work in summer, but absolutely do:
9) Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque
You might think that I have lost my mind: I wrote about 9 months ago how it was all smoky fruity goodness, curling up in a chair by the fire. But do you know what? That review was written in uncommon November heat, over 90 degrees. I still loved Fumerie Turque when the mercury hit 60 again, but I think its true magic is that it transports you to that fantasy mansion far more effectively in heat: it's closeness to the skin, lack of sillage and (for Lutens) fleeting character works far better on a hot day than a cold one. You're in that mansion, by that fire, and loving it..
10) Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
Now you are sure that I have gone completely bonkers, but hear me out. Serge himself lives in Morocco, and there surely cannot be a more sultry place on earth. I love using Ambre Sultan in the winter for it's touch of the souk on the drab rainy days we get here in Los Angeles, but this one really sings in summer: those gorgeous spices and that slightly sticky amber go from a memory of heat to a vital, heady, gorgeous, living thing. Of course I personally don't wear more than the barest touch, but women can surely get away with more in the evenings and should: don't default to Eau de Nothingness because the evening's sultry. Get a little sultry yourself!
Please also check other Top 10 of Summer lists:
Bois de Jasmin
Now Smell This