What are the best fragrances to wear when the heat of summer arrives? Many people prefer to remain unscented during summer or to wear a simple eau de cologne straight from the fridge.
But for me personally, a day without fragrance is like going out without my keys or my wallet, so when hot weather strikes, I opt for a perfume that is light and fresh, but still performs like a perfume – in other words, it doesn’t disappear in under an hour!
My top 5 summer fragrances are therefore all scents that are fresh enough to provide relief against the heat, and contain enough complexity to develop, change, and keep me interested throughout the day.
First up, we have my very own Sea Foam. I confess that I made this fragrance to conjure up very specific childhood memories of combing the beaches in Brittany for seashells and pieces of driftwood with my family. Very clean and dry, Sea Foam calls to mind the various facets of the seaside: the salt, the sweetness, the air, seaweed, the green smell of the sea grasses up on the dune and so on.
Sea Foam is a perfume that is carefree. As the sharp brightness of the citrus and herbs of the opening bank down, it reveals a beautiful seaweed note, moist with clean sea water and rich in minerals and salts. It smells like your shoulder tastes after a dip in the sea – salty, warm, and clean. When I am stuck in the office in London, tired and hot, I spray this on, and am immediately transported to a happier place.
Second, we have Eau des Merveilles by Hermes. This is an old stand-by of mine, and I’ve been using it since it first launched in 2004. Eau des Merveilles is a revolutionary perfume because it entices you with salt rather than sweetness. It has a famously upside down notes structure, where you smell the salty woods and ambergris –typically used as basenotes – first, and not at the end as you might expect. The orange notes are stronger at the end of the scent than at the start, which is unusual because citrus oils are normally so volatile that they burn off very quickly. I love this scent because it smells like salty, warm skin at the end of a day at the beach. But most of all, I love it because it’s made in a way that keeps me interested!
Third, I highly recommend sampling Bahiana by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, especially for those of you who love juicy citrus and creamy coconut together in one fab scent. With its tropical, breezy coconut feel, it does remind me slightly of Virgin Island Water by Creed, but Bahiana lasts far longer and is far less expensive. It has a beautiful mandarin topnote that I’m addicted to - slightly green, juicy, and joyfully natural. This one’s perfect for lying back on a sun lounger as the sun goes down and waiting for the cabana boy to bring you a cocktail.
Philosykos by Diptyque is a summer must-have for me. Pairing a dry, aromatic fig leaf with coconut and milky, sappy greens, this is a scent that is simply intoxicating to the senses. Every time I put this on, I feel transported to a shady spot in a Mediterranean village, under an ancient, gnarled fig tree whose branches dip down almost to the ground, groaning with heavy, ripe figs. It is simultaneously fresh (green) and milky, which gives it a silky lotion feel that I really love. For casual summer use, I recommend investing in a perfume solid of this – it pops into your beach bag easily, doesn’t spill, and isn’t too expensive.
Finally, I love Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Hermes, and like all of the scents on my list, I recommend it to men and women alike. Crisp, citrusy, and refined, this is a scent that focuses on the exotic things you might smell while travelling in India or Eygpt, such as warm, sweet mangoes, calamus leaf, bamboo, and lotus flower. What I love about this fragrance is that the perfumer chose to cut the exoticism of these notes with some very green, English-garden notes such as carrot and tomato leaf, which give the scent a very grounded, familiar air. You get home and away in one scent, and it is marvelous. Bravo Jean-Claude Ellena!
How about you? What are your top fragrance picks for the summer heat? I’d love to know!