Summer scents tend to follow the same pattern – take your favourite fragrance and find a lighter version. This is why many perfume houses release fresher “summer flankers” that recast the existing perfume into a citrusy cologne or a fruity-floral composition. Nothing wrong with this approach, of course, but why not pick something a bit different? Summer is a good time to experiment with fragrances all over the perfume map, from sheer musks to bitter citrus.
One of my favourite summer musks is Diptyque Fleur de Peau (£115 for 75ml EDP). Like Aedes de Venustas Musc Encensé (€215 for 100ml EDP), about which I wrote recently, Fleur de Peau has a soft, cool character. This illusion is imparted by iris, a note that smells of iced roots and violets. Folded into the airy soufflé of musks, iris, along with another cool and metallic ingredient, ambrette, gives a bright and luminous quality. It’s a fragrance that follows me throughout the day and leaves a delicate sillage, enough to be noticed, but not enough to overwhelm.
To continue the soft theme, I recommend Alaïa Paris Nude (£67 for 50ml EDP). It’s another fragrance rich in musks, but it seems light, like swan’s down. Its cocktail of musks is blended with orange blossom and iris, unsweetened flowers that make this perfume mellow and polished. Nude is like a soft cashmere wrap or a silk camisole, if you will, intimate and elegant.
A gourmand fragrance may seem the wrong choice on a warm summer day, but Serge Lutens rarely follows the beaten path. Dent de Lait (£160 for 100ml EDP) is a treat with notes of almond milk, coconut and musk. Its sweetness is understated, however, never crossing into the threshold of the pastry shop. The fragrance teases with its delicious allusions and keeps me craving more.
To wrap up my selection with a more typical summer offering, I will choose Acqua di Parma Chinotto di Liguria (£66 for 75ml EDT). It’s a chypre, a fragrance style that relies on a combination of citrus, floral, woody and mossy notes. Chinotto is a citrus fruit essential for making Campari, and Acqua di Parma’s version is spiced up with cardamom and rosemary. Jasmine and geranium continue the Mediterranean theme, while patchouli darkens the edges. The bitterness of moss in the drydown plays up the shimmering citrus, reminiscent of the famous aperitif. When summer is over, Chinotto di Liguria will join my collection of scents that will transform any day into a sun- and azure-filled reverie.
Victoria Frolova has been writing her perfume blog boisdejasmin.com since 2005. Her explorations of fragrance touch upon all elements that make this subject rich and complex: science, art, literature, history and culture. Frolova is a recipient of three prestigious Fragrance Foundation FiFi Awards for Editorial Excellence and, since receiving her professional perfumery training, has also been working as a fragrance consultant and researcher.