As it stands, fragrance isn’t really what you’d call one of life’s essentials; it’s a luxury we can live without, just fine. But that depends on how much you value smelling good.
Fragrance has an often intangible importance of what it does for us in our daily lives. A quick browse around the department store perfume hall and it’s amazing which memories can be brought back with the merest whiff of a scent: your favourite teacher, the boss from hell, first loves, misspent youth and, poignantly, those who are no longer with us – all perfectly preserved in a kind of olfactory time capsule. Smell is a powerful sense and can lift us when we feel sad, comfort us when we need reassurance, and help attract the ones we want.
When we first start wearing proper scent, we’re not even aware of the impact it can have on others and how quickly it can form part of our style. Therefore, it’s an important thing to get right. It can be a challenge finding the right one, and an over-saturated market doesn’t make the choice any easier. Our best advice is always test it on the skin (paper blotters don’t give an accurate impression) and sleep on it. A hasty purchase is a risk, because until you’ve experienced the dry down of a scent you can’t be sure you like what you’re buying.
Helpfully, we’ve compiled a list of sure-fire winners being released this spring/summer, which should confidently start you on the path to a well-scented season.
Byredo fans can be sure they’re going to get something unusual whenever a new scent drops. Their latest offering, Sundazed, is inspired by the heady feeling after a long day at the beach. It has a mandarin and lemon top, with a neroli and jasmine heart – so far, so typical summer scent – but the base hits you with cotton candy and skin musk. Perfectly capturing those lazy holiday vibes of sun tan oil, seaside sweets and sun warmed skin – like a mix of guilty pleasures.
Price: £110 for 50ml Eau de Parfum.
Available: 25 April at byredo.co.uk
For their latest scent, Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz looked to their own back garden for inspiration. This super-green “anti-floral” fragrance is a celebration of the underdog aromas that get overlooked for the big blooms but it isn’t a flower-free zone. Cut stalks and stems, living flowers and plants are conjured by top notes of mandarin leaves, wild freesia greens and hyacinth with a heart of muguet flower stalk, rose centifolia stems and jasmine buds and a white cedar, vetiver and musk base. Stem is basically instant green fingers, even for those who never venture outdoors.
Price: £75 for 50ml Eau de Parfum.
Available: Now at Space NK
Having worked for some of the best perfume houses in the world, Laurent Delafon and Chris Yu joined forces to create Ostens. After an introduction to Laboratoire Monique Rémy, the supplier of the finest natural ingredients to the perfume industry, they realised they could bring high-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients directly to the consumer. The resulting collection of single fragrance oils and six collaborative eau de parfums from the likes of Dominique Ropion, Sophie Labbé and Alexis Dadier can be worn separately or together. Purists who want to slather themselves in the best rose, patchouli, jasmine and cedar wood should head here.
Price: From £85 for 50ml Eau de Parfum
Available: Now at ostens.com
What started as a little crush seems to have turned into a full blown obsession with Montblanc Explorer. It’s a collaboration between Givaudan perfumers Jordi Fernandez, Antoine Maisondieu and Olivier Pescheux and combines lead notes of perennial classics vetiver, bergamot and patchouli. Critics say it smells like a lesser version of particular scent from a certain exclusive French house; admirers say it’s decidedly more wallet-friendly. We say it stands up on its own as a versatile, easy day-to-night, year-round scent.
Price: £72 for 100ml Eau de Parfum
Available: Now at The Perfume Shop
Pasha de Cartier Édition Noire Limited Edition
As makers of the some of the best watches and jewellery in the world, one wouldn’t expect the fragrance line to be housed in anything too shabby. If you gravitate towards high-end glitz, the latest mixed metal limited-edition flaçon for the Pasha series does not disappoint: it’s inspired by the original watch style, and the black tip on the silver cap nods to the house crown. Okay, the scent remains the long-lasting, classy combination of amber and woods, but your inner magpie wants to add it to your shiny collection.
Price: £88 for 100ml Eau de Toilette
Available: Now at John Lewis
Les Colognes Louis Vuitton
It’s hard to pick a favourite from the new unisex collection from Louis Vuitton. Sun Song, Cactus Garden and Afternoon Swim are part of a new collaboration with artist Alex Israel and in-house perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud. The covetable packaging features distinctive graphics by Israel, including a wave motif inspired by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, in eye-catching colours: it’s a fresh look for the storied house. Sun Song captures the heady blaze of summer, using lemon and orange blossom over underlying musk; Afternoon Swim captures cool water on an oiled, sun warmed body; and Cactus Garden plays on dry and wet green notes to evoke the fleshy plant. Although named Les Colognes, they actually come in a longer-lasting eau de parfum format.
Price: £185 for 100ml Eau de Parfum
Available: Now at louisvuitton.com
Bentley Beyond The Collection
Another threesome vying for our attention is Bentley’s new trio of Wild Vetiver, Exotic Musk and Majestic Cashmere. They’ve gone to town on the packaging, with Lalique bottles that echo the design of the cut crystal headlamps on the Continental GT. Bentley has a reputation for putting just as much craftsmanship into its juice. For us, it’s a toss up between the earthy, cut grass scent of Wild Vetiver and the smooth and creamy scent of Exotic Musk.
Price: £165 for 100ml Eau de Parfum
Available: Now exclusively at Harrods and Lalique boutiques.
Gentleman Givenchy Cologne
The Gentleman line gets a summer-fied cologne interpretation and a very clean look. With lemon, bergamot and rosemary it has refreshing appeal, with an injection of iris to keep things interesting and a musky, ambrosian base to anchor the floaty citrus top. It’s bright and zesty and will keep you feeling fresh as the mercury rises.
Price: £69 for 100ml Eau de Toilette
Available: Now at John Lewis
D.S & Durga Amber Teutonic
One of two new amber scents that have just been released in the UK from New York perfumers D.S & Durga, Amber Teutonic (if you didn’t know, the word “teutonic” relates to all things German) features alpine cedar, European larch, Austrian pine and templin cone and captures the wooded shades of the alpine hills. Green and woody, this could give you a blast of clean, cooler alpine air on a hot summer day.
Price: £148 for 50ml Eau de Parfum
Available: Now at Liberty London