Ah, summer. Those blissful, sun-filled warm days now visit us in spring, and disconcertingly, in February, as some of us experienced earlier this year. With an increasingly unpredictable climate, perhaps we should just wear summer scents all year round from now on? No doubt there might be a few interruptions – the odd biblical flood perhaps – but for now we think the odds are high for an extra toasty season.
Fragrance wise, cologne is the classic summer choice. The name refers to the concentration of the perfume and nods to its historical origins: eau de cologne typically has between two and four per cent concentration of the perfume oil (for comparison, eau de parfum has between 15 to 20 per cent). The higher water content in the composition means that more can be applied, which you will need as it doesn’t last as long on the skin. The name also refers to the history of cologne water, created in 1709 by Johann Maria Farina in the German town of the same name. Herbs and citrus essences form the basis of a typical cologne accord, with woods or spices to anchor the volatile citrus molecules. This means that some “colognes” come in eau de parfum or eau de toilette format and are not strictly a weaker composition.
That’s the science and history lesson over; here are some of our all-time favourite potions that offer olfactory refreshment when the mercury rises.
Tom Daxon Laconia
Holidays provide major inspiration all round. Switching off, doing nothing, being bored even; this is always when we get our best ideas. We can all be thankful that perfumer, Tom Daxon, took a trip to Laconia, the south eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece, and came up with this tremendous fragrance. Lemon, mandarin, mint and violet leaf are the headline ingredients behind this salty-edged summer scent.
£155 for 100ml Eau de Parfum; Liberty London
Tom Ford Private Blend Eau de Soleil Blanc
Yes, that’s right, we’re taking this opportunity to celebrate Eau de Soleil Blanc, a lesser-known scent than Neroli Portofino, but equally seasonally on point from Tom Ford. Neroli Portofino tends to get all the love, and it will never disappoint, but if you fancy changing things up, this one has the citrus; bitter orange peel, bergamot and petitgrain bigarade with an undertow of coco de mer, vanilla and tonka bean. It has a pleasingly sensual, “sun lotion and cocktails” kind of vibe.
£82 for 50ml Eau de Toilette; John Lewis
Acqua Di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi
The Blu Meditteraneo collection takes the summer months as major inspiration, with each scent paying homage to a fruit, plant and place. Our favourite, since you’re asking, has always been Fico di Amalfi. Fig, as a standalone scent, is so delicious we’d be quite happy to douse ourselves in it from head to toe (it’s why we will have an eternal soft spot for Marc Jacobs Men). This fragrance is an energetic, refreshing combination of citrus, pink pepper and a double dose of fig.
£72 for 75ml Eau de Toilette; acquadiparma.com
Davidoff Cool Water
The late 1980s saw the introduction of calone: a synthetic airy, watermelon note, that gave perfumers new aquatic and marine themes to play with. We think fondly of this category of fragrance because it helped produce a number of great summer scents – one being Davidoff’s original Cool Water. It’s not all water; it has a refreshing herbal, lavender side that’s a true crowd-pleaser. We say: always skip the latest flanker and go straight for the original.
£27.93 for 125ml Eau de Toilette; amazon.co.uk
Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme
Riding the same wave as Cool Water, L’Eau D’Issey came on the scene in the early 1990s: another mega hit from the same calone family, which amps up the watermelon notes using the Japanese fruit yuzu. Issey Miyake’s signature scent for men still powers sales in a way the brand can only dream of for its fashion collections. For those that remember the first time, it really recaptures the era; for those who’ve never had a chance to try it, we recommend an immediate investigation.
£40 for 75ml Eau de Toilette; House of Fraser
Christian Dior Eau Sauvage
It would be easy to dismiss this a “grandad” scent, purely because it’s been with us since the 1960s and its look has hardly changed (which is a good thing). But those who do are missing out on one of the best men’s scents ever created. That probably sounds like hyperbole, but this distinctive juice by renowned nose Edward Roudnitska is instantly recognisable, extremely classy, and compared with more recent launches from the same house, incredibly well priced.
£76 for 100ml Eau de Toilette; dior.com
Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne
One of the original fragrances crafted by Jo Malone herself, Lime Basil & Mandarin is hard to beat. It’s been around since 1999 and due to it being before the time brands became obsessed with “layering”, it’s a solid standalone scent that you don’t need to tinker with. Very green and citrusy, the peppery basil gives it a foodie edge. Also, while you’re there, be sure to check out the Grapefruit cologne too.
£94 for 100ml Cologne; jomalone.com
Alfred Dunhill’s Century is a relative newcomer to the scene, but we’re convinced it’s a modern classic. Perfumer Carlos Benaïm makes the case for a neroli-citrus infused top with interesting warm notes of sandalwood, olibanum and Indian cypriol that feels fresh and clean like an expensive soap. Did you know: the flacon is a play on a vintage Alfred Dunhill fragrance that had a bottle shaped like a die (or dice, for the confused).
£59 for 75ml Eau de Parfum, dunhill.com
Floris London Bergamotto di Positano
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this exercise, it’s that Italy is a rich source of inspiration for sophisticated noses. The storied British fragrance house, Floris London, has been in the business of creating fragrances for hundreds of years. Bergamotto di Positano is a more recent addition to the fold. Inspired by family history, this bergamot scent has a warming vanilla base that lingers well on the skin.
£120 for 100ml Eau de Parfum; florislondon.com