The perfect summer, the golden tranquil summer of Edwardian memoirs, should be three months of perpetual holiday humour whether at work, on vacation or abroad. Your choice of fragrance should reflect this sense of occasion besides being influenced by the weather, the climate and your wardrobe. Here therefore is our choice of 10 top stunners to knock ’em dead from June to August Bank Holiday!
COLOGNE BIGARADE by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
The ultimate all-purpose summer cologne by Jean-Claude Ellena who works with the most traditional of formulae to produce a dazzling update of a fragrance style that has been around since the 14th century. Bitter orange,cedar and bergamot are given startling and ultra-modern vibrancy with the addition of new-mown hay, black pepper, rose oil and the cold smooth sparkle of aldehydes. Supremely smooth and subtle; for those who prefer an even icier, crisper version, BIGARADE is also available in CONCENTREE.
SEL MARIN by Heeley Parfums
Another reworking of a traditional cologne, so stylish and accomplished that James Heeley should maybe be credited with inventing a whole new sub-family of scents, embellishing the aquatic style with this evocation of the ineffable smell of the sea – salty, ozonic, tonic, invigorating and relaxing. Warm sand, seaweed, the thrill of the yacht, the swim, the rowing boat are all evoked with lemon, sea salt, cedar, leather and beech leaf. Light, joyous and refreshing – a glorious salute to the men of our sea-faring past and present.
ROYAL WATER by Creed
A huge hit on its release in the 1990s, the reputation of this Creed star performer has only grown in the last 15 years. A vast clean icy blast of grapefruit zest, bitter orange and lemon spiced up with basil, black pepper and a touch of musk. As the frosted label suggests, it feels as though taken straight from the ice-box; Olivier Creed’s great conjuring trick is to have brought off a citrus scent – always notoriously volatile – that not only lasts superbly well on the skin, but which also maintains its cool freshness to the end. What’s more, the dominant grapefruit note stays clean, crisp and slightly bitter, with none of that faintly sweaty nuance which is often present in lesser fragrances.
HARMATAN NOIR by Parfumerie Generale
Here’s a scent from that great creator of oriental fragrances, Pierre Guillaume. Whether or not you are holidaying in North Africa or beavering away in a Canary Wharf office, this wonderfully evocative cologne will conjure up the perfumed dry winds of the Western Sahara, blowing up to Morocco from tropical Africa bringing with it the tantalising odours of sweet mint tea, warm sand, jasmine and cedar wood. Slightly warmer than our first three scents, this is a champion choice for those dull July days when the English winds blow a little chill. Delicate but unforgettable.
YUZU by Caron
A brand new fragrance from that noble old House of Caron, still at the top of the niche market after over 100 years. And now offering a thoroughly 21st century cologne featuring a note only recently known to the Grand Nez – the aroma of the Japanese yuzu tree,a hybrid citrus which gives off green tangy notes reminiscent of mandarin, mango and grapefruit. To this is added sweet woody incense resin, basil,fig,verbena and sandalwood: a summer symphony in yellow and green – relaxed and easy to wear. Cool and sophisticated, laid-back and classic.
VIRGIN ISLAND WATER by Creed
A great big in-your-face flamboyant holiday scent: from the moment you set eyes on the vibrant blue and silver bottle which reflects the glittering sea and azure sky of the West Indies, you know you are in for an unashamed, uncomplicated, sensual extravaganza which liberates the spirits and puts you in a thoroughly good mood for a hot day – and hotter night. As simple and powerful and intoxicating as a Planter’s Punch – lashings of lime, tiare, coconut spiked with ginger, sugar cane and white rum. For the man with a good head for drink and an appetite for summer fun.
ZETA by Tauer Perfumes
Something entirely new and rather unusual – by the Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer. For the more reflective, poetical and nostalgic gentlemen among you. Think back to your last summer stay in the English countryside, or childhood days in parks or school grounds; even a wander down Berlin’s Unter den Linden. Zeta is a June stroll down an avenue of linden trees, often called limes in English. Umbrageous flowery notes of orange blossom, rose and ylang lead into a warm, shady mossy heart of lush, green grassy notes – with the heady, almost hay-like depth of the lime flowers pervading every nuance of the fragrance. Earthy, damp and dark, too – summer shadows.
AMBRE SULTAN by Serge Lutens
There is a theory, somewhat limited in our view, that sweet, warm, heavy scents should be worn only in winter: think again! Consider the countries and climates which produce incense, spices and vanilla – hot,dry lands. Wearing these oils under a hot English sun really brings them to life and full expansion in a simulacrum of their natural habitat. So spray Ambre Sultan with confidence this season. One of the earliest of Lutens creations it is pretty simple but devastatingly effective: slightly sharp, almost medicinal top notes develop into a classic amber blend of vanilla, benzoin, styrax, sandalwood and patchouli. This would have been the kind of scent well known in Egypt, Rome and Greece two thousand years ago – those ancients knew there business. It is still highly relevant today.
FRENCH LOVER by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
An outrageously manly woody scent – the odour of deep forests soaked in the rain of late summer storms. Pierre Bourdon’s pastoral creation evokes the dark foliage of August when in the afternoon light it appears almost black against the stubble fields. Dry spicy earthy notes of angelica contrast with bitter galbanum and pimento, laced with cedar and incense. And there’s a healthy whack of bay rum for the die-hard traditionalists, too. A French lover, certainly; but also a strong suggestion of Lady Chatterley. Equistrius by Parfums d’Empire Soft, elegant, warm and comfortable as pulling on a light cashmere sweater for an evening drink on the terrace. Suave and easy-going, Equistrius is based on orris – the precious root of the Florentine iris which gives a marvellous powdery richness and smoothness to a perfume. Mixed with this is rice powder, violet (George V’s favourite scent), vetiver and sandalwood. To those who see fragrances as shades of colour, this is a composition in grey, lilac and pearl: effortlessly stylish and very laid-back. A real modern classic.
All available from Les Senteurs.