When choosing perfume for summer most people tend to go for the light and citrusy. There's something about crisp scents in the eau de cologne style that seems refreshing, at least for the short time they actually last on skin. But no matter how appealing the idea of a "cooling" scent may seem, I find that perfumes that actually smell like a real summer in its truest and most real form are much more satisfying.
I was exploring the idea of an ultimate summer. It means something different to each one of us, but think for a moment about the summer after you graduated from high school. Even if you don't over-romanticize (and I won't. Some of the memories from that time in my life are sucky at best), it still had some magic. The last summer of youth, living on the verge of adulthood, traveling, trying to make the most of that time before everyone scatters in pursuit of an unknown future.
And there are the scents of times and places that actually smell like summer and go with the heat without trying to fight it. These are not fresh and clean perfumes. Many are dry and bitter, and all of them remind me in some way of moments from that long lost summer.
1. Rien by Etat Libre d'Orange. Burnt rubber. Smells like driving an old car (too fast) on a very hot day, the sun is merciless but the road is open.
2. Anat Fritz by Anat Fritz- Dry woods and herbs. Camping in the woods, smelling pines and a hint of coolness in the air.
3. L'Eau Trois- Diptyque. Hiking in hills covered with cistus and other aromatics. It hasn't rained in weeks and the branches are dry and scratchy, but the scent is exhilarating.
4. Lonestar Memories- Tauer Perfumes. A campfire under the night sky. We're hours away from the city and the stars are so bright you can touch them just above the smoke.
5. Eau du Fier- Annick Goutal. Another campfire, this time the whole gang is there and we're spending the night on the beach. Drinking sticky orange juice and trying to make aromatic tea over the fire. It's bitter but strangely good.
6. Dzing!- L'Artisan. An August night at the fair. You can smell the petting zoo, the caramel from some vendor's cart and the leather jacket the tall guy had in his car and let you borrow because suddenly there's chill in the air. Or maybe it's just you.
7. Bulgari Black- Getting a vanilla ice cream at the end of that night. It never tasted better.
8. DKNY Women (the 1999 original)- Early morning in the city, just after a rainy night. Your hair is a little wet, your clothes still smell clean and you are acutely aware of the scents wafting all over. Steam from laundry rooms, fruit stands just opening and the smell of damp cobblestones and concrete. You're happy to be alive.
9. Shalimar- Guerlain (vintage extrait, of course). You dress up for the night. There's some cleavage involved and you decide to go all out there. The summer is almost over, so it's tonight or never. There's danger in the night air and all around you.
10. Muscs Kublai Khan- Serge Lutens. Obviously, Shalimar has done the trick and this is the morning after.
Elena from Perfume Shrine has some other unusual ideas for scents you never thought to wear until after Labor Day.
Photo: Summer In The City, 2007 by