Friday, July 16, 2010

10 Unusual Summer Fragrance Choices

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 fivefiveandahalf on Flickr


  1. I love these posts from you Gaia! I've found many interesting perfumes this way.

  2. I think of Lonestar Memories as a summer scent as well, and I love Dzing! year round. I'm excited to try the rest of your list...I usually find it so hard to find summer scents.

  3. I totally share the idea of wearing perfumes that smell like summertime, when everything is possible... and that are more interesting (at least for me) than the usual citrus cologne.

    My choices are a bit different from yours, but I also turn to some good classic Guerlains extraits, and to my favorite Tauer's... but I add to the rotation a couple of Frederic Malles (carnal Flower and Une fleur de cassie), of Chanels exclusifs, and (I am sure you don't like this one ;) !) By Kilian's Beyond Love.
    All the above just smell great in the heat we are experiencing here... my heels leave their "footprint" on the almost-melting Milanese sidewalks...

  4. I completely agree on Lonestar memories. when I can't get enough freshness from any other scent, there is nothing like it: hot tires and campfire, makes me feel free, like I'm Sal Paradise On the road.

    And now you gave me ideas with Black, I'll give it try, and maybe Patchouli 24 also.

  5. These are really interesting and inspiring suggestions. I love many of them :)

    I have some fragrances which I wear in Summer without being citrus.
    Eternity Summer 2005 is a lovely, longlasting white floral.
    Kenzo Amour, just a little spritz for the evenings.
    Opium Poésie de Chine, spicy vanilla, magnolia and soap. Yummy.
    And sometimes I wear Diptyque Tam Dao! Peaceful woods which make me believe I'm in a temple in the middle of nowhere.

  6. haha,was just thinking if you don't mention any Serge scent the list is not for me....I'm wearing fille en anguiles and smell like a true hot summer with all pine and sandal burning....

  7. Oh how neat! I was thinking this the other day. Of course I love my summer scents but lately I've been loving:
    Panthere vintage parfum (your writing about Panthere made me revisit it & fall madly in love)
    Etro Heliotrope
    Samsara vintage parfum
    Jicky edp (copious amounts)
    Some scents just *glow* in the heat & take on a different feel.

  8. I'm with you on Rien. Love it's dirty motorbike smell. I wear it with my fluffier clothes in summer to add a bit of a growl to my look.

  9. The so-called refreshing, citrus-heavy scents don't do well on my skin; they all seem to go sour. As I'm an Oriental lover, I've been using my "heavy" favorites in this ferocious NYC-Metro area heatwave, and - they work! They blossom in the warmth and IMO are even nicer than in cool weather, certainly not obnoxious. Of course I haven't worn Poison yet - maybe sometime when I'm feeling daring...! ;-)

  10. I love sultry perfumes in the summer, like Shalimar. I never want to wear citrus in the summer, I lean towards musks and my perfume oils. Right now I'm loving the way a dab or Regina Harris's Rose-Frankincense-Myrrh smells, warmed by the 80 degree weather we've been having in Southern CA. Just a little bit, because it can be overpowering. But the warmth makes it bloom into a very pretty, jammy rose. In the winter, all I get is a more medicinal scent out of this, mostly frankincense.

  11. Love DKNY. There's nothing similar.

  12. I tend to shun any ideas about "seasonal" perfume wear because I love what I love and I want to wear it when I feel like it; I just apply with caution for those overwhelming in-your-face scents.

    But there is one perfume I have that definitely feels like summer to me, and I do wear it quite a bit right now - Bulgari's au the vert parfumee extreme. The pepper and orange blossom just do it for me in this weather...although, it tends not to last long on me when it's frickin' humid and altogether disgusting outside.

    #9 and 10 on your list made me laugh, and I completely agree! Vintage Shalimar extrait cannot be contained to a season - its animalic quality resists it, at least in my mind.

  13. Lovely choices Gaia and many of my own favorites there (even though they didn't make it on my summer list, they make it on my year-round list).


  14. Ms.Gaia,please forgive the awkwardness of my post since I seldom do. Although I am unable to afford many of the perfumes you write about, I'might lucky enough to own a few. I so enjoy your posts. They are written so vividly I can sometimes smell the components you describe and feel the world it means to evoke. So much so many "little scenes" you present remind me of a television commercial that entranced me as a child. A woman in a bathing suit, heavy make-up,and gold jewelry lays seductively and the end of an impossibly blue pool, in blazing sun (ah, the 80's). Her voice over, "I am made of blue skies and golden sun and I will feel this way forever." Share the fantasy,a man said Chanel No.5. Other first graders wanted to be teachers or nuns. I wanted to be her. Thank you so much for reminding me of that part of me after so many years of academic geekdom.Good writing has power. - A fan


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