Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer In New Jersey- My Top Pick Perfumes

My perfume picks this summer will focus on the here and now. Or mostly on the "here". Scents that evoke life in suburban New Jersey as I know it. The image above is a vintage postcard from Cape May, the southernmost point in the state (lovely bed & breakfasts, quaint and well-preserved Victorian houses, gorgeous beach where you might be lucky enough to see a pod of dolphins frolicking), but "my" New Jersey is up north, and my picks probably reflect that.

Tomato leaf scents are surprisingly polarizing. Some people can't stand them, but I'm in the opposite camp. Jersey tomatoes, just picked in my own garden are one of the greatest pleasures of summer, and I love rubbing the leaves and stems on my hands. The most widely known perfume utilizing a tomato leaf note is the classic Sisley Eau de Campagne, but reformulations have taken away so much of the charm it now smells too generic and thin. Instead, two of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's perfumes hit this summery spot like no other. Divine Gardens is a leafy green chypre That smells like my yard on a hot dry summer day. Tomato leaves, tagetes, and a herbal bouquet just ready to go into the salad. Speaking of herbs, the second DSH perfume that fits here is Agrestic from the perfumer's Cannabis collection. I'm not an expert on the subject, but to me this is a dry green and grassy perfume that entices with vetiver, moss, and a very noticeable tomato leaf note.

Speaking of grass, the scent of a just-mowed lawn is a weekly summer pleasure. The husband amuses himself in creating patterns in the back yard, but I just lean back and take in the smell that wafts inside. Many green perfumes have a grass note somewhere in the composition, but the most literal interpretation I've ever knew was the 90s gem Grass by the Gap (available on eBay in exchange of your firstborn). Luckily, we have Grass Accord by CB I Hate Perfume, which is exclusive to his gallery if I remember correctly (worth a phone call if you want to bathe in fresh green grass). For a more complex composition that has all the grassy blades but also the dreamy quality of a watercolor depicting a summer landscape, my absolute favorite is Parfumerie Generale's Papyrus de Ciane.

Marigold flowers (tagetes) are not just the most cheerful sight, they're also a natural bug repellent. We plant them every year around the tomato and pepper beds, and even Arlo, our groundhog, avoids the area. Tagetes play a supporting role in the background of many perfumes, but it's rare to find it as the star, perhaps because of its bitterness. Tagetes Femme by EnVoyage took a while to grow on me, probably because of the black current note and the general fruitiness. But it is a summer tagetes  perfume that's worthy of your skin space if you're a marigold fan (one of my cats is named Marigold and she isn't even orange). A more sultry tagetes perfume is the beautiful Tagete by Profumum Roma. It marries marigold with tuberose and jasmine, making it a perfumy and elegant choice for a dressed-up day.

Speaking of sultry, summer nights mean tuberose and other luscious white flowers. We can sit here until fall and debate Fracas vs. Carnal Flower vs. every maneater white floral under the sun. However, I wanted to point you in the direction of Fleur09 by Maria Christofilis. It's not really new as the perfume was released in 2014 (I bought a bottle for my mother, the Queen of White Flowers, soon after it first appeared in NYC).  The brand is getting traction now that two more gorgeous perfumes have launched. Fleur09 is a tuberose leaning towards orange blossom with a hint of honey as it warms up on the skin, perfect for a night on the town.

There's a reason vetiver perfumes are one of my summer staples. Summer here can be anything from glorious and picture-perfect to the dreaded triple H (Hot, Humid, Hazy). Days that feel like you're moving through a past-its-prime canned soup call for something that cuts through the air like magic. That's vetiver for me. My newest love in this category comes from Monsillage, the brand that gave us Eau de Celeri among other gems. The newest launch, Pays Dogon, is among the most complex and fascinating vetiver perfumes I know, without sacrificing sheer beauty. It's dry, raw, and spicy, and the added touch of ginger is exactly what we need these days.

One last sojourn into my back yard and a couple of old favorites. I started growing fennel years ago and discovered that on scorching days the fennel bed fills the air with a very distinct anise-like scent. It's another love it or hate it smell, and I'm firmly in the "adore" camp. The tender green stems of fennel are not the most assertive as a perfume note, so to get the effect of the fragranced garden I turn to absinth perfumes. They're not as gourmand as proper anise perfumes and are decidedly greener, which is what I want. There are several excellent absynthe perfumes on the market, and my favorite two are the classic L'Artisan Fou d'Absinthe and the less-famous and more herbal Absinthe by Ava Luxe.

What are you wearing this summer?

For more summer perfume suggestions please visit my fiends at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, and Now Smell This.


  1. Great to see you back, Gaia! I don't know any of these perfumes, but will get some samples to try. They sound very interesting, especially Pays Dogon.

  2. Nice to see you back as well, hope everything is ok!! Have tried some you mention but other than that I'm wearing vetivers, Onda leading the pack, white florals, Opium parfum and all the colognes I can stuff in the fridge. Have a wonderful summer!!

  3. Yay! I've missed your reviews. Arielle Shoshana's website carried CB I Hate Perfume's Grass accord. I just ordered a bottle from them and love it!

  4. Can't tell you enough how happy I am to see you here again!

    During our heatwave in the UK I have been keeping cool with my precious YSL Eau Libre - the original one that was released in the 70s, not the current one which bears no relation to it at all. It's such a pretty green in colour as well as smell. Citrus, aldehydes and a faint wood. For me there is nothing that comes close to this for making me feel cool and calm.

  5. So great to see you back Gaia! I've missed you! I hope things are ok with you.

    Some of my favorite Summer scents are green, like Annick Goutal Eau de Camille, Bandit, Knowing and Cristalle, others are resinous, like L' Eau Trois. I also enjoy a few with salty notes, like Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate, Hermes Eau des Merveilles and Miller Harris Fig Amere.
    I do miss Gap Grass, that was such a refreshing perfume!

  6. Great to see you back!! I hope all is well.

    Nice list! Most of the perfumes I'm unfamiliar with. More stuff to try!

  7. I'm so glad to see a post from you. Glad that you are back blogging about your favorite things. I've never heard of any of these fragrances, but they sound interesting- certainly not mainstream. I hope you continue with your regular feature.

  8. Great to see you back!! My summer scents are Diptyque Philosykos, Hermes Rhubarbe , Guerlain Pamplelune, but I'm never without Elixir de Merveilles by Hermes! Wish you a wonderful summer, big hugs from Greece!

  9. So good to see you back! Have missed your blog updates so much.

  10. I'm late, I'm late for a very important...huh? Oh, SO THRILLED (seriously) to be able to enjoy a post from you. To me, you are one-of-a-kind in the beauty blogging world, and I love that kind. I brought out several favorites this summer: Terra Cotta by Guerlain, Musc Monoi by Nicolai, Prodigieux le parfum by Nuxe, and Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Estee Lauder. I got a sample of Eau de rhubarbe ecarlate by Hermes and, to my surprise, have enjoyed wearing it. Thanks for reminding me about Fou d'Absinthe by L'Artisan. It resides in my "winter drawer," but it will be great for summer. I love that one. Wish I could find some real Absinthe to drink. I could go for a psychedelic experience about right now. TeeHee. Come back to us, dear Gaia. Hope your summer in northern New Jersey is all perfect days and no triple H threats like we regularly have here in northwestern South Carolina. Miss ya' Judy

  11. Needless to say, I too am so glad that you are back. Most happy to see you and your wonderful writing. I ordered Fleur09 and look forward to it's arrival.


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