It’s that time of year again — our Top Ten Spring fragrances, even if it hasn’t felt quite as much like spring at this point as we’d hoped. Patty and March each offer up five’ish scents perfect for thinking about spring:
Spring is probably my least favorite fragrance season, which strikes me as not the right way to start this post, but there you are. It’s not that I don’t like spring — I do. But delicate florals and cheerful musks aren’t my cup of … dirt. So here are some other suggestions.
1) Dirt. Number one, of course, would be CB I Hate Perfume’s Black March, with its smell of thawing soil, spring air and unfurled buds. Neil Morris’ Dark Earth is a more classic take on the dirt smell. Or go dig into Demeter’s website — Wet Garden, Dirt, Beet Root, Earthworm...
2) Violets. Not sweet candied violets, but crisp, cool violets. L’Artisan Verte Violette is a popular choice. I much prefer Annick Goutal’s cool, sharp Violette, or Les Nez’ wonderfully strange, woefully underappreciated, frosted-cucumber Unicorn Spell.
3) Masculines. It’s counterintuitive, but something about cool, fresh spring air brings on a desire to splash on some retro classic like Guerlain Derby (which I was stunned to discover Luca Turin called “one of the ten best masculines of all time” in The Guide, five stars) or Christian Dior Jules (which he also loves, four stars).
4) Weepy florals. Malle En Passant (lilac, rain, bread, fence, wet tarmac). And of course, Guerlain Apres l’Ondee (heliotrope, iris, tears from heaven). When this fails to appear on my list of great spring scents, I will be dead.
5) Aldehydes. In general I admire the champagne fizziness of aldehydes more than enjoy wearing them. Spring, however, seems to bring on a desire for that peculiar smell. By the way, if you think “I hate aldehydes,” have you tried many different ones? I think sometimes people object to aldehydes that seem jaded (like Van Cleef & Arpels First) or formal and mannered (Chanel 5, 22). If those freak you out, try my personal favorite, Robert Piguet Baghari, with its roses, cheerful neroli and creamy vanilla-amber base — giving the aldehydes the warm glow of the sun than the cool glimmer of moonlight.
While I love spring, especially after this horribly long winter, spring scents sometimes seem a little too cheerful when I’m just lumbering up out of my long winter perfumes. Makes me cranky and decidedly uncheerful.
1) Cheerful without appearing to be. Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan. It sparkles, it reflects air and radiates good cheer, but it’s not grinning right in your face with its big toothy smile. Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist is studiously not cheerful, but it never fails to make my spirits soar, radiating the earthy goodness of the dirt and sun… a coldly warm, stunning charmer.
2) Weepy Florals. Ditto what March said. These two will always be on my spring list and my funeral list.
3) Underappreciated charmers. Marina had me sniffing L’Artisan La Chasse Aux Papillon Extreme when we were in NYC, and for some reason, I had never smelled it. It is richer and fuller than the regular Papillon and not as yappy as I sometimes find the regular version to be, while remaining quintessentially spring.
4) Ridiculously Overpriced. Yeah, yeah, I know, but it really is beautiful – Christian Dior La Collection Particuliere Passage No. 8. Gorgeous, full-throated iris – I feel like I’ve been swallowed whole by one of those gigantor purple irises when I put it on.
5) Anticipation – CB Memory of Kindness. Tomato leaves and garden smell leapfrogs me right past spring into summer up to my elbows in ice cold tomato slices from my mom’s garden, covered in garlic salt and pepper – the tomatoes, not me. Well, the perfume doesn’t have the garlic salt and pepper, but it should!