When the world’s in a panic, what better way to soothe the senses than a breath of spring?! If you live in temperate climes then no doubt you’ve been impatient for its arrival – daffodils and crocuses, fluffy white clouds racing across a bright blue sky… Even if you reside in a tropical paradise, there’s still the idea of a metaphorical spring at least – an opening of windows to let in the fresh, uplifting breeze (or to sing to your neighbours)!
Join me for a foray through my recommended classic and contemporary spring-perfumes, from some of the world’s most respected perfume houses both well-established and new…
First up is Aroma M, owned by New Yorker Maria McElroy, who designs the scents. Though a small, independent perfume house, Aroma M counts notable Hollywood stars such as Michelle Pfeiffer and Patricia Arquette amongst its clientele. I mention it particularly since it’s good time to support smaller businesses. (Aroma M also specialises in natural perfume materials, for those concerned with allergies).
From Aroma M’s Geisha series (each described by McElroy as akin to ‘slipping on a hand-painted silk kimono’) Geisha Violet combines unusual notes of violet, green notes and cacao, this succulent, fresh and very pretty perfume captures the scent of tender green shoots and the romance of spring.
I confess this is one of my absolute favourites from the house; based on floral notes of camelia and rose with underlying incense, it has a ‘fresh-from-the-bath’ feel yet dries down to a sophisticated floral incense. It makes me think of porcelain and burning candles; both warm and refined at the same time.
While most of Aroma M’s perfumes are designed for women, some are more herbaceous in feel, such as…
Based on the aniseed-like scent of Absinthe, this perfume is a nod to the ‘green fairy’ that captivated artists such as Gauguin! A male friend of mine loves wearing this for its smooth green scent and excellent longevity – a little goes a long way!
Green tea, Clary Sage and rosewood combine to create a dry-green scent suitable for men and women, quite reminiscent of the aroma of green tea itself.
Quintessentially English, Penhaligon’s has twice been recognised and awarded the ‘Royal Warrant’ by the UK’s royal family, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re a bit old-school or fuddyduddy, Penhaligon’s have in recent years commissioned the perfume industry’s most renowned ‘noses’ (for example Bertrand Duchaufour, something of a rock-star ‘nose’ in perfume industry terms) to create perfumes with a twist of English eccentricity.
This perfume-classic (launched in 1958) was the former UK P.M. Margaret Thatcher’s signature perfume, but, if that doesn’t sound like your style, note that it’s also worn by uber-cool English model Kate Moss! Focussing on the bright floral notes of spring hyacinth, Bluebell trowels in notes of earth and new shoots for a scent that transcends indoor-pot-plant and speaks of cool, rainy English countryside.
The Favourite by Penhaligon’s
Launched in 2020, The Favourite has in fact been ‘favourited’ by Fragrantica.com’s online perfume community as an ideal perfume for spring. With pretty, fresh-floral notes of freesia, mimosa, violet and iris, relaxing on a soft bed of sandalwood, to my nose it has an elegant garden-party mood – it’ll suit women of all ages who seek a contemporary, flirty-feminine scent for spring and summer.
You know that scene in the 2006 Bond film ‘Casino Royal’ when Daniel Craig saunters into a hotel sporting a crisp, white linen shirt (the one where the female receptionist melts a little)? I like to imagine he’s wearing Castile. Top notes of soapy-clean orange blossom, petit grain and lime with musky/woodsy undertones = elegance in a bottle.
For a more contemporary mood, I swithered between Opus 1870 and Terrible Teddy by Penhaligon’s, but ultimately, I believe Opus is more spring-like. Terrible Teddy, though a tad rich for spring, has a flirtatious fun-loving quality suitable to this time of year. Opus 1870 however, also has its naughty side – just a little more restrained and elegant. Where Castile conjures up fresh linen, Opus evokes something a little darker, more bohemian – black pepper and bitter-sweet yuzu, caressed with smoky curls of incense.
The French perfume house Creed, established in 1760, has created bespoke perfumes for a long, long list of famous clients, too numerous to mention here, but including King George III, Queen Victoria, Grace Kelly and David Bowie to name just a few! Those familiar with the House will know of much-loved classics Green Irish Tweed or Fleurissimo, both worthy of their reputation and ideal for spring too as it happens.
More recently, in 2011, Creed released their ‘Royal Exclusives’ series and at £350 per 75ml it probably helps if your income is in royal realms! These are lovely though …
Spring classics from Creed’s Royal Exclusives
Jardin d’Amalfi suggests spring and summer with its delicious citrus top notes, mandarine and juicy lemon based on the Amalfi lemons of that region. Described as unisex, the dry-down becomes (to my nose anyway) a little more masculine, with crisp lime, apple and salty green vetiver notes in dry down.
White Flowers on the other hand is decidedly feminine. Hovering in a sweet spot between soapy and creamy, this abstract floral blend reminds me of classy skin lotions. Why not just buy skin lotion, you may ask! Well, the difference I suppose is that with White Flowers the scent of after-bath freshly applied floral skin-lotion lasts all day. I’d describe it as a charming scent, one for women who don’t want their perfume to enter the room before they do!
Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Definitely one of my favourite perfume houses, perhaps not yet as well known as Creed or Penhaligon’s though equally respected, MFK is owned by Francis Kurkdjian who creates the perfumes. With a true perfume maestro’s understanding of how perfume operates on skin and in the air around its wearer, Kurkdjian was the ‘nose’ behind mainstream classics such as Gaultier’s Le Male, more recently Elie Saab Le Parfum, before setting up his own perfume house based in Paris. I adore the attention to detail – the bottle designs for example and the truly special customer service. When I ordered a perfume online a few years ago it came with a couple of free samples and a fun ‘assemble-it-yourself’ perfumed cardboard box inscribed; ‘from Paris with love’ (who can resist a little Parisian charm?!)
With Féminin Pluriel, Kurkdjian had in mind the concept of an idealised feminine aura, an idea entirely open to interpretation but I like this take on femininity. A sensual, suede-like texture dusted with the ethereal powder of iris combines with a fresh floral bouquet. The subtle backdrop of patchouli and vetiver lends an amount of ‘earth’ to the perfume creating a beautifully balanced aura.
It’s one of those perfumes that wafts around you in whispers throughout the day – delighting your nose anew each time with its many facets!
MFK’s new release; L’eau A la rose, is an update on the original A la rose. L’eau version is more dewy, fresh, like sparkling rosewater. Its delicacy is belied by its longevity. Perhaps its innocent aura, like dew drops on rose petals, will appeal most to young women, but really to anyone who wishes to be wrapped in a tender veil of fragrant spring rain.
Amyris Homme Extrait de Parfum
A woody, herbaceous scent that opens with a morning-fresh aroma, then rounds out into dry-down with delicious notes of Brazilian tonka bean and the tiniest hint of male musk. It retains freshness but never veers towards sportsy. Comfortable, contemporary and very easy to wear. I’d say it’s recognisably masculine without machismo, suitable for daytime, I admire its understated elegance.
There are so many moods to choose from in the MFK range, for spring any of the ‘Acqua’ range would suit, Kurkdjian has described these as simple everyday fragrances akin to a clean white T-shirt fresh from the washing-line, but if that sounds a bit too casual and you prefer something more elegant for spring, I recommend Absolue pour le Matin; it’s a juicy citrus and bitter herbs blend with a hint of florals and amber resin. Uplifting and refined, this crowd-pleaser will surround you and those around you with rays of metaphorical spring sunshine. (All perfumes above are available online, on the perfume house’s websites).
Imgae credit at the very top of the article: Iryna Imago/Bigstock.com