Forget fragile flowers, this spring brings lush aquatics and sumptuous floral scents for seduction and celebration.
If you think a scent based on cherry blossom would be a delicate wisp of a thing, prepare to be swept off your feet by Blossom Love. Amouage is a niche fragrance house established by, you know, the Sultan of Oman. It has some pretty amazing and exotic offerings, and you can consider Blossom Love their gateway drug – it’s heady, slightly boozy, definitely intense but feminine at the same time. After a soft powdery opening, the hero cherry blossom note is matched with deliciously rich amaretto, the slight bitterness of almond contrasting beautifully with sweet blossom. Rose liquor gives further, opulent depth before a soft-as-suede dry-down of vanilla and tonka bean that catches the richness of the heart notes and prevents it becoming cloying at all. A masterful floral gourmand for grown-ups.
Kenzo World, Kenzo
I can’t help but smell green melon in Kenzo World. It’s not listed as a note so it’s surely because of my multiple viewings of Spike Jones’ incredible campaign film for the fragrance that has Margaret Qualley dancing like a fierce lunatic in the most amazing deep green dress. One spray and I’m slightly tipsy on the overdose of the skin-like, warm and wet ambroxan that Kenzo World contains, and it’s all aquatic smashing melons, fabulously strange. Just like Qualley, this crazy eye creation is intentionally weird but still plenty sweet enough to be stylish. That juicyfruit opening falls into an abstract pink peony heart, with the wash of ambroxan keeping the scent clinging to the skin for hours. Definitely suited to tropical territory, or the moist micro-climate of a crowded nightclub, perhaps, where you can try out some of Qualley’s moves.
You or Someone Like You
Etat Libre d’Orange
Often a fragrance is based around a gorgeous smell from nature (see Blossom Love, above). But sometimes, it’s about a vibe, and listing the ingredients doesn’t capture the magical genie-in-a-bottle experience of being transported somewhere else by a scent. Created by novelist and fragrance critic Chandler Burr, You or Someone Like You smells like early summer in L.A. It’s minty fresh and breezy, like the scent of eucalyptus rushing in fast through a car window. It’s got a beautiful-people pale rose thing going on, but it’s a rose that’s had a little work done, it’s almost too perfectly refined, a little like the contrived world of Burr’s book characters. And there’s a hazy, aquatic quality to the whole thing, a lazy hand dipped into a bright blue pool, dappled by the shade of palm trees, under a wide sky. Refreshing and super-cool, this is a scent with its shades on.
It’s taken 15 years for Chanel to launch a new pillar fragrance and frankly it’s been worth the wait. Gabrielle embodies all the brazen creativity of the woman who became known as Coco, but with the sophistication and maturity of, well Chanel. From a bittersweet sparkling opening of cool grapefruit, Chanel’s house perfumer Olivier Polge tailors an abstract flower heart that is incredibly luminous and bright: happy-making stuff. Each flower – there’s orange blossom, jasmine and tuberose – has its moment to shine, but ylang-ylang in particular adds velvety richness to the fragrance and if you’ve ever worn a white floral that disappears all-too-soon in a musky haze, Gabrielle is here to save you. This sun-strobed flower is gently pulled towards the base with delicious blackcurrant, and while musk gives elongation to the parfum, it’s sandalwood that softly drifts off my skin by the end, elegant and classic.
Tuberose is one sultry flower. There’s really no getting away from her fleshy, sumptuous swoon effect. Fun fact: the Victorians worried that inhaling the flower’s scent could bring on the Big O. Extensive fieldwork on behalf of the author seems to show they were mistaken, but despite singlehandedly bringing sexy back to white flowers, tuberose does have a few facets to her. Flowers picked at dawn are more fresh and green, evening harvests are really buttery and seductive. Aerin Lauder has very cleverly capitalised on this to produce a duo of Tuberoses, Le Jour and Le Soir. Le Jour is the choice for spring – beautifully dewy and brightened with neroli and orange blossom, and gently blended out on a cedar base, this is a comparatively G-rated (OK, PG-rated) sheer treatment of the fabulous flower. We can chat Le Soir when summer’s here…
Rain Day, Derek Lam 10 Crosby
Minimalists, please calmly glide into your functional slides and walk towards Sephora where you will, for a moment, have to deal with the glorious cacophony the rest of us love as you locate Derek Lam’s Rain Day. Now you have obtained your spring scent; nice doing business with you. Featuring just two ingredients and housed in a stunningly chic white cylinder, Rain Day is one of ten fragrances released by the American designer, recreating moments imagined through the window of his store on Crosby St Manhattan. As the name suggests, this pairing of Haitian vetiver and Tunisian neroli creates a beautiful sensation of a rainy spring day, wet pavement and clean skin, maybe a steak of sun between the clouds. Rain Day is urban, fresh and optimistic, simple but far from mundane. A signature scent for sure and one that could easily be layered with other fragrances (it’s beautiful with Aerin’s Tuberose Le Jour, hint hint).