April Shower Scents – for any kind of spring weather!

Lately we’ve had all possible spring weather, from beautiful bright days to downpours and even hail storms thrown in. While we await true spring laying ball for several days in a row, instead of cursing any rain showers, we’ll be wearing rain-scented fragrances and embracing the weather while we can!

‘It is certain that the best soil smells like a fine unguent… It is the odour often recognised at sunset… at the place where the ends of the rainbow meet the earth, or when rain has soaked the ground after a long drought. Then it is that the earth exhales her own divine breath, received from the sun, and of incomparable sweetness.’ Pliny the Elder, Natural History, AD 77

Petrichor is the term given to that unique scent following a rain shower on parched earth – when the world seems breathe a sigh of relief, and we, unconsciously perhaps, breathe in a little more deeply, savouring its so-pleasurable smells.

Some people mistakenly assume the word alludes to smell of rain itself, but they are mistaken. It’s in the moment raindrops kiss the arid land the magic happens. Rainwater releases micro-organisms called geosmins hidden in the earth, mixed with the smell of plant oils and ozone itself: that’s petrichor.

 

 

Petrichor smells, somehow, like the earth revealing a secret. It is an aroma that has been remarked upon over centuries, and which humankind long seems to have been drawn to, but only relatively recently has it been investigated. It was while out observing cattle that scientists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas first coined the term ‘petrichor’ in 1964, using it in their study published that year, The Nature of Argillaceous Odour.

Noticing the cattle seemed to react strongly to the scent of fresh rainfall, following it as a trail to seek fresh drinking water, these scientists, metaphorically and literally dug deeper until the genesis of these odour-releasing geosmins were understood. To give it a name, Bear and Thomas formed the poetic-sounding word petrichor from the Greek petra (stone, rock) and ichor (or I-KORE) which, in Ancient Greek mythology, referred to the liquid that flowed in the veins of the gods.

Harold McGee, author of the award-winning olfactory book, Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World’s Smells [John Murray/Hachette UK], discusses the chemical process behind it for us in relatable terms, explaining petrichor as ‘…the veneer of volatiles that had been emitted by microbes, fungi, plants, animals, humans, and our technologies, and accumulated on mineral surfaces.’ McGee remarks that ‘These volatiles are usually too sparse and omnipresent for us to notice them in the air around us. But when rain suddenly drives them in greater amounts from mineral surfaces into the air, the volatiles become perceptible.’

 

 

 

 

Perfumers, perhaps unsurprisingly, have long been enthralled by this (literally) atmospheric smell. Distillers in the Indian capital of perfume, Kannauj, in Uttar Pradesh, for example, have been capturing the scent of a monsoon for centuries, via an extract of wet clay called mitti attar or gill attar.

More recently, we’ve seen a veritable downpour of these rain-soaked scents, which give the beauty of florals a freshness beloved by those of us not enamoured by a full-on heady type o floral fragrance. Think: blossoms and green leaves, the delicious smell of drenched soil and new blades of grass shining with droplets like jewels as the early sunshine re-emerges. And bury your nose in one of these sparkling spring shower scents…

 

 

 

Maison Margiela When the Rain Stops Play

Nose-tingling pink pepper awakens dewy leaves, encourages Isparta roses and jasmine to bloom. Damp, earthy moss, rain-washed air: the storm clouds, parted.

£60 for 30 ml eau de toilette sephora.co.uk

 

 

 

Creed Silver Mountain Water 

Effervescently intriguing, sudden clarity via smoky clary sage, the brightness of bergamot, lushly milky musks lulling us to warm rain in a tropical paradise.

£165 for 30ml eau de parfum creedfragrances.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Mihan Aromatics Petrichor Plains

Abstinence drenched by fat droplets, an aching of asphalt and hot, mineralic rocks in a thirsty, urban landscape that welcomes the relief of sudden rain.

Try a sample for £33 in the Mihan Aromatics Discovery set in our shop

 

 

 

 

Maison Crivelli Patchouli Magnetik

Humid crackles captured in a wearable mood-board of storminess, tropical gardenia and wild frangipani deluged by a thunderclap of electrically charged earthiness.

£205 for 50ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

 

 

Goutal Un Matin d’Orage

The soapy cleanliness of citrus caressing lushly dripping gardenia transports you to an ambient stroll in a Japanese garden. A welcome, wearable sigh of relief.

£165 for 100ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com

 

 

 

 

Molton Brown Lily & Magnolia Blossom 

Quietly hopeful, endlessly beautiful, dewy lily of the valley and silky sandalwood are entwined with rain-kissed magnolia blooms. Creamy and soft, it’s the essence of spring’s awakening.

£85 for 100ml eau de toilette moltonbrown.co.uk

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale