With the dawning light of the summer solstice comes a seasonal welcoming of midsummer (actually the begining of true, astronomical summer) and the longest day. More than the Earth tilting its face fully toward the sun, for Wiccans and other nature-based faiths it’s a reminder to seek inner growth and, along with celebrating the power of the sun, also to nurture the light within.
The light forms fragrant inspiration for perfumers, too, capturing the sunshine (and moonbeams), bottling gradients of luminescence in solar scents like some kind of fairytale’s miracle made spritz-able reality.
In a fragrance, ‘solar’ is a term that’s gained popularity recently in the descriptions houses have given, even being placed in the names of perfumes themselves. It denotes a feeling of sunshine, of course, but with it a physical feeling of being uplifted, of turning our own faces toward the light source, a languidly perfumed purr of warm-cat contentedness. Citrus notes are vital, as you might expect, but in this new genre they’re often mellowed by breezy blossoms, dappled with cooler herbs or touched with a tingle of spices and warm woods, depending on the time of the day or the place they’re attempting to conjure.
Because the light source illuminating perfumer’s imaginations isn’t limited to the ‘rosy-fingered dawn’ of Homer’s Odyssey, or a sunlit beach-scene in scented form – there are fragrances that capture the ‘mad dogs and English men’ intensity of late afternoon or a blissfully dappled shade; scents evoking spectacular sunsets, the ‘blue hour’, forest nymphs bathed in moonlight, midnight’s velvety caress and even particular qualities of light from specific locations around the world.
Why are these light-filled fragrances so popular right now? As Louisa May Alcott puts it in Little Women, ‘Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow.’ And quite frankly, with all we’ve gone through and the state of the world at the moment, even an ex-goth like me has grown somewhat weary of shadows.
So, with the spirit of the summer solstice and welcoming whatever new beginnings you wish, use these scents as an olfactive sundial, to form your own fragrant ecliptic – the invisible path the sun follows across the sky – and bring on the light, whenever you need it most…
To the Fairest Aubine £85 for 50ml eau de parfum tothefairest.com
Sun-kissed softness celebrates new beginnings, orange blossom strengthening a honeyed hopefulness.
Ruth Mastenbroek Dagian £70 for 30ml eau de parfum ruthmastenbroek.com
Grapefruit’s gleam pierces Stygian clouds, a shaft of amber warmth the olfactory embodiment of optimism.
Björk & Berries Solstice £85 for 50ml eau de parfum gb.bjorkandberries.com
Dazzling neroli and deep amber celebrate ‘the never ending light’ while swathed by soft cashmere’s nuzzle.
JUSBOX Good Morning £125 for 78ml eau de parfum selfridges.com
Tangerine-tinged sea breeze a scented snapshot of the second sunlight peaks the snow-capped mountain.
Lalique Soleil £100 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Pale gold fingers of light stroke pearly skin, a sip of coffee, a moment of peace, a hushed sigh of satisfaction.
Parle Moi de Parfum Wake Up World £98 for 50ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com
Nurturing soul and spirit, bursts of citrus mellow to a hug of warm woodiness, a reminder to be kinder.
AKRO Awake £140 for 100ml eau de parfum fenwick.co.uk
The bewitiching allure of a cosy coffee shop on a dull day – lemon-washed steamy windows, bitter luxury.
Tom Ford Eau de Soleil Blanc £178 for 50ml eau de parfum tomford.co.uk
A shiver of sunshine refracted through dewdrops, the glitter of sunlight on cresting waves.
Goutal Un Matin d’Orage £119 for 100ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com
Sunlight scatters the clinging mist of a storm’s wake, a phosphorescent unfurling as the garden awakes.
Cloon Keen Lá Bealtaine £120 for 100ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com
A celebration of bright citrus craves heat-bloomed flowers, floaty sundresses, lemon sorbets, drowsy dreams.
Elie Saab Le Parfum Lumière £45 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com
Amidst orange blossom’s blizzard the tulle swirl of a white gown, dancing barefoot on sun-warmed stone.
Fragonard Soleil £39 for 50ml eau de parfum marksandspencer.com
Drowsy afternoon’s opulence on velvet cushions, a Provençal garden glimpsed through half-closed eyes.
Roja Dove A Midsummer Dream from £45 for 7.5ml eau de parfum rojaparfums.com
A warm Chypré fever-dream drapes the zing of grapefuit in a silken spiced cloak with a secret mossy lining.
Lalique Soleil Vibrant £72 for 50ml eau de parfum lalique.com
Safari big cat energy via ginger-spiked jasmine, orange blossom’s meridian headiness radiating happiness.
Tom Ford Soleil Brulant £240 for 50ml eau de parfum tomford.co.uk
A sizzle of honeyed seduction in the gilded high noon sun, somewhere ridiculously fabulous.
Parfums de Marly Cassili £210 for 75ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com
Peach-blushed skyline viewed atop a romantic rooftop, flushed face turned expectantly toward another kiss.
Coach Dreams Sunset £37.00 for 40ml eau de parfum escentual.com
Inspired by ‘golden hours and one-of-a-kind journeys with friends’, pear sorbet teases twilit jasmine.
Guerlain L’Heure Bleue £109 for 75ml eau de parfum guerlain.com
A heartstoppingly romantic harmony of powdered pensiveness, heliotrope prolonging the suspended hour.
Moresque Midnight London £310 for 50ml eau de parfum harrods.com
Rebellious rhubarb sashays in leather trousers to an incense-infused club so cool you’ll never know about it.
Prada Olfactories Mirages Midnight Train £230 for 100ml eau de parfum (in Prada stores exclusive)
Chilled ebony chocolate sucked lasciviously within the wood-panelled seclusion of a night train’s affair.
Penhaligon’s Luna £152 for 100ml eau de toilette penhaligons.com
Moon-bathed goddess slinks her way in a silver robe through a jasmine-swagged fairytale forest.
AromAtom Moon Walk (try it in their Discovery Set, £69 / £65 VIPs)
Serene landscape in fragrance form – a world of sparkling dust and silvery mountains.