There’s something about woody fragrances that feels especially comforting at this time of year – a snuggle of smooth sandalwood is like wearing a cashmere blanket, dry cedar is wonderfully grounding and the all-pervasive oudh (aka ‘akigalawood’) we suddenly find is being used in fine fragrance as a sexy rumble of a base note, that beckons rather than billows-forth at full-force. Woody scents also make us think of woodlands themselves, long walks in bright, frosty forests with those cheering signs of Spring just beginning to stir – and thank goodness for that!
The only question remains, which perfume path should you choose through the woods…?
Inspired by the stark serenity of British beaches in winter, we were intrigued by the salty driftwood note at the heart of this new fragrance, peppered with bergamot and a mineral accord that stays cool and slinky on the skin, we imagine broken seashells, the rustle of dried grasses and wave-lashed coastlines. Ambroxan and patchouli in the base feel like wearing your softest sweater, pulling your scarf up to your nose and breathing deeply, your soul becalmed.
Amouage Beach Hut Woman £240 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at selfridges.com
Warm in a powerful way, the cedarwood here balances a deliciously decadent accord of roses, jasmine, orange blossom and bergamot. One of those all-day wrist-sniffers, you’ll be taken on a darker journey through the distinctly shadier path of patchouli, cedarwood and an almost sticky-smelling amber at the end (think resinous, dark honey slathered on hot toast. We practically think of nothing else on cold, frosty mornings…)
Ormonde Jayne Ambre Royal £110 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com
Inspired by the Mr. Harrod, Penhaligon’s describe the character of this scent as ‘…a flourishing businessman who has evident appeal with the ladies.’ While that could be interpreted another way, we’re here to say it’s definitely shareable! Spiced plum and patchouli sinks into a jasmine, raspberry and ambergris accord with an oudh, cinnamon, tobacco and cedarwood dry-down that could well be your nose’s new favourite thing.
Penhaligon’s Mr Harrod £185 for 50ml eu de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com
The rich sandalwood is enticingly interlaced with cardamom, coriander and rose for an all-natural scent that’s so soothingly spiced, it’s what our skins are crying out for right now. Fittingly, a percentage of every sale is given to charity – this year to the The Tulsi Trust – which funds health and education projects in Chhattisgarh, a remote area of central India. So it does good while you smell great: win-win.
Marina Barcinella Parfums India £130 for 30ml oil
Buy it at mbparfums.com
Close your eyes and imagine taking a walk among the giant sequoias, as legend has it so tall and denseley packed that sunlight never touches the ground at their roots, a darkly woody haunt of a scent that lingers long after you’ve first sprayed, like some mischevious woodland sprite always darting further ahead. Dry with black tea, cheering with cocoa, it’s pepped up with a glow of saffron and ginger for added warmth, and beguilingly addictive.
There are those who claim certain scents should only be worn in summer – the lighter, more citrus-laden ones for the most part – and that we should reserve the heavier, more opulent fragrances for our winter wardrobes. But is this once foregranted ‘fact’ still true…?
Certainly, in hot weather you may find your fragrance seems ‘stronger’ or more overpowering, the heat causing the notes to evolve on the skin more rapidly and bloom around you in fragrant waves. This is exactly why brands sometimes offer lighter versions of their bestselling scents for the summer. Indeed, some people prefer heavier more full-bodied, comforting, almost ‘cocooning’ scents in the winter – but again, this is completely individual.
Personally, at The Perfume Society, we do tend towards richer fragrances that we love to rediscover at around the time when we reach for our opaque tights, our socks (and vests!), switching to airier perfumes for the warmer months. But never let anyone tell you what perfume to wear and when – just do what feels right for you. We say: scent ‘rules’ are made to be broken, so just follow your nose…
We find winter is actually a perfect time to refresh your senses, and re-visit those scents you perhaps didn’t quite get on with in summer – cooler weather and damper climates makes your skin react completely differently, so why not try some fragrances you may have written-off forever?
While you’re at it – have a dig around in your collection for ‘spring fresh’ or ‘summer-y’ scents that you already love and see how differently they bloom on your skin at this time of year. Just as too much turkey and endless chocolates can have you yearning for a crisp salad, it’s good to go over to the light side for a change of scent-scene now and again.
Here’s our list of five transitional scents to try for a time-travelling experience out of your comfort zone. So, shake off those heavy layers and prepare to get zingy with some winter freshness…
Zesty to the point of mouth-watering excess, the energising burst of crushed ripe fruit uses the darker extract of sweet blood orange juice juxtaposed against bitter orange peel and warming wafts of geranium for a feel-good cloud of happiness. Formulated to last far longer than traditional Colognes but losing none of their zippiness – hoorah! Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine £49.50 for 30ml Cologne Absolue
Buy it at John Lewis
Ignore the grey skies, close your eyes and imagine the Provençal setting sun, still warm on your skin (move closer to the fire or add another layer of clothing, if necessary…)Aromatically fresh with the fizz of bergamot and pink pepper, the true heart of honey infused lavender is balanced by the milky acacia blossoms, the nuttiness of tonka beans and balsamic warmth of the earthier base. L’Occitane Terre de Lumière Limited Edition bottle, £58 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at loccitane.com
A lusciously fruity mixture of milky fig cut through with Turkish apricot and green tea for a deliciously refreshing blend that still feels nurturingly comforting. A wearable panna cotta with just enough wobble and topped with glistening slices of that succulent fruit – we have no doubt you’ll want to dive in. Fresh Fig Apricot £76 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Harrods
The tart, raspberry freshness of Turkish rose and the subtle woodiness of thorny stems enhanced by geranium melt slowly to a softly cushioned fuzziness of peonies and vibrant freesia, gently sprinkled with black pepper and drizzled with honey. Every bit as delicious as it sounds, it’s a ballerina dancing in a garden as the sun rises and blushes the sky the colour of her frothy tutu. Aqua di Parma Peonia Nobile £78 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Selfridges
Ripening tomatoes lovingly stroked in a greenhouse, sunlight glinting on frosty hedgerows and mint leaves floating in a pitcher of homemade lemonade – this enlivening scent whisks you to the home of the Mitchell family at Foxbury Farm. Sparkling citrus rubs shoulders with herbaceous greens and English flowers grown in their fields; drying down to the classically elegant combination of musk and cedar wood. Mitchell and Peach English Leaf Fine Edition £55 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Roullier White
Written by Suzy Nightingale
An incredible scene of people venuring forth into the outside world without their coats or umbrellas has been revealed out and about around town these last couple of days. Shockingly, some Londoners were even seen smiling at strangers.
We know. We’re still reeling.
And the cause of this unexpected behaviour? Actual sunshine has been seen, warmth felt on skin, and buxom buds are bursting in to life around us. After what seems like the longest, greyest winter ever (even though it hasn’t actually been that bad, it’s felt soooo long – or is that just us?) it feels as though spring has sprung!
Oh the joy – the utter heady thrill – of casting off a scarf and popping to Pret in a cardie. (Yes, we know how to live here at TPS Towers!) It’s enough to make you feel like a hedonist. Or even like smiling. And with the change in weather, we’re rifling through our fragrance wardrobes and reaching for something lighter, brighter – to match our moods. May we suggest you join us…? Beautiful Blossoms is a carefully curated and truly stunning Discovery Box of floral-themed scents for you to waft to your heart’s delight from the comfort of your own home – this petal-powered collection taps into our everlasting love of floral fragrances – giving you a chance to fully explore this perennially popular family in its myriad nuances…
Amidst an amazing array of fragrances to try at home (and try again – never go by your first spritz alone! These scents have been composed to develop over several hours on your skin, so give them time and let them settle…) you’ll also find our signature ‘Smelling Notes’, to help you explore the collection in greater depth, via your special blotters (also included).
PS: With Mother’s Day fast approaching, this could solve all your gift-giving dramas. You don’t need to know which fragrance they like or pay over the odds for a sadly battered bouquet!
Click here for full details or to order the box, which is currently exclusively priced to our VIP Subscribers at the VIP price of £12.50 (a great saving on the non-Subscriber price of £17.50)
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Now, for the fragrant noses out there that don’t know, in France, May Day is known as Fête du Muguet. It is tradition on this day, to give Lily of the Valley to your loved ones and people who inspire you, to wish them happiness and good luck.
It all began in 1561 on May 1st when King Charles IX received a Lily of the Valley as a lucky charm. He decided then to offer a flower each year to the ladies of the court.
And so at the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a definitive symbol of springtime, to your loved ones. It was commonplace for peasants to go out to the fields to pick many flowers and then hand-tie them to sell on May Day. In fact, now, because of this, the government still permits people to sell them tax-free.
Now, if you love the sweet springtime scent of Lily of the Valley, but just don’t want it to fade like a bunch of the innocent flowers will, here’s a list of our favourite Muguet fragrances for you to keep a little bit of that May Day feeling all year round.
Sweet, fresh and graceful, Penhaligon’s offering is akin to walking into a blooming field of muguet. Accents of jasmine and bergamot keep it fresh, whilst sandalwood in the base ensures a creamy trail on the skin.
Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley £67 for 50ml eau de toilette
Dewy white flowers steal the show in this meadow-like scent from Molton Brown. Silky ylang-ylang, sandalwood and a soft, sensual white musk linger for a tender, enduring finish.
Molton Brown Dewy Lily of the Valley & Star Anise £39 for 50ml eau de toilette
At Molton Brown
Paired with red berries and rose, Annick Goutal’s Soliflore is a tender and airy floral and leaves the skin with traces of a warm, sweet benzoin.
Annick Goutal Le Muguet £74 for 100ml eau de toilette
This gentle scent from Fragonard accentuates the lily of the valley at the heart by surrounding it with other similarly delicate flowers; jasmine, neroli and freesia. Secret spring garden walks bottled.
Guerlain’s newest incarnation of the dainty flower is greener, pinker and even more cheerful than previous offerings. Dewy roses and subtly sensual jasmine make Thierry Wasser’s creation oh-so-wearable.
Guerlain Muguet Limited Edition of 1,872 £370 for 100ml eau de parfum
In store at Selfridges
The scent of the tiny white bell-like flower is captured in its truest form here in a Robbie Honey candle. Burn it for a touch of springtime in the home.
Robbie Honey Muguet Des Bois Scented Candle £42 for 190g – 60 hours burn time
At Fortnum & Mason
Happy May Day to one and all!
By Carson Parkin-Fairley
We don’t know about you, but recently our coats, woolens and winter-weight duvets have been off and on again more times than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Some days we truly can believe that Spring has sprung, as sunshine beams through the buxomly bursting buds of magnolia trees and even the most sullen faces twist into something resembling a smile; the next day it’s back to gale-force winds, grey skies and constant drizzle. Spring may have sprung, but it’s bouncing about all over the place!
To carry on regardless of the weather, we sometimes need a bit of optimistic wish-fulfillment in our scent choices – the kind of British pluck that got us through several wars, allows us to merely tut at cancelled trains and can bally well help us pretend the sun IS constantly shining and yes it IS warm enough to go outside without legs permanently encased like sausages in 200 denier tights, thank-you-very-much. Here’s our selection of scents to put the Spring back in your step: no matter what the weather’s doing, there’s something to match your mood through sunshine and showers alike…
Ultra-talented British perfumer Lyn Harris presides over an exquisite new boutique perfumery that’s the fragrance equivalent of visiting an Haute Couture atelier. Offering bespoke, hand-blended unique perfumes alongside an ever-changing seasonal collection of ‘ready to wear’, the latest trio features this delectable concoction of ylang ylang absolue, vetiver, angelica grain and vanilla bourbon. Cool like the first drops of rain yet rounded with a fluffiness somehow; the bouquet of jasmine, orange flower and iris is fused with the fresh air top notes and a tenderly whispered amber musk of a base. The stunning hand-blown glass bottle is an investment for sure, but refills are available for £170.
Perfumer H Rain Cloud £320 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it in-store at Perfumer H
Using ‘headspace technology’ – an ingenious contraption that’s basically a high-tech bell-jar hooked up to an incredibly powerful smell-analysing computer – Vilhelm truly capture the heady scent of a live lilac veritably humming with sunshine. In the language of flowers, lilac spells the unfurling petals of first-love that blooms into full blown passion, an affair we would definitely want to be involved with while wearing this perfume…
Vilhelm ParfumerieA Lilac a Day £145 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Liberty
Oh-so-pretty lily of the valley is blended with creamy magnolia and delicate peony to gather a dew-drop sprinkled bouquet that sparkles with a cool freshness on the greyest of days. Unusual notes of green mandarin and white tea are punctuated with flecks of star anise and a lingering softly musky sandalwood dry-down that lingers mistily. [NB: You can try a sample of this in the Molton Brown Art of Fragrance Discovery Box!]
Molton BrownDewy Lily of the Valley & Star Anise £39 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at John Lewis
A celebration of Calabrian bergamot, this is truly sunshine in a bottle – we defy you not to smile at the first spritz. Continuing with their far longer-lasting versions of Cologne, the citrus tang is definitely the main story here, but with waves of jasmine, ambrette, lavender and deeper notes of vetiver and oak moss radiating joy.
Atelier Cologne Bergamot Soleil £90 for 100ml Cologne Absolute
Buy it at John Lewis
Part of Bronnley’s Eclectic Elements collection, this pulses with life – one moment a woodland with fresh foliage licked clean from a rain-shower, then hints of sunshine peeking through the clouds with a glisten of orange flower. The leather, amber and incense base add depth to the green woodiness as you follow the trail through shady glades and patches of brightness. We’re impressed with the stylish modern packaging and pocket-friendly price, too.
Sumptuously fruity in a grown-up cocktail way, this glows likes little jewels scattered across a treasure-strewn beach. Grapefuit gets the sparkle going, buoyed by blackcurrant buds and orange blossom and shot through with bright tuberose and lemon for extra lift. Tempered by tea, gently spiced with pepper and grounded in a musky base, it’s a not-too-sweet treat to make your mouth water.
Inspired by the original Marc Jacobs Splash collection, fans will be overjoyed to know that four scents are making a come-back for Spring 2016 (expected on-counter in May), including one of the most popular – Rain. Exuding the unique ‘petrichor’ smell that fills the air just after a downpour, we have freshly cut grass and flowers bathed in water drops together with strawberries and celementine and a more tropical storm of a heart with passion flower, white orchids and base of burnished teak dusted with a powdery white musk.
Marc Jacobs Rain £38 for 100ml
Buy it at Debenhams in May.
Bursting with just-peeled mandarin this sings from the bottle with sheer happiness – a vibrant and mood-lifting fragrance to reach for when going outside is just too grim to imagine. Energising grapefruit joins the citrus accord, and given a creamy sandalwood base on which to rest. Part of their Jardin de Vie range launched earlier this year, the fragrances are all-natural and suitable for vegans, too. [NB: Why not try this sunshine-scent at home as part of our Exquisite Essences Discovery Box?]
Weleda Agrume £19.95 for 50ml eau naturelle parfumée
Buy it at Weleda
A sublimely cool, calm and collected infusion that surprises with a peppery opening of bergamot, coriander seed and carrot seed, it’s the orris-rich heart – complemented by a bouquet of exotic white flowers: jasmine, magnolia and osmanthus – that will fully sparkle to seduce you. The base soothes with aphrodisiac Tahitian vanilla bud wrapped up in warm amber, the smoky coolness of vetiver ensuring it never tips into over-sweetness. Enveloping yet utterly refined, the rich base retains its elegance on your skin throughout the day, in warm weather or foul. [NB: Explore a sample of this among others in our Secret Scentsations Discovery Box]
Ormonde Jayne Vanille d’Iris from £90 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Ormonde Jayne
Philosophy are known for the prettiest bright and breezy line of fragrances and matching scented body products, and with the very latest perfume (launching April 27th), they seek to capture the true scent of those carefree, sunny days (several in a row, perhaps!) we so long for at this time of year. Notes include the fizz of bergamot, a gentle dune rose, the creaminess of sandalwood infused with rich cocoa absolute and a splash of refreshing coconut water. Solar musks give a lift to the delicious vanilla lingering in the base, and frankly we think you should spritz this with abandon, put on your coolest shades and treat yourself to an ice cream in anticipation…
Philosophy Pure Summer Grace £33 for 50ml eau de toilette
Exclusive to John Lewisfrom 27th April