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

Vitamin Sea – fragrances for wishing you were still there…

Recently, the tide has turned for salty, marine-themed scents (and PS: they’re not just for summer anymore – evoking glacial lakes and Nordic fjords as well as sun-kissed beaches). But why now this sudden swell of sea-inspired fragrances, you may wonder?

There’s something about the emotional pull of the sea that is eternal. For centuries, it has led philosophers, artists and scientists to pontificate as to exactly why we’re so drawn to the ocean. The Persian mystic Rumi, ruminating on the subject in the 1200s, declared: ‘You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.’ He wasn’t far off, actually.

Modern science has identified that the discovering the human brain is 80% water. More than 70% of the world’s surface is covered by it (over 95% of that yet to be explored). Indeed, it’s hard to disagree with author Arthur C. Clarke, who once astutely remarked: ‘How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.’

So it’s perhaps unsurprising that water exerts such a tidal pull, in our lives. And that as we seek to calm ourselves and reconnect with the elements via our senses, water-inspired scents have been one of the biggest scent trends we’ve seen these last couple of years. These new water-inspired creations don’t simply seek to evoke the ocean, but rivers, waterfalls and deep, coolly inviting lakes. It isn’t only memories of holidays they evoke, either – as lovely as that undoubtedly is during these colder, greyer months; instead, it’s about harnessing the all-year-’round mood-boosting qualities of seascape scents, which we encourage you to paddle and then plunge into, here…

 

 

 

BDK Sel d’Argent
The salty kiss of warm skin, sheer orange blossom shot through with the sparkle of grapefruit and crunchy green galbanum. Think sunlight dancing on waves, somewhere fabulously expensive.
£155 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

 

 

 

Thomas Clipper Atlantic
A spirited journey across the sea, with crisp citrus melting to a fuzzy, honeyed blossom; the deeper base of spice-flecked wood and musk a wonderfully evocative nod to adventure.
£99 for 50ml Cologne thomasclipper.com

 

 

 

Montblanc Explorer Ultra Blue
Luminous bergamot shivers to an icy plunge of alpine freshness. The exclusive, silvered patchouli is the scent of wet stones; ambergris, dawn’s mist still clinging.
From £35 for 30ml eau de parfum theperfumeshop.com

 

 

 

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Forever Pour Homme
Intensely juicy grapefruit fizzes to a cool, shady breeze of violet leaf and Javan vetiver oil across eerily still water; the base a soft white swathe of musk and patchouli.
£55 for 50ml eau de parfum boots.com

 

 

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male on Board
Oh Captain, my Captain! Salt-licked skin tastes of sun-lotion and geranium leaves, a faintly boozy rum-like amber swirled with tonka bean. All aboard!
£72 for 125ml eau de toilette lookfantastic.com

Kenzo L’Eau Kenzo Pour Homme Hyper Wave
Inspired by Japanese art’s iconic ‘Hokusai wave’, zesty mandarin invites spontaneity, soaring to the crest before resting on a bed of moss.
£46 for 50ml eau de toilette boots.com

 

 

 

Cartier Rivières de Cartier Luxuriance
‘Life is often said to flow like a river,’ reflects Mathilde Laurent, wild botanicals rippled through rosemary, mastic, oak and geranium; a cold knife nestled on a riverbed.
£104 for 100ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com

 

 

Nishane EGE / ΑΙΓΑΙΟ
A tribute to the Aegean Sea carrying common bonds between Turkish and Greek culture; yuzu zings through violet leaves, basil and mint to the deliciously sticky olibanum and liquorice base.
£275 for 100ml extrait de parfum ab-presents.co.uk

 

 

 

Skandinavisk Kapitel 4
The herbaceous green embrace of crab-apple entwined dog rose evokes Scandinavian waterways, damp moss, rock pools and the freedom of ‘navigating with no fixed destination’.
£45 for 30ml eau de toilette skandinavisk.com

 

 

 

Laboratorio Olfattivo Salina
A literal evocation of the sea in all its salty glory, one imagines a message in a bottle tossed on roiling waves, a poem of pine trees and sunlight lustily sung on barnacle-bottomed boats.
£90 for 100ml eau de parfum flannels.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in to the water… Five modern aquatics to dive into

Merely mentioning the word ‘aquatics’ in perfume circles has fragrance lovers getting all dewy-eyed (or, alternatively, chlorine-soaked and weeping bucket loads) at memories of the 90s tidal wave of easy-breezy ozonic scents: perfumes that conjure images of salt-tousled, home-highlighted hair and an all-pervading smell of melon and cucumber.
The unmistakable wind of change that shook up the 90s scent scene was partly due to fragrances delighting in overdoses of the synthetic ingredient Calone – less memorably named “methylbenzodioxepinone” – first discovered by Pfizer in 1966 and then rather confusingly trade-named “Calone 1951.”
Used by perfumers to give a stylised seashore waft of a faintly floral, watermelon purity at the heart of their compositions; Calone is weirdly similar to the structure of pheromones excreted by certain species of brown algae, which is undoubtedly fascinating but not the most romantic seaside image, so it’s no surprise advertising focused on salty, suntanned skin and sunset kisses.
Calvin Klein’s Escape was a huge 90s hit, and it heralded an era of those tousle-haired beach-babes we so longed to be, taking the aquatic theme and plunging to the deep end as L’Eau de Bulgari, L’eau d’Issey, CK One and Acqua di Giò swam in similar – now unisex – streams.
Some of those original blockbusters have more than withstood the test of time and are genuinely worth revisiting – Davidoff Cool Water (literally) springs to mind, as does the restrained genius of Issey Miyake’s L’Eau d’Issey and Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani: perhaps the olfactory equivalent of paddling in the comfort of an oft-repeated Friends episode – you might know what you’re getting but goodness it’s nice to reminisce, they were extraordinarily high quality, and still retain the power to make you incredibly happy.
With the 90s revival having heavily influenced fashion for the past couple of years, it’s interesting to see that wave of resurgence has now reached the perfume world’s shores. With nary a hint of waxed-within-an-inch-of-their-lives Baywatch extras among them, these contemporary aquatics are less beach-body-ready and more about modern travellers exploring the world via scents that feel genuinely fresh (as in new, not simply refreshing) using clever Headspace Technology and ingenious ingredients to evoke unique locations that feel dewy, cooling and mysteriously alluring.
Pop on your water-wings and dive on in to these…

Two seas perpetually meet within this ethereally beautiful evocation of Denmark. As the waves kiss, the tide withdraws to reveal a coral glow of ambrette with orange flower, jasmine and rosehips crystalised with salt. Wisps of incense drift down shore with a warm-skin snuggle of vanilla as the sun dips low.
Nancy Meiland Églantier £105 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Nancy Meiland
The sparkling original launched in 2004, for this latest fragrance perfumer Christine Nagel keeps the effervescence but adds huge amounts of space – a sense of crisp white linen, air misted with salt on the breeze, tears of laughter tasted on the lips and an indigo depth of patchouli and dry woods as it settles.
Hermes Eau de Merveilles Bleue £72 for 50ml
Available from March, buy it at John Lewis
Humongously green – a florist-shop explosion of freshly snapped stalks, fat buds bursting and white flowers tied raggedly with twine – this would fill an entire fairytale palace with its otherworldly life-force, and echoes of salty waves mercilessly crashing on rocks as lightning tears the sky assunder.
BeauFort London Fathom V £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at BeauFort London

That moment when the sea melts into the sky is expressed through the seamless serenity of transparent lime, a slowly exhaled mint melding with juicy blackcurrants, softened by blowsy mimosa blossoms and the clarity of white musk. An Event Horizon of celestial bliss and graceful escapism.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia £130 for 70ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Selfridges

Harking to their barber shop heritage, Penhaligon’s invite you to take your ease with a wet plunge from hot to cold, the deeply cooling herbaceous notes of eucalptus and rosemary balanced with the clarity of lemon and fir balsam, patted dry with fluffy white cedar scented towels and a tingle of glowing incense.
Penhaligon’s Savoy Steam £148 for 100ml eau de Cologne
Available from March at Penhaligon’s
Written by Suzy Nightingale