The Scent of Snowdrops & the Promise of Spring

In the depths of winter, when life seems dormant and waiting, there is one little glimpse of brighter times to come – a whiff of hope on the frosty breeze – in that cheering moment we first spot a snowdrop. Yes, that might sound clichéd, but I defy you to smother a smile when you see one.

SO delicately scented with a lightly honeyed, creamy almond kind of smell, the latin name ‘Galanthus‘ means ‘milky flower’, and this tiny bloom has gathered centuries of fragrant folklore around its origins, continuing to inspire perfumers with its transcendent prettiness.

Native to Alpine regions, where they thrive amidst the cold, mountainous climes; snowdrops are believed to have first appeared in the British Isles when they were brought there by monks. It’s rather nice to imagine them tenderly tucked in religious robes while they travelled, but however they first arrived, they took root in the frozen winter soil of this country, and in our souls, somehow. Perhaps we were seduced by the mythology – stories passed down through generations, such as the legend recounted on the snowdrop-centric website snowdrops.me: ‘when you listen closely,’ they explain, ‘you can hear their bells ringing, trying to wake up nature from its winter sleep.’ Even more beautiful is the ancient German tale re-told on The Creative Countryside blog:

 

 

 

‘At the beginning of all things when life was new, the Snow sought to borrow a colour. The flowers were much admired by all the elements but they guarded their colour’s jealousy and when the Snow pleaded with them, they turned their backs in contempt for they believed the Snow cold and unpleasant. The tiny humble snowdrops took pity on the Snow for none of the other flowers had shown it any kindness and so they came forth and offered up to the Snow their colour. The Snow gratefully accepted and became white forevermore, just like the Snowdrops. In its gratitude, the Snow permitted the little pearly flowers the protection to appear in winter, to be impervious to the ice and bitter chill. From then on, the Snow and the Snowdrops coexisted side by side as friends.’

 

I’ll be the first to admit the smell of snowdrops isn’t effusive, it doesn’t billow through the woods as a scented cloud harkening Spring; but though tenderly scented, it’s the symbolism of this flower that so inspires perfumers, I think. And to which we feel drawn – perhaps likening ourselves to the ‘brave’ flower having clung on through icy conditions, and having managed to immerge, even through the frozen ground. A triumph of beauty over adversity, if you will.

 

 

 

 

Quietly scented (to us) they may be, but that smell acts as a clarion call for potential pollinators. The composition of the snowdrop’s fragrant waft depends on the type of insect it wants to attract. The honeyed kind attract bees (and us), but because the snowdrop is a fairly recent inhabitant on British shores, the scent they exude can also be a wordless cry to a species not available here. So, not all snowdrops have a smell that pleases the masses. Explains the National Plant Collection of Galanthus at Bruckhills Croft in Aberdeenshire on their snowdrops.me blog (where you can purchase several varieties of the flower): ‘The species Koenenianus is often described as having a smell of animal urine or bitter almonds, so perhaps has evolved to attract pollenating beetles in its native North-Eastern Turkey?’

 

 

 

 

Fragrances evoking snowdrops are (given our love for the flowers and their symbolism) still surprisingly rather scarce, but when we find them they may lean on the tenderly honeyed side of their scent (I’m very glad to say), with clever ‘noses’ tending to use a blend of notes to evoke these seasonal flagposts of hope in their fragrances – boosting their brightness, smoothing the edges, radiating anticipation. Such is the alchemy of a fragrant composition, we might be smelling lily-of-the-valley or bluebell accords (also imagined evocations) or the dewy green of violet leaf. Creamy white musks are often used to create that elegant shiver of the flower, or a whisper of cool woodiness wafting an imagined breeze to shake their bells. Conversely, the sense of snowdrops may be borrowed to add pale shafts of sunlight within the darkness of a scent, the contrast emboldening the harmony of the whole blend.

So, while you may not pick up a bottle and confidently declare ‘Aha! I detect snowdrops!’ we can quite willingly succumb to the romance of the story, and cling on to the feeling of hopefulness each of these four snowdrop fragrances grant the wearer…

 

 

 

 

Shay & Blue Black Tulip From £7.95 for 10ml eau de parfum
Contrasts abound as white chocolate swathes spiced plum, but before gourmand-avoiders back away, it’s not overtly sweet – think of it more like the silky ‘mouth-feel’ amidst swathes of bright snowdrops and creamy cyclamen. The dark heart hushes to wood shavings, curls of chocolate still falling like snowflakes.

 

 

Zoologist Snowy Owl £175 for 60ml extrait de parfum
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s calone-based ‘snow accord’ imagines the backdrop for the owl’s scented swooping: ‘A thick carpet of silver envelops the landscape, untouched but for the dazzling reflection of the sun.’ Icy mint, lily of the valley and coconut drift to snowdrops and sap-filled galbanum, softly feathered by the moss-snuggled base.

 

 

 

A portrait of a frozen stream in perfumed form, snowdrops and freesia are lapped by lychee water, peony petals and jasmine hinting at warmer days, clementine blossom a burat of happiness amidst misty, crystalline musks. Then, the smooth teakwood base is whipped through with fluffs of creamy vanilla for an ambient blanket of calm.

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Flanders Lawn £85 for 30ml eau de parfum
Kate learned perfumery at her mother’s knee, taking over the house after Angela died, with this dew-speckled, dawn-struck scent her first offering. ‘Lawn marked a new start for me as a perfumer’, she explains, ‘and is therefore a most appropriate scent for the time of year when we feel ready to embrace the promise of a new season.’

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Blustery Walks, Bottled! Fragrances for Feeling Outdoors-y (when you can’t be)

Given the horrendous weather of late – snow, torrential rain and flooding, gales, hurricanes, even tornados in the U.K! – it’s not exactly been ideal for getting outdoors and enjoying a stroll. However, this is where fragrances can come into their own during inclement weather: we can wear them to get a sense of being outdoors, of experiencing the freedom and head-clearing calm of being so, without setting a foot (or wellington boot) outside the door if we don’t feel up to facing it!

 

 

 

Here’s our edit of outdoors-y scents that, while feeling seasonally appropriate, also allow an exploration of woodlands, coastal paths and countryside escapism with every spritz…

 

 

Sarah Baker Tartan Extrait

This is a classic of the collection that’s been adored since the scents were first launched. Sarah McCartney, the nose for this one, is better known as the founder of quirky British house 4160 Tuesdays, but here collaborated with Baker to compose this marvel. Picture it: Warmth and heritage envelope you after a bracing walk through mossy ruins in Scotland’s Highlands. A fire is roaring in the library. You put your feet up and slowly sip a rare single malt. Bliss!

£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum In Our Shop

 

 

Kingdom Scotland Portal

Portal is described as ‘a gateway to the ancient Caledonian forests of Scotland.’ It’s fresh, outdoorsy, gusting with herbaceous botanicals and bergamot, notes chosen to evoke verdant florals, resting on a veritable forest floor of vetiver and Scots pine. Kingdom Scotland’s description – ‘an escape to a sylvan wonderland’ – hints at its power to transport you to the shade of the tranquil forest. All the benefits of hiking minus the mud (and smelling rather more fabulous). Bonus,

£120 for 50ml eau de parfum  in our shop

 

 

Goldfield & Banks Wood Infusion

An homage to the perfect beauty of a landscape you’ve fallen in love with, this moss-nestled hug of woods feels lined in silk, being dusted with smooth iris and slicked with a sheen of sandalwood. Inspired by Australia’s heritage-listed Fraser Island, it’s an immediate escape route in a bottle – spray, breathe in, close your eyes and exude the power of nature.

£138 for 100ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

 

Houbigant Fougère Royale

Think of a scenario where you’ve found a cosy bolthole in an incongruously wonderful old pub in the middle of nowhere. The door opens, a cold blast blows through the open door, and a dapper walker removes their heavy (£££) wool coat to reveal a sprig of herbs carefully tucked into the lapel of a herringbone jacket, worn beneath. The olive from his dry Martini is sucked in a slightly lascivious manner. Suddenly much warmer than you were, you are deliciously intrigued…

RRP £165 for 100ml eau de parfum (currently £145)  libertylondon.com

 

 

 

 

Olfactive Studio Woody Mood

Close your eyes and imagine taking a walk among the giant sequoias, as legend has it so tall and densely 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.

 £140 for 100ml eau de parfum jovoyparis.uk

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Bring on the Winter Zing: Getting Fresh With Neroli

Okay, yes. We tend to associate citrus fragrances more usually with warmer weather – where juicy lemon, lime, orange and even the more unusual yuzu are used for their refreshing, thirst-quenching appeal. However, holy moly, we need brightness more in these earlier months of the year than at any other.

So, what else can we look for when summer-y Colognes just feel wrong, but we CRAVE freshness nonetheless? Well, we would be well advised to lean into scents that put us in mind of the sunshine one gets on the very best of winter days. The kind of light that sparkles on frosty leaves, adds glitter to even the greyest pavement, and brings a feeling of almost childlike joy (despite the bitter weather!) An ingredient we would urge you to look for to recreate such sunshine-and-ice-kissed moments is neroli.

 

 

It’s truly one of THE most prized perfumery ingredients for gifting a uniquely floral freshness and zing to a fragrance’s formula. But where does this magical note come from, and how does it differ from other fresher notes?

The bitter orange tree – Citrus aurantium var. amara – is one of the wonders of the fragrant world. (You might better know it as the Seville orange tree and associate it with marmalade.) The leaves and twigs give us petitgrain, while the cold-pressed peel of the fruit gives us bigarade. But it’s the olfactory orgy of white neroli blossoms which get ‘noses’ (and fragrance lovers) really excited: airy, citrusy, green, but with whispers of honey and orange bubbling subtly underneath; it’s like taking scented  stealth vitamins that seep into your consciousness and make everything a bit better; or a short break to warmer climes in order to recharge your soul. In bottles, how much handier (and less ruinous) to access for instantaneous uplift, though.

 

Neroli is extracted by steam distillation of freshly-picked flowers, a process which much smell akin to perfume heaven, while the name ‘neroli’ comes from a small Italian town near Rome, and a princess who lived there. Anne Marie Orsini (aka Anna Maria de la Tremoille, and originally French, though basically adopted as Italian because that’s how it rolls when you’re noble and rich ), fell in love with the scent of neroli, which fragranced the air in spring. Can hardly blame her, really, because it’s surely one of the most universally pleasing smells in the world, and oh lord (or Princess) – how we are craving springtime right now!

Ah well. Until the opaque tights can be safely ditched, and until the actual change of season; might we suggest you make like Anne Marie, and similarly seek out these neroli-centric scents for some added joy and sparkle in fragrant form…?

 

 

 

 

Mizensir White Neroli £185 for 100ml eau de parfum

Radiating the gasp-making mood-shift of dawn’s first ray of light touching the ground, neroli gently shakes the senses awake, scattering pearlescent dew drops of hedione among the fluff of white musk and spiritual drifts of frankincense.

 

 

 

 

Granado Limāo & Néroli £52 for 100ml eau de Cologne

Encompassing the entire bitter orange tree’s gifts to perfumery, the neroli adds clarity and pale sunshine slicing through clouds, petitgrain brings leafiness, invigoratingly bracing lemon and the more herbaceous lime a tonic for the soul.

 

 

Edeniste Neroli Sensuel £68 for 30ml eau de parfum

Expressing the tender nature of neroli, the white petals are wrapped around the more biting wakeup call of petitgrain, harmonising perfectly with juicy pear and luminous peach (still sun-warmed it feels) for a fresh caress at any time.

 

 

 

 

 

Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa £104 for 50ml eau de Cologne

The classic gets sultrified, the freshness of neroli and iconic Calabrian bergamot charismatically sizzled up with slices of ginger, atop a supple leather, cedar and patchouli-snuggled base. Marvellously smile-inducing, even on Very Trying Days.

 

 

 

Maison Crivelli Neroli Nasimba £85 for 30ml eau de parfum

The neroli smoulders unusually amidst oodles of orange blossom and luminous mandarin contrasted with the cool spice of cardamom and deep, animalic purr of Saffiano leather. Like discovering your pockets are lined with soft yellow velvet.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Scenting the Winter Solstice

Marking the rebirth of the sun, and a renewal of hope and lighter days ahead, the Winter Solstice has enthralled cultures around the world for many centuries. That gradual waning of daylight hours – which, oh golly, has felt eternal and gloom-laden – is reversed, and in religious ceremonies, in the alignment of ancient monuments, and in households eager to fling back the curtains, we gratefully welcome the light again.

It takes time, of course, for us to notice the incremental extra minutes, then hours, that we can look to the sky and feel hopeful again; but there are things that can help. A brisk walk in whatever nature you can access (even twice around the block when you’re in a funk) can shake off some of the frosted cobwebs; and a generous spritz of a scent that has somehow captured the midwinter sunshine and magnified it – a perfumed prism of happiness, if you like – is fantastic for an instant uplift. These aren’t the balmy, beachy scents of summer, which can feel a little brash and jolting right now; but the gentle winter sunshine contained within can add a sparkle and genuinely can help boost your mood.

Until the sun feels like it’s in the right place again, please consider seeking these out to help you feel a bit lighter of spirit….

 

 

la montana first light 50ml

La Montaña First Light

A cool gasp of surprise as sunlight sets the top of a mountain ablaze, dew-sparkled fennel, the rosy-green fuzz of geranium and silvery pine needles warmed by a touch of balsam-burnished leather in the base.

£65 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

 

 

Moncler Les Sommets Le Solstice

Sun-glistened icicles viewed from the snugness of your luxury wooden cabin in a chic ski-resort. Smooth, powdery iris hugs cool violet and buoyantly radiant musk. It’s sipping Champagne wearing fluffy slippers time!

£175 for 100ml eau de parfum harveynichols.com

 

 

Moncler Sunrise Pour Femme

Moncler have clearly  also been inspired by sunlit mountain peaks (and why wouldn’t you be?) this time the rays ripple through bursts of grapefruit, golden pear, velvety petals and a violet-dusted woodiness that lasts ‘til dusk.

£76 for 60ml eau de parfum houseoffraser.co.uk

 

 

 

Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver

Soothing whispers of endless comfort swirl in exquisite minimalism, a blanket of iris covering frosted hawthorns, radiant hedione glistening through melting icicles, the sun low but bright and rising, slicing through sadness.

£240 for 100ml eau de toilette libertylondon.com

 

 

Edeniste Néroli Sensuel 

Neroli doesn’t have orange blossom’s summer swagger, but it feels like light pouring into a room when the curtains are flung open. Crystalline pear and juicy white musk-swathed peach match the glittering, frosted aura.

£68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

 

Cloon Keen Atelier Frosted Moon

Ethereal moonlight kisses frosted grass, sparkles of ice shards piercing beneath winter’s mantle to vetiver’s welcoming earthiness: spring’s bulbs warmly cocooned.

£120 for 100ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Pep Up Your Perfumes! Black & Pink Pepper Scents

It’s definitely the time of year we need a pep to our perfumes, and thankfully many scents showcase pepper – of the black and pink varieties (though chilli and other types are increasingly being used). Pepper pairs so well and enhances many ingredients, just as the spice does in cooking, so are often used as a type of ‘scented seasoning’ within a fragrance formula. However, as you will see, pepper can radiate wonderfully when allowed to shine as a more dominant ingredient, too.

You can read our Ingredient pages for the more about the fascinating history and uses of both black pepper, and pink pepper; but meanwhile, we urge you to seek out these spice-sprinkled scents and add an olfactory tingle to get you through colder days…

 

Molton Brown Black Pepper Recharge

This iconic sizzle of a scent was WAY ahead of its time, with the magnificent pepper enhanced by lemon and ginger and dark green herbs – a true wake-up call to get you going any time you need a fragrant boost!

£120 for 100ml eau de parfum moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

ARgENTUM Magician

Inviting you to ‘take the dare’, clove bud and chilli-flecked incense curls skyward while pepper-flecked ribbons on unctuous myrrh, sticky labdanum and the grounding steadiness of cedar evoke ancient, healing balms.

£228 for 70ml eau de parfum in our shop (or try a sample in the Fire Collection Discovery Kit for £28)

 

 

Kingdom Scotland Metamorphic

A wee splash of Islay malt amidst black pepper, tobacco, incense, minerals and rose absolute. Metamorphosing on the skin as it’s warmed to reveal a base of amber resin and leather, it’s an absolutely stunning winter warmer.

£120 for 50ml eau de parfuin our shop

 

 

 

Molton Brown Fiery Pink Pepper

This perkily spiced pink pepper is delicately balanced, with the alluring layers enhanced by the complex aromas, it’s the top notes of those peppercorns mixed with tangerine and elemi oil that really reel you in for more…

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

 

 

Ostens Rose Oil Isparta

Using the highest concentration of exquisite quality rose oil, Dominique Ropion, no less, conjures blackcurrant jammy-ness shot through with pink pepper’s tingle. Voluptuous, addictive, the closest thing to Heaven on earth.

£135 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

4160 Tuesdays Shazam!

Evoking the olfactory adventures of wandering a spice market in the Marrakesh Medina, a sassy pink pepper sizzle atop a classy, classic amber base of resinous labdanum balsam with cardamom, cocoa and vanilla.

£65 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Glorious Ginger

Ginger fragrances are definitely having a moment – perhaps we’re simply gravitating toward them more at this time of the year, for their warming spiciness? But ginger can do far more than add a tingle to scent: there’s the juiciness of freshly sliced ginger root for adding an almost aqueous touch to a composition, too.

Many of us are familiar with the beige-skinned, yellow-fleshed fresh spice, which adds pungency to cooking – as the Romans, who first imported it, discovered. Those same roots we love to spice up our food with – rhizomes, to use the perfume world’s word for them – can be steam-distilled to produce this useful scented oil.

Ginger can be variously bracing, uplifting and almost nose-tinglingly spicy, depending on the type (and how much) a perfumer chooses for their formula. And ginger can be very versatile – it pairs beautifully with vanilla, woody notes and citrus, for example; as well as white flowers like jasmine and sunlight-filled neroli. This spice is used quite widely in perfumery – as well as a wide range of foods and medicines, too, produced everywhere from South America to Malaysia, the Caribbean, Japan and Africa.

With many people now enjoying ginger ‘shots’ for a bracing morning drink – using it to clear the cobwebs and ward-off colds – we’re suggesting you seek out these gloriously ginger-spiced scents for a more fragrantly lasting (and just as soul-reviving) boost…

 

When this launched as an eau de parfum, it became a best-seller, setting many hearts aflame. Now the latest to be intensified as an extrait, the orange blossom is a new, buxomly formidable accord developed by Sarah, with caramelised zest and ginger’s zing . A car chase through tuberose fields on fire, she says. Oh MY! Fan me.

Sarah Baker Flame & Fortune Extrait Pre-order for £120 instead of £145 sarahbakerperfumes.com

 

 

Alive with Asian aromatics, tingling like a ginger martini, the succulent mandarin squeezes sweetness onto ginger’s vibrantly quenching, just-grated spiciness. Wrapped in the golden glow of amber, the ginger grows spicier and drier as it warms on skin. Utterly delicious, it seems to segue through all the seasons, seamlessly.

Goldfield & Banks Ingenious Ginger £138 for 100ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

(P.S.: Try a sample as part of the Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box – £23 / £19 for VIPs)

Oh this is much-needed at any time, but never more than in winter! A uniquely spicy green floral that boosts confidence via zingy Ethiopian ginger absolute and crisp pink peppercorn; the fresh spices tingle amidst the verdancy, with gorgeous wafts of Indian jasmine absolute and iris concrete to enhance the instant bliss.

Edeniste Lifeboost Well Being £68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

 

floris-vert-fougere

 

An imagining of a fern in an English garden at twilight, lavender and patchouli entwine galbanum for a damp, earthy beginning. A cool lingering of tempered sunlight is evoked via a bitter-citrus accord of bergamot, neroli and grapefruit, the encroaching darkness cut through with ginger’s sparkle, then grounded in smoky shadows.

Floris Vert Fougére from £30 for 10ml eau de parfum florislondon.com

 

 

 

Exploring the believed ‘psychoactive and spiritual’ facets of oudh, joyous bergamot greets you like a dear friend, a surge of ginger awakening senses before cedar smooths a path to the main feature. When the oudh hits it’s like a bear hug. One to spritz on sluggish mornings when the duvet refuses to release you from its plump embrace.

INITIO Oud for Happiness £305 for 90ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fragrances For… Feeling Warmer

Seemingly endless grey days of rain and chilliness call for a snuggle of warming fragrances, so we are currently hunkering down with soul-hugging spices and mood-shifting citrus-burst scents that have the power to uplift and slice through ‘meh’ like a hot knife through butter.

Come on, let’s buck-up via these tempting, tingle-laden perfumes…

 

 

 

VYRAO Sun Rae

Seasonally sad? Console yourself with this gloriously uplifting scent – infused with ‘a supercharged Herkimer diamond crystal for clarity and to boost energy levels’, the brilliant Lyn Harris creates her own magic from a ZING! POP! FIZZ! of citrus explosions that feel like you’re being beamed above the clouds with every spritz. Turmeric and black pepper add layers of welcome warmth while bergamot, lemon, and aqueous ginger sparkle like bottled sunshine throughout.

£135 for eau de parfum libertylondon.com

 

Try the first fragrances in VYRAO’s collection in travel-size form via their High Five Discovery Set

 

 

Parfums de Marly Althaïr

Eau. My. God. Vanilla lovers, you are going to NEED to get this on your skin. Vanilla naysayers? You’re going to need to try it, too. Swoony Bourbon vanilla (deliciously dark, decadently delicious) will be to blame for your new addiction, generously swirled through tobacco smoke rings, which seduces orange blossoms to embrace praline, convinces sparkling citrus to kiss sizzling spices and swathes guaiac wood in butter-soft leather. Go on, we dare you to succumb.

£230 for 125ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

(PSST! Try a sample of Althaïr in the Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box – 14 x samples £19 for VIPS / £23 RRP)

 

 

Abercrombie & Fitch Authentic Self Woman

Brilliant in every sense, the vibrant yellow bottle hints at the explosion of freshness within – a zesty wake-up call at a time when spirits may well be flagging, wonderfully enlivened with this welcomingly vivacious gem. Lemon peel, sharp gooseberry and luscious pear get the nose a-tingle before a beautiful bouquet of freesia, jasmine and lily of the valley are mellowed by the woody musk of the base. And look at the price!

£39 for 50ml eau de parfum thefragranceshop.co.uk

 

 

AKRO East

Inspired by his frequent travels across the Middle East, perfumer, and co-founder (with his daughter, Anais) Olivier Cresp here explores the love affair with oudh – a note he skilfully coaxes to still surprise. Paired with raspberry, the sharpness slices through the smoky-spiced woodiness, and one can imagine it placed on a burning coal, the sootiness and succulence a marriage made in scented heaven, the fruitiness contrasting yet utterly complimenting the smouldering depths. Quite magnificent.

£220 for 100ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

 

 

PACO RABANNE Invictus Victory Elixir Parfum Intense

When you need a fragrance that keeps going and powers you forward through any obstacle, this is the one to reach for when spirits are flagging. As Paco Rabanne says, it’s ‘A potent elixir made to push victory beyond limits. The time has come to embrace your moment of immortality.’ A thrust of freshness up top from Provençal lavandin provides aromatic, almost peppery pungency with bursts of green cardamom and mysterious, vanilla-swirled woods as it warms.

£71 for 50ml parfum boots.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Desperately Seeking Sunshine? Try These Orange Blossom Scents!

Did you ever sleep in a field of orange-trees in bloom? The air which one inhales deliciously is a quintessence of perfumes. This powerful and sweet smell, as savoury as a sweetmeat, seems to penetrate one, to impregnate, to intoxicate, to induce languor, to bring about a dreamy and somnolent torpor. It is like opium prepared by fairy hands and not by chemists.

Guy de Maupassant, 88 Short Stories

Orange blossom is beloved by perfumers in light-filled ‘solar’ scents – a newly emerging category, and a word I’ve found increasingly used for fragrances which aren’t merely fresh, but attempt the alchemy of bottling sunshine. And these fragrances are more welcome than ever when the season’s change means the darkness hits early, the days seem unnaturally shortened, yet somehow endlessly grey. As such, I urge you to seek out these orange blossom scents – SO right for right now!

 

It’s the bitter orange tree we have to thank for these heady white blossoms – one of the most benificent trees in the world, for it also gives us neroli, orange flower water and petitgrain – all utterly unique in smell, from verdant to va-va-voom depending how they are distilled and the quantity used in a fragrance.

Originating from Asia, the bitter orange was introduced to North Africa by crusaders of the VIIth century, and now it’s just six villages in the Nabeul region of Tunisia that provide the majority of the world’s crop. Women do most of the harvesting, the pickers swathed in headscarves climbing treacherously high-looking ladders to reach the very tops of the trees, typically working eight hours a day and gathering around 20,000 (approximately 10kg) of flowers.

 

 

When the blossoms are hydro-distilled – soaked in water before being heated, with volatile materials carried away in the steam to condense and separate – the extracted oil is neroli, the by-product being orange flower water, while petitgrain is the essential oil steam distilled from the leaves and green twigs.

Long steeped in bridal mythology, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she chose orange blossom to decorate her dress, carried sprigs in her bouquet and even wore a circlet of the blossoms fashioned from gold leaves, white porcelain flowers and green enamelled oranges in her hair. It firmly planted the fashion for ‘blushing brides’ being associated with orange blossom – but this pretty flower can hide a naughty secret beneath its pristine petals…

 

 

While the primly perfect buds might visually convey a sign of innocence, their heady scent can, conversely, bring a lover to their knees with longing. In his novel The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa chronicles crossing an orange grove in full flower, describing ‘…the nuptial scent of the blossoms absorbed the rest as a full moon does a landscape… that Islamic perfume evoking houris [beautiful young women] and fleshly joys beyond the grave.’

 

It’s the kind of floral that might signify sunshine and gauzy gowns or veritably snarl with sensuality. Similar to the narcotic addictiveness of jasmine, with something of tuberose’s potency; orange blossom possessses none of that cold, grandiose standoffishness of some white florals: it pulsates, warmly, all the way.

 

Perfumer Alberto Morillas associates the scent of orange blossom with his birthplace: ‘I’m from Seville, when I’m creating a fragrance, all my emotion goes back to my home,’ Alberto told me, talking about his inspiration for his Mizensir Solar Blossom fragrance. ‘You have the sun, the light and water – always a fountain in the middle of the square – and “solar” means your soul is being lifted upwards.’

Oh, how we need that bottled sunshine when summer fades; an almost imperceptible shifting of the light that harkens misty mornings, bejewelled spiderwebs and sudden shivers…

Why not swathe yourself in these light-filled fragrances to huddle against the Stygian gloom? I love wearing them year-round, to remind me sunny days will return, that things will be brighter, presently. I promise.

 

 

Packed full of the brightest orange blossom, swathed in a cloak of earthy moss, soft musk and smooth sandalwood – the creaminess is an addictive layer of warmth. One to swish through leaves while wearing, grinning joyously.

EAU.MG Flor Funk £95 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

 

A shimmering haze of Moroccan magic, the orange blossom diffused by dusk, a languid sigh of inner contentment that resonates for hours – soothing, weaving its way around your soul and making for a blissful beam of happiness with every spritz..

Sana Jardin Berber Blonde £95 for 100ml

 

 

 

 

 

Waves of orange blossom-infused warmth giving way to fig tea sipped beneath the shade of whispering trees, the memory of laughter, and of bare feet on sun-warmed flagstones, fingers entwined, forever dancing, giddy on sunshine.

Stories No.1 £75 for 30ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Perfumer Chris Maurice swirls delectable butterscotch and a ripple of dark chocolate through this orange blossom soaked scent. Vibrating with an amber-oudh glow in the base, it’s a scent that will surprise and delight you throughout the dullest of days.

Sarah Baker Gold Spot £145 for 50ml extrait de parfum

 

 

 

Suffused with a stillness that tingles expectantly, there’s a silvered gleam of a wooden boat gliding over a lake – the orange blossom darker here, sweetened a touch with candied peel, mellow greengage segueing to a seaweed-tinged purr of myrrh.

Prosody London Whistle Moon £57 for 30ml eau de Cologne

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Sandalwood scents to adore this autumn

Perfumers have been seduced by sandalwood’s silky, sweet woodiness for centuries. Arabian perfume-makers would use the wood in pulverised or sawdust form as the base of solid perfumes and incense. In India, sandalwood’s soothing, pervasive scent has long been considered an aid to meditation, helping to still a whirring mind. In rituals, sandalwood oil may be applied to the forehead, the temples, or rubbed between the eyebrows. And it’s been used in many cultures as incense, burned on altars, as a way of communicating with the heavens.

 

Surprisingly, Santalum album isn’t actually a tree but a parasitic plant which grows by suckering itself to the roots of other trees, and slowly growing as high as 10 metres. To extract the deep, sweet woodiness, wood or root chippings are steam-distilled. If you ever come across a piece of the wood itself, it’s magical: the scent can still be enjoyed, years after it was harvested. (A little light sanding re-releases the scent, if it fades.)

 

 

 

In fragrance compositions, sandalwood is adored by noses because it’s so versatile – it blending seamlessly with pretty much any note you can name, it also has the benefit of working as a ‘fixative’, tethering other ingredients and keeping them ‘true’, in a composition. Because of its universal appeal and effectiveness, and because so many sandalwood trees have been cut down in India, largely for production of perfume and incense – it’s now highly protected, as it’s often been illegally harvested.

The good news, however, is that plantations in Australia are now coming on-stream, producing sandalwood oil of high quality – to the relief of perfumers, fragrance-lovers and conservationists alike. Also, a wide range of excellent quality synthetic sandalwood-like ingredients are now used in place of this at-risk wood, to give that smooth milkiness.

This autumn, we urge you to seek out some of these sandalwood scents and revel in all its qualities…

Sana Jardin Sandalwood Temple

Moroccan neroli oil glimmers like motes of gilded glitter suspended in languid, late afternoon sunshine. Atlas cedarwood and Haitian vetiver add the dappled shade of a walk through nature, marvelling at stained-glass effect of sunlight through leaves. Rich vanilla and East Indian sandalwood swirls throughout – a sacred space to sigh, contentedly.

Try a sample of Sandalwood Temple in the Sana Jardin Discovery Set: £30 for 10 x 2ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Fragrance du Bois Santal Complet

Inspired by waves of bliss you feel on sunny but chilly days, lemon’s brightness frosted with coconut shavings gleams to the heart of soft violet and black pepper, before that creamy base sandalwood swirls like a cashmere wrap around your shoulders, a hug of warmth resonating with the amber, musk and vanilla that’s a joyously sun-filled snuggle.

£245 for 100ml eau de parfum fragrancedubois.com

 

Goldfield & Banks Silky Woods

If a fragrance can ever smell like liquid gold, this is it – a smooth, molten swoon of Australian sandalwood, harvested sustainably for the first time in the Daintree Rainforest in Tropical Queensland. Spiced with a tingle of saffron, swirled with smoked vanilla and the hug of tobacco leaves in the trail, it’s an all-day (and night) wrist-sniffer, for sure.

£180 for 100ml eau de parfum fenwick.co.uk

 

 

Escentric Molecules Molecule 04

Perfumer and founder Geza Schoen showcases the single note of Javanol – a sheer sandalwood synthetic molecule created from a natural substance at Givuadan in 2001. Mindblowing-ly fresh, and radiating grapefruit amidst the woodiness, it’s a wake-up call for the senses which reveals the multifaceted versatility of sandalwood’s appeal.

OR…

Escentric Molecules Escentric 04

Here surrounded by a supporting cast of complimentary notes, the Javanol shines like a polished gem with the added zest of lime, piquant pops of aromatic juniper and and the warm, almost sherbet-y fizz of pink pepper give an extra shot of freshness, while marijuana leaf softens the grapefruit pith (and adds to the addictiveness of the sandalwood scent).

Try samples of both these takes on sandalwood, plus EIGHT other pairings of single molecules and their ‘Escentic’ counterparts in the Escentric Molecules Discovery Set £25 for 10 x 2ml eau de parfum

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Are Scents Really ‘Seasonal’?

What are the right scents to wear for each season – and do they actually change on your skin during the year, or is it only how you perceive them…?

Well, have you noticed your favourite fragrance can smell different sometimes?

The fact is, all aromatic molecules need an amount of heat (usually from your skin) to work. The temperature of your skin and the air dramatically alter the rate at which the molecules evaporate and dissipate, and this then changes the way the perfume smells – to you, and others around you.

Because of this, many of us prefer to wear lighter, brighter fragrances in warmer months and swap for something cosier as the temperature drops, but is it really true you should only wear (for example) citrus / fresh fragrances in summer?

One of the things to consider when choosing a fragrance is the weather – both when you’re trying it, and when you want to actually be wearing it, because it DOES change how you perceive a perfume, and how it performs on your skin.

Hot weather intensifies the fragrance notes and makes them ‘bloom’ on the skin more quickly – when molecules heat up, they evaporate more quickly.

Colder weather slows down the evaporation rate (so top and heart notes last much longer) and you might find your scent doesn’t project as much in the winter.

But sometimes it’s not even about how they last on your skin – it’s the feeling particular fragrances evoke. So, just as you wouldn’t wear a heavy jumper in the summer, wearing a fragrance that makes you think of cashmere or velvet and roaring log fires on a sweltering day can just feel… wrong.

Having said all that – there are many cultures and people who actively prefer to ‘lean into the heat’, and wear perfumes which swathe the skin in billowing woods, sizzling spices and sticky resins at the height of summer, or perhaps choose cooler, Cologne style scents in winter; and that’s fine, too. It all comes down to personal taste, of course, but it’s true that because of temperature and humidity, scents can certainly feel right for one season and completely wrong for another.

We know it can be confusing, so with the weather in mind, we put together a specially curated selection of fragrances in a Seasonal Scents Subscription Box

How it works:

Pick your Quarterly or Yearly plan

Seasonal Scents Subscription choose plan

Discover new launches and bestsellers from well-loved brands, curated with the seasons in mind.

 

Arrives at your door for the new Season

Seasonal Scents Subscription delivery

Receive your seasonal box every 3 months and start smelling fabulous.

Get exclusive access to the online smelling notes and unboxing video.

 

Containing hand-picked fabulous fragrances, mainly female and unisex scents, from globally adored leading brands (sometimes also including the most adorable miniatures) will land at your door each passing season (approximately every three months) – so you will always have a new scent to try that’s just right for the time of year!

Seasonal Scents Subscription is

Quarterly Subscription £18 for a single box, super flexible rolling contract.

You will be charged every three months, but the subscription can be cancelled at any time up to 48 hours before the launch dates for future boxes (see below). OR you can opt for £68 for a Yearly Subscription – a great saving on all four boxes.

Only available in the UK. Postal charges are usually free but may be incurred at checkout depending on your postcode. We are currently unable to offer this subscription to Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, or any offshore islands of the UK. If in doubt please contact us for advice at The Perfume Society  before ordering.

Launch dates 2023:

Spring – March 2023
Summer – June 2023
Autumn – September 2023
Winter –  December 2023

Read below to discover all the fabulous things this subscription includes…

We’re currently welcoming Spring with scents that echo the joyful sight of buds and blossom, while Summer is a chance to revel in the bliss of bright, luminescent fragrances. For Autumn, we sashay forth in fashion-forward, more sensual scents and in Winter we get our cosy on with scents you’ll want to snuggle into.

 

 

Each Seasonal Scents Box Includes:

Seasonal Fragrances  – A collection of fragrances from 1ml – 7ml, these will be kept secret until each Seasonal Scents Box is launched, we just love the element of surprise!

Online Smelling Notes – accessible via a QR code within your box, guiding you through the fragrances and how to start smelling.

Unboxing Video –  also via the QR code, for every box our Head Fragrance Writer Suzy Nightingale will guide you when opening your new box.

Hints & Tips – to ensure you get the most out of your fragrances and have fun!

So now, why not consider changing up your seasonal scent wardrobe and getting a perfumed treat delivered to your door?