Blood Oranges opens, and stays, with bitter sharp citrus notes. What impressed me the most is that the citrus sticks around for the whole time. This is not particularly common, although I have enjoyed a spate of long lasting citruses lately so maybe the tide is happily turning. Blood Oranges pierces through the heat of (dare I say it yet?) summer and gives me all the clean scent of a freshly peeled orange without the marmalade stickiness. In the middle there’s a bit of leather which softens the edges without taking over. The basenotes are warm, with amber, musk and woods, but the oranges never leave. Longevity is excellent at around six or seven hours, and although it’s a warm scent, the citrus keeps it fresh and therefore ideal for summer. There’s no staleness, no hint of dried up peel: this stays as juicy as if you’ve just peeled it. It makes an excellent unisex scent, being an invigorating cologne style fragrance that would suit anyone, especially, but not exclusively, in summer.
Fragonard has yet to make a fragrance that disappoints me. With consistently high quality, great packaging, good longevity and fair prices, it is to me, the perfect brand. Fragonard Soleil is no exception.
From the name and the gold sun on the lid, you might expect something of the coconutty/sun cream genre, but in fact what you’re getting is a rather bold bouquet of white flowers that trip over themselves to make you smell impossibly feminine and pretty on a hot day.
The strongest note to my nose is the Freesia. Freesia sometimes gets lost in translation. In fact, this initially reminded me of Avon Today, which opens similarly, but falls flat on its face not long afterwards (see my earlier review). With Fragonard Soleil, the freesia opens quite dominantly and then the other white flower notes ( most notably orange flower) crowd in shortly afterwards, making this both rich and summery at the same time.
On hot skin, this is radiant. I know because I wore it down the park yesterday and it was boiling, but I could smell those summer flowers drifting up to my nose from my forearms. NB I don’t put perfume on my wrists as I wash my hands a lot and it comes off, but on the front of my forearm? Well that only gets washed once a day!
Fragonard Soleil allegedly beds down into sandalwood with an ambery finish, but I found that the orange flower, freesia, and slightly peppery wisteria just stayed put the whole time. This is great on the beach and equally great in the bar afterwards. Yes there are colognes to cool you down, but actually flowers like this are sort of perfect on a hot day.
As the weather changes, so does our perfume wardrobe. The spicy patchoulis and leathers take a back seat, (although with changeable UK weather they never go away), and the pretty cologne bottles come out to play. Cologne traditionally doesn’t have staying power. The high alcohol content cools skin on application and not much more is expected of it. However many of the fragrances labelled cologne today have the lasting power of an eau de toilette, that is between 4-6 hours, making colognes a good bet for the summer and justifying a cooling lunch time top up.
I’ve trawled through some of my favourites and have listed them below. Although they vary in price, I consider all of them to be good quality and value for money, otherwise I wouldn’t rave about them to you. Do feel free to tell me of any of yours too-I always love to hear from you.
4711 Original cologne: The classic. It reminds me of a school exchange trip to Germany in 1986 where I first discovered this timeless scent. The scent itself doesn’t last long, but reapplying it is a pleasure in itself. This has been around since 1793 and the closely guarded formula contains herbs, citrus and a mossy backdrop. This is the textbook classic which many say provided the blueprint for all colognes that followed, and still smells great today. You can buy it just about everywhere. Try Amazon UK, Escentual.com or allbeauty.com.
Cologne and Cotton Immortelle: A citrussy spicy opening leads into traditional style orange and lemon cologne with a handful of green notes that lasted an easy four or five hours on me. It beds down into a deeper, slightly bitter citrus that reminded me of Guerlain Pamplelune. Available from Cologne and Cotton online or in store. A big thumbs up to the glorious heritage style packaging and generous 150ml bottles too!
Library of Fragrance Rain: The lovely Vanessa Musson of Bonkers About Perfume described this as “minty tangerines”, and I totally agree. It has an ozonic, refreshing tang that smells as fresh and clean as a rainy day. Lasting powder was around four hours. You can buy it from Boots or from Library of Fragrance online
Cologne and Cotton Niobe I reviewed this recently and liked it so much that I decanted it into a Travelo and carry it round in my handbag. It opens with citrus and ends with spice, but is never cloying- always uplifting. Made for men, but used by me. You can buy a generous 150ml bottle from Cologne and Cotton online or instore.
Crabtree and Evelyn West Indian Lime Cologne I tried this on in winter and it lasted around six hours on me and I stood there in my damp coat and wet boots dreaming of summer. Here’s my review. This is a glorious lime that packs a punch and lingers around like a good mood. You can buy it from Marks and Spencer, and Amazon.co.uk
Eau de Cartier One of my early loves, which I reviewed within months of starting this blog. It’s my hangover scent: Lavender, mint and bergamot in perfect harmony- even Luca Turin thinks so. Strictly, it’s an eau de toilette, but it behaves like cologne and smells like cologne, so I will shoe horn it in anyway. You can buy it from allbeauty.com.
Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien Lemons, lemons, lemons, citrus and lemons. With a hint of aldehydes. Don’t buy it if you don’t like lemons, but what could be better in summer? This is a classic that will never go out of style. Here’s my review. You can buy it from allbeauty.com, Escentual.com and Amazon.co.uk to name but a few.
Roger & Gallet Jean Marie Farina eau de cologne There is a complicated back story here as to whether Roger & Gallet introduced the very first cologne to the world, or whether it was the 4711 gang. There is a great article here which explains it more fully, but I think its’s safe to say that the Roger and Gallet brand has been around since 1693, pre-dating the 4711 history.
Jean Marie Farina is my favourite Roger & Gallet and is named after the heir of the original recipe, who converted aqua mirabilis into eau de cologne back in 1806. It combines spices and lightness with herbs and citrus and in my eyes at least, it is a classic. It is widely available, but I like buying it from my local Marks and Spencer, one of the few High Street stockists outside big cities.
Clarins Eau Dynamisante Bright, astringent and refreshing, Eau Dynamisante has it all. In my previous review of ED here on this very blog, I described it as the freshness of an open window on a stuffy day. This Clarins range defies categorization as it is neither a cologne nor an eau de toilette but a firming skin treatment. However, by being full of citrus and herbs and having a short but refreshing staying power, I would say that as cologne, it fits the bill. I also adore Clarins Eau Des Jardins (see my review) which smells so good I almost want to drink it (but don’t!). You can buy it from any good beauty counter, or you can try allbeauty.com, or Amazon.co.uk.
I’m actually a bit of a fan of the original Light Blue. Having expected an ozonic melon fest, I was pleasantly surprised at how floral and multi layered it was. There have been several flankers since: all seemingly named after a page in a holiday brochure or made-up adventure films, but today’s review is about Light Blue Escape to Panarea. (see what I mean about sounding like an adventure film?)
First of all, this is a light floral. Yes there is fruit in it, namely pear, but I wouldn’t regard it as a typical fruity floral. It holds back on the sweetness for a start and has completely left out any ubiquitous vanilla that seems so unavoidable these days.
Top notes are simply bergamot and pear, both of which I like. Middle notes are: Jasmine and Orange Flower, both of which work well in summer, and base notes, unusually, consist of Ambergris, Tonka bean and musk.
Put all these together and what you get is a refreshing citrus floral with a base that lacks the expected weight of the ambergris but is instead a well rounded and faintly sweet daytime perfume that would pass the commuter train test with flying colours.
The most prominent notes are the orange flower and pear, with the Musk just feathering the edges gently as the base notes meld together.
I like it because it’s not cloying or overly sweet, because the flowers stay true and don’t merge into a hollow mess, and because it’s pretty and delicate on a hot day.
Even you splash it all over, it has more staying power than a cologne, but enough delicacy not to be remotely offensive if you wear too much. Lasting power is around four hours. Frankly, I’m a fan.
Despite the grass in my garden currently being sodden and the earth being on the boggy side, and despite the fact that we are bracing ourselves for torrential rain later (again), I haven’t given up on my Pollyanna fantasy of wearing fresh summer scents whilst wafting around in the sunshine.
Trusty Guerlain has created a brilliantly green and grassy scent in Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca. I must admit I didn’t used to like it due to the inclusion (which is by no mean heavy) of Green Tea. I didn’t used to like Green Tea at all as a note, finding it metallic and cold. However, since trying Green Tea flankers from Elizabeth Arden, and exploring the note further, I have come round to the fact that since it is best friends with my favourite Bergamot, I ought to get to know it better.
Indeed Herba Fresca challenges my preconceptions on a couple of levels. A few years ago I would have rejected not just the Green Tea, but the Mint too. Today, having been around the block a bit in terms of fragrance, I fully embrace Herba Fresca and want to have this beautiful gilded bottle on my dressing table.
The mint reminds me a little of LUSH Smell of Weather Turning ( see my earlier review): a pleasing combo of mint, hay and tarmac that frankly, I am a bit addicted to. In Herba Fresca, created by none other than Jean Paul Guerlain, the combination of Green Tea, damp green grass and Mint makes this so refreshing that they should find another name for refreshing: Revitalizing? Invigorating? Reviving?. I wouldn’t say astringent: it’s not as harsh as that. It has Lemon but is so much more than a citrus. It’s more botanical, yet carries the memory of dewy grass on your skin for as long it lasts.
I couldn’t really find the Cyclamen or the Pear, but I was very happy to sniff and sniff at this pastoral beauty as the rain drizzles on the windows. Longevity is about four hours, possibly five, which is about the going rate for an Eau de Toilette. The price is under £40 but you get a generous 75ml bottle for that. I wouldn’t turn one down at any time of the year.
When I reach a milestone I like to do a top ten, just for fun. Today’s milestone sees me reaching 400 posts.
Being June it seems apt to write about my favourite summer scents, although if I was guessing the month by the weather, I would probably think it was November. It’s hard to choose ten favourite summer scents. As soon as I complete the list, I think of another ten and I have to rearrange them all again as if I’m doing a seating plan at a small wedding. The other factor of course is that British weather is so very changeable. As soon as I dust off the astringent colognes, the sky goes dark and the winds go chilly so I’m dusting off the winter stuff again. Here I am talking as if I ever put any of my perfumes away ever! Of course I don’t, and it’s just as well as I’m looking out at a very gloomy damp day here in Wales.
However, I have managed to cull it down to ten, which doesn’t mean that I don’t love about fifty or so others, but you can’t go far too wrong with the following mash-up. Do let me know if you agree or if you have a favourite yourself. I love to hear from you.
1. Chanel Cristalle
To me, Chanel Cristalle is the definitive classy green scent. I’ve worn it for two decades and I never tire of it. In fact its mossy base is just as good in winter. My review is here.
2. O de Lancome
O de Lancome fizzes like lemonade on my skin and smells like summer in a bottle. It’s all bergamot and mosses and leaves and stems and citruses. What more can we ask for in a summer perfume? Lasting power is also excellent. My review is here.
3. Un Jardin en Mediterranee
Since fig seems to flourish in the continental heat, you can’t go far wrong with Un Jardin en Mediterranee in summer. Created by Jean Claude Ellena, everything has his characteristic lightness of touch. As a result, this is thirst quenchingly good ,with a fruitiness that works well in chilled wine too. My review is here.
4. Eau D’Epices
A Tauer spice with dewdrops in it. Similar to L’Air du Desert Marocain, there is something about the Eau in Eau D’Epices that means this is never too heavy on a hot day. It lasts from dawn til dusk too. My review is here.
5. Yves Rocher Fraicheur Vegetale de Verveine (Verbena)
I’m a recent convert to Eau de Sisley 1 having reviewed just last week. Totally unisex, this is earthy and fresh at the same time. Longevity is excellent. My review is here.
7. Muelhens original 4711
When budgets forbid and profligacy is out of the question, you can never go wrong with this steadfast classic. I never tire of 4711 Original and wish more people would wear it.
8. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea
Elizabeth Arden Green Tea, and its many good flankers, are often available for under a tenner, the combination of Green Tea and Bergamot cuts through the heat. Longevity isn’t brilliant, but the price permits frequent resprays without breaking the bank.
As you may know, I’m a big fan of Yves Rocher and awaiting a parcel for them later this week. I love that the quality is high and the freebies and special offers are plentiful.
It’s shame there are no stores in the UK and I have had to make a few blind buys, but I have never been disappointed. I am particularly fond of Yves Rocher Cléa, which, if you’re a fan, smells a bit like Dove and makes for a deliciously creamy, ambery fragrance. Today I am reviewing Yves Rocher Moment de Bonheur, a rather lovely, simple floral. It opens with drunken rose petals. By drunken I mean that it reminds me of the rose petal perfume I used to make when I was little. I would collect rose petals from the garden and keep them in a jar of water. The resulting perfume would not be um…commercial, but it smelled like rose petals that were on the turn: over ripe if you like and on the point of being fermented. I’m not painting a pretty picture but in fact the rose scent from the stewed and dampened petals really summed up summer for me.
Moment de Bonheur was in fact created for Autumn and was launched in September 2011. This would make sense, since the base has a hint of spice and warmth in the Patchouli and Cedar finish. However, despite the Geranium and Green notes, Moment de Bonheur, to me will always be roses, roses, roses: stem, leaves and all. It’s light as a petal and borderline soapy in places, but I love it. If you like rose fragrances you can’t go wrong with this one.
Whilst having a quick browse around Boots today between errands, I came across a perfume I hadn’t seen before : Yardley Jade. Naturally I couldn’t resist testing it and by the time I reached the exit, I was thinking “Hmm. Chanel Cristalle. I bet that phase won’t last.” Yet here I am, three hours later, and it still smells as if I am wearing Chanel Cristalle.
As you may know from my previous reviews, I was in an exclusive relationship with Chanel Cristalle for nearly twenty years, with occasional forays into temporary favourites. Green, light and floral, Cristalle is paradoxically no lightweight, with its Oakmossy finish and long lasting Galbanum touches.
It’s looking as if Jade by Yardley is singing the same song, but, as you might imagine, for a fraction of the price. I’m never without a bottle of Cristalle and on a wrist to wrist experiment, there was very little in it. Jade claims to have Peaches, but thankfully, I can smell none. Both open with Bergamot. Both perfumes have that translucent green feel to them, with a hint of fresh, clean hyacinth, and both have a mossy finish.
Time for the maths bit: The current price for Yardley Jade is £7.99 for a 50ml EDT in Boots. The current price for Chanel Cristalle EDT is £49 for a 60ml EDT. (I felt it was only fair to compare like with like, although I tested Jade alongside the Cristalle EDP not EDT).
So there you have it. I wish Yardley had invented this during the period of my life when I couldn’t afford Cristalle, but better late than never. Oh and a huge Hallelujah that this totally lacks Vanilla, red fruit or anything candy floss. Common Sense prevailed at Yardley.
Versace Bright Crystal was created by perfumer Alberto Morillas and launched in 2006. It is a perfume of its time in so far as it joins legions of fruity florals already present on the shelves and in years to come we will smell this and think it smells dated, like a perfume of the Noughties.
However, in its defence, the fruit used in the opening notes is the citrus Yuzu fruit, which tempers the sweet florals of Magnolia, Peony and Lotus. Had this been complemented by Strawberries or Red Berries, it would be too cloying and sickly, but the Yuzu seems to work. Incidentally I don’t smell any Pomegranate here, but the Sea notes in the opening give it a slightly metallic tang, which unfortunately, made me think of melon/cucumber notes and was therefore a turn off. I’m rarely a fan of Calone cologne. The base notes are plasticky and fresh, like a spotless bathroom. Maybe it’s those everlasting Sea notes that just don’t quit.
I had heard that Bright Crystal was similar to Avon Femme so I decided to run an experiment. I applied Bright Crystal to one arm and the recent Avon Femme to the other (also reviewed earlier in my blog). For the first ten minutes it was hard to tell them apart. However, Bright Crystal retained its clean floral notes whilst Avon Femme began to smell like the basenotes of Avon Incandessence: like plastic flowers with a hint of synthetic Peaches. The bottles are similar though.
To conclude my experiment (I have new glasses that make look very serious) I will say that Versace Bright Crystal is a good everyday scent for the modern girl, and it is clearly better than Avon Femme. However, whilst it’s not terrible, it simply isn’t my cup of tea with a sugar and milk. Not bad for a summer scent though.
Spice can work in summer in the same way that cold Ginger Beer can wipe out a thirst. Serge Lutens Rousseis a fantastically light spice perfume that works a treat in hot weather. It has a tanginess akin to a cup of good Darjeeling. On spraying, my first impression was of those pink stripy humbug sweets that tasted like carnations. Rousse smells of those exact clove sweets, which were more medicinal than sugary.
For once, the notes listed exactly match the notes I can smell. which doesn’t always happen in a perfume. So here we have cinnamon, resin, amber, oranges, cloves, and cedar: all of which are present and correct and used in exactly the right quantities that make this, to my mind at least, an excellent Summer find.
The reason I think this works so well in Sunny weather is because the spice has not been made sweet or creamy with the addition of vanilla or fruit or honey. It’s like a fine mist of spice with none of the Christmassy notes so often found in Orientals. It is the restraint that makes this so beautiful. With a heavier hand, this could have been a more expensive homage to Cinnabar or Opium, but it is so light and pretty, I could wear it all year round and never get bored of it.
Here’s the blurb from the site ” Imagine a fiery head of hair offsetting a complexion as pale as chalk. Auburn is a warm shade, like copper igniting in the heart of a wood. This scent is like a hint of cinnamon on the skin.”
Rumour has it that this has been discontinued, but it is still for sale on the Serge Lutens website . I can vouch for the quality though, it’s an Uncle Serge! They always hang around long after the party is over. It’s love I tell you.