I’m really in the mood for a bit of high-summer fragrance, at the moment. I think it’s because we keep getting these little pockets of surprise hot weather; one day it’s drizzly and grim and then the next it’s absolutely baking and you have to pop inside to put sunscreen on. Glorious. The hot bits, I mean, not the unpredictability of it all.
And I’ve taken to taking sun-naps on my front step when it’s warm. Little ten or twenty minute sessions, with my eyes closed and my back against the door, feeling the heat seep out from the wood and into my bones and listening to the bees and insects as they dart about in the wisteria.
I actually think that it was the wisteria that set off this whole summer fragrance revival spree in the first place; the smell of the blossom as I sit there in my sun-trap reminds me of how heady and exotic some of my seasonal perfume favourites are.
I’ll start with Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc as it’s a definite “most-used” in my fragrance line-up; it’s just gloriously sexy and rich and sunny. At the heart of it, ylang ylang and jasmine and tuberose feel naughty and sensual and then there’s a warm, deep coconut and tonka bean base – gorgeous, rounded and an absolute joy to wear. You can find it here* if you have the cash (£157!) to splash, but I actually rather like the body spray which costs far less (£45) and is online here*.
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that it’s actually the new Tom Ford Eau de Soleil Blanc that’s in my photographs above; this is a lighter take on the heavier, sexier original. It’s more sparkly and citrusy and far more unisex, I think. Soleil Blanc is like lying under a palm tree wearing a red velvet couture gown, the Eau de Soleil Blanc is like frolicking in the cool shallows of the Caribbean Sea. Sold? You can find it online here*.
l’Occitane’s Terre de Lumiere L’Eau is another lighter version of a heavy, heady original. The original is rich and sweet and not dissimilar, at least in overall vibe, to Lancome’s La Vie Est Belle. The Eau is lighter, sparklier and more floral – I think prettier might be a good way of describing it. And actually, if you’ve always semi-liked La Vie Est Belle but found it too overpowering to wear then Terre de Lumiere L’Eau would make a nice compromise. It’s perfect as a spring transition perfume, too, if you feel it’s too early in the year for anything noticeably exotic… Find Terre de Lumiere L’Eau online here* – it’s £49.
Aerin Hibiscus Palm – like Soleil Blanc – is another heady, sun-drunk fragrance that’s just pure summertime in a bottle. It actually reminds me of Tom Ford’s Orchid Soleil (here*) – but the various notes are, on paper, closer to those of Soleil Blanc. Whatever; it is its own perfume and it’s utterly lovely. White flowers, coconut milk, ylang ylang, it’s like being a saucy genie trapped inside an empty suntan oil bottle. (What?) You can find Hibiscus Palm online here* – it’s £96.
Crikey – it seems that my sexy scents tend to come with a not-so-sexy price-tag. I must find some more affordable bits and pieces before summer properly arrives, but in the meanwhile, here’s a perfume with an even higher price-tag! Never say I don’t look after you…
Virgin Island Water from Creed is really quite special and jumps immediately onto my favourites list; it’s a sweet, coconut-heavy fragrance that makes you feel as though you’re being smothered inside a giant Malibu-infused sponge cake, yet it retains – somehow – the sort of bright freshness that tends to smell expensive and interesting. It’s warm and spicy at the same time as being heady with white flowers – I just love it. It’s the least feminine of the fragrances featured here, but it has a musky sexiness that makes it so addictive. You can almost feel the heat of the undiscovered sands rising out from the top of the bottle. Or perhaps it’s just your palms sweating as you hand over the £155 it costs to buy – who knows? Ha. You can find it here* at Selfridges.
Finally, we have Calanques from l’Occitane en Provence. It’s here more for anecdotal purposes than anything helpful, I’m afraid, because it was a limited edition and that was years ago. Perhaps seven. But I would absolutely get behind a petition to bring this back as a permanent line; Calanques is probably my all-time favourite l’Occitane perfume.
It smells of sea, in the best possible way, and makes you feel as though you’ve just walked for hours along the edge of an ocean. It’s salty and zesty and brilliant and is a million miles away from your typical cologne – many similar notes, but ten times more complex. Bring it back, please, l’Occitane – it takes me to my happy place.
UPDATE: Re the high price tags issue, I have thought of an absolute bargain of a summer scent, if I can be permitted to blow my own brand’s trumpet? Colab’s Paradise dry shampoo is utterly divine; exotic, coconut-y and the fragrance lasts until you next wash your hair. It’s rather similar to Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess, which – ironically – is the ultimate beach scent but isn’t featured here because I don’t yet have this year’s release. Anyway, Colab Paradise is currently a ridiculously cheap £1.74 because it’s half-price at Boots! You can buy it here. (I am a founder of the Colab brand.)