Friday, June 3, 2011

Scents that Stick Around: Summer Fragrances that Last

Like summer romances and fickle affairs concocted between sea dips and nightime beach bars, most summer fragrances seem as ephemeral as the situations that they are desperate to evoke. That's fine, if you have made your peace with that. But what happens when you have not? What's available to cater for -say- historians who appreciate marbles still standing weathered by the harsh elements, who like the permanancy of real tatoos which mean something and who are dazzled by the billions of years of geophysical pressure it took to make diamonds? Those people (and I bet they're not solely restricted to these traits) appreciate something more: longevity. Unlike guys and gals that come and go, a great stand-by fragrance should be relied on to provide dependable stability. I call these PPP perfumes (that would make it 4 Ps in a row, beats fraternities any day): the Permanent Pleasure Principle.

I was thinking about this when readers asked about lasting fragrances and therefore I compiled a list of summery fragrances which last really well for you. Some are marketed as feminine, some as masculine, some as unisex, but in my opinion they're all eminently shareable between both sexes.Experiment and see if you agree with me!

Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
The scent of chic Italian holidays is the elusive holy grail of perfumers: How to capture the jovial, sun-filled warmth of living across the most picturesque villages and bigaradier groves across the shores without losing that freshness along the way? There's a reason this fragrance is so popular it got its own ancillary bath products: Neroli Portofino after the initial bitter neroli and clean orange blossom really lasts thanks to the ubiquitous white musks at the base.

Prescriptives Calyx
How do you convey the scent of grapefruit when the essence of grapefruit is fleeting? Perfumer Sophia Grojsman, years before Jean Claude Ellena perfected his trademark streamlined approach, came up with a bag of tricks that relied on a few well-chosen accords that last exceptionally well. Calyx smells of the freshest, tangiest grapefruit, is using none (instead relies on raspberry-faceted musks, citrus and a cyclamen-rose accord with Calone) and lasts an eternity.

Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again
Somehow the success of In Love Again is that it manages to bypass the Scylla of hyper sweet, with a tart, zesty grapefruit accord that coaxes the sulfurous nature of the fruit into submission, making it easier to wear than the more difficult Pamplelune by Guerlain which often produces a strong ammoniac, catty effect on certain skins. A touch of green leaves, organic and warmed in the sun also contributes to its modern character, as well as what I perceive as tart berries. But it also has a soft ambiance about it, without resorting to the Charybdis of ease that is the powder smell of certain white musks, nor stooping to cheap air-freshener style. Although a modern fragrance wih hints of the fruit-bowl, In Love Again has something about it which makes me enjoy it in the warmer months.

Hermès Terre d'Hermès
The brightest bergamot gains the course by having a particularly long drydown after the refreshing overture; the unusual, intellectual, mineral facets in its core and the great radiance of its woody bottom (accounted by IsoE Super, more on which on this article) are the cornerstones on which the reputation of Terre d'Hermès has been cemented.Extrait de parfum doesn't budge at all.

L'Artisan Mûre et Musc
The fruity, musky scent of blackberries warmed in the sun is sensual and enveloping. With the radiant sparkle of the fragrance's top notes, freshness is apparent with citrus fruits (kumquat, bergamot) and aromatic notes lead by basil in the extrait de parfum version. Spicy notes (pink and black pepper) strengthen its contrast and add to the enchantment which leads to the base of blackberry-faceted musk.

Le Labo Gaiac 10
Developed in partnership with cult perfumer Annick Ménardo (Bulgari Black, Lolita Lempicka, Patchouli 24) in 2008, Gaiac10 is a tense formula built on gaïac wood and surrounded by muscs (4 different synthetic musk types in all), with hints of cedar and olibanum (incense). If you like the meditative, cool Eastern incense vibe of Kyoto by Comme de Garçons, you have good chances to appreciate that element in the Le Labo offering. The musks are the "clean" variety, lightly sweet with a faintly fruity tonality, with no funk or sweat involved. The woody background with a light peppery nuance is reminiscent of the base notes treatment in Poivre Samarkande for Hermessences and Bang by Marc Jacobs.
Jean Louis Scherrer by Jean Louis Scherrer (original)  
Green and with the rush of sparkling aldehydes it is soon intensly mossy and floral, recalling a bygone era. The violet note is mostly reminiscent of an iris fragrance, slightly metallic and otherwordly; but the brooding synergy with the other ingredients brings out a luminiscent aura that is tantamount to wearing an expensive necklace of Peruvian pre-Colombian emeralds set on antique gold.

Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil 
Jean Claude Ellena is often accused for ethereal, fleeting compositions by those who simply prefer the oriental school of thought: On the contrary most of his creationslast exceptionally well, being technical marvels, only they do so by humming rather than performing hystrionics. Un Jardin sur le Nil is a particularly good example, and this one actually speaks louder than most, delivering a message of green mango (think tart and tangy) over greenery and somber, serene woods. Perfect in the heat!
Thierry Mugler Eau de Star I only need to point out that Eau de Star is Angel's summery little sister to get across my point about lasting power. Probably contended only by Fukushima's current radioactivity, each and every Angel variant is radioactive to the point of having to bury in the attic any fabric that went as far as having an after work cocktail with it (and that's meant in a good way). Eau de Star is no exception, but it has such a bracing, cool mint effect on top that one might pass it for a convincing summer fragrance that won't clear rooms due to potency. It's glorious and it lasts. Why was it discontinued?

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia
An initial fresh opening that is reminiscent of lemon groves overlooking countryhouses where potted tuberoses are kept takes you on a journey to an inner closed court with a fountain, Moor-style, where gardenias are kept in big pots. Their aroma mingling night and languor, beckoning you, beguiling you. The gardenia accord smells surprisingly true.  

Les Nez Manoumalia
The almost fruity jasmine-y intensity of ylang-ylang and fragrea never fails to make my mind fly to warm tropical paradises even in the midst of winter cold, but it is the earthy unrooted vetiver that provides a grounding touch in Manoumalia, like immersing my hands into a bag of uprooted bulbs.

Ava Luxe China Rain
It is said that Ava Luxe was trying to recreate an existing scent with this: China Rain by Body Time, which apparently is something of a cult classic. I haven't smelled the latter (my friends tell me it's very good but slightly different), but Ava Luxe's take is phenomenal in both projection and staying power, while at the same time being particularly fresh. Fueled by aldehydes, giving off a soapy ambience that enhances the rosy floral and lightly musky aromas, China Rain resembles Glow by JLo and is a great choice for casual summer wearing (especially when one doesn't want to buy Glow for whatever reason).  

Aramis New West for Him
Technically an ozonic/ marine fragrance (in fact the first one to inaugaurate the category in 1988), New West for Him is tingingly fresh with a plausible mint note that isn't too toothpaste-like, some aqueous Calone and lots of herbal lavender plus clean musks, epitomizing the ideal of a scrubbed down male who is gorgeous enough to not to rely on excessive preening. California images of rippled surfers fill the mind just by uttering its name.

Of course this is merely a kickstart, there are many more summery fragrances with decent longevity. Which ones are your picks? 

pics via Dailymail and Ulta blog


  1. I agree with Calyx, Scherrer and Sur le Nil. Another to add is Ninfeo Mio which wafts up at me for hours after application.

  2. I tried L'Artisian's Havanna Vanille on Sunday and Monday when it was 90 degrees out and it blooms wonderfully and has great staying power. I find that Amouage Lyric for women does the same thing.

  3. I wish I could love Sur Le Nil but the dry-down turns sickeningly sweet on me..like syrupy woods.
    Is there anything I could layer it with to cut the sweetness?
    I really, really love the top-notes, so juicy and tart.

  4. I've been wearing Nicolai's 2011 Week-end a Deauville quite a bit lately.
    It's a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

    For citric blast I like Kobe (xerjoff) and Anbar (CdG). Also I really enjoy wearing L'Ombre Fauve in searing heat, when it really comes to life.

    Of course there is also Bigarade Concentree, Diorella, Colonia Assoluta, L'Heure Fougueuse, Angeliques sous la Pluie (not long-lasting, though), and Calamus...

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Anonymous22:10

    What about Eau de Campagne by Sisley?

  7. My new favourite hot weather scent is Guerlain´s AA Mandarine Basilic. It´s juicy but not too sweet and lasts quite nicely, especially when sprayed on clothes.

  8. MPeG Camelia Chinois is wonderful in the heat - a "clean" floral. Along the lines of Sur la Nil, Hermes' Rose Ikebana is a summer favorite of mine. Le Labo Bergamot 22 has a wonderful, sunny, musky drydown that lasts for ages, and CdG Harissa, one of my favorite unsung darlings, may be the best summer fragrance ever.

  9. sofi13:48

    Eau de Campagne by Sisley is a nice choice!Jasmine, bergamont and oakmoss give fresh and totally summer mood.As for the longevity I agree with Michael Mattison that Egoiste Platinum by Chanel can last well. A good choice for women it can be the "Essence" by Narciso Rodriguez.I evokes a sense of mystery and it lasts for many hours!

  10. Alexandra13:51

    Eau de Lierre Diptyque. Very fresh, green and summery, and it will last and last and last

  11. The new PdN L'eau Mixte lasts on me. Very citrusy, summery, lovely. I am beginning to think that PdN can do no wrong.

  12. I'm trying Ermes, Eau de Gentiane Blanche after reading Helg's comments on this. It's certainly suited for hot weather, cold like a wet stone (what an unusual concept for a fragrance !). Only if it lasted more on my skin. I wear it with Coudray, Miel Orange or with Miller Harris, Geranium Bourbon in cream just to keep it lasting on my skin a few hours. Hoping.

  13. Ones I love for summer that fulfill the PPPP criteria...

    Bvlgari Thè Verte Extrème...it lasts all day and is never less than delicious...
    Atelier Grand Neroli and Orange Sanguissime last a very long time for colognes, as does Trèfle Pur, another great choice for summer.
    Ormonde Jayne Frangipani is glorious. As is Estée Lauder's Tuberose Gardenia, and also
    Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger. I wear this one all year round, but in the summer, it truly blooms!
    Jacomo Silences is green, green, green...and lasts, lasts, lasts...
    So does Balmain's Ivoire. These two I hope never to be without.
    And finally, my favorite Jardin...Sur le Nil. I adore that incense/calamus drydown, even after four hours and counting.

  14. Chanel's Sycomore. Added bonus, doesn't turn weird on me when I'm sweating.

  15. Kym,

    I was thinking about Ninfeo, but for some reason left it out. Now I need to go back and respray and see....

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  16. Eldarwen22,

    that would be an orientalised tobacco vanilla, which is a genre that is quite lasting. But do you find it really summery yourself? Do you wear it a lot in the summertime I mean?

  17. Eva,

    hmmm...now there's a thought. I kinda like the sweetness in it because the contrast with the tartness is so good. But I can see where you're coming from, especially if your skin amplifies sweet notes.
    Maybe use the Miller Harris body products in Figue Amere? That's a green and bitter as it gets. (Or Bandit lotion, that might work too)

  18. Throades,

    ah...the miraculous PdN. She does make good stuff and it lasts a long time too in general.
    Can't say I get a very long drydown on some of those you mention myself (Diorella for one, which is a shame!!) but it's been a long while since I tried Calamus. Mmm, I think I like the idea of revisiting!! Thanks!

  19. MM,

    thanks for the kind words :-)

    I think Jean Claude solved the problem of citrus in Terre d'Hermes: that one is nuclear-power-lasting. But his Bigarade is more bitter, tarter and all around more unusual so it might be a good thing if it lasted more.
    Ormonde Man is good, very good (great choice on your part!). I wish I could wear S-ex. For some reason it brings up weird associations to me.

    What about Chanel Pour Monsieur? That one is fresh (yet mossy) and lasts a great while; unless it conjures up images of daddies and older men to you, which it might. I also love Declaration for that sort of lasting freshness (this time boosted by spiciness, cardamom to be exact).
    L'Heure Fougeuse (Cartier boutique exclusive line) as mentioned by another above is also a great suggestion!

  20. Anon,

    Eau de Campagne. Of course!! Simple and yet eluded me. Thank you!!

  21. Eva,

    sounds good enough! I prefer Herba Fresca out of the two myself, although basil is a favourite note. Have you tried Manifesto?

  22. SS,

    "clean florals" is a category that needs attention. So many can be screechy, but when done right...MPG is class all the way, many lovely scents.
    Lovely choices all around!

    Obviously I need to revisit many of the CDG: adding Harissa to Calamus mentioned above for revisiting. Maybe I was too taken with the incenses and didn't pay too much attention.

  23. Sofi,

    thank you for stopping by and commenting!

    Yeah, dud, how could I possibly forget Eau de Campagne?? It is exactly as you say.

    Essence, as in the original (which I find soapy), or the Essence Musc? (This is a super confusing brand, hence my question!)

  24. Alex,

    ivy leaves...mmmm.......

  25. Lisa,

    L'Eau Mixte eh? I was disappointed in Eau Turquoise (it didn't react well on me, although I liked it on blotters) and therefore reluctant to really give a chance to other citrusy stuff from PdN. I now need to try it!!

  26. Efi,

    so glad you gave Gentiane Blanche a chance!! Isn't it fabulous? I absolutely love its ambience, it's like an "yposkafo" house in Santorini. It's rather subtle, though, granted, and that might be what makes it seem non lasting. Great choices for layering though, what interesting suggestions!

  27. Tarleisio,

    absolutely great suggestions! I love almost everything on that list and wear many of those.

    It's quite a difficult task to make a lasting summery fragrance so I applaud the perfumers who manage to do it.

  28. L,

    ah yes!! I absolutely love this one (why didn't I include it?) Have gone through 3/4 of a bottle. That and Vetiver pour Elle are probably my most favourite vetivers.
    And yes, it's very good interacting with sweat, never becomes stinky.

  29. Anonymous11:40

    My summer fragrances that last are Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane and Bas de Soie - also Lutens Teint Si Fin compact foundation lasts and surpasses any other foundation on the market on a hot humid summer day.

    I tried small samples of Vitriol d'Oeillet and De Profundis and love them both, I wish they had been released instead of Jeux de Peau, the latter being more a winter perfume but of course Serge is totally against the seasonal fragrance concept.
    For those who speak french, Lutens was "L'Invite" on TV5Monde - he talks about his mother who let herself go when he was a kid, an intelligent woman who nonetheless gave up on life, this had an impact throughout his life on a creative level with his quest for beauty and sophistication.


  30. I do find Havana Vanille to be a little bit on the summery side.

  31. Sofi17:25

    Dear Elena,

    Thanks for asking!I meant the original Essence by Narciso Rodriguez!I agree with you that it is soapy but I love it!

  32. Emma,

    you tempt me with the Si Fin compact. I don't really need a foundation, I just like the idea of something that can withstand heat. Im using the Shiseido powder sunscreen (SPF34 sun protecting compact) at the moment but it's a little bit thick if used with the included sponge (I resort to a fluffy kabuki brush)

    Do tell me more on Oiellet and De Profundis!!!! :-)
    Already very anxious for a bottle of the Oeillet when it's in my reach.

  33. Eldarwen,

    hmm, there's a thought. I need to try it in hot weather!
    The only really dense oriental I can see how it works in hot weather is Ambre Sultan: curiously the bay and herbs help it not project as "hot".

  34. Sofi,

    nothing wrong with soapy as long as it is intentioned and within a certan artistic context! I like the NR line on the whole, it's very well thought-out (nothing relies on chance) and crafted expertly.


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