In the doom-and-gloom days of my late teens and early twenties, one of my favorite poems was “Spinster” by Sylvia Plath; at one point, I even photocopied this poem from Plath’s collected works and pinned it to the wall of my dorm room. It relates the thoughts of an emotionally repressed young woman who, during “a ceremonious April walk / with her latest suitor,” finds herself dismayed by early spring’s “rank wilderness of fern and flower; / She judged petals in disarray, / The whole season, sloven.”
Many real-life seasons passed, and I eventually loosened my grip on such tense pessimism (although I will always value Plath’s work). I even decided that it’s not such a bad thing, after all, to “reel giddy in bedlam spring” when the opportunity presents itself.
Here, then, are ten scents that evoke springtime giddiness in me whenever I wear them:
Etro Dianthus: Carnation is one of my favorite fragrance notes, and I particularly enjoy it during the transitional seasons of fall or spring, since it can seem spicy and powdery at the same time. Etro’s interpretation pushes the softer side of carnation, with just enough delicate pepperiness for balance.
Bond No. 9 Park Avenue: Bond no. 9’s more recent releases tend to receive all the attention, but when spring arrives, I always reach for my bottle of Park Avenue. This scent makes me feel as though I’m savoring a cup of white tea at a table set with fresh linens and a vase of narcissus blossoms. It’s crisp and clean, yet feminine.
Yves Saint Laurent Paris Jardins Romantiques: This limited-edition fragrance was released in spring 2007, but it can still easily be found online. Its breezy re-imagining of the original Paris has sheerer layers of rose and violet, interwoven with dewy lilac and new grass. Plus, the charming bottle caters to every possible “April in Paris” fantasy.
Frederic Malle Lys Méditerranée: I don’t wear many white florals, but once again, Malle delivers a classic idea with an innovative edge. Lys Méditerranée isn’t a waxy, greenhouse Easter lily: it’s a bunch of graceful, wilder flowers with their petals tumbled by a salty sea breeze.
ElizabethW Magnolia: Speaking of white flowers, I always look forward to the one or two deliriously beautiful weeks in spring when I can sit under a magnolia tree in Central Park while I eat my lunch. This scent is the closest thing I have found to the magnolia’s creamy, lemon-tinged petals (minus the distress of seasonal allergies). Its matching body products are also a treat.
Annick Goutal Quel Amour!: Camille Goutal created this fragrance as a remembrance of an occasion when her fiancé gave her dozens of roses and peonies. The sentimentality of its pink petals is countered by the tartness of red currant, giving wit and zest to its romantic sweetness.
Caron Montaigne: I wear Caron Bellodgia all year long, but this spring I’m also in the mood for the reformulated version of Montaigne. Its oriental aspects have been toned down slightly, and the result is more buoyant, but still sophisticated: a sparkling brew of jasmine, mimosa, and ripe citrus fruits.
Scent by Alexis Courtesan: A blend of candied violets offset by notes of green tea, Courtesan is both coquettish and smooth. It could be worn by one of the supporting characters from Colette’s Gigi as she rides down a tree-lined Parisian avenue in an open, horse-drawn carriage, wearing a satin gown and carrying a bouquet of orchids in her lap.
Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’Eau: This was my first “niche” perfume purchase, inspired by a mention in an early issue of Lucky magazine. (Thank you, Jean Godfrey-June!) I still cherish its fresh blend of black currant leaves and rose petals, which is delightfully wearable even when the weather turns hotter, not to mention the Art Nouveau-inspired illustration on its label.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses: Since spring weather is not always sunlit and balmy, here is a scent for April showers and other rainy days: Voleur de Roses (“The Rose Thief”) is plummy patchouli that somehow gives the impression of damp earth and a few wet-leaved rose bushes.