Top 10 Spring Fragrances 2013

Springtime Landscape, Béla Iványi-Grünwald

I can't believe it's been five years since my last Top Ten Spring Fragrances list, but yes, a look back confirms that fact. My tastes haven't shifted much since then, yet I can somehow come up with plenty of new favorites. Of course, there are the fragrances that I consider part of my springtime "hall of fame": Guerlain Apres l’Ondée and Chamade, Frederic Malle En Passant. These come into rotation every March or April, come rain or come shine (and lately, it's been mostly rain). But, beyond these classics, I'm easily able to compile a list of other fragrances I've been wearing or will be wearing over the next month or two. 

What to wear when the calendar says Spring, but the weather is still chilly and damp and dreary? I love to don Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver during that indecisive kind of weather, perhaps because it walks a fine line between warm and cool, soft and crisp.

I begin to say farewell to my favorite gourmand fragrances in spring, knowing that they'll be too rich and heavy for me in the summer, but Ayala Moriel Cabaret is a lovely gourmand for this transitional season. It's sweet but not too strong, and its rahat loukhoum accord is lightened by notes of bergamot and magnolia.

On days when there's just a hint of spring in the air, and the very tips of crocus and daffodil leaves are starting to push through the barely thawed soil, I like to wear Parfums de Nicolaï Violette in Love, whose delicate violet note is balanced by very sheer pepper and musk. Its fleeting beauty suits the season well.  

I also like green springtime scents with hints of white and golden flowers, like Annick Goutal Eau de Camille, which combines ivy and grasses with honeysuckle and lilac. It's a pretty garden-themed fragrance that doesn't turn too "girly." Come to think of it, Goutal offers quite a few spring-appropriate fragrances on the green-to-floral spectrum.

For another suggestion of spring in a bottle, I enjoy sniffing CB I Hate Perfume's To See a Flower. This scent was inspired by the artist Georgia O'Keeffe's remark that "Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven't time--and to see takes time..." A blend of hyacinth, jonquils, crocus, and daffodils with damp dirt and moss, To See a Flower smells natural and bright and not at all florist-shop-like.

I wouldn't be me if I didn't include a rose perfume or two on this list. Spring is the perfect time, in my opinion, for lighter rose-violet compositions, and L'Artisan Parfumeur Drôle de Rose is still one of the best fragrances in that category. It feels just right on the first truly spring-like days of the year, when the sun is out and the flowering trees in the parks are putting out their blossoms.

For something newer and a touch more stylized, I've lately come to enjoy Balenciaga L’Eau Rose. It's a more perfume-y violet-themed composition that goes well with a new dress and a cocktail date on a spring evening. I've loved the original Balenciaga Paris since it was released here in 2010, and I'm happily surprised that I'm also enjoying this lighter-toned flanker.

I happen to like beaches best in spring, before the heat and the crowds arrive, and I like my marine-themed fragrances to include a floral note. Lostmarc'h Iroaz is an unusual but easy-to-wear interpretation of beach roses growing along the Breton coast. Ideal!

My 2008 list did include Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau, one of my very first "niche" fragrance loves. This year I'll be wearing the Eau de Parfum version, which is a bit denser and longer-lasting but still remains very true to the original.

And I'm impressed by many of Lush's recent fragrance releases, but Flower's Barrow is my favorite, and I've bought a small bottle. Robin accurately described it as "a dusky blackcurrant rose with heavy herbal undertones." I rarely layer different fragrances, but I've been wearing a few dabs of Flower's Barrow over L'Ombre dans L'Eau, and this combination is my new secret weapon. (Well, not so secret anymore!)

It's too bad spring is such a short season, especially this year, when it seems to be beginning late. Still, I'm sure I'll continue to enjoy many of these fragrances well into summer. What are you planning to wear for the rest of the spring, wherever you are?

Find more spring lists at Bois de Jasmin :: Grain de Musc :: Perfume Posse 

 Note: top image is Springtime Landscape [cropped] by Béla Iványi-Grünwald via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. lucasai says:

    L’Eau d’Hiver as a spring perfume? I’ve never thought of it that way!

    • Jessica says:

      L, I used to wear it mostly in fall/winter, but then I tried it on a March day, and I realized it was perfect for that cloudy, chilly, early-spring weather, too!

  2. Abyss says:

    L’Eau d’Hiver is THE spring perfume for me. I always say it smells like March in a bottle because of that mimosa.

    I also like iris scents for early spring. There’s always something slightly melancholy and ephemeral about them that really suits the mood. Hiris, La Pausa, TDC Bois d’Iris all come out to play.

    The tart, green scents like Ninfeo Mio and L’Ombre dans l’Eau make a welcome change from the sweet, spicy, heavy winter scents.

    And in later spring you simply can’t beat Diorissimo.

    • Jessica says:

      Iris!! I can’t believe I didn’t include an iris. Le Labo Iris is one of my favorites for milder weather, because it has a green, root-y feeling.

      • Abyss says:

        Ah I keep meaning to try that one!

    • irisfreak says:

      TDC Bois D’Iris is so wonderful for ambivalent cold-warm-cold-warm wet weather. Always smells like mists in spring to me, or any drizzle day. It’s in my top 5.

  3. Emma M says:

    I’m a longtime follower, new commenter here – hello everyone!

    I also like L’Eau d’Hiver for early spring – I received a bottle as a birthday gift last august; of course, being an impatient type, I wore and enjoyed it straight away but it didn’t really come into it’s own until recently.

    Abyss, I agree about Iris scents for springtime – I’ve been wearing Prada’s Infusion d’Iris a lot lately and really must get around to trying Hiris…

    L’Ombre dans l’Eau unfortunately was one of my biggest let-downs – loving rose and being a diptyque fan in general, I had high hopes for it and wanted to adore it, but it fell a little flat on my skin. I must remember to revisit it – who knows, one day my perceptions may change

    • C.H. says:

      If you get a chance, you might try L’Ombre in EDP–I found it worked a lot better for me. Especially if you like rose!

      • Emma M says:

        Thanks for the recommendation, I was hoping for more rose so I’ll definitely try the edp

    • Jessica says:

      Hello, Emma M! I love your funny little cat avatar-photo.

      Prada Infusion d’Iris is an excellent recommendation for spring! and it’s not hard to find.

      • Emma M says:

        Hello Jessica – the little cat in my avatar is one of my handmade characters – glad that you like her!

        • nozknoz says:

          Emma, I took a quick peek at your website. You are so creative! I was particularly charmed by Clara’s closet.

          • Emma M says:

            Hi Nozknoz, thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind comment. I like to keep busy making things!

    • Abyss says:

      Hello and welcome!

      Have you tried L’Ombre dans l’Eau in the new EPD formulation? I’m not a huge fan of rose so prefer EDT with its emphasis on the crushed greenery and blackcurrant. The EDP has more rose so you might find it more appealing.

      • Emma M says:

        Hello Abyss, yes – it was the green and blackcurrant notes that didn’t work for me in the edt, so I’ll definitely be seeking out the edp now; hoping my local Space NK store carries it!

  4. Lila says:

    SLs Un Lys is my official Easter scent but I also love how it works on a damp/rainy, spring day. The humidity seems to soften the sillage making it feel like I’m in a hothouse and a dreary day is the perfect complement for a beauty like UL. I’ve also added SLs A La Nuit to my spring/summer wardrobe. I can’t wait to try it on a summer evening!

    • Jessica says:

      Lila, Serge Lutens’s white florals are beauties, aren’t they? I don’t personally wear white florals all that often, but I really admire Un Lys and A la Nuit.

      • Lila says:

        Yes! Beauties indeed. I think they smell better than the actual flowers!

  5. Ari says:

    I have no Spring perfumes!!! My wardrobe consists almost entirely of woody orientals. Can anyone help a sister out and recommend some Spring-y orientals?

    • Jessica says:

      Ari, have you ever come across YSL Opium Fleur (Fleurs?) du Shanghai? I have a decant of it somewhere, and every time I come across it, I remember how much I like it.

    • C.H. says:

      Atelier Ambre Nue? I think the name is pretty spot-on–it feel like an amber that suits the return of bare arms and legs!

      • C.H. says:

        Ah possibly also Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily? I feel like that’s pretty compatible with warmer weather.

        • Ari says:

          I tried Dark Amber & Ginger Lily recently and was awfully puzzled by it. Only for Jo Malone could this be a “dark” amber!

          • C.H. says:

            Hahaha so true. It’s barely even amber, let alone dark. But they sure do stick to the script at the Jo Malone counter–I actually had an SA discourage me from buying it, saying that as part of the darker, heavier Cologne Intense collection, it was really intended for men not women. I couldn’t even muster a good retort, because there were just too many crazy parts of that to tackle.

          • Omega says:

            I found that one to be really boozy.

          • Omega says:

            The Jo Malone, that is.

      • Ari says:

        This is one of the few Atelier Colognes I have not tried! Thank you for the suggestion, CH!

        • C.H. says:

          My pleasure, I’ll be interested to hear what you think! I’d mention also, I find it plays as a sibling or at least a cousin of Orange Sanguine and Grand Neroli–in a good way, to my nose, but I just wanted to mention the orange/citrus dimension because otherwise one could be kind of taken by surprise by this one too. Def a different kind of oriental.

    • gatorgirl says:

      Have you tried Marni? It definitely hits the woody notes, which I love too, and has some rose to make it slightly floral, at least to my nose. I have been trying it layered with Caron Delire de Roses, and really like it that way. Not super springy, I guess, but a nice woody floral combo.


      • gatorgirl says:

        Ooh, I forgot, Chanel 31 Rue Cambon is also a nice woody floral. I have been testing it out recently and really like it. Kind of springy.

    • egabbert says:

      Maybe Bois de Violette, which I believe was on Suzanne’s list?

    • Lys says:

      Opardu might count as a Springtime, floral oriental but it also changes a lot on different skin types. And I get a different impression each time I wear it. But it’s a really nice scent.

    • AnnS says:

      Hi Ari: Years ago I was most happy with orientals, so I understand where you are coming from. It wasn’t until I “understood” galbanum that doors to those green florals opened up to me. There are a few orientals that I can think of with lovely floral notes that may be a good choice for you. Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur is a wonderful warm oriental with excellent gardenia, violet and tubereuse notes – very easy to wear – this may be discontinued, but last time I checked it was easy to find. Fendi’s long discontinued Asja is a rich, full bodied oriental that has a prominent spicy carnation that is really delightful to wear, and can still be found last time I checked. L’Artisan Nuits de Tubereuse is a rich floral oriental that definitely fits a spring bill – esp. if is cool spring or evening. I would also suggest that you test Guerlain’s Chamade which is technically a green oriental – it has a striking galbanum and white flowers opening, but really transitions into a wonderfully rich balsam base. You may also want to try the Parfums DelRae Amoureuse which is a knock-out green lily oriental. If you want to get into the more white flowers category, the Bagdley Mischka Fleurs de Nuit is and excellent jasmine with a very light, warm oriental nearly gourmand base. And then there’s Amouage Ubar which is a very tight, rich white flowers oriental… and then the original Boucheron (pour femme) in blue which is a big rich floral oriental… gosh, the list goes on and on. Once you start digging – they are everywhere!!! Good luck!

      You may also want to try your nose at getting used to or liking galbanun. There are many excellent “spring” green fragrances in the oriental or chypre category with galbanum: Givenchy III, Chamade, PdN Temps d’une Fete, AG Grand Amour and Heure Exquise (one of my fav’s), etc, etc…..

    • Merlin says:

      Prada’s l’eau d’Ambre – a beautiful light veil amber – amber on helium!

    • Rappleyea says:

      Seconding Ann’s Chamade rec. and adding Guerlain’s Samsara. It’s mainly jasmine with other florals and a sandalwood/vanilla base. I find it beautiful and I end up wearing it almost year round. It’s one of the later Guerlains that doesn’t get much perfumista love, but I love it.

    • nozknoz says:

      I’d recommend Puredistance I and Miller Harris La Pluie. I’m not entirely sure how justified I am in calling them orientals, but they are perfumes that this oriental lover loves for spring. I also just fell for Guerlain Arsene Lupin (the one that was originally called AL Dandy, not AL Voyou).

      I hope you will report back in one of the weekend polls and Let us know how far you manage to get toward the edge of your woody amber comfort zone this spring!

    • Lila says:

      Clive Christian C for Women is a great floriental!

  6. Dilana says:

    This morning I felt all foggy and congested and Geranium Pour Monsier seemed perfect, even though I normally think of it as being for the dog days of summer.
    CDG White is my favorite Lily of the Valley scent, although come spring I always an seeking new fragrances with this as a dominent note.

    • Jessica says:

      Sometimes a little geranium is perfect for cutting through the dreariness! I really like the geranium note in Flower’s Barrow. Patyka used to have a good geranium fragrance… gone, alas.

      • Dilana says:

        Actually, I think it was mostly the blast of mint which I needed.

  7. Omega says:

    I do love B. Paris and Drole de Rose! I own and love Drole and have a decant of B.Paris that I know will be used up these warmer months!

    The rest I have not yet tried!!! Tragic! I loooove lilac, I need to try that En Passant!

    I love that painting by the way, nice!

    • Jessica says:

      Yes, do try En Passant, if you have a chance! I can go either way on lilac, but I really do love this fragrance. I might wear it this afternoon, now that we’re talking about it…

      • C.H. says:

        Seconding! I can’t say enough about this one–it made me think differently about perfume.

  8. Sajini says:

    Yes, beautiful choice of art for your post. I’ve already jumped the gun and dipped into the summer stuff already. Just so sick of winter. The early spring subtleties are not yet part of my perceptive skill set. I’ve been checking out a few Neroli based scents. In Saks yesterday and tried Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom and found it super pretty. The SA gave me generous samples of that one so I will be trying it over the next few weeks. So far I really love the new Neroli from Yves Rocher.

    • C.H. says:

      Ah, I was thinking of wearing Atelier’s Grand Neroli this afternoon! I haven’t tried the Yves Rocher yet, I’ll have to keep an eye out.

      • Sajini says:

        Good morning CH, You can get a free mini GWP of Neroli, I believe it’s 5ml. if you buy something from the Yves Rocher USA website. I bought a soap just so I could get the mini. What is Grand Neroli like?

  9. Omega says:

    I may have to spritz on some lilac as well..After My Own Heart by Ineke is a good lilac imo.

    • gatorgirl says:

      I am not usually a lilac fan, but After My Own Heart is really nice, isn’t it? Nice choice.


    • C.H. says:

      Such a good one.

      • Jessica says:

        After My Own Heart *is* a very pretty, spring-y lilac.

  10. Eroica says:

    Lovely Jessica! I was turned on to En Passant via Robin a couple of years ago and truly love wearing it in the months of April and May.

    • Jessica says:

      I did wear it this afternoon, in the end. It’s perfect for today’s very spring-like weather!

  11. thegoddessrena says:

    Unfortunately for me, my desires and reality are not syncing up real well this season. I really, really adored Gothic Bluebell when I sprayed it on paper–it was the most gorgeous spring scent. On me it was sort of grassy for about 2 1/2-3 hrs before it even came close to smelling like the gorgeousness that I loved. I only recently got Songes which I adore but I also got a new job which I’m supposed to be fragrance-free for so I can only wear Songes on my day off. Opardu is fabulous but also a bit pricey for a grad student…

    • Jessica says:

      Oh, that gap between desire and reality. I’m sure many of us can sympathize! :)

  12. AnnS says:

    Hi Jessica: Is it spring – I am definitely ready for a different focus in my fragrance wardrobe. Today I’m wearing AG Eau de Ciel, which seemed perfect and light and fresh and green. But my favs for spring are (as you) Chamade, AG Grand Amour b/c it smells like earth and flowers all together, AG Heure Exquise, DelRae Amoureuse, SSS To Dream, and pretty much anything with orange blossoms: Laura Mecier Neroli, LV Dilmun, L’AP Nuits de Tubereuse…. But strangely I’ve really been craving Chanel No 19, so as soon as it hits 60 degrees here, I’m going to douse myself with it. Spring is such a great time for fragrances!!!

    • Jessica says:

      Orange blossom and/or neroli are so wonderful in spring/summer. (Or whenever!) I like Atelier Cologne’s Grand Neroli a lot, and any LUSH body products fragranced with neroli, as well as their Orange Blossom fragrance.

  13. Dzingnut says:

    It hasn’t really gotten warm yet where I am, but I have my spring bottles all lined up: Chamade, Givenchy III, YSL Y, Hiris, Feminite de Bois … they’ll be perfect to wear as I rake up the foot of leaves that I never took care of last fall. And do my taxes. Argh!

    • tweetybird says:

      Lol, I’ll be doing the same…East Coast still has a brisk chill in the air although technically Spring. New to NST…this too is a question of mine, thanks to all for such great recommendations!

  14. galbanumgal says:

    Springtime calls for PdN Le Temps d’une Fete, AdP’s Iris Nobile (edt version), no 19 and AG Neroli. I’m in suburban Chicago…it was 60 yesterday, 45 today. Picked up the AG Neroli edt on a recent visit to NYC, and glad I did….looks like they’re dropping it & replacing with an eau de cologne version.

    • irisfreak says:

      Definitely No. 19! But then, I’m an iris freak, ain’t I. These days I’m reaching for the No. 19 Poudre.

  15. Rappleyea says:

    Perfect timing, Jessica as this is the *first* day that we’ve gotten out of the 40’s! Needless to say, I haven’t much felt like wearing my lighter, Spring scents. Hopefully it will stay warm – I can’t wait to break out my Jicky, Philtre d’Amour, Chamade and Nahema among others. I only discovered LV Dilmun last Fall just as it was getting cool, and I think that might be another good one for this time of the year.

    • Jessica says:

      Rappleyea, yesterday was our first really spring-like day, too! I prefer Chamade in the EDT, and I love it. I might wear it today…

  16. FragrantWitch says:

    Another vote for Chamade here as well! The blast of green at the opening took some getting used to buy now I adore it. I also wear a lot of Cristalle, Après L’Ondee and Black March or Violet Tendecies. I’ve also started wearing a scent called ‘Angelique’ from a new British niche line which launches this month, Papillon Perfumery, which is a gorgeous mimosa, orris, osmanthus and cedar wood scent. Very beautiful and springy. Now we just need the weather to match!

  17. OOOOhh. I loved the original version of Violette in Love, back when it was a limited edition. They completely changed the other perfume that they released at the same time (Weekend a Deauville). Anyone know if the original and the permanent version of Violette in Love are the same?

    • Jessica says:

      I wonder, too! I’ve only had my bottle for about 6 months, and I didn’t have a chance to try it when it was first released, so I don’t know whether it was altered.

  18. irisfreak says:

    For me, most springs kick off with En Passant, but not anymore. For a lilac fragrance, I’ve now transferred my affections to After my Own Heart by Ineke. I guess it’s En Passant minus the bread note. To do lilac without being cloying or overspecific is a triumph, and Ineke can be proud. Anyway it makes me feel like I’m budding, on schedule.

    • Jessica says:

      That’s a lovely testimonial to Ineke! I know some people don’t really enjoy the wheat and other non-lilac notes of En Passant, so this is a good suggestion.

  19. hajusuuri says:

    I love this post, Jessica. Wow, all these En Passant love…I must refresh my olfactory memory the next time I’m at Barneys. Ooh and I need to try L’eau d’Hiver this weekend!

    While I don’t have a strict Spring rotation, the following work on me as spring scents:

    Hermes Kelly Caleche – this is really for year-round
    Tauer Reverie au Jardin
    Tauer Zeta
    Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia
    Prada Infusion d’ Iris EDT
    Le Labo Iris 39 – fall/winter/spring
    L’AP Seveille a l’Aube – another potential year-round scent

    • Jessica says:

      Hajusuuri, I’m very fond of Le Labo’s Iris and L’Artisan’s Seville, as well! Now I want to wear Seville this afternoon. Maybe I’ll do Chamade EDT today and Seville tomorrow. Decisions… ;)

  20. Marjorie Rose says:

    I agree with L’eau d’Hiver (although there are few times it seems really wrong–such a lovely scent!). I often wear my rose-violets this time of year–Lipstick Rose, Attrape Coeur, and even a light touch of Une Rose Cypree. I like B. Paris, but I’ve switched to using it mostly as a room spray–but it gives my home such a clean, spring-like feel! And I still feel safe wearing my lighter gourmandes–I love Traversee du Bosphore in these in-between days!

    • Jessica says:

      Marjorie Rose, I completely agree about Traversee du Bosphore — it has that wonderful Turkish Delight note along with the apple and leather and florals, but if applied lightly, it’s fine for mild weather!

  21. SunsetSmells says:

    It is still very cold here and, while my spring scents are out of hibernation, I have not yet begun wearing the regulars like Apres L’Ondee and Infusion d’Iris. Seeing most use are lighter incenses like Passage D’Enfer and Couer de Vetiver Sacre. Also using Eaux des Baux a lot – I see it has a lot of fans. Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine is also great for the days when impatience for the UK spring risks turning into black despair! :)

    • Jessica says:

      Ooh, lighter incenses. That’s a good idea, too! I bet SSS has a few.

  22. Dear Jessica
    Oh yes Chamade and Apres l’Ondee are ultimate standbys.
    I love Parfum de Nicolai’s Violette. Violet fragrances generally are just lovely at this time fo year. A favourite is the unusual Feerie by Van Cleef and Arpels is fun too, with a gentle rose to follow.
    Greens! Who could be without their spring greens? L’Ombre das L’eau has its cousin in Sisley’s Eau de Campagne and then there are the sharper Silences, Norell and even No. 19.
    So much fun to be had in this season of warmer weather and gambolling lambs!
    I won’t go on and on, so I’m posting my picks over at my place.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you, Dandy! I agree: this is ideal of time for violet fragrances and green notes. Yesterday and today were quite warm and sunny in NYC: spring is finally here!

  23. odonata9 says:

    Great list! I need to try AG Eau de Camille – I love Chevrefeuille and would like to compare. I think Camille is more green and Chevrefeuille is more honeysuckle? Curious also about the CBIHP – never heard of that one and sounds interesting.

    My spring faves are AG Chevrefeuille, Hermes Rose Ikebana, and Atelier Trefle Pur & Oolang Inifini.

    • Jessica says:

      Yes, that’s exactly how I would describe the difference between the two Goutal fragrances. I like Chevrefeuille, too — it just feels a little more summery to me.

      Trefle Pur would have been #11 on my list, so I’m glad you mentioned it!

  24. Thalia says:

    Ah, spring perfumes! Now I need to try Violette in Love and Eau de Camille.

    My spring go-tos:

    Champs Elysees (I’m wearing it today! So fluffy!)
    Le Temps d’Une Fete
    Si Lolita
    Vent Vert

    • Jessica says:

      Thalia, Si Lolita was on my longer list when I was drafting this post! It’s such a fun, but not silly, light peppery floral.

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