Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2014

tall roses

For some reason, I’m easily irritated by the question, “What are your plans for the summer?” As my husband keeps reminding me, it’s just a harmless conversation-opener, but somehow it never fails to set my teeth on edge — more so than ever this year, when my “plans” involve nothing more than unemployment and job-hunting. Maybe we’ll do some day-trips, but it’s hard for me to feel as though I’m on holiday when I don’t know what comes next.

In that cheerful spirit (with apologies to Robin, who assigned this post to me without knowing my current frame of mind!), here is a list of ten fragrances I plan to wear regularly this summer, as I try to enjoy myself. I won’t be shopping for perfume much over the coming months, so I’m relying on my current collection and stash of samples to raise my spirits.

I’ve worn Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau every summer for the past decade…

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Top 10 Spring Fragrances 2014

daffodil on yellow

Where I live, it’s as if we fell off a cliff from frosty mornings and rain-slicked trees into yellow tufts of daffodils. Chives spring up in clumps in the vegetable garden, and my plum tree is puffed with blossoms. Heck, that guy in accounting even shaved off his beard. No question about it: It’s spring.

For my top 10 of spring, I’m going to be perfectly frank about the perfume I’ll be wearing. I’m not going to force-fit recent releases to show you how on top of it I am or sprinkle in variety for the sake of a well-rounded post. No, I’m going to tell you exactly what favorites I’ll be dragging from the back of the perfume closet. Judge me as you may.

Guerlain Chamade: As soon as I smell daphne in the neighborhood, I go straight for my atomizer of Chamade Eau de Toilette or my precious decant of Parfum — or sometimes both…

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Top 10 Winter Fragrances 2014

Hill and Ploughed Field near Dresden

There are almost 200 perfumes on my “want-to-sniff” list. The majority of them were released in the last four years and a large percentage of them never were sold in the U.S. (Ever seen Trussardi My Land, Mäurer & Wirtz Pink Pepper & Grapefruit, Molinard Habanita L’Esprit or Charriol Royal White at your favorite American fragrance counter?) There’s just too much ‘product’ out there!

So, how can I write about the “top 10 winter fragrances” with any authority? I can’t. My “top 10″ is comprised of perfumes I’ve recently encountered, worn, enjoyed, and that fit my mood of the moment. I’m not including fragrances I’ve reviewed in the past. I’m not including lots of classic/rich “winter” fragrances because, frankly, by mid-January in Seattle, I’m sick of cold, wet weather and dark heavy perfumes. I need some sparkle in my life…some light, citrus and flowers. And let’s not forget it is SUMMER in the southern hemisphere — this post is dedicated to readers in that part of the world; I wish I could visit you all, from Argentina and Brazil on over to South Africa and Australia and the balmy lands of Asia and the South Pacific.

Ava Lux Honey presents the warm scents of hot summertime, with its floral, nutty (almond) aromas…

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Top 10 Fall Fragrances 2013

fall leaves

I’ve experienced autumn in several places. When I was growing up in the ‘tropics’ (Virginia), the arrival of autumn was marvelous — no more steamy heat or mosquitoes. One of the first signs of autumn was the arrival of glass jugs of amber-colored fresh apple cider, for sale at orchard stands along almost every road. I tried to find an apple scent for this post (and for my perfume “collection”) in honor of apples and cool weather, but I was unsuccessful. Any suggestions? (Donna Karan DKNY scents need not apply.)

My early college life in New York City proved the Big Apple was not much different from Virginia in summertime, except for the added smells of simmering garbage on the streets. But autumn in New York was great; all the food cart aromas, even the exhaust fumes, smelled nicer mixing with the cool, marine air surrounding Manhattan, and the autumn leaves in Central Park added a dry, “woodland,” hay-like scent to the crisp air.

When I lived in L.A., autumn was pretty much like any other season (warm and sunny), except for days when the ferocious Santa Ana winds made autumn feel like I was standing in front of an open oven door…and the oven temperature was at 450° Fahrenheit. I’ve never in my life been more lethargic than during hot weather in Southern California, nor have I reached for cooling Eaux de Cologne more, applying them morning, noon and night.

Now I live in the Pacific Northwest…

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Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2013

LandArt Engel Angel

Having appropriated most American technologies, cultural tics and lifestyle choices, Canadians feel we know a lot about our neighbors (neighbours!1) to the south and we tend to be quite sensitive about a perceived lack of knowledge on the other end. Canadian comedian Rick Mercer, a national hero of sorts, came to prominence with a series of television clips called Talking to Americans, where he poked gentle fun at this relationship by interviewing ordinary Americans on the street — in addition to people like George W. Bush2, David Hasselhoff and a Harvard Professor of International Relations — and getting them to do silly things on camera: to congratulate Canucks on converting to a 24-hour clock (from a 20-hour one)3, to sign a petition trying to stop the planned polar bear slaughters in Toronto, or to sing along with a completely fabricated Canadian national anthem. Once, I had an encounter in Buffalo, NY that felt like a Mercer moment: I struck up a conversation with the gentleman beside me at the mall, who turned out to believe that Canadians did not experience summer. “But I live an hour or so away from here,” I kept explaining to him. “We have summer! We have the same climate as you do!” I could not convince him.

If you live in the southern U.S. — let alone in Australia, Southeast Asia or the Middle East— then you may not believe that people in Buffalo experience summer weather either. In truth, neither Buffalo nor Toronto (where I live, unmolested by polar bears) suffers from frequent Louisiana-level humidity or the week-long 100°F heat waves of Houston. Although I love classic citrus colognes and refreshing splashes, my perfume collection gravitates towards scents with enough heft to stand up to cooler temperatures. Still, we get our share of urban jungle here, normally from June until September, and though I’ve never done a Top 10 Summer Fragrances post before, I’ve written previously about my preferred remedies for when the heat is on (here and here). Below are ten more of my favorites for the swelter season; please comment with your own…

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