Mix and Match Summer Perfume

Last summer I arrived in Brussels with a severely limited perfume collection. You know how sometimes perfume lovers ask themselves what five fragrances they would take to a desert island and then agonize over their choice? Well, that was me at this time last year. In the end, I packed Chanel No 19Annick Goutal Néroli, decants of Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Iris Silver Mist, Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver, and Carnal Flower. I had a small bag of samples I needed for work and reviewing, but I mostly kept myself happy with my little collection.

brussels-summer-rainhay

Wearing an edited set fragrances last summer was enjoyable. For one thing, good fragrances are beyond seasons, and it’s fun to play with seasonal associations. Don a crisp citrus cologne on a cold January morning or turn up the heat with spicy orientals on a languid summer evening. Many fragrances have specific connotations for me–oranges and cinnamon make me think of winter holidays, but there is nothing to stop me from creating my own Christmas in July.

For this year’s list of my current staples, I wanted to play with five perfumes and show how I adapt them to my different summer moods. This summer has been so cold in Europe that even the weather forecasters wearing sparkly eye shadow and deep decollete just pout and say, “le temps est exécrable” (the weather is horrible). And exécrable it is–on an average day I’m still wearing the same coat I wore in February. But with my fragrances, I can create any summer I want.

Serge Lutens A La Nuit

Until recently I believed that big white florals couldn’t be worn in the heat, but then I discovered how beautiful they can be. The voluptuous richness of jasmine and vanilla in A La Nuit transports me to someplace warm and tropical, especially if my own summer is rainy and cold. Worn with a heavy hand, A La Nuit can smother you on a sub-zero day, so it’s best to apply it lightly. It’s also a good candidate for a spray-and-rub lotion method.

Layering combinations: while A La Nuit, like the other four fragrances on my list, can be worn on its own, here are a few layering ideas. If you’re traveling and have to keep your summer collection as small as possible, layering can add a new twist. You can also check How to Layer Perfume Part 1 and How to Layer Perfume Part 2 to adapt this technique to your favorites.

A La Nuit + Annick Goutal Néroli = Néroli’s zesty orange blossom adds sparkle to Luten’s night-blooming  jasmine.

A La NuitAtelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli = jasmine petals splattered with wet earth, intriguing.

brussels summer-300brussels-eu-parliament

Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche

A comfortable cashmere pashmina is how I think of this cardamom spiked sandalwood and musk blend. It’s soft enough to be worn just as easily on a warm day as in the middle of winter. I love to put it on in the morning as I make my breakfast and enjoy it alongside a spicy masala chai, tea steeped with milk, cardamom and ginger. If it’s a hot day, then I take a cue from Lumière Blanche and spike my iced tea with lemon and cardamom.

Additional Layering combinations:

Lumière Blanche + Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli (a delicate touch) = if you want to add a richer tone to the musk and sandalwood of Lumière Blanche.

Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli

My most recent discovery and a great choice for those who don’t like their patchouli to be too heavy or earthy. I’ve had a chance to test it on an excruciatingly hot day, and I’m happy to report that it worked well. Patchouli has a natural cool accent, and the salty lemon and black pepper enhance it further — more than just another simple citrus cologne.

Additional Layering combinations:

Mistral Patchouli + Annick Goutal Néroli =  refreshing and crisp. Mistral Patchouli pairs well with different florals, since  patchouli is one of the most versatile notes.

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Annick Goutal Néroli

Néroli, in contrast to Mistral Patchouli, is a classical take on an orange blossom cologne, except that it’s quality is so stellar that it stands out. I wear it on a rainy day to create a Sicilian spring fantasy or on a hot summer evening when you can cut the air with a knife and every other perfume feels too heavy.

Additional Layering combinations:

Néroli (2 sprays) + Serge Lutens A La Nuit (1 small spray) = orange blossom with character. By changing the amount of A La Nuit you layer over Néroli, you can change the character of orange blossom, from sparkling to moody.

Narciso Rodriguez for Her

I keep trying different musks, but I return to Narciso Rodriguez for Her. It’s a plush veil of musks mixed with creamy  rose and jasmine petals. Versatile but complex enough to keep your interest, it’s also a compliment magnet. The only caveat is that some people can’t smell the musk used in this composition, so try before buying to make sure that NR loves your skin. Another perfume similar to NR for Her is Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

Additional Layering combinations:

Besides the ideas mentioned above, try Narciso Rodriguez over a rose scented lotion. It transforms the honeyed sweetness of rose into something far more decadent.

NR For Her + Annick Goutal Néroli = sun-dried linen sheets sprinkled with orange blossom water. Play with the amount of Néroli to modulate the richness of floral notes.

brussels-evening

Whatever perfume you wear this summer, if your destination is Paris, London, Amsterdam, or Brussels, please heed my advice and pack an umbrella and a warm cardigan. This summer you might need them.

What perfumes will you be bringing out for the summer?

To see other summer perfume  lists, please visit: Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, snapshots of Belgium

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101 Comments

  • Susan: What a great post! I love the idea of layering but worry I come up with a horrid mess. I’ll try NR Musk and rose lotion today. June 7, 2013 at 7:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Sometimes I do come up with awful combos myself, but with perfume, it’s a low commitment project. 🙂 You can always start by layering on paper first. I can’t wait to hear how NR + rose lotion turn out for you. June 7, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

  • Marieke: If I had to take only five perfumes, I would pick Kenzo Flower, L’Artisan Poivre Piquant, Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel, Rochas Cascades, and Kenzo Elephant, my newest favourite. June 7, 2013 at 8:01am Reply

    • sara: what’s rochas cascades? is it new? June 7, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

      • Marieke: Sorry, It’s called Les Cascades de Rochas Eclats d’Agrumes. It’s fresh and has tropical fruits note. June 7, 2013 at 6:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Great choices! I love seeing my beloved Jungle L’Elephant on your list. 🙂 June 7, 2013 at 10:26am Reply

  • Elizabeth: When I went to northern Germany last summer, I brought L’Eau d’Hiver, Poivre Piquant, Mitsouko, Ambre Sultan, and Shalimar. I needed my warm sweaters and umbrella then! I probably won’t get to go back this year because I recently started a new job. My fiance will go for several weeks in the summer (he is a teacher) to take care of his elderly parents. So this will be a sad, sad summer for me. 🙁

    Today is a gloomy rainy day in New York, and I am wearing Bois des Iles. It feels just perfect! June 7, 2013 at 8:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, how I feel for you! I don’t like being away from my husband, and unfortunately, both of us travel quite a bit for work, so we have our ways to cope. At least, think about your wedding and the preparations you still have to do.

      Bois des Iles is perfect anytime! June 7, 2013 at 10:28am Reply

  • sara: gorgeous photos! i like your suggestions to use few perfumes to the max and trying layers. i’m wearing lutens myrrhe today. i read on another blog that it layers well with chanel no 5. have you tried it? June 7, 2013 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Sara! I haven’t tried layering La Myrrhe with No 5, but I can see how it can be an interesting combination. La Myrrhe is a variation on No 5. I imagine that the parfum or the EDP might be too much (La Myrrhe is such a sillage monster), but if you have some No 5 lotion or cream, it could work.

      If you or anyone tries it, please let us know! June 7, 2013 at 10:31am Reply

  • briony: My absolute favourite last year was Seville a l’Aube so as the weather here in London is expected to be summery this weekend, I’ll be giving that a wearing. The other fumes I’ll be hoping to get lots more wear out of this summer are Chanel 1932, Estee Lauder’s Tuberose Gardenia and Ormonde Jayne’s Tiare. Some of her other florals might hit the spot too. June 7, 2013 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: I also think of Ormonde Jayne florals as the perfect summer dresses. Sampaquita, Frangipani, and Champaca are my favorites, and I break them out the most when it’s sunny and warm. They aren’t overly heavy, but they have this sparkling, happy sensation that matches my mood on sunny days. 🙂 June 7, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

  • Maja: Our summer has finally arrived, 27 degrees today. We’re all suddenly looking for some shadow. 🙂 I took, completely by chance, my 24, Faubourg and said: Why not? It’s working perfectly, white flowers feel glamorous and not heady at all. (one spritz though)

    I will try your NR and Neroli combination. Sounds like something I might like. I would love to try pairing my Eau de Rochas with something floral, it is a bit austere on its own, although my summer staple in Sardinia. June 7, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Austenfan: It is finally summery in Holland as well. I don’t really like heat but it is wonderful to see everyone smiling as they cycle in their shorts and t-shirts. June 7, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, same here–lots of shorts and T-shirts and pasty, tan-free legs (my own including!) 🙂 June 7, 2013 at 10:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Today and yesterday were warm here too! It’s such a drastic change from the rain and gloom that absolutely everyone is smiling and is in a happy mood. The city park is filled with people sunning themselves!

      I discovered it by chance when I spritzed myself from one decant vial and then returned to top off Neroli and by mistake grabbed another similar vial, which was filled with Narciso Rodriguez (see, being a klutz can have its good consequences!). June 7, 2013 at 10:37am Reply

  • Emma M: Lumiére Blanche is high up on my list of perfumes to try; I’m hopeful that my travel plans for the summer will take me past a store that carries it.

    The sun is shining today in the UK (at last! I better be careful not to say too much about it or I might scare it away!) so I’m wearing one of my warm weather staples, Diptique L’eau de l’eau. My other favourites for summer are AG Les Nuits d’Hadrian, SL Fleurs du citronnier and Bond no 9 Chinatown – which I purchased a few years ago on a searingly hot day in NYC and had to wear it straight away, so now it’s forever connected with hot weather in my mind. June 7, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Chinatown is still my favorite from Bond no 9. Despite trying pretty much everything they’ve offered since then, I can’t think of a better perfume in their collection. Some are very good, but Chinatown really stands out. And the bottle is beautiful. June 7, 2013 at 10:38am Reply

      • Elisa: My two favorites are Chinatown and Broadway Nite, but I think Broadway Nite just edges it out for me. It’s my favorite rose-violet. June 7, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t spent enough time with Broadway Nite, but I remember thinking that it reminded me of Lipstick Rose. Do you think so too, or am I fantasizing about something else? 🙂 June 7, 2013 at 11:06am Reply

          • Elisa: Yes, it is like Lipstick Rose, but much brighter and more voluptuous. After Broadway Nite I have limited tolerance for Lipstick Rose, which seems thin in comparison. June 7, 2013 at 11:23am Reply

            • Victoria: Broadway Nite was created by Maurice Roucel, right? If so, then I can see how LR wouldn’t compete next to it. Need to look for my Broadway Nite sample. 🙂 June 7, 2013 at 11:31am Reply

              • Elisa: Exactly! It’s VERY intense so you only need a dab. But such a beautiful, clear chord between the aldehydes and vanilla. June 7, 2013 at 11:50am Reply

                • Victoria: Yes, that’s what I remember–it was one of the strongest perfumes I’ve tried, a true bombshell. June 7, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

  • Madeleine: Hi Victoria,

    Thanks for the scent combining recommendations. I love Mistral Patchouli and it’s airy, ethereal take on the note.

    It’s the exact opposite here. We’re going into winter and it’s mild. My choices are classical right now: Chamade, Parfum de Therese, Amouage Dia and Gold and En Avion.

    Hoping the summer improves up north!

    Madeleine June 7, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I was surprised how much I liked Mistral Patchouli, because I usually like my patchouli earthy, and this one is a very clean kind. But the perfume feels like a salty sea breeze and wears (and layers) well.

      You’re probably getting ready for the cooler days ahead. Of course, your nice perfume wardrobe fits any season! June 7, 2013 at 10:43am Reply

  • Elisa: I sometimes have trouble picking five samples/decants to bring on a week-long trip, so I don’t envy your situation! I do love layering though, and I’ve discovered that patchouli and orange blossom layer surprisingly well. (Would you believe NR for Her plus A*Men Pure Malt?)

    Also I agree with you about orientals in the heat — I’ve been wearing Spiriteuese Double Vanille in the past week and the summery weather really brings out the incense and turns it into a rather smoldering amber. June 7, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Everything about it was chaotic and last-minute, and I wasn’t sure if I was leaving for 2 months or 2 years. Going to another place is hard enough, and when there is so much uncertainty, it’s even more difficult. But things improved and I even got reunited with most of my perfumes.

      The warmth really can bring out different facets of perfumes. One recent example for me was Guerlain’s Lys Soleia, which in the summer smells like creamy vanilla and spice, and on a cool day, the fresh floral notes linger and linger. June 7, 2013 at 11:17am Reply

      • Elisa: I still haven’t tried Lys Soleia, but I really want to, because I’ve seen it compared to DK Gold, one of my longtime favorites. June 7, 2013 at 11:25am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s similar, definitely, but it doesn’t have Gold’s incense-myrrh drydown that was such a beautiful layer on top of lilies. Next to Gold, Lys Soleia is a bit thin, but on its own, it’s a very nice, happy perfume. June 7, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

    • solanace: I wear orientals and white florals under hot weather all the time (even to work). It’s a whole other plot. June 8, 2013 at 6:16am Reply

  • fleurdelys: Summer has been playing hide-and-seek with us in the northeastern US. We’ll have periods of cool, rainy weather (like today), then for a few days we are slammed with temperatures in the 90s F. What to wear? I’m going with my warm-weather faves no matter what it does outside, because as soon as June 1st rolls around, it is SUMMER as far as I’m concerned! These will be in heavy rotation: 24, Faubourg, Aimez-Moi, AG Neroli, White Linen, Blue Grass, Cristalle, Diorissimo. June 7, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

    • Victoria: So excited to see you mention Arden’s Blue Grass, and I have a bunch of questions: What concentration of Blue Grass do you wear? Is vintage or modern? June 7, 2013 at 11:05am Reply

      • fleurdelys: I snagged an almost-full bottle of the EDT online. It is in the frosted bottle with the embossed horses (which I always loved, being a horse-crazy kid!). That means it is an older formulation, although I don’t know how old. Thankfully it is in good condition, and the fragrance is as I remember from having smelled it years ago. And how could I not have realized that this is a carnation fragrance? I’m always looking for a good carnation! It is not a sillage monster, but whiffs of spicy lavender floated up from my skin all day.

        I have smelled the current formulation, and although the characteristics are there, it gave me the impression of being thinned down from the original. June 10, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

        • Victoria: What a find!!! You really have a treasure on your hands, and since the new version, as you noticed, feels thinner, your vintage will be even more enjoyable to wear. Enjoy it! June 12, 2013 at 2:39am Reply

  • Roberta: It is finally a little warmer in Vancouver but today it’s raining again. Oh well!
    I too have been reaching out for A La Nuit lately (I actually prefer to wear it in warmer weather), and also Carnal Flower. But my latest obsession is Chanel no 18, which I have been wearing everyday for the past 2 weeks or so. I love how it feels fresh (almost frosty, I would say) and understated. It doesn’t suffocate me in very hot days and I find I want to wear it even for a walk under the sunshine! June 7, 2013 at 11:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for reminding me of Chanel No 18, which I’ve been neglected a bit. You’re right that it would definitely be anytime, on a hot summer day or a cold, rainy one. What I like about No 18 is how versatile it is. You don’t have to overthink it. June 7, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

  • helli: Coucou de Bruxelles;

    I bought (by mistake- super discount at Rotterdam station drugstore- waiting for a train)) Truth by C. Klein, don’t like it but I mix with Patchouli oil bought at aroma-zone (3-4€), I feel mostly the latter:)
    I ‘m fan of colognes, eau de Rochas, eau d’orange verte, ô de L, eaux chyprès donc

    I’m new here, like you site June 7, 2013 at 11:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Helli, welcome! That’s an interesting idea to mix Truth with patchouli oil. I can’t imagine what it’s like, but I’m intrigued.
      I love mossy-citrusy perfumes like O de Lamcone and Eau d’Orange Verte too, since they feel even more refreshing than other types of citrus scents. June 7, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

  • helli: chyprées June 7, 2013 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Lila: I’m feeling like Sa Majeste la Rose today. It’s a gorgeous,breezy day here and it’s such an easy to wear rose, imho. This may sound like an odd choice for a summer scent, but I have thorou June 7, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Lila: Oops, my cat just licked the screen and sent my message before I finished. :). Anyway, I have been thoroughly enjoying C for Women by Clive Christian. It’s a huge bouquet that seems to get stifled in winter clothes but wearing it with lighter summer fabrics and less clothes allows it to breath and waft in a way that makes it a beautiful summer fragrance. June 7, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

      • Victoria: He was just telling you, “please play with me! why are you spending time pounding on a piece of plastic?”

        Sa Majeste la Rose is a perfume that makes me want to wear pink and skip across puddles. There is something so innocent about it. June 7, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

        • Lila: Lol. He does that every time I sit down on the couch to use my iPad. I usually scoop him up and cuddle him for a few seconds then he walks to other end of the couch as if to say “ok, I have had enough of you mom”. June 7, 2013 at 2:47pm Reply

          • Victoria: 🙂 My mom’s cats come over and allow you to pet them for 2 seconds before they give you a look saying, “thank you very much, that was more than enough.” But at the same time, they like to be in the same room as you and follow you around the house. June 7, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

            • Lila: Cats make me laugh. Some people call them aloof, I say they show polite restraint. June 8, 2013 at 9:55pm Reply

  • iodine: A’ la Nuit and Mistral Patchouli are on top of my wishlist! I tested ALN on a very hot day in Rome, at the beginning of May. It was gorgeous how it melded with the scents in the air and… a certain warm and sweaty body note! I’m also enjoying Diptyque Olène, talking about jasmine.
    Mistral Patchouli is so far the only fragrance I really like from Atelier Cologne. I’m wearing it right now and I love its saltiness. For me, it has the smell of an old house by the sea the first days of summer holiday, when the windows are swept open and the slightly musty, stale smell of winter still lingers..
    Love your layering suggestions1 June 7, 2013 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Other than Orange Sanguine, Mistral Patchouli is the only Atelier Cologne perfume I’ve wanted to own in a full bottle. I like several others too, but this one is somehow different and most wistful. Your romantic description is it! June 7, 2013 at 5:33pm Reply

    • annemariec: Oh that’s a great image. I have a sample of MP on the way and now I am getting really excited! June 7, 2013 at 6:17pm Reply

  • E.Lime: My perfume wardrobe for summer: Yuzu Rouge, La Chasse, Fleurs d’Oranger, Diptyque Eau Rose, and Chanel No 5 Eau Premiere. I like crisp scents in general, and especially in the summer, but there is something about the cumin in the Serge that is irresistibly audacious. However, it has been cold enough here in the Midwest that for the last few days, I’ve been trying out Miss Dior Le Parfum and finding it like one of those satin, strawberry-scented novelty pillows: plush perfection for grey, cool mornings. June 7, 2013 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: I would happily swap my wardrobe for yours! I love floral notes in general, and the ones you’ve mentioned have been in heavy rotation over the years. I even finished half a bottle of No 5 Eau Premiere, which doesn’t happen often. 🙂

      You even make me want to test Miss Dior Le Parfum. How sweet do you find it? June 7, 2013 at 5:36pm Reply

      • E.Lime: It’s almost embarrassingly sweet to my nose, but much less cloying/high-pitched than the Miss Dior EDP, I think because it has more depth. Some time has passed since I tested Narcisco Rodriguez for her, but I don’t think the Miss Dior Le Parfum is much sweeter than the opening of the NR. The Dior is campy in a very enjoyable way, and less monstrous than Angel can be.

        I have my eye on the 5 oz bottle of the Eau Premiere. I’m pretty sure I’d go through it–it just seems like such a go-to scent, whether I’m wearing jeans and t’s, or pencil skirts and turtlenecks. June 7, 2013 at 11:37pm Reply

        • Victoria: I might have tried Le Parfum. I’m looking through my notes right now, but there is nothing indicating what I thought, other than a scent description. Anyway, it’s good to revisit it, and campy is not a bad thing at all. June 8, 2013 at 3:46am Reply

  • Caroline: Victoria, just spritzed my sample of Thirdman’s Eau Moderne, which I’m pretty sure I read about here. Just perfect for summer–can imagine spraying with abandon, even during a heatwave. June 7, 2013 at 2:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love Eau Moderne, a great citrusy iris. For me, it also works well on a hot day and never feels overwhelming. June 7, 2013 at 5:37pm Reply

  • Cybele: Nice post! I never layer but like to wear two fragrances on different body parts mixing somewhere half way in the air. My favourite combinations are Vanille Galante and Envy, Outrageous and Fleur de Cassie, Rose Barbare and Clair de Musc, Coromandel and Avignon. I recently wore quite a bold combination in the evening, By Kilian Love and Homage Attar. I only tried those in really hot humid climate apart from Rose Barbare and Clair de Musc which seems to work anywhere. June 7, 2013 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is also a very good way to layer and it can create and interesting effect. I always write down the combinations I see mentioned in the comments, and I wrote yours down to try as well. They all sound fascinating, especially Coromandel and Avignon (incense patchouli) and Outrageous and Fleur de Cassie (a drunk mimosa?) June 7, 2013 at 5:41pm Reply

      • Cybele: Outrageous subtly freshens up Fleur de Cassie-to me it is more of an apple-lime-musc much closer to Luca Turins beautiful description than to the Caipirinha marketing of Barneys/F. Malle. Curious to hear sometime how my combinations worked for you! I love exploring scents this way, it’s a lot like dealing with colors. June 8, 2013 at 10:23am Reply

  • Yulya: Victoria, thank you for a lovely article! It is a pleasure, as always. Well, I never mix and match, I am very conservative that way. Should I reconsider? It sometimes happens by accident, when I wear my choice in the morning, but a scarf reminds me of my perfume that I war a few days ago. .. June 7, 2013 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Just try a couple of simple layering suggestions and see what you think. The worst that can happen is that you’ve wasted 2 sprays of your favorite perfume. Or you can trying spraying your scarf and wearing it while you already have another perfume one.
      Some perfume purists will object, but I think that if you don’t have fun with fragrance, what’s the point? June 7, 2013 at 5:42pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I can’t even begin to imagine how stressful that must have been. I just wouldn’t be capable anymore of such an impromptu move.

    I love my orientals in the heat. Chergui is one of my fragrances that I don’t care for much in winter, but adore on hot days in summer. Big florals bloom so beautifully when it’s hot.

    I did quite a nice layering combo today. I started the day not knowing what to put on and putting on Un Matin d’Orage. I had to go out this evening so I put on some Carnal Flower. They do well together. June 7, 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: At the time, I felt a bit shell-shocked. In the retrospect, I’m surprised how I managed blogging or working, but maybe, this is exactly what kept my mind off my anxieties. It took some time to feel that my life was back to some semblance of normalcy.

      And perfume helped too. It seems like such a simple, frivolous thing, but a few drops of something delicious gave me a tremendous boost and a reminder of beauty.

      I had decants of Un Matin d’Orage and Carnal Flower (well, they are among my top favorites) in my purse as I read your comment, and I tried layering them. It really works beautifully. The tuberose becomes creamier, but the watery notes of Un Matin d’Orage give it a shimmery effect. Very nice! Thank you for sharing this idea. June 7, 2013 at 5:47pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Matin seems to give some lightness and “gauzyness” to CF.
        I thought of you when I put on the Malle as I know it is one of your most beloved perfumes. June 7, 2013 at 6:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: I have such nice associations with Carnal Flower, and it makes me feel festive even on gloomy days. Of which we’ve had plenty! June 8, 2013 at 3:35am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’m trying to recall which scents I took with me as as we moved to the US for three years – but as it was in my pre-perfumista time, I think it might just have been Hiris. Today I would probably go for Hiris, Dzongkha, Iris Silver Mist, Chanel No. 19 and Ananas Fizz (not for layering, though).

    We returned to Europe four years ago and I perfectly understand your frustration about the European summer. Having said that, I must admit that we spend much more time outdoors here than during the unbearably hot and humid summers in Connecticut and Maryland, with zillions of mosquitoes.

    Although the summer definitely is my favourite time of the year, it can be quite challenging, perfumewise. I never know what to wear on cool and rainy summer days – recently I tried Brécourt Eau Trouble and Oolang Infini and found them both quite nice.

    My other summer staples are Lumière Blanche (layered with Dzongkha in the evenings or on rainy days – my only layering combo, by the way), Humiecki & Graef Candour, Thirdman Eau Moderne, Byredo Pulp, Still Life, Ananas Fizz, Bahiana, Eau Parfumée au The Blanc, Jardin Sur le Nil and my newest purchase Osmanthe Yunnan. June 7, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: My only frustration with summers here is that I never know what to wear. You wear a summery dress and then inevitably you get caught in the rain! But since I don’t deal with heat well, I much prefer the cold summer to the hellishly hot summers in NYC. Plus, summers in Belgium, even if hot, never get to the same degree of humidity.

      I now absolutely must try your layering combo of Lumière Blanche + Dzongkha. It sounds fantastic. June 7, 2013 at 5:51pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: That’s the reason why I own a plethora of cardigans!

        I used to frown upon the idea of “summer cashmere” but this year somehow it started to make sense… June 7, 2013 at 6:05pm Reply

        • Victoria: Me too! I finally understand that concept too, whereas before I thought it was an oxymoron. June 8, 2013 at 3:25am Reply

          • rainboweyes: The same is true for summer boots, it took me a long time to get that concept too! Great for rainy days.

            By the way, I’m testing Shunkoin by Xerjoff today, a wonderfully understaded creamy iris with green tea and sandalwood notes. It is a very nice alternative to Lumière Blanche, although it has a more gourmand touch to it (vanilla?) June 11, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

            • Victoria: I haven’t tried anything from Xerjjof, because of the price. It seemed excessive to me. But recently at a perfume boutique here, a SA sprayed their iris perfume on a blotter for me and I liked it very much. Not sure if I would ever pay that price for a perfume, but at least, it looks like their fragrances are nicely done. Your description is beyond tempting. June 12, 2013 at 2:31am Reply

              • rainboweyes: You must have tried Irisss, I guess, didn’t you? I haven’t tested it myself yet, it is actually the price that kept me from trying it – what if I fell in love with it? Would I be strong enough to resist?
                The price is totally off the wall, though, you’re perfectly right.

                Shunkoin is a part of the newly released “Join the Club” collection and quite reasonably priced – by Xerjoff standards, that is. Give it a try if you have a chance, it’s lovely! June 12, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

                • Victoria: Yes, that was the one! I liked it, but not as much as more accessible iris scents (I’ve never imagined that one day I would call Serge Lutens affordable, but it is in comparison to much of niche!)

                  But I will try your recommendation. I didn’t know they had another line. June 13, 2013 at 1:39am Reply

  • noele: I’m so happy to see mention of Goutal’s Neroli again. A former housemate had the entire cologne collection and I fell in love with it. I’ve smelled many an orange blossom scent but that one is just so refined, uplifting and radiant. Was about to pull the trigger and buy my own bottle, though I was wondering if there are any marked differences between the cologne and the eau de toilette? Thank you! June 7, 2013 at 7:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: The edt is richer, sweeter, more indolic in comparison, while cologne is citrusy and fresh. I like both, but I wear the edt more, since it lasts better. June 8, 2013 at 3:38am Reply

  • kaori: Thank you for wonderful ideas. Your layering ideas help me a lot for my experiments for orange blossom and vetiver. I also enjoy your postcards(pics) from Brussels. Have a nice summer! June 7, 2013 at 9:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked them, Kaori! It’s surprising how good some unexpected combinations might turn out. Vetiver and orange blossom layer so well together. June 8, 2013 at 3:40am Reply

  • Karina: I found it interesting when I first started researching perfumes online that most people considered white florals and orientals inappropriate for summer.

    I had always thought these were at their most beautiful in warm, sultry weather.

    I suppose I feel the same about citrus and fruity perfumes though (although they are not for me).

    I guess to me Summer is the season when all perfume smells its best! June 8, 2013 at 3:26am Reply

    • Karina: Though there are a few woody/spicy perfumes that are probably best worn in Winter. June 8, 2013 at 3:28am Reply

    • Victoria: I find it interesting too, and I have no idea why I thought that. It might depend on where you live and personal tastes. But orientals definitely can be worn in the summer, and in the Middle East all of the traditional perfumes are rich, opulent. Some woods and incenses can even feel cool on a hot day. June 8, 2013 at 3:53am Reply

  • Annikky: A capsule scent wardrobe, how great! I’ve got a borderline obsessive fascination with best of/must have/ultimate/ruthlessly edited lists. If you are wondering, who on earth would want to read another article titled “The Ultimate Modern Capsule Wardrobe” or “Must-have Cult Beaty Products Everyone Should Try” or “The Best of Early 20th Century Feminist Science Fiction” (OK, there aren’t too many of those) – it’s me. I cannot help it. Personal lists are even better, because … well, they are personal.

    I have been terribly busy lately and therefore haven’t had much time to test new things, so I’ve more or less fallen back on stuff that I know I love and know to work. Lilacs are in bloom here, so I went matchy-matchy and wore En Passant for days. L’Ombre dans l’Eau has also been a staple – both Edt and EdP, I’m trying to figure out which I prefer. Fleurs d’Oranger for really warm days – it reminds me of my Catalan holiday where it worked perfectly in the heat, mixing with sun tan lotion and a little clean sweat – and Lyric for the rainy and cold ones – I am out of my Lumiere Blanche, which would otherwise be even better.

    I did manage to order a sample set from Imaginary Authors, however – someone mentioned The Soft Lawn here in the comments (thanks!) and I went to check it out. As the book-nut that I am, I loved the concept (it is saved by not being too serious nor too camp) and I loved that they offer a generously-sized trial option. The fragrances are not quite Guerlain or Lutens, but I had fun playing with them. The Soft Lawn is lovely and smells pretty much like the name, The Cobra and The Canary is a bit like a more aggresive, On The Road-inspired version of Bvlgari Black. Bull’s Blood is probably the most original of the lot, a huge tobacco-costus-patchouli-rose-musk bomb – it is one of the very few fragrances that I really find challenging to wear, so I recommend trying it 🙂 June 8, 2013 at 6:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried those perfumes yet, so I really enjoyed reading your descriptions. I turn to the comments section to inspire me to try these new lines, since there is so much out there. Must definitely try Bull’s Blood. June 9, 2013 at 11:08pm Reply

  • TheSnailsPajamas: That’s so funny about big white florals – I find them unwearable except in hot weather. When it’s hot they melt into my skin, making the ultimate lush skin scent. When it’s cold, they become alarmingly big and overpowering and I can’t wear them at all. June 8, 2013 at 7:40am Reply

    • Victoria: These days, I think so too. I still love them all year round, but in the summer, they bloom (no pun intended!) especially well. 🙂 June 9, 2013 at 11:18pm Reply

    • Annikky: This is exactly what happened to me and my SL Fleurs d’Oranger last summer – in the end I was almost convinced that in the Mediterranean sun, my skin simply starts smelling of orange bloossom and tuberose. The cumin probably had something to do with this organic melding of skin and scent, I guess.

      I wear white florals year round and I adore many of them in the cold, but I definitely prefer FdO in the heat. June 10, 2013 at 5:46am Reply

  • Az: My favourite time to wear Carnal Flower is a hot spring day – not to hot like summer, but not this ridiculous cold either.

    I had to move from a hot tropical climate (Singapore) to UK three years ago and I ended up bringing only one bottle of perfume – no 5 edt and a couple of Ormonde Jayne samples that simply did not work in Singapore. Ended up a great experience – there is something liberating about starting from scratch as well. Great excuse for shopping. 🙂 June 8, 2013 at 3:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s exactly what I found in the end–it was liberating and made me realize what my true, ultimate favorites were. I didn’t get tired of those perfumes at all. June 9, 2013 at 11:21pm Reply

  • Farouche: The past few days I’ve been thinking about which perfumes to bring to Cape Cod for my annual one-week summer vacation coming up the first week in July. Five seems a perfect number, with some for daytime, some for night. As I’m very fond of citrus, Eau d’Hadrien makes a good daytime scent, as does Yuzu Rouge. Ninfeo Mio and Bronze Goddess could be worn day or night, but for summer wear, I’d save Seville a l’Aube for evening. I haven’t been brave enough yet to try layering fragrances. The next frontier! June 8, 2013 at 7:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I envy your Cape Cod vacation! I’ve visited once, and I loved the place so much. Your choices for the summer sound splendid; it’s a nice mix of citrusy and sultry. Seville a l’Aube is a bombshell of a perfume, especially on a balmy summer evening when you get all of its sexy animalic notes. June 9, 2013 at 11:28pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: With the exception of a few sunny days, it is remaining chilly and windy in Amsterdam. So I am not inthe mood for my ordinary summer staple (Fracas, Carnal Flower, Boucheron, Joy…). I turn to Vitriol d’Oeillet. At first a disappointment, because I expected a peppery carnation, and I got a soapy rose with some spices and a rather faint note of carnation– more Le Spectre de l’Oeillet than the Vitriol. But I revisited it and now I like it and wear it a lot.
    Also fit for this summer: Bas de Soie. Frosted, as iris and hyacinth in a snowy landscape, very strange and intriguing. And yet it has a soft twist as well, notably in the drydown. Sometimes I combine it with Grey Flannel for a little more body and a nice touch of violet. June 9, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

    • Victoria: Bas de Soie + Grey Flannel is an idea I wouldn’t have thought up myself, but it sounds like it could be exciting. I would get a sample of Bas de Soie just to give it a go. June 9, 2013 at 11:32pm Reply

  • Gian: Victoria, can you review Jo Malone’s new limited edition, Osmanthus Blossom? I’m curious to hear your take on her interpretation of osmanthus! June 11, 2013 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll try, Gian! I’m curious myself. June 12, 2013 at 2:24am Reply

  • Cybele: Hi Victoria, I just made up a new combination and this time I am really layering: 28,La Pausa + a little bit of Acca Kappa White Moss. Not that La Pausa would need any improvement but this makes a great out of the shower scent, clean but still alive smelling, really enjoying how it cuts right through the heat. I already received compliments on my second day of wearing it. Still need to try your musc-neroli combo! Cheers June 23, 2013 at 11:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re so inventive, Cybele! I loved your other combo–it works so well, and this one sounds wonderful too. I don’t have any White Moss, but I love the idea of La Pausa with something mossy-woody. June 24, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

      • Cybele: as far as I can smell this white moss stuff is a white musc and the original Italian name is Muschio Bianco- I don’t really get what white moss is supposed to be. Maybe Le Labo Musc 25 would work too but the Acca Kappa to me is a little less aseptic. Which combo did you try? Glad to hear you like it! June 24, 2013 at 7:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve tried these 3 so far: Outrageous and Fleur de Cassie, Rose Barbare and Clair de Musc, Coromandel and Avignon. They all work really well, and the effects they create are interesting. I especially loved Coromandel and Avignon, since richer incense gave Coromandel an antique sandalwood box feel. June 25, 2013 at 2:34pm Reply

          • Cybele: thank you for your feedback! I don’t have access to stores at the moment but will definitely try out your combos too as soon as possible! June 25, 2013 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Sylviane: Dear Victoria, Thank you for this inspiring post ! I am myself a great fan of layering and was tempted to try AG Neroli with something ambery or woody to ground it.
    So I went to visit the Goutal boutique in Brussels only to learn that Neroli EDT has been discontinued as well as eau du Ciel, Myrrhe Ardente and sadly enough La Tubéreuse. I thought you might want to know….
    I wish you a lovely summer. June 24, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Sylvaine, thank you very much for the news, sad news though they are. I loved Myrrhe Ardente the most out of that “oriental” collection, so I will miss it. June 24, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

  • Isabel: Olá Victória, estou encantada com tudo que tenho lido em seu blog.Sou brasileira e com o nosso clima tenho que ter cuidado na escolha do perfume .Adoro Noa pois é um perfeito para o clima, mas a uns anos atrás descobri o Alchimie e me apaixonei por ele também.Infelizmente não tenho condições de viajar para o exterior , então tento localizar em todos os sites que posso, mas não foi possível.Ouvi comentários que o Cabdy -Prada , aproxima-se do Alchimie , mas o preço é alto .Gosto muito do 212 VIP .Mora no interior e não temos muitas lojas que nos propiciem um atendimento onde possamos sentir o cheiro do perfume , pois as lojas não tem um provador , sendo assim a compra é feita na sorte .Já tive impulso de comprar Chanel Mademoiselle e o nº 5 , mas devido ao preço não é possível comprar apenas para experimentar .Amei conhecer um pouco mais sobre perfumes e agradeço pela alegria que me proporcionou .Vou acompanha-la diariamente pois o conteúdo é vasto e interessante.Um grande abraço. August 3, 2013 at 9:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Isabel, we would be happy to help, but I unfortunately don’t speak Portuguese. It’s best to write in English for my benefit and that of others here. August 4, 2013 at 3:50pm Reply

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