Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2008


Every year I wait for the summer impatiently, even if I know that once the mercury levels start rising, I shall be miserable and cranky. Yet, the idea of a summer escape, of azure waves, of golden sand sticking to the skin, of ripe peaches, of jasmine scented nights is too irresistible, too seductive. My summer of 2008 is none of these things (save for jasmine and peaches.) It is filled with work projects, and whatever escape I manage lies in books and perfume. A spray of something orange blossom scented, and I am transported to Riviera. A hint of dark woods and cardamom, and I am having a cup of coffee someplace in the Omani oasis. The perfumes below are just that—tickets for my escapist fantasies.

Annick Goutal Neroli

Neroli is one of my favorite Annick Goutal soliflores—gauzy, sheer, with a beautiful green note that shoots through the radiant whirlpool of orange blossom petals. Remarkably natural and very easy to wear on hot, humid days.

Arabian Oud

My idea of bliss this summer is to light a bit of oud incense in the evening and leave my silk scarf to be scented with its aroma. I also wear blended oud perfumes–in minute doses oud perfumes are pure seductive. A Saudi based company, Arabian Oud, offers several oud based perfumes I enjoy for this rich and opulent presence— Wafi, Mukhalat Ghoroob, and Siraj.

I realize that Cristalle appears frequently in my lists of fragrances. “Cristalle is the essence of Sicily, its magical fragrance that seems to combine the scents of dry, sunbaked earth, the citrus peel and the salty seaweed. The EDT is sparkling and dry like white wine, while the EDP is sweeter like moscato. I wear both depending on my mood, although just like in my preference for dryness in wines, the EDT is my choice more often than not.” (from Scents of Spring) I suppose, it is a perennial favorite!

A modern orange blossom cologne, Escale à Portofino is an effervescent blend of citrus, neroli and woods. Wearing it, I truly understand why orange blossom is considered a soothing, relaxing scent. As a side note, I have also taken to mixing a bit of neroli oil with alcohol and water and spraying my sheets before going to bed.

Carnal Flower is a great example of a white floral bouquet that works beautifully in the summer heat—the floral heart of jasmine, tuberose and orange blossom unfolds particularly well in the humid air, while the green notes temper the heady quality. Angéliques Sous la Pluie is a polar opposite—peppery, woody, dry. Yet, both suit the summer perfectly, allowing one to move from day to night with an effortless grace.

Guerlain Cologne 68

Guerlain colognes are renowned—Eau Impériale (1853), Eau de Coq (1894), Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat (1920), Eau de Guerlain (1974.) While Cologne 68 maintains a bright citrusy quality, it weaves a lush Guerlinade accord of tonka bean, iris and rose, thus adding a beautiful twist to a radiant composition.

Jean-Paul Gaultier Monsieur

Another neroli cologne, Monsieur is slightly more herbaceous and more conventionally masculine than either Annick Goutal Neroli or Christian Dior Escale à Portofino. The top green notes of bitter orange leaves and buds are deliciously, refreshingly crisp.

I love the sensation of stepping under the cold arches of a church on a hot summer day and finding myself surrounded by the scent of incense and cold stones. Moreover, a lover of incense cannot resist having a light, fresh incense to indulge in on a balmy summer evening. Passage d’Enfer is just that—sheer incense layered with cool floral notes. Serene, introspective and gentle.

Re-reading Prosper Mérimée’s Carmen, I found myself thinking of Andalusian nights scented with oranges, jasmine and tobacco. It was then that Sarrasins clicked with me—with its headiness of jasmine paired with the tanned leather, its seductive, ravishing presence, and its romantic aura.

To see other list of Top 10 Summer Fragrances, please take a look at these blogs: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume Smellin’ Things :: Scentzilla ::

Image courtesy of Kevin from Now Smell This.



  • Catherine: I am so happy to see Guerlain Cologne 68 on your list, V. I finally dipped into a sample that’s been in my box for months–instant love, instant comfort, instant refreshment. I adore how many smells I find in it, and it changes throughout the day on my skin. I drained the sample and ordered up a bottle. I am very interested to try Dior’s new cologne at some point this summer, for it sounds beautiful as well. July 18, 2008 at 2:26pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Woods and cardamom….mmmm….would that be one of the Arabian Ouds you’ve listed?

    I love the balance of your list between crisp and refreshing, grounding, and sultry, and will have to seek out the Escale which I’ve never smelled, and the Sarrasins, too, having recently fallen hard for A la Nuit. July 18, 2008 at 11:36am Reply

  • sweetlife: P.S. What are you reading besides Carmen? July 18, 2008 at 11:37am Reply

  • Robin: I want to know what you’re reading too. I’m working on Elspeth Huxley’s Out in the Midday Sun & have just finished Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky & Long Ago In France by MFK Fisher. Need more reading material, please share.

    And a great top 10 list, as always! Hope you are well. July 18, 2008 at 12:04pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Alyssa, woods and cardamom is my Sunday morning cup of coffee (I still have a bit of Omani coffee I brought back). I wish I could find something similar in perfume. However, Arabian Ouds are very interesting, and I highly recommend smelling them. July 18, 2008 at 1:15pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Alyssa, I have such a big pile of books I am reading. Let’s see–Turgenev’s First Love and other stories, finishing Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul, a book about ballet technique, Guy Robert’s Les Sens du Parfum, Clifford Wright’s Mediterranean Feast (only at home, since it is a huge tome.) July 18, 2008 at 1:19pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, I bought Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, but I have not started it yet. Do you like it?
    If you like MFK Fisher, then Gastronomical Me is in order, unless you’ve read it already. In fact, it was Alyssa who recommended that I read it. Wonderful book!

    I owe you an email and more Bollywood recommendations! 🙂 July 18, 2008 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Marina: I am so glad to see Arabian Ouds on your list. I adore Siraj! July 18, 2008 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Robin: V, I liked Suite Francaise very much, but you know, it’s an unfinished trilogy so it is sort of frustrating…you don’t get the ending. But very enjoyable to read. Have lots of MFK Fisher books so have to see if Gastronomical Me is one of them — A. told me about that one too!

    Have not read First Love since a Russian lit course in college (MANY MANY moons ago) and should re-read it. Did you like Istanbul? It’s been on my list forever but haven’t bought it. July 18, 2008 at 1:27pm Reply

  • Flora: Me…want…Arabian….Oud! 🙂 July 18, 2008 at 11:36pm Reply

  • Laura: Hi dear V,
    I can attest to the wonderfulness of ‘Gastronomical Me, ‘ which I read at your recommendation–and thank you very much for it! ‘Suite Francaise’ was extremely sad, especially in light of its aftermath. For other novels set in the same time and place, Alan Furst’s are quite good, giving you a sense of what it was like to have been French, living in Paris and elsewhere, during the German occupation.
    My favorite perfumes this summer are: Apres la Mousson (which I’m deeply in love with!), Goutal’s Chevrefeuille and Eau du Ciel, and Miss Rocaille, which I’ve worn every summer since it came out in 2004 (I think.) I had hoped to like the new Cinq Mondes, which are nice enough, but not compelling. I have yet to try the new Annick Goutals, but they sound more fallish and wintry anyway. And as for Cologne 68—it will always be an October scent for me, since I bought it in October 2006, when I spent the whole month in Paris.
    Hope you are well.
    L July 18, 2008 at 8:32pm Reply

  • Borhane: I second the first comment: your list deserves praise for painting such a contrasted and colorful portrait of summer perfumes! Also, your inclusion of arabian oud makes me curious. I don’t know the line, but none of the oud perfumes I got to try (a couple of montales, YSL M7, Micallef) would have struck me as wearable in summer weather – ok, I did wear (sample) a couple of them during hot weather, but, if my memory is correct, they felt too dense and cloying for the weather. In including the Arabian Oud, are you just reaching for wider than I would have thought to, or are these perfumes different, perhaps lighter than the ouds I’ve tried? Thanks! B. July 19, 2008 at 12:42pm Reply

  • La Dogaresse: I like the diversity of your list, from Arabian Oud to Cristalle, quite a step! From sweaty summer heat to icy-cold air conditioned environments I ‘m also able to go from Fleurs d ‘Oranger and Tubereuse Criminelle to my favorite classic perfumes (all vintage) such as Vent Vert, Caline, Givenchy III, Narcisse Noir, N ‘Aimez Que Moi, En Avion, Tabac Blond, Sortilege, Le Dix, Scandal, My Sin… July 21, 2008 at 3:13am Reply

  • k-amber: Victoria,

    I often wear AG Duel that is my first full bottle from the line, in very warm weather. It may be good idea to layer Neroli as you recommend. Very impressive list as always. Thank you 🙂

    Kaori July 21, 2008 at 8:49pm Reply

  • k-amber: Victoria,

    I often wear AG Duel that is my first full bottle from the line, in very warm weather. It may be good idea to layer Neroli as you suggested. Very impressive list, as always.

    Kaori July 21, 2008 at 8:51pm Reply

  • ace: Now you make me wish that I had bought a bottle of that Guerlain 68 when I was in Paris in April. July 22, 2008 at 6:47am Reply

  • Judith: Hi V! I’ve been among the missing (working and away), but it’s lovely to see your list. We overlap on a few: I love Wafi (need to try the others), Passage d’Enfer (but ONLY in summer), and of course, Carnal Flower! July 22, 2008 at 7:40am Reply

  • mais que perfume: Thank you so much for pointing out the list.
    Simone August 21, 2008 at 3:11pm Reply

  • Miriam: This is a lovely list- and I completely agree with almost all the choices. I’m a diehard Passage d’Enferian, especially in the summer- it calms and centers me. But on a recent research trip to London I fell in love with Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel. It’s etherial and spicy and floral like Passage, but much sharper, fresher, more herbal, and yes, salty. This, to me, smells like summer- not summer vacation, but summer spent getting hot and sweaty in the garden or by the seaside. The drydown is dry, rosy, and salty- like sweat would smell if it were sweet and summery. So it’s become my new favorite summer scent. I think it’s a bit sexier than Passage- but then again I tend to warm up scents on my skin, so my experience of it being warmer and rosier than Passage may have more in common with my skin chemistry than with my nose (others can’t get past the brief thymy top note). September 8, 2008 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Sylva: In my opinion, the Arabic perfumes are the best. I like especially Arabian Oud – Original Arabian Prestige, Arabian Prestige Rose, Durrat Al Arabian, Dareen, Ghoroub both oil and EDP versions, Kalemat, Asgharali – Siraj, Swiss Arabian – Kashka, Noora, or Al Haramain – Naeem, Khaltat Maryam, or Rania from Rasasi, from Ajmal Accord Violet, etc. The oriental perfumes have very good sillage, blend of flowers, spicy, etc. And I feel very well when wearing them. December 7, 2012 at 4:33am Reply

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