Top 10 Favorite Summer Fragrances 2009

Catherine deneuve st tropez

Mark Twain once said that “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” He should have visited New York this summer! I have been wearing my fall jackets in the middle of July and packing an extra sweater just in case, along with an umbrella and a trench coat. As much as I would like to complain, I have to admit that I enjoy cold summers because they allow me to fully appreciate the delicate scents that fill the air. The green foliage that tends to dull and faded by this time is instead bright and crisp. The wild roses are still covered with raspberry scented petals. The strawberries are still delicious and sweet. I have also enjoyed darker, richer perfumes that ordinarily would have been too overwhelming in the summer heat. Yet, this summer the voluptuous roses of Guerlain Nahema are as appropriate as scintillating Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose. All in all, every cloud has a silver lining. Please see my list below for the favorite fragrances that made this summer enchanting.

A cross between bitter chocolate and Orthodox church incense, Ambre Fetiche is one of the most intriguing amber fragrances I know. It avoids the usual heavy sweetness that makes amber accords old-fashioned, but similarly it does not have the sharpness associated with many of the modern ambers. On a cool summer evening, it is a wonderfully comforting fragrance, an olfactory equivalent of a cashmere wrap. Likewise I have been enjoying it on many of our cold summer days this year.

Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose

The main thing that I learned working in the fragrance industry is not to turn up my nose at the mass market fragrances (and I fully admit to doing so previously!) Sometimes these companies spend a lot of effort on launching high quality perfumes, while some of the so-called luxury brands channel their budgets more into packaging and advertising. Velvet Tuberose is a lovely tuberose soliflore, and for those on a budget, it would be an ideal choice. It is soft, elegant and airy, with a delicious coconut undertone.

I have been having an intense love affair with Beige this summer. Its warm iris and anise inflected sillage spells out elegance and glamour, while the aura of the fragrance is pleasantly understated. Somehow, more than any other fragrance in Chanel collection, Beige evokes the feeling of fabrics that inspired Coco Chanel. Its effects range from silk to jersey, from cashmere to tweed. An ultimate couture fragrance!

Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte

The entire Cristalle collection is a jewel, from the fizzy chypre of Cristalle EDT to the nectar drenched flowers of EDP. Eau Verte is another great addition, extending and complementing the array well. It enhances the white blossom and moss structure of Cristalle with a vibrant citrus and green ivy accord, which makes Eau Verte luminous and light. Admittedly, it is more fleeting than either one of the original Cristalles, but nevertheless Eau Verte fulfills its promise to refresh and rejuvenate./p>

Christian Dior Escale a Pondichery

Escale a Pondichery, a second addition to Dior’s “Escape” collection, is a tea based cologne. Its simplicity–citrus, tea, woods, a hint of jasmine–belies its carefully balanced structure. Cologne genre by its nature tends to simple and minimalistic, but it is not easy to capture freshness while at the same time guaranteeing a long lasting effect. Escale a Pondichery manages it quite well–it is a scintillating fragrance with enough character to be memorable.

Le Parfum de Therese is one of the most outstanding fragrances in Frederic Malle’s collection. Its signature is so distinctive–an orchestration of dew soaked jasmine, ripe fruit and soft woods. Yet, its jasmine leans towards animalic darkness, its melons towards seductive overripeness. Its creator, Edmond Roudnitska, nevertheless managed to keep everything in balance. Le Parfum de Therese teases, seduces and intrigues. On a warm day, it blooms like an exotic flower on the skin. On a cold evening, it warms its wearer in the most alluring way.

I can write volumes on Nahema, a masterpiece of Guerlain’s collection and a resounding commercial failure. Its launch in 1979 was too early for this bombshell of a fragrance. Its sillage of honeyed roses, sandalwood, dried fruit and civet was simply too daring and too bold for its time. While usually I reserve Nahema for winter, since it is unapologetically rich and opulent, this summer has been cold enough to enjoy it.

Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose

I love the green trend that is evident in 2009 launches, from verdant accents in Kenzo Amour Florale to the dominant green notes in Hermes Eau de Gentiane Blanche. Eau de Pamplemousse Rose is also framed in verdant notes, but in this fragrance, the green elements enhance the accord of bitter citrus. It is a marvelous composition, refined and nuanced.

Silences is an overlooked gem, a fragrance that followed in the footsteps of Chanel No 19 and other 1970s green chypres. Its green floral chypre character is rendered with a beautiful precision, from the crisp green top to the luscious floral heart to the cool mossy backdrop. A very special perfume.

Nina Ricci L’Air du Printemps

I am normally very critical of flankers to the great classics. I can live without Miss Dior Cherie and Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus. However, L’Air du Printemps, a take on the great classic L’Air du Temps is lovely. Even though it is housed in a tacky pink bottle, it is a far cry from a typical pink fruity floral. The fragrance retains the springtime exuberance of the original, while adding a few modern touches–clarity of composition and minimalistic expression. It does not try to improve on the original. Instead, L’Air du Printemps offers an uplifting composition that works beautifully in the summer.

For more Top 10 of Summer lists, check out Grain de Musc :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Perfume Smellin’ Things.

Photo of Catherine Deneuve in St. Tropez from FanPix.



  • Robin: I still have not tried the Pondichery…looking forward to your description, V! July 10, 2009 at 11:04am Reply

  • Sveta: I love your lists! This one is so much fun. 🙂 I must try the Pondichery too. July 10, 2009 at 11:10am Reply

  • Mike D: Great list! I have been wearing a lot of Eau de Pamplemousse Rose and Eau de Gentiane Blanche lately. Do you like the original Hermes cologne?
    I just have to add… that picture of Deneuve is ravishing! July 10, 2009 at 11:12am Reply

  • greta_l: I’m so happy to see BBW Tuberose on your list. It’s been one of my signature fragrances since they launched it. I get lots of compliments on it. :)) July 10, 2009 at 11:20am Reply

  • violetnoir: Gosh, I thought that was Amy Adams in your photo, V. Doesn’t Catherine look like her in that pic? Even the hair is strawberry blonde.

    Anyway, can’t wait to receive my sample of the new Dior Escale. And, it’s so good to see that you love a B&BW’s fragrance, along with the much maligned Cristalle Verte. Nobody seems to like it, but I do, and it smells great on DD.

    I love the other new Eau from Hermes. I would say Eau de Gentiane Blanche is my new fave for summer!

    Hugs! July 10, 2009 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Clara M: I also loved Cristalle Verte despite the bashing it received on the blogs, so I’m curious to see your more detailed comments. Maybe, even a review later on? 😀 That citrusy green note on top is amazing on my skin. July 10, 2009 at 12:19pm Reply

  • white jasmine petal: I just discovered your blog searching for jasmine fragrances. It’s my favorite note. It is interesting to read your list of summer favorites, because I also wear heavier fragrances in the warm weather. I think that they bloom better on my skin.
    What’s Jacomo Silences? I haven’t heard of it before. July 10, 2009 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Eric: I do envy your weather! Down here in Houston, we’ve been getting no rain and triple-digit temperatures every day. I’ve been enjoying a sample of Nahema a lovely swapper sent me and now I hope for a bottle from the sky.

    This summer, though, I’ve been exploring new scents (all my current favorites seem not to fit the heat, despite my entreaties) so I hope I do find something to make this summer smell even better!

    I love the image you chose for this post. Beautiful. July 10, 2009 at 4:32pm Reply

  • carmencanada: I’m one of the Cristalle Eau Verte bashers! I’ll be curious to read your review. Can’t get past that distressingly oily lemon opening…
    Summer’s way too cool here in Paris too and in addition to my posted list, I’ve been playing with stuff like Muscs Koublaï Khan and Poison. I almost added Nahema but Vol de Nuit finally made the cut. In the extrait. I love dangerously.
    And, like you, I love Thérèse as a summer staple. July 10, 2009 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Marina: Oh I love the image!! July 10, 2009 at 1:15pm Reply

  • sweetlife: Can’t wait for the descriptions, V. Only you could talk me into walking into my local BBW.

    White Jasmine Petal — Bois de Jasmin has a great review of Jacomo Silences. Go read it, but be forewarned that it will make you run over to the discounters to order a bottle, whether or not you like that sort of thing. I am living proof. July 10, 2009 at 3:44pm Reply

  • March: I’m also really looking forward to Pondichery! July 10, 2009 at 4:38pm Reply

  • gautami: I sampled Chanel Beige just this afternoon for the first time. I think I like it, but I am not sure because I could not smell it well enough. I sprayed 3 spritzs on my neck and one on my wrist and I could hardly smell it!!Does it stay really close to the skin? I found it too fleeting to be able to enjoy it. July 10, 2009 at 10:14pm Reply

  • Flora: Ooh, I would love to be able to wear Nahema in summer, I love it SO much. Great list! July 10, 2009 at 10:50pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I was thinking exactly what Robin wrote! I never realized that Amy Adams looked so much like Catherine Deneuve – I wouldn’t have even characterized them as the same ‘type’.
    I love cool summers- though here in Southern California- the heat is climbing 🙁 July 11, 2009 at 12:49am Reply

  • Richard: Well, that lovely image of Catherine Deneuve brought out this lurker to comment! I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while and I always look forward to your seasonal lists. I also enjoy your more frequent articles here as of late. 🙂
    My own summer favorite is Eau Sauvage. I can wear it all year round, but it seems to work even better in the summer for me. July 11, 2009 at 11:45am Reply

  • Martina: Lovely list! I’ m wearing Beige right now and I’ m enjoying it very much. How long does it last on you? I stop smelling it after a while but I still get comments from others. July 12, 2009 at 12:58pm Reply

  • violetta58: I so love seeing my signature fragrance Silences on your list. It rarely gets its due, but what a beautiful and special fragrance it is! Thank you for giving it some limelight. :)) July 12, 2009 at 1:49pm Reply

  • white jasmine petal: Sweetlife, thank you, silly me missed that review. Now I really want to try it! You were right about it. Which discounters do you recommend? I always worry that their products might be old. July 12, 2009 at 2:08pm Reply

  • Mike D: Ah, your descriptions are great! It was certainly worth the wait. 🙂 July 12, 2009 at 3:46pm Reply

  • reena: What a fantastic list! I have compiled quite a list of favorite scents to revisit–Nahema, Silences, Le Parfum de Therese… I admire your taste in perfume, which is classical, but with a quirk. It is such fun to read these compilations. July 13, 2009 at 8:58am Reply

  • armellide: This list had the paradoxical effect of reminding me how much I actually miss your reviews of perfumes. For some reason, no other blogger or review seems to make sense to me as much as yours do and a perfume does not seem to gain any individuality or contour without your brilliant description of it. Alas, my ever growing collection has so many peices that have remained mute for I cannot elicit an understanding of the perfume anywhere near as well as you do. July 13, 2009 at 9:56am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, I think that you would like it. It has such a lovely tea note! July 13, 2009 at 9:26am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Sveta, it is a lovely cologne for the summer. Definitely try it! July 13, 2009 at 9:30am Reply

  • gautami: Hi V,
    I will give Beige another try, especially because you mentioned it has good sillage. And this time I will ask people around if they can smell it on me. And if it still does not work, maybe the bottle at the Chanel boutique has gone bad, so I will just have to wait for them to open another one 😉 July 16, 2009 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: MikeD, I like the original one ok, or to put it different, I appreciate it, but it is not a favorite. Too sharp for my taste. July 16, 2009 at 9:30am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Greta, it is a nice fragrance, very pretty. July 16, 2009 at 9:45am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: R, I can definitely see the resemblance, now that you mention it!

    Eau de Gentiane Blanche is the most original of the three, and I like it very much. It is my new love too. 🙂 July 16, 2009 at 9:45am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Clara M, I love green notes in general, and as a result, I liked Cristalle Eau Verte. I will try to review it soon. July 16, 2009 at 9:46am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Denyse, I found it to be very natural, almost like smelling lemon essence. I will try to review it soon and to pick it apart more.

    I love your summer choices! As always, very original and interesting. July 16, 2009 at 9:47am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: White Jasmine Petal, I agree with you! As for Silences, it is a wonderful green floral chypre. Definitely worth trying. July 16, 2009 at 9:48am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Marina, I adore her! July 16, 2009 at 9:48am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: A, I actually would love to go with you to the local BBW! We would have fun. 🙂 July 16, 2009 at 9:49am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Eric, NY weather is very unpredictable in general. Some days I leave in the morning wrapped in sweaters only to discover that it gets to 90F. An unexpected boon of a cold summer is a reasonable temperature inside the office. Last summer, the A/C is cranked up so high that I had to use a portable heater under my desk.

    I always thought that feminine Guerlain fragrances suit men really well. While I do not believe in the conventional pour femme/pour home fragrance boundaries, the Guerlinade accord provides such a beautiful, rich effect that even florals gain a different facet. July 16, 2009 at 9:54am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: March, I think that you might enjoy it! July 16, 2009 at 9:55am Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Gautami, do others notice it on you ? I sometimes find that I cannot smell my own perfume (our noses get used to it,) but it is very obvious to others. That being said, I find Beige to have a good sillage. July 16, 2009 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Flora, this is probably the first summer I am wearing Nahema! July 16, 2009 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Lavanya, I did not realize it until R. pointed it out! She is absolutely right though. July 16, 2009 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Richard, Eau Sauvage is a classic!
    And I am glad that the photo inspired you to comment. 🙂 July 16, 2009 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Martina, it lasts quite well on me. As I commented above, after a while I stop noticing it too, but since people comment, it must be strong. July 16, 2009 at 12:11pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Violetta58, it is such a beautiful fragrance that I am only too happy to talk about it. July 16, 2009 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: White jasmine petal, I like perfumebay (which is now Beauty Encounter) and Scentiments. They have usually been quite reliable. July 16, 2009 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: MikeD, thank you! July 16, 2009 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Reena, it is fun to put these lists together and to read the selections of others. July 16, 2009 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Armellide, thank you very much! I will try to write on regular basis, as much as schedule allows. Above all, I miss interacting with others and hearing their impressions of fragrances I discuss. For me, it is also a part of experiencing a scent. Without that reciprocity, something feels missing. 🙂 July 16, 2009 at 12:57pm Reply

  • Boisdejasmin: Gautami, I do this too time to time, especially if I am wearing something new. Plus, getting feedback from others is a good idea!
    It is surprising to me how often I notice fragrances to be old at the counters. Those bright lights certainly do not help!

    Also, try spraying fragrance behind your knees, because scent rises up, and this way you can get a very nice sillage. July 16, 2009 at 1:20pm Reply

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