Summer 2012 Perfume Staples

What perfumes will remind you of the summer 2012? What was the highlight of your summer?  

“Dorothy awakens to find the house being carried away by the tornado. After it falls back to earth, she opens the door and finds herself alone in a strange village.”  This characterizes my summer pretty well, and since I already moved three times, each time I found myself in a new part of Belgium, I related to Dorothy from The_Wizard_of_Oz on many levels.  Among the highlights of my summer was the Brussels Flower Carpet, when the city revealed its playful side to me.

This summer smelled mostly of sandalwood to me. I wore a lot of Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule and Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche, although in the past couple of weeks, Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower and some other big white florals hit the spot.

Whether you are celebrating Labor Day on Monday or not, I wish you a great weekend and a wonderful start for your autumn! Suzanna and I will see you back on Tuesday.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin: enjoying the last days of summer, Antwerp, Belgium.




  • Elizabeth: I definitely felt like Dorothy in Oz while I traveled through Germany this summer. The high points were the northern city of Schwerin, with its enchanting castle, and the beautiful southern city of Konstanz, with its medieval houses and, of course, Lake Constance! The low point – a tiny village on the Luneburg Heath that smelled like pig manure, and in which the population was very suspicious and contemptuous of any “foreigners” (“foreigners” in this case referring to people from any other part of Germany, never mind people from elsewhere!)

    I brought a good number of decants on my trip but most often ended up wearing two old favorites: L’eau d’Hiver and Apres l’Ondee. And Shalimar for the opera. 🙂 So my summer smelled like heliotrope, mimosa, and vanilla. I will try to forget the pigs. September 1, 2012 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Germany is so beautiful! I haven’t realized it until we moved here how gorgeous its nature is. You seem to have discovered some amazing places (the pig manure scented village notwithstanding).

      Wearing Apres L’Ondee today, and it feels like such a perfection. I’m not worried about you–pig memories stand no chance next to something this splendid. September 1, 2012 at 12:21pm Reply

  • Annie: Victoria, What a kind and generous soul you have. I am grateful for every thing you write, as not only do I learn new things, but it feels more like a conversation with a sweet friend, and so becomes a high point in my days here on Cape Cod. Every good wish for a lovely autumn, and thanks for sharing your marvelous adventure! September 1, 2012 at 11:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Annie! Another highlight of my summer was definitely the generosity and warmth of all of you who wrote such wonderful comments and send me supportive emails. I printed them all out, and whenever I feel that I’m about to lose it, I only need to re-read a few of your warm words to feel back on track. 🙂 September 1, 2012 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Christy C: Ormonde Jayne Frangipani was my summer staple; it is perfect in the heat for me. Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier was as well–I am fairly sure I ordered this sample due to something from your blog, so thank you! September 1, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Christy, I’m so happy that you’re enjoying these perfumes. Frangipani has such a pleasant crisp green note that it never feels too heady. I also noticed that my bottle (it’s a few years old at this point) has aged so nicely. Like a bottle of fine wine. 🙂 September 1, 2012 at 12:24pm Reply

      • Christy C: That is good to hear! Mine is less than a year old. Though I may go through it too quickly to get the “aged” effect–hmmm, maybe I’ll need to buy two at a time next time… September 1, 2012 at 12:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: Once I start wearing Frangipani, I find it so addictive that I wear it for several days in a row (usually evenings, once I’m done with my work). So, I know what you mean about going through it quickly! September 1, 2012 at 12:53pm Reply

  • Tatiana: I have enjoyed every installment of your blog this summer. It is like reading letters from a friend. After moving to Holland and living there the year my daughter was born, I understand your frustration with the rules and regulations that are never fully explained. Or that it is assumed you completely familiar with them, because who wouldn’t be?
    The highlight of my summer came in late spring as my family traveled to Paris for vacation. Over the course of the summer I learned that my go to scents for times of upheaval and stress are Chanels. 31Rue Cambon, 28 La Pausa, Cristalle, No. 19. With a little Bottega Veneta thrown in, because it’s so easy to wear.
    I am looking forward to Santal Majascule finally being in stock at my local Barney’s. I suppose I could purchase it already on-line, but I feel some loyalty to my favorite SA who generously gives me his time and attention when I’m in the store. Not to mention he loves perfume as much as I do and he’s very knowledgable. September 1, 2012 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Tatiana! I really wanted to capture my feelings and impressions at each stage, nomatter how unsettling some things have been. I guess, you’re following me at this journey as I make each new discovery. 🙂

      And I so know what you mean! I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “Mais, c’est évident!” I really feel like I’m learning to live as an adult person anew–opening a bank account, signing a lease, using the postal service, even shopping! Different rules, different etiquette, different expectations. And a different language (actually, this being Belgium, make it two different languages)! I can’t even imagine what you went through as a new mom in another country, but I’m sure that it was some learning experience. You’re so brave. September 1, 2012 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: This summer I have enjoyed the Huile Divine de Caudalie as well as Premier Figuier from L Artisan parfumeur. I have always been intrigued by figue scent, but also always been scared to wear them. It is such a different smell, it s almost weird smelling, but I have always been drawn by it. However I never felt I could carry it off somehow. Premier Figuier is weird to me, but also creamy and a little almondy ( I love the playdough almond smell). And I just can t stop smelling myself…… Have a lovely Sunday! September 1, 2012 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried the new Diptyque Philosykos Eau de Parfum? You might enjoy it too, if you like Premier Figuier.

      And yes, I’m also enjoying Huile Divine. Such a great, uplifting scent. That shall be my winter staple, I already know it.
      Have a great weekend! September 1, 2012 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Patt: Anne, I just received the Premier Figuier in the dry oil and am wearing it this weekend as I let my poor hands and wrists heal from over-enthusiastic perfume sampling. I seem to be allergic to the alcohol in many fragrances 🙁 September 1, 2012 at 2:58pm Reply

      • Anne Sheffield: Pat, Premier Figueier is weirdly divine Isn t it? I might try the dry oil. Sounds great!
        Victoria, is the eau de parfum a different version of Philosykos? I tried Philosykos a few years ago and something dry and mossy in it didn’t agree with me. September 2, 2012 at 2:15am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it’s a different formula. Definitely less dry. Not sure if it will change your mind completely on Philosykos, but if you pass by a perfumery that carries Diptyque, I do recommend giving it a sniff. September 2, 2012 at 12:04pm Reply

  • MB: L’Eau d’Issey still works for me for summer after all these years. Although today is perfect Aqua Motu weather in SoCal. The sky is clear and blue. The air is clean and crisp. Football on TV. Uh oh. Fall is sneaking up on us.

    Victoria, on a side note, I made the melon and lime horchata recipe you provided recently. Absolutely delicious! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! September 1, 2012 at 12:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yay! I’m so happy that you liked the horchata. I can’t imagine throwing away the melon seeds anymore. 🙂

      Aqua Motu smells like California to me. It really does. And L’Eau d’Issey, for all of the bad things people say about it, is great. It has so much rose and other floral essences (natural ones too!) that most new launches smell like household cleaning products next to it. September 1, 2012 at 12:58pm Reply

      • Elin: This made me smile, feels like one of my old staples has been sanctioned! I still have an old bottle of L’eau D’Issey 😉
        This summer smells like Madonnas Truth or Dare and from time to time Fracas to me, I only have some very small parfum mini bottles of Fracas so I don’t dare use them to often! It’s been a quite wet and cold summer, the white florals have warmed it up. September 3, 2012 at 5:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: I can understand that some of these popular perfumes are familiar to the point of contempt, but really, they are great. Issey Miyake also had an excellent body product range. I loved their talcum powder and a rich body cream. They smelled softer than the original perfume. September 4, 2012 at 5:36am Reply

  • Elisa: The things I wore most this summer were Alien Sunessence Edition Or d’Ambre (which is, like it sounds, a warm golden version of Alien’s piercing jasmine, without the grape top note) and PdR Rose Praline/DSH Pretty & Pink — which are very similar tart, fruity gourmands, fun and girly. September 1, 2012 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also liked that version of Alien. Considering that the original is such a sillage bomb that I can’t bear it for longer than a few minutes, it was surprisingly wearable. And very interesting too. September 2, 2012 at 11:23am Reply

  • Joanna: This summer, I relied heavily on my rotation of Hermes Eau des Merveilles and L’artisan Thé pour un Eté (the latter was particularly comforting on those dog days of summer, though I can’t see myself wearing it at any other time of the year, frankly).

    I realize that I have many more autumn/winter scents in my wardrobe than summery ones, so I plan to remedy that by perusing other perfumista’s summer staples here and making a wish list. 🙂 September 1, 2012 at 2:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thé pour un Eté is such a pretty tea perfume. I keep trying to find other green tea-jasmine scents, but I mostly return to that one. September 2, 2012 at 11:25am Reply

  • Patt: I bought Infusion d’Iris Absolue during a trip to Minneapolis to visit my daughter Victoria in June, so I will always associate it with her. and Ninfeo Mio will remind me of my lovely week on Cape Cod. September 1, 2012 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Those are great associations, Patt! Hope that Victoria enjoys her stay in Minneapolis. September 2, 2012 at 11:26am Reply

  • Austenfan: My greatest finds this summer are Fils de Dieu du Riz et des Agrumes and La Myrrhe.
    I wore a lot of BWF’s this past month and ambers.
    My perfume highlight was my visit to Paris in June.
    Foreign countries always come with their own set of rules etc. It does take a long time to really feel at home, but I hope that having a nicer place to live in helps. Wasn’t today a glorious start to September? Perfect crisp weather, lots of sunshine. September 1, 2012 at 3:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: This weekend’s weather was just perfect! We moved into our new place and explored the area around it a bit. Everyone was out, eating frites and queuing for ice cream. You also see lots of people coming back from their vacations, and the whole city is gearing up for its back to work mode.

      Those are great discoveries! Fils de Dieu is one of my favorite launches this year. September 2, 2012 at 11:27am Reply

  • Apollonia: I also moved this summer, and wore a lot of Chanel No. 19 and L’Eau de Chloe for their refreshing and sparkling brightness I needed in the heat wave that swept the American Midwest. When my husband took me out for dinner or a movie I usually did the Miss Dior thing because he always remarked how much he liked that one….and never realized it was the same perfume each time! I also bought Diorissimo and sprayed myself and my light bulbs with that one! But now and then I longed for my beloved “darker” scents and even spritzed Ambre Sultan and Feminite du Bois. Can’t wait for winter when I break out the Angel and Femme and Samsara… mouth is watering! September 1, 2012 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: You have such a beautiful and diverse perfume wardrobe! I love how mix and match them too (Diorissimo as an ambiance scent would be great; I also loved the sillage my mom left when she wore it).

      I also look forward to wearing more of my fall-winter perfumes, especially since most of my “darker” favorites were in storage for most of the summer due to the space issue in our temp apartment. But now, I’m reunited with them once again. September 2, 2012 at 11:31am Reply

  • rosarita: I went through a decant of Prada Candy between May and the end of August; it just smells so nice! Uncomplicated but still crisp. That includes not wearing perfume most of July due to the heatwave. I got to spend some considerable time with friends & family this summer and I’m grateful for that. And Victoria, you know I enjoy your blog unreservedly, but I have been especially enjoying your photography! The photos of the Flower Carpet were stunning, and so many others of your new home. Thank you 🙂 September 1, 2012 at 6:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! I’ve first started getting interested in photography a few years ago, but then I got inspired to learn further by attending a few photography exhibits. I still have so much to learn, but I really appreciate your nice compliment. 🙂 It really made my day. September 2, 2012 at 11:51am Reply

  • Emma: I haven’t been wearing a lot of perfumes lately because I had massive surgery – I’m like Joan Rivers, if surgery it is with me, it’s plastic ok 😉 the recovery has been very difficult, me who thought I was going shopping the day after I’m still all black and blue wearing head harness and a waist girddle two weeks later!
    Anyways before that I rediscovered Miel de Bois which I bought in a bell jar and Santal Majuscule. Post-surgery it seems the only scent I feel like wearing right now is Santal Blanc.

    Emma September 1, 2012 at 7:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Wishing you a fast recovery, Emma! I know what you mean about reaching for something familiar and comforting. I realize that many of Lutens are my own comfort blankets. Probably because I’ve discovered this line such a long time ago and I know it really well. September 2, 2012 at 11:52am Reply

  • OperaFan: With such a large fragrance collection, I find it hard to wear the same fragrance consistently since I feel obligated to keep up the rotation. I do try to find things that suit the season, the conditions and mood of the day. One of the fragrances that I have worn multiple times this summer is the sadly discontinued and much underrated Un Air de Samsara. It carries the spirit and pedigree of its parent, yet is light and airy and keeps me cool and centered. Sandalwood is definitely a note that I associate with warm, humid summer weathers since it is part of my memories as a child in SE Asia.

    I must give the Caudalie oil a try since I’m a fan of their skincare line. Am also a long-time user of Nuxe, in fact, Heuile Prodigieux was my first dry oil and it lasted me years.

    Cheers! September 1, 2012 at 9:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, so happy to a mention of Un Air de Samsara. It was such a great variation on the original, and it really deserved to remain in the collection. Underrated is right!

      I think that you will enjoy Caudalie if you like Nuxe, and the perfume of the oil is different enough from that of Huile Prodigieuse. September 2, 2012 at 11:58am Reply

  • Daisy: I hope you have had a great Labor Day weekend too!

    This summer I wore a lot of Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine and Oolong Infini. I was really all over the place this summer, but I went back to those again and again. September 1, 2012 at 9:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like a great summer choice. Orange Sanguine is one of the best, one of the juiciest, freshest oranges I know. I wear it a lot in the winter too, to chase away the typical winter blues. 😉 September 2, 2012 at 11:59am Reply

  • maggiecat: This was a challenging summer for me – lots of extra teaching assignments (good for the budget) but little free time (bad for the body and the mind). Perfume helped keep me going – Ormonde Jayne Tiare and Frangipani, various florals and light musks. I can’t wait for the cooler weather of fall and my favorite scents (sandalwood, myrrh, vanilla). September 1, 2012 at 10:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can see why you would reach for those two. Something about OJ perfumes is so uplifting. They are some of my favorite mood booster perfumes. September 2, 2012 at 12:00pm Reply

  • Cybele: This summer was lots of Lime Basil Mandarin, some Coromandel, some Rose Barbare, and by Kilian Love September 1, 2012 at 10:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Citrus, patchouli, rose and tuberose! You’ve covered a great spectrum there, Cybele. I’m finally a happy owner of a bottle of Coromandel, so it has been my own summer favorite. September 2, 2012 at 12:01pm Reply

      • Cybele: oh, not Tuberose but Meringue -Love not Beyond Love…I went for comfort this summer September 2, 2012 at 2:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ah, you’re right! I keep confusing them, although they are different enough. September 3, 2012 at 9:34am Reply

  • Elena: I found two great loves this summer directly due to you and Suzanna: no. 19 and L’Ombre dans L’Eau. I have even been spritzing the 19 on my pillowcase at night sometimes. I find it so calming somehow. Peaches and feta have been on heavy rotation around here too, to great acclaim. Happy Labor Day to everyone Stateside! September 1, 2012 at 10:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying those perfumes and the peaches-feta combo. Something about the salty feta and the sweet peaches is so addictive.
      Are you wearing L’Ombre dans L’Eau EDT or EDP? September 2, 2012 at 12:02pm Reply

      • Elena: I got the solid perfume for a song on eBay, which I think is very close to the EDT, and almost seems to freeze the perfume before it gets to the more rosy drydown. To me it does not quite have that gorgeous but very fleeting crushed tomato leaf of the EDT though. Have you tried the solid? I would be curious to hear your thoughts, or Suzanna’s. I have not smelled the EDP, but I saw that you were in love with it. I am curious, but am happy with what I have for now. When I get low, I will look to the EDP, maybe it will even be at the discounters by next year? One can hope! September 3, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: I think that Suzanna wears it and likes it very much. I’ve tried it a couple of times only, but I also loved how it captured my favorite aspect of the perfume, the rosy-woody part, and made it linger and linger.
          If you’re happy with the solid, I doubt that you need the EDP as well. September 3, 2012 at 5:13pm Reply

  • Jack Sullivan: Hi all, hi Victoria, I have been reading (and enjoying) your blog throughout the summer, and your thoughts about discovering the new do’s and don’ts in a foreign country ring a bell… If it is any comfort to you, I have found that the language barrier only exists for people who want it to, and the same holds true for the other cultural/social barriers you discover while living abroad. Eventually you’ll always find people who will make the effort to meet you halfway so that you don’t have to try to sound or act perfect – those are people who know or guess how lonely it can feel.

    As for perfumes, I should mention that under the alias I am a French woman who got interested very recently in “niche” perfumes. That is, I got utterly bored by the never-ending stream of fruity-floral mainstream releases marketed either for the 20-something or those pretending to be… Thanks to a very nice lady who owns a “Parfumerie” in my home town of Montpellier, I have been wearing Annick Goutal “Songes” through the summer – and loving it! It is suave but never gets stuffy even when the temperatures are stuck around the 35-40°C mark, and it fits my summer mood (oscillating between beach, siesta and very long “apéritifs”) perfectly. I never thought I could fall in love with a white floral, but there it is, and this makes me crave for more discoveries.

    Now the weather has cooled down after a couple of violent thunderstorms, I am wearing the new eau de parfum “L’ombre dans l’eau” from Diptyque. The “fresh, tangy countryside rose” feeling it gives is just perfect, and the lasting power is amazing: I still can smell it on my neck after a shower and a night. I am guessing this will be my “late/indian summer” perfume. September 2, 2012 at 4:27am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a really helpful perspective, and I tend to agree with you that the main obstacles are ones we impose ourselves. Sometimes it simply takes time to figure out what’s the right way to do things. In the process, one makes mistakes (occasionally, a fool of oneself too!), but one learns a lot along the way. I don’t regret making this choice, although I won’t deny that there are moments when I want to be back someplace more familiar.

      Your story of discovering niche fragrances reminds me very much of my own. Annick Goutal was the first niche line I’ve tried, and I haven’t looked back since. To this day, I have a very warm, very tender associations with many of its fragrances, even if I don’t wear them anymore. September 2, 2012 at 12:10pm Reply

      • Jack Sullivan: I think I know what you mean: sometimes, being away is just that little bit too much when you’ve been trying hard to be the good, positive-thinking little soldier.
        Actually my first niche love is for Lutens – Iris Silver Mist didn’t work on my skin, then I got Louve and recently Jeux de peau (which I adore). But the Goutal is the real jump into the niche world, because for the first time I gathered the courage to enter a niche-only perfume shop (those had always intimidated me, by fear of being looked down on). Now I think this is goodbye to my Sephora days… September 2, 2012 at 1:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Exactly! That gets exhausting, as you never really relax. But it also gets easier over time.

          What a difference a great sales associate makes! Some of my best fragrance discoveries were thanks to trained, passionate people at the stores. In France, there are more stringent rules on who is qualified to sell perfume, while in the US, unless a brand employs its own people and gives them training, it’s a hit or miss experience. September 3, 2012 at 9:34am Reply

  • Figuier: My summer perfume roster has been dominated by green floral/chypres: Cristalle, Private Collection, PC Jasmine White Moss, Le Parfum de Therese, OJ Tiare,

    Until recently I found many of these too austere and astringent to wear for a whole day. Not sure what changed, but they’ve been a delight to wear these last few months – suddenly I can detect the lushness of them. September 3, 2012 at 3:58am Reply

    • Victoria: The green florals definitely bloom different in warm vs cool air, and the variation can be striking. Cristalle EDT in the winter feels completely wrong on me, while in the summer, it’s like a second skin. September 3, 2012 at 9:38am Reply

      • Cybele: I love Cristalle EDT in the winter in Paris! September 3, 2012 at 7:05pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love that association! September 4, 2012 at 5:40am Reply

  • Isabelle: Dear Victoria,
    the highlight of my summer 2012 is not a particular perfume but a big big big flower that had always impressed me until now… Tuberose.
    No idea about what happened (and still happens) to me: I just crave it!
    Today I wear Carnal Flower, last week Beyond Love by Kilian, I also love my Tubéreuse by Annick Goutal and I’m afraid Tubéreuse by Mona di Orio / Les Nombres d’Or will soon have a place here in my collection. I tried to stay away from Tubéreuse Criminelle but tested it quickly last week and… well, what’s happening to me? I think I really like this one too.
    If someone had told me, a few months ago, that I would crave for tuberose, I really had sincerely laughed because till now this flower was simply just “too much” for me.
    Fascinating how the world of perfumes surprises us, over and over again…
    Have a wonderful day! September 3, 2012 at 7:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I love such surprises. You’ve been enchanted by tuberose, Isabelle! And I can understand exactly what you mean. I also find the scent of this flower addictive and alluring. Plus, Carnal Flower despite the name is far from the uber-tuberose like Fracas. It has enough of green notes to offset the lushness, which makes it easy to wear for me. But then again, I’m a tuberose lover to begin with. September 3, 2012 at 9:40am Reply

  • Dionne: Honestly, my primary “fragrances” of the summer of 2012 were….. sunscreen and bug spray. We spent a huge amount of time this summer camping, grabbing those last days of family togetherness before my oldest leaves the nest, so good memories of those smells. Other than that, my newly acquired Bronze Goddess got a lot of rotation, as well as L’Ombre dans l’Eau, Heure Exquise, Pulp and 28 la Pausa. September 5, 2012 at 2:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, the best scents, especially if you guys enjoyed your vacation together! I wish your eldest one a good start and lots of new discoveries. And I hope that you can visit each other often. 🙂 September 6, 2012 at 12:06pm Reply

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