The Perfect Scent of Spring and Cherry Blossoms

Be wary of perfumes called Cherry Blossom. They promise a whirlwind of pink petals and poetry, but they’ll deliver a wan fruity-floral scent that doesn’t come close to the real thing.  What do they smell like, these flowers, that despite falling off almost as soon as they open, have captured the imagination of poets and philosophers? To contemplate a cherry blossom is to reflect on beauty and mortality, the passing of time and the power of subtle things.

The scent of cherry flower is indeed subtle, but it’s not bland. Neither is it sweet or fruity of the commercial fragrance type. The scent is bitter and green. If you bury your face in the petals and let the yellow pollen settle on your cheeks, you notice hints of Amaretto, honey and green sap. It’s surprisingly assertive, with enough character to stand out next to the pungent aroma of blooming pears and the sugary sweetness of apple flowers. Every spring, I wish I could distill it all into a fragrance, and every spring I give up on this idea. As Japanese poets have rightly noted, the beauty of cherry blossom is in its evanescence.

On the other hand, this spring in particular I want to feel the mood of the season. I yearn to absorb its scents and colors, to put them on my skin, to drape myself with them. One option that never fails me is to reach for a bottle of Balmain Vent Vert. It’s a blend of green leaves and sticky stems. Vent Vert, however, is becoming difficult to find, so I substitute it with The Different Company Tokyo Bloom or Hermès Eau de Narcisse Bleu. Both are green and spring-like, with a gentle bitterness that recalls new cherry blossoms.

Romantic and gentle, Ann Gérard’s Perle de Mousse weaves a layer of white petals into a tapestry of leaves, grass and soft moss. It’s a milder evocation of spring. Vero Kern Mito also takes its inspiration from a moss festooned spring garden, but it’s awash in magnolias and their characteristic note of lemon ice-cream.

Dior Thé Cachemire and Frédéric Malle Angéliques sous la Pluie are my potions of choice if I’m dreaming of an early spring before the buds turn into blooms. Nevertheless, my ideal spring needs a scattering of cherry blossoms, and I find them in Guerlain Après l’Ondée, a watercolor of an early morning garden and a ticket to the place where I wish I could be this spring–my grandmother’s cherry orchard.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

What are your spring scents and perfumes?

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16 Comments

  • Eudora: ❤️ May 7, 2021 at 7:24am Reply

  • Perfumelover67: I have so many spring favorites. Some of them are:
    Dior Diorissimo
    Guerlain Apres L’Ondee
    Gucci Envy
    Hermes Jour D’Hermes
    Hermes Hiris
    Hermes Brin de Reglisse
    Annick Goutal Songes
    Chanel 31 Rue Cambon
    Chanel No. 28 La Pausa EdT
    Penhaligon’s Ostara
    Serge Lutens A la Nuit
    Vilhelm A Lilac a Day May 7, 2021 at 10:59am Reply

  • Filomena: I have nine of the ones Perfumelover7 has. (The three I don’t have are Brin de Reglisse, Songes or A Lilac a Day). May 7, 2021 at 11:48am Reply

  • Aida Hashemi: Since I usually love the gourmands & more intense scents daily, I make a conscious effort to go lighter in Spring.
    I love:
    Bvlgari Indian Garnet
    Chanel No 5 L’Eau
    Chanel Gabrielle original formula
    Chanel No 19 Poudre
    Flowerbomb-original, even though it’s a very commercialized scent, it reminds me of spring, since I bought it in spring when it had first come out.
    ♥️🌸🌹💐🌺🌷🌻🥀 May 7, 2021 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Fazal: You are so so true about cherry blossom fragrances. They promise cherry blossom and instead we find teenager fruity-floral composition. I got a Guerlain Cherry Blossom perfume (not from the allegoria line if there is one in the line). I think the one I got came out in 1990s or 2000s and was a 30ml bottle. Was so excited to receive it and as soon as I smelled it, it went into the ‘sell immediately’ category.

    I share your enthusiasm for Vent Vert. I am lucky to have the vintage edt in that circular bottle with metal shoulder (I have seen vintage Miss Balmain and Jolie Madame in similar bottles also). While my favorite green fragrance of all time remains vintage Dioressence, I def. consider vintage Vent Vert to be one of the best green fragrances I have ever smelled. I like Vent Vert more than Chanel No. 19 and maybe also a notch above Givenchy III though I don’t remember Givenchy III well. Hoiwever, Givenchy III dna does seem closer to Dioressence than any other green fragrance I have smelled if I remember correctly. May 7, 2021 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: So many spring scents, so little time! Spring is my favorite season and I love my spring fragrances with green and floral notes: Ostara, Diorissimo, Cristalle, Silences, Dryad, Dioressence, Meet Me On The Corner (4160 Tuesdays), Muguet Porcelaine, Muguet Blanc, almost anything muguet or lily-of-the-valley, Clair Matin, Chamade, Apres l’Ondee, my list goes on and on. It is long!

    You are so right about “cherry blossom” fragrances, they never smell real to me. May 7, 2021 at 7:17pm Reply

  • Satsukibare: Wonderful to read this fascinating post and have your recommendations for fragrances that really are reminiscent of cherry blossoms!
    A couple of years ago I tried a variety of so-called cherry blossom perfumes–everything from Cerise Inse by L’Occitane through Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Flora Cherrysia to Sakura by Christian Dior–none of them remotely like the real thing.
    Meanwhile, in spring it’s hard to go past Diorissimo or Chamade. May 7, 2021 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Matty1649: I love Chamade . Reading this posr I’ve just sprayed some. May 8, 2021 at 6:29am Reply

  • Nancy Chan: My favourite perfumes for Spring are Hermes’s Osmanthe Yunnan and L’Occitane’s Arlesienne. Heeley’s L’ Amandiere shouts Spring, another perfume to go on my to try list. May 9, 2021 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Ramin: 5 centimeters per second May 10, 2021 at 2:58am Reply

    • Victoria: You’ll need to explain this reference. May 10, 2021 at 4:42am Reply

      • Ramin: It is a Japanese romantic drama anime film by Makoto Shinkai. In this movie said “Cherry blossoms fall at a speed of 5 centimeters per second” May 10, 2021 at 5:10am Reply

        • Silvermoon: Oh how charmingly romantic (and yet so scientific sounding)! May 11, 2021 at 11:50am Reply

  • Brigitte: Favorite spring fragrances
    Nocturnes de Caron
    Reglisse Noire
    Pacifica French Lilac
    Balenciaga eau de parfum May 10, 2021 at 3:07am Reply

  • Constance: I recently did some foraging and made myself a cherry blossom milk tea based on a recipe by Alexis Nikole (@theblackforager on most social media). It was absolutely beautiful and a memory I’m already cherishing as the petals have fallen, though it was less than a month ago.
    For spring time, I turn to Diorissimo, Hummingbird, Guerlain’s Promenade des Anglais, and, like you, the inimitable Apres l’Ondee. May 11, 2021 at 9:08am Reply

  • Kat Hi Five: I was delighted to read that you chose the incomparable Guerlain Après l’Ondée as a spring fragrance. If I could have only one Guerlain (shudder), it would have to be Apres l’Ondee.
    Another fragrance that I crave in spring is Serge Lutens Datura Noir. I always get an immediate scent memory of freshly cut daffodils when I wear it. May 11, 2021 at 2:27pm Reply

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