The Scents of Summer : Five Fresh Summer Fragrances
It was Faulkner who wrote "Memory believes before knowing remembers." Roll that one around your head for a minute; it’s a lovely way of honoring the role of memory in our quotidian existence.
And as Proust showed us with his lime-blossom tea, the sense of smell is what most often awakens the memory.
Think of summer and its fragrances: freshly-mown grass, a squirt of lemon, the faint perfume of a perfect peach, the salty ocean, the chlorine of pools, bed linens hung out to sun dry. All right, so we’re talking idealized summer - but any one of these smells can take you back to your most favorite summer ever: the one when you fell in love on the Ferris wheel or the one when you and the lifeguard... The night you slept under the stars...
The fragrance industry and parfumeurs have long understood the subconscious attraction to this season that most people regard as their favorite.
There are the obvious summer fragrances - and no less alluring for being obvious. Fragrances such as Clinique’s Happy, an ebullient burst of citrus fruit and white florals that was simply intoxicating for millions upon its introduction in 1997.
There’s also Banana Republic’s Classic (1995), another fresh and clean scent that brings to mind Cape Cod summers with dune grass blowing in the breeze, gin-and-tonics in hand.
And every recent summer has brought Issey Miyake’s annual ode (eau’d) to the season, his limited editions which expand upon his note-perfect Eau d’Issey (1994): the cool and crisp minimalist elixir that launched a thousand follow-up aqueous fragrances.
Then, of course, there’s the global dinosaur Davidoff’s Cool Water (1988), the forebear of nearly every subsequent juice marketed as fresh, green, and oceanic.
With nearly a thousand perfumes introduced every year, the perfume industry generates more than $25 billion in revenues. Interestingly, even amidst the Great Recession, it’s the artisanal, niche fragrances (read: expensive) that are propelling young people (especially males) to wear fragrance more often, and often with more confidence and derring-do than their elders.
Here is our list of five innovative summer fragrances - to supplement your summer fragrance classics.
Hermes : Voyage d’Hermes (2010)
You know the bag; you know the house. That unmistakable Hermes orange. Originally a saddle-maker at its founding in 1837, Hermes has, in recent years, thanks to in-house parfumeur Jean-Claude Ellena, become well-known and highly-regarded for its imaginative and coherent line of fragrances, most notably Ellena’s Jardin series.
For Voyage d’Hermes, Ellena’s mission was to create a scent that evoked a destination unknown, rather than one that took its wearer back to a particular place or time - and the resulting fragrance floats as light as a breeze.
Opening with a squirt of citrus and a blast of peppery cardamom, Voyage d’Hermes’ top note has the sharpness of freshly-picked arugula, before settling into the lightness of green tea. Fans of Ellena’s earlier work with Bulgari might recognize a nod toward his Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert (1993). Ultimately, Voyage d’Hermes settles into the kind of softness that one associates with the gloaming during summer: a lawn chair, the dunes, bedsheets hanging out to dry against the setting sun. It’s as evanescent as that - and a perfect fragrance for the acceptance of the season’s transcience.
As for the splendid stirrup-shaped refillable bottle (a nod toward Hermes’ equestrian heritage) with an aluminum cover that pivots to sheath the glass, this is a collector’s item and an objet worthy of display (while perhaps also providing partial justification for the purchase price).
PRICE: $90 / 1.2 oz.