Florals for spring? Let’s not make a premature judgment. They can, in fact, continue to be surprising and delightful additions to a fragrance collection. This year’s fresh crop of spring perfumes have an interesting range to them. From Chloe’s sustainable and natural turn with three new Atelier Des Fleurs creations, to Tom Ford’s varied interpretations of timeless rose.
One trend, or key ingredient rather, to keep an eye out for: iris. In perfumery, iris is a prized ingredient that’s extracted from the root of the orris plant. It’s most famously powdery and floral (you’ll likely recognise it as an old-fashioned cosmetic smell), but it also ranges very widely in sweetness, voluptuousness, and dryness.
Here, nine new spring perfumes worth checking out.
A perfume inspired by Christian Louboutin’s Portugese garden, the Loubimar eau de parfum légère is a scent that smells like a floral citrus bouquet with salty ocean notes. Its splash of white flowers envelops you with a sensual foam of musk and tuberose, all topped with a freshness of lemon and tangerine. It’s perfect for those who love a good floral scent that isn’t too sweet.
For the first time ever, Dior has chosen to distill the entire May rose harvest from the Domaine De Manon to collect the rose water that would be the key ingredient of the Miss Dior Rose Essence. As a tribute to the unique nuances of the Queen of Grasse, this fragrance celebrates the full beauty of the May Rose, from the sensual velvet of its petals, to the exquisite green of the stem. Other notes include vetiver, patchouli and potent guaiac note. The perfume also has a lower-than-usual alcohol level without compromising on the scent’s intensity and staying power.
Burberry has expanded on its Her collection of fragrances with a new eau de toilette rendition. This one’s a true summer scent with an uplifting and cheerful heart of green pears and honeysuckle, with a warm and velvety undercurrent of roses. The combination of fruits and florals are fresh to the point of being almost crunchy, and they conjure up ideas of spending a springtime afternoon under the shade of a large tree.
Rimbaud is an exciting new perfume from Celine, the first addition to the lineup since Hedi Slimane launched haute parfumerie for the brand with a nine-strong collection. Unlike other Celine scents like Black Tie and Nightclubbing – with dusky, smoky moods – Rimbaud is more about daytime and sunlight. It’s inspired by the emotions and memories of youth and coming-of-age, common themes in the works of the poet Arthur Rimbaud. The key to this scent lies in a combination of lavender and iris notes, which are, respectively, traditionally masculine and feminine. The olfactive effect is that of a classical men’s chypre – warm, dry, woody – softened with the voluptuous powdery scent of iris. Overall: very French, very chic, and reminiscent of being young with all the promise in the world.
Chloe has done something quite impressive: its three latest Atelier des Fleurs perfumes are 100 per cent natural origin. It’s a difficult standard in the chemicals-and-laboratories world of perfumery. It means the perfumers for each scent have to work with a much more limited and selective palette of ingredients from natural sources. Even the alcohol is naturally-derived. It’s all very in line with Gabriela Hearst’s current sustainable and wholesome direction for the brand. And on the fragrance front, these three creations mark an exciting change. To wit: even the glass bottles and cardboard packaging are partially made of recycled materials.
Of the lot, Iris is perhaps the trendiest – you’ll notice this note reappearing several times on this list. Moroccan iris is used here, paired chiefly with coconut notes to create a soft and downy veil. It smells like a very elegant version of sunscreen lotion warmed up with a dusting of baby powder.
Chloe’s new direction of natural-origin perfumes really shines with Narcissus Poeticus. The central narcissus flowers, which are cultivated and gathered in France in an ethical and sustainable way, open with a fresh, sparkling burst. It almost twinkles in its lightness, before developing into warmer, honeyed facets. That burst in the opening is rather intoxicating, and the scent – which wears close on the skin, expect subtle projection! – softens over time into a delicate, green blend of florals with hints of neroli.
Ylang ylang is known for its soothing and comforting effects, and Chloe’s Ylang Cananga has that in spades. It opens briskly with vibrant, tangy lemon notes. That quickly softens and fades to let the creamy, indolic ylang ylang unfurl. It’s plush, smooth and soft, tempered very smartly with what smells like bitter citrus and peach notes. If that sounds alarming, don’t worry: they have the effect of grounding the cloud of ylang ylang, giving it just enough body and contrast to be truly addictive.
Parisian fragrance brand Ex Nihilo is new to town – now available at niche fragrance retailer Amaris at Paragon Shopping Centre. The brand’s name roughly translates from Latin to “out of nothing”. Or more casually: “created from scratch”, according to Benoit Verdier, one of the brand’s three founders. The general ethos is one of avant garde disruption. In an introductory presentation, Verdier offered this metaphor: if established Parisian perfume houses are akin to Rolls Royce and Bentley, Ex Nihilo’s counterpart is perhaps Tesla.
That should give you an idea of what the brand is going for. With Iris Porcelana, the twist that Ex Nihilo has found is in treating traditionally feminine and sensual iris with chilly indifference. The brand uses high quality ingredients, to be sure. But the character of this scent is a cool and aloof one, with a violet leaf accord that gives the powdery iris a more androgynous and aromatic quality. After the icy opening, the iris and violet reveal an earthy rose note that gives the floral heart a twilight-blue impression. It’s also grounded by well-blended base notes of sandalwood, musk and cedarwood that give it a creamy, skin-like complexity.
Tom Ford’s latest Rose Trilogy collection of Private Blend perfumes imagines roses three different ways. In each iteration, two types of roses are used, which undergo molecular distillation using minimal heat to preserve the complexity and integrity of its natural scent.
The airiest and most directly floral of the three is Rose D’Amalfi, which takes its inspiration from summers on the Amalfi coast. Italian bergamot and mandarin provide the zest in the opening, before getting a kick of spicy peppercorns and heliotropes with a sweet almond flavour. The result is a sensual fragrance that feels like sunlit skin with a lightweight quality hinted at by the clear pink liquid.
Rose De Chine taps into a smoky, evocative vein that is the hallmark of some of the best Private Blends from Tom Ford. Here, it’s a rich and full-bodied rose with alternating facets of sweetness, muskiness and even an acrid note. The opulence of the unadulterated roses are contrasted with Chinese peonies, which lend a dimension of sweetness. As the scent settles, the smoky resinous base notes of cistus absolute and myrrh reveal themselves.
Like Rose De Chine, this Russian leather-inspired scent also has the hallmark Tom Ford quality of dark, dramatic elegance. This perfume is very much geared for the night, and it’s led by a seductive, animalic leather note. It’s a take on the rose in the oriental tradition of perfumes, with spicy white pepper oil and wood notes that give it an intense, incense-like character.
This article was first published in Female.