Viewer Mail: Help Me Find a Thunderstorm Perfume

Hi Katie,

I stumbled onto your blog while searching for something and I figured you might be able to help me.

A little backstory: my fiancée recently ended our engagement at the beginning of August. As a result, I am slowly re-entering the dating world and recently met a nice woman. Her birthday is coming up in October, and since it is very early in what is yet to be called a relationship, I want to get her something, but something small. This is where you come in.

She loves thunderstorms. They are one of her favorite things on the planet. I was on the phone with her tonight and she happened to mention that she had read about a perfume that smelled like the period immediately following a thunderstorm. I thought I heard her say "they were able to capture the ozonic (something) and make it into a perfume."

Perfume seems like the perfect gift for the situation I am in (new relationship and don't want to give something that screams "I brought all my emotions from my old relationship and placed them with you!!!"). And I would like to demonstrate that I am paying attention to the things she says, so I would really like to make sure I find what she is talking about.

So far my research has turned up Thunderstorm by Demeter (which I know does not have a lot of staying power). Am I on the right track? Are there any other suggestions?

Thank you,

Hi Jason,

Well, that is certainly a tale! Congrats on getting back in the saddle. Your lady friend is right about the connection between thunderstorms and ozone. Apparently, the high voltage electrical discharge in thunderclouds creates ozone, which is carried to earth by downdrafts. And bizarrely, the same kind of electrical reaction occurs in photocopiers and laser printers. Look here for more of an explanation.

My “instant expert” research tells me that the ozonic period of thunderstorm is specifically the period before the rain, not after. That afterglow smell of rain on sidewalks actually has its very own word: petrichor, defined as “the smell of rain on dry ground”. But as those two odors go hand-in-hand, I’m just splitting nose hairs with my quibbling.

With all that to go on, you can point your umbrella in few directions. Demeter Thunderstorm would indeed be a sweet little gift. You’re right, longevity is not Demeter’s strong suit (it's billed as a "pick me up" cologne), but the scent is pretty holographic, and will provide at least 15 minutes of sheer delight until it’s time to spray again.

The most thunderstorm-like scents I can think of are by Comme des Garçons: Odeur 53, Odeur 71 and Dry Clean.

Dry Clean is almost pure ozone and conjures up the carbonated fizz sparkling off the top of Diet 7-UP, or smelling it another way, charged, photocopier air. This one no longer seems to be available, but it's more "techy ozone" than "nature ozone", anyway.

Odeur 53 is an ozonic soapy floral with a clean, pre-thunderstorm smell.

Odeur 71 is an ozonic woody incense with a wet-asphalt, post-thunderstorm smell.

And finally, a leap over a giant puddle from post-modern scents to a classic, “proper” perfume from 1906: Guerlain Après l'Ondée. French for “after the rain shower”, it’s a melancholic blend of iris, violets, herbs, and almondy heliotrope. This eau de toilette is not a dramatic reenactment of a thunderstorm, but an interpretation of the wistful mood a rain shower puts you in. Maybe wait for your first anniversary before busting out the Après l'Ondée. But whatever you surprise her with now, she is sure to touched by your thoughtfulness and creativity.

Fumeheads, can you suggest other ozonic perfumes for Jason’s lady friend?


  1. Jason, I should mention that Odeur 71 is available online in a more affordable 0.5 oz size, which is might be the way to go for a less ostentatious "early in the relationship" present. Maybe get her that and the Demeter for fun comparing and contrasting?

  2. You might want to try Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage--lovely.

  3. I was going to suggest Les Nez's "The Unicorn Spell," but that one seems to really vary from person to person. I thought it had something in common with the Demeter, or maybe I'm confusing it with their Earthworm? Anyway, I have heard rumor of "Unicorn" having a green bean accord on some people, so unless she also has a fondness for green bean caserole to go with her love of thunderstorms, it may not be the best bet. (So why am I bothering to post this? Eh, who knows...I need more coffee, perhaps.)

  4. Angi, The Unicorn Spell is a very creative suggestion! I just sprayed on my sample, and while it's not the virtual reality of Comme des Garçons ozones, there's something about the green violet combined with the dry, cool earthiness that creates an ozone "feeling" charge. I'm not getting any green beans. Enjoy your coffee.

  5. The first thing that came to my mind was Un Jardin Apres Le Mousson by Hermes. I'm no expert Katie by any means and although I love most Hermes perfumes, I hated this. Although it has melon and green accords, it really just smelled like wet dirt and/or mushrooms to me. Some people like it though. Just not my cup of tea. What do you think? Am I totally off here?

  6. Un Jardin Après Le Mousson is certainly thematically correct, allofthis, going on the title alone. And the transparent wet earthiness suggests a recent cloudburst, all right. But I don't think it has that ozone feel Jason is after.

    And though it's interesting and a little strange, Un Jardin's melon is the "back off, Puckrik" element that keeps me at arm's length.

  7. I am a bit late to the game but I 2nd the suggestion given above for Annick Goutal's Un Matin D'Orage. The name is appropriate too! However, I hope she likes figs, this one smells a bit figgy at the same time.

  8. Zekiye, Un Matin D'Orage ("Stormy Morning") is indeed named correctly, and would be a good choice as a "real" smelling thunderstorm scent - y'know, one with flowers and stuff. At least, real-er than the literal ozone oddness of the Comme des Garcons I suggested.

    I'm starting to get a great date idea for Jason: he should take his friend out for a Saturday afternoon perfume tour of all thunderstorm-themed scents, both literal and metaphorical.