Scents That Sing "Spring!"

My perfume collection is laughably un-springlike. If, say, Scheherazade needed to borrow something for a hot night at the harem, she’d be in luck. I have oriental mystery by the casbah-full. But for the tender, temperamental season of renewal, I’m not really prepared.

So when Ayala Sender of SmellyBlog rounded up a group of us “smell-and-tellers” to participate in a spring scent project, it was my cue to dig through my samples. Here are six that sang the most affecting melodies:

Van Cleef & Arpels Gardénia Pétale
I call Gardénia Pétale a “gardenia sorbet”, because it’s sheer and refreshing, rather than the full-fat ice cream of an Estée Lauder Tuberose Gardenia or Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower. Gardénia Pétale is a sleek ingénue next to those badonkadonks: light on her feet and not so prone to theatricality. Jasmine, with its olfactory reference to suntan lotion, supplies some of the sunshine here. Your good mood when you wear Gardénia Pétale supplies the rest.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse 2006
Not everything evoking spring smells “pretty” -- not even flowers. L’Artisan Parfum has bottled up the 2006 crop of narcissusessssssssssss from the daffodils’ favored French stomping ground. And let me tell you, these narcissi ain’t no sissies.

In fact, I can’t even make out anything approaching floral in Fleur de Narcisse. Instead, the insinuating blend of smoked hay, tobacco, moss, and faint rootiness invokes the pregnant earth, bloomtime imminent, with the freeze of winter not yet forgotten.

Cartier L’Heure Promise
I first encountered L’Heure Promise when I reviewed Cartier’s five Les Heures de Parfums. Initially, I was just paying a courtesy call on L’HP, eager to hustle over to L’Heure Mystérieuse, the incense bomb bellowing, “Puckrik! Get your hindquarters over here NOW.”

I didn’t really think L’Heure Promise’s sharp, dry iris was my favorite time of the perfume clock, but then, the nuzzly-as-a-puppy-pile sandalwood drydown made me reset my watch.

This one is as “laundry fresh” as I’m ever gonna get, clean with a hint of salty skin. It’s a quietly optimistic perfume, just the thing for a season of new possibilities.

Penhaligon’s Amarinthine

Sexy teen Heidi spent all morning milking the goats in a sunny flower meadow, and this is what her sweater smelled like when the sweaty village boy unbuttoned it later.

Guerlain Après L'Ondée

Après L'Ondée is a watercolor iris living in a vibration between powder and smoke. Its paleness has an almost metallic sheen. Après L'Ondée starts with the faded sweetness of vintage lipstick, and finishes by putting the idea of green in your head, without ever really smelling like plants or leaves. A symbolic transition from indoors to outdoors -- the perfect match for spring.

Dayna Decker Bardou Essence Crème
In the entire weekend of Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2010, I bought only one perfume, and it was Bardou. The Dayna Decker line has some song and dance about being all natural/no parabens/animal friendly, but all I know is that when I opened the jar of Bardou “body butter”, I just wanted to dive in and live there.

It’s the freshest, greenest, most alive rose I’ve ever smelled. While Bardou comes in an eau de parfum as well as a high-tech body gel, it was the perfume cream, thick with shea butter and jojoba oil, that really put the fling in my spring.

The sheer decadence of smearing what smells like an entire rose field at dawn over my winter-desiccated skin is almost obscene. And the feel of the cool, dense crème is rich, but not too greasy.

My teeninesy carp about Bardou is that the pepper which supplies a bit of a punch at the beginning is the last guy to leave the party at the end. But I’ll tolerate the pepper sidekick, if it means I get to hang out with that superstar rose.

Please bunny-hop over to these participating blogs to read their spring scent choices.

All I Am A Redhead
Ambre Gris
A Rose Beyond the Thames
I Smell Therefore I Am
Notes from the Ledge
Perfume in Progress
Perfume Shrine
Roxana Illuminated Perfume
Savvy Thinker
Scent Hive
Smelly Blog
The Non Blonde

Thanks to Ayala Sender for getting us all to smell on command!

Fumies, what are you wearing and loving this spring?


  1. Bardou sounds just stunning- I must try to find some.

    I thought I was an Autumn/ winter scent person until I started thinking about it and I realised i love greens and this is the time of year when they work best.

    I think it's actually summer I struggle with- am not that keen on citrus scents and I only really use them to cool me down- but probably when it gets to summer i'll find a raft of scents I love!

  2. I agree that the Bardou does sound tremendous. I also like Apres L'Ondee for spring - more for the very first hints of it when the crocuses are just peeking above the snow, rather than the full riotous cherry blossom or daffodil carpet stage.

    I am still clinging to some winter loves, but gradually lightening up with Penhaligon's new Orange Blossom and Eau de Cologne, also Bluebell, Patou Vacances, DKNY Gold, JM Orange Blossom and Hermes Vanille Galante.

  3. jumping up and down Yay, Fleur de Narcisse!!! I spent many a lonely time singing that one's praises. And you are right; it's not pretty. But it is beautiful.

    So you were drawn to the Promise, eh? I need to re-check that one. I was all over XII and XIII, Mysterious and Thirteenth, and I kind of told I (along with VI) to just sit down and wait until I had time to pay attention. Grown ups can be so narrow minded and mean....

    LOL @ Amaranthine. Got to get ahold of some of that. Even though there's a happy habit in the blogosphere of calling it "Amaranthigh"... (No, not BECAUSE of that. That's someone else's sensibility. ;) )

  4. I'm with ya, Katie, my frag wardrobe is replete with orientals and knee deep in incenses, woods and ambers. Not really being a white floral gal, spring is problematic and I find myself grabbing Montale Deep Roses or Comme de Garcons' Carnation both florals that are perfect in colder darker times but are as 'light' as I ever get. how many months till autumn?

  5. Dayna Decker! I've been trying to remember the name of that brand ever since you slathered the body butter on and walked around Bergdorf radiating Rose covered glory.

    And I'm echoing ScentSelf on the jumping up and down over the L’Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse mention. Granted, it's *way* expensive, but oh so wonderful. I'd like to suggest Montgomery Taylor's Ambra di Venezia -- another narcissus fragrance that's absolutely lovely yet costs only a fraction of what Fleur de Narcisse will take out of your wallet.

  6. Hi Katie
    Inspired by your post, I did a blogbit on this too. I've only tried Apres L'ondee of yours, but I know you'll have sniffed all of my choices: Mimosa Pour Moi, Michael Kors, Ellenisia, Nicolai Eau d'ete and Kyoto. So far my most-sported this year has been Jo Malone's Orange Blossom. I find it juicy and optimistic.
    Apres L'ondee is a beauty, but it makes my heart ache!
    Mia x

  7. You crack me up.

    Amaranthigh ~ your visual is so true!

    I have L'Artisan Narcisse and need to revisit it. I lovelovelove hay but don't remember much hay from it. Who knows what else I had competing at the time so I need to give it a proper spray and one-on-one wearing this weekend.

    Oh, dear, Dayna Decker sounds right up my nasal alley...

  8. Mia, I just read your post:
    and in fact, I've not tried Nicolai Eau d'ete and Ellenisia (that I can remember, anyway). So thanks for the pointers.

    Nathan,good to know about an alt for Fleur de Narcisse, cuz that shizz is pricey.

    Dorrit, I think roses work year round. The cold, dry ones like Eau d'Italie Paestum Rose and the similar idea Trish McEvoy Precious Oud (Yes! Trish McEvoy. I couldn't believe it, either.) both compliment the wet, wan early spring days and provide coolness in the torrid heat of summer.

  9. Abigail, Fleur de Narcisse is subtle stuff, so really need to dedicate your nose and skin to it when trying it. If hay is what fills your feedbag, then you will love this. Lucky you for already having it!

    One important note about the Dayna Decker Bardou cream is that the scent is not tenacious at all. Especially when compared to the Frédéric Malle body butters (infused as they are with heaps o' perfume oils). I don't know if the DD perfumes are longer lasting -- I would hope so! But the pow and wow of Bardou's fresh rose, along with the luscious feel of the cream, makes me happy to keep reapplying it. I have the jar on my desk to schmear on my hands throughout the day.

  10. Okay, folks, I feel compelled to acknowledge that FdN is scandalous in price. Horrible. As Katie says, that shizz is indeed pricey. Left to my own devices and current budgetary restrictions, I would probably never buy it...but I'd spend a lifetime purchasing shares in a split.

    And heck, since willing and able come together for things like Amouage, or Malle, or extrait -- understandable, that -- if opportunity and inclination allow, I rate the FdN worthy. Luckily for wallets across the globe, not everyone agrees. And THAT is luck for those of us who get giddy on FdN, 'cause it's one of those blasted limited editions.

    Have duly noted Nathan's recommendation of Ambra di Venezia. Hey, there's a new category of investigations: Big Budget/Low Budget. Like those rooms in home decorating magazines, done for $15,000 and $1,500, or some such.

  11. Rose, green perfumes are the ones that always seem a little miraculous to me. I guess I just take for granted that the smell of flowers or resins can come out of a bottle, but liquid that smells of fresh green plants surprises me every time.

    ScentSelf, L'Heure Promise kind of snuck up on me. At first smell, I'd profiled it as "not for me", but the drydown did a cartoon curl of sillage in the shape of a beckoning finger, and I followed it back to the source.

  12. Over the last few years, as soon as the weather warms, I go on a month long jag of what one of my perfume friends calls the "devastating florals". You've named a few. Gardenia Petale and Amaranthine are right up there, along with Carnal Flower. Beyond Love is another one. Orange blossoms and roses seem to call my name too. I surprised myself by liking Krigler's rather fresh Manhattan Rose, and I have been drenching myself in it. (Must try Bardou!)

    As the summer heats up, I turn to the irises, the skin scents and the greenery. Oh, and the floral-aldehydes. But right now, it's all about gardenia, tuberose and orange blossom it seems.

  13. m61, I do so enjoy your punchy and pithy summations! I missed out on experiencing Krigler at Sniffa, despite your urging me to extricate myself from Henri Bendel's fragrant web. I ended up getting into a long discussion from OsMoz Julien about those themed olfactory kits. And then this Energizer Bunny powered down at collapsed at the hotel.

  14. Guerlain Après L'Ondée, doesn't get much better than this for spring!


  15. Hopping by, being on the same project finally gives me the guts to de-lurk (you impress me too much, you sassy you!)

    As I commented elsewhere, Amaranthine feels way more Summer-y to me. But I'll now have to thoroughly wash my brain to prevent traumatic images of slutty Heidi from popping up when I wear it. Ugh. Thank you for that image ;)

  16. Six', glad to have you aboard! Amaranthine is easily the fullest body'd scent on my list, and probably gets even riper when worn in the summer.

    As for your brain, be sure to wash it on the "gentle/delicates" cycle to avoid shrinkage.

  17. You what I've discovered this week- Eau d'Hermes. I had no idea a Hermes fragrance could be this carnal! Seriously, it's like Jean Claude Ellena doing Musc Ravageur. (actually, it has many similarities with Rose Poivree, without the rose)

    It's perfect for this time of year and completely unisex.

  18. Gotta love someone who uses the word "badonkadonks" for perfumes!!
    We agree on Amaranthine and I was thiiiiiiis close to citing Fleur de Narcisse (only I was chicken enough not to lay out the big bucks when it was circulating and it's now getting scarce...I did grab the Iris Pallida though, so I'm probably not completely absent-minded in my shopping)
    Great round-up!

    BTW, Ellenisia, as far as I recall, is a soft white-floral-gardenia type; not operatic throw-cushions like but a little more timid (Well, as timid as white florals can be, at any rate). Worth trying out. ;)

  19. P-shrine - haha, "operatic throw-cushions". Not a badonkadonk, in other words?

  20. dea, I need to get into this Eau d'Hermes. It keeps cropping up in my YouTube comments, too. I was at Hermes last week, and forgot to try it.

  21. Texturally I found Ellenisia a bit blurry, to the point of furry, and slightly too sweet with it. Like a pretty Victorian floral crossed with Allure.

  22. Sigh. I smelled an older bottle of Eau D'Hermes and had the chance to get it--and of course didn't. At the time I didn't realize how rare it was. I was a newbie. I was newbier. The new one smells good too, but those natural musks and assorted skanky bits it once had are pretty hard to recreate. At least it was a more respectful update, I guess.

  23. brian, every time I hear about some unobtainable, earlier, truer perfume formulation, it triggers an almost delicious frustration. It's almost enough knowing that perfection is out there, or once existed. And that once in a blue moon, it can be uncorked and sniffed.

  24. I love incense and woods myself, but at the end of the winter I am just ready for something different, and that is when I find spring perfumes irresistible.
    This is my selection - some of them I wouldn't have dreamt of wearing just a couple of years ago, but apparently my sense of smell is getting less ideologic and more tolerant :-)
    Ofresia, by Diptyque
    Hiris, by Hermes
    En Passant, by Frederic Malle
    Eau de l'Artisan, by L'Artisan Parfumer
    Lily, by Comme des Garcons
    Calamus, by Comme des Garcons
    Geranium pour Monsieur, by Frederic Malle

  25. I like lighter, fresher, more bitter scents in the winter.. as soon as it gets warmer I prefer headier stuff. I've been spritzing AG Encens Flamboyant down mah decolleté the past few days, ooh! Nada mal.

  26. kz - hey, me too with the Encens Flamboyant! Though I've been primarily working the AG Musc Nomade. And today loved wearing Sonoma Scent Studio's new Incense Pure on my wildflower hike. Will review this soooon!

  27. I love your wit and writing! Gosh, I really enjoyed L’Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse 2006 when I smelled it at the NYC Sniffa a few years back. Great addition to your list!

  28. KP - How nice, I just spent the day with Musc Nomade. I like it and all, it's defo pretty and hot, but it's sooo melow, no? After + - 1 hour it stays so close to the/my skin that I can only smell it when I get really upclose&personal, which to some might be a good thing, granted.

  29. Thanks so much, Roxana!

    kz - I'm a born-again Musc Nomade luvva. I was convinced I couldn't smell it at all when it first came out, and was only interested in Encens Flamboyante. But I smelled MN with a whole new nose when I was at Sniffa the other week, and decided it was absolutely amazing: both captivatingly soft, but also slealthily complex - almost oriental. Je dig. And it's not too mellow - at least the way I hose myself down in it.