Pick up the scent
What does summer smell like to you? A perfect English rose in full bloom? The sweet waft of honeysuckle or intoxicating scent of Jasmine blossom on a balmy evening? Freshly cut grass? The list goes on and is, of course, completely personal.
Never was a season so rich in fragrant associations. During the summer months, the heat intensifies the heady smells of nature around us, sealing them in our subconsciouses for instant, vivid recall years later. My own summer ‛scent chart' would have to include the aforementioned, just-mown lawn (which takes me right back to my primary school playing field); and coconut oil (SPF Zero, before we knew better) which my best friend and I covered ourselves in before sunbathing in eachothers' back gardens, Walkmans synchronised to Bruce Springsteen's Born In The USA.
The fact that so many, made-for-summer fragrances have a habit of triggering happy memories of holidays past is no coincidence. The perfumers themselves, the passionate "noses" who created them, are frequently inspired by their own experiences and memories. For example, Jo Malone's beautifully soft Orange Blossom Cologne (from ¬£29.50, at www.jomalone.com), a summer favourite, was inspired by her stay at a hotel in Bel Air, California. Added to the mix are clementine and water lily, among other notes.
As a beauty writer, among the most inspiring and interesting industry experts I've met are the creative geniuses behind some of the world's most loved fragrances. The legendary (and utterly charming) "nose" Jean-Paul Guerlain, who retired several years ago, likened concocting a perfume to cooking, adding a touch of this ingredient and a dash of that, intuitively. Meanwhile, young British perfumer Lyn Harris, who trained in France and founded London's Miller Harris perfume boutique and fragrance collection, has been hugely inspired by her own memories. Among them are childhood holidays spent exploring her grandmother's large walled garden in the Scottish Highlands. "I spent many happy summers playing among the roses, geraniums, foxgloves and sweet williams," she recalls. "I can also recall the long, damp grasses by the stream at the bottom of the garden." Lyn's latest creation, Fleurs de Bois (available now, from ¬£52, at www.millerharris.com) is inspired by walking through Regent's Park in the height of summer.
Also along the summer-walk-in-the-park theme, the new DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom (from ¬£26.43) is intended to capture a stroll in Central Park (where else?). It's a light, zingy blend of grapefruit, cassis, apricot, rose, jasmine, apple and more. Think summer in the city (available from 11 May). And, speaking of Big Apple style, Sarah Jessica Parker has received rave reviews in her latest role as a celebrity perfumer. Passionate about fragrance, she has a very hands-on role in the creation of her eponymous fragrance collection, working closely with the "noses" in the development stages. The latest additions to Sarah Jessica Parker's line-up, The Lovely Collection, features three light but truly sophisticated scents (all from ¬£23 each): Dawn (citrus, orchids and soft musk), Endless (florals, plum and ivy) and Twilight (citrus, florals, amber and musk). Revealingly, Sarah Jessica has said that she likes the idea of her signature fragrances becoming familiar and recognisable to her little boy, James Wilkie (aah!)
Also among summer's hottest new arrivals: Stella McCartney's Stella Sheer (¬£36) is a clean, bright blend of shamelessly feminine floral notes - the fragrance equivalent of a gorgeous and failsafe floaty dress. Meanwhile, Chanel's Cristalle Eau Verte (¬£58) is a lighter, breezier take on this classic zesty classic. Perfect for adding a certain je ne sais quoi to Sports Day! And finally, pure summer escapism comes in the form of Michael Kors Island Bermuda (¬£41.11), an exotic mix including freesia, hibiscus, jasmine sambac and Bermuda's native passion flower. Pure sunshine, no plane ticket required ...
Follow your nose ...
Fabulously floral, deliciously fruity or invigoratingly beachy, this summer's special edition scents make a perfect, instantly uplifting treat for scheduled-out mums. Find the perfect one for you with the help of our MumKnowsBest scent shopping tips.
‚Ä¢ Give yourself time to test some different fragrances - easier said than done, we know, when you're doing a smash-and-grab for baby wipes and Calpol - rather than buying on impulse. You'll be more receptive if you're not in a rush.
‚Ä¢ If possible, limit yourself to no more than three testers at a time. Fragrance experts say that trying more than this confuses the nose!
‚Ä¢ When you think you've found the perfect perfume, "live" with it for a day to see how the fragrance develops on your skin throughout the day and, even, night. One perfumer told me to try sleeping in a fragrance before buying it!
‚Ä¢ Get the most from your summer scent by applying it to your pulse points and dab a little onto your clavicle, too.
‚Ä¢ The last word in indulgence, layering your favourite fragrance by using the complementary bath and body products will help to make your scent last longer. Alternatively, a potently scented body lotion can be used as a substitute for the perfume itself, creating a long-lasting, all-enveloping effect.
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