By Gretta Monahan
As early summer settles in and trees and flowers start blooming everywhere, I’m reminded that the season has its own set of fragrances. And that it’s time to switch up my own wardrobe of go-to scents, putting away the woodsy, heavy, and spicier ones I love in fall and winter and bringing out sprays and perfumes that are lighter, more citrus-y, playful, and floral. And yes, a little more sultry, too—because if you can’t have more fun in summertime, when can you?
The first addition on my list is Fawn, by Ellis Brooklyn. ($100 at ellisbrooklyn.com) It reminds me of a late afternoon on a French Riviera beach: sun-warmed skin, coconut milk, bergamot, and magnolia. But it has a youthful and sensual side, too: “Fawn is inspired by coming of age novels—how memorable and lingering they are—and the sweet innocence and underlying sexuality of growing up,” says the literature.
On super hot days, I reach for citrus. That’s a category that Jo Malone has mastered, especially in scents like Lime Basil & Mandarin—a blend of bright, fruity notes that’s more herbal (thanks to the white thyme peppery basil) than sweet, since the lime hints more at a Caribbean vacation than a punch bowl ($135 at jomalone.com).
Equally refreshing on hot afternoons: Hesperides Grapefruit eau de parfum by the Boston-based beauty company, Fresh. ($90 at fresh.com). Much like Jo Malone’s the citrus elements are subtle, and perfectly balanced. In this case, with Italian lemon, florals like jasmine and lotus flower, and rhubarb and a slight hint of musk. Says Lev Glazman, Fresh Co-founder: “With this scent, I wanted to pair pink grapefruit with a medley of other citruses—lemon, bergamot, tangerines, oranges—that has depth but still maintains the classic, clean essence of a citrus that is so completely addictive.”
Summer in the Mediterranean is a damn fine place to be, and a spritz of Acqua di Parma never fails to transport me right there. The house’s perfumes have been a staple of Italian chic since the ‘20s, and a favorite of Hollywood for decades. One of my current favorite iterations is the Bergamotto di Calabria scent, in the Blu Mediterranean line. In the Calabria region of Italy, bergamot grows wild and is intensely intoxicating, and in this perfume it gets mixed with the lightness of citron, the spiciness of red ginger, and vetiver.
And speaking of intense—Hermès fragrances are known for their long-lingering beauty, and the summer-ready creation, Un Jardin Sur Le Toit, ($68 at amazon.com) is no exception. It’s inspired by a secret garden at the house of Hermès,in the heart of Paris. (Un Jardin Sur Le Toit translates to, “a garden on the roof.”) It’s full of bright notes of apple and pear tree blossoms, and magnolia.
And then there’s the newest creation from Kai—a favorite brand of mine not only for its gorgeous blends, but because it just so happens to share a name with my oldest son, Kai Rei Goldin. But honestly even if it didn’t, I’d still love its latest: kai Rose ($76 at kaifragrance.com) an eau de parfum that takes Kai’s signature gardenia-based scent and layers it with delicate rose. Light and pretty and a little exotic, I can see it being a bottle to reach for all summer long.