The Perfect Summer Scent: The Perpetual Pursuit!

Eva Mendes
Eva Mendes by Ellen Von Unwerth.

Things I am constantly searching for include the perfect handbag, that next great pair of shoes & the perfect scent. While a handbag or pair of shoes can set you back, indulging in a bit of a perfume sampler doesn’t have to! I am an unabashed fan of Lucky Scent. I think they are the best purveyors of perfume on the internet, with a fantastically varied collection all presented in a very unpretentious manner.

The best thing? You can order samples of practically all their scents, & they usually run somewhere between $3 – $6 apiece! Every year or so, I spend a couple of hours poring through their online catalogue, & end up placing an order.

In fact, I placed an order as soon as I came back from Europe last month. One of the things I wanted to buy while I was overseas was a new perfume. Alas, it never happened, so Lucky Scent was the next best thing! (By the way, this is not a sponsored post — I don’t think Lucky Scent even know I exist!)

Here are a few I ordered, & what I thought. Maybe if you, like me, are searching for your summer scent, this will help you find your holy grail!

Tuberose

Tuberose by Keiko Mecheri. A steady beam of clear white light cutting through the darkness. Radiant, translucent tuberose is blended with a crystalline jasmine for a very modern take on the white floral. This does not read as heavy or creamy, but as cool and transporting and edgy.

TUBEROSE is very sweet, & when it’s on your skin, it feels bright & quite loud. There are plenty of white florals in this perfume — it actually, to me, smells very similar to the BETSEY JOHNSON fragrance, except less sweet, & the dry-down is a little more powdery.

I like the scent, but it’s not quite me. I wore this one all day (it has some pretty good staying power!) & every time I caught a whiff of it, I felt like I was wearing a disguise! It served as an excellent reminder that as much as I would like to branch out, gourmand (or “foody”) scents are really what make my heart go pitter-patter!

This would definitely be a great fragrance for a girly girl who likes light, modern florals!

Amour de Cacao

Amour de Cacao by Comptoir Sud Pacifique. Fun yet grown-up, Amour isn’t the scent of chocolate syrup; it’s the aroma of a box of chocolate truffles, lightly dusted with cocoa powder, begging you to dive in.

This is absolutely delicious. When the little bubble-wrapped package of samples arrived in my mailbox, I had a quick, preliminary sniff of all the samples (spilling plenty on my hands, as always happens). But AMOUR DE CACAO was the first one I tried. It is sublime.

AMOUR DE CACAO smells like a chocolate love affair. It smells like soft, chewy fudge brownies & vanilla pods. It’s warm & sexy. It makes me feel a little bit hungry. (Okay, a LOT hungry!) It would be so good sprayed in your hair, & layered with other scents — I think it would be amazing paired with a tiny bit of LOLITA LEMPICKA, FLOWERBOMB or MISS DIOR CHERIE (all favourites of mine!).

It’s one of those perfumes which you apply, & then keep lifting your wrists up so you can sniff them. You breathe in deeply, & you are transported to a Willy Wonka world of wonder.

Unfortunately, this perfume is pretty subtle. I put it on around lunchtime, & by 8pm, I couldn’t detect any remaining hints of it. Sad trombone!

It smells so good, though, that it would be worth decanting a little into a purse-sized atomiser & keeping it with you at all times. Seriously, this is a wonderful, chocolatey perfume, with none of the nasty synthetic notes you so often get with chocolate perfume. Go go AMOUR DE CACAO!

(After my immensely positive experiences with AMOUR DE CACAO, I kind of want to try Montale’s CHOCOLATE GREEDY next!)

Sugarwood

Sugarwood by Costamor. A soft, woody–almost gourmand-like perfume– with a surprise twist: the sweet and strikingly fresh scent of newly cut sugar cane.

This was super-sweet on me when I first put it on. It actually smelled like jellybeans on my skin! Jellybeans mixed with children’s cough syrup… There was something synthetic in it which made me want to make a face when I sniffed it.

But it dried down very quickly, & then it changed. The weird top notes fade away, & it just smells sweet & simple. Turkish delight mixed with jelly crystals & powdered sugar. It’s pretty incredible, & surprising how something so sweet can smell so good on the skin!

I say this would be perfect for wannabe candy-makers! Or for dabbing behind the ears after you’ve lured someone pretty back to your bedroom. Yummy, sweet, & quite precious overall!

Noël au Balcon

Noël au Balcon by Etat Libre d’Orange. With its lusciously rounded top notes of honeyed mandarin, apricot, vanilla, cinnamon and orange blossom, Antoine Maisondieu’s Noël au Balcon certainly conveys a sense of mischievous, festive flesh.

While I’m sure this fragrance is good for any sex, I was quite surprised by how masculine it smelled when I put it on. It smells like Christmas to me — orange & cloves & cinnamon, sweet but strong.

As it dries down, the sweetness does too, & you’re left with a spicy citrus mix that smells familiar & comforting. To me, this smells like something your aunt might wear. It’s recognisable but just different enough.

At the same time, it’s sexy & sophisticated — probably not right for a girl in her twenties. This one smells like you have to earn it with age & experience! It could be the scent of a kinky librarian or daredevil housewife. Someone who has lived a little & is unafraid of consequences!

Isles Lointaines

Isles Lointaines by Keiko Mecheri. This brazenly flirtatious potion features an incredibly lush gardenia double-whammy by blending traditional gardenia with tiare, also known as Tahitian gardenia, and the result is every bit as seductive and gorgeous as you would expect. Heady tuberose and radiant jasmine are also in the intoxicating white floral mix, and a simmering blend of sweet almond, creamy vanilla and ambery benzoin add the sultry warmth of a hot island night. This is a true glamour girl scent – suitable for sirens and mermaids, as well as mere mortals.

I really wanted to like this one! I want to be a mermaid too! I thought ISLES LOINTAINES could be my first step. Unfortunately, it was not right for me.

I was surprised by how strong this perfume is, & at how sophisticated it is. I expected it to be a little lighter; instead, it actually smells loud! It reminds me of something from my childhood, maybe my mother’s hairspray combined with Van Cleef & Arpel’s FIRST, which she wore when I was very young! (Both FIRST & ISLES LOINTAINES have jasmine, vanilla, & white florals — all things I love in theory, but maybe not mixed together!)

Boo! In the same way that I have never really liked CHANEL NO. 5, this smells too grown-up for my tastes… I still have a teenager’s palette, clearly!

Vanille Insensee

Vanille Insensee by Atelier Cologne. A deep, intense vanilla infused with wild, forest air. The opening is bright and invigorating, a delightful amouse-bouche of zesty lime and citron spiked with a delicious dose of coriander before the main course of rich, robust vanilla. This is not a sugary, whipped vanilla – this is creamy, satisfying and custard-like, with a comforting, subtle sweetness.

This opens so sharply! It smells like a crazy citrus which makes me want to sneeze, but it dries down quickly & changes to something entirely different. I could barely smell any vanilla in this at all.

In fact, when I first had it on my skin, every time I lifted my wrist to my nose to check the scent, I made a face! The interesting thing about this one is the way that it changes on your skin. It is constantly changing as it warms up & reacts with your chemistry. On me, it surged from citrus & coriander to black pepper & amber, then rioted into something flowery & powdery. Once those notes fade away, the vanilla enters stage left & gives a deep bow. Hello, vanilla. & yet, it’s still not very strong.

This is definitely an unusual one, but I wouldn’t call it a must-have for vanilla lovers. There are plenty of other, much better vanillas on the market. VANILLARY by Lush is a favourite of mine, & Jalaine’s VANILLA (see below) is a fab contender too!

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef & Arpels. As he did in the masterful Dior Homme, Olivier Polge, who co-authored the scent with Domitille Bertier (the team also worked on Flowerbomb along with Carlos Benaïm), has skewed this masculine scent towards more feminine notes by wrapping the leather and black tea accords in soft balsams — tonka bean, with its almond and nearly chocolate-y facets, and benzoin, with its cinnamon and vanilla effects.

Okay, I admit, I was mostly sucked into this one by the name. MIDNIGHT IN PARIS — what could be better?

“You smell incredible, what are you wearing?”
“Oh… MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. You know. The usual.”

Right?!

But no. This one was too strong & manly for me. I was hoping for stronger tonka, almond, chocolate & vanilla. Instead, it smells like orange wrapped in chocolate, mixed with a musky, rugged, virile (!!!) fragrance.

I think it would be a great signature perfume for a bold woman who likes unusual scents.

Does it live up to its name? I don’t know. Maybe midnight in Paris if you were dating a count, or someone who wore a cape on the regular!

Vanilla

Vanilla by Jalaine. A deep and insinuating musk adds a sultry duskiness and a touch of mystery, knocking this out of the ingenue category and making it strictly leading lady material. This is the grown up vanilla of creme brulée. Seductive, luscious and slightly dangerous.

Yes, this is absolutely a grown-up vanilla. If you’re a fan of vanilla, once you’ve graduated past the litany of scents for the lolita set, you’ll want to take it a step further. This is the right way to do that.

They’ve added musk to this intoxicating mix, which actually rings some faint bells of HYPNOTIC POISON (my odor of choice at age 15). It also reminds me of THE EXACT FRICTION OF STARS which is killer. Definitely worth looking into if you’re a vanilla lover.

It’s superbly sexy; the scent of a wild thing in stilettos. It has an edge to it which cautions & beckons at the same time. Watch out menfolk — this girl is not to be trifled with. (I adore it!)

Miss Dior Cherie

The Fragrance Shop in New York City.

Quite frankly though, I had my very best perfume experience so far at The Fragrance Shop, just this past weekend.

Tucked into a tiny storefront on East 7th Street, you could walk past it — & miss it — with the blink of an eye. My suggestion is to keep your eyes wide open as you walk along this stretch between 1st & 2nd Avenue!

Inside, small bottles dot every surface, & they sell every kind of bath product imaginable. At the back of the shop are several jars full of incense, from your old favourites (Nag Champa) to amazing, unheard varieties (“Baking Brownies”!!!). But it’s the front of the store where the magic happens. Yes, indeed. Because this is where they will custom-blend you any kind of perfume you desire.

It was one of those days. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be. I was on my way back from running some errands when I passed by & decided that today would be the day I made my own perfume! I’d been meaning to do it for the longest time! So, I took the plunge.

You start by telling them what you like.

I said, “I like sweet, foody scents — chocolate, vanilla, honey, caramel. I love jasmine & honeysuckle. I really love the smell of Angel & Flowerbomb.”

The woman turned to the shelf behind her, & pulled down several bottles. She had me smell from droppers labelled Vanilla & Sweet Vanilla.

“Which do you prefer?”, she asked me.
“Sweet Vanilla,” I said (of course!). Then she had me smell from other bottles, while I let her know which ones I liked.

She listened to me, pulled some more bottles, & started to put droplets from each one onto a little strip of paper. She would rub the droplets together with a finger & close her eyes when she inhaled it. Then she would add something else. She combined about six or seven different oils, had a final sniff, & then handed it over to me. “What do you think?”, she asked.

I inhaled.

“OH MY GOD… That smells SO GOOD!”

It was amazing! Sweet & sugary, vanilla with caramel, with a little bit of citrus & musk to cut through the sweetness.

She encouraged me to try it on my wrist, to see how it reacted with my body chemistry. As we let the scent dry down, she tried a couple of other combinations. Again, she would drop various oils on a strip of paper, combine them & close her eyes.

As she was doing this I looked down at the counter. There was a sign which said, Please be patient. Our sixth sense is required to create fragrances!

We put another mix on my other wrist, & a third on top of one of my hands. They all smelled so good, but I kept going back to the first one. It was so sweet, but sexy too. I loved it. So I asked her to make me up a bottle!

Having your own perfume mixed sounds so decadent, & at first blush, you would surely think it would cost a hundred dollars or more to do such a thing. WRONG! Prepare to be flabbergasted: their one-time mixing fee is $10! A 1/4 oz bottle with a roller-top, filled with your custom fragrance, set me back a paltry $15! Those are not typos!

The most incredible thing is that they write down your perfume recipe & you can go back any time for a refill. How incredible is that?!

My perfume contained two of their blends (Sweet Vanilla & Pink Sugar Bliss), with Egyptian musk, ylang ylang, & some other secret ingredients. It smells divine, & I’ve been keeping the bottle in my handbag for emergency touch-ups!

Oh, & I named it — what else? — Darling.

Darling

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