Transport yourself with fragrance this summer. Put down your passport and try these perfumes instead – they will conjure up another country …
It’s unlikely that many of us will get to the beach this summer, abroad at least. We’re still advised against non-essential travel, and though some favourite places, such as Greece, are set to open up from July, Italy lifts its foreign travel ban from June 3 and Spain stops quarantine for incoming travellers from July onwards, the 14-day quarantine here, at least until mid-June, means we’re more likely to stay closer to home. Anyway, we are hugely lucky that we have such amazing beaches here in Ireland, from Kerry to Donegal – Tourism Ireland is encouraging travellers from the UK to come over for “exotic domestic” holidays – so a staycation is no hardship, unless you’re 18 and were all set for Magaluf.
I think that this year many of us will be wearing scents that conjure up far-off beaches and tavernas that remain tantalisingly out of reach. In an interview with the founder of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, discussing the ubiquity of sweet scents on the market, Malle made the point that “You always want what you are not allowed – it’s like opium in the ‘70s. Nowadays, no one eats anything but everyone smells like cake!” Similarly, we’re being drawn to perfumes that can conjure up further-flung destinations and give us a lift.
Select your summer scents with care – the too-obvious coconut or lime-drenched concoctions can be reminiscent of cocktails, and who wants to smell like a Pina Colada? A crisp Italian citrus always has Talented Mr Ripley vibes – think Acqua di Parma – and Tom Ford has cornered this market. Beachy can be good, but nothing too suncreamy or overly sweet – I’m with Mr Malle on this. Though admittedly some cost more than a cheap flight – yes, Sole di Positano is lovely and gorgeously sunny, but you could practically travel to Italy itself for the same price.
Scent can be transportive, and we’ve never needed it more than this year. It gives us an upgrade – in reality, we may be languishing on a campsite, in the rain, with moany kids, but we can at least pretend with a lavender-infused cologne, or dream of Caribbean beaches. Here are five of the finest transportive scents, along with suitable holiday reads to go with them:
1 Greece is the word
We’re dreaming of cool clear seas, boat trips and lengthy taverna lunches on the Greek islands. I feel that Tom Daxon’s Laconia is a good start. Inspired by a trip to Greece, it’s a bit salty with fresh light sea notes, water mint, jasmine and citrus: think of sitting in a lemon grove overlooking the Aegean. £105stg, from www.tomdaxon.com.
Reading … A Theatre of Dreamers by Polly Samson, a tale of decadence and desire set on Hydra, tracing indolent days amid the sunlit white houses and blue seas of the car-free island.
2 Desert island
Inspired by a Caribbean sailing trip, Creed’s Virgin Island Water is madly escapist, with lots of ocean notes as well as a hit of white rum for that full sailor experience. It’s the superyacht holiday you’ll never have, in a bottle. It’s very beachy, with lime notes too and you have to love coconut – it’s quite divisive in that way. It’s also expensive, the long-haul trip of perfumes – but it’s unisex, so you can share it, and it’s an eau de parfum so longer-lasting than some on this list. At Arnotts and Harvey Nichols Dundrum from €190. Try also Laboratory Perfume’s Gorse, which also has a coconut vibe.
We’re reading … Humankind by Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, an argument that human beings are essentially good, with its sensational true version of a Lord of the Flies scenario – a group of boys stranded on a desert island for over a year – that is bound to be made into a film.
3 French sojourn
Colognes are perfect for now – just spray with abandon to keep cool. Something like L’Occitane’s Thé Vert, a sprightly light green eau de toilette, with jasmine, orange and green tea, is as fresh and cooling as a mint tea on a hot day. A big 100ml bottle is €52, which will last for endless summers, and there are all manner of beautifully packaged body and hand lotions from €10.50 to enhance the effect and savour. ie.loccitane.com
Reading … Perfume by Patrick Süskind is an obvious one, bringing 18th-century Paris to an all-too-vivid olfactory life, and on to Grasse. There’s Francoise Sagan’s elegant Bonjour Tristesse set on the French Riviera and, while we’re all in a Sally Rooney state of mind, you can always re-read Conversations with Friends, with its French interlude.
Memo Paris, co-founded by John Molloy, does many places well – their scents are inspired by beautiful and evocative locations, from Marrakech to Marfa, Texas – and Brazil is one of them. Ilha do Mel eau de parfum is like a gardener’s dream with its juniper, jasmine and gardenia accord. €210 online at Brown Thomas (tip: their hair perfumes, which I’ve spotted at The Loop in Dublin airport, are more affordable). I’m also intrigued by their new Ocean Leather – as a brand, they have really nailed leather scents (Irish Leather is one of their bestsellers), and this one, with mandarin oil and sage absolute, sounds exquisite. Another option is Frederic Malle Editions Outrageous by perfumer Sofia Grosman, an informal fresh unisex scent that captures the smell of a caipirinha, summery, happy and young. €135, at Brown Thomas.
Reading … Crow Blue by US-based Brazilian writer Adriana Lisboa, a 2014 novel about a family that travels from Rio to Colorado.
5 La Dolce Vita
Many Hermès scents conjure up beautiful places, and Un Jardin Sur La Lagune is perfumer Christine Nagel’s woody floral take on a hidden Venetian garden (from €79 at www.Boots.ie) – someone with green fingers would adore this with its subtle magnolia, and the woodiness of the garden, along with the slight saltiness that suggests water. Staying in Venice, Dominique Ropion’s Orangerie Venise for Armani Privé (€105) is a gorgeous bright sun-warmed citrus – you could be standing beneath the orange trees as the sun goes down behind the Doge’s Palace and the buildings are warmed with pink. And Chanel’s Les Eaux de Chanel Paris-Venise celebrates the art of travel with its rounded bottles designed like travel flasks and a cologne scent based around neroli, iris and geranium from Grasse.
Reading … Death in Venice or, more cheerfully, A Table in Venice by Skye McAlpine. If we can’t be there, we’ll read about it and eat a ton of pasta, preferably with lemon and burrata like McAlpine in this book of recipes and reflections.
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