When I went to my cabinet to search for ideal Spring scents, I started getting everything that was right up front out of the way, so that I could find the treasures buried in back. At some point, I realized that the ones I was moving are the fragrances I'm wearing right now, and therefore I needn't look any further. It made me start thinking about what a Best-of list is; how personal a proposition it is. While something by a niche line might unanimously be regarded as exemplary in its category, I might just be getting more mileage out of something rather pedestrian from the mall. There's ideal, in other words; then there's what I'm wearing.
The following are things the cooler weather and psychology of Spring have teased to the fore of my collection lately. Along with those are things I wouldn't normally put on my list, typically because they don't happen to be ground-breaking, particularly hip, or quintessential in some way. I call this the B-Side list because I think we all have these kinds of favorites in our collections and wear them regularly, right alongside the A-side. In some cases they give us just as much or more pleasure. Some of them seem downright underrated to me and I sometimes wish I heard more about them.
Laura Mercier - Neroli
Aside from a few limited editions, I haven't given much print to the Mercier line. Funny, because I own three of the fragrances, and gifted someone with a fourth. I ignored Neroli for a long time because I assumed it must be fleeting. Why get attached? Recently, I was bored waiting for something at the counter, and I sprayed some on my wrist. I smelled it all day and thought about it all week. I repeated this a few weeks later to make sure I hadn't just imagined the stuff lasted well. Eventually I bought a bottle, and Neroli really is a little sleeper. It isn't straight up Neroli. The note is bolstered with musks and florals, but these additions make the neroli stand out, and neroli is what you're conscious of.
Hanae Mori - Haute Couture
This is but a song online, and worth every penny. It's a green jasmine. Fresh stems, laundry in the breeze, just the right touch of coriander and just the right amount of 'strange' in the mix. Haute Couture is a pretty happy scent, but it isn't empty-headed. There's some gravity to it, and just a little drama.
Gucci - Flora
I think this is the first time I'm admitting to owning this. I've had it for well over six months, and grab it far more often than I ever imagined I would when I got it in a trade as an afterthought. I've smelled various osmanthus fragrances. None give me the satisfaction of Flora. I like it more and more each time. And I find it lasts. I don't care for the EDP version. It's heavier, and focuses more on the undertones, drowning out what's well judged in the toilette. Flora was almost unanimously dismissed at the time of its release. The general consensus seems to be that it's routine, nothing special. Having spent some time with it, I feel like I discovered something it takes patience and open-mindedness to see, and I recognize how the swift reviewing process of the blogs can sometimes do more harm than good.
Armani - Sensi
Which brings me to Sensi. Like Flora, this one takes time. Spend an afternoon with it. You'll see. It's a simple melody but a great tune. I forgive a lack of innovation when it makes up for itself in duration and diffusion. Sensi is stronger than you expect. Like several of the bloggers participating in this exercise, I tend to like heavier scents: orientals, chypres, the old school stock. For a long time I took that to mean I wouldn't be interested in Spring-like scents, but the ones I gravitate towards have presence, like those orientals I love. Sensi smells like a breath of fresh air, its creamy jasmine landscape painted in oils rather than watercolors, and is something of a chameleon; it works as well during the winter months as the Spring. No wonder. Fragrantica classifies it as an Oriental Woody.
Creed - Irisia
Let Irisia represent all the green chypres I start to wear regularly around this time of year. Givenchy III, Jean Louis Scherrer, YSL Y, et al. What to do when you read that Irisia (one star) is marked by "exceptional banality and unpleasantness" in the same grouping of reviews which gives Britney Spears Believe three stars? Surely that's a joke. Don't believe it for a second. I don't know that I prefer Irisia to other classic green chypres, but I wouldn't say it's anywhere close to inferior. The name is misleading, as any hint of iris is hard to pick out. I'm guessing I reach for Irisia the most because it smells more masculine than its brethren.
Perfumer's Workshop - Tea Rose
This is either your...cup of tea, or it isn't. I've enjoyed it for years, in minor doses. The bottle I have dates back to the eighties, and smells quite different from the bottle I smelled recently at TJ Max. The current version smells like a vinyl blow-up toy. The dry down eventually moves closer to what I remember, but it lacks some special factor which makes it feel much further removed. The Tea Rose I recall is one of the best rose fragrances of its kind ever, as far as I'm concerned.
Delrae - Debut
There are a few dead horses I tire of hearing people beat. One is that the first four Delrae fragrances are just too...this or that. If Debut, Eau Illuminee, Bois de Paradis, and Amoureuse aren't the very best niche perfumery has to offer, my nose isn't smelling right. Let's stop complaining about how heady they are, or can I expect silence about how thin the overwhelming majority of modern fragrances besides these have become? You can't have it both ways. The first four Delraes represent a big fat Yes to perfume lovers. This perfume lover wouldn't dream of saying no.
Lorenzo Villoresi - Yerbamate
I'm not suggesting the line doesn't have its share of admirers. Yerbamate, like several other Villoresi fragrances, is something of a cult item. Still, you don't see the scents getting much attention when the time for this kind of list arrives. I think they deserve a special boost here and there, to help counteract some of the beating they've taken recently. Yerbamate is one of my favorite Villoresis, though I'm pretty partial to Garofano and Teint de Neige. Its weird, smoky green character isn't something I've come across in any other fragrance, and it's one of the most persistent tea scents I've smelled. Truly one of those rare fragrances you have to smell for yourself.
Etro - Magot
Not exactly one of the line's best sellers, and in fact I might never have purchased a bottle had I not run into one for ten bucks at TJ Max. I liked it from the start, but it's taken me a long time to place it properly. Don't ask me why, but I kept thinking Magot was a floral. Instead, it's tangy, a bit woody, and creamy. There are florals in there--jasmine and iris--but they aren't the centerpiece. Magot is a cheery fragrance but not without gravity. It smells like you feel when you first walk out your door to face the day.
Nina Ricci - Love in Paris
Another one that grew on me, or that I grew into. Jasmine, apricot, rose, peony and star anise on a base of woods and musks. It seemed too easy, so I dismissed it for a long time. Now I've learned enough to know how difficult easy is.
Please see Abigail's list, below, for links to participating bloggers of Scents That Sing Spring.