Scents That Sing "Spring!"

What scents or smells make you so ecstatically happy that you want to sing out loud or jump up and down with joy?
I asked 13 other bloggers to help me answer this question and share with you our picks for perfumes to wear this spring. Scents that could make you feel giddy, cheerful and excited about life again. And my list includes 8 staples that I seem to return to for several years now and never fail to bring a smile to my face and a song to my heart.

I tried my best to bring you a list that has no melancholy in it whatsoever; but some of the scents have an inevitable touch of that emotion in them. And come to think of it, spring does too, because the flowers, as beautiful as they are in full bloom, only bring their very own death upon themselves by exhaling all their beauty in one powerful breath in this short, abrupt season exploding with life.

The perfumes that I find a little melancholy usually have a little powdery, bittersweet character (usually an effect that can be easily blamed on the presence of coumarin in some shape or form). Whenever these are mentioned, they will be accompanied with an asterisks, just so that you are properly warned (in case you are looking for a 100% cheerful spring).

Jasmine absolute, and, of course - fresh jasmine flowers of any kind, bring an immediate smile to my face. The bushes are usually dormant in winter, but come spring and warmth and they start building up their stash of star-shaped flowers that will reach its peak in the heat of the summer. There are so many jasmine scents that I love, but the ones that I associate and wear in the spring are Le Parfum de Thérèse, which I have come to associate with the season and with Passovers in Israel, because it’s when I worn it and fell in love with it first; and also because it’s so hot there at this time of the year that the balance between jasmine, basil and under ripe plum and melon is nearly the only thing I can wear there. When I have to stay in Vancouver in Passover I wear it to remind me of the happy times at home; and it also takes me through summer bringing a smile to my face every single time I smell it, no matter what the occasion or mood I’m in.

Citrus Orchards in Bloom
There is no scent with so much unconditional happiness in my mind as orchards in full bloom. The blossoms begin sometimes in March, and continues through April, usually coinciding with the celebration of Passover. I am still wondering why there is no citrus flower holiday in Israel. They really should make a Hanami festival of sorts out of it, but they don’t. Instead, the day after Passover has become a day of barbecue picnics that if anything mask the scent of any orange blossoms on the horizon. But that’s for another story…
The best way to experience orange blossoms is to be around then. If you live out of the citrus growing zone like me, you can forget about it unless you travel to a citrus destination. Because I can’t always travel to smell the orange blossoms, I created Zohar,
Another way for me to overcome that home-sickness is sipping on pomelo-blossom tea, a rare green tea that was perfumed in the same technique that jasmine green tea is made, by layering petals of pomelo flowers between the tea leaves and removing them once they’ve exhaled all their fragrant breath onto the tea. As a matter of fact, I’m sipping this very tea as I write it, and it transports me to my family’s orchard, early in the morning, when the shapely pomelo petals are still covered with dew and just begin to open and give away their clean, heady scent. And a far more modern and synthetic orange blossom associated scent that has become a spring stable is Narcisso Rodriguez, which is mostly by pure incident (because it barely smells like orange blossom at all), because I worn it in the springtime in one of my most fun spring travels to Israel as well.

Ume (Japanese Plum) Blossoms
It literally took me years to discover the scent of Vancouver’s spring. The most significant and emotionally charged is the scent of the ume (Japanese plum) blossoms. Ume blossoms are smaller and have only one layer of petals. They have a peculiar wildflower-like scent, very ethereal and heady, and at the same time a little powdery and bittersweet. It is more apparent on warmer days; so when early spring is rainy and gray, you can hardly notice their scent in the air.

The sakura (Japanese cherry) blossoms grow in clusters, and are way more showy and impressive looking (especially the ones that have multilayered petals like roses), but they are far less fragrant if at all.

Ume blossoms bloom earlier, usually beginning in January and on till March (depending on the temperatures, of course), and grace the street corner where I live. The ume and sakura blossoms make Vancouver a place worth staying in the springtime, and my only consolation for missing the orchards of Israel when I can’t go there. Inspired by these blossoms (and the Ezra Pound poem) I created Hanami*, which is what I wear almost exclusively throughout the hanami season in Vancouver. Another taste of it can be experienced if you eat sakuramochi at room temperature. The pickled cherry leaf that wraps this pastry adds this peculiar, flowery and bittersweet aroma to the red bean paste filling, and I know for a fact it has coumarin in it.

Fresh Freesias
I visit the florist regularly to get a fresh supply of freesias. I pick them based on their scent rather than their looks: the most fragrant will go home with me, and these are either white (which is more peppery) or yellow (slightly more full-bodied and fruity). I sniff each bouquet till I find the one… And I also have a favourite freesia perfume: Ofresia by Diptyque, created by the world renowned nose Olivia Giacobetti. This freesia perfectly balances the freshly ground green pepper scent of freesias with a little with no sharpness, and some sweetness in the base to make it addictive.

Lilies of the Valley
Other fresh flowers that are more rare to come by are lilies of the valley: they bloom in the spring, usually in May (this year I was lucky to find some in March, but they are gone again and should return in May as the florist informed me). I rarely see them in gardens, and when I do they look quite miserable (but smell heavenly just the same).

Diorissimo is the best lily of the valley scent in the universe that is not the fresh flower. But it’s more than just a lily of the valley soliflore – Edmon Roudnitska himself said he wanted to capture the scent of the little flowers as well as their surroundings, and even went to the extent of planting a patch of lily of the valley in his garden to study them. Diorissimo is particularly gorgeous in the parfum extrait formulation that I have from 10 years ago, where the oakmoss peeks through like the undergrowth of the forest environment of the lilies, and boronia, galbanum, jasmine and rose make the centre of the perfume vivid.

Now, this is not a scent without any melancholy attached to it. I have a sprig of lilac by my table and the real flower has more complexity to it than what we’ve been trained to think of as “lilac”. Besides the very high level of the light, woody-floral linalool that accounts in part for its cleanliness, the lilac on hand has a balsamic-sweet styrax undertone. It’s rare to find lilac scents that don’t smell like bathroom freshener’s or an old maid’s talcum powder; but two perfumes that I’ve met come very close to capturing the real scent plus adding a very personal spin to the theme:
Olivia Gioacobetti’s En Passant*, in which green cucumber and ink-like and starchy wheat add a contemplative, cool mist of lilac clusters; and Ineke Ruhland’s After My Own Heart*, where raspberry and heliotropin bring a lighthearted, romantic sweetness of girly scented stationary.

Scent that traveled from Australia to Provence and the Middle east, mimosas have an invisible wildflower scent that is heady and light and woody, with a little cucuber-coolness to it. My favourite mimosa are light and refreshing: L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Mimosa Pour Moi and my own Les Nuages de Joie Jaune. which literally means “clouds of yellow happiness.

After the cherry blossoms, magnolias have become almost a symbol of Vancouver in spring. There are so many trees and varieties, it would be difficult to describe all of them here. The two significant differences are white versus the pink ones. The white ones are very light and airy and almost woody-clean, as well as fruity like peach. The pink ones can be fruity, but sometimes they are very heady and turn almost wine-like and spicy (but not like mulled wine!). My favourite spring scent with magnolias in it is Opium Fleur de Shanghai. Again, this is by association, because this light summer-version (limited edition, unfortunately, like all of them), came out in the springtime. It just so happened to be in a very happy spring for me, and I worn it every day for several month. The magnolia is very distinct (and quite rarely used in perfumes in such concentration) and beautifully balanced with the resinous bitterness of myrrh, the sweetness of peru balsam oil and the spiciness of cloves. It’s luxurious and light and very easy to wear.

Spearmint & Lemon Verbena
Fresh herbs from the garden give me a sense of well-being, and my favourite of them all are lemon verbena and spearmint. I love picking these fresh and brew them into a delicate tisane together, sometimes also with lemongrass added. Moroccan mint tea is another favourite – with either green or black tea, fresh sprigs of spearmint, and generous dose of sugar (though not as generous as the Moroccans serve it with), perhaps even with a sprinkle of orange flower water!
One of the treats I serve to guests at my studio is my original Charisma tea blend, which is jasmine green tea with dried osmanthus flowers, fresh lemon verbena, lemongrass and spearmint from my balcony’s herb garden. In the wintertime I serve a modified blend with the dried herbs (most of which were hand-picked and dried by my loving mother). And for those of you too faraway to visit, Dawna have created for me an even more sophisticated version of a fine pomello blossom tea with the same dry fragrant herbs and osmanthus flowers.

Verbena and spearmint are those notes which I love in real life but less so in perfume. An exception is Spring Flower, which has a mint note and is another perfume that never fails to make me feel happy. I have nearly run out of an entire bottle, which says a lot.

Last year I spent a lazy afternoon in my hotel room in Grasse with a cantaloupe… I know, this does not sound good. But I assure you, even though it was only the two of us, nothing happened that afternoon behind those closed doors… Except that I couldn’t get enough of the fragrance that filled the room. Which is exactly why I took my time before slashing it open with the knife I bought for that purpose only. As it turns out (a couple of days later), This cantaloupe was not only the most fragrant, but also the most delicious, juicy and beautiful fruit ever.
Another cantaloupe encounter that trip was with Michel Roudnitska’s Emotionelle, a beautiful and sophisticated perfume centered around jasmine, violet and overripe cantaloupe.

Ayala’s Spring Essentials:
Le Parfum de Thérèse
Vanille Galante
Spring Flower
Opium Fleur de Shanghai
Narcisso Rodriguez for Her (EdT)

Leave a comment sharing with us your spring staples, or any scents and notes that bring a smile on your face, and enter to win one of these prizes:
1) Mini parfum of Zohar
2) Tin of Charism Tea
3) TBA

Participating blogs:
Katie Puckrik Smells
Perfume Shrine
The Non Blonde
I Smell Therefore I Am
Notes from the Ledge
Scent Hive
Savvy Thinker
Roxana's Illuminated Journal
Perfume in Progress
All I Am A Redhead
Ambre Gris
A Rose Beyond the Thames

Plum Pudding with Cumin

Fleur d'immortelle, originally uploaded by mistercham.

On Christmas day, one of the two bottles of Eau d'Hermes that lived on the shelf at the downtown Vancouver Hermes boutique made it into where it belongs – my perfume collection. My boyfriend, who finally realized this year that my wish lists are created while browsing perfume boutiques, made a mental note and got it for me as a Christmas gift quite some time ago, all the while pretending to read my very old wish list I made for him last year (which he completely ignored, by the way). Of course that would have been useless – because that list is no longer valid (except that I am always happy to have fresh freesia flowers in my home, which I usually get myself any way).

Anyway, I have been watching the shelf for months now (since the summer, to be precise - shortly after my return from France) and have been trying it ever since. Back than, it smelled more masculine and fresh to me. While the freshness is apparent even now in the winter, it reminds me of preparing the last bits and pieces of a wintery Friday dinners with my family: squeezing lemon juice and getting the lemon oil (fresh from the tree) rub onto the fingers; and dousing the beet salad and the customary tahini dip with the tart lemon juice and fragrant cumin.

What is it about Eau d’Hermes that makes it so magical? Perhaps it’s its versatility and adaptable formula. It never feels over the top. It never really feels like perfume, come to think of it. And it blends with its surrounding in the most curious of ways.

Following the savoury-culinary opening, Eau d’Hermes turns into a completely different beast: more daring and sensual than it was in the summer, with the jasmine far more pronounced yet with some sweet-ambery and powdery violet-like nuances that I have never noticed before (come to think of it, there was a moment when I was reminded of Michel Roudnitska’s Eau Emotionelle!); and having been accompanied by it since Christmas day, I can assure you it goes well with its surrounding in the winter as well as the summer: it goes well with roasted Turkey (not that I at any) and cranberry sauce, with buttered Brussels sprouts and baked yam, and with rich chocolates, shortbread or the legendary flaming plum pudding. It really does. And it smelled sexy and elegant all the while, making anything that I did or experienced feel like it was truly mine and truly special. Like a silent reminder that my rustic upbringing is what makes every part of my life today so much more elegant and real.

Whoo-Hoo, Christmas Pudding, originally uploaded by John in Mich.

Eau d'Hermes

Eau d'Hermes, originally uploaded by strange_sickness.

Eau d'Hermes, originally uploaded by strange_sickness.

This afternoon is my first time wearing Eau d’Hermes. I stepped into the boutique on Burrard and Alberni after running some errands in the area (spontaneous trips to upscale boutiques takes off the edge of how stuffy the experience could be – especially since I’m always there just for their cheap perfumes and not the Kelly bag). My initial intention was to finally try Pampelune Rose (samples run out at Holt Renfrew and this was the first time in a few days that I wasn’t covered in Femme EDT when I left the house). Surprisingly, the 3 new Eaux didn’t even arrive at the Hermes boutique. So instead I decided to try Eau d’Hermes. I liked it right away sniffed out of the bottle, so I didn’t even bother spraying it on a paper beforehand. I’ve already heard about the cumin note so unfortunately this was not a surprise for me. But since I was a cumin kick anyway, it only made sense that I wear some on.

Eau d’Hermes didn’t quite smell like an eau at all. Instead, it was simultaneously fresh and warm. The cumin note, which must have been ahead of its time probably was what gave Olivier Cresp the idea for the Femme reformulation. But here it smells surprisingly clean and woody, not at all the carnal sweaty steam one gets from Femme. It is decidedly rather masculine and dry and the sensuality underneath reminds me more of oriental leathery compositions for men rather than the sanitary character of a short-lived “eau”. And despite the cumin, it did not smell like curry (or maybe, a French curry… I had Indian food in France and the only spice I tasted in there was cumin!), but rather woody and almost like caraway in that sense. And also a warm woody spice like cinnamon bark. There is a hint of masculinity at the top which proboably comes from lavender, and also an underlying leathery and tonka and perhaps patchouli notes. But what I particularly liked is how the jasmine shines through at the heart, along a rosy note. It's a very spacious floral accord (probably because of hedione, which has become somewhat of a signature of its creator, Edmond Roudnitska) and an unmistakable animalic sensuality of these florals while dariating a very well-behaved, lightweight presence overall.

I stepped out of Hermes feeling very content with my choice, and enjoying every moment of it and how it interacted with the environment. It’s rare to find a scent that does that so seamlessly – being present but mingle with your surroundings. I passed the hot dog stand and the cumin went well with the sautéed onions. Walking by hot pavements and sun-warmed asphalt it became part of that too, and my last stop before heading back home and writing this, I had some peculiar scoops of Marron Glace and Lemon Cream at the air conditioned Mondo Gelatto and it went well (both flavoured were contaminated with something else – the lemon cream had some kind of a chocolate and cloves rice crisps on top for no apparent reason; and the candied chestnut scoop seemed to have some brandied cherries thrown into the mix). But it all went well together – some peculiar warm-spicy and chilly-clean experience.

Simultaneously fresh and warm, Eau d’Hermes is not exactly an “eau” in the usual sense of a light, short living olfactory experience. In any case, expect something more along the lines of Habit Rouge or Le 3me Homme rather than Eau de Coq or Eau d’Orange Vert.

Eau Sauvage

From the moment I met Eau Sauvage, it was steaming passion. It’s sparkling clarity and bold sensuality are seductively well-mannered. Eau Sauvage is what I would want to immediately splash onto a man’s chest and than bury my head into... This would probably be my one recommendation, aside from necessary precautions, for a blind-date gadget (whether if you are a man or a woman)… It radiates good taste and vibrates with a lively charm. Eau Sauvage has the sensuality of clean, freshly showered skin, smooth just-shaved cheekbones, the sweater of a lover left behind for further cuddling and sniffing, permeated with the impeccable scents of sweat sweet hay.

As a side note I may ad: I wasn’t exposed to the Eau Sauvage ads featuring showers and mysterious men just about to take off their black sweater – and was pleasantly surprised to find them fitting to my own internal image of the scent (which is quite unusual in the world of perfume ads).

It wasn’t until I became a perfumer that I learned that the magic charm here lies with the oakmoss. Oakmoss has the power to add a rich, complex underlining base to what otherwise would be just another one of the many fleeting eaux de citrus & herbs. And so while Eau Sauvage is unmistakably sparkling with citrus, it is also one of the first Chypre for men, and actually a revolutionary fragrance in its time.

Eau Sauvage was one of the very few significantly different fragrances for men. The fragrant history around the world (Arabia, India, Ancient Greece and Rome) tells us that men indulged shamelessly in a diverse selection of aromatics: from sweet and indolic flowers (rose and jasmine) to heavily sweet balsams, incense, musk and ambergris. Contrary to that, the modern Western man, since perhaps the days of Napoleon or even earlier, submitted themselves to a painfully limited palette of aromas: citrus, aromatic herbs, woods and some musk. Anything sweeter, heavier or more floral was reserved for women. Of course – there were a handful of significant and unusual scents for men prior to Eau Sauvage: Jicky (Guerlain, 1889, considered the first modern perfume but also one that dared to question the gender boundaries of perfume), Mouchoir de Monsieur (Guerlain, 1904), Pour Un Homme (Caron, 1934), Old Spice (originally released by Shultan in 1937 and was actually marketed for women but happily adopted by men).

What reserves Eau Sauvage such a special place in perfume history are two things: its composition, of course, but also it’s timing. It was released in 1966, a time when men were perhaps ready to start breaking out of the strict olfactory boundaries that locked them in a clean prison of citrus and herbs. Other scents released around this era are Tabac Original (1959), Chanel’s Pour Monsieur (1955), Pino Silvestre (1955), Monsieur de Givenchy (1959) and Creed’s Cuir de Russie (1953). These paved the path to the revolution of men’s scents, a quiet revolution that is still happening and morphing quietly into a rebel against the exact same things that restricted Western men, olfactory-wise, for the past two centuries. Eau Sauvage was a milestone in breaking out of the norm – starting with the use of substantial amounts of oakmoss and patchouli at the base, and hedione and jasmine in the heart. Only few people at the time knew that the Maestro had an even more revolutionary scent in stock – the one reserved for his wife Therese (designed for her earlier, in 1960). In Eau Sauvage, Roudniska used only a bare amount of the hedione comparing to his masterpiece for his wife, and none of the aquatic melony notes used in Le Parfum de Therese. But the use of citrus and basil and an expanding jasmine heart created a very similar effect, yet one that was be more easily acceptable by his audience.

Another departure from the norm was its mass appeal to both men and women. Since the release of Jicky, there wasn’t as much olfactory “gender-confusion”, and everybody felt comfortable stealing each other’s cologne, as long as it was Eau Sauvage. Diorella was sooon to follow, perhaps to shut down the cologne-kidnapping complaints and cologne-custody court battles that followed Eau Sauvage and threatened to break too many marriages… Diorella was a toned down version of Le Parfum de Therese, and a floraler version of Eau Sauvage (more hedione, and more jasmine, with the addition of melon). Where Diorella failed (marketing wise), other houses gained and started releasing many more unisex scents ever since – O de Lancome (1969), Diptyque’s l’Eau (1968), Santa Mari Novella’s Melograno (1965), Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien (1981) – and than the explosion (or shall we say inflation?) in unisex fragrance in the 90’s, accompanying and/or following Calvin Klein’s One (1994).

The use of basil, citrus and oakmoss is genius, and along with the jasmine, considering it’s time, it is also daring. To me it will always stay at the top – the epitome of masculine fragrances, and fragrances at large.

Top notes: Lemon, Pine, Lime

Heart notes: Basil, Jasmine, Carnation

Base notes: Oakmoss, Patchouli, Musk, Hay

Image credits:
Posters from
Bottle image from Dior.com


Diorissimo is the essence of spring, and as it’s genius creator Roudniska has said, it captures the scent of the flowers as well as the natural atomsphere where the little modest flowers grow - green foliage and damp and chilly forest floor.

Diorissimo evokes an instantly cheerful mood and a happy and positive attitude as soon as it delights with its presence. It radiates a certain pure and youthfully innocent quality that makes it a perfect scent for initiating young girls into the world of perfumery, and perhaps even seducing them into a premature wedding with its intoxicating and euphoric scent.

As an Eau de Toilette, Diorissimo is a soliflore lily of the valley, in fact – the only one that I smelled so far that captures the scent of the crisp little white bells without smelling headily synthetic and develop into a flat, shallow nuisance on the skin.

In the Eau de Toilette I can smell mostly the galbanum, boronia and jasmine, all in a supporting role to the heady scent of freshly picked lily of the valley.

The pure parfum, however, has a more deep and less single-floral feel to it. The rose and jasmine are more dominant and the boronia works really well in accentuating the green and fresh spring qualities. I have also detected certain amount of oakmoss in the base. It is very subtle - but I think it does what it needs to do. I used to like the EDT much better, abut now I prefer the parfum.

Top notes: Green Glabanum notes
Heart notes: Lilly of the Valley, Boronia, Calyx, Rose
Base notes: Jasmine, Sandalwood, Civet
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