Spirit of adventure

Perfumers look to spice up spring’s traditional floral and fruit notes, writes Kavita Daswani

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2012, 12:00am


Sambac jasmine, tangerine, pink pepper and panna cotta - the clutch of new fragrances bowing in time for spring appear to be based on all that is fresh, floral and fruity. But this year, perfume experts say, is reflective of a new, more adventurous spirit.

'This year shows a much more daring use of green notes,' says Kevin Verspoor, a perfumer with Drom Fragrances and winner of the 2012 Indie Fifi award, who has created scents for Jennifer Lopez and Victoria's Secret. 'This creates even more dazzling fruit floral notes.'

There's certainly no shortage of razzle-dazzle. In February, Florentine fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo launched Signorina, a rich yet light fragrance that combines currants and pink pepper with jasmine, peony rose and panna cotta. It is housed in an elegant glass bottle adorned with the iconic Ferragamo bow - in pretty pink, of course.

Annick Goutal - one of the pioneers of the niche fragrance movement - has the new Les Soliflores series, designed to capture the essence of individual flowers: violet, mimosa, lily of the valley and rose centifolia. Each concoction is artfully packaged in a small glass bottle with a tiny bow.

From Frederic Malle are home fragrances under the Editions de Parfums line, each one recalling a precise scent: one will remind the wearer of a grand cathedral, using incense; another of the den of a sophisticated man, woods and tobacco; and another still of the Mediterranean beachside, the French aperitif Pastis.

Also new is Oud, from Maison Francis Kurkdjian, replete with its namesake exotic wood mined in this case from rare and precious species in Laos. It is combined with cedar wood from the Atlas mountains in Algeria and patchouli culled from Indonesian sources. Delicate tendrils of saffron add to the heady brew, as does elemi gum - considered a tool in the practice of magic, but used in perfume-making for its lemony-minty aroma.

Ancient sensibilities are also being woven into new fragrances. Myrrh from Somalia - that musky, sensual odour that is steeped in biblical times - is at the core of Guerlain's new Myrrhe & D?lires, layered with florals like iris and rose, and enhanced with frankincense, patchouli and just a dab of licorice.

Experts believe that fragrances are driven not only by the season, but also by elements of popular culture.

'Sport and fresh fragrances will be popular this summer because of the Olympics,' says Victoria Jent, fragrance enthusiast and founder of EauMG, ( a popular perfume blog. Jent also notes that iris is gaining prominence on the fragrance front, as is amber, especially in the more niche and exclusive lines.

A fresh floral with notes of transparent amber, Clinique's Happy in Bloom offers a new take on the brand's signature Happy collection. The limited-edition scent also features mimosa, yellow plum and 'a cocktail of frozen fruit'.

This month will see the launch of L'Eau de Chloé, from the noted Parisian fashion house. To be introduced to local perfume buffs by Lane Crawford, it is a spirited take-off from the brand's signature scent of 2008, Chloé Rose.

Created by the same perfumer, Michel Almairac, who turned Chloé Rose into such a sensation, the new L'Eau de Chloé has at its core distilled rose water, layered with citrus notes, and finished with patchouli.

Appearing everywhere in luxury fragrances these days, patchouli also provides the base note for the new L'Air by Nina Ricci. Top notes of freesia and honeysuckle and middle notes of magnolia, rose absolute and sambac jasmine round out the modern floral.

The confluence of musky and heavier notes, with typical summery scents of citrus and flowers, is something that appears to be carrying on from last season.

Vice & Virtue, created by visionary designer Marcel Wanders in conjunction with perfumier Olivier Polge, most patently bears that out. In layering the scent, Wanders and Polge went with bergamot and mandarin, continued with lily of the valley, rose cinnamon-scented sambac jasmine - a species native to Southeast Asia - and headier notes of sandalwood, creamy vanilla and musk. Its dual-cylindered bottle adds to the dichotomy.

Still, in searching for something to enhance an existing fragrance wardrobe for spring, women can rarely go wrong with something fruity.

'We are seeing a lot of orange blossom, mimosa, tangerine and fresh green notes,' says Drom's Verspoor.

Still, he says, it all comes down to balance. To his mind, a fragrance that smells current and modern, yet conveys elegance and femininity, should combine three specific traits.

'[Look for] a balance of fresh, light musk, [and] bright woody notes mixed with hedione,' he says, referring to the term for the many different components of jasmine.