Summer might be the time we all shop for shades, shorts and sunscreen, but it’s also the perfect time to grab a new scent. We’re not just saying that to make you buy another bottle of the smelly stuff. There are some very good reasons for switching to a different, lighter fragrance as the mercury rises.
The ingredients or ‘notes’ that make up a bottle react quite differently in heat (they intensify and disperse faster, for starters), meaning that heavier scents can become overpowering. What’s more, when it’s hot outside we generally want to smell (and feel) clean and fresh, which is hard to do when reeking of musk, vanilla or amber, but much easier when you’re wafting around like a Sicilian lemon grove.
The question is: what to wear? Well, here are 15 all-time classic summer fragrances that will always be worthy of a sniff.
Few truly stand-out fragrances have emerged in the last decade or so. With many perfume and fashion houses chasing a quick buck, and the cost of bringing new products to market so high, it’s all too easy for companies to produce scents that follow trends rather than create something unique.
Of course, there are odd exceptions to the rule. “In my opinion, Terre d’Hermes is one of the top three best, if not the best men’s fragrance to come out in the last 10 years,” says Grant Osborne, founder of online perfume resource Basenotes.
Earthy, woody and spicy, with notes of grapefruit, pink pepper, geranium, cedar and vetiver, it’s deliciously fresh yet warm and sensual.
Available at Amazon, priced £52.00.
Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
People salivate over Tom Ford’s acclaimed unisex fragrance almost as much as they do over his impeccably-cut suits. And with good reason.
Expertly balanced (and bottled), this delightful blend of lemon, mandarin, myrtle and Egyptian jasmine perfectly captures the essence of summer and the swagger of Ford himself.
Available at John Lewis, priced £155.
Chanel Allure Homme Sport
Still going strong 13 years after its release, Chanel’s Allure Homme Sport is one of the best-selling (and just one of the best) sport fragrances on the market. “[It’s] a modernised variant of a classic vetiver harmony that is successful because it’s quiet,” says Dove. “Like Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofilo, it takes a lot of very classic materials and combines them with interesting modern synthetic ones to create something new.”
According to Dove, it’s this spirit of re-invention and innovation that gives many potential classics the edge. “It’s exactly what’s been done with past scents that have endured and become classic,” he says. “They have delivered something innovative and original, which is why they have the potential to be around in 10 years’ time.”
Available at John Lewis, priced £52.
Creed Virgin Island Water
Despite being best known for its Green Irish Tweed fragrance, Creed’s Virgin Island Water is still an olfactory journey worth embarking on.
The unisex perfume launched in 2007 is inspired by a sailing trip near Ginger Island in the Caribbean. The resulting scent goes big on mouth-watering lime and creamy coconut notes, capable of transporting anyone within nose-shot to warmer climes.
Available at Creed, priced £220.
Comme des Garçons 2
Each fragrance should have its own unique handwriting, but Comme des Garçons 2 takes that to a new level by basing itself on the Japanese art of calligraphy.
Created by the same nose behind other successful scents for Burberry, Givenchy and Paco Rabanne, this 1999 launch leaves behind the smell of fountain pen ink (in a good way) once the top notes of mandarin orange, tea and angelica dissipate.
Available at Net-A-Porter, priced £70.
Acqua di Parma Colonia
There’s no getting away from the fact Acqua di Parma’s Colonia is the fragrance every man wants people to see on his shelf. But what’s inside the bottle is no less impressive.
An exquisite blend of zingy citrus fruits coupled with lavender, rosemary, sandalwood and patchouli, it remains the century-old brand’s best and most versatile fragrance, being just as appropriate for a warm July night in New York as it is for a daytime trek around a Greek island.
Available at Acqua Di Parma, priced £66.
Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio
There aren’t many fragrances that could be given to almost any man as a well-loved gift, but Armani’s Aqua di Gio is certainly one of them.
Made distinct by its bitter-sweet aquatic accord, which gives it a marine freshness emulated in many contemporary men’s fragrances, di Gio’s glory days in the 1990s may be behind it, but it sells consistently well.
Its versatility – the addition of patchouli, rockrose and cedarwood notes means it works both day and night – will ensure it’ll still be around in another 20 years, too.
Available at Amazon, priced £49.68.
Eau Sauvage By Christian Dior
In 1966, while England was celebrating its (one and only) World Cup win, Paris-based Christian Dior was brewing its own success story in the form of Eau Sauvage.
Wonderfully fresh, bursting with zingy citrus notes and rounded out with warm woody ones, it’s a great fragrance whatever the time of year – but it’s especially good in summer when the heat intensifies both its crispness and sensuality. “It’s a fragrance that’s refreshing, chic and always impresses – without even having to try,” says British perfumer Roja Dove.
Available at Feelunique, priced £49.50.
Versace Pour Homme
It’s fair to say we’d wear almost anything created by legendary nose Alberto Morillas (CK One, Acqua di Gio, 212 For Men, the list goes on), but that doesn’t take away from the charm of Versace Pour Homme.
An aromatic fougère fragrance created in 2008, Versace’s signature medusa’s head on the bottle guards an intense blend of Mediterranean ingredients that all add up to a scent that oozes confidence.
Available at John Lewis, priced £50.
Paul Smith Sunshine
Like the sun itself in Britain, Paul Smith’s limited-edition Sunshine fragrance is available for a short time only each summer.
Ideal for a week on the beach, but versatile enough to wear whatever the weather, it’s a spicy summer cocktail of nutmeg, black pepper and coriander spliced with the freshness of grapefruit and juicy starfruit. The result is a scent that’s worth snapping up, while you can.
Available at Paul Smith, priced £26.
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme
While we can’t all look like David Gandy (especially when clad in the same white speedos), we can at least smell like him by wearing Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.
One of the Milanese fashion house’s most successful fragrances of all time, it’s swimming in Mediterranean sensuality thanks to notes of Sicilian mandarin, frozen grapefruit peel, bergamot and juniper.
Available at All Beauty, priced £31.95.
Davidoff Cool Water
Not a fan of citrusy fragrances? Try the barely-there Davidoff Cool Water, which has been a go-to summer scent for almost 30 years.
By swapping limes and lemons for mint, seawater and lavender notes, the Swiss luxury brand created something that’s fresh, sharp and equally as masculine as the founder’s range of cigars.
Available at Fragrance Direct, priced £17.95.
Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male
When looking to create a classic, bottle design is almost as important as what is stored inside – and few are as instantly recognisable as Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male.
Housed within the Breton-wearing male torso, which has received countless limited-edition updates since 1995, the fragrance is built on contrasts. Masculine, yet gentle. Traditional, yet bold. Strong, yet sensual. But one undisputed icon.
Available at Fragrance Direct, priced £38.95.
Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme
Perfumers never originally planned to have separate scents for each gender. Therefore, there’s no shame in wearing a fragrance marketed at women.
If, however, that’s a spritz too far, try something like Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme. While labelled for fellas, it features prominent citrus and floral notes including blue lotus and saffron for something that’s light on its feet.
Available at All Beauty, priced £22.35.
It may not have the greatest staying power in the world once on the skin, but 4711 Cologne beats almost every other scent on the market in terms of longevity as an actual fragrance.
Created back in 1792, it’s a superbly fresh blend of citrus fruits and aromatic herbs like rosemary and lavender. Buy the dinky 25ml bottle if you can find it, keep with you at all times and reapply often.
Available at Amazon, priced £21.65.