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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

The good, the bad and the smelly: Scene’s spring perfume review

Lindsey Meyers

Ah, spring: the ideal season for perfume. While winter bundling smothers whatever scent is on your skin and summer heat evaporates perfume at overwhelming rates, spring provides a lovely backdrop of fresh air, rain smell and fresh flowers to compliment whatever scent you fancy. Whether you’re looking for a new scent or simply weeding through your current collection, this list will help you stick your nose where it does belong.

The Stinky

Dolce and Gabanna — “Light Blue”

Febreze smells better and lasts longer than “Light Blue for Men.” This is the hot guy or girl that you picked up in the club who seemed like “the one” before they opened their mouth; “Light Blue” is initially pleasant but at close range is suffocatingly shallow and shrill. You can do better than screechy synthetic citrus notes over a stale wood base. “Light Blue for Women” isn’t as offensive – it’s a basic citrus scent with some pleasant bamboo notes – but it’s just as overpriced.

Calvin Klein — “cK One”

“cK One” is said to make the wearer invisible due to how bland and forgettable it is. It remains a favorite among health professionals who can’t subject patients to strong smells, probably. “cK One” is by no means an unpleasant scent; the pineapple, citrus and musk combination will never offend passersby. It simply doesn’t last long on the skin, though — and, for the short while it’s around, it doesn’t do much. There are cheaper ways to ensure you don’t make an impression.

Abercrombie and Fitch — “Fierce”

College kids, don’t wear this. Middle schoolers ... hello.

The Whiffable

Lush — The entire line

Lush’s perfume line is where social responsibility meets artistic risk. Reasonably priced yet distinctive and exciting, Lush perfumes are highly available for in-person testing through their many outlets around the nation. Whether you’re looking for something rough and rugged (the spiced leather of “Breath of God”), straight-up sexy (the floral sandalwood bomb “Lust”) or bracingly fresh (the humorously-named minty lavender of “Dirty”), Lush is sure to suit your needs without hurting your wallet or blending you into the wallpaper.

Tom Ford — The “Neroli Portofino” Series

Here’s a disclaimer for you: these perfumes smell substantially better than anything else on the list. “Neroli Portofino” itself is a miracle of a fragrance. It sparkles with fresh, juicy citrus notes (bergamot and mandarin orange) with unparalleled depth and richness; the complementing florals (orange blossom and jasmine) and base notes (amber and musk) fill out the perfume beautifully. “Costa Azzura” infuses similarly wonderful citrus notes with a salty marine base to capture seaside bliss while “Mandarino di Amalfi” has the juiciest orange note on the market. Tom Ford’s private line, of which this series is an integral part, remains the height of olfactory luxury. Yet with a multi-hundred dollar price-point, it’s impossible to give this line Scene’s highest recommendation.

The Waft-Worthy

Acqua di Parma — The “Blu Mediterraneo” Series

The “Blu Mediterraneo” Series sits in the same price range as designer scents, yet their warm-weather fragrances are a clear step about them. Acqua di Parma’s offerings on this line provide a wonderful range of scents as delightful as the Italian coast that inspired them. At the heart of the lineup is the exquisite “Mirto di Panarea,” which embodies a sea breeze and Italian air with myrtle wood and basil floating atop sea salt and bergamot. For lovers of almond extract, there’s a picture-perfect likeness in “Mandorlo di Sicilia;” fig lovers can turn to “Fico di Amalfi” for a wonderful, seemingly impossible marriage between the earthy fruit and fizzy citruses. “Blu Mediterraneo” truly places paradise a waft away.

Nautica — “Voyage”

The wonderful thing about “Voyage” is not its smell — though that’s pretty amazing as well — but its value. Master perfumer Maurice Roucel crafted this gem for Nautica just over ten years ago; since then, it’s been priced incredibly low for reasons that I am yet to discover. “Voyage,” with its crisp yet sweet opening of apple, amber and lotus flower, falls closer to unisex territory than most masculine perfumes; it lasts forever on the skin and dries down to a lovely, warm incarnation of its initial smell. It smells better than most perfumes that sell at four times the cost and outlasts almost every other warm weather scent on the market. “Voyage” continues to be my number one recommendation for anyone looking to smell great, no matter what their budget.