In the same way that some wine writers get cranky every summer about the uncomplicated whites and rosés on offer, fragrance snobs (qui, moi?) get their knickers bunched up when perfume companies launch their summer flankers – scents that take their names and bottle shapes from existing successful lines but often with "eau" or "cool" in the name.
Lighter on the essential oils with a good zing of green or citrus notes, they're meant to be used liberally and casually. While some are meretricious little cash-grabs, no question, there are some definite hits on the perfume dept or drugstore shelves. Here are our picks for best summer fragrances -- not an olfactory lightweight in the bunch -- including a couple of enduring classics to stock up on now that the humidity is here.
best summer fragrances
Spun off from the 1969 classic Ô de Lancôme comes Ô d'Azur (75 mL, $54) with Calabrian lemon, orange and a nice herbal hit courtesy of rosemary. It's basically everything you'll smell while sitting on a Côte d'Azur terrace. Wear with unbuttoned white linen if possible.
Diesel Fuel for Life Denim Collection Femme (75 mL, $85, available in August) is your classic limited-edition flanker, but its unlikely sounding raspberry and jasmine combo is an idiosyncratic take on a summer eau de toilette that really works.
You can't see a fan of Angel really ever wearing anything else, so for summer they get Angel Sunessence Silver Ocean Edition (50 mL, $75), a version sharpened with salt spray (sea salt blossom to be precise) and kumquat.
CK One Summer (100 mL, $58) As hip as those new red J Brand jeans, with that unmistakable CK One aura, this one blends a ton of fruits (rhubarb! melon!) with water fern and "sea breeze" to keep it from tipping into fruit salad territory. Wear with ripped cutoffs and an immaculate pedicure.
A total classic: 4711 (400 mL, $44). If you can get with the rococo packaging you are rewarded with one of the original eau de colognes launched way back in 1792 and no, that's not a typo. Open the bottle, stand under it and pour.
With its blend of fresh citrus notes and crushed leaves, Clarins Eau des Jardins (100 mL, $51) is so refreshing, it creates your own good-smelling happy place -- perfect when you're forced to engage with other overheated and harried passengers on the subway
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora (75 mL, $60 at The Bay, Sephora) -- did you know that if you anchor jasmine with musk and amber it makes it sexy as well as floral and light?
I never got the point of fragrances that are supposed to smell like detergent. Yardley English Lavender (50 mL, $18 at Shoppers Drug Mart) actually smells like fresh air dried linens in a gigantic garden. Much better.
Calandre by Paco Rabanne. A ’70s classic with "rose oxides" to give it a metallic finish, it's not available in North American stores, but worth an ebay hunt. And dig that chrome-edged bottle. Retro and insanely modern at the same time -- just like the fragrance.
And after you're all nicely scented up and wearing a brand new floaty dress or linen tunic, do like they do in Saint Tropez and order a "piscine" (French for "swimming pool"), an oversized wineglass of champagne over ice. Or just go for cheapo white or prosecco, wine writers be damned.
But order in English. You don't want to look as pretentious as moi, do you?
Today our Canadian connection is Daria Werbowy, the face of Lancôme Ô d'Azur. Her career was made in Canada.
Congratulations Liza! This best summer fragrances story was nominated for a 2011 Fragrance Award in the Broadcast/Web category!