If this time last year, you’d have asked me to sum up my taste in perfume in three words, I probably would have said something along the lines of woody, musky and unisex. I have always liked my scents to enter a room before I do. I lean towards those heavy notes that linger on clothes until the next morning. And while these preferences might not be to everyone’s tastes, I quite like it when my perfumes divide a room. As long as some people found my fragrance distasteful, at least I knew I wasn’t smelling the same as everyone else in the room, who were no doubt doused in the latest, totally inoffensive, crowd-pleasing floral.
But then the pandemic hit, and I had no longer had anyone to fluff up my fragrance feathers in front of. Instead, I was confined to the same four walls with nothing but the intoxicating scents of perfumes to remind me of the excess and freedom of a previous life. In a time when I needed fragrance more than ever before to lift my spirits, the aromas of my trusty favourites couldn’t serve me anymore. And on top of my love for deep, attention-grabbing scents, it’s also worth noting that I was (and still am) painfully fussy. Finding a perfume to fit my mood on any given day is no mean feat. But luckily, despite all of the above, my perfume collection is shockingly vast.
I have shelves and shelves full of perfumes that I just can’t let go of. From ouds and musks to citruses and florals, I own a perfume for every occasion. And while I spent the best part of the past year trying to make my strong scents work in my new way of living, it was always niggling away in the back of my brain that there were a bunch of wildly unloved, but beautiful, perfumes collecting dust in my cabinets. And so, a few weeks ago, I finally accepted that my beloved woody scents had served their purpose, and it was time for the lighter, floral perfumes to take centre stage.
But that’s not to say I have totally changed my tune. Sure, I’m ready to embrace the uplifting, lightweight freshness of florals, but my perfumes of choice still need to possess a certain je ne sais quoi. They need to smell unlike anything else, ooze expense (even if they’re affordable) and leave you wanting to go back for just one more sniff. So, after many hours of going through every last bottle in my collection, these are the floral perfumes I’m ready to embrace for the summer ahead—and they’re seriously special.
1. Miller Harris Secret Gardenia
Whenever I dream about what my wedding day might be like, this is what I smell. It’s delicate and fresh, like an English garden in the springtime, but it has a deep creaminess to it that makes it stand out from the rest.
2. Zara Fleur D'Oranger
I must admit, this perfume has been a favourite since I first bought it a couple of years ago. Exactly as the name would suggest, it smells like orange flower and neroli combined with the familiar, lingering heat of Mediterranean dusk.
3. Sana Jardin Incense Water Eau De Parfum
Upon the first sniff, this smells absolutely nothing like a floral perfume. In fact, it has been the perfect scent to ween myself off the deep, heady aromas of yesteryear. It’s dark and (believe it or not) incense-like, but it has strong notes of rose that make everything seem perfectly balanced. Trust me, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that smells quite like it.
4. Ex Nihilo Honoré Delights Eau De Parfum
Again, at first you’ll struggle to get any hint of florals through the warm scent of fresh pastries and musk, but soon enough, the delicate freshness of neroli and orange flower come shining through. If you hate the headiness of sweet scents but appreciate their warmth, this fresh but comforting spritz can’t be beaten. It’s unbelievably expensive, but it truly is one of a kind.
5. Estée Lauder Beautiful Magnolia Eau De Parfum
Out of all of the floral perfumes I’ve been reaching for, this is by far the most inoffensive. It’s light, fresh and delicate—like a crisp, blue-skied spring morning.
6. Estée Lauder Mediterranean Honeysuckle
If there’s one brand that can win me over with florals, it’s Aerin. Not only are the bottles a total work of art, but the floral juices that they hold are equally as special. Intricately unique and alluringly powerful, they’re totally captivating while maintaining a level of freshness. Right now, I can’t get enough of the honeysuckle scent. It’s escapism in a bottle.
7. Diptyque Orpheon Eau De Parfum
You could say I’m cheating just a little by including this in a floral perfumes roundup, but I can in fact confirm it does contain jasmine, which is responsible for its lightweight freshness. Most obviously, it’s woody, but not in the strong, heady way you expect woody perfumes to be. It’s wonderfully crisp and dances on the skin like only a floral fragrance can.
8. Jo Malone London Yellow Hibiscus Cologne
This stuff is set to be my scent of the summer. It’s effervescent and fizzy thanks to notes of lime but is delicately floral at the same time. This is the sort of scent you want to trail behind you as you walk down the street.
9. Guerlain Mon Guerlain Sparkling Bouquet Eau De Parfum
Let me first say that I am no fan of Guerlain’s iconic Mon Guerlain. While I appreciate its unique beauty, it’s strong and a little too warm for my liking. However, this update is fresher, lighter and a whole lot more wearable. It’s still set to be an evening scent for me, but it’s totally won me over.
10. Jo Loves White Rose & Lemon Leaves
The idea of white rose is usually enough to make me want to run for the hills, but there’s something undeniably comforting and irresistibly likeable about this perfume. The zest of lemon intertwines with a blend of delicate floral notes to create the most wearable everyday perfume.
11. The Body Shop White Musk Eau De Parfum
12. The Body Shop White Musk Lover Fragrance Layering Topper
Hear me out: I know that White Musk is quite literally the stuff that cringy teenage memories are made of, but the iconic scent has had a 2021 refresh and I’m here for it. While the original EDP still holds all of the powdery nostalgia I expected it to, when layered with this new topper, it transforms into a floral, peppery fragrance that will no doubt have people asking what it is you’re wearing.
13. Christian Louboutin Beauty Loubikiss Eau de Parfum
If you don’t like powerful scents that take over a room, this one isn’t for you. In fact, tuberose isn’t for you, and it’s something this perfume really champions. When I first saw the bottle, I was expecting something sickly sweet and generally nauseating. What you get, however, is a dizzying aroma of jasmine, tuberose and musk. It’s not for the faint-hearted but it’s undeniably romantic.
14. Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Intense Eau De Parfum
Marc Jacobs Daisy was one of my go-to perfumes in my younger years. It reminds me of summer breaks from university and all of the youthful joy they brought with them. This new addition to the line is a little bit darker and a whole lot more intense, perfectly in line with my evolving tastes.
15. Penhaligon's Heartless Helen Eau De Parfum
Another favourite that I have recently rediscovered, Heartless Helen is one hell of a floral. It champions that unique, creamy note of tuberose that I mentioned earlier, but blends it with woods and zesty mandarin to take the edge off. It’s the only tuberose perfume I’ve ever come across that I would describe as totally wearable. And not only is it wearable, but it’s also one of my favourite perfumes ever.