Despite being totally obsessed with perfume and owning a frankly obscene number of bottles, there's no doubt that my favourite perfumes tend to be united by a few key notes: musk, vanilla and patchouli. Not always together, you understand, but it's these warm and cosy aromas that appeal to my senses time and time again. Whether it's Byredo Velvet Haze, Maison Margiela Replica Whispers in the Library or Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka Cologne, warming, woodsy perfumes have undoubtedly become my signature scents.
So when summer rolls around and the new perfume launches become lighter, fresher and undeniably citrusy, I tend to give them a quick sniff and pass them on to a home where they will be much more loved than mine. Why? Well, over the years, I have cultivated a belief that zesty lemon and juicy orange aromas just aren't very "me." Generally speaking, fruitier notes just don't have the staying power on my skin that things like amber and cedarwood do—and I like my fragrances to linger. But more than that, I think that we are all, to some extent, creatures of habit, and I am well and truly in the confines of a perfume safety net.
That was, of course, until Marks and Spencer's new Provenance perfume collection dropped through my door during a particularly sticky, sweaty and humid week here in London. Suddenly, the thought of spritzing on a refreshing, uplifting mist of bergamot and mandarin felt incredibly appealing. And, thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.
There are four perfumes in the new collection, and I was lucky enough to be sent two of them—Amongst the Orange Groves and Santorini Days. I'll admit even before spritzing them, I had some preconceptions. After all, how good can a £15 perfume really be when some of my favourite fragrances retail at upwards of £100? Turns out really damn good. Both of these perfumes live firmly in the citrus space with mandarin a top note for both of them, but these fragrances are way more complex than other affordable perfumes that I've tried. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that they smell pretty expensive. And the fact that they're both eau de parfums means that they have a pleasing amount of sticking power, too.
While Amongst the Orange Groves is bright, zesty and mouthwateringly juicy—I defy anyone who smells it not to be instantly cheered—I have to say that Santorini Days really has my heart. Inspired by sun-dappled afternoons exploring Greek Islands (which most of us can only dream of right now), it's got classic citrus notes of mandarin and bergamot, but it also has a woodsy, earthy appeal that I love from olive, vetivert and cedar. It's light yet sophisticated, and a splash of green tea and iris lends it a comforting softness that I always seek out in a perfume. And really, for £15, I don't think you'll find a much better affordable summer perfume right now.
Shop the Marks and Spencer Provenance perfumes:
My personal favourite—a summer afternoon in a bottle.
A celebration of all things orange from mandarin to orange blossom with a hint of uplifting neroli and musk for an expensive-smelling twist.
This one speaks of British summertime to me—cucumber, seaweed and florals for a fresh, salty take on a summer scent.
As a tropical holiday isn't on my agenda right now, I'll be adding this tropical perfume to my shopping basket instead. The classic citrus pops of mandarin and orange are there but alongside coconut, vanilla and musk—some of my favourites.
Not sure which one to go for? Try each scent with this handy pack of mini vials.