Jeff's Scents for Spring 2023

Spring 2023 Journal Entry header graphic with bottles of perfumes in random order

It wasn't too far into January before we started reaching for the bright and fresh Spring scents from our collection. With so many life-changing events happening towards the end of that month, we were ready to turn the page on the everything prior and start anew. As it turns out, that included all of the heavier fragrances I tend to wear throughout the colder months, and in many years prior, push along through until Summer as well. Instead of the comfort and warmth of those heavier scents, I wanted something to propel me forward and bring a bit more zest and zeal to each day.

Another thing to note is that when fragrance becomes your hobby, and you spend a lot of time testing and smelling a large quantity of perfumes on regular basis, you'll start to notice that your tastes can change and evolve very rapidly. It's like anything else, the more you experience something, the quicker the excitement it brings begins to wane. So after months of vanillas and smoky wood scents, I was ready to explore more floral and citrus based fragrances with a few key notes in mind.

The Florals

Two floral notes that I've become particularly fond of are gardenia and geranium. Both bring plenty of green characteristics but I really enjoy the contrast of earthiness and that classic white floral essence you find with gardenia. It's something that really stands out to me in Shaft of Light by J Scent. It's also bolstered by jasmine and orange flower with a bit of citrus to create this bubbly, almost tea-like combination. Talk about zest and zeal!

Geranium became a big note for me this year thanks to a friend recommendation as a great rose alternative. I struggle with how rose is used in a lot of fragrances for various reasons but I do love it on its own. Geranium has plenty of similar qualities but it brings a lot of punchy greens along with them. Our friend followed that suggestion by recommending two fragrances that have becomes regulars in my Spring time rotation, Gold by Perfumer H and Discernment by Dalegerard.

Photo of Discernment DGR01
Photo of Gold
Photo of Molecule 01 + Iris
Photo of Shaft of Light
Photo of Moon Bloom

On first notice, the pink pepper and geranium combine to bring a sharpness that is so fresh and clean that it’s almost soapy. It’s downright shimmering at times and always full of life. It’s like the first few days post-winter thaw when you realize Spring is here to stay and you immediately feel like you want to do everything. Yet with all those bright and energetic top notes, Discernment brings in the perfect blend of woods and musk to add texture and a bit of earthy grit to it all. It’s gorgeous! Finishing it all off with a bit of ocean air saltiness from the ambergris, this is nature at every turn.

The push from bitter citrus and the pull from fresh green geranium creates a wonderful tug of war that evokes wonderful tension but always remains civil giving the wearer such bright and clean experience that it will cut through any fog of weather, thought, or mood. It’s a beautiful refresher that offers clarity in all of its notes from the top through the middle but adds a well needed bed of smoky resin and patchouli in the base. This is a true luxury fragrance and composition. It’s never showy or loud. Its class is both understated and understood. Think The Row or Phoebe Philo’s Celine.

As simple as any fragrance could ever be but more than you will ever need. The iris keeps the iso e super from being too clean or dull but surrenders beautifully to the latter’s creaminess before the prior gets too powdery. Nevertheless, you get the most of both as they compliment each others best features flawlessly while staying true to their own.

It’s plenty on its own with hours of longevity and projection but it’s one of the true, great layering scents as it has the ability to improve almost any other fragrance. This is a Fragraphilia favorite, and in our opinion, a must have for any collection. We will never be without a bottle in ours. If you like iris, this is one of the best and most direct expressions of it.

The citrus up top is almost electrifyingly fresh as if you spent all morning squeezing the ripest of lemons by hand and the remains are all over your clothes. It’s invigorating and almost bubbly. The Orange blossom, and the following notes of gardenia, magnolia, and jasmine, give it a bit of a grounding that’s reminiscent of green tea which allows it to expand the overall scent into something more interesting and dynamic. As it floats its way to the base, the jasmine blends nicely into the musk, and you get a creamier rounding out thanks to the vanilla and sandalwood. The oakmoss and patchouli add a bit of texture but never much more as this always stays true to its bright citrus and green floral nature.

Heady indolic garden-fresh tuberose and jasmine are cushioned by softly tropical coconut, and punctuated by cinnamon and clove reminiscent of heavily spiced teacakes. As strong as they start, the florals here mellow out into something creamy and comforting. A sunny childhood daydream. This is the more blissed out and bohemian counterpart to Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower.

Aromatic, Green, and Citrus

Even as tastes evolve more rapidly, there is one constant that is always a guarantee no matter the time of year, cologne-style fragrances. They're what I grew up around and would probably be the center circle in most Venn diagrams of my preferences. Aromatic fougères, barbershop aftershaves, classic 20th century eau de colognes, or really anything that takes you on that time worn tour of a bright citrus opening, followed by an aromatic middle, and then landing on an earthy green finish will always be my favorite journey through a scent.

Although how those styles are defined can sometimes be limited or rigid in what constitutes each, I do enjoy when brand chooses to stretch those limits a bit. I love how Byredo uses cardamom and star anise in Sunday Cologne which brings this pretty woody back-note accord that just lingers alongside everything else. Bistro Waters by DS & Durga and its green pepper note that creates a truly unique vegetal, aromatic middle. Finally, the use of orange blossom and neroli in many of such fragrances has really made those my notes of the season. No perfume on the market celebrates that more perfectly than Neroli Oranger by Matiere Premiere. It's a masterpiece!

Photo of Sunday Cologne
Photo of Bergamask
Photo of Bistro Waters
Photo of Neroli Oranger
Photo of Macanudo

Any classic cologne worth its weight in water will travel the well established path starting with a bright citrus opening that leads through an aromatic middle before finishing somewhere between woody and green. Sunday Cologne never dares to stray far from this pattern but it does make a splash or two along the way. Right in between the bergamot-citrus opening and the rosy-green geranium middle, you get this scratchy sweetness from the cardamom and star anise that almost brings an oily cedar type note. It then carries perfectly into the earthy green base which is where everything comes together to make a collection worthy fragrance for any fan of the genre. Don’t expect big performance or longevity but its wear is extremely satisfying and invigorating while it lasts (approximately 3-4 hours).

It's all about the journey with Orto Parisi. Ultimately, you always end up at the same destination that features heavy dose of musk, sandalwood, and cedar. The magic is found in the vehicle you take along the way.

In Bergamask's case, it's all bergamot and a beautiful blend of supporting citrus notes. It's never too sharp or too sweet yet you do get a touch of both as this sometimes goes sweet with orange and then sour with lemon. There's also a bit of green to keep it grounded that's either from orange blossom, patchouli, or some other accord that gives off a bit of mossy dankness hidden underneath. Just enough to keep the citrus around when the base notes start to take over. Once those base notes take over, they'll be with you all day (maybe more).

A beautifully bright cologne style fragrance featuring the crispy freshness of green peppers without overwhelming the more accessible sweet and spicy notes of coriander, lime, and pear. The green and citrus highlights push-and-pull well together while the moss water notes add a well-needed base to keep it all grounded. This is what you wear on a stormy, summer afternoon. It’s refreshing while cutting through the gray skies and humid air.

Some may accuse this of being too simple and singularly focused on its namesake but I prefer to look at this as one of the most dynamic and expressive explorations of one of the most important materials in fragrance. This gives you everything beautiful and warm and soft and rich and so on and so on that makes orange blossom so special. It feels like a bed of soft white flowers, like a touch of warm humid air blowing through tall grasses during early summer. It makes me think of the bees bouncing from flower to flowers. It makes me think of Mediterranean sweet rolls baking in the kitchen. It’s heaven! You also get nice green and citrusy touches from its supporting notes, and a powdery white floral musk, but they flutter in and out, and only in celebration of its lead. If you’re a fan of neroli and orange blossom notes, this is as good as you can get.

Vivid green field grass just as the rain begins to fall, daffodils after a spring shower, and the inside of an Hermès Kelly bag. Distinctly smells of the outdoors while still also retaining a facet of luxurious comfort with the powdery cosmetic almond notes of tonka. A highly creative scent creation that goes in directions that could appeal to many tastes. A true favorite of Fragraphilia.

Night Time is the Right Time

With the first two sections, I focused primarily on fragrances that I would wear during the day. Whether it was at the office, a lunch meeting, or just running around town, most were lighter, brighter, and more accessible perfumes that, more or less, used their inside voices. At night, however, I figure it's time to let your scent howl a bit.

I mainly stuck with similar themes throughout by focusing on florals and aromatics. Boutonnière No. 7 by Arquiste may be my most favorite gardenia scent that I've ever tried but it's definitely a going-out scent. Luxurious, dynamic, but ccertainly not for small offices or breezy lunches. Flaming Creature by Marissa Zappas brings plenty of white floral notes, but also takes you on this mysterious adventure of so many darker, richer notes throughout its amazing wear, that it's probably better left for conversation amongst peers at a dinner party than your associates in the boardroom.

Finally, the two outliers in some ways here are both Hwyl and Bo. Hwyl is a very woodsy, earthy scent that fits naturally in any fall-winter rotation but what makes it stand out here is exactly what makes it stand out there, geranium. The geranium note in Hwyl is just as prominent as anything else, and honestly, it dominates enough of the time that I would certainly consider that its more significant note.

Ultimately, it's Bo that is the true exception to this list but it's become such an all-timer for me that I had to include it. It's such a coastal California wood scent that it transcends fall or winter and aligns with other spring and summer light woods just as well. It's just a crowd-pleaser in the end and I never tire of wearing it.

Photo of Flaming Creature
Photo of Bo
Photo of Boutonnière No. 7
Photo of Hwyl
Photo of Citizen X

A witchy herbal woodsy potion with fascinating notes of candied orange, rum, and herbal absinthe. Opulent night blooming jasmine marries with mellow sandalwood beautifully here, a sophisticated scent with many facets that is perfect for moonlit strolls in the fall.

Sun-soaked tobacco, light creamy woods, and a sweet touch of vanilla and resinous notes combine to create one of the most comforting and rewarding wears you could ever get from a perfume. Perfectly balanced from top to bottom, its bested only by its consistency and longevity. This is Los Angeles in the summer as a cold front lingers in bringing soothing breezes while you spend the evening drinking cocktails and chatting under the night sky with your friends. I can almost hear the police and traffic helicopters flying above.

The white florals and aromatics are every bit as present as the note list suggests with one of the finest expressions of gardenia backed dutifully by a somewhat restrained yet supportive jasmine. The lavender and mandarin add a bit of classic barbershop masculinity as you move from the top to the middle before it completes its almost chypre like journey to its base of oak moss and vetiver. There’s a great touch of animalic musk that brings some earthiness to it all but the notes that really stand out to me come from this fresh atmospheric accord that reminds me of the cold, crisp water you add to a vase and the aroma that’s created when the stems of those fresh cut white florals are plunged within it.

A beautiful blend of sharp pepper and green geranium jump out at the top but are quickly balanced with clean woods, incense, and just the right amount of sticky resin and oily vetiver to add body at the base. As much as the notes could lead you to believe this is a winter scent, it works wonderfully in spring as well. It projects confidently, but never too heavy, with decent longevity. Although, I would classify this as a sophisticated scent, on certain days, it can lean a bit hippie as well.

Fresh, crisp, and almost aldehydic at the top due to the the airy combination of white pepper and mastic, this is a real spring and summer scent that can sometimes lean as it makes it to the middle. Not as herbal or medicinal as shaving soap mind you, but close. The powdery iris and the spicy olibanum never let it get that far. Still, there’s something very classic cologne about it too which is reinforced by the musk and amber bringing warmth to the base. Mature, yet modern, and very debonaire. Like Cary Grant in the mid-60s.