When it gets to be really warm outside, then we all look for citrus perfumes. Colognes of course are typical choices, but sometimes you are looking for something citrusy but not quite as light as the cologne, and the citrus floral is the second lightest option. Notice, I did not say the citrus chypre. Those are great, but you always have the heavier woodier dry down and on some days, this is more than you want to contend with.
The citrus floral, by jettisoning the mossy-backpack that chypres always carry with them, simply travels lighter.
I find though that citrus florals are rather few and far between. Why should this be? Are they particularly hard to compose? Or do they not do well with the public when they are marketed? Do they go sour on skin? It’s hard to say. As with all scents when something hits, it tends to stay around for a long, long time. Consider in this connection the venerable Jean Nate. It came out in 1935. That’s an eternity in the world of fragrance, and the formula still works. My daughter uses it almost every night, and Jean Nate smells wonderful on her. There’s proof positive that just because something is available at CVS does not mean that it is bad.
In fact, and to elaborate on this point, I might mention a Lab on Fire’s “Sweet Dreams” which was done by Thierry Wasser, now the head perfumer at Guerlain in 2003. I am wearing it this morning, and to be honest, I doubt very much that it will last as long as Jean Nate despite the fact that it costs $110.00 for 60 mils. versus Jean Nate’s modest under $20.00 price tag.
The Wasser scent is sleek and modern, and its price is explained by the neroli and jasmine in the formula, both of which are very expensive, but it is rather abstract, and I wonder if most people wearing it will like its curious suspension bridge concept, connecting the lightest and most citric florals on one side, to the deepest and darkest animalic (castoreum) that a perfumer can work with on the other. It’s a pretty neat idea alright, but is not self explanatory when you smell Sweet Dreams. Still, if you love citrus florals, this one is a modern essay in the genre and I think would work very well as an office perfume. The formula is extremely understated.
If you want a variation on the citrus floral similar to Jean Nate but with more of a specific floral direction, you can always try Ferragamo’s “Tuscan Soul” from 2008. Aside from the doubtful pun of its name, the smell is supposed to evoke the perfume of the magnolia. If the magnolia in question is the big old Bull Bay with the lacquered leaves and the pie dish sized flowers, then I’d say it has succeeded, because they always smell of lemons. Or to be more specific, they smell of cream, lemon, something green and tea to me.
Tuscan Soul is also one of the last perfumes composed by Pierre Bourdon. Whether or not you get excited by this news depends on whether or not you are a fan of Cool Water or Feminite du Bois, but myself, I like his work enough to recommend this simple citrus floral. The point here is lightness, and if, unlike the Wasser formula, the ingredients here are inexpensive, so are the bottles these days.
Then again, and like me you may want to go the really simple and inexpensive route and in that case I recommend Dr. Watkin’s hand crème. The smell is lemon cupcakes, or a simple mix of lemon and vanillin and quite frankly sometimes that is all I require to feel happy with my lot in life. You may think differently, but honestly, who doesn’t like lemon cupcakes?