Fragrance for the summer means one thing: cologne. In countries around the Mediterranean, you’ll find enormous bottles of it in supermarkets so you can douse yourself and your clothes for instant olfactory uplift. The effect is fleeting, evanescent freshness. The herbal and citrus notes don’t last but there are eaux de toilette that channel the same vibe, only stronger.
Here are some of the best.
Acqua della Regina, Santa Maria Novella
My favourite summer scent, it’s a herbal-citrus mixture from the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy in Florence. It was first made for Queen Catherine de Medici in 1533 and it’s still impossible to beat.
£80 for 50ml; uk.smnovella.com
Special No 127, Floris
This is terrifically classy, as you’d expect from the Queen’s perfumers, and although it’s got citrus freshness as well as orange blossom and lavender, there’s weight from patchouli and musk. It’s more than a century old and was a favourite of Winston Churchill and Eva Perón. Now there’s a pair to channel.
£80 for 100ml; florislondon.com
Eau de Basilic Pourpre, Hermès
Is there anything more pleasing than a bottle of Hermès cologne in its orange box? The latest addition to the family is a cologne based on purple basil, with bergamot and geranium. A scent which leaves you guessing about the main ingredient.
£87 for 100ml; hermes.com
Osmanthus, Ormonde Jayne
Osmanthus is a flower from Japan, here combined with cedarwood, musk and exotic citrus for a delicious, fresh scent with good staying power.
£160 for 120ml; ormondejayne.com
Blenheim Bouquet, Penhaligon’s
The makers compare this to a gin: crisp and dry. Made in 1902 for the Duke of Marlborough, it’s got lemon, lime and lavender as well as pine and black pepper. The effect is fresh and distinctive.
£115 for 100ml; penhaligons.com
Paula’s Ibiza Eclectic, Loewe
This is a warm, exotic, feminine scent in a fabulous box with flamboyant waterlilies and little fish. If I were ever to go clubbing in Ibiza, an improbable scenario admittedly, this is what I’d wear.
£66 for 50ml; selfridges.com
Eau d’Hadrien, Goutal
This is a universally pleasing summer scent and a burst of lovely light lemony freshness. A classic of the Eighties. Plus, a lovely ridged bottle.
£110 for 100ml; harveynichols.com
Eau de Cologne 4711
The original distinctive cologne, with its classy old-fashioned label, made in the city of Cologne. Exceptionally affordable and still one of the very best. I want a magnum of this to sprinkle in my bath.
£14.75 for 100ml; amazon.co.uk
Acqua di Parma
The original Acqua di Parma cologne, Colonia, is a scent that everyone likes, with its bright citrus notes of bergamot, lemon and orange, plus rosemary and sandalwood to follow (£116 for 100ml; selfridges.com). But there’s lots to be said for the hot weather vibe of the Blu Mediterraneo range. You can’t really go wrong with its Arancia di Capri, made with Sicilian orange. Summer in a bottle.
£88 for 75ml; acquadiparma.com
Cologne Bigarade by Jean-Claude Ellena, Frederic Malle
Frederic Malle is synonymous with interesting, original fragrance. Here he deploys perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena to produce a clean and sophisticated cologne based on Provençal bitter orange. It’s light, but long-lasting.
£175 for 100ml; fredericmalle.co.uk
Neroli Portofino, Tom Ford
This is one for label junkies. Tom Ford’s take on the classic constituents of eau de cologne has citrus sparkle and warmth, with longevity as its strength. This little bottle is the perfect size for travel.
Eau de parfum atomiser, 10ml for £46; selfridges.com
Wood Sage and Sea Salt, Jo Malone
There are few people whose day isn’t made by a cream Jo Malone box. If you want a change from citrus notes, this scent is warm, earthy and uplifting.
£108 for 100ml; jomalone.co.uk
Verveine D’Été, Le Jardin Retrouvé
There’s nothing more delicious as a summer herb than lemon verbena, and Le Jardin Retrouvé’s Verveine d’Été is a summer garden in a bottle, with the warmth of oakmoss.
£98 for 50ml; fiole.co.uk