The Scents of Sunshine

Scents of sunshine

Re-Branded Signature (Thomas) copy

As the seasons shift and we head towards the glorious warmth and light of summer we, as lovers of fragrance, speak of, and turn to those lighter, fresher and seemingly more glistening perfumes that are befitting of the time of year. This is a natural progression of course, with the climate making it almost impossible to reach for those heavy-hitting beasts of winter, but it’s not all about the worlds of ‘light’ and ‘fresh’, and there is a small contingent of fragrances that go beyond refreshing effervescence to recreate the golden light of the sun.

These perfumes are more than just ‘summer scents’; they are olfactory recreations of sunlight, evoking images of sun-soaked bodies, morning sunrises and the warm, amber-y glow of evening sunsets. In this guide you’ll find my pick of some of my favourite perfumes that accurately capture the multi-faceted and revitalising nature of the Universe’s most important star.  So without further adieu, I present to you ‘The Scents of Sunshine’.

Annick Goutal Songes


Morning Sun

Songes Eau de Toilette by Annick Goutal

The Notes
Top: Frangipani Flower and Tiare Flower
Heart: Sambac Jasmine Absolute, Ylang-Ylang Absolute and Benzoin
Base: Bourbon Vanilla Absolute, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Cumin and Black Pepper

How Does it Smell?
The lengthy list of notes above would lead one to think that Songes is a complex and labyrinthine composition that is intensely floral and heavy. The truth however, is quite the opposite, and it turns out that this most iconic of Annick Goutal’s creations is crisp and golden, much like the morning sun – the perfect fragrance to start our olfactory tour of sunlight

To my nose, Songes consists of three expertly balanced materials – the hot and tropical floral tones of frangipani, the crisp, green and almost banana-esque facets of ylang-ylang, and the velvety, custard-like nuances of creamy vanilla. It’s truly a marvel that such simplicity can smell so pleasing and multi-dimensional, yet Songes proves that this can be effortless.

Songes is the smell of the dawn. The scent of the world as the sun slowly rises – the cool air, tinged with the subtle, yet fizzy breath of flowers and grass as they awaken.


Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum


Edible Sunlight

Terracotta Le Parfum by Guerlain

The Notes

Top: Bergamot
Heart: Tiare Flower and Ylang-Ylang
Base: Vanilla

How Does it Smell?

I’m starting to be of the belief that everything Guerlain does is delicious. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at their La Petite Robe Noire, it’s a wonderfully addictive cherry pastry, or cast your eyes towards their iconic Shalimar, which is boozy/smoky vanilla heaven, and even their dizzyingly loud Insolence is a drinkable cocktail of fizzy violet and fruit compote. They are the purveyors of sweet treats and their entry into the world of sun-soaked scent is no exception.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of their Terracotta Bronzer, Guerlain are launching Terracotta Le Parfum – a perfume that bottles the golden glow of the sun in a whirlwind of radiant flowers. Tiare, with its tropical tones of sweet waxy petals, is the star of the show, and exudes a heady, narcotic odour that is somewhere between hot lilies in bloom and sweet coconut. If that sounds like heaven to you, it is, but you just wait until the base – that’s when the tasty stuff really kicks in.

Vanilla acts as a natural extension of Terracotta Le Parfum’s heart of tiare and ylang-ylang flowers.  Here the hot white blooms are shrouded in the creamiest and most decadent vanilla, that coats the skin in a hot sun-kissed glaze.  The whole thing is incredibly enjoyable and sings in the heat. Now, if Guerlain has any sense they will make this almost-edible interpretation of sunlight, a permanent addition to the collection!

Nuxe Prodigieux Le Parfum - Sunshine

Sun Kissed Skin

Prodigieux Le Parfum by Nuxe

The Notes

Top: Orange Blossom, Bergamot and Tangerine
Heart: Rose, Gardenia and Magnolia
Base: Vanilla and Coconut Milk

How Does it Smell?

If Guerlain’s Terracotta Le Parfum is evocative of a hot sun, beating down on ripe, tropical blooms, Nuxe’s Prodigieux Le Parfum is that same sun blazing over white sands and turquoise seas. This is a beach-y perfume that speaks of hot, bronzed bodies, salty skin and body oil. It’s the olfactory equivalent of endless, languid days spent on the beach, soaking up the sun and peacefully doing nothing.

Prodigieux Le Parfum achieves this bronzed-effect with its heart of blinding white flowers, accented by a hint of orange fruits. The base is milky and slightly salty, like sun cream on tanned skin, with a measured does of light, airy vanilla, and a tiny touch of coconut for good measure. In comparison to Guerlain’s Le Parfum, Nuxe’s is much lighter, and also decidedly more clean (conjuring up the image of freshly washed skin and/or linen) thanks to creamy musks, and it feels much more radiant for it.

If you’re in the market for a perfume that recreates the St Tropez tan in an olfactory form, then Nuxe’s Prodigieux Le Parfum is the perfect choice. It is sun lotion in a bottle – a perfume bottle, that is.

Thierry Mugler Alien


Solar Flare

Alien by Thierry Mugler

The Notes

Top: Mandarin
Heart: Sambac Jasmine
Base: Cashmeran Wood

How Does it Smell?

Thierry Mugler’s Alien is one of my all-time favourite fragrances. It’s a perfume that evokes the bright white and ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun – a solar goddess of a fragrance that burns both cold and hot, making a statement and ensnaring those who dare gaze into its light.  So yes, it would be fair to say that I’m quite a fan.

Alien’s power comes from a gargantuan jasmine note that is intergalactic in both its size and individuality. Here, the jasmine is thick, syrupy and radiant, emitting radioactive plumes of sweet, narcotic scent and imperceptibly bright light.  A few citrus inflections, and a plush woodiness that is simultaneously fuzzy and sharp,  cutthrough this headiness to ensure that Alien never becomes dangerously oppressive (this is a friendly celestial being akin to E.T. as opposed to the snarling Xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s Alien, of course), but for the most part, Mugler’s ode to extra-terrestrial life is glamorous and striking.


Orchidee Vanille



Orchidee Vanille by Van Cleef & Arpels

The Notes

Top: Mandarin Orange, Litchi and Bitter Almond
Heart: Dark Chocolate, Bulgarian Rose and Violet
Base: Vanilla, Cedar, Tonka Bean and White Musk

How Does it Smell?

I’m a recent inductee to the world of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinare and I must say that I am suitably impressed.  Orchidee Vanille is definitely one of the stand-out scents within the collection and it’s a perfume that perfectly captures the warm, honey-coloured light of sunset and is a sharp contrast from the daylight and floral promise offered by a perfume such as Songes.

Like the majority of perfumes in this guide, Orchidee Vanille showcases a core of sweet vanilla (accented with iris powder) yet, where others offer up contrasting facets of citrus and flowers, this one provides a rich and velvety take on such a familiar and well-used note.  That’s not to say that there aren’t any florals here to provide contrast, in fact our ode to sunset possesses glowing embers of rose and violet that gleam with soft orange light.  It is simply a beautiful finish to the end of the day.


Join the Discussion!

What’s your favourite type of sunshine, and which perfumes do you feel capture this special type of light?

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