In life and perfume, we think of spring in terms of flowers, but spring doesn’t have to be a fragrance of daisies and tulips, it can also be a world of greenery – of thickets, ferns and shrubs. You see, green aromas are some of the most underrated, under the radar perfumes around, but within this genre, there is an overwhelming number of scents that pay homage to the beauty of nature.
For me, spring is all about greenery. As a child, my siblings and I would play in the plot of land behind our house. It may have been unkempt and overgrown, but for us, that only made it better. We would get lost amongst the ferns and bushes, climb the trees and build forts, always surrounded by the green scents of mosses, grasses and plants. The days would go by so quickly; it would seem like only minutes from when the four of us would pour out of the house into the garden to the moment we were called for supper. Those were halcyon days intensified by the scent of green.
These scent memories of greenery are so evocative and universal that it is no surprise that they have made their way into a genre of fragrances. You may not be wholly familiar with them, but green perfumes are far from new, they’ve been around for ages. Rising to dominance in the 1970s (think CHANEL Nº19), these scents often had a sporty edge, taking inspiration from the greenery of nature, using herbs, flowers, citruses, mosses, grasses and more to create an abundance of green.
The problem with green fragrances is that some of the materials used are so associated with the ’70s that they’ve now become dated. But of course, perfume trends come back around, and we are lucky to be living in somewhat of a green renaissance – yes, green fragrances took a pause, but now they are unfurling their shoots and climbing back into our consciousness. Here are five green aromas you need to smell.
#1 Clean & Classic
Vetiver is the classic, OG, Mac Daddy of vetiver fragrances and a remarkable example of the beauty of green notes in perfumery. It takes its titular material, a fragrant perennial grass that has smoky, earthy, salty, grapefruit facets, and twists them into the most handsome fragrance you’ll ever encounter. Vetiver launched in the 1960s, but it smells as relevant today as it did then. It is well-groomed and clean, showering the earthy, rooty quality of vetiver with citrus notes, spices and tobacco. When paired with a clean white shirt, there is nothing better.
#2 Fresh & Herbal
In their Forage Collection, Miller Harris explores the interplay between urban spaces and nature, taking inspiration from the way these two things co-exist. Dance Amongst the Lace pays homage to Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as cow parsley. It offers up a wave of green, with lime, peppermint, geranium and vetiver striped together to create a contemporary fougère (fern) fragrance that is delightfully fresh. The first thing you need to know about Dance is that it smells minty but not like toothpaste – instead, it boasts a dazzlingly fresh and herbal take on mint amplified by the juiciness of lime and the fresh floralcy of geranium. Dance is nature at its purest and most joyful – wearing it is like running out into the garden and feeling the rush of colour overwhelm you and like jumping into a pool of cold water. It’s like the first sip of a mojito and joy of a new day. It is spring in a bottle.
Learn more about Miller Harris’ Forage collection in my review.
#3 Light & Modern
Infusion d’Iris is a fragrance that every perfume lover should have in their collection. It takes the note of orris, which comes from the dried roots of iris flowers, and modernises it. What can often be a grey, opulent and velvety style of fragrance becomes airy, diffusive and fizzy. It’s a fragrance that sparkles with the golden shimmer of mandarin and is effervescent with a fine mist of iris powder. The smallest hint of greenery, which comes from the mineral, earthy facets of the iris, places this abstract and chic iris fragrance back into nature, just for a few moments. Infusion d’Iris is modern, transparent and couture – it presents the iris flower magnified and diffused into millions of particles, evoking starchy shirts on the line and the towering glass of skyscrapers. There is nothing else like it.
#4 Juicy & Ice Cold
As one would expect from unconventional Japanese fashion house Comme des Garcons, Amazingreen is not your typical green fragrance. If your experience with this genre is with scents like CHANEL Nº19 and all its bitter, standoffish beauty, then you will be in for a surprise here. Amazingreen is juicy, jungle green. Picture giant palm leaves overflowing with rainwater, and you’re on the right track. It has a mineral edge too – a smoky, gunpowder edge that is icy cold and brings a sense of the unfamiliar. Amazingreen is very green and rather amazing.
#5 Sweet & Smoky
Now we move from the sublime to the ridiculous. Take one look at Aura, and its green heart flacon plucked straight from the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz, and you know you’re in for an exciting ride. Aura is one of the most innovative and fascinating green fragrances of the last decade. At once it manages to be juicy and tart with notes of rhubarb, floral and heady (orange blossom), botanical and strange (tiger liana), sweet and velvety (bourbon vanilla) and smoky (wolfwood). It is not a green fragrance one can place in nature; instead, it feels as if it comes from an alien planet where the flora grows with a bioluminescent glow. It is out of this world, and you owe it to yourself to try it.
Read my full review of Aura here.