Under the influence: escapist scents for summer in the city

Mhairi Mann

8 July 2021

A sophisticated collection of innovative, ambient fragrance, to take you from southern Italy's bergamot fields to the dusty, promise-filled open roads of America (even if you're not leaving London)

8 July 2021 Mhairi Mann

That all important Green List may just have been expanded to include destinations a little more friendly to the British summer holiday palate but, with the threat of changes at any time, only the bravest are actually stepping on to a plane this season. Which doesn't mean you can't make a summer in the city feel like a foreign holiday. Get out your own neighbourhood, explore the capital's great markets and al fresco enertainment options and, perhaps most importantly, invest in a new scent reminiscient of a fragrant foreign destination. From the flora and fauns of Italy to the lavender fields of France, meet the fragrances promising to take you on an olfactory journey.

On the Road Eau de Parfum by Timothy Han /Edition

This is an evocative scent for a time when many are still firmly Off the Road. Founded by Timothy Han, Edition is a London-based fragrance house that entwines scent and stories – specifically those of literary mavericks like Jack Kerouac, Simone de Beauvoir and Joseph Conrad.

Inspired by Kerouac, On the Road takes you on a rampant road trip through 1950s America, encountering tobacco-filled whisky bars, cedar forests and citrus trees. Warm, sweet tonka bean and patchouli stir with lemon and bergamot for a smoky, complex fragrance that develops and matures on the skin. It is also a beautiful thing to sit on your shelf, accompanied by a photographic postcard by London artist Cedric Christie. Hans, formerly an assistant to John Galliano, handcrafts his Edition line in Dalston, with an emphasis on natural and cruelty-free ingredients, built upon a base of organic grape alcohol. 

£120 for 60ml, timothyhanedition.com

Rêverie de Bergamote Eau de Parfum by Miller Harris

The latest release from London-based perfume house Miller Harris promises to transport you to the sun-baked hillsides of Calabria. Created by perfumer Emilie Bouge, the fragrance has an exceptionally high natural concentration of bergamot at its centre, which is highlighted by a zesty, energetic opening of tangerine, summer basil and artemisia. Mellowing into a heart of soothing rosemary and lavender, and a lengthy finish of sandalwood, vetiver and moss, this is a sophisticated, summery scent that will recall memories of long holiday evenings spent ocean-side.

£115 for 100ml, millerharris.com

Les Brumes Eau de Parfum by Ormaie Paris

Last year, Harvey Nichols unveiled a new fragrance room in Knightsbridge, curated with exclusive and rarified scents. Among them, Ormaie Paris, a unique line of all-natural perfumes with a distinctly modernist aesthetic. Baptise Bouygues founded the brand with his mother, Marie-Lise Jonak, who is a revered figure in the fragrance world. It took hundreds of attempts to arrive at the debut collection, which is entirely free of synthetic ingredients – a rare feat in the fragrance world. Each bottle is crowned by a hand-carved wooden bottle top, inspired by Bouygues’ proclivity for mid-century design.

Les Brumes transports you to a citrus tree-lined field, bright with lemon, Tuscan orange, ginger and bergamot. This ebullient scent is the perfect antidote to hermetic city living.

£125 for 50ml, harveynichols.com

Concrete Eau de Parfum by Comme des Garçons Parfums

You can rely on Comme des Garçons to transform the mundane into something desirable. An urban, concrete cityscape is reimagined in smoky sandalwood and spice, tempered by sweet rose and housed in a pleasingly tactile, concrete and glass vessel. Billed as “destruction, construction and creation”, this scent feels rather fitting for our times. Further favourites from the signature CdG collection include sensual Copper and the luxuriously bold Wonderoud. 

£120 for 80ml, shop.doverstreetmarket.com

Iridium 71% Extrait de Parfum by Tom Daxon

Tom Daxon’s mother was the creative director of Molton Brown and, when most British children were playing in their back gardens, he was exploring the lavender-scented fields of Grasse in France, considered the fragrance capital of the world. Daxon launched his eponymous label in 2013 at just 25 – a career path he describes as inevitable – and disrupted the industry with his unisex scents and elegantly modern branding.

Daxon has launched Iridium 71%, an intensified iteration of his bestselling Iridium. He likens this luxurious, longlasting fragrance to ‘charcoal-coloured cashmere’, stirred with comforting, earthy vetiver, warm cedarwood and soft, powdery iris. It is topped with fragrant, crisp juniper and spiced Angelica for a lively, uplifting scent. Why is it called Iridium? Due to its 'strong silvery spine'.

£245 for 50ml, tomdaxon.com

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Photography by Gareth Williams