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Bring Me Sunshine: how ‘solar’ became a whole new scent category

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For some time at The Perfume Society, we’ve been noticing a surge of fragrances described as ‘solar’. Filled with sunshine, radiant and sparkling, we might once have called these fragrances ‘fresh-floral’ or, more prosaically, ‘citrus’. But lately, we’ve felt that this is no more (solar) flash-in-the-pan, but the birth of a whole new fragrance family. And that doesn’t happen every day…

 

In a fragrance, ‘solar’ denotes a feeling of sunshine – but with it a physical feeling of being uplifted, of turning our faces toward the light source, a perfumed purr of warm cat contentedness. Citrus notes are vital, but in this new genre they’re mellowed by breezy blossoms, dappled with cooler herbs or touched with a tingle of spices and warm woods.

 

 

For prolific Master Perfumer Alberto Morillas, it was vital to use orange blossom as a note in the Mizensir fragrance (from his own fragrance line), Solar Blossom. He explains: ‘Orange puts the soleil into a fragrance – it’s sunshine in flower form.’ He cannot smell orange blossom without thinking of the sun, Alberto tells me, but insists that when creating a ‘solar’ fragrance, it’s about more than trying to make it feel sunny.

 

‘For me it goes much deeper than that,’ he says, his blue eyes twinkling as he looks out on what happens to be a grey London view. ‘I’m from Seville, and really when I’m creating a fragrance, all my emotion goes back to my home.’ He reminisces about the place where he lived as a boy, clearly remembering Seville as his true home even though he moved to Switzerland when he was 10. ‘You have the sun, you have the light and the water – always a fountain in the middle of the square – and to me, solar means your soul is being lifted upwards, you’re looking up from the cool shade of a courtyard to the sun, so powerful, above.’

 

 

 

Solar Blossom represents all these elements, he continues, and along with orange blossom, he deployed jasmine and musk to represent ‘the dimension of the sun. It’s very important, to create this dimension of space within any fragrance.’  When he was was six or seven, Morillas recalls, ‘I liked to lay on my back and look at the sky at the shapes of the clouds, fascinated by how they change all the time, the many things you can see in them. To me this is the closest form of a physical representation of perfume. It should always be changing, just like the sky. The clouds will be forever shifting.’

Mizensir Solar Blossom £185 for 100ml eau de parfum lessenteurs.com

 

 

 

 

Always-inventive perfumer Calice Becker decided altogether to eschew ‘typical solar notes’, as she puts it, for Parfums de Marly Cassili. Becker continues, ‘the combination of plum-frangipani-sandalwood creates a creamy tropical feeling that I describe as solar.’ It offers that holiday-in-a-bottle, instantaneous hit of happiness that brings back memories of stepping off the plane and being hit by a glorious wall of warm air, followed by your body’s involuntary sigh of (sunny) delight.

Parfums de Marly Cassili £230 for 75ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

 

 

 

Perhaps the ultimate ‘solar’ warm-skin scent, if we choose to express it in these terms, is Guerlain Terracotta, Thierry Wasser’s sun-soaked homage in scent to the brand’s iconic bronzing powder. There’s bergamot in the top notes, yes, but it’s all about the lactic lap of tiaré flowers against the heady exoticism of warm, waxy ylang ylang, transporting us to a faraway idyll. Oh god, yes please.

Guerlain Terracotta £75 for 100ml eau de toilette guerlain.com

 

 

 

 

 

For scents steeped in sunshine, meanwhile, it’s always been hard to beat Acqua di Parma’s Colonia. Since 1916 we’ve been reaching for the golden glow of Sicilian citrus (bergamot, lemon and sweet orange), the brightness glittering to a heart of lavender and Bulgarian rose on a smooth, woody base; a formula that’s remained unchanged to this day, reviving flagging spirits and bringing sunshine for 107 years – before ‘solar’ was a thing, and no matter the weather. Which is just as well, really, isn’t it?

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

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