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Great Summer Scents

Whether you prefer flirty florals, sultry woody scents or succulent fruity fragrances, this summer fragrance round-up is sure to include a must-have scent for these sticky, carefree, sexy summer nights.

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Carolina Herrera 212 On Ice, $54. Visit Sephora.com

I’m like a newborn baby when it comes to shiny, bright things: I can stare at them for hours, magnetized by the vibrant colors and the way the light bounces off of these items. So, truth be told, the packaging for Carolina Herrera’s 212 On Ice is enough to stop me right in my tracks. Like the original 212, the actual fragrance bottle is shaped like a capsule with an atomizer tucked into both ends. But, in keeping with the neon trend this summer, the bottle is tinted a fluorescent pink, orange and yellow in a beautiful fade pattern. The bottle is then tucked inside a clear square case meant to resemble an ice cube (so it almost looks like the fragrance bottle is “melting” the cube).

But let’s leave aesthetics aside for a moment. Carolina Herrera is a master at creating sophisticated, feminine scents that evoke strength and sensuality, and 212 On Ice is no exception, with its enrapturing mix of florals (orange blossom, bergamot, white flower, gardenia, peony, iris and lily), its fruity mandarin note, and the sandalwood and musk base notes.

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J Lo by Jennifer Lopez Sunkissed Glow, $59.50. Available at Macys.com

I actually enjoy the new Sunkissed Glow much more than the original J Lo by Jennifer Lopez Glow fragrance. Now, hear me out on this before you start raising an eyebrow skeptically or chucking things my way. This scent has a juicy, tangy quality that’s so unique and unexpected.

Sunkissed Glow opens up with notes of red grapefruit, pineapple juice, and cassis sorbet, then reveals a heart of orange flower, water lily, and passion flower, and rounds out the fragrance with base notes of sheer amber, cashmere woods, and hot sand. It makes you think of frozen strawberry margaritas by the beach, brunches with Mimosas, strolls along the park eating Italian ice cups, and all the small and spontaneous indulgences that come with summer.

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Marc Jacobs Lemon, Marc Jacobs Cucumber and Marc Jacobs Rain Splashes, $68 each. Available at Sephora.com.

For summer 2009, Marc Jacobs looked to focus on refreshing, clean, crisp scents in his Splash collection. He therefore re-released Cucumber and Rain, both best-selling fragrances, and  introduced Lemon, a vibrant, cheerful scent. Marc Jacobs Lemon features: top notes of bucchu leaf, crushed mint leaves, verbena and petitgrain citronnier orpur; a heart of iced Italian lemon orpur, complemented with mandarin and honeysuckle; and a dry down of cotton musk, white vetiver and springwater amber.

Generally speaking, I don’t tend to gravitate towards lemon-scented fragrances (I inevitably wind up feeling like a walking bottle of Palmolive dishwashing detergent), but I found Marc Jacobs Lemon to be a surprisingly enjoyable scent. The Italian lemon and honeysuckle notes work well together to create the right mix of sweet and sour, and the amber and white vetiver notes definitely add a sexier, decidedly feminine feel. Initially, you might feel a bit overpowered by the lemon notes but just give the fragrance a minute to unravel — you’ll be pleased with the sparkling, fresh, fruity-floral scent.

As for Rain and Cucumber, both are refreshing and clean-smelling. I’m particularly fond of Rain, which features; top notes of wild strawberry, clementine zest and dewy cypress; a heart of tropical rain accord, passion flower, sunshine flower and white orchid; and a dry down of beech amber, tree moss, musk and teakwood. You’ll feel like you’re bathing in a tropical waterfall.

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M.A.C Creations Hue: Dejarose, $22.50. Visit MACcosmetics.com

As part  of its A Rose Romance collection, MAC revealed this sexy, ultra-feminine scent, which features a blend of Bulgarian, Turkish and tea roses, mixed with orchid, lily, jasmine and peony. The Bulgarian rose note, with all its inherent drama and sensuality, is particularly present here, so I’d definitely recommend this fragrance for the evening time, when you want to look and smell like the seductress you are.

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Mariah Carey Luscious Pink Deluxe Edition, $65. Available at ElizabethArden.com

Anyone who has seen more than a handful of photos of the diva with the five-octave range can make two assessments about her style preferences: she loves butterflies, and she’s a sucker for the color pink. Mariah Carey’s new Luscious Pink scent, then, hits the right note (pun intended) in terms of the packaging — from the curved bottle, which resembles the singer’s own voluptuous figure, to the metallic pink overlays, the butterfly motif atop the cap, and the braiding effect along the bottom of the cap (which makes you think of jewelry). Yes, the packaging is youthful and cute, though the cuteness of it all tends to border on tacky (hey, I love MC, but you gotta admit she can get really tackadelic!). The scent itself, however, is far from low-brow.

Luscious Pink features top notes of Sicilian bergamot, ocean breeze accord and Bellini accord, a heart  of pink peony, tiare petals and lily of the valley, and base notes of creamy sandalwood, blond woods and white musk. The lightweight scent actually smells rather powdery and soft (almost dainty), and the pink peony notes give it a flirtatious punch.

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Prescriptives Calyx Sheer Exhilaration, $38.50. Visit Prescriptives.com

This limited-edition fragrance takes the original, best-selling Calyx scent and updates it for summer by incorporating energizing grapefruit to the fruity top notes (which already include mandarin, mango, papaya, guava and passion fruit) and maintaining the floral heart (which includes freesia, lily, marigold, muguet, neroli, rose and jasmine notes) and the woody dry-down. Unlike the original Calyx, Sheer Exhilaration feels lighter, airier, and a bit fruitier — perfect for this ephemeral season we wish we could hold on to.

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Givenchy Very Irresistible Summer Sorbet, $60. Available at FragranceNet.com

No, the “summer sorbet” tag at the end doesn’t mean you’ll be smelling like a sugary-sweet scoop of lemon, orange or strawberry sherbet. But what this variation of the Very Irresistible fragrance does add is a blueberry/cranberry sorbet accord that adds a fruity, succulent, luscious feel to the rose and floral-heavy heart. A green violet note also helps to enhance the sparkling, clean, crisp smell. This is definitely one of my favorite new summer fragrances – I can see myself wearing this fragrance while donning a pretty sundress and strolling through a park or spraying it on before lunch at a café or a movie date. It’s just that yummy!

Spring Trio eaux de parfum
Strange Invisible Perfumes Epic Gardenia, Aquarian Roses, and Urban Lily Eau de Parfums, $175 each. Available at SIperfumes.com

In March, botanical fragrance house Strange Invisible Perfumes introduced this trio, which seeks to reveal the details and nuances of every flower’s natural fragrance. Aquarian Roses, for example, reinvents the idea of the rose as a feminine scent — featuring wild rose notes accompanied with African marjoram and sandalwood, this fragrance manages to conjure up images of woods, wilderness and a very masculine, rugged strength. Similarly, Strange Invisible Perfumes founder and perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis sought to convey the totality of the lily of the valley fragrance into her Urban Lily Eau De Parfum, wanting to capture both the sweet scent of its petals and the strength of its roots (lily of the valley tends to sprout in street corners in Paris during the spring time). Perhaps the one disappointment is the Epic Gardenia which, despite its name, doesn’t quite convey the beauty of this tropical bloom.

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Vera Wang Rock Princess, $45 for 1 oz bottle. Available at Sephora.com

Thought Vera Wang was all about jumping the broom? Think again. The bridal couture czar has her own brooding, rebellious side, and it smells GREAT! Yes, Vera Wang’s new Rock Princess perfume will help any girl channel her inner rock star while maintaining her female allure  — think Blondie, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Tina Turner, Kim Gordon, etc. The fragrance features peach, raspberry, bergamot, heliotrope, rose, jasmine, lily, cashmere woods, musk, iris and coconut notes, all expertly and harmoniously layered so that you’ll be begging for an encore.

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Christian Lacroix Absynthe, $32. Available at Avon.com

In the early 19th century, before it had even been consumed as an alcoholic beverage, which led to it being banned in the U.S. in 1912 for purportedly triggering hallucinations (the ban was later lifted and, in 2007, the US finally allowed Lucid Absinthe to import its own spirit for mass sale), absinthe was a mysterious potion used for medicinal purposes. Known as “the green fairy,” the potion was held with a degree of veneration given its reputation for being magical.

With his new fragrance for Avon, designer Christian Lacroix builds on that legacy, crafting a chartreuse green bottle with golden script along the front. The fragrance, meanwhile, is unlike anything I’ve ever smelled (so kudos to Lacroix for his insistence on originality). Notes of absinthe, anise, saffron, freesia and
narcissus, blended with smoked woods, ebony, musk, myrrh and amber create a sultry, woody and slightly spicy fragrance full of intrigue.

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Pacifica Lotus Garden perfume, $22, and Lotus Garden solid perfume, $9. Visit PacificaPerfume.com

Pacifica’s newest scent, Lotus Garden (available as both a 1.2 oz. spray perfume or a 0.03 oz. solid perfume in a tiny round tin case), features notes of lotus blossom, green violet leaf, pink pepper, frangipani, jasmine and olibanum. The spray is formulated using natural, corn-sourced and gluten-free alcohol, making it an eco-friendly fragrance alternative. The solid perfume, meanwhile, is an even more eco-conscious choice, as it features a 100% soy and coconut wax base.

In terms of the scent itself, Lotus Garden is a very subtle but beguiling scent that has a soothing effect (so it’s not surprising that Pacifica co-founder and perfumer Brook Harvey Taylor created the scent as a tribute to Lotusland, a place in Santa Barbara where she often traveled to meditate and reflect). I do find, however, that the solid perfume does last longer than the spray perfume, so I’d actually recommend opting for that (and hey, the pretty tin won’t take up any space in your handbag!)

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