My Favorite Things: The Summer Perfume Playlist

As Memorial Day approached last week I was busy refurbishing my summer music playlist. The songs have to be light fun and made for singing at the top of my lungs in the car. It gets a little longer every year as a couple of songs from the previous summer are added to my evergreen collection of songs I associate with long sunny days. At about the same time I was arranging the perfume on my shelves to get the ones I like on my perfume playlist out in front. As I was looking at them I realized that there is also a group of five I like wearing every summer because they are part of what makes the season for me. I thought I’d share my summer perfume playlist in this month’s My Favorite Things.

It might be the alpha perfume, or more accurately the alpha cologne, but there is nothing I enjoy more than spraying myself with a healthy coating of Roger & Gallet Jean Maria Farina Extra Vieille. Reputedly the original cologne recipe: lemon, rosemary, and orange blossom. It lasts for a short time, but it refreshes just as much as any three-chord rocker like “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” by The Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey.

When I want something as bright as the noonday sun I choose Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche. Perfumers Jacques Polge and Francois Demachy open with a fantastic shiny fanfare of lemon before heading to a lightly woody base. I seem to hum “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves when I wear this.

Summer isn’t summer unless you spend some time at the beach. The Different Company Sel de Vetiver captures the smell of salt water on skin matched with vetiver and grapefruit to capture the dune grass and the sun. Perfumer Celine Ellena makes a fragrant version of “Surfin USA” by The Beach Boys.

What might be the omega cologne, Thierry Mugler Cologne, is one of the best reinterpretations of a classic fragrance style that exists. Perfumer Alberto Morillas uses the same lemon and orange blossom seen in many colognes but by threading a lot of white musks through that duo he creates something brilliant. This is the summer perfume I wear when I want to smile like “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.

I discovered Diptyque Philosykos near the end of a particular summer. It conjures end of season memories for me with perfumer Olivia Giacobetti’s transparent fig providing the coda to the summer before fall arrives. Just like “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley.

For the next three months all five perfumes and five songs will be on heavy rotation. See if you want to add them to your summer playlist.

Disclosure: Reviews based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar Thierry Mugler Cologne- The Musks of Summer

If there is one perfume I own which gets the greatest workout in the summer it is Thierry Mugler Cologne. This is one of two or three perfumes which I wear on the most sweltering of days. It is one of the most refreshing perfumes I wear which is why it works so well in the heat.

Thierry Mugler Cologne was the fourth fragrance released by Thierry Mugler. The first three Angel, A*Men, and Innocent could not reliably be described as refreshing. These were perfumes with presence. In 2001 it was very different than its stablemates in the Thierry Mugler collection. It is so different that I think it often gets overlooked. I am guilty of that as I’ve rarely written about Thierry Mugler Cologne as much as I have the other perfumes from the brand. One reason is when I have written about it I have referred to it as the perfume equivalent of your favorite t-shirt and broken-in jeans. There are few fragrances which wear so effortlessly.


Perfumer Alberto Morillas was in the middle of his use of white musks in the base of numerous perfumes. By the time he got to Thierry Mugler Cologne he had truly become the master of the white musks. What he imposed over the top of the musks in the base was citrus and what he describes as a “sap” accord. It is that accord which makes Thierry Mugler Cologne the outstanding perfume that it is.


Alberto Morillas

Thierry Mugler Cologne opens on a sort of soap-like feel. The perfume was inspired by a soap M. Mugler remembered from his youth. Petitgrain and orange blossom combine to make it feel like a homemade citrus soap. This is fresh without being boring. The heart note was listed only as “S” when the perfume was released. In later years M. Morillas identified it as a green sap accord. It has a funny quality about it as there are bits and pieces of familiar green notes like vetiver, clary sage, and galbanum. The trick is I don’t think any of those notes are actually present. There are just times I think they might be there and when I focus in looking for them I get lost in the green. It is one reason that this perfume has fascinated me for over ten years now because I think I make it whatever my mood wants it to be. It finishes on a mixture of white musks. By this time M. Morillas could make these ingredients dance to his tune. Here they are those broken in denim jeans just after being ironed.

Thierry Mugler Cologne has 10-12 hour longevity although this is deceptive because you might not detect it after 8 or so hours but other will still smell it on you. It has average sillage.

Sometime the things that fly Under the Radar are the things that have become so normal they don’t feel noteworthy. In the case of Thierry Mugler Cologne it was well past time I took note.

Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke