Skip to main content

After a long winter, nothing can perk you up like that first whiff of warm rain and budding flowers. Nathalie Atkinson reviews the new fragrances that try to capture the optimism of a new season

My Ju-Ju by Indult Paris

The Parisian niche brand’s bestseller, Tihota, has amassed a following among aficionados of true vanilla perfumes. Three years in the making, this new coffee vanilla may soon claim the title of ultimate gourmand skin scent (meaning it melds beautifully on the skin and stays close). The powdery opening helps My Ju-Ju feel like a vintage fragrance, and it’s tinged with nostalgic sweetness. It’s the Love’s Baby Soft-adjacent warm vanilla of waffle cones with a dollop of mocha – a delectable haute couture dessert.


$250 for 50ml at Etiket.


Canadian fashion brand Smythe marks their first brick-and-mortar store in Toronto with a signature scent. It’s crafted by Buenos Aires-based Fueguia 1833 (which also created the fragrance for the chic Stockholm boutique hotel Ett Hem) and, same as the designers’ approach to tailoring, borrows from men’s grooming traditions. Sandalwood is the main event in this woody blend, but unlike its suave ooze in, say, Le Labo’s Santal 33, notes of brisk bergamot and clove bud add zing. As part of the myrtle family, clove is related to allspice and eucalyptus, with characteristics that give this bottle an aromatic, astringent and pleasantly prickly facet. Given that Smythe is beloved for their tailored jackets, it’s fitting that the effect is one of expensive cologne still clinging to the folds of a slouchy blazer borrowed from a boyfriend.


$275 for 50ml eau de parfum at Smythe.

Coconut Cove by Skylar

This mouth-watering coconut scent feels like a cure for the winter blahs. Skylar is positioned in the “clean beauty” category where transparency is key, and lists the safe synthetics behind every note and solvent in each perfume. Now, C9H16O2 and C7H12O2 may not sound poetic, but they’re molecules from the same family of creamy lactones found in apricots and osmanthus flowers, and provide the perfume’s tantalizing coconut and almond notes. Pro tip: The travel rollerball size is a small splurge with a big payoff and may fool your flagging spirit into thinking you’re in Tulum.


$29 for 10ml rollerball, $85 for 50ml at Sephora.

Tom Ford Ébène Fumé

Tom Ford knows how to read the room. His latest unisex Private Blend fragrance attempts to conjure transcendent spiritual calm (“the scent of a meditative feeling”). The fact that it regularly sells out speaks as much to its promise of uplifting mindfulness as the scent itself. Smoky cologne is not original (see: D.S. & Durga’s Burning Barbershop and Vilhelm’s Smoke Show) but Ébène Fumé is well executed. It opens with pungent burning palo santo before exotic ebony wood wafts out, and stays bone dry until a brief sweet (and faintly resinous) dry down. Palo santo is an ancient remedy used for a variety of ailments, including emotional purification. The effect here isn’t so much an energy cleanse, as of a fire pit stacked with posh kindling. The main thing it will clean out is your wallet.


$335 for 50ml at Hudson’s Bay, Holt Renfrew, and Sephora.

Angel Nova by Mugler

When praline-and-patchouli Angel launched in 1992, it created an olfactive category now known as “gourmand.” It was built around ethyl maltol, a cotton-candy-like food flavourant not previously used in perfume. Thirty years later, the brainchild of maverick French fashion designer Manfred Thierry Mugler (who died in January at the age of 73) still comes in the faceted glass star flacon, but in many more iterations. The latest is Angel Nova, a more effervescent, raspberry-forward eau de toilette where Virginia cedar, rose and the softness of white musk add contrast.


Angel Nova by Mugler, $99 eau de toilette at Shoppers Drug Mart, Hudson’s Bay, Sephora and Jean Coutu.

When the Rain Stops by Maison Margiela

New offerings in Maison Margiela’s Replica range are coming out at such a clip, we hardly have time to enjoy the olfactive snapshots designed to smell like memories. This one is inspired by an imagined rainy day in Dublin in 1967 and forecasts spring showers, specifically the misty first moments after a downpour. That translates to an aquatic scent with vague notes of citrus and wet moss. Wearers should have a fondness for that fresh-from-the-shower feeling and bars of Irish Spring soap.


$166 at Sephora.

Brumes du Maroc by Moroccanoil

Devotees of Canadian-born beauty brand Moroccanoil’s products love the ubiquitous hair treatment’s distinctive rich amber scent so much that for years they’ve swapped tips about which perfumes smell closest to it in online forums. The brand has now finally bottled its own version. It’s a hair and body fragrance mist with moisturizing properties (vitamin E and the brand’s hero ingredient, argan oil). By adding magnolia, the effect is musky and tropical.


$36 for 100ml hair and body fragrance mist at Sephora.

Fox in the Flowerbed by Imaginary Authors

If I had to guess, the fox in question is grinning because that’s the feeling of the new fragrance from the niche, Portland, Ore.-based purveyor of literary-inspired scents. It’s bright as sunshine and smiles. Peppercorn and traces of honey (and in the dry down, the spicy green and apple-like aroma of tulips) flank voluptuous, slightly soapy jasmine to bring out bright, cottony, animalic qualities. Every bottle comes illustrated in elaborate Wes Anderson-worthy packaging designed to look like a storybook.


$125 for 50ml at Etiket.

Sign up for The Globe’s arts and lifestyle newsletters for more news, columns and advice in your inbox.