Summer Serums: The Best New Scents

Style encompasses more than just the clothes on our backs and the fly kicks on our feet. In Summer Serums, our new column, we shout out the grooming products that keep us fresh and make getting through the dog days of summer possible. This week, we look at the best new scents on the market.

Summertime in NYC can be hard on the olfactory system – from ripe trash that's been baking in the sun to the gritty vapors that city buses release onto pedestrians. Throw in a fair share of sweat and it's little wonder that we don't reek of this concrete borne concoction. In addition to standing up to the city smells, for me the real test of a perfume is how I smell the next day. My fave perfumes linger on my skin when I wake up, with a slightly modified make-up. As if having performed some form of botanical alchemy, a great scent turns all the city's funk into a unique blend that, on day two, smells cozy and kind of lived in. The kind of aroma that feels like you've had a fun and raucous night but don't reek offensively the morning after. Each time I wear Inflorescence by the Byredo, I smell like a wildflower garden made up of lusty magnolias, fresh jasmine, pink freesia and even a little bit of earthy soil. This exquisite bouquet holds true many hours, margaritas and dances later, without trampling the delicate innocence that I initially spritzed. DD

Warm's tiny bottle, gold-topped with a label that fades from Orange Julius to lemonade, is undemanding. I forget I'm carrying it until I've got an impulse to smell sweeter—because work is over or the afternoon is dragging or I'm wearing yesterday's shirt. The roll-on oil's unsubtle scent—a mix of drug store musk, fatty sunscreen and thick tanning oil—feels specifically engineered to cover up. It's something you'd put behind your ear to confront and displace the skunk of weed smoke. Worn in New York, it's almost confrontational in its granola-ness. A small dab is plenty and lasts for hours. NZ

Ilary, Ilary NYC

ILARY roll-on perfume is the creation of Hillary Schneider, a Midwestern native who set about concocting her own Love Potion Number Nine after moving to New York and being a bit underwhelmed by the dating scene. As the story goes, the mystery blend of essential oils she lovingly funnels into each green-glass bottle of ILARY once prompted a man in a restaurant to walk up to her and say, "I could fall in love with a woman who smells as beautiful as you." Schneider is now married to the originator of the pick up line, but the most magical part of the story is her claim that ILARY smells slightly different, though equally elusive and intoxicating, on every woman who wears it. Until I read up on this backstory last night, I'd been walking around for a couple of weeks, thoroughly convinced that I was paying tribute to my mother's perfume cabinet with the pungent but sweetly heady aroma of Gardenias. Turns out that ILARY is made from a blend of Jasmine, Sandalwood, Musk, Ebony Wood, and Orange Blossom, which leads me to believe that the unknown quantity aspect of ILARY is real. EF

Dries Van Noten, Frederic Malle

I am messy and sloppy and always too rushed or hungover before work to shave when I should. I barely ever have time to go the art galleries I want to and I don’t wear silk—I’ve never even tried. This is why I especially love the Belgium designer Dries Van Noten—because he is the opposite of everything I am. His clothes are best suited for long lunches in Antwerp with bubbly water and frisee salad. His smoking jackets and pajama tops for the man of leisure just wouldn’t work for my morning commute. I recently bought a few of his perfectly-made button down shirts second hand but I only wear them on the most-special occasions—I’ve already spilled coffee on one of them. But style is about aspiring for something better, and so I continue to reach for Dries like it’s another step on the ladder of looking good.

Fragrance is the first line of defense for who we want to be in the world, a morning spritz of confidence and hygiene even if we didn’t have time to take the long luxurious shower or bubble bath we truly need to be our best. And Van Noten’s first fragrance with perfumier Frederic Malle couldn’t epitomize who I am not and who I want to be any better. It’s strong, not shaky, so one spray on the wrist is enough—and it better be, because it’s so expensive that one spray a day is all you’ll want to sacrifice. It’s unbelievably uptown, almost stodgy in its embrace of precious flowery notes, a men’s cologne that wouldn’t be a bad fit for a 70-year old woman headed to Sunday church services. As I pulled it from the textured red box that it came packaged in, I noticed below the cologne a shimmering reflective surface, shiny enough to act as a mirror but slightly crinkled so that only the outline of your face would be visible and all your flaws would disappear. And as I looked at my false reflection in the box the very first time I opened it to spray Dries on my wrists, I loved the guy I saw staring back at me, even if I didn’t immediately recognize him. And best of all, he smelled great. AF

Summer Serums: The Best New Scents