New York Uncooperative weather has kept flowers from blooming in many parts of the country but there is still a bumper crop of sweet spring scents.
In fact, the season's new perfumes range from floral to royal.
"Women are looking for a little more 'pow' than they were a few years ago," says Annette Green, president of The Fragrance Foundation.
Just like fashion, there are perfume "cycles," she says, and feminine fragrances are in vogue this season. The most popular scents are floral but with a zippy top note, such as citrus or wood. She notes that many of this year's nominees for FiFi awards, an industry prize, are modern florals.
In the 1980s and early '90s, spicy Asian fragrances were all the rage, and then there was the unisex movement.
"Fragrance matches the general mood of the country: Women are women and men are men. People are more confident now in who they are," observes Green.
She says rose, gardenia, jasmine, lilac, lily of the valley are perennials in the perfume industry but more exotic flowers, such as ylang-ylang from south Asia, are being used more often. The fragrance company Givaudan has gone so far as using a helicopter to extract the scent from flowers that grow on treetops in the rain forests of Brazil without cutting the flowers, Green says.
The fragrances that remain top-sellers for decades, including Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar, are successful blends of classic scents, and modern packaging and image.
Memory is another important factor. People gravitate toward scents that evoke a happy time in their life or remind them of someone special, says Green. The "odor memory bank" lasts a lifetime, she adds.
Most women have at least three scents in their fragrance wardrobe, one for work, one for romance and one for leisure activities, according to Green.
And to start off fragrance fans early, Burberry has introduced Baby Touch, a complement to the company's line of men's and women's products. The baby's scent, which features orange zest, spearmint, rhubarb jelly and vanilla, even boasts a "milky mist." (An alcohol-free version of the eau de toilette is available.)
Some other new choices include:
Tommy Girl Summer Cologne, which takes its inspiration from ocean breezes the combination of fresh air and flower petals. The actual fragrance is a seasonal cocktail of tangerine, orange, grapefruit, honeysuckle and pear.
Floris' Bouquet de la Reine commemorates Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. The perfume is an adaptation of a scent that first appeared on the British company's list in the 1860s with fruity green top notes, floral middle notes and a musky base.
Sheer Obsession is a lighter version of Calvin Klein's signature Obsession fragrance. It has top notes of mandarin, bergamot, vanilla and green nuances, middle notes of jasmine, orange blossom, sandalwood and exotic spices. An amber base blended with incense and musk creates the base.
Bobbi Brown Beach includes touches of sand jasmine, dianthus dune flower a wildflower from France's Brittany Coast, and driftwood. It smells more than a little like suntan lotion.
Sui Love, the newest fragrance from fashion designer Anna Sui, aims to be a "magic elixir promised in the truth of love." The top notes include bergamot and passion fruit, the middle notes are a bouquet of flowers mixed with pink pepper, and bottom notes are vanilla madagascar, ambrette seed and musk.
Magnolia by L'Occitane is obviously dominated by the flower's fragrance. Traces of freesia, watermelon and white musks also are evident.