Our trip to Pitti Fragranze

Pitti Fragranze is one of the world’s leading fragrance trade fairs, where the industry come to see (and smell) new perfumes, spot new trends emerging and spy new houses showcasing their scents for the very first time. We took a trip to the glorious Tuscan city of Florence, our noses a-quiver in excitement, and invite you to look back with us at some of our favourite things…

Can you spot Thomas Dunkley (a.k.a. The Candy Perfume Boy)…?

Pitti is held in a huge old building that used to be a train station, an annual event that’s now celebrating its 17th year. If you can picture a space filled with hundreds of brands all competing for attention, and thousands of perfumes being sprayed in that space, you’ll get an idea of just how fragrant the whole situation can get. Add to that several thousand visitors, including press, distributors, buyers and store managers from around the world, and the odd perfumer wandering the exhibition – we spotted Betrand Duchafour, Cecile Zarokian and Pia Long – getting to have good catch-up chats with those last two – and you’ll also understand how overwhelming the experience can be!

As you walk into the exhibition space, the question is: where to begin? And the only answer is to wander around and around, going back with a greater focus for several hours over three days, and homing in on the things that caught your eye (and nose) the most.

We were delighted to see so many houses we know so well proudly showing their scented wares, and were introduced to other really exciting brands we hope will make it to the U.K. very soon…

The Miller Harris stand was definitely the most vibrantly enticing in the whole show – if you’ve ever visited one of their boutiques, you’ll know how these guys excell at visual merchandising that makes fragrance artistically exciting and accessible for everyone. Here they were showing recent launches of the ‘Brighton Rock’ collection (including our favourite, Violet Ida (softly powdered lipstick kisses) the lovely Blousy (all luscious strawberries and rose), and a sneak peek at a forthcoming launch of Secret Gardenia (think voluptuous bouquets of dewy white flowers).

Sana Jardin had their soon-to-be-launched candles on display – a first for the house which we will certainly be filling our own homes with! Torn between the options, if forced to choose we’d plump for the Tiger By Her Side: a stunning evocation of the perfume, weaving Morocan rose and Somalian incense for an intenseley beautiful scent we couldn’t stop smelling. There was a real buzz around the stand, of people entranced by the story of the foundation they’ve set up for the women who pick the flowers – allowing them to create their own side-business making products from the rose water, for example, left over from distilling the fragrances. With lots of questions about sustainability circling the industry, here’s a house who are way ahead of the game.

 

Talking of candles, we couldn’t help but fall in love with the entire aesthetic of Coreterno – meaning ‘eternal heart’ in Italian – a lifestyle brand ‘conceived in Rome and born in the streets of New York’ by designers Francilla Ronchi and Michelangelo Brancato. Drawing inspiration from rock stars and rebels throughout history, they began with candles and were now showing their fragrances for the first time. We loved The Wild Passion candle and the Catharsis perfume, which smelled spicy and soothing all at once, with drifts of cardamom and transcendental woodiness.

We bumped into Olfiction Director and perfumer Pia Long at the very moment she first saw the fragrance she’d created for BeauFort London finally on display. Given a difficult brief for Terror & Magnificence to evoke the imposing structures and life of notorious architecht Hawksmoor, with all the associated brooding spaces and darkly mysterious atmospheres, Pia absolutely nailed it. We sprayed and felt a shiver of cold flagstones, echoes of hushed voices, ancient church pews infused with incense and a stunningly wearable suplle leather dry down. There’s far more magnificence than terror, and she looked rightly proud (if a little overwhelmed) holding that bottle aloft.

A new name we got excited by was the French niche house of Maison Rebatchi, founded only last year by Mohamed Rebatchi, collaborating with a stellar line-up of perfumers, including Bertrand Duchaufour, Alienor Massenet and Maurice Roucel. All seven scents are remarkably beautiful, with an assuredness and elegance reflected in the noses who made them, and the freshness of this Rose Rebatchi really blew us away – exactly like standing in the rose fields of Grasse during May. We have no doubt this house will be picked up by a U.K. stockist soon, and we’ll be forming an orderly queue…

A standout event had to be the Jean-Claude Ellena Retrospective – choosing fifteen of his fragrant compositions and discussing how and why they were created. Collated by Chandler Burr, and including a fascinating interview with the great perfumer himself, you can listen to to the English translation in full, here. It’s a must for any perfume fan, to give you greater insight into Ellena’s work, and no doubt (as we did) scurrying to find your own favourites from his collections, now smelling them again with a new understanding.

We could go on and on (and on) about the highlights we saw and smelled at Pitti this year, but are still mentally processing the many hundreds of perfumes and people, to be perfectly honest! We do hope, though, that we’ve given you a flavour of this year’s fragrance fair, and an idea of what you want to smell next…

By Suzy Nightingale

Laboratory Perfumes

Laboratory Perfumes are currently one of the best-selling fragrance houses in Liberty, with shelves constantly having to be re-stocked with this unconventional brand that’s gone ‘back to basics’ while shaking up the fragrance world. We are thrilled to now stock the Laboratory Perfumes Discovery Set in our shop – so scroll down to fall for them madly, as we have…

In 2011, Aaron Firth founded Laboratory Perfumes by charting what he admits is a rather unconventional course. Ignoring ‘existing industry norms’, he says he wanted to strip away the sometimes confusing – and often alienating – ‘noise’ often associated with fragrance today, and with this kind of ‘no nonsense’ approach, take inspiration ‘directly from the flowers, herbs and aromatic botanicals native to Britain and beyond.’ Hence the one-word name for each scent – literally doing what it says on the… well, box – and the pared-down style of contemporary packaging.

Inside the cardboard tube, understated glass bottles allude to their ‘laboratory’ origins. And yes, those names are refreshingly simple – tempting you to try something you’re drawn to. Yet the scents themselves are seriously intriguing – your skin teasing complexity and depth from each creation.

In 01 AMBERLaboratory Perfumes‘ first fragrance – you’re taken on a summer ramble along Britain’s rugged coastline and rolling green hills. The warm earthiness and spice of the top notes whipped by a salty breeze before coming back to rest on a bed of verdant grassiness and a smooth, supremely comforting woody base.

For 02 GORSE
 we travel across the channel to the south of France, crisp citrus swooning into lusciously smooth coconut and cardamom for a sudden hit of sun-warmed wooziness.

Back to Britain’s coastline, 03 SAMPHIRE 
evokes ‘a sprig of verbena plucked from a friend’s garden’ with the juicy greenness of samphire seguing to juniper berries and a herbaceous drift over white amber and oakmoss – a bracing walk, bottled.

04 TONKA is dark, earthy, fusing pink pepper, mandarin and woodland aromatics lapped by cold milk. Completely addictive, we feel, and most certainly an all-day wrist-sniffer!

And then there’s √25 ATLAS
, which whisks the wearer to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco – hot, heady clouds of pipe tobacco and decadently boozy rum and cognac laced with a souk’s spices: cinnamon, ginger and black pepper hazily swirled into a dry down of warm, creamy vanilla, alongside sun-warmed hay.

Close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported, to inhale the scents and imagine where they take you – and, blissfully, the Laboratory Perfumes Discovery Set allows you to take those journeys again and again. Where will you land up, we wonder?

By Suzy Nightingale

Flavour of the Month presents….We Love Crisps

We’d like to share with you a VIP event invitation from fragrance maven, Odette Toilette, which – as a serious scent lover – we think you’ll really enjoy. So…

Instant noodles, cheese snax, powdered butterscotch mousse, the gold dust at the bottom of the crisp packet…

They were the foods that defined our youth and that maybe we left behind. But at new talk-and-tasting series Flavour of the Month, they’re coming back in all their glory.

Each time host Lizzie Ostrom and flavourist Steve Pearce deconstruct one of your favourite factory foods, from crisps to candy.

This month….crisps! Thin cut, thick cut, crinkle cut, any cut. It’s a snack many of us would be quite happy to live off exclusively. Whether you’re a salt’n’vinegar faithful or loyal to cheese and onion, crisp and potato snack flavourings are masterworks of creativity and science. And they powerfully remind us of vivid moments in our life history, from dissolving Quavers on your tongue after-school, to sharing a single pack between five round the pub table, and the Kettle Chips of aspiring twenty-something dinner parties.

Tonight, we’ll sample the individual ingredients flavourists combine to concoct the perfect moreish packet, dosed on dissolvable wafers. Discover some of the amazing crisp trends from around the world. And for the first time ever, try a specially-commissioned London flavour crisp made by the team at Omega Ingredients, redolent of brick dust and dirt.

Tickets are £18 and include a crisp-dust martini (or mocktail) and the crisp and flavouring tasting. 

Date: Wednesday 27th November 2019 – 19:00 – 21:30

Venue: The Curtain, 45 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3PT London

+18s only. No cancellations or date transfers but if you can’t make it feel free to pass on your ticket to a friend. 

NB This event is organised by Odette Toilette, rather than The Perfume Society

Flavour of the Month presents…. I Should Cocoa

We’d like to share with you a VIP event invitation from fragrance maven, Odette Toilette, which – as a serious scent lover – we think you’ll really enjoy. So…

We’re a culture of gastronomic explorers, going further and further round the globe to experience new flavours. But what if we looked right under our own noses, at the strange and wonderful compounds that make up our most everyday foods?  

Join us at this new events series to discover what really creates the flavour of your favourite crisps, the sweeties your ate as a child, or even the compounds naturally found in coffee of chocolate.

At Flavour of the Month, flavourist Steve Pearce of Omega Ingredients helps us deconstruct a different food each time. We invite you to sample some of the thousands of individual materials harnessed by the people who formulate our favourite foods. Ever tried  2,3,5-Trimethyl Pyrazine on its own before? Want to know what Guaiacol’s like? Well now you can!

This month get ready to cocoa pop! The milky bars, (and many others) will be on us tonight for this choco-tastic edition of Flavour of the Month. Would you believe it but a staggering 83 compounds make up the flavour of milk choc – from 5-Methyl-2-Phenyl-2-Hexenal to the Alkylpyrazines. As this event, you’ll be tasting many of them –  dosed by pipette on dissolving wafers – then combining them to try different takes on chocolatey-ness.

Then, ahead of Halloween sample an exclusively-created Haunted House flavour chocolate, using some of the stranger materials in the flavour ingredients palette.

And please, take your place at the Ambassador’s Reception as we explore the cultural history of some of our favourite retro chocolate campaigns. Revisit and taste the glory of Cadbury’s Milk Tray, Black Magic and the aspirational tug behind the After Eight mint.

Tickets are £18 and include a choco White Russian cocktail (or mocktail) and more chocolate than the most greedy trick-or-treating child could hope to blag. 

Date: Thursday 10th October 2019 – 19:00 – 21:30

Venue: The Curtain, 45 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3PT London

+18s only. No cancellations or date transfers but if you can’t make it feel free to pass on your ticket to a friend. 

NB This event is organised by Odette Toilette, rather than The Perfume Society

Nosing Around Nice

Stephan Matthews leads us by the nose on a scented tour of his favourite French fragrance destination…

The town of Grasse in the south of France has long been considered the cultural centre of the perfumery world. Visitors descend on the area every year in their thousands and its scented trail is well-known. However, just 17 miles east of Grasse is the wonderful city of Nice and, whilst there might not be extraction or enfleurage to learn about and see first-hand, there is a wealth of perfume-inspired shopping to explore.

Nice became a fashionable holiday destination for the British way back in the mid eighteenth century, which is one of the reasons for the construction of the four-mile-long Promenade des Anglais (and explains how it got its name). This was a particularly popular destination in winter, when we were encouraged to spend ‘l’Hiver à Nice’ (winter in Nice). My 10-year love affair with the city has seen me explore every side street in search of fantastic fragrances and so I think that it’s time to share a few of its scented secrets.

No visit to the south of France would be complete without a stop at Fragonard – and you’re in luck. The Nice boutique is to be found alongside the town’s beautiful flower market and is the perfect setting to discover everything from their classic Belle de Nuit right through to the mouth-watering Eau des Vacances, my regular scent of summer. You can find them at 11 Cours Saleya or at fragonard.com.

 

 

The other famous perfumery located in the south of France is Molinard, who also have a boutique in Nice. You will find the full range of fragrances from Patchouli through to the new Bel Air and – if you ask very nicely – they also have the extrait of legendary scents Habanita and Molinard de Molinard. The boutique also hosts the company’s perfume workshops, although you do need to book for this in advance. Their address is 20 Rue Saint-François de Paule or online at molinard.com.

If you’re looking for something a little more unusual then top of your list should be Trésors Publics. This store celebrates French manufacturing, which is why everything in the boutique is produced in France, and their perfume range offers Piver, Le Galion, État Libre d’Orange and Cadentia. The whole store is to die for and your hardest decision will be what to leave behind. You can find them at 11 rue du Pont Vieux or at tresorspublics.com.

 

 

One of the newest additions to my list of recommendations, meanwhile, is l’Imaginarium. This independently-owned boutique stocks Margot Elena’s Tokyo Milk range, which  sits perfectly amongst the rest of the vintage-style candles, diffusers, and general household gorgeousness. Happily, this escape from the tourist trail is also within touching distance of the many amazing bistros, located at 20 rue Bonaparte (or you can follow them on Instagram, here).

If you’re a bottle collector then l’Insolite has to be on your list of places to visit. The store is a collaboration between numerous vintage sellers, not just perfume-related, which means that there is always something new to be discovered. From Guerlain’s golden Habit de Fête to a bottle of Heliotropine by Jean Bouis , I’ve never managed to escape without buying something. Hop along to 84 rue de France or visit virtually at insolite-depot-vente.com.

In addition, unmissable, every Monday between 7:30am and 6pm the Cours Saleya in the centre of Nice is turned into the Brocante Antique Market. This is where you’ll find vintage fragrances, perfume miniatures, and the most beautiful flacons. If you’re happy to haggle then there are real bargains to be had but I advise you to visit early for the rich pickings and also at the end of the day for the final reductions. I’ve bagged Guerlain, Weil and Worth in the past (as well as a lot of French linen)!

The store that has a permanent space in my return luggage, though, is Nice Bear. Not technically perfume, but they offer canisters of shower gel that can be refilled into your own bottles or one of theirs. (With sustainability an important topic at the moment, many companies could learn a lesson from this.) Also, check out their Leather Bear candle if you’re looking for a big dose of birch tar! You can find them at 9 rue Macoinat and also at nicebear.fr.

Finally, no Provençal vacation would be complete without visiting the most famous ice cream parlour of them all, Fenocchio. The reason I’m including this is because their range of flavours includes fleur d’oranger, violette, vervaine and even poppy. So, if you fancy ‘tasting’ your scent instead of smelling it then you simply have to visit. Their refreshing address is 2 place Rossetti (fenocchio.fr).

The south of France is a wonderful place to holiday – but most especially so for the perfume-lover. Because whether in summer or winter, you’ll be greeted with the exquisite fragrances of Provence. (And can take them home with you…)

Visit Stephan’s blog at stephanmatthews.com

 

Surrealism & scent? Visit this London gallery for your fragrant fix

Fragrance and art often go hand in paint-stained gloved, but at Dorothy Circus Gallery in London, you can get your fix of both. Now we must admit a penchant for visiting the gift shops of various galleries, but add some perfume and well, we’re heading there first, quite frankly!

A dream of opening a gallery was realised by art enthusiast, Alexandra Mazzanti – a niece of the Princess Alexandra Hercolani of Bologna, who was lucky enough to inherit some beautiful artworks from her grandmother. A fortunate beginning that was encouraged and imbued with the spirit for collecting by her mother, a classical pianist with a taste for 19th century paintings won at the many auctions they visited together.

An independent gallery dedicated to the art of surrealism, the Dorothy Circus space is an unsually intriguing place to put on your fragrfant map of the capital, with a spotlight on the Pop Surrealism movement that means the installations are ever-changing, and always worth a look. Originally, Mazzanti opened the first gallery in Rome in 2007, affirming the space as a must-visit hub of all that’s happening on the Italian art and cultural scene. Skip forward ten years, on the anniversary of their opening, and a charming little branch of this culturual window on the art world arrived as a pop-up in Notting Hill, before later moving to a permanent location in Marble Arch in 2018.

Alexandra clearly has a passion for perfume, as well as art – originally collaborating with master perfumer Lorenzo Dante Ferro for a perfume inspired by an artwork, but now their shop offers a small selection of niche fragrances, candles and room sprays by such scented luminaries as the brilliant (and often extremely hard to find) Maria Candida Gentile and Oriza L. Legrand. With perfumes often displayed on plinths, it’s certain Alexandra views them as art works in their own right (a debate that often rages throughout the fragrance community), but whatever your opinion, how wonderful to sniff out some new scents in such an unexpected setting…

Dorothy Circus Gallery, 35 Connaught Street, London, W2 2AZ

Opening Times: Monday – Saturday 10:30 – 18:30

By Suzy Nightingale

Around the world with Diptyque

Are you a globetrotter? Then you’re one of the lucky ones who may have picked up Diptyque‘s City Candles, on your travels. Berlin. Beverly Hills. Shanghai. Tokyo. Hong Kong.

Beautifully packaged, each has been put together to echo the metropolis it’s been named after. Thus Paris is Chypre-lavender, inspired by the city ‘seen from the sky.’ New York smoulders darkly with cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver and incense. And Berlin? That’s the famous scent of linden trees, with honeyed accents. (Londres is always available in our capital, with notes of heliotrope, lilac and hyacinth conjuring up the East End’s Columbia Road Flower Market.)

And for just this weekend – until 16th September – you can get your hands on these candles here, via Diptyque‘s e-shop. And even if you don’t actually buy one, there’s such a gorgeous animation on the page, we suggest a visit. A delight for the senses, in every way…

£54 each

At Diptyque

London Fashion Week pops up: Behold the ‘Beauty Playground’!

How we love a pop-up, especially when it’s got beauty and perfumes a-go-go! How exciting, then, for the duration of London Beauty Week, a Beauty Playground will pop up on Covent Garden’s East Piazza, inviting visitors to discover and experience the best of the beauty and fragrance industry.

Weleda Skin Food will bring their Nice Cream Van to the Beauty Playground, dishing delicious ice cream over discussions about the brand’s ethical and sustainable ethos. Miller Harris will serve up bright neon, bespoke illustrations – and ice cream via their exclusive pop up – and will reveal two new vibrant fragrances: Blousy and Brighton Rock. Floral Street Fragrance will bring magic to The Beauty Playground with a spinning prize wheel, where visitors can take a spin the wheel to discover their perfume persona. Showcasing their new Eau du Parfum range, Molton Brown will offer fragrance consultations and a bespoke Beauty Bar will also be in situ courtesy of Miami export Buns & Buns, serving up Bottled Beauty cocktails designed in partnership with Molton Brown, inspired by the brand’s classic scents and presented in their signature bottles.

Subscription-based beauty brand Glossybox will delight beauty fans with an exclusive beauty treasure hunt around the estate. Those who find the hidden golden tickets on the Piazza on Wednesday 11th September and Thursday 12thSeptember will be taken to a beauty store within Covent Garden’s Beauty Quarter to collect one of ten exciting prizes. Prizes will be worth £100 or more from brands including NARS, Miller Harris, Atelier Cologne and more.

London Beauty Week is on a mission to discover Next British Beauty Brand and is hosting a competition to offer start-up beauty companies the chance to win expert beauty business mentoring and a central London retail space. The judging panel includes some of the most influential names in the UK beauty industry including senior executives from The British Beauty Council, Covent Garden, WGSN, Harvey Nichols and Felix Capital. The winner will receive mentoring from two British Beauty Council trustees, a pop up store in Covent Garden – London’s Beauty Quarter, a listing in Harvey Nichols Beyond Beauty, financial mentoring from Felix Capital and a year’s subscription to WGSN Beauty – the world’s leading trend forecaster. Participants can visit BritishBeautyCouncil.com to sign up, ahead of the judging panel which will take place on Friday 13th September.

Brands across Covent Garden will join the celebrations and offer late night shopping and exclusive events for Londoners and visitors for the duration of London Beauty Week. Beauty lovers can pop into Aesop’s stunning King Street store, which will be adorned with fresh flower arrangements, for a bespoke skincare consultation, or visit Chanel on Friday 13thSeptember or Saturday 14th September where illustrator Melissa Bailey will be on-hand to capture the results of the brand’s incredible express services. Jo Malone London will host an exclusive cocktail evening on Thursday 12thSeptember and a special Poppy & Barley Flower Arranging Masterclass, led by expert florist Wild Things, over London Beauty Week weekend. Those who love the glamour of the runway should reserve a space at Tom Ford who will be serving Metallique inspired cocktails to an intimate group and providing a demonstration on how to achieve Tom Ford catwalk looks.

Additional in-store events, experiences and installations can be enjoyed across Covent Garden beauty brand favourites, including Atelier Cologne, Miller Harris, Molton Brown, Ted Baker and Trevor Sorbie and The Alkemistry. Covent Garden is home to London’s best beauty brands and experiences, further including Dior, NARS, Deciem, Penhaligon’s, Aesop and more, making it the perfect destination to host London’s inaugural London Beauty Week.’

Be still our beating hearts. Ice cream and perfume and prizes, you say? We’ll be there faster than you can shake a stick (of rock!)

Reported by Suzy Nightingale

 

Anthropologie Floral Diffusers

We love an effortless scented solution, and most especially when they’re as attractive as Anthropologie‘s new Floral Diffusers. Forget all images of dusty old sticks in a vase, for these will be diffusers you’ll gladly display, front and centre…

Anthropologie have collaborated with a company called Herb Family for this range of stunning scented display pieces, the house starting life as DongSung Herb Farm in Korea herb farm back in 1987, which has now grown into a leading manufacturer of home fragrance products.

Anthropologie say: ‘Inspired by a floral bouquet, we have developed 5 floral bouquet in 4 fragrances that allows you to mix and match any of the four fragrances with the floral bouquet of your choice.’ And having had a look, we must say, quite fancy one for each room, really.

Chosing from Pussy Willow, Red Wheat, Baby Breath, Classic Wheat or Eucalyptus Pods, whichever you plump for, we think these would make great gifts for any home fragrance and interiors devotee – or for any friend that isn’t blessed with green fingers, and somehow manages to kill any living plant within a ten-metre radius. A fab option for your desk at work, too, we think – zero maintenance, fuss-free and they really radiate the scent around the whole house.

These Floral Diffusers are sold separate to the fragrance oils – available in the following options…

Fresh Cut Bouquet: Blend of fresh florals with soft hints of citrus and sandalwood

Mulled Cider: Blend of crisp apple, fresh mulled spices and a touch of orange and musk

Amber Woods: Blend of wood notes with white cedar, amber and sandalwood enveloped by a sweet vanilla touch

Autumn Spice: Blend of sweet pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon and creamy vanilla

But we think it’s a bit of a bonus, as it means you can use any home fragrance oil you currently have, or re-fill with something else entirely of your choice!

Anthropologie Floral Diffuser £32, Floral Diffuser Oil £8 for 4.5 fl. oz.

By Suzy Nightingale

How to find your fragrant armour

Have you found your fragrant armour? There are times we need to reach for something to give us extra backbone, make us stand a little taller and feel able to deflect the slings and arrows slung at us by the world, or the cope with the circumstances we find ourselves in. So don’t worry: we’ve made it our mission to help you find yours…

As I write this, those circumstances are more pertinent than ever, my step father having suffered another stroke. In the unbearable period of sitting and waiting for news, amidst chaos and fear; wearing the right fragrance doesn’t only gives me something to cling to. Judiciously selected, they can climb inside me like a perfumed posession. I’m not quite myself when I wear them. And I like it.

A perfume wont make everything perfect, of course, but it can offer a kind of shield of protection – a fragrant cloak in which you waft surefootedly and go from clapped-out to kick-ass in just a few spritzes. It’s been proven that some aromas can significantly help calm us, but scientists always seem to foucs research on that scented moment of zen, when fragrance can do so much more than merely steady our nerves.

When I need that fist of steel within a velvet glove, I have consistently been reaching for my trusty travel-size Editions de Parfum Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady £47 for 10ml eau de parfum refill at fredericmalle.co.uk. A lady? Yes, but this one’s not for swooning. I picture an aristocratic dame in full 18th Century attire, frustrated with watching the antics of knights’ jousting, and deciding to pitch in herself. Swagged with 400 Turkish roses, sharp blackberry spears the skin-warmth of sandalwood, ripe raspberry unappologetically cutting a swathe through an almost chocolate-like patchouli and the base a frankincense trip to the confessional – but only to boast of her sins.

Perhaps you already have an elixir that works like a charm? I don’t mean something that smells nice, or even something you often wear and adore. Fragrant armour needs to go above and beyond. We’re not talking comfy jeans and a clean t-shirt, here. This scent needs to lift you to a higher plain, spark your imagination and leave others trailing (preferably quailing) in your perfumed wake.

There’s a peculiar alchemy in finding which fragrance works for you. It needs to have an element of comfort, but without being so pillowy and soft that it lulls you into a state of hazy languor. It should be familiar enough to fit you like a second skin, yet not so customary that it feels commonplace. And it needs to be recognisably you, but turned up to eleven: that superhero (or, perhaps, villainous?) version of yourself, who can destroy foes with a KAPOW! while wearing a catsuit and a satisfied smirk.

So, how to find yours?

First, have a look through your perfume collection (or samples you’ve tried and loved, recently), and do the Sniff Test. Spray several blotters (use some tissues or strips of thin card, if you don’t have any) and write the names of the fragrances on. Smell after a few minutes, and then return to them all within half an hour.

Secondly, you’re going to narrow down those that make you feel a frisson. Put aside those that make you go ‘OooOOooh!’ when you smell them, and trying them on your skin. No just “Mmm, yes, lovely’ reactions. This has to be an unbidden, visceral noise of satisfaction or surprise. Come back to each and smell them again, an hour after first spraying. Do any still excite you? Good. These are your starting point for the next step.

Now, type the name into our Find a Fragrance page. If you’re not sure of your favourite family, or want wider suggestions, just choose ‘not sure’ from the drop-down list.

It works by decoding one of your favourite perfumes, and suggesting six alternatives to try. It isn’t some pot-luck shot in the dark based on the ingredients and notes alone – we use key emotion-driven words given in the perfumer’s briefing, or the original inspiration behind the launch. And it’s really quite spookily accurate at predicting what you might like, and love…

My suggestions were for some I already tried, really love and must dig out or re-purchase to try again, and something that really caught my eye: BDK French Bouquet £195 for 100m eau de parfum at harrods.com. Now I’ve been meaning to try this, happened to have a sample kicking around, and so immediately sprayed some on. Oh. Oh YES.

Suddenly I’m in Paris (cliché, I know, but let’s go with it) and I’m wearing the kind of elegant suit and clicky heels I could absolutely never dream of without spraining an ankle or spilling soup on in real life. But in my dream I’m imbued with insouciant chicness, glossy hair gleaming in the sunshine of (what I later learn) is aldehyde C12 – a chemical compound found naturally in citrus oils – seamlessly blending bergamot, rose and jasmine alongside classic Chypre notes (my favourite family, hello) with what they describe a a ‘powdery yet potent effect.’ It’s slightly soapy, but very sexy. Not in a ‘come up and see me sometime’ sense, but rather a ‘hot damn I look great, today’ way. And heaven knows, we all need that.

It made me feel instantly pulled together and like I knew what I was doing. Which is far from the truth, and therefore most welcome. I’ll be adding this to my olfactory arsenal to be deployed as required. I suggest aquiring travel-sizes or samples for your armour (or weapons) of choice, to be carried about your person, whenever the need arises.

Think of your fragrant armour as the scented equivalent of the red lipstick, then. But the magic of this olfactory signal is that it’s invisible – and all the more powerful for being so. It’s your secret, a message written to yourself (in that red lipstick, emblazoned on a bathroom mirror) saying: ‘You’ve got this.’

By Suzy Nightingale