Its Valentine’s Day and it’s all too easy to buy the wrong scent for someone. Replacing their usual is a failsafe, but if you’re looking for something a bit more special, may we point you in the direction of Burlington Arcade…?
With a host of beautiful boutiques – Roja Parfums, Frederic Malle, By Kilian, Lalique, Atkinson’s, Penhaligon’s and Chanel – Burlington Arcade surely has something to fit everyone’s tastes.
But what the perfumeries here are offering is something a step above your average perfume shopping trip. A number of these boutiques offer in-house fragrance profiling – for those of you that don’t know, fragrance profiling is kind of like an interview. You’re asked a set of questions about scent, your memories, what you like and dislike, and then a scent is chosen for you, by a specialist, via your answers.
Now we know the term ‘fragrance profiling’ doesn’t sound like the most romantic of terms, but we can assure you, the process is. Falling in love with a scent that you haven’t chosen is a rare and wonderful thing! There are a several options of fabulous perfumeries to head to for this service, we give you the rundown on the stores we visited…
Penhaligon’s offer fragrance profiling as a service in every one of their stores, although Burlington Arcade is the only one with a private room to do this in. And, boy, is it a beautiful room. Prepare to be surrounded by velvet-decked chaise longues, maroon walls and baroque style cabinets housing beautifully bowed bottles.
Figuring out your personality and what you like to wear by asking just five questions – from your favourite material, to your perfect tipple – narrowing it down to six scents to smell. Finally, guiding you to your ideal scent. Their staff are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and happy to help with any enquiry. ‘It’s good fun, it’s personal and it’s a great journey to find that special fragrance for the customer’.
They’re even offering Fragrance Profiling for Two this Valentine’s, where you’ll be treated to a glass of something sparkling along the way – the process takes about 45 minutes to an hour in total and we really can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon together.
Roja Parfums practice something called eau de profiling in store, where you’ll be led on a journey discovering your tastes, via Roja’s perfumes. Rather than steering you towards new releases, they choose to find a scent through your favourite fragrance families (every one of the staff is trained, by Roja himself, in how to do this). You’ll smell many of his scents, from florals to chypres, understanding which facets of ingredients you like. Finally whittling it down to just a few scents to try on the skin.
Roja Dove also offers bespoke perfumery (this is where the brand started) whereby you’ll have a series of detailed sessions with him, over 6 months, exploring your past, your memories and smelling every ingredient known to man, ending in creating a fine fragrance just for you: a bespoke, unique blend that won’t be worn by anyone else.
At the very end of the parade (and remarkably close to their original flagship on Old Bond Street and Burlington Gardens) sits Atkinson’s. A wonderful British heritage house that has just opened an incredibly stylish, contemporary boutique.
The store is really quite remarkable. Fragrances illuminated on the golden counter, ‘the perfume bar’, sit beneath walls layered thrice over in gold leaf. The upstairs room, where the bespoke consultations takes place, (be ready for some serious interiors inspo courtesy of London-based designer Christopher Jenner) is a thing of beauty.
Atkinson’s was by far the most thorough of the experiences we had, lasting over an hour, and going really in depth – it almost began to feel like a fragrant therapy session by the end. We had the rather wonderful, and insightful, boutique manager Andrew do ours, but all their staff are highly qualified and trained in conducting bespoke consultations too.
To begin with they talk about themselves, (this is important – how much he opens up at the beginning, making you feel comfortable, enables you to share details of your life you might not have, with a stranger, otherwise) you then talk about yourself – from your earliest memories to your diet to musical preferences. Then there’s mood boards, a quick Q&A and some blind smelling. And finally, from that, they choose two for you to put on the skin. Resulting in finding your ‘fragrance for life’, as they described it, a term which conjured up such romance, we think we’ll be borrowing it.
At Atkinson’s we came out with a scent so beautifully paired with our being, it was a little unsettling. ‘It’s all about listening, picking up on things that you wouldn’t even think connect, it’s something you can’t do over the perfume bar downstairs, you need your own space,’ Andrew said, and we couldn’t agree more. It was a scent we never would’ve chosen ourselves, evermore proving the power of fragrance profiling. They’ve even a barber in the downstairs room, the highly qualified, Umberto, so perhaps a haircut, blow dry or shave is in order whilst your other half delves into their olfactory past.
And on the way out? Swoon over Lauderee and buy some delectable macarons for good measure.
16-17 Burlington Arcade, Mayfair, London W1J 0PL – Scents start at £72, call 0207 629 1416 to book your appointment at the Burlington Arcade boutique
51, Burlington Arcade, Mayfair, London W1J 0QJ – Scents start at £225 and their bespoke personal perfume packages start at £45,000
40-41 Burlington Arcade, Mayfair, London W1J 0QD – Scents start at £85, call 0207 998 6166 to book for your bespoke consultation
Written by Carson Parkin-Fairley