As part of our continuing series exploring the differing Fragrance Families – the ways that scents are classified – today we’re getting up close and personal with Woody…
Many fragrances contain wood in some aspect, but what exactly designates a fragrance as ‘Woody’?
The clue, quite simply, is in the name – although some of these fragrances do smell like they’re closely related to the chypre family. It’s true: they share some characteristics, but generally without the floral flourishes of the chypres.
Perfumers have so a fabulous palette of woody elements to weave into their creations: sandalwood, cedar, agarwood (a.k.a. oud), guiaiacwood, as well as patchouli and vetiver. (These last two aren’t woods: they’re roots and leaves, respectively – but you’d never guess, from their intensely earthy, woody character.)
Woody fragrances can be given a spin by adding spices/fruity notes, or herbs – so if you like woods (or you’re simply interested in learning what they smell like), do explore the other members of this family, too.
In the meantime, why not try some samples of this Fragrance Family at home? We can’t think of a better introduction than to plunge into the exotic delights of Fragrance Du Bois…
A perfect marriage of bergamot and cardamom blends smoothly into floral, woody notes of rose, jasmine, amber, sandalwood, vanilla and musk, stimulating the senses with its complexity, while the oudh base adds to its strength and depth.
Fragrance Du Bois Sahraa Oud
FAMILY: WOODY TOP NOTES: grapefruit HEART NOTES: rose absolute, geranium, jasmine, patchouli BASE NOTES: black pepper, sandalwood, saffron, vanilla, amber, 100% organic oudh oil
Sahraa Our immediately invokes the mystery and majesty of the desert, and has been crafted for the sophisticated palates of both Middle Eastern connoisseurs and aficionados of fine perfumes. Beautiful floral top and heart notes of grapefruit, rose absolute, geranium and jasmine, create a symphony that blends softly into base notes of patchouli, sandalwood, saffron, vanilla, amber and oudh.
Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.
In fact, so Fragrance Du Bois tell us: ‘Due to illegal logging, wild resources have been severely depleted. So, since 2004, all species of the Aquilaria tree have been protected under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species].’
Created by some of the best noses in the world, each fragrance expresses true mastery of this unique ‘liquid gold’ (as oudh oil is known). You’ll fall in love, we guarantee it – even you oudh naysayers!
Be transported to exotic fragrant lands, happy in the knowledge that Fragrance Du Bois is also looking after caring for the environment, planting a tree for every full size fragrance purchased.
If your appetiete for Woody fragrances has been whetted, you can try a Fragrance Du Bois Discovery Set including these two we’ve reviewed above, along with three other of their fabulous creations, exploring the other fragrance families through oudh, for only £20!
They’re pure liquid refreshment, but for many of us Colognes are also‘ happiness in a bottle.’ As we try to make sense of troubled times, it might behove you to reach for the (Cologne) bottle, yourself! Here, we look at some of the houses reworking the traditional Cologne for modern-day seekers of scented refreshment –more than 300 years from its invention…
Firstly: what denotes a true Cologne? Well traditionally, Colognes tend to be poured at a strength of 2-4% – meaning that’s the amount of pure fragrance within a carrier (usually alcohol in spray or splash form). They were traditionally this strength because half the pleasure was in the re-applying of these cooling scents.
And when were Colognes first used? In a feature for our magazine, The Scented Letter, fragrance expert Persolaise ruminated on the history of Colognes, remarking that ‘Back at the start of the 18th Century, the Italian barber and entrepreneur Gian Paolo Feminis moved to Cologne, Germany, and began selling a blend of bergamot, neroli, lavender and rosemary oils diluted in grape spirit. Dubbed Aqua Admirabilis, the product was such a success that Feminis summoned other members of his family to northern Germany to help develop the business.
His nephew, Giovanni Maria Farina – a.k.a. Jean Marie Farina – tweaked the formula, committed it to writing and, crucially, began advertising the product as a miracle potion not just for scenting one’s person but also for drinking and combating all sorts of ailments, including skin, stomach and gum problems. ‘This perfume refreshes me,’ Farina wrote to his brother, ‘and stimulates both my senses and imagination.’When travellers and soldiers began taking what they called ‘eau de Cologne’ back home with them, its reputation spread, causing high-profile figures to take note.’
And so, for centuries since, we have wanted these immediate hits of happiness. Perhaps now more than ever – and how we welcome the longer-lasting formulations. So what should you splash or spritz on, if you’re looking to join the ever-growing ranks of new genrations eager to become Cologne rangers of today…?
An enticingly fresh and floral composition that’s perfect for spring, summer (or any time of year you need an extra hit of sunshine), you’ll be smiling as soon as you spritz this blend of Calabrian bergamot, Egyptian jasmine and ambrette seed from Ecuador. A perfectly harmonious union of fresh and floral is totally wearable by either sex (if you allow them to share!) and the lasting power really is remarkable for something that smells so effervescently fresh and bubbling over with good cheer.
Brilliant perfumer Alberto Morrillas continues a Mediterranean olfactory narrative with a deep dive into the intense heart of Spanish Cypress essence. Beguiling, resinous tones are shot through with a floral buoyancy of heliotropine and violet, as a dry down of earthy, grounding patchouli warmth of cedarwood are hushed by a welcome blanket of so-soft musks. A scent that uplifts and soothes in equal measures, and surely to become a summer staple in your collection.
Gucci Guilty Cologne £67 for 90ml eau de toilette boots.com
A timeless classic that nobody can fail to fall in love with, as Colonia unfolds you find yourself entering into an elegant floral-herbaceous space, as if you’ve wandered into an Italian sunlit idyl, Sicilian citrus, bergamot, lemon, sweet and bitter oranges infusing your soul with sunshine. Finally the warmth of the woody base notes comes through, wrapping around you like a cashmere sweater as the sun goes down over the Tuscan riviera. Bliss in a bottle.
Just as you enter the spicy beginnings, the woody heart andwarming base resonate with unanticipated thrums of juicy freshness and mouth-watering appeal. Then, asurprise appearance of heady patchouli in the heartgets up close and personal with a balmy resin-rush of styrax as the Cologne dries down. We salute this fresh spin on bestselling Aventus, with fresh mandarin replacing pineapple of the classic, and along-lasting, fruity/musk dry-down that resonates beautifully.
A world away from the sometimes cloying citronella candles, it’s scented with a delicate lemon tea fragrance, that’s not at all overpowering, and certainly doesn’t make you feel you’ve doused yourself in insect killer! You can also use the spray freely on bedding, pillows and clothes, without the worry of stains since it’s non-oily – and as it’s a whopping bottle, we sprayed with abandon. So, thank you Mrs White: you truly are a hero!
As part of our ongoing feature – Fragrance Family Friday – today we focus on: Ambrée. What fragrances are found in this category, and which should you try? (Find a link below, too, for the perfect set to help you explore this category at home…)
With their spices, musks, incense and resins, the Ambrées are rooted in perfume’s own history, using many of the same ingredients today that were first enjoyed in the orient – India and Arabia – at the dawn of fragrance creation.
Ingredients like heliotrope, sandalwood, coumarin, orris, vanilla and gum resins are classically used within an Ambrée fragrance structure – though these can be tweaked, for men, women (and fragrances designed to be ‘shared’).
Seductive, voluptuous and with a va-va-voom, Ambrées tend to feel ‘grown-up’ – and many have a warm, heavy, diffusive richness that’s more suited to after-dark wearing. They linger sensually on the skin: they’re heavy on the base notes, which tend to last longer. However, there is a new ‘mini-family’ of fresher Ambrées, with a lighter touch, and a more ‘daytime’ feel.
Many of the original fragrance families have additions and cross-overs of sub-categoreies, so none of them are set in stone, and you’ll find much discussion in books and online, on eactly which fragrances should be in which families. Nobody seems to absolutely agree! So we’ll focus instead on some fragrances you might like to try under the umbrella heading of ‘Ambrée’…
Memoize London are a niche house that excel at crafting exquisite scents – Ambrées being a particular passion of theirs – celebrating ‘the importance of creating a harmonious balance between fragrance and emotion’. The discovery set has been curated to explore the Seven Deadly Sins, with ambrées being the perfect family to explore the sultry, addictive theme, hence why five of the eight fragrances are Ambrée in nature!
FAMILY: Ambrée TOP NOTES: red roses, jasmine HEART NOTES: vanilla BASE NOTES: oudh, patchouli, civet, amber
A wonderful Ambrée blend with rich red rose and white jasmine top notes beautifully balanced with creamy vanilla heart wrapped in warm base notes of oudh, patchouli, civet and amber.
FAMILY: Ambrée TOP NOTES: orange , bergamot, armoise, Geranium HEART NOTES: jasmine, cedarwood BASE NOTES: patchouli, musk, amberwood, sandalwood
Moreish woods with unsparing jasmine will leave you craving for more. An Ambrée blend of amber and patchouli, with sweet musk, interlaced with vanilla and spices, and a top note of citrus and herbs.
FAMILY: Ambrée TOP NOTES: saffron HEART NOTES: iris, ylang ylang, jasmine BASE NOTES: myrrh, amber, oudh, leather
A sophisticated and rich Ambrée fragrance that reveals a saffron top note that mingles with a beautiful iris, ylang ylang and jasmine heart. Exotic, warm base notes myrrh, amber, oud and leather create the depth in the blend.
FAMILY: Ambrée TOP NOTES: rose, ylang ylang, orchid HEART NOTES: cedarwood, sandalwood, saffron BASE NOTES: oudh, leather, amber, musk, patchouli
A luxurious fragrance opening with floral top notes of rose, ylang ylang and orchid infused by fine woods resting on a bed of rich oudh wood, leather, amber, musk and patchouli notes.
A woody Ambrée fragrance leading with top notes of grapefruit and honey. A luxurious heart of ambrette, cistus, incense fusion, kashmir fusion, oud and violet, rests on a base of sandalwood, cedarwood, amber, musk, vanilla and vetiver.
There’s much to explore in this sumptuous set and we know you’re going to adore it as much as we do. Apart from the five ambrée fragrances we’ve highlighted as a must-try, here; there are a three fragrances to explore, included in the set: Luxuria, a beautiful floral fragrance, opening with waves of juicy cassis and raspberry; Gula, a complex floral weaving jasmine and galbanum with sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla and black musk; and Invidia, a floriental (sub-section of ambrées) marrying white tuberose, orchid and ylang ylang with undertones of woodiness and tobacco.
So prepare to have your senses tantalised by these opulent ambrées and their equally fabulous floral and floriental friends – and be one of the first to discover this new fragrance house…
What exactly is a ‘floriental‘ fragrance, and how can we tell them apart from an ambrée or floral? What’s more – where should your nose be seeking out perfume samples to explore this style of scent at home? We have all the answers…
‘Fragrance Families‘ – the classification of what they smell like, based on the main ingredients – can be a bit baffling to work out (and so many of them are fusing these days), so we have an entire section dedicated to explaining them, and suggesting fragrances to try, giving you a head (well, nose) start. You can read more here about how to identify all the differing fragrant family members, but each week we’ve decided to take you through a particular perfume genre, and suggest a couple of scents to explore at home.
If you scroll down, you will find a review of two floriental fragrances we think you’ll love, with links to buy samples. But for now, let’s sort out what a Floriental is…
Well, the name for this family does most of the work for us: florientals are a sophisticated fusion of floral and ambrée notes, and so many fragrances now fall into this category that it’s a real family in its own right. Florientals blend flowers – including gardenia, jasmine, freesia, orange flower – with spices, warm woods and resins. The result? Fragrances that are sensual and often sweetly seductive, but generally airier and lighter in character than true ambrées.
Many people who adore ambrées like trying florientals in warmer weather, or when travelling, for a still characterful experience, but with a bit of added breeziness. Similarly, those who enjoy florals might like to venture forth into something a little more nuanced, or simply less heady to wear in summer temperatures.
Floris A Rose For…
FAMILY: FLORIENTAL TOP NOTES: Darjeeling tea, incense, cassis HEART NOTES: red rose, orris, oudh BASE NOTES: sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, amber
Intriguingly smoky, velvety wine-dark petals unfurl in the heart of this fragrance. Revealing a sophisticated sprinkling of powdered iris root (orris) and a wisp of carnality with the rich seam of smooth oudh. The amber-y base swathes you in vanilla’s gossamer embrace – that makes you feel is the way your skin should always smell.
After visiting the rose fields of Morocco, Edward Bodenham – director of Floris, and continuing the tradition of perfumery in their presigious family history – became obsessed with the idea of re-interpreting this Queen of flowers. Exploring what has tended to be seen as a ‘classic’ (and therefore trifle old-fashioned) note in perfumery, and looking at ways of marrying the intoxicatingly exotic warmth with the elegant beauty, the resulting floriental is a stunning version of rose – a contemporary twist on the dusty, fustiness we are sometimes still guilty of associating it with.
Mugler Alien Fusion For Her
FAMILY: FLORIENTAL TOP NOTES: ginger, cinnamon HEART NOTES: tuberose, orange blossom BASE NOTES: tonka bean absolute, white musks
Flickering between the heat of ginger and cinnamon with the silvered coolness of tuberose and an aquatic orange blossom in the heart, the warmth returns again as the scent acclimatises to your skin’s temperature, white amber radiating like sunbeams on volcanic stone.
One minute it’s hot, the next it’s cool. (Well, strictly, Alien is always cool.) A new addition to the Alien universe, its futuristic, talismanic bottle reinvented in fiery, translucent ruby red, this sets out to bring us ‘the power of an eclipse, captured in a bottle’, via radiant sambac jasmine and orange blossom, ablaze with ginger and cinnamon, with carnal tuberose igniting the heart before white amber and Madagascan vanilla make their presence known.
These two floriental perfume samples are both included in the Launches We Love Discovery Box, where you’ll find THIRTEEN fragrances in all, with a variety of families to explore.
From that contemporary rose floriental celebration by Floris and ultra-modern Mugler floriental style to tantalise your senses, you’ll also get to try a ground-breaking Gentle Fluidity duo by Francis Kurkdjian. Or delight in the lipstick-and-leather-handbag sauciness of Miller HarrisViolet Ida and explore their homage to urban foraging in Lost. Live you ultimate glamorous fantasies with Cartier’s best-seller for summer, and surrender to an evocation of succulent White Peaches by Shay & Blue. Then, why not immerse yourself in a trio of blooms by Yardley and revel in the oh-so-Parisian Mademoiselle Rochas Couture?
Oh yes, and in addition we’re giving you a stunning new nail polish by Nails Inc. (worth £15 alone!) and two travel-size body washes by I LOVE Cosmetics.
Compare and contrast the floriental fragrances with other families represented in the box, with our famous Smelling Notes to guide you along with each spritz.
Launches We Love Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)
As part of our on-going Fragrance Family Friday series, today we’re taking a sniff at Floral.
Floral is the most universally popular of all families (with lots of ‘relations’ within the family). Of all the families, it’s probably the one you’ll most easily recognise at first sniff, from its bouquet of cut flowers – conjuring up June weddings, garden parties, spring blossoms…
Floral fragrances tend to be garlanded with notes like jasmine, peony, gardenia, tuberose, lily of the valley, magnolia, mimosa and so on.
Interestingly, two of the most famous (and most-loved) floral notes – jasmine and rose – have traditionally been found at the heart of almost every fragrance creation: they’re the perfume world’s foundation stones. In true florals, those notes are played up – but shimmering beneath the surface of other families, rose and jasmine are often there, too, holding the creation together, even when you can’t spot them.
It’s fascinating to note that many’unisex’, gneder fluid or ‘gender free’ fragrances – even those deliberately targeted at men, are now using more floral notes in their compositions. And really, it’s only Western fragrance tastes that have so severely divided the genders in fragrance for the last few decades. Around the world, many men happily drench themselves in luscious florals – rose being a particular favourite in the Middle East, and jasmine and orange blossom hugely popular in the warmer areas of Europe.
Florals aren’t just the sum of their parts – they can be warmed with a touch of spice or given the juiciness of fruits – and there are quite a few ‘sub-families’ in the floral family. (And the ‘Floriental’ family is a close cousin, too.) If you like a fragrance in any of these families, you can get great pleasure exploring its relations…
For a throughly modern – definitely no fuddy-duddy – take on floral notes, you must check out the British niche house of Tom Daxon.
A rising star British fragrance name,– championing grown up scents inspired by the ingredients themselves – Tom Daxon grew up around fragrance; his mother – creative director for a leading fragrance and cosmetics name for over 30 years – ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff.’ So it was no surprise that by his mid-twenties, this perfume prodigy had already launched his own signature fragrance collection – which we invite you to explore.
Each shareable fragrance is meticulously created with perfumer Jacques Chabert (who, during his career, has spent time working on scents for Chanel and Guerlain).
When Tom Daxon set out to create his own fragrance house – at the age of just 27, in 2013 – he was primarily inspired by the ingredients themselves. Elsewhere in the perfume world, cost doesn’t always allow for the use of the most precious materials. But as Tom proudly asserts, ‘At Tom Daxon we simply want to make best fragrances possible. Cost and time are never considered.’
The five incredible scents featured in the Discovery Collection One are:
Iridium – the fragrance equivalent of charcoal-coloured cashmere. All the powdery sophistication from the precious iris concrète, but with a strong silvery spine
Salvia Sclarea – takes the clary sage plant as its inspiration, from its soft green scent right down to its velvety leaves
Magnolia Heights – magnolia flower oil’s delicate, green, fruity facets are enhanced by gardenia and jasmine sambac, while ylang ylang and cedarwood recreate its cream-like petals.
Cologne Absolute – the essence of Cologne is that it should be universal – a trusted staple for anyone who simply wishes to smell good.
Crushing Bloom – a rose fragrance with darkness and weight. Green, spicy top notes partner a floral heart of rose, jasmine sambac and iris. Its base will cocoon skin with the finest musks.
This Discovery Collection features five x 4.5ml sprays (see below for details), allowing you to discover, explore and enjoy the exciting Tom Daxon range – and to smell just how modern Florals can be – at your own pace.
Could you ever splurge on an all-time lust list fragrance, or save the cash by buying more pocket-friendly (but still utterly fabulous) ‘fumes? We all have fantasties of winning the lottery and suddenly having access to the rarest scents in the world… But when reality hits and more attainable scents are the name of the game, what, I wondered, would some of our favourite social media fragrance commentators choose…?
Persolaise Splurge: If money were no object, I’d love a full bottle of vintage Diorissimo extrait (price… priceless?) in the famous, gold-topped Baccarat flacon. Actually, I’d be happy with some vintage Diorissimo in ANY bottle, but if we’re dreaming, let’s throw in the Baccarat. I could probably write a whole dissertation on why I love the perfume so much, but if I had to sum up my feelings, I suppose I’d say that, for me, it is THE most perfect example of a perfumer both reflecting nature and putting his own personality on it. Roudnitska’s nose was being guided by the scented gods when he made it. It is an absolute masterpiece.
Save: I might go for Gorilla PerfumeKerbside Violet £29 for 30ml eau de parfum from Lush: a modern, uniquely urban take on florals, mixing that strange, green, lung-filling ‘openness’ of violet leaf with smoke, concrete and exhaust fumes. Genius.
Viola Levy, Scents & the City Splurge: If money were no object, I would go for a dazzling bottle as much as the fragrance itself – and for stunning perfume bottles, you can’t go wrong with Lalique (they pretty much invented the concept!) Their limited edition Crystal Collectible Bottle in Naïade €1,200.00 is a miniature work of art, featuring a mermaid-like Art Deco figurine as the stopper, while the fragrance inside: ‘Lalique de Lalique‘ ticks all the boxes when it comes to my favourite perfume notes (jasmine, rose, blackcurrant and sandalwood). I like to think of this scent as the equivalent of an off-the-shoulder cashmere cardi – old-school elegance with subtle sex appeal. Plus you can never go wrong with a mermaid, can you?
Save:Coty‘s L’Aimant,£14.49 at Boots for 50ml eau de toilette, would be a no-brainer. Created by François Coty (dubbed ‘the father of the modern perfume industry’) it was launched in 1927 at the Galleries Lafayette in Paris and is an incredibly romantic concoction. The backdrop was the Roaring Twenties – of girls emboldened by their contribution to the war efforts and the greater freedoms this had allowed them – which lead to the perfume being promoted as ‘the pure essence of Modernism – vivacious, warm and magnetic – the passionate woman’s perfume.’ Certainly it’s similar to No.5 in its composition: sparkly aldehydes, rose and jasmine (always a winning combination for classic scents), but it’s got a lighter spring in its step and a certain sparkle all of its own.
Sarah Gallogly Splurge: If money were not an issue I would blind-buy Mendittorosa Osang. It has a lot of my favourite notes in it such as honey, frankincense, myrhh, labdanum and sandalwood and Mendittorosa is a perfume house I would really love to explore further. I recently tried a sample of Le Mat and it’s straight up beautiful! I can only imagine how spectacular Osang is…
Save: For a fragrance under £40 I believe you can’t beat Lush and I would reach for I’m Home £25 for 30ml eau de parfum, or Cardamom Coffee £39 for 30ml eau de parfum– both wonderful and with sweet, resinous depth. Lush make excellent and creative perfumes for such an affordable price, and I’m a big fan.
Sam Scriven, I Scent You a Day Splurge: My fantasy bottle would be Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium £210 for 100ml eau de parfum, without a doubt. The first time I smelled it, I got emotional. That’s happened about twice in my life, and as a blogger, I’ve smelled thousands of scents. Pelargonium is a woody floral, but so seamlessly blended it’s like a cloak of iridescent fairy wings merging into each other. It’s mainly geranium, but it’s also musk, oakmoss, spices and smooth orris. Just perfection.
Save: There’s a huge choice of great value fragrances at the other end of the spectrum, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d go for Lanvin Arpège £29.99 for 100ml eau de parfum. It’s a classic aldehydic chypre created in Paris in 1927 and it makes me feel like a grown-up sophisticated lady even when I’m in pyjamas. Trust me, that’s powerful. Because my pyjamas don’t even match.
Viola Cserkuti Splurge: If money wouldn’t matter, I’d possibly get a lot of raw materials and make something, or rather experiment with my favourite notes: say, a kilo of Iris butter? I’d be pretty over the moon if I could go into Fortnum & Mason and buy a super fancy Caron bottle and get it filled with Farnesiana from one of those glass samovars (price on request!)
Save: I’m a big fan of discovering affordable scents in unexpected places. I love &Other Stories’s Sardonyx Fire £28 for 50ml eau de toilette, it’s very on-trend with a lot of iso-e super and ambroxan, metallic and musky with sweet florals in the background.
Blueberry Chicks Splurge: The first perfume I’d choose is unavailable today, but if somebody had a sealed version I would have spent my (imaginary) thousands on La Rose Jacqueminot by Coty. I love rose and it is a legendary perfume. It was used by one of the last Romanoff princesses! For a modern perfume, it would be Puredistance White £455 for 100ml eau de parfum – because it smells like diamonds! I have never met a fragrance that’s so deliciously ‘posh’ and yet fresh. The first thing that comes to my mind when I smell it is a sumptuous ballroom full of finely dressed ladies.
Save:Jennifer Lopez Deseo£10.95 for 50ml eau de parfum, on the contrary, is a recollection of a tropical holidays on the beach. A sweet memory doing nothing all day, with a pina colada in one hand and a book in the other.
Having salivated at the thought of the luscious lottery-win type fragrances mentioned above, and added many of the budget-friendly options to my own shopping basket, of course I couldn’t resist throwing my own scented suggestions into the ring…
Splurge: Oh go on, then, I’ll have a bottle of the original Guerlain Mitsouko, from when it was first released in 1919. Can you imagine? The thing is, I’d want to time-travel back and buy it myself, dressed to the nines in a velvet Opera coat by Elsa Schiparelli, with an ebony cigarette holder and scarlet lips, being shockingly daring yet romantic – presaging the turn of the century and those Bright Young Things to come. One spritz of this (well actually, as money is no object, several lavish applications) and I could snuggle in the cinnamon infused, milk-lapped plump peach skin and oakmoss for hours. In reality, the current reformulation by Thierry Wasser is as close as we’ll get, thanks to oakmoss restrictions, and it still smells *expletive* wonderful.
Save: If you’re looking for something with a sassy swagger, which smells about ten times more expensive than it is, consider unleashing your inner Diva with Emanuel Ungaro‘s much-overlooked masterpiece. First released in 1983, it’s a pleasingly buxom affair of softly powdered rose and iris with a purr of ylang ylang and sandalwood. And the perfumer? None other than Jacques Polge, darlings. Yes, he of the many, many Chanel fragrances. But this can be snapped up at £29.95 for 100ml eau de parfum. I know. You’re welcome.
Valentines Day – love it or loathe it – is just around the corner, and it’s still the day that generates the most fragrance sales, peaking at 42% of all prestige beauty products sold. So if you’re thinking of splashing out on a scent for your significant other, follow our guide to ensuring success…
If you already know what they love
Great! Well done you. Why not have a look at matching products available, such as a gorgeously decadent bath oil, rich body cream or even a fragranced hair mist. It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of perfumes at this time of year, and if you really wanted to push the boat out – how wonderful it would be to book a couple of nights in a nice hotel or day spa trip, and add the ticket to the box of mini sizes in a golden envelope!
If you have no idea what they like
A pre-chosen selection box of scents showcasing a range of fragrances with differing styles is your saviour. First, think about their personality, their hobbies, the kind of books they see and films they love to watch.Then have a look at the list below and decide which category they most resemble. Then they can try them all home, taking time to choose their favourites from these stunningly packaged sets…
Are they a yoga lover – in to excercise as mindfulness, long walks or simply seeking inner peace and spirituality? Choose the Anima Vinci Discovery Set£15 (PS: It comes with a £15 voucher to buy a full size favourite!)
Are they a travel addict – keen to explore exotic climes, always seeking the sunshine and interested in sustainability? Choose the Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30
If you know what they usually wear, but they’d like something new
Well you’re off to a good start! Now all you need to do is type the name of that scent into our genius Fragrance Finder, and the clever algorithm – based on information we source directly from the fragrance houses and perfumers themselves – will suggest six new fragrances that, while different from the original you typed, share a similar mood, character or key ingredients.It really works!
If you just have no idea where to start
The best idea is to get a Discovery Box of fabulous mini sizes and samples from a wide range of fragrance houses, that way they can start exploring and trying them all in the comfort of their own home, and most importantly, in their own time. Each box is carefully curated to include something for all tastes – so they’re bound to fall for one of these!
Once they’ve found ‘the one’ (or perhaps several) you can then buy a full size, safe in the knowledge they’ve already fallen for it. And we’ve something to suit everyone:
The Velvet Collection £12 comes with a full size chocolate bar from Green & Blacks (so you’re alreadyon to a winner), and features a sumptuously seductive range of new, niche and ‘indie’ scents to try.
The Day & Night Discovery Box £19 includes luminescent, sunshine-filled and lighter style fragrances suitable for any day, and a number of deeper, darker scents to spritz for romantic meals or a night on the town.
The Fragrance Wardrobe Discovery Box £19 is a bumper selection of fragrances from designer fashion houses and cult brands, with a stunning suits-all lipgloss and lovely Molton Brown mini included as extra surprises.
The Treat Yourself Discovery £19 lovingly soothes and delights with body-care treats from Aromatherapy Associates, and whole host of wonderful fragrances, with something from classic houses to new niche.
If you haven’t seen the show already, you’ll definitely have heard about it, because – love it or hate it – Tidying Up With Marie Kondo seems to have got the entire Internet talking.
Lifestyle guru Kondo helps people tackle clutter that she feels is holding them back. And for Kondo, choosing what to keep all comes down to one question: does it spark joy?
It seems in some quarters her philosophy has sparked controversy and even anger, with memes quoting her out of context, suggesting she wants everyone to throw their books away, for example (she doesn’t). But if we all calm down a litte bit and focus on that central ethos, perhaps we can all have a good sort-out of our collections and therefore get even more pleasure from those perfumes that are often hidden away or forgotten about.
To get a sense of what the series is all about, have a look at the official trailer, below.
Now let’s suppose that, seeing as you’re here, perfume sparks a lot of joy for you. Perhaps you have a collection of hundreds of bottles, or would just like to organise the few you have in a more aesthetically pleasing (and practical) way? Have a look at some of the ingenious storage solutions and suggestions below, and perhaps have a January re-jig of your own…
Rather than riffling through an old shoe-box, acrylic shelves and boxes allow you to store smaller sizes and decants, while seeing at a glimpse what you want to wear next. Muji always have a great selection, but check out Hobbycraft and stationery shops, too.
Places like Etsy and Not on the High Street are great places to search for vintage cake stands – why not choose all those fragrances that are ‘sparking the most joy’ for you right now and arrange them on the tiers, with lighter scents on top, going down to more sultry or heavier, evening-appropriate ones on the bottom layer?
In the days when travelling was infinitely more glamorous, one carried one’s essentials (perfume, obvs) in specially made trunks. Look on auction sites, in second-hand shops and boots fairs for similar vintage cases. Stack them up in a corner, with the top case open, holding your chosen fragrances for the month(s) ahead.
Sample bottles and tiny vials can be tricky to store en-masse, so consider using lab equipment items like test-tube holders and racks, or look for bullet boxes, fishing tackle boxes, and tool boxes. You can often find these on Ebay and similar sites, so when trying to store these smaller items – think outside the box!
Spice racks used to be a feature of everyone’s 1970s kitchen, but now we’re more likely to have whole cupboards-full of exotic ingredients than a faded jar of ‘Mixed Herbs’, so you can usually find the racks cheaply in charity shops. They’re perfect for holding miniature bottles! Also search for nail varnish shelves online, and consider the homeware section of your local £1 shop or hardware store.
Consider challenging yourself to trying new fragrances each week (be they samples or bottles you have but rarely use). Lay them out on a pretty tray – easily found in a charity shop or jumble sale – and it will focus your attention on them, rather than falling back into the same old habits of wearing the same old thing. And if they’re not sparking joy? Swap them with friends, or treat yourself to something you’ll really love from our Discovery Box sale selection.
PS: Our boxes are the perfect size to store your samples neatly – sort them alphabetically, by name of house or type of fragrance – but most importantly, make sure you use and enjoy them!
Did you take the plunge and blind-buy yourself a full size scent in the January sales, only to discover that it really isn’t ‘you’? Or perhaps you were gifted something over Christmas from a loved one who really should have put more thought into the scent they chose?
How to deal with the devastation can be difficult – social ettiquette suggests it’s best not to scream ‘what were you THINKING?!’ at the loved one, and if you’ve only yourself to blame, it’s even worse.
But do not deapair! We present our Scent Survival guide to try before the tears…
1: Are you sure you don’t like it?
This might sound like a silly question, but please don’t make any hasty decisons. Is it simply not your ‘usual’? The idea of a Signature Scent is a wee bit dated these days, plus did you know that after a while, your nose can get ‘used to’ a scent, and you won’t get that fragrant hit you once adored if you wear it every day.
A fragrance takes several hours to fully ‘develop’ on your skin: so many of us immediately discard them after the very first sniff! How about giving it a go on a few differing occasions, tracking its progress throughout the day? It’s only fair…
2: Layer up
It used to be considered a cardinal sin of the scent world, but in the past few years it’s a huge trend we’ve seen fully blossom. Try layering the scent with a differing fragranced body lotion (Top Tip: this also makes any fragrance last longer, as perfume disappears far faster on dry skin), or with one (or more!) other scents you already like.
You might create your own ‘bespoke’ blend and be pleasantly surprised…
3: Wear it well
The heat of your skin can drastically change the way a perfume smells, which is partly why not all scents smell the same on everyone, but how about wearing it a different way?
Spraying perfume on a scarf, or even in your hair, is a wonderful way of trying something new. Also, this tends to prolong the top and heart notes of a perfume, so if it’s the base or ‘dry down’ that’s putting you off, you’re on to a win-win…
4: Changes, changes
Are you aware the weather (along with our mood and even what we’ve eaten several days previous to trying a scent) can hugely alter the way we perceive a perfume?
Cold weather will prolong the top and heart notes on your skin, with warmer days meaning the fragrance will ‘bloom’ (journey through all the notes) on your skin much more quickly. We’re always thrilled to discover something we thought we didn’t like in winter becomes the hit of the summer. There’s still hope…
5: Do some research… and treat yourself!
Look up your favourite fragrance on our genius Find a Fragrance tool, known as FR.eD for short, and you’ll be given several suggestions of other perfumes you’re bound to like. We’re sorry your gift-giver didn’t get it right, but life is too short for perfumes to be gathering dust.
Or why not just re-gift the mistake and treat yourself to something new? Check out our fantastic sale to explore a whole wardrobe of perfumes from the comfort of your own home, and in try-me sizes that mean you can luxuriate in the scents for a few days, to really make sure you love them…
‘Our crimes would depair, if they were not cherished by our virtues’ says Shakespeare in All’s Well That Ends Well; and so too will our bodies despair, if not cherished by fragranced oils in cold weather.
You will have to forgive the laboured punning, because I simply couldn’t resist, and it also happens to be true.
Winter takes its toll on our skin, so if you’re not slathering yourelf in something luxuriously moisturising, your fragrance simply wont last as long. Scent evaporates according to how dry your skin is, so if you’re closseted away in layers of wool and central-heating, your normal fragrance may need topping up throughout the day, even if it usually lasts well. And if it’s alcohol based – as most spray perfumes are – that’s going to dry your skin out even further.
Another temptation during grey, cold days is to soak for as long as possible in a steaming hot bath, but Jessica Weiser, from the New York Dermatology Group, explains, ‘Hot water depletes natural oils from the skin’s surface, leaving it dry and more susceptible to conditions like eczema,’ Best practice is to only use lukewarm water but really, where’s the fun in that? Personally I like to semi-boil myself like a lobster – all the more appealing in a scented bath – so keep the water piping hot if you like, but try and limit your soaking time to ten minutes, Weiser advises.
Yes, that seems sensible. But I can tell you now, that ain’t gonna happen, Jessica. If I’m putting in all the admin of running a bath, I’m going to be in there until I emerge like a perfumed prune. So we need a back-up plan to rehydrate. This is the time to reach for fabulously fragranced oils to layer-up your scent game, making it last longer and with the added benefit of de-pruning you, too.
Don’t worry about ‘matching’ your fragrance to these – use them instead to add facets to a favourite scent – or simply enjoy them on their own…
This is a perennial favourite, and sort of smells like paradise. Monoï is a Tahitian word simply meaning ‘scented oil’, and is made using a kind of enfleurage technique by soaking gardenia petals in coconut oil. Infused with further coconut and tropical wafts of frangipani flowers, Elemis have basically bottled the smell of a holiday in this multi-use product. Use in the bath, all over the body and even as a weekly hair treatment. The oil solidifies in cooler temperatures, so pop the bottle in a bowl of warm water to return it to a silky liquid – I just put my bottle right in the bath with me until it melts, and then baste myself as though I were a perfumed poussin.
For a truly indulgent scented experience, I cannot recommend Mandy Aftel’s body and hair elixir enough. Originally created as a bespoke fragrance for none other than Leonard Cohen, Ancient Resins resonates with frankincense, Balm of Gilead – not the republic in The Handmaid’s Tale, thank goodness, but the name of a balsam made from poplar buds, which smell like honeyed musk – along with benzoin, elemi, and labdanum: oils cherished for centuries for their healing properties. Boswellia Frankincense resins have been scientifically tested to prove their pain-relieving anti-inflammatory qualities, so couldn’t be more ideal for this time of year. A few drops used to scent a bath (will actually scent your entire house), slathered on to soothe and nourish skin, or stroked through ends of hair and rubbed in to burnish a beard – it would seem especially pertinent listening to Cohen’s album New Skin For The Old Ceremony while you annoint yourself with this divine oil.
A heftier price, yes, but the extravagent dose of Turkish rose will truly stay with you all day, infused as it is with a deeply fabulous patchouli heart and resting on a bed of sandalwood and frankincense. Clove, blackcurrant and raspberry ‘binds the perfume together for a final movement of symphonic femininity’ say Malle, but we know many men who delight in wearing the fragrance too, and this isn’t merely a pretty rose that blushes and swoons. All those resins add a purring depth that radiates naughtiness, albeit in a very refined way. I think the lady in question would be Lady Chatterley – admiring her roses and indulging in a bit of rumpy pumpy among the petals whenever possible. Sprinkle into a bath, massage into hair and cover with a warm towel for 15 minutes before rinsing, and be sure to lavish your limbs all over.
I really haven’t stopped wanging on about how wonderful SJP Stash is since the genderless ‘fragrance for humans’ was first launched in 2016, but now I can frolic in accompanying body and hair products like this oil – and a beautifully scented hair mist for lighter application – as well. There’s something about the composition of incense and vetiver infused with unexpected notes like sage, pistachio, grapefruit and warming black pepper, that makes it smell at least three times more expensive than it is, and about a million miles away from what you’d expect a ‘celebrity scent’ to smell like. It’s hard to find fault with either the original perfume or this nourishing treat, to wear together or used to add an ambery glow to fragrances you find a little bit “meh” on cold, grey days like these.
To mark Baccarat’s 250th anniversary, the niche house of MFK united with the iconic crystal house to create the fragrance – and it’s proved a smash-hit success all over the world. Now fans can cover themselves in the decadently rich oil as well – warm ambergris and cedarwood buoyed by the sunshine jasmine affords to balance and brighten this otherwise woody fragrance, with distinct undertones of caramelised brown sugar to my nose. Argan, sweet almond and apricot kernel oils have been used as the base, making this a gorgeously moisturising but never greasy oil. Perfect to spray on in a hurry just before dressing and dashing outdoors, it’s proving equally successful (with some department strores reporting waiting lists), so if you see a bottle and know you love the perfume already, my advice would be not to procrastinate…
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