How to shop for men’s fragrances

Can your father still wear, with no shame, the same jeans he was wearing aged 17? We’re hardly ones to judge, but we’re betting most could not – and even if they could, that it would be really quite inadvisable for them to do so. With this in mind, why, then, do some poor chaps keep getting given the same old scent they’ve been using since they were first shaving?

We’ll be live un-boxing a brand new, specially curated selection of fragrances aimed at men today at 3pm GMT on Instagram. Join us for all sorts of ideas, tips and scented discussion, or catch-up later by watching our Insta Stories, saved for the next 24 hours. Until then (or afterwards, of course), read on for our guide to shopping for men’s fragrances…

It’s entirely wrong to stereotype, of course, and we happen to know many men voraciously read-up on and try all the latest launches, and are comfortable with owning a wardrobe of scent choices for every olfactory whim. But we’re not talking about them. We’re reaching out to the partners and loved ones of gentlemen who are firmly stuck in a fragrance rut. How do you drag [sorry, ease…] them out of it?

If you’re a bit lost and don’t know where to begin, follow our handy tips when fragrance shopping for a man (who perhaps doesn’t even know he needs to be fragrance-shopped-for).

First of all, what type of a chap are you buying for? Age, character, hobbies and career are all pointers, but can never be an absolute guarantee of what he’ll prefer – he might just surprise you (and himself!) Masculine fragrances have moved on somewhat since the ‘splash it all over’ one-size-fits-all sporty-fresh-or-nothing days. Now there are ‘masculine’ and ‘gender fluid’ fragrances that fit all the fragrance family categories, and so men are offered opulent orientals along with sophisticated fougéres; addictive gourmands, bigger, bolder Colognes and even floral-forward scents that smell utterly incredible on a man’s skin.

But where to begin?

We have put together the ideal starting point with a selection of Discovery Boxes, specially curated with a range of masculine fragrances. Our latest, The New Man Discovery Box, is a mere £19 (VIP price £15) for the biggest bumper-load yet: thirteen new, niche, designer and classic-house fragrance samples, PLUS a full-size scented shower gel (worth £20 alone!) and a generous fragranced shave gel.

So, why not get him The New Man Discovery Box as an initial gift, and offer to buy the full-size fragrance he most likes? You could even make an afternoon of it, going through the steps, below, with him (or point him at this page) until he finds that new favourite…

And if you’re a chap who wants to delve into the world of fragrance more deeply, why leave it to chance? Treat yourself!

– Try the fragrance on a blotter (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these should be available on perfume counters – and when you buy a Discovery Box from this site, you’ll find a handy pack of blotters already inside.

– Write the name of the fragrance on the blotter, otherwise you’ll definitely forget it, later (and chances are, that one’s bound to be the best!)

– Wait a few minutes for the initial alcohol and the top notes to subside – a lot of people take huge whiffs immediately and then complain ‘it smells of alcohol/hairspray!’ Let it dry a little, first. At this stage you may be able to eliminate one or more, if they don’t appeal – but it is really the heart notes and the lingering base notes which you will live with, and which are crucial.

– You really need to smell a scent on your skin! Remember: blotters are a useful way of eliminating no-hopers and lining up possibilities, but they’re not really enough to base a perfume purchase on. We’ve lost count of the number of scents that didn’t particularly appeal at first-sniff, but which a few minutes/hours later we realised we adored. Fragrances are made to be worn on and warmed by skin, not paper…

– Ideally, try no more than two at a time on the skin – one on each wrist. We don’t believe fragrance-shopping should be rushed, but we all live busy lives. You can try one more, on the inside of an elbow – the elbows also happen to be good pulse-points.

– Try to live with a fragrance for several hours, or better still, a whole day/evening) before you part with your cash. That might mean getting a sample, if it’s available in store (or exploring the Fragrance Discovery Boxes). Try to wear the scent more than once if you’re properly testing it: mood, weather and what you’ve eaten can all seriously change how a fragrance works on your skin, and how you feel about it.

– Spray a darker-coloured scarf or inside of a jacket lining, too, and sniff it later. That way, it still warms with your body heat, but you’re not everwhelmed by it. And you can take it off!

Book a fragrance consultation if you’d really like to make a special occasion of it. Many fragrance houses and department stores now offer this service, some of them are completely free and others you have to pay for (but it’s usually redeemable against purchase). Have a look at our round-up of some of these services; we originally wrote it for people wanting wedding fragrance consultations, but it applies whatever the occasion!

When you’ve fallen in love, only then go back and make your purchase – or flag-up to loved ones which ones you liked most, so they know for future gift-worthy occasions…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

How to choose your perfect wedding fragrance…

The flags are flying, excitement is mounting, and everyone in the fragrance world is wondering which fragrances HRH Harry and (soon-to-be HRH) Meghan have chosen for their wedding…

But a more pertient question is to ask: how on earth should you go about choosing the perfect scent for your ‘big day’ (or any special occasion) anyway?

Follow our guide to choosing his and/or her scents to create an olfactory memory that will last a lifetime…

– It’s vital to live with a fragrance for several hours (better still – an entire day) on your skin. That scent you spritz and immediately fall for may turn into something less than loveable as the notes develop.

– The very best way to try is in the comfort of your own home, with zero pressure, scroll down to our hand-picked selection of samples for you try, below (they’re perfect for bridesmaids gifts and wedding favours, too!)

– Try not to test more than a few fragrances at one time, because too many at once = a muddle (and you’ll likely forget which is which, anyway!)

– Following on from the previous point, when testing a fragrance, be sure to write down the name of it on a blotter or jot down on your phone. By the time you get home a pile of random bits of scented paper will mean nothing to you!

Scared to branch out? Type the name of a fragrance you already know you love into our Fragrance Finder, and we’ll immediately suggest six new scents we think you’ll fall for!

Don’t know where to start? Book a bespoke fragrance consultation as a couple (or on your own if you prefer) – we’ve listed seven scent sittings for you try, and many are completely free, so what do you have to lose?

– When you find a fragrance you love, consider following the fragrant theme through to your floral arrangements, colours, mini-versions (to give as bridesmaid gifts or wedding favours), and matching scented candles to use for table decorations…

If you can’t indulge yourself while choosing a wedding scent, when can you? Take time to sit back and explore these fabulous fragrance selections we’ve specially curated – bringing you an extensive range from cult niche houses to luxury designer, with iconic classics and a few scented treats to enjoy along the journey…

The whispered breeze of Amouage Beach Hut is perfect for seaside weddings, while Sana Jardin Berber Blonde will whisk you to more exotic shores.

Fragonard Verveine will sparkle the whole day through and Estée Lauder Modern Muse Nuit is ideal to smoulder softly as dusk falls.

The Beautiful Mind Series duo celebrate intelligent, creative and inspirational women, as two perfumers for Miller Harris Tender and Scherzo uniquely interpret F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.

Indulgent are here to help de-stress with : a sumptuous Heathcote & Ivory Lavender Fields Hand Cream (don’t forget those hands will be photographed close-up and on show all day, so pop this perfectly sized nourishing and relaxing cream in your pocket!) and from Aromatherapy Associates, Deep Relax and Support Breathe Bath & Shower Oils. Much needed, we sense…

Treat Yourself Discovery Box £19 (VIP price £15)

An utterly delectable range of new fragrances, recently launched by founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, this stunning portfolio of perfumes reflect her life-long love of fragrance – nurtured on travels through the Middle East with her inspirational grandmother. A box of delights to discover for nomads, free-spirits and all those who love clasically composed yet contemporary scents. Close your eyes and bask in these…

Savage Jasmine Night-blooming jasmine, wrapped around intoxicating musk. 

Sandalwood Temple Moroccan neroli oil, enveloped it in Atlas cedarwood, Haitian vetiver, creamy vanilla and East Indian sandalwood.

Tiger By Her Side Showcases Moroccan rose alongside Somalian incense and Indonesian patchouli.

Berber Blonde Filled with the light of Sana Jardin’s signature orange blossom, alongside Moroccan neroli oil and musk.

Celestial Patchouli Exotic aromas of patchouli, leather, cinnamon bark and Australian Sandalwood give way to the abundant warmth of rose, jasmine, osmanthus and Moroccan orris.

Nubian Musk A sensuously inviting blend of musk and vanilla, rose, jasmine, Moroccan grapefruit flower, Haitian vetiver and Australian sandalwood.

Revolution de la Fleur This is a sultry, sun-filled melody of Madagascan ylang ylang, Moroccan jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood.

Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30

An entire wardrobe of masculine fragrances for him to try before he buys (and for you to approve, perhaps?) there’s a wealth of choices from fresh and reviving, crisply stylish, designer favourites to ultra-luxe new houses to discover, and a FULL-SIZE face wash by cult male grooming brand, Heath! Also great for gifting to the Best Man or splitting in to wedding favours for hard-to-buy-for male guests…

Cartier L’Envol Sunshine diffused through golden droplets of amber, a canopy of forest trees with resinous, woody depth. Perfect for outdoorsy types and nature-lovers.

Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 Not only for football fans, a spritz echoing that first sip of whiskey, or sinking gladly into your favourite leather armchair in a gentleman’s club.

Coach For Men Thirst-quenchingly green with citrus enhanced by a herbaceous waft of coriander, sensuous geranium, fragrant cardamom and softly suede dry-down.

Dunhill Racing A nod to heritage gentlemen’s fragrances: citrus, lavender, pepper and musk, but a juicy twist of grapefruit, orange blossom and guaiac wood set this scent apart.

Ferrari Man in Red Thrill-seekers with a softer side should reach for a fruity-spiced opening, golden plum entwined with orange blossom and soothed by lavender.

Jaguar Black Chromite A flash of just-peeled mandarin, crisp tartness of green apple and a background of incense and patchouli add mystery and sophistication to the journey.

Jovoy Private Label Originally made for a client who just happened to be an Arabian prince, this one will have all and sundry swooning when they smell the woody, musky trail…

Kenneth Cole Mankind Nuzzle-up to succulently juicy fresh pineapple warmed by ginger and cardamom, tarragon and cinnamon enveloping vetiver on a greenly mossy base.

Missoni Parfum Pour Homme Head-clearing lemon leaves and pomelo dress up fougère notes of lavender, jasmine and herbs to a stylishly snugglish finish. A new go-to. (With matching shave balm & shower gel!)

Vince Camuto Homme Citrus and juniper = G&T, with Italian fennel, blue cypress and balmy lavender to soothe the nerves while taking a walk in the cool of the spruce trees.

For Him Discovery Box £19 (VIP price £15)

For the ultimate in luxurious was to try a selection of fragrances – these don’t just look pretty (perfectly presented in a vintage hatbox-style gift box), all the Valeur Absolue scents were created specifically to evoke particular feelings. Featuring an incredible seven 14ml bottles, each flacon has semi-precious gems to further enhance the perfume’s emotion. And if you can’t quite stretch to the full collection, we suggest putting this on your Wedding List to enjoy exploring together long after the confetti has blown away!

Harmonie Takes you to a safe and invigorating place, serene and welcoming: a world of absolute harmony.

Confiance Offers intense and comforting aromas, from the tones of Bourbon vanilla and cedarwood.

Vitalité Develops around citrus and acerola: bold and resolutely optimistic.

Joie-Éclat Gets it spirit-uplifting power from essential oils of Florida grapefruit and Haitian vetiver.

Sérénitude Creates the essence of an empty beach, via floral and woody tones.

Sensualité Embodies the sensuality of a serene, beautiful and self-assured woman.

Rouge Passion Is a floriental with enchanting tonalities – alive, seductive and radiant.

Valeur Absolue Deluxe Coffret £112

Whichever fragrances you plump for, we wish you all the best of luck and a lifetime of happiness with The One (your other-half and the scents you fell for), and hope our guide has helped settle any scent-choosing anxieties!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

7 wedding fragrance consultations: in-store & online

Picking a new perfume can be difficult enough at the best of times, but for your wedding day? That’s piling on the pressure!

Whichever scent you select, this will forever remind you of the day, a scented memory to treasure forever, and we know many couples don’t just want to wear the same ol’ fragrance they wear every day. After all, you’re unlikely to be rocking up to the chapel in whatever outfit you happened to find on the floor that day (we hope!) so why would your scent be a second thought?

But where to begin?

Firstly, here are some questions to ask yourself

What’s the style of your dress and theme of the wedding? Relaxed, formal, opulent, casual, classic, modern…? The style of your fragrance should fit comfortably with the occasion.

Is there an overall colour-theme for the wedding and celebrations afterwards? Colour can be a great guide to which fragrances you might be drawn to. Pale feature colours are unlikely to fit with a decadent, oriental style scent and vice-versa.

What flowers will be in your bouquet or decorating the venue, and are they fragranced or unscented? A strongly scented set of floral arrangements could fight with a fragrance that’s wildly different (and we definitely don’t want fights on a wedding day!)

Are there types of fragrances you already love? Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to branch out – take our Find Your Next Fragrance test online to see where to begin looking. All you need to know is the name of a fragrance you already love, and we’ll suggest six other fragrances that you’re bound to find something wonderful within…

We’ll be suggesting some ideal scents for brides and grooms to try later in the week, but for now we’ve rounded-up a selection of some of the best fragrance profiling sessions around, so read on to see which sounds best for you (or try them all!)

These are specialised boutiques that offer an expert consultant to help guide you through the myriad of scents of offer, who will sit with you, ask a number of questions and help you work out exactly which one is best for you. A fantastic service at any time, for a big occasion it’s a life-saver, giving you the time and space to really find that special day’s perfect scent…

Atkinsons Wedding Fragrance Consultations 

If the newlywed Queen Victoria was honoured by Atkinsons with her very own Nuptial Bouquet*, then why not embrace your inner highness with an equally majestic scent for your wedding day? Atkinsons London welcomes brides and grooms-to-be in store for a range of fabulous services.

Their flagship team at their incredibly beautiful 41 Burlington Arcade boutique, will firstly take you through a bespoke experience to match you with your ideal perfume for your perfect day. We’re told this results in a fragrance for life. Their perfume profiling is a truly memorable experience; thorough, in-depth and one that speaks to the soul – it comes highly recommended.

The service can further continue downstairs in their salon with a wedding day hair consultation from their uber-talented hairdresser, Umberto.

By appointment, please call 0207 998 6166 to book or email store@atkinsons1799.com

*Pictured – the original Atkinsons order form from Queen Victoria for her wedding day scent Nuptial Bouquet

atkinsons1799.com

Ormonde Jayne Made-to-Measure service

For those wanting to have a personal twist on the scent for their special day, we introduce to you; Ormonde Jayne’s Made to Measure service. A luxurious service offered in their newly refurbished, and rather beautiful, boutique in The Royal Arcade, off Old Bond Street.

The Made to Measure service allows brides-to-be to choose their favourite scent from the Ormonde Jayne collection, (you’ll be taken through them by one of their impeccably trained staff) and then have it re-poured with your desired oil concentration, allowing up to 42% (the average eau de parfum is between 15-25%). Expect impressive, powerful results and a scent that will last til the very end of your special day.

This is personalised even further by the option to engrave one’s initials, and perhaps the wedding date – a lovely touch – onto the cap or bottle. Followed finally by a beautiful gift-wrapping service.

And while you wait? Graze on heavenly chocolates (courtesy of their delicious neighbours Charbonnel & Walker), sip on champagne and daydream about what will be the most magical, memorable, day of your life.

By appointment only, call 0207 499 1100 to book. Ormonde Jayne, 12 The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4SL

ormondejayne.com

Penhaligon’s Fragrance Profiling Session

Penhaligon’s offer this complimentary service in some of their standalone stores, which begin with being ushered into a private area and, over a refreshing tea (or perhaps some more-refreshing fizz) the consultant asking you some carefully thought-out questions by which to guide them into recommending several pairs of their fragrances to try.

Then, judging from your reaction (with both verbal and non-verbal cues, such as smiling, or paying attention to your eyebrows!) they discover the direction to explore together. A quick water break after five pairs of fragrances, to help cleanse the palate, options are refined down to finding the perfect perfume. Can’t make it to one of their boutiques? No problem, for Penhaligon’s have cleverly come up with online Profiling, and will even send you two samples from the selection of six selected as best for you (the cost of which they’ll deduct if you then go on to purchase a 100ml bottle).

Those who’ve taken part report that before the session, they thought they didn’t have any strong ideas about particular types of scents they were looking for, but by the end had formed a much clearer idea as to the best ones to look out for – so a service that’s helpful for the rest of your life, not only for a wedding day!

To book your own complimentary Fragrance Profiling consultation call your nearest Penhaligon’s store.

penhaligons.com

Floris London ‘Together’ Bespoke Fragrance Service

As part of their in-house bespoke perfumery service, ‘Together’ is a 3-hour appointment perfect for couples searching for truly unique scents, speacially composed with a Floris perfumer at at their flagship Floris boutique. Upon ordering online, ahead of the session you receive a beautifully presented gift box, including two bottles already engraved with your initials, as well as a guide to prepare you for your appointment.

Your session begins with a welcome from a member of the Floris family themselves, who will give you both a short overview of the company. Then, while you enjoy your glasses of champagne, your bespoke perfumer asks you to choose from a wide selection of fine fragrance bases, and throughout the appointment as you learn about fragrance creation (from the oldest privately owned family perfumers in the world), you will craft your scents with the introduction of new accords to complement your taste, until both your unique tailored fragrances are complete.

For peace of mind, your private record will be securely archived in the Floris ledgers for you and your future generations to reorder when required (which is completely delightful, don’t you think?) and repeat orders of 100ml bespoke fragrance can be ordered for £160 each.

£800 for 2 x 100ml bespoke fragrances. By appointment at Floris London, – order your engraved bottles online, and your session will take place at 89, Jermyn Street.

florislondon.com

Creed Fragrance Consultation

Offering you the chance to completely ‘immerse yourself in a world of unrivalled fragrance, coveted candles and rich bath and body care’ at the Creed Boutique, here you could find not only your perfect wedding fragrances, but matching scented products to give as bridesmaids gits or even to scent the tabels at your reception to continue the sensory theme.

Their exquisite lower ground floor offers a private and restful environment where guests can experience luxurious and bespoke fragrance consultations, uncovering their perfect signature scent for any occasion. The boutique’s team of highly-trained experts can accommodate almost any fragrance need, guiding guests through an impressive journey of scent discovery whilst enjoying a glass of Champagne. How civilised!

To book your bespoke consultation please contact The Creed Boutique, 99 Mount St, London W1K 2TF, call 0207 495 1795 or email enquiries@creedboutiquemayfair.com

creedfragrances.co.uk

Atelier Cologne Experience

At their utterly stunning (and so-colourful) Covent Garden boutique, Atelier Cologne offer an experience of a privileged moment for each client. Beginning with a bespoke perfume consultation, you’ll be introduced to each of the collections’ bestsellers, and from that discover your own personal ‘perfume wardrobe’. While spraying, the Perfume Artists tell the story that inspired the Cologne Absolue. ‘It is through this storytelling that customers’ imagination, memories and emotions are triggered, helping them make a final choice perfectly matching their personality and individual story.’

At the Atelier, the unique engraving workshop offers long-lasting Cologne lovers the chance to personalise their ‘keepsake’ travel spray. Clients can choose from more than 15 different colours of leather cases and have their name, initials or a short message engraved on the leather.

This bespoke customisation service is performed in front of each client by the Perfume Artists, in less than five minutes, using custom-made engraving machines. A perfect keepsake for your special day, something to keep forever and have re-filled time and again, and perhaps you can choose mini scents as bridesmaid gifts or the Groom’s Best Man while you’re at it?

The Atelier Cologne Experience is available at 11 The Market Building, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RB.

ateliercologne.com

Experimental Perfume Club Bespoke Workshop

During a three-hour session, you’ll create and perfect your own fragrance with one-to-one expert consultation along the way – exploring in detail a selection of 40 perfumery ingredients, you will be free to browse over two hundred from our lab to achieve your perfect blend.

Along the way, after answering a variety of insightful questions, you’ll find your ‘nose’ and leave with a stronger understanding of fragrance composition, what you like and you dislike and an enriched descriptive vocabulary for your sense of smell. This is a hands-on workshop where the full session is one-to-one with the perfumer at EPC, perfectly suitable for any level of experience and ideal for individuals, couples or private groups. They will tailor the workshop to whatever your needs are, so just ask!

After the workshop you’ll leave that day with a truly signature scent in the form of a 15ml lab bottle of your bespoke fragrance, as well as your perfume formula for future orders and a complimentary 50 ml Eau de Toilette, sent to you within 2 weeks.

£450 for one / £220 for additional participants (includes the first 50ml bottle of your fragrance, delivered two weeks after your workshop). To book, fill in the appointment request form online.

experimentalperfumeclub.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale and Carson Parkin-Fairley

6 cocktail-inspired scent trends you have to try

Sitting in the sunshine and sipping a glass (or three) of something thirst-quenching is just the thing – and perfumers seem similarly inclined. If you’re planning a holiday, or simply enjoying our own (currently clement!) weather, this is definitely the time to change-up your fragrance game and perhaps consider one of these cocktail-inspired scents…

We might as well start as we mean to go on, so fancy something fruity? Zara have added three new fragrances with a Cocktail Collection (how apropos), encompassing three favourite tipples: Cherry Sling, Peach Margarita and Sweet Daiquiri. Peony, peach and pear; melon, rose and musk or nashi pear, bamboo and lotus: whichever you choose, these are joyfully exuberant (and very pocket-friendly!) ways to wear the trend.

Zara Cocktail Collection £9.99 for 200ml eau de toilette
Buy them at zara.com

For those who prefer their snifters a bit more straight-up, the cool, clear crackle of ice in a crystal tumbler is wonderfully evoked by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur. A side order of chilled cardamom and coriander fizz pleasingly with aldehydes as bitter rhubarb accord, a splash of clear rose and lily of the valley swirl with leather, sandalwood and oakmoss. Distinctly dashing.

By Kilian Vodka on the Rocks £215 for 100ml eau de parfum
At bykilian.co.uk

Peach schnapps with lychee and crystalised rose petals? Lalique‘s Rêve d’Infini sees us sipping iced martinis in a fabulous Art-Nouveau hotel. Love a drop of rum? Swashbuckler’s should head for the exotic Atkinsons Pirates Grand Reserve, while those more clasically inclined may wish to wear a Chambord and Champagne-like mix in Vince Camuto‘s Amore. Explore all of these (and many more) in this unashamedly decadent Discovery Box…

The Velvet Collection £19 (£15 for VIP Subscribers)
At our shop

Many perfume-lovers seem to share a love for gin – perhaps it’s the wonderful array of botanicals that are now being used to infuse various small-batch brands, so reminiscent of the way fragrances are made? For fellow gin-lovers, this is now an absolute classic – a crisply refined cocktail on a pleasingly debauched base of black cherry, soft leather, crytalised brown sugar and exotic amber. To be splashed with abandon and relished at leisure.

Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling £100 for 50ml eau de toilette
At penhaligons.com

Visiting the Kilchoman distillery on their beautiful remote island inspired a scent that captures not only the rich flavours of the golden liquor, but hints of hedgerows and the windswept, rugged mosslands for which they’re famed. Galbanum brings to mind bright yellow gorse flowers, bergamot and orris mirror the citrus-floral notes found in the whiskey itself, while a cade oil and patchouli create a peaty accord that’s reassuringly (and literally) grounding.

Floris Islay £180 for 100ml eau de parfum
At florislondon.com

Thirst-qunching Watermelons with the freshness of green mandarin, notes of green tea and cooling vetiver; Blood Oranges bursting with vibrant, long-lasting citrus, and Framboise Noire succulent with black raspberries and ripe forest berries with a deep undertone like that of an ultra-smooth red wine… Fruit punch, claret, gourmand liqours, watermelon martinis? Allow yourself to be utterly transported by all in this deliciously curated collection.

Shay & Blue Precious Miniatures £65 (VIP price £55) for 5 x 10ml eau de parfum
At our shop

Pssst! Had your cocktail curiousity piqued? Our Subscribers were the first to be invited to our exclusive Sip & Sniff evening at Jovoy Mayfair (so you’ll need to be signed in to view this invite) on June 20th – where experts will be pairing six scents with matching drinks. But we’ll be giving you more details about this tomorrow, so watch our Events section for news!

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Contemporary fragrance houses flying the flag

Who can lay claim to being ‘the birthplace of perfumery’? France and Italy regularly duke it out for the title, but British scents have been going strong since 1730 – with whispers of Yardley London‘s heritage in fact going all the way back to the reign of King Charles I, supplying royalty with lavender-scented soaps. Sadly, these records were lost in 1666’s Great Fire of London, but many British houses have archives bursting not only with records of their fragrant wares, but the customers who bought them – including royalty, film stars and prime ministers along with the many millions who flocked to their historic doors.
We chose to dedicate the latest issue of our award-winning online magazine, The Scented Letter, to these Best of British. (It’s available digitally to V.I.P. Club Members as a membership benefit as well as in print form.)
The emphasis is on heritage houses who have made our name and are still some of our favourites to this very day, with a selection of newer houses mentioned – including Miller Harris, Angela Flanders, Ormonde Jayne and Floral Street – all of whom have their own boutiques, where you can visit to stock-up on their perfumes, both historic and ground-breakingly new. The streets of London may not be paved in gold, but they’re filled with delicious perfumes…
To be frank, the feature was practically an entire book’s worth of material, and we still didn’t have room for every single one we’d have like to mention – which goes to show how many we have to be proud of. Also, we are thrilled that so many contemporary houses are continuing to fly that fragrant flag, being sold online and stocked in independent perfumeries that stretch the entire globe.
What better time, then, to continue our celebration of the diversity, ingenuity and creativity British fragrance houses display, and share with you a list of some contemporary houses your nose should definitely get to know…?

Ruth Mastenbroek

Born in England, graduating with a Chemistry degree from Oxford University, Ruth trained and worked as a perfumer in the 70s – both in the UK and Netherlands with Naarden International (which later became Quest and is now Givaudan – one of the largest perfume suppliers in the world…) Ruth then went to work in Japan and the perfume capital Grasse before returning to England to work for a small company, where she created fragrances for up-and-coming brands like Kenneth Turner and Jo Malone – including her Grapefruit candle. Setting up her own perfumery company, Fragosmic Ltd., in 2003 – the year she became president of The British Society of Perfumers, it was in 2010 that Ruth launched a capsule collection of scented products featuring her signature fragrance – RM – the first to use advanced micro-encapsulation technology in a scented bathrobe…!

Still creating bespoke fragrances for brands, Ruth’s own fragrances allow her to bottle memories, she says, ‘…of childhood in England and America – chocolate cookies, fresh earth, blackberries… Of Holland – lilies, narcissus, hyacinth and salty sea air… Of France – orchids, roses and wild herbs… Of Japan – cherry blossom, lotus and green tea…’ Believing that fragrance can uniquely move us, and with a wealth of knowledge at her fingertips; Ruth distills olfactory flash-backs into perfumes that everyone can enjoy and form their own, highly personal connections with. And with her latest, the sulty, smoking rose of Firedance, shortlisted for Global Pure Beauty and Fragrance Foundation Awards this year, we suggest you allow yourself the pleasure of connecting with them, too…

Quintessential scents Just launched, you can now indulge in a newly-chic box of emotionally uplifting scents. From the sparkling secret-garden fruitiness of Signature, through the romantic, rolling landscape of Umbria captured in Amorosa. A furtively-smoked Sobranie with notes of jasmine and cashmere evoke the dreaming spires of Oxford, while a classic rose is transformed with hot leather in Firedance, to become quite swaggeringly swoon-worthy. Have a chaise-lounge at the ready…
Ruth Mastenbroek Discovery Set £17.95 for 4 x 2ml eaux de parfum
Available now in our shop

4160 Tuesdays

If we live till we’re 80, we have 4,160 tuesdays to fill, and so the philosophy of copywriter-turned-perfumer Sarah McCartney is: better make the most of every single one of them. Having spent years writing copy for other people’s products, and writing for LUSH for 14 years, Sarah wrote a novel about imagined perfumes that make people happy, with such evocative descriptions that readers began asking her to make them. Ever the type to roll up her sleeves and take on a new challenge, Sarah explains she’d ‘…tried to find perfumes that matched what I was describing, and they still weren’t right, so I set off on my quest to make them myself. I became a perfumer!’
Proudly extolling British eccentricity, the ever-increasing fragrances include Sunshine & Pancakes, which Sarah made to evoke a typical 1970s British seaside family vacation, opening with a burst of sunny citrus, with jasmine to represent sun-warmed skin – alongside honey and vanilla (the pancakes element). The Dark Heart of Old Havana is based on a 1998 trip to Cuba: brown sugar, tobacco, rich coffee, fruit, warm bodies, ‘alcohol, exuberance and recklessness,’ as she puts it. Maxed Out and Midnight in the Palace Garden were both shortlisted for the coveted Fragrance Foundation Awards 2016 in the ‘Best Indie Scent’ category, and an army of devotees now relish every day, scented suitably eccentrically.
Quintessential scent  Named for a comment made by a Tatler beauty editor who smelled it, a dash of bergamot, a soft hint of creamy vanilla, velvety smooth woods, musk and ambergris make for a dreamily decadent ‘your skin but oh, so much better’ affair. Like wearing a magical potion made of lemon meringue pie and fancy pants, if they don’t fall at your feet after a whiff of this, they aren’t worth knowing.
4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO) £40 for 30ml
Buy it at 4160tuesdays.com
Pssst! Breaking news: Fans of 4160 Tuesdays are a passionate lot, and kept asking Sarah when her next crowd-funded fragrance would be available, and so she’s teamed up with James Skinner, founder and designer at Dalliance & Noble, to make a matching scarf and perfume.
The fragrance is a soft, rich, lavish blend of iris, hay, honey, apricot, tobacco, vanilla, lily, almond, sandalwood and bergamot, and as we love scenting our scarves with perfume, we cannot wait to try this one!
They met in 2017 at the artisan trade show Best of Britannia in Brick Lane, then regrouped in Sarah’s 4160Tuesday’s West London studio to choose natural and synthetic materials. The result was a collection of aromas which Sarah took as inspiration for the fragrance, and she named it Truth Beauty Freedom Love, the rallying cry of the 19th Century Bohemian movement or artists, writers and free thinkers.
James illustrated the plants which the natural essential oils came from, and the wildlife they support. In the corners of the scarf he’s placed the aroma molecules which cast a perfumer’s spell on the blend to transform it from just a mixture of materials into an elegant, wearable fragrance. He designed the scarf in two colourways, and named it Eden’s Garden – a haven for fruit, flowers and wildlife.
Crowdfunding prices:
100ml eau de parfum and silk scarf £175 (will be £300)
100ml eau de parfum £75 (will be £150)
30ml eau de parfum £40 (will be £75)
Get in on the action here – but hurry, there’s only twenty days left to secure these special prices!

Nancy Meiland Parfums

Nancy’s background as a bespoke perfumer began with her apprenticeship to one of the UK’s experts in custom perfumery, creating signature scents for those coveting ‘something highly individual and special…’ Before launching Nancy Meiland Parfums, her decade-long journey through fragrance had already included co-running the former School of Perfumery, acting as a consultant for independent perfume houses, working on collaborations with Miller Harris, and speaking on the subject of fragrance at events nationwide.
Now dividing her time between town and country (Nancy’s based in East Sussex), she explains that ‘the creative process of gathering sensory impressions and honing them into a formula is a vital one. Once a blank canvas, the formula sheet acts as a metaphor – and gradually emerges essentially as a kind of poem, with body, light and shade and a life of its own.’ It amuses Nancy, looking back, that she often had school essays returned to her emblazoned in red pen for being “too flowery”. ‘It figures!,’ she says. Thank goodness, say her extensive base of fragrance fans, in love with these portrayals of often traditional ingredients, composed with elegant modernity and beautiful harmony.
Quintessential scent  Definitely not your grandma’s drawer-liner, this is a rose in all its glory, with the entire plant evoked – pink pepper, for the thorns, stalky green galbanum for the leaves; geranium, jasmine, white pear and violet delicately sketching the tender bud. As Nancy observes: ‘I wanted to depict both the light and the dark shades of it, as opposed to this pretty, twee and girly rose that’s become slightly old-fashioned.” Rambling roses entwined with brambles, if this scent surrounded Sleeping Beauty, she’d never forgive that meddlesome prince for cutting it down…

Nancy Meiland Parfums Rosier £62.50 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at nancymeiland.com

Marina Barcenilla Parfums

A rising star of perfumery, Marina Barcenilla is one of the talented ‘noses’ driving the strong trend towards natural perfumery. As the name may suggest, her birthplace may not have been in the UK – in fact she was born in Spain – but it’s where Marina chose to make her home, and to set up her now thriving perfume business. Marina recalls being intrigued by the aromatic notes in the Herbíssimo fragrances and in her grandmother’s lavender water.
Having always been fascinated and inspired by scent – when the chance came to branch out from her aromatherapy roots into the world of perfume, Marina rose beautifully to the challenge. In 2016 Marina won the coveted Fragrance Foundation (FiFi) Award for Best New Independent Fragrance with India. Against incredibly stiff competition, judged blind by Jasmine Award-winning journalists and bloggers, this prompted her to take the next step on her journey; her company – formerly known as The Perfume Garden – became Marina Barcenilla Parfums. But although the name had changed, the ethos remained the same – ‘to create the finest fragrances, using what nature has to offer.’ More awards followed, including a Beauty Shortlist Award for Patchouli Clouds, an International Natural Beauty Award, and the Eluxe Award for Best Natural Perfume Brand.
In 2017, for the second consecutive year, Marina won Best New Independent Fragrance for the opulent Black Osmanthus – which truly put her on the radar of journalists and perfumistas. From sourcing rare and precious aromatic essences from around the world to blending fragrances by hand in her own perfume studio, after years of study, Marina’s long-awaited olfactory journey to ‘rediscover the soul of perfume’ is off to a rousing start – and all from the suitably mystical base of Glastonbury. More than simply reaching for the stars, parallel to her perfumery career she’s also studying to become a Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist, at the University of London; recently combining her twin passions by creating AromAtom – creating the imagined scents of space as a way to make space science more engaging for children – which Marina regularly tours through schools. What else can we say for this exciting house, but ‘up, up and away…!?’
Quintessential scent  Silky-smooth sandalwood is enticingly laced with flecks of fragrant cardamom, dotted with coriander, huge armfulls of rose and woven with incense for an all-natural scent that’s soothingly spiced, earthily grounding and yet erotically tempting; so you’ll be wanting to dance barefoot (perhaps comletely bare) and wrap yourself around a Maypole, have no doubt…
Marina Barcenilla Parfums India £130 for 30ml eau de parfum
Buy it at mbparfums.com

St Giles

Rarely do founders of fragrance houses come with such experience, passion and dedication to the industry as Michael Donovan. With a career thus far helping stock the shelves of such cult fragrance-shopping destinations as Roullier White, running his own PR company, representing such luminaries as Fréderic Malle – every time we’ve met Michael, he’s been bubbling with enthusiasm about a perfume we ‘…absolutely must smell!’ or a nose who’s ‘a complete genius!’ And you know what? He’s always been right.
He’d been badgered for years by fragrance experts and enthusiasts alike to launch his own range, but the idea had tickled his brain for some decades before being fully explored as a reality. As Michael explains, the concept he just couldn’t let go of was to have a collection that truly represented ‘scents as complex as you are.’ And so, the St Giles fragrances have ‘…been created to stimulate and amplify the many different aspects of our character. This wardrobe of fragrances celebrates the parts that make us who we are, fusing the reality and the fantasy.’
And the nose he sought out to compose them just happens to be one of the greatest of our time. ‘The perfumes are made in collaboration with Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, whose vision I have long admired and whose friendship I cherish.’ Having spent many years working alongside Bertrand, but always in regard to his work for other houses, Michael admits he was ‘…extremely nervous’ about approaching him, but it turns out Bertrand was more than enthusiastic in his acceptance. The only question you need ask, now, is which fragrant character you want to embody, today…
Quintessential scent  Rosemary absolute – now proven to stimulate memory performance – adds an aromatic, drily green note while fresh ginger warmly fizzes alongside Champagne-like aldehydes, herbaceous clary sage and the uplifting, fruity zing of rhubarb. There’s a sigh of soft leather and frankincense at the heart, slowly sinking to the inky-tinged base of castoreum absolute, sandalwood, Atlas cedarwood and a salty tang of driftwood. Absolutely unique, you’ll want to cover yourself in it while seeking your muse, perhaps while enjoying a sip or three of something refreshing, wearing nothing else but a velvet smoking jacket and an enigmatic smile…
St Giles The Writer £130 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at stgilesfragrance.com

 

Tom Daxon

Recalling his childhood and growing up ‘in fragrant surroundings,’ Tom Daxon rather understates how perfume practically ran in his blood. Lucky enough to have a mother who was creative director at Molton Brown for over 30 years, and therefore ‘would often give me new shower gels to try, fragrances to sniff’ his scented destiny was sealed by frequently accompanying his mother on her business trips to Grasse.
There he met the father-daughter duo of Jacques and Carla Chabert, who’d variously worked for Chanel, Guerlain and L’Oréal, with Jacques the nose behind Molton Brown’s ground-breaking Black Pepper and Carla creating the hit follow-up, Pink Peppercorn. Having esteemed perfumers in his life from such an early age was a connection that would bravely – still in his twenties – lead Tom to launch a brand new British fragrance house. Clearly a chap who doesn’t like to hang around when he’s got a bee in his bonnet, by the end of that same year, he was already being stocked in Liberty.
Not a bad start, all things considered, and describing the impetus behind him starting his own line of fragrances, Tom says ‘I wouldn’t have bothered if I thought I couldn’t offer something a bit different.’ Uniquely intriguing, the entire range celebrates a luxurious kind of British modernity in their pared back, clean lines, the oils being macerated and matured in England for at least six weeks before they’re bottled here. Harnessing Tom’s Grasse connections but remaining resolutely British in their spirit, it’s just the beginning for this exciting house.
Quintessential scent Lushly narcotic, it’s a hyper-realistic big-hitter – like sticking your entire face in a buxom bouquet, the better to get another dose of its lascivious charms. Using traditional, headily feminine notes like lily of the valley, carnation, rose and oakmoss might have become ‘vintage’ or even a bit old-fashioned smelling in the wrong hands, but the Chaberts and Tom vividly evoke just-bruised, silky petals with a futuristic drama that never fails to shake you out of the doldrums.

Tom Daxon Crushing Bloom £105 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at tomdaxon.com
With a strong heritage behind us, and many of those houses still not only surviving but thriving, it seems British perfumery is once again blooming with a fresh crop of forward-thinking (and often self-taught) perfumers shaking up the scent scene. No fuddy-duddy fragrances, these, they’re flying the flag not only for British niche perfumery, but for the art of fragrance itself. Hoist the bunting!

For further reading, we suggest getting your hands on a copy of British Perfumery: A Fragrant History by The British Society of Perfumers/£30 including UK delivery.
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Fifth Sense seek 'top tips' for their smell disorder survey

Our sense of smell remains the least explored and perhaps still most misunderstood of all our senses, despite being so important to our every day lives. Smell isn’t simply a pleasure, it makes up a huge percentage of how we taste, helps us navigate our understanding of the world we live in and form connections and relationships with those closest to us.
When people lose their sense of smell – through injury, illness or because of the medication they’re taking – it can be a life-changing and deeply disorientating time, and we refer to this as experiencing ‘anosmia’. Fifth Sense is a UK charity specifically for people affected by smell and taste disorders, and they’ve launched a nationwide survey collecting tips and experiences to develop what will be (remarkably) the first-ever exchange of coping strategies and ideas for better living.
The ‘Top Tips’ survey will be circulated amongst Fifth Sense’s 2000+ members, but they’re reaching out to the wider smell and taste disorder community, and the tips they’re putting together will cover medical, psychological and lifestyle categories, such as:

  • Getting advice from the medical profession
  • Coping with the emotional impact of smell and taste impairments
  • Eating, drinking and cooking
  • Smell training
  • Top rants – what frustrates you the most about having a smell or taste disorder?

Fifth Sense founder and Chair, Duncan Boak, who lost his sense of smell and taste following a head injury in 2005, explained why he thought this was so important, saying ‘This is a great opportunity for the smell and taste disorder community to share ways they have found of coping with specific aspects of their condition. A key part of Fifth Sense’s work is creating opportunities for people to share their experiences and support each other, and our Top Tips survey is an important next step in this.’
The results of the survey will be shared via social media and published on the charity’s website  as a series of downloadable information sheets, and will continue to serve as an ever-evolving resource for those seeking advice and tactics for living well, and – equally important, as Boak points out – a place where the smell and taste disorder community can share experiences of what it’s really like to live with an impaired sense of smell or taste.
Have you had a smell disorder, live with someone who does or simply want to find out more? Get in touch with Fifth Sense and join in the discussion!
fifthsense.org.uk
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Gorgeous perfume boxes to gift this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day comes early this year – Sunday, 11 March in the UK, so don’t miss the chance to treat your mama to some of the most stunning luxury Discovery Sets around, presented in gorgeously gift-worthy boxes.

Fragrance needs to be worn for several hours to truly get the feel of its character, and what could be more glorious than giving your mum – or any woman in your life who deserves a treat – weeks worth of blissful scent contemplation?

Don’t worry, we’ve got Mother’s Day wrapped.

Here at The Perfume Society, we believe the best way to properly try perfumes is to indulge your senses from the comfort of your home, that’s why we like collecting some of the most fabulous Discovery Boxes around, from niche and designer houses we already adore and know she’s going to be excited to explore…

For an extra treat, when your mum’s gift arrives why not take a cake, pop round for a cup of tea and try out some of the scents together? We love hearing the stories of people having Discovery Box sniffing sessions with their mums, for a special moment of sharing scented memories that last forever.

All you need do is choose which of these would best reflect your mum’s character, order and await the outpouring of thanks!

Does your mum dream of travelling the world to exotic locations? Perhaps she’s also the caring, sharing and socially-conscious type? Well this luxury fragrance house works with a sustainability program specifically set up to help the Moroccan women who pick the orange blossoms used in several of perfumer Carlos Benaïm‘s stunning creations. With seven exquisite scents to explore, she can escape with a spritz whenever the mood takes her…

Sana Jardin Discovery Set £30 for 7 x 2ml eau de parfum

If your mother loves staying in luxury hotels and the finer things in life, we’re betting she’s already a fan of Molton Brown’s opulent body products (they were one of the first ever fragrance houses to understand we like a little luxury every day) but may not yet have indulged herself with their perfumes. Embodying their ‘London via the World’ approach, they source the rarest ingredients and give them a little contemporary twist – eight of their best-selling fragrances are featured here – and when she decides her favourites, you’ll know exactly which matching body products and home fragrance gifts you can lavish her with on other occasions!

Molton Brown Art of Fragrance £12.50 for 8 x 1.5ml eau de toilette

If you’d really like to spoil a mum who’s been going through a difficult time, this really has the WOW factor, with seven eau de parfum housed in a keepsake hatbox style set. Besides looking pretty, the fragrances are thoughtfully composed with wellness in mind. Each bottle contains semi-precious stones which enhance the richness of the formula and embody the perfume’s emotion (they’re also beautiful to display and satisfyingly stress-relieving to rattle, we found!) The addition of natural active ingredients helps to encourage the feeling of wellbeing, and the generous travel-sizes are perfect to pop in a handbag for on-the-go de-frazzling. Go on: she’s worth it.

Valeur Absolue Deluxe Coffret £112 for 7 x 14ml eau de parfum

For ladies who like to make an impression, might we suggest the luxe collection of twelve (yes, twelve!) personality-full perfumes by the London-based niche house of Ormonde Jayne? An utterly swoon-worthy set, it comprises some of founder Linda Pilkington’s most lusted-after fragrances, each one a memorable journey to exotic lands and with a signature sense of style that’s once sniffed, never forgotten. Long-lasting and heady florals are offest by richly decadent woods, spices and uniquely distilled ingredients that cannot fail to tempt. We truly believe there’s something for everyone within this collection, beautifully boxed and ready to dive on in…

Ormonde Jayne Discovery Set £49 for 12 x 2ml eau de parfum

For mothers who exude classic style and yearn for traditionally made scents that still smell very ‘now’, choose from three differently themed trilogies – each box containing three precious bottles of perfume tied with silk ribbons. The sumptuous Columbia Rose Trilogy showcases three beautiful expressions of the rose – an ingredient at which the London perfumer Angela Flanders excelled, the Noire Trilogy explores the deep, dark and mysterious side of perfumery and the White Florals Trilogy embraces the ultra feminine, seductively sunshine-infused flowers beloved by so many. Whichever you select, she’ll be thanking you for lighting up her life for months to come.

Angela Flanders Trilogy Gift Boxes £65 for 3 x 12ml eau de parfum

Still stuck for ideas?

We continually seek out the most exciting and sumptuous perfumes and scented treats for our own Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, with carefully curated selections to tempt every taste. Have a look and find the one that’s perfect for your mum…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

 

Where to shop for personalised perfume: the ultimate signature scent

Looking for the ultimate in personalised perfume gifts? Whether last-minute panic or planning ahead, see our guide, below, for some of the best places to have that gift made even more special…

There’s a certain caché to personalised gifts that makes you want to whip them out for the world to see, and of course shows the person who selected it for you has gone above and beyond to choose something especially for you. A hastily-grabbed ‘that’ll do’ bottle and a wilting bunch of garage forecourt carnations ain’t gonna cut the mustard no more, so read on for where to buy a gift that’s labelled with love for the personal touch…

‘Brandishing a bottle with your initials on, or a personal message to a loved one makes for the perfect bespoke gift,’ say The Perfume Shop, and we couldn’t agree more! Personalise a bottle from their selected line (online exclusive offer) – the engraving service starts at £5.99 and is achieved in three easy steps. We’d plump for the luminously creamy sashay of jasmine and peony of La Mia Perla £90 for 100ml eau de parfum.

theperfumeshop.com

Atelier Cologne’s unique engraving workshop at Covent Garden offers you the chance to personalise one of their perfectly-sized ‘keepsake’ travel sprays. Choose from more than 15 different colours of leather cases and have a name, initials or a short message engraved on the leather. This service is performed in front of each client by the Perfume Artists, in less than five minutes, using custom-made engraving machines. Today we feel like the glamorously intriguing swirl of tuberose and cardamom speckled coffee in Café Tuberosa £160 for 220ml Cologne Absolute, the refillable, engraved keepsake gift is in-store only.

Atelier Cologne Covent Garden

Thierry Mugler Parfums is offering a unique service to personalise your favourite fragrance bottles, allowing between 13 and 45 characters and with a fixed price of £12 per bottle, whatever the length of the giftee’s name or the the words of love in your message. If you have a loved one who’s a Mugler addict (and there are many!) they’re bound to have a signature scent they love already, but we’re going for the buxom embrace of sunny jasmine and cashmere caress of soft woods and vanilla in Alien Essence Absolue £56 for 30ml refillable eau de parfum.

mugler.co.uk

The engraving and monogramming service at Jo Malone London allows you to customise your favourite scent. You are able to choose from two equally elegant fonts, then (once your Muse has struck and you’ve thought of the words) engrave your Cologne, Candle or Bath Oil with a personal message, a special date or simply monogram it with initials if your mind goes blank. We adore the room set aside for gifting in their Regent Street store, but you can opt for online, too. Engraving costs £15 for each item, and we’d have our name emlazoned across the ripely delicious Blackberry & Bay £45 for 30ml Cologne.

jomalone.co.uk

Le Labo offer a service to customise not only the label but the scent itself. Custom-blended perfume handmade from primary natural essences from France’s fragrance capital, Grasse. Each name correlates to the number of notes in its composition, so you can compose the fragrance exactly to your taste – or theirs. For an exclusive finishing touch, each bottle can be printed with a personal message at the checkout. One of the sexiest roses, with deep, dark and interesting notes, it’s going to have to be Rose 31 £120 for 50ml eau de parfum.

Le Labo

Online yes, but the service Serge Lutens offer will ensure your bottle is hand engraved. Simply choose from the trio of classic fragrances, enter the name, initials or message you’d like engraved and confirm, then the bottle will be handed to one of their craftsmen to complete. Personally speaking? It’d be the richly resinous, earthily warm and loaded with spices, deep amber of Ambre Sultan £150 for 100ml eau de parfum.

sergelutens.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Stuck for a gift? Follow our Galentines guide & treat yourself, too!

Here at The Perfume Society, we’re all about celebrating Galentines – it’s a word we first saw popping up last year, but do you know what it signifies?

Well, January seemed about seventy three days long, everyone we know has had (or is still recovering from) ‘flu and just about all of our gal-pals have been having a really difficult time of it, lately.

Feel the same?

We thought it was about time to treat ourselves to something nice – and to show our best gal-pals how much they mean to us (at what can be a very difficult time of year for those struggling with depression or just trying their best to keep on top of things!) So forget V-Day for a while and celebrate ‘Galentines’ with us.

Why not have a look through these top picks and see if there’s a sweet treat you could surprise someone special with, or give yourself something to look forward to? Showing someone you care, adding a simple note saying ‘hey there, thinking of you’ – and being kind to yourself – can mean a lot, and we think these would make great gift ideas or pick-me-up presents for any time of year…

REEK is the house to head for when seeking gifts for those perfume-loving pals who definitely want to stand out from the crowd. Proudly promoting positive body images for women (none of their photos are re-touched to make the models look unnaturally ‘perfect’) the fragrances celebrate rebellious women through history. Choose from Damn Rebel Bitches or Damn Rebel Witches (we’re loving the names, the ‘fumes and the attitude!) and celebrate the fact that for all orders over £50 between now and V-Day, they’ll throw in a free gift card and a free mini ‘Love Potion’ tote bag. Order this and some of their fab stickers to treat your best witch bitch!

REEK Witch Bitch Set £45 for 2 x 7.5ml eau de parfum
Buy it at reekperfume.com

As the old saying goes – if you don’t love yourself, who else will? Everyone deserves a little luxury now and again, and we believe our Treat Yourself Discovery Box is ideal for anyone (yourself included) who needs a little extra TLC right now. The power of perfume to transport you is well documented, so why not fly away on a fragrant cloud to the tranquillity of a deserted beach, a vista of Moroccan orange blossom trees, the fragrant imaginings of two perfumers’ translating literature into scents, a field of lavender and a ground-breaking house inspired by the most intelligent women in the world? And that doesn’t even nearly cover the treats in store! From cult niche to designer opulence, your ultimate escape beckons…

Treat Yourself Discovery Box from £15
Buy it from our online shop

Izia launched last year, and immediately scored a hit for those seeking a scent that straddles the gap ‘between pretty and impertinent” as Sisley put it. Rose but not as you know it, this manages to be both pretty and uplifting with a carefree, bohemian edge. To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Sisley turned to the rock-n-roll style of British artist Quentin Jones for a whole new spin on the packaging. This limited edition features fluorescent ink, rose collages and paint flecks for vibrant pops of colour contrasted with the luminescent, sparkling cheerfulness of that rosy juice. If you know a Sisley-addict (and there are many) or someone who adores rose perfumes but can’t abide dustiness, this is guaranteed to brighten their whole year.

Sisley Izia £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at houseoffraser.co.uk

When everything seems dark and gloomy, there’s nothing like lighting up your life with a box of perfume that’s simply bursting with exotic blossoms. Not sure what your friend’s favourite floral is, or want to branch-out and try some flower-filled scents for yourself? Cochine‘s discovery set is the perfect choice. A trio of fragrances inspired by the beautiful location of Saigon (where founder Kate Crofton-Atkins was tempted to move after quitting her high-powered beauty job in London – and who can blame her?) there’s the delights of White Jasmine & Gardenia, Vietnamese Rose & Delentii and Tuberose & Wild Fig to revel in. Great size for travelling or popping in your purse, too!

Cochine Floral Collection £35 for 3 x 8ml eau de parfum
Buy it from our online shop

Sarah Jessica Parker turned the world of celebrity fragrances on its head with the release of Stash, which converted many niche-only perfumistas into full-on fans of the scent. The second of the opus – Stash Unspoken – is an exquisitely werable plunge into prettiness with an edge, featuring pink peppercorns and the honeyed addictiveness of quince atop a floral heart that feels like twirling in a tulle gown: wisteria, honeysuckle and peony entwine with the rich almond-y muskiness of the base (and a hint of woozy booziness to reel you right in.) Fans of Sex and the City, fashion-mavens and fragrance lovers alike will thank you for this addition to their wardrobe, and at a very purse-friendly price.

SJP Stash Unspoken £25 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at superdrug.com

What if your gal-pal is miles away? We have a few best friends who live abroad and it can be really tricky sending presents via air-mail, so a great idea you can send and she can receive immediately is an International Online Subscription for our award-winning magazine dedicated to perfume: The Scented Letter. Solving a myriad last-minute present problems, it’s bursting with our reviews of all the latest launches your nose needs to know, exclusive interviews with the world’s best perfumers, full-length (and gorgeously illustrated) features on ingredients, the history of the perfume houses, trends and fascinating peeks behind-the-scenes. And the best bit? It’s eight 48-page digital editions a year, so really is the gift that keeps on giving!

The Scented Letter Magazine International Online Subscription £20

A lovely name for a really beautiful fragrance, Precious One is a bewitching blend of soaring fleur des nuits, tuberose and jasmine on the softest green chypre base of oak moss and layers of smoky vetiver swirling from the depths. Awarded Best New Independent Fragrance in 2012 by the Fragrance Foundation UK, Angela Flanders was the most wonderful British perfumer – a vibrant character who sadly passed away in 2016 – and this perfume was created for her daughter Kate Evans’s Precious boutique (also nearby in Spitalfields). A great way to to tell your friend how special they are to you, and now available in this handy travel-size.

Angela Flanders Precious One £28 for 10ml eau de parfum
Buy it from angelaflanders-perfumer.com

Okay so perhaps you can’t jet-off to Bali with your bestie, but how about arranging a weekend away or even a spa-day to enjoy together? We also suggest treating both of you to the Try Before You Fly Discovery Box (pssst! Grab it at the sale price while you can!) bulging even more than our handluggage usually is with all manner of scented delights. Close your eyes and think: tanned skin and flowers in your hair with soft bouquets from Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo and Barbour. Take in the sights of stylish Scandinavia with Agonist or sip espresso on the piazza with The Merchant of Venice, among the many specially curated scents in this selection. Have a look for some special last-minute deals to escape the gloom or book-ahead and dream of holidays to come…

Try Before You Fly Discovery Box from £10
Buy it from our online shop

There are few people who don’t appreciate the gift of a gloriously scented candle – and you don’t even have to know their favourite fragrances to pick one they’ll love (though we’d hope you at least know your best friend’s fave!) If you’re a trio of gal pals, why not have a splurge and treat all three of you to a Diptyque mini candle? This set features Baies – still their best selling candle – with its bouquet of roses and blackcurrant leaves, Figuier – comfortingly warm fig wood, the freshness of leaves and milky sap, and Roses – baskets of roses overflowing with abundance. Each mini candle is 70g and handily portable for travellers who crave their scented spaces. Which one would you choose?

Diptyque Mini Candles Set £65 for 3 x 70g candles (also avaiable separately and in other fragrances for £24)
Buy it at diptyqueparis.co.uk

Still searching for a gift?

If you know your friend’s favourite fragrance and want to treat them to something new (but are worried about getting something they don’t like) never fear! We have a genius solution. Simply type the name of their signature scent into our clever database, FR.eD (short for Fragrance Editor) and you’ll be given several suggestions based on fragrances with similar characters, shared notes or styles they’re bound to love. It really works! Give it a try, now, and find your perfect fragrance match

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Which perfume matches your personality for Valentine’s Day…?

Valentine’s day remains one of the hottest dates for the fragrance world – it’s the perfect time to be exchanging scented gifts with those we love – but with so many to choose from, where to begin?

Fragrances create life-long scent memories – the emotional response we feel way kicking in way before logic has time to register what we’re smelling – and so asking for your beloved to gift you a new scent when you’re in a relationship can be something of a rocky road. Ideally it needs to be something new to both of you. Have you (like us) ever rejected a potential date based on the love-interest favouring an ex’s scent. Or worse, a parent’s? *shudder*

The burning question is, though, do you ask for a specific scent (which can seem somewhat brazen if you’re not feeling that brave), hint your way to a hopeful present of ‘the right one’, or just cross your fingers and leave it to the Gods of fragrance fate?

Worry ye not, dear reader. We’ve got your back. Forward the potential gift-giver the link to this page (okay it’s not subtle, but since when did subtlety get you anywhere?) and ask the question: ‘which of these descriptions do you think sounds most like me…?’ You can put a winking emoji if you’re that way inclined – the somewhat less romantic modern equivalent of flirting with a flick of your lace fan. We’ll leave that up to you.

Oh and, spoilers: we happen to think all of these are pretty fabulous, so no matter which you’re given, it’s bound to please both of you…

A contemporary art-lover with an eye for style, you’re secretly (at heart) a romantic soul. Let yourself give in to the narcotic pleasures of indolic white flowers at play in this perfume – the heady narcissus and jasmine are beautifully blended and we just know you’ll want to keep breathing deeper and deeper until your nose can’t get enough. As for your lover…? They’re bound to be addicted, too. And when you’re not gazing gooily at each other and admiring the, um, base (the dry down’s an intriguing mixture of sumac and pipe tobacco), you can gaze in marvel at the gallery-esque bottle.

Map of the Heart Pink Heart £150 for 90ml eau de parfum
Buy it at harrods.com

Carefree and a bit of a bohemian, you’re generally positive, can charm the birds from the trees and probably love a bit of bunting. Given half the chance you’d be twirling barefoot through a garden at sunset in a gauzy gown, no matter the weather. Pretty as a picture, and smelling far more high-end than the price tag might suggest, this perfume from the Sweet Treats collection features a delicious lemon-drop top note, pepped up with ripe raspberry and blackcurrant atop a finger-lickingly good base of patchouli and golden amber.

Ted Baker Mia £18 for 30ml eau de toilette
Buy it at tedbaker.com/uk

Unapologetically a girly-girl, you may be dreamy with your head in the clouds, but your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Young at heart no matter your age, we feel you’ll adore this tribute to one of our favourite flowers of all time: the shamelessly blowsy and short-lived peony, allowed to linger the whole day through, here perfectly blended with Sicilian lemon, pink berries, pink guava, and a softly powdered violet. Raspberry flower snuggles with creamy vanilla beans, pink cotton candy entwines itself around cedarwood, and laconic vetiver sits back and makes us swoon.

Floral Street Wonderland Peony £55 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at floralstreet.com

Sophisticated and refined but never ever prissy, you’re slightly obsessed with the natural world but wouldn’t ever call yourself a hippie (bit old-hat, darling.) Marking an incredible 20 years of Liz Earle goodies, the house collaborated with Grasse-based perfumer Domitille Bertier for a Damask rose-rich celebration in a bottle. Infused with a sparkle of pink pepper, bergamot and mandarin, it’s the intriguing carrot seed heart with jasmine and an amyris/sandalwood dry down that pulls you in for more and more… 87% derived from natural ingredients, too.
Plus Liz Earle have a wonderful offer on right now, when you purchase a 50ml fragrance from the range, you receive a complimentary 10ml fragrance of Botanical Essence Number 01, 15 or 09. 

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.20 £54 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at lizearle.com

Strong-willed and totally sensual, everything is an adventure for you – the world is your playground and you intend to live life to the full, perhaps with a love of classic movies, torch-songs and vintage chic. The ‘Edith’ in question here is right up your street – none other than the Parisian chanteuse herself: Édith Piaf. The fragrance itself pays homage to her sultry sophistication and the daring liveliness of the era, featuring rose, geranium (grown in their own British fields and a remarkably fabulous one, we must say!) you’ll thrill at the unexpected touch of lightly camphorous yarrow and dark patchouli for the smoothest kind of hip-wiggle in scent form…

Parterre A Tribute to Edith £120 for 50ml eau de pafum
Buy it at parterrekeynestonmill.com

Bookish but never boring, you’re tantalised by literary worlds you can escape to, drawn to the poetic side of life and the dramatically beguiling. Two perfumers created fragrances based on the the novel Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mathieu Nardin’s Scherzo an ode to the contrast between dark and light. Blood orange, davana and golden olibanum collide in a kaleidoscopic splash of wild, bright colour, while dark rose mingles in the shadows with patchouli and oudh. Bertrand Duchaufour offers ink swirled through leather, saffron and geranium on a flickering, amber-ish base. But it’s held aloft by the fizz of a pink pepper C02 extraction alongside aldehydes and the most incredible green hyacinth opening, shimmering to cyclamen, incense and a drily metallic base.

Miller Harris Tender/Scherzo £120 each for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy them at millerharris.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale