Your introduction to Spring’s floral fragrance trend…

It’s offical: flowers are back in the fragrance world. Perhaps you thought they never went away (indeed, they’re the backbone of practically all fragrance formulas) but we can assure you that Spring 2018’s launches point the way to fully embracing petal power in exciting and conemporary compositions – from bohemiams frolicking in wild flower meadows, to vampish vixens smouldering beguilingly: these flowers certainly aren’t granny’s knicker-draw anymore…

Probably the most easily identifiable notes in perfumery, you may recognise some florals at first-sniff – rather reassuring in these days of sometimes confusing contemporary scents – and they are perfect to indulge in wearing on days the sky’s the same colour as the pavement. But floral scents have several sub-categories, now – from the fruity to the so-called ‘floriental’ – so where does one category end and another begin, and which ones should you explore first depending on your personal preferences?

Rose has long been considered the ‘Queen’ of perfume, the two main varieties being rosa centifolia, found in the South of France, and rosa damascena (known as Damask rose) primarily from the Middle East, with a dozen exclusively grown May roses from Grasse famously within every bottle of Chanel No.5.

James Craven – the fragrance archivist of niche perfumery Les Senteurs, tells us that many customers (particularly women) come in confidently declaring they ‘hate rose fragrances,’ and he breathes deeply while subtly showing them some scents that beautifully harmonise the rose with other complimentary material. As they inevitably adore one of these, James then charmingly admits it’s simply swathed in the stuff – a strong case for always being led by your nose and not your preconceptions, we feel!

Jasmine is the second most-used, entwining its heady white blossoms within virtually every floral fragrance you care to mention – tiny though the flowers are, their scent is animalic, often called ‘indolic’ (referring to indoles also found within gardenia, honeysuckle, lilac, and tuberose), and utterly addictive. One ounce of fragrance, such as the classic Jean Patou’s Joy, can lavishly contain 10,600 jasmine flowers!

– For less va-va-voom in a scent, look for the powdered green of violet, delicacy of lily of the valley, suede-like softness in iris, waxy freshness of magnolia, and cashmere-like fluffiness of mimosa. Sprinkled with hot spices and exotic extractions (crossing into ‘Floriental’), juiced-up with fruit (becoming ‘Fruity Floral’) or buried within deeper, more mysterious creations – there truly is a floral fragrance for every one of us, with many men now delving into fragrances where floral notes are centre-stage.

Ready to get petal-powered? Discover some of the specially curated Brand Discovery Boxes we’ve chosen, in which the characters of florals have been fully explored – from the vampish divas to more softly swooning – there truly is a bouquet for everyone to adore…

Cochine is Vietnam’s first luxury fragrance brand – and one that we are totally obsessed with! Created to inspire you, Cochine’s collection captures the romance of a sun-warmed exotic garden as its enchanting florals unfold into the evening air. Specially selected from their portfolio of unique botanical scents, you’ll find yourself enraptured by roses, jasmine, gardenia and the newest fragrance – Tuberose & Wild Fig.
Cochine Floral Collection £35

Discover Molton Brown‘s interpretation of some of perfumery’s most precious ingredients with this colourful selection of their best-selling scents, from delicate floral Blossoming Honeysuckle & White Tea to dreaming of dozing beneath fragrant canopies of flowers with the exotic Ylang Ylang, and many floral facets in-between…
Molton Brown’s Art of Fragrance £12.50

Hand-crafted in England, created from the essences of real flowers, fruit and spices, Shay & Blue‘s invite you to explore their most-loved scents. Pocket-sized and beautifully presented in their signature blue and white stripes, the set also boasts Framboise Noire – a mesmerising floriental of cassis berries, jasmine and patchouli.
Shay & Blue Precious Miniatures £65

This limited edition collectible box has been designed especially to showcase Les Infusions de Prada in six of the most adorable and desirable 8ml miniature eau de parfum bottles… Featuring notes of iris, orange blossom, heliotrope and the often overlooked carnation (think spicy and hot yet dry and fascinating) it’s a perfectly refined way to get your nose around floral ingredients.
Prada Parfums Les Infusions de Prada £36

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Cologne to Parfum: your easy guide to the strengths of scent

From Colognes to extraits, splashes to after shaves – there are so many differing types of fragrance categories now that it can be hard to tell one from another and where to begin. Read our handy guide, below, and get your nose in the know!
Descriptions like eau de toilette or eau de parfum are used to identify the strength or concentration of oil in a fragrance composition. These concentrations can vary from fragrance to fragrance (depending on how that particular brand like to blend their scents), but this is an average guide.

Extract/extrait/solid perfume – 20-30%

Perfume – 15-25 %

Eau de Parfum  (EDP) – 8-15%

Eau de Toilette (EDT) – 4-8%

Cologne (EDC) –  2-4%

Body cream/lotion –  3-4%

After Shave/Splash  – 2-4%

Soap – 2-4%

In general, the higher the percentage, the longer it will last on your skin, and therefore, the higher the price – but do be aware that different concentrations (Perfume, or Eau de Toilette, etc.) may sometimes have differing notes in them, and not simply be weaker or stronger. So when you like a fragrance, we suggest you explore it in all its different concentrations before you find your favourite…

Some people like to layer their scent types throughout the day – try starting with a refreshing splash of Cologne to get thoses senses revving, and then wear an eau de toilette for day time. As evening falls and you head out on the town, switch things up by adding a spritz of eau de parfum to leave a sultrier trail that will last as long your night does…
Is your nose twitching to find out more? See our brilliant FAQ section – there to answer your questions and set the scents out in plain English.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 

3 steps to finding your perfect perfume…

Shopping for a new scent – for yourself or as a gift for a loved one – can be a bit of a headache, in more ways than one. Just as the season’s change has us hankering for snuggly jumpers and fabulous new coats, so too do we need a change of fragrance to lift our moods occasionally. But with literally thousands of new launches every year, even we can’t get our noses around all of them!
So, where to begin?
At The Perfume Society, we’re here to make finding your next ‘new favourite’ fragrance a complete doddle. Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be off on a fragrant journey of discovery…

1: Let FR.eD be your guide
Short for ‘Fragrance Editor’, FR.eD is our completely genius virtual assistant. All you need do is type in the name of a scent you already adore (or one you know your beloved currntly wears) and you’ll be given an immediate list of six scents to seek out, all at various price points and with characteristics you’re extremely like to swoon for. Honestly, try it – they’re quite spookily accurate!

2: Give yourself time
Now clutching your shopping list of scents to try, we cannot urge you strongly enough to allow yourself the time to live with them on your skin a while before making a snap decision either way. First sniff? That’s the top notes – generally something citrus-y and ephemeral – which can disappear within the first few minutes of spraying because the ingredients evaporate more quickly.
We find an hour is enough to give you a proper sense of what the perfume smells like on you. And if you don’t want to douse yourself head-to-toe (why on earth not? But each to their own) then spray on a blotter or ‘spill’ (long paper strip) to get an idea. But remember – it will only be an idea of the final scent. They were made to be warmed and worn on your skin, not paper, so will often smell very different (and better) on you. And your mood/the weather/food can all drastically alter how a scent smells on you, so ideally, come back and try each one a couple of times.
3: Make note(s)
It’s incredible where your mind can take you when sniffing something gorgeous. Perfumes are created to carry us away to somewhere, so where are your six scents taking you? Close your eyes, inhale deeply and then ask yourself questions such as:

  • If this scent were a fabric, would it be velvet, suede, leather or linen?
  • What colour does the fragrance remind you of?
  • If the fragrance were a piece of music, what instrument would be playing?
  • How does it make you feel? Happy, excited, relaxed, romantic…?

These are all questions we ask people at our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshops (click the link to find when the next one near you is being held), and are based on techniques shared with us by the world’s top perfumers, but the more you make yourself think along these lines, the greater connection you’ll have to any fragrance you try.
If you follow these three simple steps, we’re pretty confident you’ll have found a brand new fragrance to fall in love with – or the perfect gift for that fussy friend.

The Perfume Society's Fashion, Fabric & Fragrance Discovery Box, a collection of fragrances that brings together niche and popular scents, each evoking textiles...
Fashion, Fabric & Fragrance Discovery Box, a collection of fragrances that brings together niche and popular scents, each evoking textiles…

Why not treat yourself to several new fragrances to sniff, today? We curate collections of try-at-home samples and mini/travel sizes, along with some other gorgeous scented treats and instructive postcards to help you follow the trail of each fragrance. Our latest Discovery Box is the just-launched Fashion, Fabric & Fragrance (bursting at the scented seams with designer names) but there are lots of others to get your nose in to: have a sniff around our shop and find your favourites…
Written by Suzy Nightingale

The top 3 perfume tips to ensure you're a nose in the know…

‘Can you help save my marriage?’ is probably the most – um, unexpected request we’ve had (terribly nice chap who phoned to ask for advice on the things he should tell his wife in order to justify buying himself a rather costly bottle of niche perfume. Long story short: no lawyers needed, in this instance). But generally we get asked the same kind of questions time and again.
So what does this tell us? Something we already knew from experience: the world of perfume can be a rather overwhelming and bewildering place. Full of confusing language and conflicting advice that could dizzy the best of us in to an olfactory coma, it’s often a confusing and even off-putting arena in which to set foot (or nose).
Here at The Perfume Society we are proud to be celebrating our third birthday – founded by Jo Fairley and Lorna McKay, we exist exactly because of this befuddlement. Our ethos is to bring perfume alive through our informative website, award-winning magazine, exclusive events and Discovery Boxes to try at home, and we always aim to make fragrance accessible to perfume-lovers of all abilities!
However experienced your nose is, it’s good to get a refresher now and again – and our FAQs section is jam-packed with tips for how to choose a fragrance, what the ‘fragrance families’ mean, how ingredients are harvested (and the best perfumes to smell them in) and so much more. But before you get flitting around all things fragrant, let’s start with our all-time top three tips your nose should know…

1 – How can I choose a perfume that’s right for me?
Short answer:
It’s a minefield, right? Where to even begin? Well, our first tip is to give a perfume time. So many of us spray, sniff immediately (bascially it’s just the alcohol you’re smelling, with perhaps a mere whiff of top notes) and walk away. STOP this immediately. Sorry to nag, but it’s never going to get you the fragrance you really want.
Further advice:
Initially, 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 pack of blotters inside. Allow a few minutes for the alcohol and the top notes to subside, and then smell the blotters. 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.
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.  You really need to smell a scent on your skin.
Do make the most of FR.eD: The Perfume Society’s ‘virtual fragrance consultant’ who you’ll find on this site here (the name’s actually short for Fragrance Editor). You can tell FR.eD which perfumes you’re keen on, and ‘he’ will make a personalised selection, suggesting up to six fragrances at a time for you to try, at various price-points. Genius!

2 – How can I make fragrance last longer?
Short answer:
If you moisturise your skin, this gives the oils something to ‘cling’ to, and will boost its staying power.  So, if the ‘matching’ body products are available, it’s a beautiful way to layer on your fragrance. If these range extensions aren’t available, go for an unscented body cream, butter or lotion which won’t clash with your chosen scent. Think of it as a primer for perfume.
Further advice:
Try spraying your hair as well as your skin – though be careful if the perfume is dark in colour as you may unintentionally dye your hair… Hair is porous and will waft the scent even longer than on your skin in many cases.
Spritz a scarf with with scent and the heat of your body will make the fragrance bloom. Also a handy way to try a new fragrance you’re not sure of. Bored of it? Simply take the scarf off and try something else…
Remember that the nose becomes desensitised and quickly gets used to the notes of your perfume. Although you may not be able to smell it at all after 30-40 minutes, your friends and colleagues may still be able to, so ask a friend if they can still smell it before dousing yourself afresh (tempting as we find it!)

3 – My perfume seems different to how I remember it.  Is my nose playing tricks…?
Short answer:
Possibly – our memories of scent can sometimes differ wildly to the reality. However, it’s also entirely possible your old favourite’s formula has been changed. This is because, when an ingredient is classified as a potential allergen – by IFRA, the International Fragrance Association – two things may happen:  it can be banned altogether, or its use limited by percentage, to minimise the risk of a susceptible perfume-wearer reacting.
Further advice:
When an ingredient’s re-classified, perfumes may be ‘tweaked’ by the manufacturer.  In some cases, a process called ‘fractionation’ – which allows ingredient manufacturers to remove the allergenic molecule of an fragrance note, while leaving the rest intact – can allow the continued use of that ingredient.
Case in point:  oak moss – invaluable in the creation of the chypre family of perfumes – has become restricted.  Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s in-house ‘nose’, explained to us that he now uses a ‘fractionated’ oak moss.  ‘However, when you fractionate an ingredient, it leaves a “hole”:  there is something missing,’ added Thierry.  His solution to filling the sensory ‘hole’ in oak moss was to add a touch of – believe it or not – celery.  It’s impossible to discern, to the rest of us – but it gave the rounded quality to that so-essential note that Thierry needed to return the classic Guerlain creation Mitsouko to its former, long-lasting glory.
Occasionally, however, a perfume may change because the company which makes it is bought by another, and the formulation changed.
Written by Suzy Nightingale
 
 

How can you improve your sense of smell? Watch this cute cartoon and book our 'How To' workshop!

Are perfumers possessed of magical noses gifted to them at birth – with a heightened sense of smell beyond the reach of mere mortals…?
Well, there’s an argument to made that perhaps some of the ‘noses’ behind our favourite fragrances are somewhat naturally gifted, but my goodness they had to work to get where they are. Perhaps also some of them grew up in perfume-y places – like Grasse – where the culture, history and even the streets themselves are awash with scent. But the truth of the matter is, they had to start somewhere. And those of us lucky enough to have a working sense of smell can undoubtedly go about improving that sense – and thereby enhancing every aspect of our lives.
We couldn’t resist sharing the wonderfully incisive (and undeniably cute) cartoon, below, that does a great job of explaining how important our sense of smell is in everyday life, and the basics of how one might begin mastering the sense of smell.

Apart from simple practice, practice, practice – the most important aspect, we have gleaned by interviewing those famous perfumers over the years; is learning to “fix” a smell in your head by creatively describing it in terms that are absolutely and entirely personal to you. And how on earth do you go about doing that? By attending one of our regular How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops
These fun, informal (but totally informative) sessions are held in groups, some people liking to bring friends along others preferring to sniff solo, and during which you will be taught how to start building your very own volcabulary of scent – pinning those intensely personal memories and emotions that are automatically triggered the second you smell something (good or bad!) and using that to invesitage – and vastly improve – your sense of smell. We’re not pretending you’ll come out as a fully fledged perfumer – and neither is this the reason we set up the workshops. But we can gurantee you’ll not only experience your favourite fragrances in a whole new way – you will appreciate your nose like never before.

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[Photos by Essence PR]
So, do you fancy a morning or afternoon of sharing fragrances, laughter and learning to improve your sense of smell – with a fragrant goody bag at the end of it and as many biscuits and tea (or coffee) you can drink in-between? Of course you do!
Come and join us for the next How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop in London on Saturday 4th February. Not a Londoner? Look here to find (or request) your nearest workshop.
How do you join in the fragrance fun? It’s simple:
How To Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops cost £10 for VIP Subscribers – which is 100% redeemable against any box purchase on the day of the workshop
Want to bring a guest? (it’s even more fun with a friend!) £20 for Guests of subscribers or non-VIP Subscribers
Maximise the opportunity by choosing to become a VIP with your booking for £35 to include a one-year VIP subscription to The Perfume Society, £10 of which is redeemable against box purchases on the day of the workshop.
Want to read a review from a happy attendee of a previous workshop? Cosmetic Candy blog waxes lyrical about attending one of our Manchester workshops, and Samantha Grocutt, MD of Essence PR describes her experience, here.
Workshops are generally hosted by Senior Writer of The Perfume Society, Suzy Nightingale within the London area, and co-founder Jo Fairley further afield.
Simply bring along a favourite fragrance – and your nose – and we so look forward to meeting you there.
Book your tickets here.
Written by Suzy Nightingale

New Year, new you? If you're stuck in a scent rut, here's how to break free…

We’ve all done it. Clung like a limpet to a favourite fragrance because a loved one told us we smelled wonderful, or we happened to be wearing it on a particularly auspicious day and have come to believe it was blessed by the gods – but would you wear your favourite outfit every single day, whether rushing to work, attending a glamorous party or travelling to an exotic location in?  You might adore a particular food, but would you want to eat the same meal for the rest of your life?
There’s nothing wrong in having a ‘signature scent’ per se – something you’re known for wearing and family members can smile as they smell – but constantly wearing the same fragrance can mean you get so used to it that you actually stop smelling it properly. Your nose becomes so attuned to that same old scent that it ‘skips’ over those once-glorious notes and moves on to more exciting things in your environment.
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Perhaps you’re a little nervous about what to try – the choice these days can be completely overwhelming (even for us!) so you have our sympathy. But never fear. We have an ingenious way of gently nudging you out of your comfort zone and in to a whole new world of fragrant discoveries…
There’s no need to ditch that favourite altogether – simply type the name of it in to our Fragrance Editor program (named FR.eD for short) and it will whizz through thousands of possibilities to pick six new perfumes for you try!
The really clever thing is, these aren’t merely based on similar notes to your favourite fragrance, but emotions and words used in the briefs perfumers were given when creating them.
There’s a brand new favourite – maybe even several scents – out there with your name on it, just waiting for you to take the first spritz…
Whatever you choose, everyone here at The Perfume Society wishes you a very Happy New Year!
Written by Suzy Nightingale