We’ve all come to realise how important it is to carefully consider what we do with packaging these days, before simply chucking it in the nearest bin – and with so many stunning bottles (and boxes) around, it’s never been a better time to reuse and upcycle your perfume collection. Watch some of the super-easy crafting videos below, or browse for fragrant inspiration…
What to do when you’ve come to the end of a favourite fragrance (other than pop out immediately to re-purchase)? Craft Corner have come up with a brilliant way of creating an illusion that flowers grow from the flaçon itself, using clear resin to resemble water and faux flowers (though we think you could use dried if you prefer). So clever, and a great gift that would be cheap to make, too!
If you prefer written instructions and a step-by-step guide, the DIY Decorator blog has a great post explaining in easy to understand terms how to create a vase out of just about any perfume bottle – including how to remove the sprayer and top safely – which, they say, will only take you ten minutes. Which of your perfumes would you choose to turn into a unique vase?
Those of us who’d like to adorn our necks with perfume in more ways than one can find inspiration for upcyling mini bottles into the most gorgeous necklaces on the Quiet Lions blog. There aren’t precise instructions, it’s more of a visual feast of ideas, so you might need some jewellery-making know-how already before accomplishing these. But for a far easier version – why not loop some pretty ribbon around the neck of a miniature and turn it into a necklace that way?
Sometimes the boxes are just as fabulous as the fragrances, and it’s such a shame t get rid of them. We use ours to store precious letters and cards, buttons and various bits and bobs – so good for organising your kitchen drawers for all those random keys, or makeup drawers to prevent an overspill! And for larger boxes – why not use to store all of your perfume samples? If you have as many as we do, you may want to collect quite a number of boxes to keep… For another idea, we loved watching this realxing video by Eversea Design, on how to turn perfume packaging into a gift box to pass on the love to someone else.
Pinterest is full of ideas for how to reuse and upcycle pretty much anything you care to name – be prepared to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole once you start exploring – but how darling is this little pin cushion made from an old bottle of perfume? Another lovely gift idea to give to friends who sew, or to display on your own shelves.
And really, how could resist another Pinterest idea of turning perfume bottles into place-holders for a dinner party? Add a stick with a card attached to show their name, if you don’t want to have scrolls inside. If you had enough, you could do a whole hall full of tables for a special occasion like a wedding or birthday, with themed tables based on the fragrance bottles, perhaps…? If you don’t have wide-necked bottles like these vintage style ones, simply use the technique to remove the pump mechanism explained in the first video and blog, above.
Whichever way you choose to reuse, we’re sure you’ll think of even more ways to keep these beautiful objects forever – how much more rewarding (and better for us all) than to discard and forget. Display your fragrant love proudly around your home!
Valentines Day – love it or loathe it – is just around the corner, and it’s still the day that generates the most fragrance sales, peaking at 42% of all prestige beauty products sold. So if you’re thinking of splashing out on a scent for your significant other, follow our guide to ensuring success…
If you already know what he loves
Have a look at matching products available, such as a gorgeously decadent grooming products like body/beard oils and shower gels or body lotions. It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of fragrances (which are always useful and well-recieved).
If you don’t want to get them the same old thing, then take a look at our genius Fragrance Finder – simply input the name of a scent they already like, and it’ll give you SIX suggestions of new fragrances to try with similar notes, themes or ‘feel’ about them, all in differing price ranges.
Plus, we now have a dedicated Men’s fragrance section, full of detailed descriptions we’ve sourced directly from the fragrance houses and perfumers themselves. And, because we know so many of us wear fragrances with no regard to gendering (yet so many houses still categorise them as ‘male’ or ‘female’), we’ve given you the option of choosing ‘shared‘ in your scented searches.
If you have no idea what he likes
A selection box of scents showcasing a range of fragrances with differing styles is your saviour. They can try them all at home, taking time to choose their favourites, and most likely discovering scents they had never heard of or perhaps would have walked past were they not temptingly waggled beneath their noses…
Amouage Men’s Discovery Set £50 Amouage are a luxury niche house that can never be accused of ‘following the flock’ – this stunning collection will wow whomever is lucky enough to recieve it with incredibly impactful, long-lasting and utterly unique fragrances. With this beautifully-composed collection we invite you to discover the many characters of these accomplished fragrances – a dozen ways to wear and enjoy Amouage, encompassing all the masculine fragrance families.
With its roots in the Sultanate of Oman, the very ‘cradle’ of perfumery, this is a luxury perfume house with its finger on the pulse-point of what modern fragrance-wearers want. So we are proud to introduce this truly decadent collection featuring TWELVE MEN’S AMOUAGE FRAGRANCES, allowing you to explore and delight in these creations at your leisure.
Mr. Scentastic Discovery Box £19 / £15 for VIP Club Members
For those wanting to begin (or expand) their fragrance wardrobe, we’ve put together a thrilling collection of simply the finest men’s fragrances out there. Where do we start..? Certainly with the so-modern 6ml MUGLER ALIEN MAN as well as a 30ml DEAR BARBER WITH CONFIDENCE fragrance for those who like traditional scents. But we’ve also added incredible niche fragrances from perfume houses such as Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Prosody, Hugo Boss, Bulgari, Lalique and more.
So whether you are planning cliff-top walks, a trip away, cosy nights in or some dress-to-impress evenings, there is a fragrance for every occasion in this collection. We have also included two GROOMING EXTRAS – because Mr. Scentastic wants to look as good as you smell. Check out the fantastic travel size Jack Black Double Duty Moisturiser SPF20 and Pre & After-Shave Balm from the divine Atkinsons Grooming Collection.
Escentric Molecules Discovery Set £25
Revolutionising the fragrance industry with their now cult-favourite scents, these EIGHT fragrances take a man-made molecule that smells fantastic in its own right, and then combines them with naturals that help enhance the incredible depth found in that single molecule. These are duos to explore and fall in love with – especially good gifts for the scientifically inclined, or those who yearn to know more about the world of fragrance (and to smell utterly unique).
In each duo, the Molecule and Escentric companion allow you to experience the wonders of science and art in harmony – truly a treat for the senses, and we think you’ll be blown away by how long these last on the skin (and, of course, how fabulous he’ll smell…) For rebels, artists and scientists everywhere, why run with the pack when you can smell so delightfully different?
If you have vouchers or Christmas cash gifts burning a hole in your pocket, or perhaps have been thinking about stepping outside your comfort zone and changing up your scent game for 2020, we have three simple steps to follow to find your perfect new fragrance.
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: Start with what you love
Instead of plunging wildly into the dark and trying every random fragrance you see, it’s a good idea to base your sniff list on something you already know you love. Our Fragrance Finder is completely genius at this, and has recently been recommended by fragrance experts and Fume Chat podcast hosts Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley as the best place to start when looking for a new fragrance to suit you.
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 (keep an eye on these, we shall be adding new workshops for 2020 as soon as we can), 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.
Of course we’re aware that not everyone happens to live near a perfumery with a wide selection of names available, and sometimes it’s good to go for something entirely new – a fragrance you might have walked on by and never sniffed, believing it ‘just wasn’t your type of thing.’ We cannot tell you how many fabulous new fragrances we’ve found this way. And that’s why we offer The Perfume Society Discovery Boxes – curated collections of try-at-home samples and mini/travel sizes, along with some other gorgeous scented treats – all with links to instructive descriptions of the fragrances to help you follow the trail of each one you’re smelling. What’s more, we dedicate pages to each fragrance house, detailing their history, the faces behind the fragrances and their inspirations, so you can choose to explore more from them if you wish.
A great place to start is with our Launches we Love Discovery Box. We’re always asked: ‘Which new fragrances are you most excited about, and where can I go to smell them?’ We’ve put in the nose-work for you, gathering together the latest Launches We Love – with OVERA DOZEN FRAGRANCES to discover, there is truly something for everyone to fall for…
As well as our hand-picked selections, we also offer an ever-expanding range of Brand Boxes – try-me sets of samples that some of our favourite houses have put together, so that you can explore and experience several (or sometimes all!) the fragrances they produce. This gives you a great idea of their house style, and along with all of these tips, will give you a place to start narrowing down your search for that new scent – a perfume that’s truly perfect for you…
Well firstly, ‘hate’ is a very strong word. If you’ve been landed with the favourite fragrance of your current partner’s ex, we’re not going to pretend to make you suddenly adore it, so maybe re-gift that one – see tip #7 – and treat yourself to one of our Discovery Boxes of fragrant delights, and perhaps a new partner, instead?
But there are things you can try before you completely ditch a scent – we can’t tell you how many fragrance experts (ourselves included!) and even perfumers have drastically changed their minds about a fragrance by trying some of these top tips…
#1 – Seasonal changes
Did you know that the weather, your mood and even what you ate up to *two weeks ago* can dramatically alter how scent smells on your skin? Skin and climate temperature are vital to a perfume’s performance, so even your favourite fragrance will smell different based on the time of year. When perfumers test the scents they’re creating they often use climate-controlled booths to check how they smell in hot and colder conditions (depending what countries they’ll be selling in). Don’t re-gift until you’ve tried the perfume again later in the year, or even on holiday – you can easily decant some into one of the wonderful Travalo bottles we sell, just for this purpose!
– Similarly, strongly spiced foods can change how a perfume smells on your skin, and when testing fragrances under lab conditions, the ‘skin model’ volunteers they use are often specifically asked to refrain from eating such foods up to two weeks prior to testing, so the perfumers can smell a ‘true’ representation of the scent. Though sometimes the reverse is true: if a fragrance is to be mainly sold in a country where people eat lots of spicy foods, the ‘skin models’ are asked to replicate that diet to ensure the scent works efficiently.
– We now know that mood plays an important part in how we select a fragrance – try a scent when you’re feeling a particular way, and it colours how you feel about the fragrance itself. If you’re feeling stressed or upset, a bit under the weather or just overwhelmed, these are not ideal conditions for testing out something new. Wait until you’re feeling calmer, or simply have more time to really explore what you’re smelling. That’s when you can try to…
#2 – Improve your sense of smell
Absolutely everyone can benefit from this – we’ve had people from normal perfume-lovers, complete novices to industry professionals telling us how trying these techniques have changed the way they smell for the better (for good). This doesn’t mean suddenly gaining the ability of being able to detect every single ingredient within a bottle of perfume, but rather learning to train your nose the way a perfumer does: by deeply exploring the emotions it makes you feel, colours, textures, places and people it reminds you of.
This is why we developed our so-popular How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops, regularly held in London and, sometimes at independent perfumeries around the UK (let us know if you’d like one near you!) We’ll be adding new dates soon, but if you can’t make it to one of these fun and fascinating afternoons, here are a few simple tips to try every day:
– Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably (you can buy books of blotters in our shop, if you need), close your eyes and keep sniffing for several seconds, then take the blotter away, inhale deeply, and re-sniff the blotter again. Repeat this for a minute or so, and then begin writing a few words in a notebook. It doesn’t have to be a description, and it shouldn’t ‘list’ notes – try to use words that make you think of other things. For example…
– If this scent were a fabric, what would it be? What colour? If you made someone an outfit from that fabric, who would they be, where would they be going?
– If it were a piece of music, what instruments would be playing? Is it classical, rock music, pop, rap or jazz?
Really attempt to get past thinking ‘I don’t like this’ and focus instead on the mood it’s creating. Is it too deep or too fresh or floral for your personal taste? Give it time and then, if needed, move on to one of the tips, below…
#3 – Layer up!
Layering fragrances used to be seen as a scent sin, but we’ve all gotten over ourselves a bit (well most of us have). You don’t have to do this to a perfume you already love on its own – why would you need to? – but there are brilliant ways of beefing-up a sadly flimsy fragrance, or adding a zing to something that’s a bit too dark or cloying on your skin. Give it a go, because, as we always say: perfume isn’t a tattoo – if you don’t like it, you can wash it off!
– Add power: ramp it up by adding more base notes like patchouli, labdanum, vetiver, woods or musk.
– Add freshness: look for citrus notes like bergamot, neroli, lemon, lime or ‘green’ notes such as galbanum, tomato or violet leaf, green tea, marine/aquatic accords (synthetic recreations of sea-like, watery smells) and aldehydes (often desribed as being like Champagne bubbles).
– Add beauty: find a scent too ‘harsh’ or clinical? Look to layer it with decadently velvety or lusciously fruity rose oils, the sunshine-bottled scent of orange flower, a heady glamour of tuberose or a luminescent jasmine; try an apricot-like osmanthus flower, the fluffiness of mimosa or the powdery elegance of iris/orris.
– Add sweetness: vanilla and tonka bean can ’round’ a perfume, making it swoon on your skin (and addictive to smell), as can touches of synthetic notes described as ‘caramel’ or ‘dulce de leche’, ripe fruits, chocolate or even candy floss. Try to add less than you think you need, as adding more is always easier than taking away, and a little of these can go a long way!
For layering any of these, you can either try layering over other fragrances you have in which the above notes dominate, with a single-fragranced ‘soliflore’ (one main note) fragrance oil or spray, or try layering the scent you don’t currently like over a differently perfumed body lotion or oil (see below or the added benefits of doing this…)
#4 – Boost the lasting-power
If the reason you don’t like a perfume is because it just seems to ‘disappear’ on your skin, you’re not alone. We often find those with dry skin have this problem, and it’s even thought genetics and things like hair colour may play a part. Scientists are still finding this out, but while they do, there are ways you can make perfume last far longer:
– Try using a body oil, rich body balm or moisturising lotion before you put any fragrance on (and even afterwards, too), as scent takes longer to evaporate on nourished skin. This helps the fragrance ‘cling’ to your skin more easily, and so you get to actually smell if for more than a few minutes without frantically re-spraying.
– Spray pulse-points you might not usually think of. Behind your knees is a good example – it’s a warm spot that, once spritzed, will mean you leave a fragrant trail…
– Spritz the perfume at the nape of your neck, even into your hair and on clothes – BUT do check by spraying a tissue first that it isn’t going to mark your hair or fabric a strange colour, or leave an oily residue! We adore this way of wearing perfume, as hair and fabric are porous without heating up as much as your skin, allowing the perfume to stay all day.
Spraying a fragrance on to a scarf is a particularly good idea if you want…
#5 – A part-time perfume
There are days we feel the need to try something completely different, but perhaps don’t want to be stuck with that scent all day, so what to do?
– Consider spraying a scarf (preferably not silk or a light colour, unless you’ve patch-tested it as above, first!) with this perfume you’re unsure of, that way if it gets a bit ‘too much’ or you want to wear something different, you can simply take the scarf off and you’re not stuck with it on your skin all day.
Nope? Tried all that and still struggling? All is not lost, don’t give up yet…
#6 – Scent up your life
We all have certain scents or fragrant ingredients that, for one reason or another, we might not wish to wear but do like to smell if it’s scenting something else.
– Why not try spraying off-cuts of pretty wrapping paper or tissue paper, and using this to line your lingerie or sweater drawers?
– Or, how about being utterly fabulous by spraying your note paper and insides of envelopes (the fancy ones lined with tissue paper are particularly good for this), and writing a few actual letters or thank you cards to loved-ones you’ve not seen for a while. Everyone loves getting proper post!
– The truly decadent could try scenting table linen – again, PLEASE patch test, as above – for lavish dinner parties to rival Marie Antoinette – spraying on cotton wool and putting inside a deocrative ceramic or pottery vase, on wooden ornaments or ceramic discs you hang over radiators to scent the whole room as they heat.
We so hope you can find a way to try this poor perfume again and give it some love, but if all else fails and you still can’t bring yourself to use it, well at least you tried! Why not…
#7 – Have a perfume-swapping party / re-gift
Um, remembering not to invite the one who gave you that particular perfume… otherwise, major awks. Or, if you’re looking to re-gift, have a look at our brilliant Fragrance Finder. Simply put the name of the fragrance into the search box, and it’ll suggest six scents that are similar in character and style, or share a number of significant notes – this way you can see if anyone you know already has one of these, and it means they’ll very likely love to receive this one from you. Genius!
The C word. No not that one. Okay well, sometimes it is that one (especially at this time of year) when suddenly the Halloween decorations have been torn down and now you’re supposed to hurl yourself into crowds of equally stressed shoppers, frantically trying to buy ‘The Perfect Present.’ What FUN! Well worry not, because we suggest you start here and do at least some of it from the comfort of your sofa/desk/bed…
How to buy fragrance at Christmas? Where do you even begin? Well, right here with The Perfume Society‘s everything-one-click-away guide! From nervous noses to designer divas and fashionably scented gents, we’ve got something to suit everyone – and a way for yout to treat yourself, guilt-free, too!
If you already know what they love:
Great! Well done you. Why not have a look at matching products available, such as a gorgeously decadent bath oil, rich body cream or even a fragranced hair mist. Or how about a special limited edition bottle of their all-time favourite? [Psst! We have a stunning selection to show you in our soon-to-be-published Christmas edition of The Scented Letter magazine, so watch this space…] It’s often possible to find travel-size versions of perfumes at this time of year, and if you really wanted to push the boat out – how wonderful it would be to book a night in a nice hotel or day spa trip, and add the ticket/voucher to the box of mini sizes in a golden envelope!
If they want to try something new:
There are times when one tires of always having the same fragrance, though, so if they’ve expressed an interest in branching out, take a look at our genius Find a Fragrance online tool. We were thrilled to get a shout-out on Nick Gilbert and Thomas Dunkley‘s Fume Chat Podcast, recently, in which they suggested our Find a Fragrance as THE best way to choose a new scent to suit you. completely free to use, and will guide you with six (SO acurate) suggestions of what to try next. The fragrances suggested will have a similar character or style to the ‘old favourite’, perhaps share some similar notes or even the same perfumer. And it *really* works.
When you’re not sure what they like:
A Discovery Box is definitely the way forward. Bursting with luxurious and often hard-to-find mini, try-me size scents and decadents beauty extras, each box is specially curated around a theme, with a particular kind of perfume-lover in mind, or simply showcases some of our favourite fragrant launches. There’s also an amazing array of Brand Boxes, where each house has put together some of their best-sellers for you to try. We have overwhelming feedback that so many of you have already found something completely new – and scents you’d never heard of – in these boxes, and many people go on to get themselves a full-size bottle having fallen in love by happenstance.
Cool urbanites with their own sense of style will warm to this great niche house that everyone’s been talking about. Kierien NYC Discovery Set £15
We have so much more in our shop to tempt you, and over the next few weeks will be bringing you more guides of How To Buy for particular people, but hopefully this little peek at possible perfumed gifts will get you thinking – and solving some of those present-buying woes right now…
Two of the questions we’re most frequently asked are: ‘How can I make my perfume last longer?’ and ‘Where should I best apply fragrance?’ And those two answers are certainly connected…
There’s an utterly fabulous fragrance scene in a vintage silent film from 1921 – The Wildcat, by Ernst Lubitsch – in which the heroine sits at her dressing table and douses herself from head to toe in perfume. Starring the wonderfully minx-ish Pola Negri as Rischka, the wildcat of the title and leader of a gang of bandits; the film follows the capture of their latest victim, Alexis, a caddish officer on his way to begin a job at his new post. Rischka falls madly in love with him, obvs, and they embark on a comletely mad courtship, leaving chaos (and perfume!) in their wake.
You can watch the film, below, and the scent-dousing scene begins at 2:46 if you want to skip straight to that… Being of the ‘more is more’ school, we definitely approve Rischka’s perfume application technique – in spirit if not in reality!
But seriously, where are the best places to aplpy your perfume (if you’re not just tipping it straight over your head, like in the film)? And how can it last longer on the skin?
Where should I apply my fragrance?
In her book ‘Fatale: How French Women Do It’, Edith Kunz suggests ‘The artful application of fragrance’ should take ‘about fifteen minutes from bath to blush.’ Going on to list the vital areas that should be dabbed with perfume, and in what order, Kunz suggests the everyday routine French women have employed for centuries – a scented ritual passed down from mother to daughter. Follow this fragrant guide to waft forth a cloud of fragrant femininity…
Heels, arches, and between the toes;
The inner and outer anklebone;
Behind the knees;
The underside of the derrière;
The pubic area and the navel;
Under each breast and between the breasts;
The shoulders and upper arms;
Inside the bend of the elbow;
The pulse points at the inner wrist;
The back of the hand and between the fingers;
The hollow at the bottom of the neck;
All around the collar bone;
Under the chin;
Along the jaw line;
Behind the ears and on the earlobes;
On the temples;
Along the back of the neck to the shoulder blades;
Around the hairline.
And don’t forget the important last step. Kunz says (and these are very much her words, not mine..) ‘The process is completed by tucking an aromatic cotton puff inside the bra between the lady’s two tender treasures.’
Now, if you don’t have time for all that, I suggest: the neck, tops of shoulders and behind the knees are my favourite places to spray. I once read that Jane Birkin liked to leave a fragrant trail by spraying her scent there, so have done this ever since!
How can I make my perfume last longer?
1 Use matching body products, if available, or unscented if not – it’s a beautiful way to ‘layer’ on your fragrance; body creams and body lotions, in particular, add emollients which hold perfume. 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.
2 Switch to a stronger formulation. Eau de parfum, pure parfum and extrait are highly concentrated formulas that will smell stronger and last longer. They may be more expensive, but you can end up using far less. Win-win!
3 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! (Test on a tissue, first.) Hair is porous and will waft the scent even longer than on your skin in many cases.
4 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…
5 Remember that your nose can become used to your perfume, particularly if you wear the same one every single day – or you could be anosmic (unable to detect) some musk notes. 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 maybe ask a friend if they can still smell it before dousing yourself again (tempting as we find it, having watched The Wildcat film!)
Have you found your fragrant armour? There are times we need to reach for something to give us extra backbone, make us stand a little taller and feel able to deflect the slings and arrows slung at us by the world, or the cope with the circumstances we find ourselves in. So don’t worry: we’ve made it our mission to help you find yours…
As I write this, those circumstances are more pertinent than ever, my step father having suffered another stroke. In the unbearable period of sitting and waiting for news, amidst chaos and fear; wearing the right fragrance doesn’t only gives me something to cling to. Judiciously selected, they can climb inside me like a perfumed posession. I’m not quite myself when I wear them. And I like it.
A perfume wont make everything perfect, of course, but it can offer a kind of shield of protection – a fragrant cloak in which you waft surefootedly and go from clapped-out to kick-ass in just a few spritzes. It’s been proven that some aromas can significantly help calm us, but scientists always seem to foucs research on that scented moment of zen, when fragrance can do so much more than merely steady our nerves.
When I need that fist of steel within a velvet glove, I have consistently been reaching for my trusty travel-size Editions de Parfum Frédéric MallePortrait of a Lady £47 for 10ml eau de parfum refill at fredericmalle.co.uk. A lady? Yes, but this one’s not for swooning. I picture an aristocratic dame in full 18th Century attire, frustrated with watching the antics of knights’ jousting, and deciding to pitch in herself. Swagged with 400 Turkish roses, sharp blackberry spears the skin-warmth of sandalwood, ripe raspberry unappologetically cutting a swathe through an almost chocolate-like patchouli and the base a frankincense trip to the confessional – but only to boast of her sins.
Perhaps you already have an elixir that works like a charm? I don’t mean something that smells nice, or even something you often wear and adore. Fragrant armour needs to go above and beyond. We’re not talking comfy jeans and a clean t-shirt, here. This scent needs to lift you to a higher plain, spark your imagination and leave others trailing (preferably quailing) in your perfumed wake.
There’s a peculiar alchemy in finding which fragrance works for you. It needs to have an element of comfort, but without being so pillowy and soft that it lulls you into a state of hazy languor. It should be familiar enough to fit you like a second skin, yet not so customary that it feels commonplace. And it needs to be recognisably you, but turned up to eleven: that superhero (or, perhaps, villainous?) version of yourself, who can destroy foes with a KAPOW! while wearing a catsuit and a satisfied smirk.
So, how to find yours?
First, have a look through your perfume collection (or samples you’ve tried and loved, recently), and do the Sniff Test. Spray several blotters (use some tissues or strips of thin card, if you don’t have any) and write the names of the fragrances on. Smell after a few minutes, and then return to them all within half an hour.
Secondly, you’re going to narrow down those that make you feel a frisson. Put aside those that make you go ‘OooOOooh!’ when you smell them, and trying them on your skin. No just “Mmm, yes, lovely’ reactions. This has to be an unbidden, visceral noise of satisfaction or surprise. Come back to each and smell them again, an hour after first spraying. Do any still excite you? Good. These are your starting point for the next step.
Now, type the name into our Find a Fragrance page. If you’re not sure of your favourite family, or want wider suggestions, just choose ‘not sure’ from the drop-down list.
It works by decoding one of your favourite perfumes, and suggesting six alternatives to try. It isn’t some pot-luck shot in the dark based on the ingredients and notes alone – we use key emotion-driven words given in the perfumer’s briefing, or the original inspiration behind the launch. And it’s really quite spookily accurate at predicting what you might like, and love…
My suggestions were for some I already tried, really love and must dig out or re-purchase to try again, and something that really caught my eye: BDK French Bouquet £195 for 100m eau de parfum at harrods.com. Now I’ve been meaning to try this, happened to have a sample kicking around, and so immediately sprayed some on. Oh. Oh YES.
Suddenly I’m in Paris (cliché, I know, but let’s go with it) and I’m wearing the kind of elegant suit and clicky heels I could absolutely never dream of without spraining an ankle or spilling soup on in real life. But in my dream I’m imbued with insouciant chicness, glossy hair gleaming in the sunshine of (what I later learn) is aldehyde C12 – a chemical compound found naturally in citrus oils – seamlessly blending bergamot, rose and jasmine alongside classic Chypre notes (my favourite family, hello) with what they describe a a ‘powdery yet potent effect.’ It’s slightly soapy, but very sexy. Not in a ‘come up and see me sometime’ sense, but rather a ‘hot damn I look great, today’ way. And heaven knows, we all need that.
It made me feel instantly pulled together and like I knew what I was doing. Which is far from the truth, and therefore most welcome. I’ll be adding this to my olfactory arsenal to be deployed as required. I suggest aquiring travel-sizes or samples for your armour (or weapons) of choice, to be carried about your person, whenever the need arises.
Think of your fragrant armour as the scented equivalent of the red lipstick, then. But the magic of this olfactory signal is that it’s invisible – and all the more powerful for being so. It’s your secret, a message written to yourself (in that red lipstick, emblazoned on a bathroom mirror) saying: ‘You’ve got this.’
There’s no doubt about it: oudh divides opinion. It’s one of those ‘Marmite’ perfumery ingredients, which people either swoon over or clutch their pearls and scream while avoiding at all costs.
But if you think you hate oudh – or any one of the other fragrant materials we’ll be discussing over the coming weeks – get ready to have your perfume preconceptions challenged, and allow yourself to experience some of the newer scents using it as more of a background note. Think of it in the same way you’d use a seasoning, like salt, in cooking. You wouldn’t want the whole dish to be dominated by it, but a judicious sprinkle can utterly alter the way the other ingredients behave and react with one another.
So, let’s go back to basics before we plunge in to the perfumes you should sniff out.
What is oudh?
When we blithely say ‘oudh’, we are actually referring to agarwood – the resinous heart-wood from fast-growing evergreen trees – usually the Aquilaria tree. The agarwood is a result of a reaction to a fungal attack, which turns this usually pale and light wood into a dark, resinous wood with a distinct fragrance – a process that can take hundreds of years.
From that ‘rotten’ wood, an oil is produced, tapped from the tree like maple syrup, and then blended into perfume. The aroma of ‘natural’ oudh is distinctively irresistible and attractive with bitter sweet and woody nuances: seriously earthy and, in small quantities, supremely sexy. Depending on the type of oudh, how long it’s been aged and the quantity used, it can be smooth as velvet, smell like fresh hay drying in sunshine or like a particularly busy barnyard on a rather ripe summer’s day. Just like anything else used in a fragrance, it depends entirely on the expertise of the perfumer, how much they are using, and in conjunction with which other ingredients.
A key ingredient in old and new Arabic perfumery, renowned for centuries as an element within high-quality incense in Arabic, Japanese and Indian cultures, oudh has gone from a ‘trend’ ingredient we saw emerging a few years ago on our scented shores, to now having definitively crossed over to the west as something you can find everywhere – even in fabric conditioners and deodorants. And yet, true oudh is rare, seriously expensive and even endangered: as it’s become more popular, high-quality oud is becoming difficult to source.
Collection of agarwood from natural forests is now illegal under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endanged Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), but some is now beginning to be plantation grown in Vietnam. As an alternative, many perfumers have turned to synthetic oudh, although highly trained noses will tell you it can smell less nuanced, still woody and leathery, but without the warm, balsamic qualities.
So now, we want you to challenge your own nose and seek out some of our favourite fragrances, below. We’ve chosen scents that use oudh as that ‘seasoning’ we spoke of – a way of subtly adding depth, smoothness and velvety plushness within a perfume. Go on, even you oudh naysayers, we double dare you: and bet at least one of these will become a firm fragrant favourite in your collection…
Here we travel to the land of Assam via the richly resonant aromas of the East. Cinnamon leaf oil and nutmeg make for a lively opening with the heart notes giving way to the wonderfully exotic citrus-fresh elemi oil so prized by perfumers. Black tea accord marks our fragrant journey with its smoky tendrils slowly opening to the deeper base and that sweet, wet earthiness and smooth wood played out with notes of oudh and vetiver. Honey is drizzled to sweeten the mix but never becomes sickly, the stunningly smooth tobacco accord putting us in mind of freshly-rolled cigars and dense canopies of greenery outlined against mountains beyond.
Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh & Gold Accord £45 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Molton Brown
This feels like an homage to the very origins of perfume – ‘per-fumum’ meaning ‘through smoke’ – this exploration of incense, made exclusively for Harrods, melding the gentle fruity notes of fresh Turkish rose petals plucked from a misty, dew-specked garden, with a fragrant drift of exotic spices. There’s a myticism, somehow, to wearing this. A pure parfum, it lingers beguilingly on the skin for many hours, waves of wamth unfurling, tendrills of smoky woodiness curling around you as you move – your own invisible velvet cloak to swirl, joyously, all day. Just as perfect as night falls, the scent swoons duskily onto the skin like a sunset kissing the earth. Sumptuous.
Atelier Cologne Rose Smoke £325 for 100ml pure parfum
Buy it at Harrods
We automatically began smacking our lips at this, even before we’d sprayed. And oh, once you do, it’s every bit as delicious as you’d hope – if it did come in a jar we’d want to spread buttered crumpets with it, and most definitely smother ourselves from neck to ankles. Probably best it’s bottled, then. With a truly honeyed note that deepens as the sustainably-sourced oudh kicks in, this is intensely nuzzle-able, and there’s nothing whatever to frighten the horses. A gourmand-esque take on oudh, think soft rose and creamy sandalwood rippled with dark seams of oudh, amber and vanilla-specked deliciousness.
Floris Honey Oud £160 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Floris
Unashamedly salacious, the Turkish and Bulgarian roses entwine the heart, bereft of thorns they mingle with the gently powdered violet – a sheer dusting bestowed from a swan’s-down puff – and the most opulently creamy vanilla base you’re likely to encounter. The evocation of luxuriously stretching out on a satin bedspread and enjoying the feel of the silky material beneath your limbs is hard to resist – add to this image a silver bowl of decadent white chocolates decorated with sugared violets, and you’ll be in seventh Heaven! An animalic (thank you, oudh) smokiness underpins the sensuously draped covers, making this the perfect after-dark fragrance for illicit encounters…
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Selfridges
Named after a small Turkish village on the banks of the river Euphrates and famed for its intensely dusky roses that bloom so deeply crimson they appear to be black, Halfeti is certainly not your ‘blushing English rose’. A balmy breeze of bergamot wafts forth saffron’s warmth, followed by a sizzle of spices perfectly blended with a bouquet of jasmine, rose, lavender and lily of the valley. In the base there’s a flex of supple leather, sensuous oudh swirled through glowing amber, chocolate-y patchouli and finally, a smooth dry down of deliciously almond-like tonka bean, sandalwood and a gently powdered musk. Take us away, immediately…
Penhaligon’s Halfeti £175 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Penhaligon’s
Dad, it’s time to step away from the Cologne Auntie Brenda gave you when you were 19: we’re staging a scent intervention for Father’s Day…
Today, June 11, is our last cut-off day for posting before Father’s Day on June 16 – but you can use these tips whenever you’re buying a fragrant gift!
Buying a fragrance for your father – or the father-figure in your life – can be tricky. You want to gently ease them away from the one they’ve been drenching themselves in for decades because the scented landscape has (mercifully) changed; but where to begin on their new fragrant adventure?
We specially curate a selection of our Discovery Boxes with men in mind (or anyone who prefers more traditionally ‘masculine’ leaning fragrances), as well as stocking a superb selection of Brand Boxes from new niche houses and the more unusual, already established names.
Discovery Boxes/sets really are the best gifts: you’re not imposing your own taste or guessing at theirs, and with a plethora of perfumed delights to explore, the chances of scented success are greatly increased!
Choosing a new fragrance deserves time and space to properly see how they develop on your skin, and something we know you love is the chance to try things you’d perhaps never heard of before. When given as a gift, these boxes also represent the chance to gently move someone you love out of a fragrant rut…
Bringing brand new releases, much-loved classics and niche perfume houses, with an unprecedented SEVENTEEN FRAGRANCES to explore, there’s something for all to fall for in this bumper selection! Including FIVE fragrances from the Elements of Man line-up by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA, a zing for your step from TOM DAXON Sicilian Wood, the power of the just-launched CREED Aventus Cologne – alongside classic ACQUA DI PARMA Colonia, inviting you to dip your toe in summer waters… We’ve also thrown in TWO GROOMING PRODUCTS! The evocative Milano Cento Body Wash 30ml, to pair with the same fragrance in the box, along with Jack Black Double Duty Face Moisturiser SPF20.
And if you buy this box before 28th June, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a full-sized fragrance or grooming product. Which you can choose to give as a second gift, or well, *cough* just keep for yourself.
If he’s something of a rebel or always up for trying the latest technology – we’d steer him toward the incredible, ground-breaking fragrances of Escentric Molecules. Creating unique duos that combine a man-made aroma-molecule with naturals, try each of them in turn, compare the four pairs, and find out why this continually innovative house are set to blow your mind. What’s more, feedback tells us these fragrances last the whole day through, and smell utterly unique.
The Escentric Molecules Discovery Set includes four duos x 2ml samples.
• Escentric 01 – the Iso E Super molecule features heavily, with the remaining formula using ingredients ‘designed to underscore its low-lit mood.’
• Molecule 01 – the ‘partner’ to Escentric 01 contains nothing but Iso E Super – a single ingredient.
• Escentric 02 – vetiver, synthetic musk, Muscone plus powdery orris, elderflower extract and hedione
• Molecule 02 – unadulterated Ambroxan
• Escentric 03 – a tribute to the more familiar side of vetiver: its dark, slightly exotic woodiness.
• Molecule 03 – Vertiveryle acetate, a refined vetiver note is celebrated at its purest
• Escentric 04 – pink grapefruit, rose and pink peppercorns
• Molecule 04 – a seriously room-filling sillage of smooth sandalwood
It’s time to switch up their scent game and move from heavier fragrances to a fresher wardrobe. We curated this selection especially for chaps looking to find something new, so there’s something for every man (and plenty of ‘borrowable’ finds) – including Bentley, Parfums de Marly, Cristiano Ronaldo and TWO duos from cult brands – Escentric Molecule and Clive Christian – among others. This is a thrilling collection to sniff your way through, and with two added extras from Penhaligon’s and Aromatherapy Associates, this box is worth over £40 to begin with, and priceless when you help them discover a new favourite…
Not all dads and father figures are fuddy-duddy, and if yours is more hipster than has-been, this box is the way to go. Featuring 14 truly exclusive niche fragrances, there are an incredible THREE LUXURY-SIZE SAMPLES perfect for travelling – the new addictive Anima Vinci Sesame Chān (7ml), fabulously fresh Tom DaxonLaconia (4.5ml) and the exotic Merchant of Venice Blue Tea (5ml). Showcasing scents from very exciting perfume houses – including decadence from Juliette Has a Gun and exquisite naturals from Prosody and Parterre – he’ll be among the first to smell BDK Parfums with the so-French Rouge Smoking and Parle Moi De Parfum’s delectable celebration of rose. And yes, men smell utterly fabulous in florals – take it from us. All of these fragrances are totally sharable and higly desirable for those who want something more unique.
If he wants ultra luxury and something we’re sure none of his contemporaries will already have, we’re delighted to introduce a very exciting new brand – Memoize London – and invite you to delve into this treasure trove Discovery Set, which includes eight wonderful new fragrances. Memoize celebrates the importance of creating a harmonious balance between fragrance and emotion.
Tristitia – the essence of calm, relaxation and pure leisure. Reminiscent of of a lazy Sunday morning, cocooning you in floral and vanilla scented sheets, no need to rise, the amber is keeping you warm…
Avaritia – the essence of insatiability, opulence and unquenchable desire. The first time you dare to think you can have exactly what you want, the need for something that is all yours.
Era – the essence of passion, provocation and power. Lose control of your emotions with this powerful fragrance; reigniting the fire within you, evoking deep seated memories within.
Luxuria – the essence of lust, seduction and intoxication. Memories of the first moment of interaction, where desire and passion consumes you. Your skin will tingle with luscious blackcurrant, tuberose and the warmth of musk will captivate you.
Superbia – the essence of self-confidence, self-love and self-worth. An overwhelming feeling of pride, joy and delight. Recalling a first day of school, the pruned rose bushes, games in the woods, the leather strap of a satchel, a mother’s proudest moment…
Gula – the essence of pleasure-seeking and self-indulgence. A fragrance of sumptuous vanilla, absorbing orange, rich clove and delicate lavender. Gula is an immeasurable mix of thought provoking scents providing unrestrained gratification for your appetites, desires, or whims.
Invidia – the essence of insatiable desire to want, to have, to be who you want to be. Envious and aspirational, your mind takes you on a sub-coconscious journey through the memories from your childhood; always wanting what you can’t have – sweet vanilla ice cream, caramels, tobacco….
Black Avaritia (Limited Edition) – the essence of indulging all of your wants and needs in abundance. Travelling through the rich and woody tones, takes you back on a journey to a foreign land. The warmth on the skin is reminiscent of the sun kissing your skin.
Knowing a lot of niche-loving chaps who want to look their best are out there, may we also suggest the second Niche box – it includes a 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom which basically smells like a Moroccan summer in a bottle. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, The Modernist, Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… WE’VE ALSO ADDED SOME SKIN LOVING TREATS! Yes, dads need pampering, too. Keep his face glowing with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense ANTI-AGING Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) which he can slap on overnight for minimum fuss – and ensure his hands are looked after with the wonderful bestselling Balance MeSuper Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10). When you consider the value of the two grooming items alone is worth £18.50 – you’re basically getting the rest free!
The perfume universe is divided into ‘families’. but what does this terminolgy actually mean to someone searching for a new fragrance to wear? We know it can be baffling to work out, so are here to help guide you with a new feature decoding and exploring the main fragrance families, and choosing an example we think your nose should get to know…
What are fragrance families?
Technically, ‘fragrance families’ are a classification system the perfume industry has used for years, to place individual perfumes into olfactory ‘groups’, based on their dominant characteristics. It’s part of the language of scent.
A true family, of course, has lots of members – and so it is with fragrance. Most of the eight main fragrance families will have some variations on their theme, particularly these days, as increasing numbers of fragrance houses describe their scents as ‘fresh woody floriental’ and suchlike, which is rather confusing for everyone! Here. we’ll try to break down the characters of the main families so you can discover which you’re most drawn to.
Will I only suit fragrances from one family?
Not necessarily – but it all depends on personal taste, the time of year, your mood and even what you’ve eaten recently (spicy food can mask the more subtle notes and alter how others smell on your skin for up to two weeks, for example).
In reality, very few of us have a completely jumbled wardrobe of scents from lots of different families: often without even realising, we tend to fall for one main family time and again. Just as you might open your wardrobe and find that a certain colour dominates. Instinctively, we prefer scents from some fragrance families and dislike others – although we may tend towards one particular family for colder weather, another for sunny times (or moods).
What is ‘fresh’?
Uplifting, zesty, cooling: most eau de Colognes fall into this family. They feature a whoosh of notes like lemon, bergamot, orange, grapefruit, mandarin. (These notes are also slightly randomly referred to as being ‘hesperidic’ – after the Hesperides, the nymphs from Greek mythology!)
Fresh fragrances usually smell clean, and often come in the eau de toilette and Cologne versions, though now we’re finding longer-lasting eau de parfum fragrances evoking that zingy Cologne style. These are the best of both worlds, because many citrus-based scents disappear more quickly on the skin – the oils are the lightest in perfumery so evaporate more rapidly, particularly if you have dry skin. Stronger concentrations (like Aventus Cologne – see below) allow the freshness to give you jolt of energising enjoyment for several hours – hurrah!
Ideal for splashing, and generally more suited to summer, some conjure up a sea breeze, while others smell like bottled sunshine. Many people find fresh fragrances give them a ‘lift’ – a bit of a perfumed kick up the proverbial when you’re feeling drained or in need of a quick hit of happiness.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at a brand new fresh fragrance we feel exudes the very best of this family’s characteristics…
How does it smell?
Lusciously juicy mandarin fizzes with a rasp of freshly grated ginger, a gentle spicy heat enhanced by the addition of pounded pink peppercorns. Just as your nose is getting used to the sunshine warmed top notes, a supremely smooth patchouli swathes creamy sandalwood and cooling vetiver for an interplay of textures and temperatures that continues to intrigue. Finally, the resinous base pulses in a throb of almond-like tonka beans amidst soft drifts of smoky musk that demands to be nuzzled…
The original Aventus is a best-selling fragrance around the world, and most particularly known for the iconic pineapple top note. Wanting to create a more summery alternative, instead of just weakening the strength and turning it into an eau de toilette, perfumer Olivier Creed – sixth generation master perfumer for the house – crafted a luminous, utterly radiant fragrance that feels like a younger (more tanned) sibling of the original. It’s uplifting and vibrant, but still carries itself confidently for hours of perfumed pleasure!
Try a sample of Aventus Cologne
You can try a sample of the just-launched Aventus Cologne at home – it’s one of an incredible SEVENTEEN fragrances we put together in The Explorer Discovery Box of more masculine-styled scents for you to wear and explore your feelings for. Will you fall for this fresh example…?
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