Can you re-set your mood and enhance wellness with scent? Scientists say… yes!
Because changing your fragrance for something fresher when the warmer weather (finally!) comes around is not only a way of reinvigorating your scent wardrobe, but a way to actively improve your mental wellbeing, says Alfredo Fontanini, MD, PhD:
‘Each perfume is associated with different recollections and experiences. As you form new memories, older ones and emotions tend to fade. When you try a new perfume, you are trying an odor that has no associations, so it gives you the possibility to make new ones and write new memories.’
According to the neuroscientist, who’s chair of the department of neurobiology and behavior at Stony Brook University, and a co-director of its Neurosciences Institute; using a completely new scent helps us mentally draw a line under past experiences and start afresh.
In an interview with Elle magazine, olfactory expert Dawn Goldworm agreed, and spoke of people using fragrance to provoke memories – something we know first hand so many of you have been doing during the pandemic. Says Dawn:
‘Later in life, when you smell something, you are brought back to a specific moment or event. You remember how you feel.’ And she gives the advice that now is a good time to re-access your scent collection (even deodorants, shampoos and shower gels). ‘If it makes you feel good, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you change it,’ she suggests.
It makes complete sense. Because when you take a deep breath and inhale aroma molecules, they’re detected by the olfactory receptors in your nose and immediately stimulate some of the deepest, oldest parts of the brain – in ways that we’re only just starting to understand.
‘This process produces nerve impulses which travel to the limbic system, the part of the brain which is most concerned with survival, instincts and emotions. It’s thought by scientists the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region causes mood change by altering brain chemistry,’ says Christina Salcedas, of Aromatherapy Associates London. Our ability to smell ‘…is a window into parts of the brain related to core functions, like pleasure, emotion, and memory,’ agrees Jayant Pinto, MD, author of the study, an otolaryngologist (try saying that three times!) and head and neck surgeon at University of Chicago Medicine.
It turns out reaching for a fresher (and new to you) fragrance is more than simply pleasurable – it’s genuinely good for your mental health and wellness. We can get on board with that…
If you’re looking for a whole new summer scent wardrobe, the Seasonal Scent Subscription Box for Summer is your effortless, ready-curated collection. Lighter, brighter, filled with sunshine and allowing you to ‘travel with your nose’, these scents offer a chance to revel in the bliss of luminescent, uplifting fragrances.
If you already love a particular perfume but want to explore more, try our genius Fragrance Finder: simply type in the name and it’ll offer SIX new scent suggestions for you to try.
If you’re looking for something completely different, delve into one of our Discovery Boxesto find niche, luxury and new names.
It really doesn’t matter where you choose to begin – wiping the slate clean and starting afresh with a new scent for summer is one of the best (and easiest!) ways to re-set your mood and focus on wellness through fragrance…
Choosing a fragrance for Fathers Day (or, you know, whenever) can seem overwhelming, but the best way to match a particular chap to a certain scent is think about their personalities. So, ditch the old-fashioned ‘pipe and slippers’ image still portrayed on many a Fathers Day card and consider his character. Is he…
If he fancies himself as rather dapper and wouldn’t dream of stepping outside the house in joggers and an old t-shirt, we think he’s likely to favour a classic but characterful fragrance. This collection was designed with such men in mind, but here at Perfume Society HQ we implore everyone to explore this divine collection and discover the timeless aromas loved by the stars of old Hollywood.
Created by Albert Fouquet, a member of the French aristocracy, who would surprise his loved ones with exquisite homemade perfumes, blended lovingly with the help of his family butler, Philippe. One evening in 1937, Albert met an American student named John F. K. mesmerised by Albert’s scent, John persuaded him to leave him a sample. The rest, as they say, is history…
Now you can get set to feel truly special by spritzing these timeless and decadent scents, six true icons in fragrant history ready for you explore.
Okay so he might not exactly be a caped crusader but he tries his best, and he’s your hero. If his taste mightbbe described as ‘changeable’ or he’s not really sure which style of fragrances he likes, this discovery box is your scent saviour! Filled to the brim with something to suit all, it’s for super men everywhere.
We’ve included independent perfume houses making their mark: recently launched ånd fragrance with sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients at the forefront, decadent Italian niche with Laboratorio Olfattivo and Jovoy with their new creation based on the Mayfair store 21 Conduit St. Also including newness from loved names including St Giles, Parfums de Marly, Ruth Mastenbroek, Floris, Caron,Initio, Atelier Des Ors, Kierin NYC and Anima Vinci.
We also bring you TWO GROOMING PRODUCTS! FISH Memory Fish Flexible Gel (50ml), and the divinely scented beard savour WELEDA Skin Food (10ml). Up, up and a-spray…!
If he’s still firmly attached to his skinny jeans and faded band-t-shirts (or can sometimes be lost for hours playing along to vinyl rarities) chances are he’s not going to want to smell hum-drum and ordinary. Offering a true sense of olfactory rebellion, dance into this so-sassy collection, all of which should be worn with a devil-may-care attitude.
ROOK PERFUMES are the perfect meeting place between art and science – with more than a little rock ‘n roll in their DNA. They were launched by a frontline doctor/actor (yes, really), Nadeem Crowe, who became enraptured with the world of perfumery, who says ‘I feel totally comfortable with pipettes, beakers and weighing scales. The outcome, though, is a piece of art.’
Discover ALL THREE UNISEX FRAGRANCES, Undergrowth, Forest and ROOK. The latter was created by Nadeem for himself, inspired by his Middle Eastern roots, and described as a ‘diplomat dressed up as a punk rocker’. Nadeem loves to hear the stories of how his fragrances transport others – so let us know which transported you…?
If he’s slightly eccentric, obsessed by science or futuristic technology and always ahead of his time, he’s bound to appreciate the loving fragrance nerd-ery behind this iconic cult house. Perfumer and founder Geza Schoen is, himself, a bit of a maverick. If you’re new to the Escentric Molecules world, you should know that Geza was dedicated to trying something new – and it was seen quite shockingly brave, but caused a scent storm of interest.
The reason? Schoen shook up the perfume world by creating a scent with one ingredient – an aroma-molecule non-existent in nature, called Iso E Super. Now this molecule has been expertly blended with other ingredients to really ramp up the individuality.
Geza says: ‘I’ve used two qualities of patchouli here. The biggest chunk is Patchouli Coeur which is a very clean, soft patchouli oil fraction with the camphor-like topnote removed. I have also included a patchouli oil from Indonesia to round it out with a little bit of a topnote. The result is a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01.’
Geza says: ‘Mandarin is all about the instant hit. It’s so alive, the way it radiates off the skin with that citrus zestiness. But there’s more to mandarin, it’s very fruity and aromatic as well. It’s a beautiful ingredient. Its transparency means that it vanishes quickly. I’ve touched it up with a little extra shading to extend it, adding a mandarin ingredient used in flavourings to give it super-juiciness.’
Our 3 top tips to choosing a fragrance take all the worry and confusing out of selecting a scent – be that a gift for someone else or as a treat for yourself.
With Father’s Day around the corner, fragrant gifts are much on our minds, but we wanted to create a guide that gets your started on your journey and, even better, can be used for any time you find yourself confused while pondering perfumes…
1: If you already know a fragrance they like
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 wear, 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. It REALLY works – just try it for yourself to see!
2: If you’ve no idea what they like (or want to get them something new)
Think about how they dress, or the way they decorate their home – this is an excellent indication as to their character, and therefore the style of scent they probably prefer. Are there particular materials they’re drawn towards, or colours they normally go for? Fragrance, texture and colour and have many qualities in common.
Look for scents packaged in those colours – huge amounts of time and money are spent ‘matching’ the juice to the mood evoked by those hues – or described with those words, such as ‘velvety’, ‘suede’ or ‘crisp cotton’ in the notes. Or consider their interests: sporty gym types might prefer fresher scents, artistic types might prefer a more opulent aesthetic.
But scent selection isn’t always a matter of joining the dots – some people like fragrances you’d never guess at! So the absolute best solution is to buy them a Discovery Box so they can try all manner of differing fragrances in their own time. They may even surprise themselves with their favourite.
3: How do I know if a fragrance suits me?
Give it TIME on your skin. So many of us spray, sniff immediately (that’s just the alcohol you’re smelling, with perhaps a mere whiff of top notes) and either make a snap purchase or walk away. Those opening notes can disappear in mere minutes, you really need to let it settle for twenty minutes or more to smell the middle or ‘heart’ notes. The ‘base’ notes are made from ingredients with the heaviest molecules, so these can take several hours to warm and then evaporate on the skin.
If possible, try the fragrance on a blotter first (also known as a perfume ‘spill’); these used to be available with testers on perfume counters, but because of new Covid-19 safety measures, many stores don’t allow these now. (We always tend to take our own – and include a handy pack in each of our Discovery Boxes).
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.
Don’t try more than about four or five at a time. Your nose will become overwhelmed. Just sniff a sweater or a patch of your own bare skin to ‘re-set’, or go outside and get some fresh air – smelling coffee beans is a fallacy, it’s just filling your nose with another smell!
Jot down a few words to describe how you feel about each fragrance. These should be emotional words or things it reminds you of (a fabric / musical instrument / colour / place / time of day). They might sound abstract, but are a true reflection of how a fragrance is melding to your personality (or otherwise). Come back to the blotters several hours later and smell again – see if those words have changed.
The best way to find a new fragrance – as a gift or for yourself – is to try several samples at home in a Discovery Box, a curated selection of scents from a large number of houses; or a BrandDiscovery Set, showcasing the entire range of fragrances from a single house. With time to let them develop, zero pressure and scents you may have overlooked in-store (or never even heard of before), it’s the perfect way to find that new perfume love…
So what is niche fragrance? That word is often flung around in the fragrance world, but sometimes we don’t stop to wonder about it. So what does that term actually mean, and where should you begin your fragrance journey…?
[Psst! Scroll down to find out how you can try well over £1,000 worth of niche fragrance – if you got the full sizes – for just £19!]
‘Niche’ perfumery began by referring to fragrances made independently, so not owned by a large brand. They can also be called ‘artisanal’, and because they were privately owned, often were able to take risks that larger, more corporately-inclined companies could not.
These smaller houses sometimes had a single person behind them – acting as founder, perfumer, Creative Director and PR person (and probably chief tea-maker, too!) The founder might also be self-taught in perfumery, rather than the traditional route of studying chemistry and then training at schools such as ISIPCA.
It might be useful to think of ‘niche’ fragrance as the catwalk of the perfume world. Unique ideas are celebrated, and might seem completely wacky or out-there, but actually tend to create trends that ripple down to the high street. Suddenly the ‘shoulder pads’ of the scent world are everywhere!
As niche houses became increasingly popular, some more established, larger houses began introducing more daring fragrance collectionswe also term as ‘niche’ – referring to the more artistic, less traditionally commercial style of perfumery rather than the size of the house itself.
But where can you begin discovering niche fragrances? At The Perfume Society we know that not everyone happens to live near a perfumery stocking niche scents (or even a department store with a diverse selection) – and even if you do, it’s sometimes overwhelming to work out where to even begin. What’s more, because of various lockdowns meaning we couldn’t even get to the shops – and new Covid-19 health protocols meaning testers aren’t readily available to smell in-store – it can be even trickier to actually get your nose on niche fragrance!
Trying a fragrance sample at home is the best way to truly discover if you love a scent – you need to live with it on your skin for several hours. A Discovery Set means you can try the entire collection from a niche fragrance house, and our curated Discovery Boxes allow you to smell things you’d perhaps never have considered (or not heard of) before.
Because we understand you’re missing browsing, spraying and smelling, in the latest we curated a selection of some of the finest niche fragrances out there to try at home. Click here for a detailed description of each scent, and on the names of the houses to read all about their individual histories. There’s no better way to begin your discovery of niche than right here.
In the Niche Collection VI you’re getting to try well over £1,000 worth of fragrance (if you had to buy them all as separate full-sizes to try) for less than the price of your average Deliveroo! This is what’s included…
ånd fragrance Sånd 2ml EDP 2ml eau de parfum (full size £35 for 10ml) Atkinsons 24 Old Bond Street 2ml eau de cologne (£99 for 100ml) Brioni Brioni 1.8ml eau de parfum (£70 for 60ml) Eight & Bob Annicke 1 2ml eau de parfum (£55 for 30ml) Initio Addictive Vibration1.5ml eau de parfum (£190 for 90ml) Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 7.5mleau de parfum (£36 for 30ml) J.U.S Parfums Sexycrush 1.2mleau de parfum (£165 for 100ml) Lalique Noir Premier Plume Blanche 1901 1.8mleau de parfum (£210 for 100ml) Paco Rabanne Pacollection Strong Me 1.5mleau de parfum (£65 for 62ml) St Giles The Writer 2mleau de parfum (£130 for 100ml) A’Kin Cleansing Micellar Water 30ml(£12.50 for 150ml)
The Niche Collection VI Discovery Box is priced £19 + p&p* to VIP Club Members (£23 + p&p* to everyone else) – be sure to log into your account to take advantage of the special VIP Club price.
If this is your first time trying a niche fragrance, read our tips on how best to smell a new scent. Basically, you need to give it time to develop on your skin. Often the niche fragrances can be more complex (or just very different to more everyday mainstream scents you might be used to) so they can take you on more of journey as they unfurl throughout the day.
We do hope this helps explains things about ‘niche’ fragrance a bit more. One thing’s for sure: wherever you begin your niche fragrance journey, we’ve a hunch you’re going to fall madlly in love with many of them along the way…
The remarkable story behind Eight & Bob brings together a dashing perfume-lover, a president, his brother and now we’re introduced to a stunning 1930s society muse named Annicke. Settle down and grab a cuppa as you learn the secrets behind the founding of this extraordinary niche house, and the stories which continue to inspre the creation of its contemporary, so-wearable scents..
We begin with the tale of how Eight & Bob got its name: One night during the summer of 1937, so we’re told, in the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Albert Fouquet, a young socialite and perfume connoisseur (who loved to blend his own essences), met an American student who was touring France: John F. Kennedy. Within minutes of being introduced, the vain JFK was captivated by the essence that Albert wore. John’s charm and congeniality persuaded Albert to leave him a sample of his cologne with a note at his hotel the following morning:
‘In this bottle, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.’
The shade of it all! Rather daring to address one of the Kennedys in such a manner, but we guess if you were a particular kind of socialite, you could get away with such cutting remarks.
Eight & Bob continue the story by describing how, on returning from vacation, ‘Albert received a letter from JFK thanking him for the fragrance and informing him of its success amongst his friends. He requested that Albert send him eight samples, “and if your production allows, another one for Bob”. (‘Bob’ being Robert Kennedy). And so, the legend of the house begat its name. You can read all the details in our page dedicated to the history of Eight & Bob.
The Eight & Bob Iconic Discovery Set is just £20 to delve into six timeless scents, including (of course) the original signature of JFK. The others are scented snapshopts, if you like, that dive deeper into the era and the characters at play, and you can click on the link to read the notes and full reviews of each.
Though initially put together by the house with men in mind, here at Perfume Society HQ we implore everyone to explore this divine collection and discover the timeless aromas loved by the stars of old Hollywood. We enjoy weraing many of these scents ourselves, so be sure to keep them safely locked away, chaps, if you want to keep them for yourselves!
Cap d’Antibes – a fragrance that captures the essence of long summer days
Champs de Provence – an exquisite fragrance, inspired by the beauty of Provence
Egypt – based on Albert Fouquet’s fascination of ancient Egyptian culture
Eight & Bob Original – the fragrance that was a great success with both JFK and his friends
Mémoires de Mustique – capturing the magic of this unique Caribbean island
Nuit de Megève – based on mountain air, the smell of wood smoke and elegance.
Now the Eight & Bob history unfurls a little further with the telling of founder Albert Fouquet‘s own tale – or rather, that of the woman who turned his life upside down. One evening in the French Alps, he attended a high society soirée (it seems he was paiting the town varying shades of scarlet almost every night) and at this particular party was introduced to the strikingly beautiful Annicke.
The Annicke Fragrance Discovery Set is also just £20 to explore all six scents, and has been created as a contemporary tribute to Fouquet’s love. The exquisite fragrances are inspired by that single, muse in the 1930s, but the love story lives on today in this line-up of six numbered scents – each exploring a differing facet of her personality. Because yes, Albert, a woman can be drop dead gorgeous but SO much more, as he found out…
Annicke 1 – an ode to the extraordinary beauty and elegance of a woman with feminine floral aromas of lily of the valley, peony and jasmine
Annicke 2 – deliberately sensual and irresistible with harmonious notes of fruity fig and mandarin that uplift the senses, and hazelnut that brings a delicate touch of sugar
Annicke 3 – inspired by the sophisticated and glamorous charm of the early 1920s as white rose unfurls an air of vintage femininity across a dancefloor
Annicke 4 – inspired by an enchanted forest with woody and earthy undertones of Cashmeran and oakmoss, with spring-like floral notes of rose, ylang ylang and jasmine
Annicke 5 – discover the art of seduction via rich notes of full-bodied plum, golden honey with a dash of spicy rum and a base of sensual patchouli
Annicke 6 – personifying the complex dimensions of a woman, through juxtaposing notes of Sichuan pepper, bergamot and carnation.
Whichever scent you first fall for – the iconic original, the world-tour of scented snaphots or the six scented love letters to Albert’s muse – we’re sure you’ll enjoy trying all of the president’s scents…
Escentric Molecules M+ fragrances are a trio that’s once again revolutionising the world of scent. It all began with the cult Molecule 01 – the iconic scent that can be said to have kickstarted the obsession with niche fragrance, and of course made us more aware of the genius behind aroma molecules and why ‘synthetic’ isn’t a dirty word.
If you’re new to the Escentric Molecules world, you might like to start by reading exactly how they started (and why Geza was so dedicated to trying something new – and quite shockingly brave at the time!) in our page dedicated to everything Escentric Molecules.
TL;DR: Schoen shook up the perfume world by creating a scent with one ingredient – an aroma-molecule non-existent in nature, called Iso E Super. Ultra-smooth, swoon-inducing, gently musky and vanilla-like, the synthesised ingredient had already been used since 1973 by perfumers in small doses – though it remained an industry secret: that special something that made a fragrance utterly irresistible.
Now it’s time to discover how more can be even more, and why you need these in your life, because as perfumer Geza Schoen himself puts it:
‘Molecule 01 is an exceptional molecule: radiant, velvety, cocooning. It’s mysteriously effective on its own, but I started to wonder if there might be another way to play with it. What if I could take the molecule and add just one other beautiful ingredient and see how they danced together in the bottle?’
Molecule 01 + Patchouli – has a cool, rather aloof woodiness to it.
Molecule 01 + Iris – iris is luxury, with a creamy powderiness.
Molecule 01 + Mandarin – radiates off the skin, with a citrus zing.
You could begin your fragrant journey with the M+ Discovery Set, where for only £20 you can explore each of these new fragrances at home. A brilliant gift idea to treat someone else, too! But when you’ve smelled them, we know you’re going to swoon for at least one, and then there’s nothing else for it but to decide which full-size bottle you’ll treat yourself to. We’re absolutely thrilled that not only did Escentric Molecules ask us to help launch their fragrances, but you can now buy the full-size M+ collection in our Perfume Society shop.Escentric Molecules M+ Patchouli £95 for 100ml
Geza says: ‘Patchouli is a unique natural. Unlike 99% of perfume ingredients we associate it with a particular period, with the sixties and seventies and that bohemian spirit. It has a cool, rather aloof woodiness to it. I love it for its moody beauty.
I’ve used two qualities of patchouli here. The biggest chunk is Patchouli Coeur which is a very clean, soft patchouli oil fraction with the camphor-like topnote removed. I have also included a patchouli oil from Indonesia to round it out with a little bit of a topnote.
The result is a sophisticated, clean patchouli that pairs fantastically well with Molecule 01.’
Geza says: ‘It’s not easy to describe iris’ smell as such, but if you smell a fragrance without it, and then with it, you understand immediately what it does. It adds a creamy powderiness. It brings a physical dimension to a fragrance.
I have had a long-standing love affair with iris. Every Escentric fragrance has an iris note somewhere in there. To me, iris is luxury. The iris pallida absolue I’ve used here is one of the most expensive ingredients in perfumery. You can find iris extracts for way less than that. But they do not have the great and subtle beauty of this absolue. It’s radical to put this much in a fragrance. The sillage is fantastic. This is a bomb, but a subtle bomb.’
Geza says: ‘Mandarin is all about the instant hit. It’s so alive, the way it radiates off the skin with that citrus zestiness. But there’s more to mandarin, it’s very fruity and aromatic as well. It’s a beautiful ingredient. Its transparency means that it vanishes quickly. I’ve touched it up with a little extra shading to extend it, adding a mandarin ingredient used in flavourings to give it super-juiciness. Then as it begins to fade, Molecule 01 syncs in, bringing a warm, erogenous feeling to play with that zinging freshness. That’s unusual – for a topnote ingredient like Mandarin and a base note like Iso E Super to dance together naked like this, without other notes coming between them. And then the mandarin is almost gone and you are left with the elevated simplicity of Molecule 01.
That’s what I love about Molecule 01 + Mandarin – it may be a dance of two but the story changes completely from beginning to middle to end.’
So, the only thing to do for this journey or Escentric Molecules M+ discovery is to put that first foot (nose?) forward, and find out which molecular pairing ‘dances naked together’ best on your own skin…
Subscription boxes are so popular right now, and a recent consumer survey has discovered why. Quite apart from their findings, which we’ll report on below; we know this true as we’ve seen a HUGE rise in our own Perfume Society Discovery Boxes in the last year. Even more excitingly, we have launched our very own Seasonal Scent Subscription Box, for the many (many, MANY!) of you who’ve begged us to bring this out for years…
We all know the joy of getting a parcel in the post – mosty especially during various stages of #lockdown dreariness during the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant many of us relying on shopping online for our scent thrills. Even now, with stores having re-opened across the U.K. – purchasing a new perfume presents a particular set of problems:
– There are rarely any testers on display anymore, thanks to possible cross-contamination safety measures
– Even if you can get to an assistant to spray a scent on you, it’s not always great to make an instant decision in-store
– Although we think fragrance IS essential (obvs), if you’re worried about ‘non essential’ socialising, it can be intimidating to be shopping in crowded spaces again
– Where do you even begin if you’re not exactly sure which perfume to try next?
With all these worries in mind, we launched our own Seasonal Scent Subscription Box. The perfect way to try a selection of scents appropriate for each season! There’s two options available – a flexible Quarterly Subcription: £18 a box, sent every three months, the ability to cancel at anytime; or an Annual Subscription: £68 a year with FREE postage and the ability to spread the cost. So now, what did the consumer survey find…?
‘According to a survey by Cosmetics Business, in partnership with Your Beauty Club, since the pandemic hit, 31.7% of customers who had previously bought a subscription service signed up to one during the pandemic; while 70% of those who said they had not bought a subscription beauty box before said they would now consider buying one.
Some 69% of shoppers agreed the culture towards subscription boxes has shifted since the Covid-19 pandemic began, which consequently shut most beauty retailers for many months, making it harder for customers to shop for their beauty staples.
The findings also uncovered that more than 74.2% of respondents believe buying a subscription box makes it easier to consume beauty products and 42.4% want a subscription box that offers a selection of products from different categories.
The main driver for signing up to a subscription service among consumers was for the thrill of receiving new products (55%), while 33.8% said they wanted to discover new beauty items.
Following that, 8% said they found a subscription service to be cheaper than buying beauty products individually, and the findings showed consumers were not willing to part with much cash for a subscription box.
Almost half of respondents said they would be willing to spend between £10 and £25 on a subscription box, with 37.6% only likely to pay up to £10.
Some shoppers, however, (12.6%) were prepared to pay between £25 and £50, and just 1.6% and 1.4% would spend between £50 and £75, and £75 to £100, respectively.’
We’re not at all surprised at these findings – even before the pandemic, we wanted to make it easier to get your hands (and noses!) on fragrances to try at home. It takes the pressure off, and more than that: actually living with a scent on your skin for several hours is the ONLY way to truly tell if if it suits you. Also, not everyone happens to live near an independent perfumery or a store that has a great selection of fragrance house.
So we say: why not sit back and let the perfume magic get posted to you at the click of a Scent Subscription Box button…?
In this time of unprecedented stress, seeking calm or a way to boost our energy levels has become more than a moment of ‘me time’ – it’s absolutely vital to our wellbeing. Focusing on your sense of smell helps control your breathing and forces your mind to concentrate on something lovely for a change.
Our sense of smell is directly linked to our limbic system, which stores memories and emotions, so using scent to uplift, unwind or soothe is a brilliant way of dealing with anxiety. Taking time to care for yourself should not be a luxury – it helps you face the day feeling revived and ready to go.
Experiencing ‘newness’ is something everyone has been severely lacking of late, but using a fragrance or scented product and fragrancing your home can transport you somewhere lovely, and change your mood in an instant.
Here’s how to ward off an anxiety attack or lift your spirits with scent:
Take a few minutes to spray a fragrance on a blotter or thick piece of paper.
Close your eyes while smelling it and see where it takes you. Don’t try to guess all the notes (it’s almost impossible unless you’re a trained perfumer!) instead, let your imagination run wild…
If this fragrance was a place, where would it be?
Think about texture as you smell. Can you say what type of fabric it would be? Heavy velvet, soft suede, crisp cotton… or something else?
What occasion does the scent bring to mind, and who else would be there? Allow yourself to picture the people you’re missing and imagine yourself laughing with them, hugging them again!
Music and fragrance are closely linked, so what type of melody would be playing, and which instruments does the scent remind you of?
It can be difficult, at first, to think of the answers, but whatever you imagine or feel is the right answer, for you. Scent is incredibly personal, so the more you practice this technique of ‘deep smelling’, the more in-tune with your sense of smell and how it connects to your memories and emotions you will be.
This is how perfumers train – often having to commit several thousand smells to memory, so they know how to recall them and can evoke particular moods in their compositions. If you’d like to try this so-soothing technique and experience some spa-like serenity, we’ve chosen some scents that help you turn your home into a Scented Retreat.
Filled with specially curated scent samples, the entire collection of La Montaña home fragrances (which perfectly echo their matching candles, if you’ve ever wanted to try those), and sensory beauty treats, including 100ml bottle of Molton Brown Bath & Shower gel – TheScented Retreat Discovery Boxallows you to relax in style at home. Here’s how…
Scents of Calm:
Anima Vinci Sesame Chan
Embracing the skin with ethereal light, the warmth of ginger slowly simmers to a haze of dry nuttiness – a cocooning, Cologne-esque experience, yet one that feels immediately comforting, at the same time.
Based on sweet yet smoky notes of patchouli and vanilla, this one wraps itself around you, swathing you in softness on a soothing heart of lavender and tobacco for a truly sophisticated finish that lasts all day and into the night.
Botanics Pure Essential Lavender Oil
Lavender has been shown to improve mood – add a few drops to a bath, humidifier, or for use for massage This essential oil from Botanics is bursting with all the wellness benefits of this herbaceous plant.
ånd fragrance Måd
Sustainably sourced naked vanilla in all its raw beauty is blended with violet, blackcurrant, ylang ylang, jasmine and grounding vetiver for a scent that’s like a warm hug in a bottle.
Ecooking Day Cream
This hydrating cream is formulated with 100% organic oils that are combined with the highest quality natural peptides and vitamins, specifically hyadisine, which mimics hyaluronic acid, and trylagen, to support collagen production.
La Montaña Siesta
This home scent evokes the sweet scent of neroli, rose and herbs on the warm breeze mingled with woods and resins to send you off into the most sublime sun-dappled slumber. Heaven.
La Montaña Alfredo’s Cafe
The scent of sleepy village awakening, all sun-soaked light, fresh citruses, black coffee and the incense-y smell of the church drifting through the air. Spritz your room to recall the gentle excitement of a day exploring on holiday.
La Montaña Fig Grove
Think of a green fig’s freshness, soothing musky wood enhancing earthy, bark-like qualities, with the warmth of white flowers and a little powdery piquancy from hyacinth. This is lazy, hazy, hotter-than-hot days to scent your home.
La Montaña Galán de Noche
Few smells are more seductive than that of night-blooming jasmine, the hypnotic radiance synonymous with late nights in balmy climes and the mystery of flowers that shine their brightest once the sun goes down.
La Montaña Three Kings
Spiritual contemplation for your home – a spritz of pine, woods, frankincense and myrrh with a little Balearic twist. Sweet almond nougat and a dash of brandy give a flash of brightness and warmth that, somehow, is so very Spanish.
La Montaña Sacred Roses
Combined with sweet neroli, crisply green narcissus and geranium, and dreamy lavender, spritz your bedroom (or boudoir) to float away on a bed of velvety rose petals, warm cedar and ripened, fruity davana oil. Sumptuous!
Scents to Uplift:
Histoire de Parfum 1899
Peppy, cocktail-like notes open with unbridled optimism, fizzing with a Champagne-esque effervescence as they dance off the skin. The sweetened, powdery heart then sparkles with unbridled joy.
Shay and Blue Mermaid Kisses
The light, watery honeydew melon note that first greets you is pure aquatic-juicy joy; it is holiday cocktails on the shoreline at sunset, looking out to an endless horizon and all its possibilities.
Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot Bath & Shower Gel
Zesty orange kicks off an uplifting sensory experience, heightened by mouth-watering mandarin and and gloriously sunny neroli notes that transport us to citrus groves in Seville.
Exfo-Lite Stimulating Salts For Legs
Packed with diuretic, detoxifying Himalayan pink crystals and sea salt, formulated not only to smooth the skin but to encourage better blood flow to our often-neglected lower-limbs (getting ready to bare again!)
Benamôr Alantoìne Hand Cream
The classic outdoors-y citrus scent turns a much-needed (several times) daily hand-soothing ritual into a moment of uplifting contemplation. Breathe deeply and inhale as the Portuguese beauty hero sm oothes and protects your skin barrier.
La Montaña First Light
In the morning, fill your room with the luminosity of a sun-filled new dawn, captured with wild fennel and orange, supported by energising mountain pepper, warm amber-y notes of rockrose and aromatic rosemary.
La Montaña Cloudburst
That moment when the sun breaks through the clouds in perfect shafts of light; all the scents of a herb garden, a citrus grove zinging to life against the backdrop of a mountain steaming in the sun, releasing wild, mineral-like vapours.
La Montaña Winter Oranges
One of their best-selling home fragrances, the orange here is both uplifting – a memory of high summer, devoured while juciy or adorning glasses – and calming, grounded here in aromatic spices that smoulder as they warm the soul.
Fragrance consultations have moved out of the perfumery and on to our laptops, with many notable houses now offering free ways to discover your next new scent online – via so-clever ‘perfume personality’ quizzes, one-to-one Zoom experiences and even group ‘scent school’ classes you and your friends can take together.
With the beauty counters still closed in most places (and the fragrance testers removed from all others) it’s been extremely challenging to actually get your nose on a new scent, if you didn’t want to ‘blind buy’ a full-size and pray to the olfactory gods that it suited your skin.
Many of you have been delighting in our Discovery Boxes and Brand Sets of samples and mini ‘try me’ sizes for just that reason (the perfect way to explore new perfumes from the comfort of your home). And of course you’ve been taking to our Fragrance Finder, which brilliantly uses algorithms based on your preferences to suggest six new scents for you try.
But we’ve been so happy to see that many fragrance houses have also stepped up their innovation game and made it far easier to navigate your way through their collections.
Whether a fun multiple-choice fragrance quiz to take in your tea break or an in-depth consultation with an expert, think of them as a scented stepping-off point to exploring and be ‘matched’ with your perfect perfumes online….
Created in tandem with trend forecasting and innovation agency The Future Laboratory, in this quick and easy profiling quiz, you’re invited instinctively to choose from a series of images that represent textures, interior design styles and note-inspired pictures, and at the end you’ll discover which ‘psychological perfume profile’ you match. It’s spookily accurate [NB: both our Senior Writer and Editor have very similar tastes in scent, and sure enough, this matched them both with the same one] and an insightful start to your fragrance journey.
When you buy this special discovery set of eight fragrances, blotters and scented ‘touch and smell’ cards, you also receive a code to book a complimentary live online class to delve deeper into the fragrance notes and help you find your faves, plus there’s a discount on your next purchase. You can do this one-to-one, or there’s even the option for a whole group of friends to do this together. Such a fun activity (and it will make a change from Zoom quizzes!)
When you hop on the Shay & Blue website, an online chat box opens up, inviting you to schedule a free 15 minute consultation. They explain that it’s been designed to combine ‘…the best of the convenience of shopping online with the personal touch of human conversation. We spend 15 minutes getting to know you and your perfume choices and we are then able to select what we think will make you smile.’ Ultimately, they say ‘the more information you can give us the better,’ and then you can be guided to ‘the one’ (or several) for you to try.
To aid your navigation of their website, The Merchant of Venice tell us you can ‘interact with specialists in a sophisticated presentation of the collections’ that will guide you in your choice of the perfect perfumes for you to try. So, from your home, you can ‘take advantage of a private, tailor-made and highly professional service as in The Merchant of Venice boutiques.’ Personal shopper Christian Waas will be your scent-presenter, and you can make a free appointment by emailing: [email protected]
Penhaligon’s now warmly invite you ‘…to try our new video appointments and enjoy a personalised consultation with our obliging team. Answer a short questionnaire aimed to discover a little about your likes and dislikes and a selection of 5 fragrance samples will then arrive through the post to assist in your nasal education. The cost of the appointment is ‘fully redeemable after your session with our sommelier either online or in-store,’ so peace of mind while you’re helped to peruse their perfumes. Alternatively…
If time is of the essence, the free online profiling quiz is jolly good fun (as you’d expect from Penhaligon’s) and only takes about a minute to complete. Choosing from categores such as the time of day you’d like to wear it and how it should make you feel, your most suitable fragramce is then revealed (with the option to purchase a sample and a selection of others you may like).
As you can’t currently take advantage of their fragrance advice at the Marylebone boutique, Creed are offering the opportunity for an online chat via a message box that pops up on their website as you browse. Alternatively, you can request to be connected via a video chat if that’s easier for you, and you’d prefer to actually see the expert you’re chatting to! Afterwards, if still not sure, you could always buy yourself a pack of the samples, either ‘Men’s’, ‘Women’s, ‘Univerdal’ or ‘Royal’ to try at home.
Designed to help you choose ‘a perfume for yourself or a loved one… Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s Master Perfumer, and Guerlain Perfumer Delphine Jelk select the rarest and noblest raw materials to create exceptional fragrances.’ Taking the overall atmosphere and main notes of the fragrances as choices, you’re then presented with either one or several scents that should fit the bill. It doesn’t beat being in-store and revelling in the glamour of sniffing be-ribboned glass stoppers, but really, nothing does… and this is a good starting point if you’ve no idea where to begin.
Indeed, all of the quizzes, while great fun to take online, can of course only guide you so far. Some perhaps work best for those who already have an inkling as to which fragrance notes or main families they prefer, but need a little bit of help to guide them through the virtual shelves.
So what to do if you need some more in-depth or specialised help, but can’t book a video consultation (or don’t feel comfortable with that)?
Our new Perfume Agony Uncle, James Craven, says that ‘Helping a client to find the perfect scent requires the combined skills of a psychologist, palmist and priest’, and often talks about the expertise a skilled fragrance consultant will pick up over the years; learning to do ‘a cold read’ when someone walks through the door and, as well as listening to what they say, picking up on their reactions – sometimes what you don’t say can be just as revealling!
Is it time for you to re-discover classic perfumes – or perhaps fall in love with one for the first time? Fragrances classed as ‘iconic’ have often been overlooked in the insatiable search for ‘newness’, but during this pandemic, an emerging trend has been the sudden up-swing in people reuniting with these fragrant first-loves.
The reason we’re feeling so nostalgic is two-fold, I believe. Covid-19, and the varying ways those in power have responded (or otherwise) to the crisis, has caused the majority of us to live in a state of near permanent anxiety, so we’ve all been desperately seeking those things that swathe us in comfort. While baking banana bread has helped some, it’s inner-calm we really need, and using familiar fragrances that remind us of happier times, places and people we miss can instantly dispel #lockdown blues.
The rapid spread of the virus has also shrink-wrapped the world around us and therefore, the possibilities for experiencing new things. Gone are the days when you could saunter in to a shop and spray yourself with ten perfumes at a time. When shops were allowed to be open, the scent shelves and beauty counters were swept clean of tester bottles and samples, so it was impossible to smell new fragrances without stumping up for a full bottle – unless you got scent savvy and had a Discovery Box sent to your home, of course (one of the reasons we’ve seen sales soar!) And then, a third lockdown in the U.K. meant most shops were closed again anyway.
The solution? To reach for something that’s stood the test of time, we already knew, or understood was deemed a ‘classic’ so a safer bet than a blind-buy.
When in-store sales declined, voguebusiness.com reported, ‘One way around this [was] to shelve, or reduce the number of, new launches and focus on sales of classics that customers know and love…’ Patrice Patrice Béliard, global brand president for Aramis & Designer Fragrances, Kilian Paris, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, and Lab Series, agreed, commenting, ‘Consumers want reassuring, calming and optimistic scents. I foresee a resurgence of classic nostalgic scents during these times.’
Don’t be put-off by the term ‘classic’, it does not mean ‘old fashioned’. These fragrances were considered groundbreaking – shocking, even – when they first launched, and have stood the test of time over the eras for good reason.
If you’re wanting to pop into a shop (or order online) for a gift this year – for a loved one, or for yourself (good lord, we all deserve a little treat); why not consider one of these…?
Five classic perfumes everyone should try at least once:
A silky pair of 1920s cocktail pyjamas worn as daywear – uplifting lemon and bergamot swirled with honeyed, night-blooming flowers of heliotrope and jasmine, rounded by powdery iris and cocooned in a comforting, vanilla-plumped base of patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, tonka bean, incense, vetiver, sandalwood and musk. The ultimate gesture of romance, it’s a masterpiece that’s effortlessly glam.
Chanel N°19 £95 for 100ml eau de toilette chanel.com
Sparkling and vibrant with every elegant spritz, it’s daringly green but still supremely wearable. The snapped-stalk freshness of galbanum is balanced with soft, powdery iris, heady ylang ylang tempered by a shiver of spring air in lily of the valley and luminescent rose. Exciting and immediately mood-lifting, if N°5 wasn’t for you, try this joyously energising fizz of freshness as a pick-me-up.
Inspired by the steamy scents that would have wafted from the Turkish Baths William Penhaligon set up on Jermyn Street, Piccadilly; this is a timeless fragrance (from 1872!) that’s redolent of freshly soaped naked flesh and a shimmering heat. Unmistakably dusky Turkish rose gets up close and personal with heady jasmine, clean lavender, woods, fluffy musk and powdery orris. Scrumptious.
Although imbued with a melody of florals – rose, iris, lily, lily of the valley, jasmine, ylang ylang , camellia and geranium – the lasting impression is of being lovingly wrapped in warm, white, supremely fluffy towels. A veritable hug in a bottle, this feels classic yet completely timeless, a comforting yet spirited scent that you wont tire of, and somehow always feels ‘right’ for any occasion.
Billowing, hip-swivelling sensuality with a playful side, to be worn by someone who sucks the plum stone clean of succulent flesh. Perfumer Edmond Roudnitska created the original as a fragrant tribute for his wife, Hélène (who must have been quite a woman) with the bottle an ode to Mae West’s va-va-voom figure; it’s velvety, spiced fruit laced with a giggle of booziness and a whole lotta fun.
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