The BBC’s new Marie Antoinette series is making lovers of historical costume dramas rejoice, and in a continuation of our character and scent-matching sessions, we’re powdering our wigs, unfurling our fans and and wafting forth with the following fragrant suggestions…
‘An innocent teenage queen drawn into a dark, manipulative court of Versailles. Her duty is to bear an heir. Her fate will set a country on fire.’
From the brilliant writer Deborah Davis (who also gave us the award-winning film, The Favourite), this is a drama that’s not afraid to lean into the opulence – so of course it calls for some seriously fabulous olfactory counterparts to the characters. For more information on the show, do read The Guardian’s review in full (which is suitably glowing), and give the trailer a watch before you begin your scent exploration of some of the main characters.
‘…it is sometimes strange, funny, grotesque in places, with a gorgeous if occasionally oppressive score. Historians and purists in France, where the series launched at the end of October, have unsurprisingly called it “obscene” and full of “historical aberrations”, including the supposed rebrand of Marie Antoinette as a feminist icon. But the trend for reappraising historical and maligned female figures with a contemporary viewpoint is unstoppable and, anyway, this is not the first revision of the last queen of France before the revolution.’ – The Guardian
Marie Antoinette (played by Emilia Schüle) – Parfums de Marly Delina
Encased in its sugared-almond pink bottle as it is, the silk tassel befits such a regal scent, as does the beautifully powdery rose within; but this isn’t as ‘girly’ as you’d imagine. Just as Antoinette blooms as her confidence grows, so too does Delina blossom on the skin. As it warms, the powder becomes more bare skin-like, a hint of pink thigh flashed above a white stocking, the sense of feminine power that comes with learning the art of flirtation.
Louis XVI (Louis Cunningham) – Matiere Premiere Falcon Leather
Given his preference for birds of the feathered variety (at first meeting his bride-to-be, anyway) and generally wandering free among the grounds rather than the stilted, terrifying confines of polite society; Louis XVI should plump for this. Smoky as a distant bonfire on the breeze, redolent of the leather gloves falcon trainers use, it’s got hint of that huntin’ ‘n fishin’ outdoors-y attitude but it’s scrubbed up and refined, far sexier than it realises. One to wonder at, then fall for. Hard.
Madame du Barry (Gaia Weiss) – Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces
Prettily powdered she may be, but this is a fragrance that means business. Evoking passionate encounters and smudged lipstick, beneath the make-up strewn dressing table top notes there’s a writhing of hot bodies entangled in sheets and an evocation of dirty linen very much being aired in the public gaze. Du Barry doesn’t mean to allow her grasp on the throne to be weakened, and if you’re not in her court, you’re done for. Why not simply submit to the sensuality within?
King Louis XV (James Purefoy) – Etat Libre d’Orange Exit the King
Amidst the bitchy court of Versailles, King Louis (‘Papa Roi‘ as Antoinette comes to call him) is a welcome friendly face (though do watch out for his wandering hands). This pleasingly soapy scent is classy all day long, with a hint of traditional Cologne among the French Savon and a dandyish air that isn’t afraid to wear its more feminine side on its frilled white shirt cuff. Luminous musks beam forth from the foam, sunlit jasmine and lily of the valley resting on light woods. Lovely (but dangerous in the wrong hands).
Princesse de Lamballe (Jasmine Backborow) – Lancôme Trésor
Beloved since its launch in 1990, this softly peachy hug swathes its wearer in an embrace of fluffy muskiness, pillowy sandalwood and vanilla encircling the lilac blossoms in the heart. Lamballe was (sometimes) Antoinette’s closest confidant; known for her kindness and likability, she surely deserves to be as treasured as this scent. To be worn when you need to be kind to yourself, perhaps, this perfume should be sought out anew by those who once loved it and discovered afresh for those yet to be blessed.
Quite frankly ‘a bit much’ and just not giving a damn, these mesdames might be the unmarried daughters of the King, but they co-rule the court with iron fists inside their couture gloves. In the BBC series they are magnificently snarky, their plum lipsticks and bruise coloured gowns a fabulous contrast to pastel froth and youthful folly. Deep, bold and unapologetic, the original Poison still swaggers, while the Pure version is more translucent, and though not as powerful can deliver a slap to the unworthy. So: bow down.
£54 for 30ml eau de parfum / £63 for 30ml eau de parfumdior.com
We’ve been waiting for Wednesday for ages – Wednesday Addams, that is – and now the Netflix show has proved to be even better than the anticipation and trailers had promised, topping the prime spots for streaming around the world!
So, because I believe fragrance to be an art form as deserving of cultural comparisons as any other (indeed, ideally suited to character explorations); of course I immediately set about pairing some of the main characters to perfumes they might match with.
It truly gladdens my ex-goth heart to see the original Addams Family cartoons (and previous adaptations) honoured in such a way. First published in 1938, Charles Addams work was regularly featured in The New Yorker, and he went on to draw over 1,300 cartoons during his career. In 1964 the first TV show starring the delightfully ghoulish family aired in America, with a series of successful films starting in 1991, and an animated movie premiering in 2019 (with a sequel expected in 2023).
Netflix’s Wednesday differs from the others in the genre because they allow Wednesday to grow up. We’re used to seeing the character as a little girl – albeit a scarily sarcastic, spookily adept and sword-fighting child – but here, she’s a fifteen-year old begrudgingly starting a new boarding school, and very much the central character rather than a cutesy little smart-ass sidekick. The students of Nevermore mostly fall into four categories:‘Fangs (vampires), Furs, (werewolves), Scales (sirens) and Stoners (gorgons)’ as Enid succinctly describes them while showing Wednesday around on her first day. Wednesday doesn’t really fit any of these groups, and is glad of it.
For those who already love the show, I hope this will tempt you to try some scents you may never have heard of; for those who don’t know the series or, perhaps care (quelle horreur!) about the characters, let this be your guide to peruse some fragrances that may be out of your comfort zone, but are frighteningly good anyway…
Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) – Zoologist Bat
Startlingly intelligent and a loner by heart, she’d really like to be left alone to write her novel or work on her ghoulish inventions. Difficult when there’s a monstrous murder spree to investigate, and even more challenging when the scariest things of all she must face are socialising with other teens, and dealing with her feelings.
This is the perfect perfume for Wednesday because not only would she delight in telling people what she was wearing, it has an enigmatic sparkle to the darkness it evokes. Shadowy vetiver smears velvet skies, a ripple of piquant exotic fruits surprising the damp earthiness, drifts of incense curling through glimmering jasmine and mossy forest floors to the pitch black leather base.
The epitome of va-va-voom goth glamour, withering put-downs (delivered with a disarming smile) and loyal to a fault, her overt passion for her partner causes the kids many cringe-y moments, but she always puts family first. While at Nevermore, Morticia was Queen of the social scene (quite the opposite of Wednesday) but during her time there, perhaps she harboured sinister secrets of her own?
Did you know cyanide smells like almond? Cleverly cloaked in clouds of apricot, luscious plum and waxy white flowers, narcotic tendencies are softly smothered by creamy sandalwood and a fluffy base flecked with wildly addictive vanilla. Revisit this, and I defy you not to spend the entire day being enraptured by your own smell, and capturing the hearts of everyone who encounters you, darrrrling.
Gomez Addams (Luis Guzmán) – Eight & Bob Nuit de Megève
Always dapper, ever-stylish and cheekily charming, the exuberant Patriarch of the Addams clan met his beloved Morticia in their Nevermore Academy days. Their ardour still burns bright, and there’s no doubting his love for his family; but darker secrets will always out, and a disturbing discovery casts doubts. Could Gomez be hiding a dubious past behind his playful present self…?
Resonating with a smoky grandeur of days gone by, this is a fragrance that simmers with passion and exudes the kind of charm to fall instantly in love with. One to be worn while waltzing scandalously as vetiver, tobacco and coffee are shot through with grapefruit zest and the bitterness of petit grain. Pop the corks and pull out all stops, it’s party-central and non-stop fun with this fragrance!
Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers) – Contradictions in ILK Sincere
Colourful, friendly, optimistic and bubbling over with school spirit, Enid is the rainbow to Wednesday’s storm cloud. Romantic, rather too trusting, Enid is the friend we all need to to stand by us, even when we’re grouchy. But don’t underestimate her cheerful joie de vivre for weakness; she’sa werewolf after all, so she has a force of spirit that, when pushed, means the claws will come out.
Sincere is the scent to wear when you need a reassuring hug. It wraps you in a fuzzy nuzzle of peach and swathes with a fluffy blanket of iris and ambrette seed. Ylang ylang grants an instant hit of happiness, while creamy coconut and white musk softly cosset. This house suggest layering scents to reveal the true you. Might I suggest Enid reaches for their ‘Devious‘ for feeding the wolf within?
Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie) – Robert Piguet Fracas
Forced to confront her past failures via the offspring of her most deadly nemesis, Larissa’s cool, calm icy exterior is truly put to the test when Wednesday appears and causes havoc. The backbone of the school, her position of Principal has been hard-earned, and Larissa relishes the respect all the more for having been overlooked all her life. The centre of attention, now, she’s not letting go without a fight.
For Christie’s portrayal of Lucifer in my Scenting The Sandman feature I chose another Piguet perfume, but here, she is pure Fracas. A scene-stealing, room-filling fragrance which can never be ignored, Fracas glistens like an eerily perfect spear of tuberose captured in a block of ice. Exuding the carnality of a steel-boned white silk gown, only those latently aware of their own magnificence dare wear it.
Thing (Victor Dorobantu) – Juliette Has a Gun NOT a Hand Cream
A ‘hand-servant’ whose lineage apparently dates back several generations for their family serving the Addams Family (nope, I’ve no idea either, let’s go with it), Thing comes in very handy (sorry) as a spy for Wednesday. Communicating by tapping, pointing and typing, don’t let appearances deceive: Wednesday reveals early on that Thing is incredibly vain and has a penchant for perfumed hand lotions.
This niche French brand love cheekily playing with expectations, and this hand cream matches the ‘NOT a Perfume’ – so named because it contains the single synthetic aroma molecule of Cetalox. Often used in the base of a scent to add longevity and a clean but musky warmth, it lingers for ages on skin, is allergen-free and so hands feel luxuriously pampered while being beautifully perfumed.
One of the ‘Normies’ (people without special powers) who live in town, Tyler nonetheless makes a magic brew. Working as a barista in the local coffee bar, he meets Wednesday and becomes utterly intrigued by her. As the sheriff’s son, he has access to criminal case files, which proves more useful (and unsettling) on more than one occasion. And he’s yet another harbouring deep secrets of his own…
Reminiscent of that bewitching allure that fills a cosy coffee shop on a dull day, it’s all lemon-washed steamy windows, a bitter richness balanced by the intriguingly cool and aromatic spice of cardamom. Meanwhile, the inkiness of newsprint thrums in the beautifully grounded base, a dark swathe hinting at deep-seated feelings that cannot be contained. Inspired by addictions, marvellously more-ish.
While she may seem like the stereotypical ‘mean girl’ of the school when we first meet her, Bianca’s been through some stuff which, while it doesn’t forgive her hostility toward Wednesday, at least explains it. As a siren, Bianca has the power to persuade people with her words (and must wear an amulet at all times to weaken this ability), though tends to bury her struggles beneath barbed observations.
This fragrance was specially developed by neuroscientists in collaboration with the perfumer Aurelian Guichard, an addictive duo of what is often found to be the most universally adored note of vanilla is used in both absolute and C02 extracted form. Rippled with rum and golden rivulets of resinous olibanum and Haitian vetiver, it’s one you’ll come back to time and again – once sniffed, never forgotten.
A ‘psychic painter’ who can make his drawings come to life, Xavier’s an irritation for Wednesday when she first meets him, though the feeling isn’t mutual. The ex paramour of Bianca, he’s a bit of an enigma, but whatever his motives (and his many secrets) there’s no doubting those feelings cause him heartache. Intrigued with Xavier despite herself, of course Wednesday would be drawn to mysteries.
Championing the concept of fragrance as an art form, D’Otto bring famous paintings to life through their compositions, this one echoing Kazimir Severinovič Malevič’s revolutionary Black Square via the simmering warmth of black pepper and carnation, red sandalwood and Bulgarian rose plunging to the plush, velvety darkness draped with Indian oudh and a sweetness that cuts through the shadows.
Oh poor Eugene – he’s a trier. Hopelessly in love with Enid, he consistently fails to catch her eye, but never stops hoping, bless his heart. Although he’s far more comfortable tending to his bees, Eugene’s quest for adventure comes to the fore as his friendship with Wednesday builds, to the point he’s determined to prove himself no matter what. If only he knew it, he’s incredibly loveable already.
A really good introduction to how oudh can be used almost as a seasoning instead of the main flavour – here, it darkens the sweetness to add great depth, such as can be found the wild honey gathered from forest bees who’ve also feasted on whole meadows. Amidst the deliciousness, incense smoke drifts dreamily. Completely cuddly, warm and welcoming, it’s the sort of sweetness Enid deserves.
Ajax Petropolis (Georgie Farmer) – Comme des Garçons Concrete
Being one of the ‘stoners’ isn’t quite the usual connotation for this student, as Ajax is a gorgon who can turn people to stone with a glance. Rather embarrassingly, that includes himself on occasion, which doesn’t exactly help his romantic chances with Enid. Sweetly insecure but desperately wanting to be braver, when he ventures outside of his comfort zone it doesn’t always go to plan.
An olfactory ode to ‘a versatile material [in] unpredictable form’, this surprisingly approachable fragrance fuses a mineral-like waft of chalkiness to the rich, soothingly creamy essence of sandalwood and the most transparent rose, created by synthetic rose oxide – a molecule that turns the flower on its head and adds acres of luminescent lightness, a breath of fresh air. Time to get stoned!
If you’re anything like us you’ll have been basking in the gloriously golden (and surprisingly warm) sunshine these last few days – we’re hanging on to every last ray, and it’s especially aposite to seek light-filled scents at this time, with the celebrations of Diwali about to begin – and other festivals around the world (and in many religions) in homage to the sun before the darker days truly kick in. Here, we pay our own perfumed tributes, and urge you to seek these out for eternal sunshine of the scented mind…
NARCISO RODRIGUEZ Narciso Eau Neroli Ambrée
Neroli is one of the most instantly sunshine-y, happy-making notes on the scentscape (we took an office poll last year, and it came out on top for evoking bright light and happy, holiday memories). The brilliant Aurélien Guichard packs pleasure into every spritz, here – a veritable whoosh of optimism, tempered with comfort, in this slinky, silky dream. Orange blossom and soft woods sigh contentedly to the so-iconic white musk trail. £65 for 50ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com
BOUCHERON Patchouli D’Angkor
Here’s proof that patchouli can throw off its deep, dark and sometimes dark past to be reinvented as something sheer, summery and fresh. Here, patchouli has some unexpected bedfellows – pear, Bourbon pepper, jasmine and white musk – as well as more expected notes of bergamot in the top, guaiac wood in the soft base, offering further proof of perfumer Nathalie Lorson’s talent for reinventing notes, the better to delight and surprise our noses. £175 for 125ml eau de parfum Harrods.com
JIMMY CHOO Urban Hero Gold Edition
Luscious pineapple and ripe blood orange offer the most welcome kind of bracing opening, perfectly offsetting the more balsamic sweetness of soothing lavandin and rich, creamy tonka bean (think roasted almonds, lapped in milk) at the heart. This fragrance of contrasts, reflecting the inspiration of street art and free-spirited creatives amidst a city environment, is captured in a special edition golden bottle that will steal the show on his side of the bathroom shelf. £72 for 100ml eau de parfum johnlewis.com
LA MONTAÑA First Light Three Wick Candle
Don’t only think of perfumes, get ready to light up your life with this unique, utterly aromatic blend of wild mountain flora flushed by the first fingers of dawn breaking. Frosty fennel, bergamot, rosemary, mountain pepper, and rockrose pierce the air, and the inspiration for the scent came from that moment ‘…before anyone starts an engine, or lights a fire, the air is clear, and still, and silent. The first breath of the day carries the perfume of wild mountain herbs, the alchemy of which, blended naturally on the breeze, weaves a magical spell… A new day, a new life – and a memory we didn’t know we had.’ £150 for 3-wick 650gms candle In our shop
Jeroboam pioneered downsized flacons: easy on the back, easier on the pocket, now offering this ‘flurry of flowers’ that proves they can bring the sunshine no matter the season. Fruit notes first capture the attention: green and red apples, and luscious pineapple. Then the flowers burst open: jasmine and airy, transparent petal notes, rendered a touch creamy by sandalwood and finished with a flourish of dry woods, white musk and cedar. Eminently shareable, Jeroboam suggest (and oh, we do love these light-filled flowers, on a chap!) £100 for 30ml eau de parfum jovoyparis.uk
Stranger Things is one of the most successful shows of all time, certainly the most talked about and trending on Netflix right now. With the release of Season Four, we’re propelled back in to the strange(r) world of Hawkins Indiana, where once again, everything is most certainly not as it seems.
Inspired by classic 1980s teen horror movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, with elements of The Goonies and the Alien franchise sprinkled around and about (and Upside Down); its mixture of nail-biting drama, truly terrifying moments and superbly nuanced (often laugh out loud funny, amidst the horror) script is part of the recipe for Stranger Things continuing success. But as with any long-running drama, it all hinges on the incredible cast. Of course, we couldn’t resist the opportunity for an olfactory pairing, so settle down for your EPIC, scenting of Stranger Things Season Four, where we match some of our favourite characters to fragrances we feel would most suit (or even help) them through this season’s tumultuous storyline…
Warning: Though we’ve tried to keep this spoiler-free for season 4, there are references made to previous seasons’ storylines, so proceed with caution if you’re a complete Stranger Things newbie who’s only just begun your journey!
Fiercely loyal, hugely resilient, Joyce has had to fight for her children, her independence and even simply to be believed, more times than most could stand. Having already battled supernatural beings, her sheer force of character is called on in far chillier climes this season, and so her scent must radiate the warmth of her soul while serving as a shield against those who seek to harm her (and the loved ones she continues to fight for). Here, juicy ginger and black pepper add to the spicy zing while powdery orris cushions the decadently wormwood-rippled base (perfect for those who’ve fearlessly faced darkness in their lives). Cedar adds a calming note of contemplation while limette thrums with woody oudh and patchouli, but the Calabrian citrus also reminds us of holidays – and gawd knows, Joyce deserves one (with business class plane tickets this time, please, luxury all the way).
Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) – Hai Karate£9.99 for 100ml Cologne
A former investigative journalist who first appeared in the season 2, Murray goes on to display a range of rather unexpected skills in this season, where he’s paired with Joyce on their own deadly mission. Sarcastic, seemingly shambolic and yet surprisingly heroic in turn, we feel only Murray could pull off this (always very tongue-in-cheek) Cologne. First released in 1967 with the tagline ‘be careful how you use it’, Hai Karate remained a popular choice right through the 1980s, known for their (intentionally?) hilarious (now rather dated) TV ads. But Murray doesn’t care about appearances, and there’s something about the classic, retro barbershop freshness that’s actually rather comforting to smell.
Jim Hopper (David Harbour) – AKRO Smokefrom £70 for 30ml eau de parfum
Now Hopper has been through a lot already, and his troubles only increase this season. Former Hawkins Chief of Police, protective father-figure to El and revered by fans as a supposedly ‘unlikely’ sex symbol for the first seasons, we’re sure he’s swaying those who hadn’t already swooned. ‘Bottled without restraint or moderation, a concentration of excess,’ the AKRO collection are inspired by guilty secrets and addictions – and we certainly can’t get enough of this fragrance, or Hopper, come to that. Given his clever use of fire in one particularly nail-biting scene, and the fact that he really deserves a quick drag (OK, we obviously don’t approve of smoking, but the man needs a cigarette break!) the deliciously resinous drift of tobacco smokiness in this scent would surely appeal…
We know what you’re thinking. You’re assuming this fragrance was just chosen for the name, right? Wrong. Well, OK, partly it was, but mostly we selected this scent for its soothing nature (which El certainly needs this season, more than ever, as she struggles to tap into her true powers while solving the mysteries of her past), and even for the meaning of the number itself. In numerology, so the house tell us, ‘the number 11 represents two pillars, a gateway, representing awareness and consciousness.’ Inspired by ingredients that help balance the soul, the head-clearing woody greeness of geranium boosts strengthening rose, while earthy patchouli and a warm amber provide a comfort blanket of softness. Encouraging the wearer to ‘stop, take a deep breath, stay positive and consciously focus on balancing themselves,’ it also ‘awakens the senses, ignites intuition and makes the wearer truly unforgettable.’ Just like El, herself.
Seen as a ‘nerd’ in the first season, Dustin more than proved the strength of his friendship, even though he regularly feels a bit isolated and left out of some social groupings. Quick-witted and gregarious, he’s often the only one who sees things as they really are, though perhaps we’ll pass over his pet ‘slug’, Dart, in season 2, actually being a juvenile demogorgon. Oops. Never mind, none of us can be perfect, huh? In a somewhat tempestuous long-distance relationship with computer genius Suzie (see below), Dustin is driven by a quest for adventure. Inspired by ‘Demigods, explorers and those that remain unknown,’ this fragrance fizzes with a Champagne-like exuberance then surrounds you in spicy, almost curried cosiness. New heroes are born every day, say the brand, and ‘There is an element, an event, a circumstance, or maybe just a quirk in their personalities that changes them, empowers them, enables them to transcend the ordinary.’ Dustin, you’re our hero!
An aspiring journalist known as a bit of a ‘princess’ in the first season, her main concern, then, was merely trying to divide her time between her boyfriend, Steve, and her best friend, Barbara (oh, poor Barb!) When all hell (literally) broke loose, Nancy stepped up to become an integral member of ‘The Party’ of friends who try to save the world. Nancy’s cleverness at piecing clues together also earned her the nickname of ‘Nancy Drew’, and she’s desperately trying to focus on those clues this season, rather than the continuing confusion of her love life. With her love of books, we think this library-centric scent will appeal to Nancy’s nose for extensive research. It’s all waxed wood and leather-bound tomes with a twist of pepper adding spice to the pencil shavings of cedar, a sweetly dry rustle of vellum adding further intrigue as we finally get to the base of it all.
Known (and lovingly mocked for) his obsessively-tended and oft-touselled head of hair, Steve had a more supporting role as Nancy’s cooler-than-thou boyfriend in the first season, before dropping most of his foolish ways and being propelled to main (mane?) cast status. Forming an unlikely, though charmingly fraternal, sparky friendship with Dustin, their duologues make for many of the season’s funniest moments. He was a bit of an asshole, but he’s fully blossomed, so we think Steve would very much appreciate and now truly desrves the sexy scent of Halfeti that’s been imbued with protective and hair-shining properties in the hair mist. Worn alone in hot weather or layered with the fragrance for an even longer-lasting waft of woody sensuousness, the masucline rose even has smooth leather notes to remind him of his favouite jacket.
Working with Steve at a new job in Hawkins premiere video rental store, her no-bullsh*t approach comes in handy for day-to-day wise-cracking at work, and quickly becomes her scene-stealing modus operandi as the story continues. Robin is funny but seriously intelligent, her quick-thinking and bravado vital to the gang throughout the season, and she provides a balance to the darkest moments. Her sharp contrast to Nancy’s character means their friendship is often spiky, but quite apart from being independently brilliant, she’s also an amazing team player when needs be. With a similarly down-to-earth approach, this travels from the cold of night to day break’s warmth via yuzu citrus, the clarity of cedar and incense on a sea breeze. Providing clarity of mind and feeling spirit-cleansing to wear, it’s the one to turn to when times are hardest.
Lucas begins by being torn between two rival sets of friends. A difficult circumstance for any young person, it’s made all the more horrific when lives (and tender feelings) are on the line. Mixed Emotions has been created, so we’re told, ‘to reflect the tumultuous nature of our times’. Yet the fragrance itself seems to offer something of a welcome antidote to that: a beautiful, cool blend of maté tea, sharply sweet blackcurrant, reviving Ceylon black tea, violet leaves, all strongly tethered by papyrus and birch wood. ‘A refreshing reminder that it is OK to not be OK – and that from unsettling experiences, a new reality might emerge,’ conclude BYREDO. Here’s hoping Lucas emerges with a renewed sense of who his truest friends really are, and that it’s alright to be ostracised if those people alienating you are all assholes. When Lucas taps into his emotional depths he’s remarkably resilient, and this scent really encourages the spirit of ‘you do you.’
Having captured the game-playing jealousy, then potential love-interest of fellow arcade game players Dustin and Lucas in season 2, the Californian skateboarding cool reserve of Max could be read as snootiness, but in fact is down to her horrific home life (thanks mainly to step-brother, Billy, and her innate social anxiety). Having become a close friend of Eleven’s, despite their initial shakiness, her on-and-off again relationship with Lucas provides another emotionally-challenging storyline – as though these young people aren’t under enough stress right now. Though she might feel a special connection with another of the scents on this list (we can’t tell you why without spoilering!) we think she’d find solace and extra courage in the universality, yet deeply personal connections of this one. Creamy, cocooning, the softness of ambrette seed, orris and magnilia swirl protectively around you, a second skin that can be layered to magnify another scent or worn alone to ‘create the absolute essence of you.’
Leader of the Stranger Things Hellfire Club, the Dungeon & Dragons and Metal music-obsessed Eddie has become an instant fan favourite – his ‘bad guy’ stereotype soon punctured by his sweetness of character and his obvious (to his friends) sensitive side. Sadly, not everyone sees him this way, and it’s not long before he needs all the help he can get. Apart from the fact this fragrance name sounds like a song from one of his favorite bands, it features a host of potentially spooky notes. The headiness of lily has been associated with spiritualism and the afterlife since Victorian times, here smouldering alongside the billowing yet sheer smokiness of incense and an intensely comforting woody muskiness that seems to offer hope even when everything around you is on fire. Despite the ‘scary’ name, it’s a bit of a pussycat at heart this one, a place of sanctuary amidst charred wooden pews and dusty books, something that brings solace whenever you spray it. So, Eddie’s gonna need backup bottles.
Your friendly local pizza and weed delivery guy, Argyle would doubtless rather be thinking up new toppings while taking another toke, but his hippy-dippy lifestyle comes abruptly to an end when he gets involved in the horrifying Hawkins shenanigans. So, we suggest this bohemian yet beautiful balance of rich, spicy and herbaceous notes. A surprisingly floral heart of muguet and magnolia has the laid-back chill of a lazy afternoon, but the base is what really steals the show: a combination of cedar wood, patchouli and sandalwood comes together to recreate this green, hempy, smoky haze of scent. It’s dark, green, rich and altogether very moreish. As with all cannabis fragrances, this is free of THC (the ingredient that causes a ‘high’) so Argyle isn’t going to be swapping this for his usual herbal preferences… but we suggest he might like to try smelling of something altogether lovelier. The dry down is fantastically earthy with cedarwood, patchouli and sandalwood creating a peaceful vibe we reckon he could probably do with after all the excitement.
With an ultra-dry sense of humour, Suzie is a mathematical computer genius who used her hacking skills to full effect in season 3 (despite having been kind of ghosted by her beloved ‘Dusty Bun’ Dustin: “Okay, let me just be clear on this. I haven’t heard from you in a week, and now you want a mathematical equation so you can… save the world?“) Called on once again for season 4, we feel she’d get on board with this collection by Perfumer Geza Schoen – dedicated to women with extraordinary talents. This first fragrance was inspired and co-created by memory genius Christiane Stenger, a vibrant blend of magnolia bud, citrus and Schinus molle (pink pepper) with luminous florals emboldened by exotic tiara absolute on a strong, woody base. Proudly get your geek on!
Okay, we know Kate isn’t a character in season 4 per se, but as you’ll have doubtlessly seen reported, like, everywhere; Kate’s song Running Up That Hill features prominently – not merely part of the (always excellent) soundtrack, but in the culmination of a particularly important episode that proves something of a breakthrough in the supernatural plot. With her strongly independent and mysterious allure reignited for a new generation, we feel a perfect perfume match for Kate would be this groundbreaking scent, launched in 1971, the world’s first ‘aromatherapy’ fine fragrance; a classic chypre style that’s cool, grounding, rested on seductive, patchouli-rich base that fuses vetiver and amber which steadies us in a frenzied world, and is slightly weird in the best way.
Is your favourite character missing from this list? Well, before you get stroppy, can we just say it is an extensive cast, and we’ve tried to focus on some of the newer characters (or those with especially important story development roles) this season. But look, we know how frustrating it can be, so if you’ve a strong feeling for a particular character – perhaps have already imagined the fragrance you’d pair with them – do let us know! In the meantime, sit back and think how you’d scent your Stranger Things streaming.
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 (remember those?)
– 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, which we have regularly held in London and, sometimes at independent perfumeries around the UK. We’ll be adding new dates as soon as we’re able to hold face-to-face workshops again, and plan to make a video available online.
Meanwhile, here are a few simple tips to try every day:
– Spray a scent on a blotter, preferably; 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.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian has pulled out all the stops this season, offering new and exciting ways to scent your home (and yourself!) From fragrant Christmas trees, scented caligraphy cards and the most goregous candle, there’s also excellent news for fans of a certain best-selling fragrance who’d believe in going big or going home…
There’s no doubt that perfumer Francis Kurkdjian is one of the most stylish people we know. From the exquisite fine fragrances and accessories that have made him world famous, to his personal flair when designing the so-chic boutiques and decorating his own (of course ultra fabulous) Parisian apartment. Borrowing a little of that effortless élan for some French contemporary style, Maison Francis Kurkdjian invite you to come inside and ‘…plunge into a unique universe where the art and pleasure of giving become one. Fragrances and candles wait patiently by the Christmas tree, the theme chosen by Francis Kurkdjian, as the quiet and elegantly dressed witnesses of the season’s celebrations.’
‘O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how lovely is thy fragrance…’
Mon beau Sapin, the iconic holiday candle by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, now comes in a dark green colour adorned with a fir bough decorated in white and gold. Its generous, characteristic smell of a balsam fir, slightly resinous, slowly guides us towards a reassuring forest. This candle, with its specific wintery enveloping fragrance brings the finishing touch to the joyful holiday mood and memories past.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Mon Beau Sapin Candle £55 for 190 g, at Selfridges new MFK counter
If you’re one of the many (many!) fragrant fans of the iconic Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait de parfum, or you know someone who is, get ready to squeal quite a lot. A whopping great supersize-me version of the fragrance has been created especially for Christmas, standing proud at 200ml, and definitely subscribing to the belief that bigger is better.
‘Baccarat Rouge 540 was born of the encounter five years ago between Baccarat and Maison Francis Kurkdjian, two luxury houses with a shared passion for know-how. Baccarat Rouge 540 tells the story of how gold is magically transformed into red, a process whose secret is known only by Baccarat. Blended with 24-karat gold dust and gradually fused until it reaches precisely 540 degrees, Baccarat’s transparent crystal slowly dons a dazzling red hue.’
This fragrance has been a world-wide best-seller for a reason: it smells incredible – we know exactly where a certain member of The Perfume Society team has been because she trails this everywhere she goes. It’s available as an eau de parfum in the clear crystal bottle and as an extrait de parfum in a deep, ruby red bottle; and if this is a present for someone you love, it’s certainly not only Santa that’s getting snogged under the mistletoe this year!
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 extrait de parfum £590 for 200ml at Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, John Lewis, Les Senteurs, Harrods & franciskurkdjian.com
Thursday to Sunday there will be caligraphy on specially scented Christmas cards at the new Maison Francis Kurkdjian Selfridges counter. And they are also offering a mini Mon Beau Sapin candle as a free gift with purchase. (We absolutely will not judge you if you decide to keep this for yourself. The person you’re buying the gift for will never know, right? Right. And we’ll be doing the same, so…)
Finally, if you needed another reason to pop across to France (with the car, we think, for this one…) before Christmas, then look no further than the wonder that is a scented Maison Francis Kurkdjian Christmas tree! Sadly these are not available in the U.K. this year, but those seeking the ultimate in festive fragrance can delight in them at the following stores:
Perfumed and fireproofed Nordmann Tree, 100/120 cm:
Green natural tree from 145 euros*
Flocked tree with natural dusting from 185 euros*
Flocked integral white tree from 205 euros*
*(Suggested retail price excluding delivery)
Order from Parisian shops Maison Francis Kurkdjian: Boutique Saint Honoré – 5 rue d’Alger, Paris 1er – +33 1 42 60 07 07 Boutique Marais – 7 rue des Blancs-Manteaux, Paris 4ème – +33 1 42 71 76 76
The mere descriptions, let alone gawping at these pictures, makes us feel instantly more stylish; and we find that theme of the Holiday tree on all accompanying boxes, gift sets, tissue paper and bags – illustrations and images drawn by Kurkdjian himself and created by his design team. So if you’re searching for that perfect present for someone special, hankering after treating yourself for a change, or heavily hinting to loved ones (we find choosing the Print Screen option and circling the ones you want in red while mouthing ‘THOSE PLEASE’ works really well); you’ll find that ‘…everything at Maison Francis Kurkdjian comes together to create a wintry harmony where an eye for detail lies at the heart of the creative process.’ Naturellement!
We don’t know about you, but recently our coats, woolens and winter-weight duvets have been off and on again more times than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Some days we truly can believe that Spring has sprung, as sunshine beams through the buxomly bursting buds of magnolia trees and even the most sullen faces twist into something resembling a smile; the next day it’s back to gale-force winds, grey skies and constant drizzle. Spring may have sprung, but it’s bouncing about all over the place!
To carry on regardless of the weather, we sometimes need a bit of optimistic wish-fulfillment in our scent choices – the kind of British pluck that got us through several wars, allows us to merely tut at cancelled trains and can bally well help us pretend the sun IS constantly shining and yes it IS warm enough to go outside without legs permanently encased like sausages in 200 denier tights, thank-you-very-much. Here’s our selection of scents to put the Spring back in your step: no matter what the weather’s doing, there’s something to match your mood through sunshine and showers alike…
Ultra-talented British perfumer Lyn Harris presides over an exquisite new boutique perfumery that’s the fragrance equivalent of visiting an Haute Couture atelier. Offering bespoke, hand-blended unique perfumes alongside an ever-changing seasonal collection of ‘ready to wear’, the latest trio features this delectable concoction of ylang ylang absolue, vetiver, angelica grain and vanilla bourbon. Cool like the first drops of rain yet rounded with a fluffiness somehow; the bouquet of jasmine, orange flower and iris is fused with the fresh air top notes and a tenderly whispered amber musk of a base. The stunning hand-blown glass bottle is an investment for sure, but refills are available for £170.
Perfumer H Rain Cloud £320 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it in-store at Perfumer H
Using ‘headspace technology’ – an ingenious contraption that’s basically a high-tech bell-jar hooked up to an incredibly powerful smell-analysing computer – Vilhelm truly capture the heady scent of a live lilac veritably humming with sunshine. In the language of flowers, lilac spells the unfurling petals of first-love that blooms into full blown passion, an affair we would definitely want to be involved with while wearing this perfume…
Vilhelm ParfumerieA Lilac a Day £145 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Liberty
Oh-so-pretty lily of the valley is blended with creamy magnolia and delicate peony to gather a dew-drop sprinkled bouquet that sparkles with a cool freshness on the greyest of days. Unusual notes of green mandarin and white tea are punctuated with flecks of star anise and a lingering softly musky sandalwood dry-down that lingers mistily. [NB: You can try a sample of this in the Molton Brown Art of Fragrance Discovery Box!]
Molton BrownDewy Lily of the Valley & Star Anise £39 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at John Lewis
A celebration of Calabrian bergamot, this is truly sunshine in a bottle – we defy you not to smile at the first spritz. Continuing with their far longer-lasting versions of Cologne, the citrus tang is definitely the main story here, but with waves of jasmine, ambrette, lavender and deeper notes of vetiver and oak moss radiating joy.
Atelier Cologne Bergamot Soleil £90 for 100ml Cologne Absolute
Buy it at John Lewis
Part of Bronnley’s Eclectic Elements collection, this pulses with life – one moment a woodland with fresh foliage licked clean from a rain-shower, then hints of sunshine peeking through the clouds with a glisten of orange flower. The leather, amber and incense base add depth to the green woodiness as you follow the trail through shady glades and patches of brightness. We’re impressed with the stylish modern packaging and pocket-friendly price, too.
Sumptuously fruity in a grown-up cocktail way, this glows likes little jewels scattered across a treasure-strewn beach. Grapefuit gets the sparkle going, buoyed by blackcurrant buds and orange blossom and shot through with bright tuberose and lemon for extra lift. Tempered by tea, gently spiced with pepper and grounded in a musky base, it’s a not-too-sweet treat to make your mouth water.
Inspired by the original Marc Jacobs Splash collection, fans will be overjoyed to know that four scents are making a come-back for Spring 2016 (expected on-counter in May), including one of the most popular – Rain. Exuding the unique ‘petrichor’ smell that fills the air just after a downpour, we have freshly cut grass and flowers bathed in water drops together with strawberries and celementine and a more tropical storm of a heart with passion flower, white orchids and base of burnished teak dusted with a powdery white musk.
Marc Jacobs Rain £38 for 100ml
Buy it at Debenhams in May.
Bursting with just-peeled mandarin this sings from the bottle with sheer happiness – a vibrant and mood-lifting fragrance to reach for when going outside is just too grim to imagine. Energising grapefruit joins the citrus accord, and given a creamy sandalwood base on which to rest. Part of their Jardin de Vie range launched earlier this year, the fragrances are all-natural and suitable for vegans, too. [NB: Why not try this sunshine-scent at home as part of our Exquisite Essences Discovery Box?]
Weleda Agrume £19.95 for 50ml eau naturelle parfumée
Buy it at Weleda
A sublimely cool, calm and collected infusion that surprises with a peppery opening of bergamot, coriander seed and carrot seed, it’s the orris-rich heart – complemented by a bouquet of exotic white flowers: jasmine, magnolia and osmanthus – that will fully sparkle to seduce you. The base soothes with aphrodisiac Tahitian vanilla bud wrapped up in warm amber, the smoky coolness of vetiver ensuring it never tips into over-sweetness. Enveloping yet utterly refined, the rich base retains its elegance on your skin throughout the day, in warm weather or foul. [NB: Explore a sample of this among others in our Secret Scentsations Discovery Box]
Ormonde Jayne Vanille d’Iris from £90 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Ormonde Jayne
Philosophy are known for the prettiest bright and breezy line of fragrances and matching scented body products, and with the very latest perfume (launching April 27th), they seek to capture the true scent of those carefree, sunny days (several in a row, perhaps!) we so long for at this time of year. Notes include the fizz of bergamot, a gentle dune rose, the creaminess of sandalwood infused with rich cocoa absolute and a splash of refreshing coconut water. Solar musks give a lift to the delicious vanilla lingering in the base, and frankly we think you should spritz this with abandon, put on your coolest shades and treat yourself to an ice cream in anticipation…
Philosophy Pure Summer Grace £33 for 50ml eau de toilette
Exclusive to John Lewisfrom 27th April