The values of the old-fashioned parfumerie were very different to those of today. Instead of the A-list glitz surrounding modern fragrance launches, scent used to be a personal olfactory journey. Perfumers would create exquisite aromas, blending exotic notes and rare ingredients that women would wear as a ‘signature scent’.
Choosing a perfume was easy, because women followed their instinct, not fashion. Their nose was their only guide and their heart would decide whether the alchemy was right and suited their personality. It was a smart choice.
Today, however, we buy scent based on image as much as fragrance. Perfumes allow us to buy into something bigger than a delicate floral bouquet: a dream of a more glamorous life.
‘Nowadays, buying a perfume is often a conscious response to subtle advertising rather than to the smell itself,’ says psychotherapist Phillip Hodson. ‘Some shy personality, for instance.’
Knowing who you are, and using scent to enhance that, is the key to a smart and unique choice. The first step is to understand the power of fragrance and our sense of smell. Aromas pull an emotional trigger and make memories flow.
‘Scents have a greater impact than you’d imagine,’ says perfume guru Roja Dove, the man behind Harrods’ Haute Parfumerie. And scents are also created with a specific mood in mind.
Which scent is right for you?
1. Ask yourself which scents ‘speak’ to you. Are you drawn to warm, sweet vanillas, or soft florals, like rose? Perhaps you prefer spicier, heavier scents, suchas amber or myrrh? If you’re unsure, visit a perfume counter and ask the assistant to tell you the dominant notes of perfumes you like. Then you’ll know which ‘family’ of scent most appeals to you.
2. Test different scents over a few days. In the same way that you allow a fine wine to ‘breathe’, ‘open’ the fragrance by spraying on a blotter first, then on your skin. Let the scent melt onto your skin and blend into your natural oils so you know how it breaks down
3. Ask friends and family for their opinion. Above all, ask yourself if it feels ‘right’. ‘Elegance is the expression of you, not the expression of someone else,’ says Roja Dove.