What perfume do you wear? Do you change it season to season? And how do you choose it?
For me getting a new perfume is a bit like being a new person, if only for a while. I see myself through a filter of everything that the scent evokes for me.
That’s why I don’t buy perfume on a whim. It’s a drawn out process and sometimes it takes me months to find a new one. I wear it then for a long time, too. I am loyal to the same scent for months (sometimes years) until the inevitable happens. Like a love affair, it fizzles out and often mid bottle, I suddenly know that a change is coming.
A few trips to town later and I will have selected a possible candidate for a long term companion. But I won’t buy it just yet. I will go back a few times, to try and check how and if it grows on me, changes on my skin, adapts to my life. I loved Burberry Body but the big clunky bottle would not fit into my handbag. I had to pass on it – with regret.
Sometimes great beginnings are also spectacular disappointments or simply turn into generic floral scents. But no matter. Sometimes I really want to love the scent – when I like the brand and adore the ad campaigns (hello Chloé) – but the perfume just does not work for me.
When the brand, ad campaign and scent come together, it creates the perfect moment. I think I am the perfect consumer (Trish says I’m a sucker not a consumer). I wore Chanel Coco Mademoiselle for a good few years. I bought it without trying it on first, having only seen an ad with Kate Moss in it.
A couple of years ago I ventured into Liberty for the first time to try Molecule 1. That’s a perfume that’s supposed to be scentless until you spray it on your skin. I didn’t buy it in the end but strolling around the ground floor I came across fragrances I had never heard about: Le Labo brand with its laboratory like counter, and Frederic Malle to name but two. I have not seen them advertised in magazines. I tried and tried and tested and at the end I left the store clutching Bottega Venetta, which I had used before and love for its unusual scent of leather and moss.
Some hours later, having opened and doused myself with Bottega, I could smell something else on my wrist. It was intriguing and I kept putting my wrist up to my nose trying to identify the ingredients. It was warm…but lemony at the same time. And somehow it smelled of smoke. I loved it. It somehow managed to contain so many contradictions and yet be sophisticated and intriguing at the same time.
I managed to identify it as Gypsy Water by Byredo. I went onto the Liberty website and here’s what it said:
“Gypsy Water is a glamourisation of the Romany lifestyle, based on a fascination for the myth.
The scent of fresh soil, deep forests and campfires illustrates the dream of a free, colourful lifestyle close to nature.
– Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Pepper, Juniper Berries
– Mid: Incense, Pine Needles, Orris
- Base: Amber, Vanilla, Sandalwood”
I knew I smelled smoke and lemon.
I ended up giving Bottega away and buying Gypsy Water for myself. I wanted to be like glamorous Gypsy girls, all glossy lazy curls and a feeling of freedom. I still wear it every. I cheat on it sometimes but ultimately I always go back.