How to Choose a Signature Scent, Part 2

Parfums Carrere Signature

Now that we’ve deepened your understanding of perfume in preparation for finding your signature scent (see part 1), it’s time to get down to strategy. Store shelves groan with perfume. How do you choose “the one”?

My guess is that most people duck into perfume shops and department stores and try whatever catches their fancy at the moment, hope they’ll be struck will love. That might work. Possibly. Maybe providence will toss a perfume in your path that will grab you and demand to be worn everyday.

But maybe it won’t. A surer path would be to explore the offerings of a single perfume house, then to apply whatever you learn to finding the fragrance that resonates with you most…

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Parfums Raffy

How to Choose a Signature Fragrance, Part One

Carrere Signature

When people learn that I write about perfume, I can usually count on two questions: “What’s your favorite perfume?” and “Can you recommend a fragrance for me? I want a signature scent.” Forget about naming a favorite perfume. That’s a moving target. But for everyone who’s asked me to recommend a fragrance, this post is for you.

Before heading off to a boutique to find a signature scent, it’s helpful to know a few things about perfume. To me, it’s most important to understand that perfume is an art, like music or painting. Just as you probably winced the first time you heard opera and puzzled at your first Jackson Pollack, there’s a good chance you won’t initially appreciate all of a fragrance’s subtleties. When a perfumista friend raves about Guerlain Mitsouko, all you might smell is “grandma” — or worse, “rotting grandma.” That’s okay. Part of the fun of finding perfume you love is exploring a whole new art form…

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The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown ~ book review

The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown, book cover

I understand why creating a perfumer protagonist is catnip for novelists. Perfume is glamorous, and the art of creating fragrance holds more mystery than, say, playing the cello. But so many novelists butcher perfumery. Often they portray noses as bloodhounds who can sniff a sprig of mint down the block, but they ignore the heart of creating a perfume — beautiful, effective composition.

In The Perfume Garden, Kate Lord Brown avoids this pitfall. Thank you, Brown, for not spending paragraphs having your perfumer heroine wax on about the smell of a carrot that was raised in a field fed by spring water run off through alfalfa fields where a gassy Doberman frolicked…

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Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse & Ciel d’Opale ~ fragrance reviews

Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse & Ciel d'Opale

For months now, my backyard has been a dull landscape of pea gravel and weeds with a naked plum tree in the middle. Practically overnight, the garden — I see it from my desk right now — has erupted in color: shocking pink peonies and rhododendron, purple iris, yellow roses and pale, newly green leaves. It’s the perfect time to drain my samples of two tender, warmer weather fragrances, Ann Gérard Perle de Mousse and Ciel d’Opale.

Perle de Mousse and Ciel d’Opale (along with Cuir de Nacre) were created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour and released in 2012. To me, the Ann Gérard perfume style is classic, subtle and sophisticated…

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Masque Milano Russian Tea ~ fragrance review

Masque Milano Russian Tea

There’s a kind of fragrance that especially intrigues me: it’s the type that reads as warm and cool at the same time. This kind of fragrance’s notes are warm — leather, spices, wood, for instance — but its overall feeling is thin and cool, like a splash of scented water. Masque Milano Russian Tea is that sort of fragrance.

Perfumer Julien Rasquinet developed Russian Tea. Its notes include mint, black pepper, raspberry, black tea, magnolia, everlasting flower (also known as immortelle), leather accord, incense, birchwood and labdanum. If you’re thinking this sounds a bit like Annick Goutal Duel, you’re right. Russian Tea might be Duel’s tougher brother, the one who came straight from the stables to lunch…

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