It’s well-known amongst those close to me that I’m a bit of a perfume addict. I’ve spent a long time trying to find my signature scent, starting from the days of a quick dab of my gran’s Tweed, Charlie or a dab of 4711 cooling fragrance stick when it got too hot. Occasionally I’d be hovering around Mum as she got ready for a night out and would be on the periphery of her YSL Opium cloud. During my teens I flirted with Impulse body sprays, had a long-term fling with CK Obsession and even a secret affair with Chanel for Gentlemen.
See, even that far back I knew that perfumes smelt different on me to other people. I preferred musky, leathery, woody scents to floral, citrus or green. The days where everyone wore CKOne were an affront to me and my nose.
Eventually I discovered Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir, a unisex scent that made me want to bury my nose in my own neck. That’s still an old favourite, rotated with their newer offerings Wood Sage and Sea Salt on my lighter days and their Saffron Cologne Intense for other times. Currently in my perfume cupboard (dark, cool and away from any light) I have Thierry Mugler’s Angel and Alien, Estee Lauder’s Modern Muse, Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue (not my choice, but a freebie!), Calvin Klein’s Truth, Chanel’s Coco Noir (inherited from Mum), Liz Earle’s Botanicals No. 15 and TokyoMilk Dark Arsenic No. 17. Not a bad collection but still nothing that made me think “Yes, this is the one smell I always want to be associated with.”
Then, a recent trip to Rome led me and a long-suffering friend to a local department store with a modern architectural feature of a helicoidal staircase that I really wanted to see – and a food hall! On entering La Rinascente, we got accosted by a very lovely Italian man on the Dolce and Gabbana counter. A confusing multi-lingual conversation ensued but he came up trumps by offering me a sniff of their limited edition Velvet Collection Desert Oud. Musky, smoky, amber – it worked and I was totally and utterly sold, despite the little shocked voice doing money exchange calculations in my head! Here it costs around £200 but by supporting the local economy I paid around £170… Anyway, it came in a velvet lined satin box which was inside a heavy, embossed black box and the aforementioned full-size bottle of Light Blue so good value, yes?!
I’ve worn this pretty much every day for the last six weeks and had many people comment on it, despite the fact that I can’t smell it on myself at all. Then this morning, I was emptying out my last BirchBox and remembered a sample of Penhaligon’s Iris Prima so decided to have a change. I wasn’t expecting much, something flowery and candy like but was pleasantly surprised and am still enjoying the smell now, two hours later when the heart notes have fully kicked in. I decided to look at the link to see what it contained that was so appealing to me and seeing the words bergamot, pink pepper, leather, sandalwood, vetiver it all made sense. What didn’t make sense was the perfume’s actual description…
“A fresh and transparent bergamot opens the dance: its citrus freshness mimicking the graceful flight of the prima ballerina as she leaps into the spotlight. Green amber softens the effect and contrasts with sparkling pink pepper, which resonates like the steps of the ballerina on pointe. Iris soon takes centre stage, eclipsing all around her with her natural grace and powdery charm, until she begins a sensuous pas de deux with potent Jasmine Sambac. In the base, Alberto introduces an intimate, musky leather note to represent the pointe shoe and then light touches of sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla and benzoin to signify the soul of ancient theatres.”
Umm, WHAT NOW?! I prefer my version, it smells good and could well be my next perfume purchase. In the meantime, bring on the oud. That’s the resin created when a mould attacks certain South Asian evergreen trees, not the many tentacled, telepathic aliens in Doctor Who!