Perfect perfume picks

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On my thirteenth birthday, I received a gift that transformed the way I go about my day-to-day life. My best friend’s mum was one of those mothers who spent way too much at the luxury beauty counters, and thus received perfume samples in an attempt to extract more money from her. My financially savvy friend put about ten different samples in a tiny drawstring bag and gave me them for my birthday. I remember not being too fussed about them at first, but nevertheless sprayed each one, and from then on, I have been religiously spraying perfume every day.

Many people view this habit of spraying perfume as a sort of accessory to our outfits, or a way in which to mask odours. But, from over a decade of religiously wearing perfume each day, I can tell you that perfumes and scents hold more purpose than vanity. For me, perfumes hold memories, and can transform you to the most memorable times in which you wore them.

Have you ever smelt someone walk past, and they immediately reminded you of someone? Or perhaps you can tell who the person is by smelling their scent even before seeing them. This is because the sense of smell is closely linked to memory and can even unlock memories that we have forgotten or may have even repressed.

For me, perfumes hold memories, and can transform you to the most memorable times in which you wore them

Over the years, my passion for perfumes has spiralled into a somewhat expensive hobby, and I boast a rather impressive collection of around fifteen perfumes I treasure dearly. If you are like me, and are obsessed with scent, and would like to create your own collection, I would bear the following in mind.

Always test perfumes before buying them. This can be done by popping into Boots and spraying the perfumes or requesting samples. This is because scents develop as the day goes on. My first perfume, Mon Paris, changes significantly as the day goes on, I will explain more on this later. Furthermore, testing the scents first tests their durability – you don’t want to spend lots of money on a perfume that lasts a mere few minutes!

Shop around for the best price. I often buy my perfumes brand new on Vinted or Depop for a fraction of their RRP. However, proceed with caution by doing this, there are some people who will sell dupes which won’t smell remotely like the original scent.

Don’t buy lots of perfumes that smell similar. All too often I get enticed by perfumes that smell similar to ones I adore, but then I wonder, why am I buying yet another perfume that is floral? Consider expanding your range to something musky, fresh, or earthy. Explore, and pick perfumes for different scenarios!

Over the years, my passion for perfumes has spiralled into a somewhat expensive hobby

On a similar vein, think about when you want to wear perfumes. I would consider starting your selection with five bottles each for different occasions. For example, everyday use, nights out, date nights, trips away/holidays, a perfume to wear in bed, etc. Remember, we associate scents with memories, so you might not want to be reminded of a debaucherous night out in Jimmy’s in a 9am lecture by your scent…

With this in mind, I do want to add a disclaimer that having multiple perfumes is completely unnecessary. I want to write this article to help inspire a similar passion in people, and to help people encapsulate memories with scents. My collection has been built over a decade, and many of which have been gifted to me. Even if you have one scent that you stick to religiously, I am not trying to undermine the significance of that one to you. Having said that, here are my following recommendations for different situations:

Everyday use

Under the Lemon Trees – Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela is one of my favourite brands. This scent is light and refreshing, blending sharp citrus notes with the natural crispness of green tea essence, coriander and the woody essences of cedarwood and white musk. As a unisex perfume, you will get compliments from all genders. As part of their ‘memory in a fragrance’ line, this scent is meant to encapsulate Palermo in 1987. For me, I imagine it is what Elio would wear in ‘Call Me By Your Name’, passing the summer endlessly reading beneath the fruit trees as the Italian sun beats down. The lightness of this perfume means it is suitable for everyday use, but for me, I would reserve it for summer.

Nights out

Libre – Yves Saint Laurent

As a more recent addition to my collection, I have been experimenting with Libre’s versatility. I chose to include this scent as a night out scent as I know for a fact it will last even the most testing conditions and will make the sweaty stench of Durham clubs slightly more bearable. Moroccan orange blossom is intertwined with the aromatic intensity of French lavender in this fragrance. Lavender, typically associated with masculine scents, is transformed into an ultra-sensual element for a women’s perfume that exudes both passion and sophistication, embodying YSL’s distinctively androgynous attitude. This is the kind of perfume Serena Van Der Woodsen would wear; rich, bold and fun. Do experiment with their libre range, Libre Intense is also intoxicating.

Date nights

Mon Paris – Yves Saint Laurent

Mon Paris was my first perfume I ever bought. The scent immediately transforms me to school where I would wear it every day. If falling in love was a scent, this would be it. Notes include datura orchid, white flowers, white musk and patchouli. Every time I wear this, I can guarantee I will get compliments or someone asking me what it is. Interesting, the perfume starts out as floral, and as the day develops transforms into a muskier, seductive scent. I cannot recommend this scent enough; it is my ride or die. However, due to its intense nature I would highly recommend trying it out for a few days first, it gives my sister a headache due to the powerful nature of it, so just be mindful of that. I personally adore a scent that fills the room, but it is not everybody’s cup of tea.

Trips away/holidays

Flora Gorgeous Jasmine – Gucci

Gifted to me by a family friend, I may be slightly biased to this perfume as I wore it during the best period of my life, when I spent six months in Colombia. However, this is a real all-rounder perfume. This perfume is not musky so is not overbearing but will linger on you all day. It is a versatile scent that can be worn both in the day and night, but because it is such a beautiful and deep scent, I would reserve it for special occasions that you want to remember forever and encapsulate in a scent, such as holidays. The range also has a gardenia and magnolia version, so do experiment before you purchase to find the one that resonates with you the most.

A perfume to wear in bed

Jazz Club – Maison Margiela

Although admittedly wearing perfumes to bed is rather extra and unnecessary, sometimes it is nice to go to sleep feeling and smelling beautiful as a matter of self-care, or perhaps to fragrance your sheets. As the name suggests, this scent replicates a ‘Jazz Club’, and it will transform you to a smoky speakeasy in Brooklyn where people are puffing on cigars and sipping on old fashioneds. The base notes of vanilla, tonka bean, vetiver and tabaco combine to create a melody of liquor and leather which create a masculine scent but is sweet enough to make it unisex. The reason why I say it is perfect to wear to bed is because it develops into a sweeter smell as the night progresses, and the seductive scene of a boozy yet classy evening will wrap you in its intoxicating embrace, lulling you into a state of relaxed sophistication, reminiscent of a timeless era where indulgence and refinement coalesce seamlessly.

Illustration credit: Ashley Zhou

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