Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Signature scents

Some girls feel naked without a slash of red lipstick, others need the comfort blanket of several swipes of mascara. Me, I can't leave the house without walking through a cloud of scent. Nothing too overpowering, (I don't want to asphyxiate anyone), just a spritz up into the air, which leaves an impression.

The desire not to announce my presence with scent is a reaction to my first attempt at a signature perfume. At school I wore the quintessential early 90s knockout: Eternity. Thick & cloying, it is so evocative that, when I smell it on the street, I am transported back to the Quad, Chapel and a particular boy who I kissed behind the Library. I can't bear it now.

As a reaction I wore Eau de Givenchy for a couple of years, subtle, rose based and light as air. Then in 1996 Chanel launched Allure and I just knew from looking at the box that this was going to be my scent. I remained fiercely loyal until my mother introduced me to Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien, with its sharp citrus tang and hint of summer.

Still, Allure remains on my dressing table, but as my mother (who wore Balmain's Vent Vert when she was sixteen and then Hermes' strongly chypre Amazone all through my childhood) started to flirt with different fragrances, so did I. She wore Antonia's Flowers for a while, which was divine, like an English country garden, moved on to Goutal's Eau du Sud and at the moment wafts the gentle orange blossom breeze of Goutal's Neroli.

I've decided I love florals too and after an obsession with the violent tuberose punch of Robert Piquet's Fracas, I've drifted to scents with a jasmine nose. I use Miller Harris Nouvelle Editions' elegant Jasmine Vert when I am feeling sophisticated, gently spritz Allure for meetings, and absolutely long for a bottle of Serge Lutens' A La Nuit. But, along with my mother, I always return to the simplicity of Christian Dior's Diorissimo whose addictive lily of the valley base with jasmine notes has become my signature scent. For the time being, that it.