A small sampling of my perfume collection
As a kid, I hated perfume. I found it too strong and cloying, and just didn’t understand why anyone would want to smell like Sears. I was very sophisticated.
Thankfully, I grew up and discovered perfumes I actually liked thanks to my mother and grandmother. Mum loves Opium, L’Air du Temps and White Linen, while my Granny swore by Loulou and Anais Anais. The first bottle of perfume I ever received was Anais Anais from my Granny, and it still remains a favourite. To note, my paternal grandmother wore Penhaligon’s Violetta, which is also a huge favourite of mine.
As a teen, I wore a lot of garbage scents from the drugstore like Malibu Musk (wow) and funky-smelling Impulse body sprays. My friends were all obsessed with Exclamation, which I hated. To this day, it remains one of the most terrible perfumes I have ever smelled – an olfactory assault of peach, Welch’s grape juice and sparkly stripper. Anyways, my Malibu Musk sat on my dresser along with Love’s Baby Soft, Love’s Fresh Lemon and my cherished bottle of Anais Anais. As time went on, my tastes evolved and the perfumes got marginally better. I soon graduated to Tommy Girl, Body Shop’s White Musk and CK One (still a fave, btw).
When I started working at Holt Renfrew, I was introduced to some really fine fragrances. I was surprised to find that I liked spicy, heavy scents. I bought Gucci Rush and perfumes by Chanel, Creed and Guerlain. I loved these. They were sophisticated and complex, and stood out against the scourge of terrible celebrity fragrances that were starting to crowd perfume counters. I no longer wanted to smell like Jolly Ranchers and marshmallows. I wanted to smell “expensive”.
I also wanted to find perfumes that were distinctly Dominique and original – a signature scent that would be associated with only me. I started testing various fragrances but it was hard. I would read perfume ads and get confused. What exactly is myrrh and chypre? Oud wood and tonka bean?? I found perfume ads bewildering – so I spent a few days hitting the perfume counters around the city, including Scentiment – a now defunct perfume shop that was my favourite of mine *tear*.
Here is what I learned:
- Try up to three scents at a time. More than that, and you’ll overwork your nosey and won’t get a true read on what you like.
- Understand the scents: smoky can smell like campfire or cedar chips; citrusy means lemony, orangey, etc.; green can be likened to fresh cut grass or a wheat grass shot; floral: roses, gardenia, violets, etc.
- Wait and see how the perfume smells after a few hours. Case in point? My Viktor and Rolf Bonbon smells like a candy shop when first applied, then dries down (mellows) to something delicate and lovely. This perfume is interesting too as I get the bulk of my compliments from men when I wear it.
- Know why some perfumes cost more (finer ingredients, hard-to-find ingredients, complexity) and why some cost less (Paris Hilton’s name on the bottle).
- Most important of all, follow your instincts! There are some perfumes that are classic cult favourites that are widely reviled at the same time. Dior’s Poison is a classic example. I would liken this perfume to “a woman you greatly respect but do not like at all” – amazingly on point quote from a Make-up Alley review.
After all of this research, I found that I love heavy, spicy perfumes, along with florals (usually singular notes of either rose or violet). While I have yet to settle on just a few, at least I know what I really like. Here are some of my personal favourites:
- Serge Lutens Sa majesté la rose
- Jo Malone Red Roses
- Gucci Rush
- Burberry for Women
- Bulgari Eau parfumée au thé blanc
- Jour d’Hermes
Well, there you go. If you are looking for your own signature scent, have fun with it and follow your nose!!