Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Perfume

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A couple of weeks ago, following in the footsteps of Shabir, I did a fun-tastic Facebook Live with Trinny Woodall. Formerly one-half of ‘& Susannah’, she is now a Grade A beauty expert, bringing that same famous critical eye to all the beauty products she reviews – often HILARIOUSLY, by the way, but always informatively. What is less well-known is that she adores perfume, so we’d been workshopping the idea of me sharing the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years – which have led me down the path of founding The Perfume Society – with Trinny’s audience.

 

Boy, did we have a blast. (You can watch it on her YouTube channel – IN MY BATHROOM… with Jo Fairley.) I spent a lot of the hour-long chatathon answering the sort of questions that I hear time and again, about fragrance. So I thought for this month’s editorial, I’d address some of the things that people consistently seem to find most baffling, about scent. Read More…

Something In The Air

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There are green shoots out there. The light’s shifted, suddenly. And I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I begin – just begin – to think about changing the fragrance I wear.

Now, perfume, as many of you know, is hugely important to me. Life-enriching, For most of us, our sense of smell is akin to a seven-stone weakling; we drift through our days, barely using what Helen Keller referred to as ‘the fallen angel of our senses’, when there’s much, much more we can get out of our sense of smell. It was for that reason that almost three years ago, my friend and colleague Lorna McKay and I set up The Perfume Society (perfumesociety.org): an actual organisation whose mission is to help people improve their sense of smell via the medium of perfume. Read More…

Perfume – And The Fallen Angel Of Our Senses

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I love, love, love perfume – don’t you? From a teenager, my dressing table’s been cluttered with a joyous array of bottles: Miss Dior, Eau Sauvage, Chanel No. 22 (I prefer this little known ‘relative’ to No. 5), Hermès Calèche, Illuminium Indian Oudh, Bottega Veneta, Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb, YSL Rive Gauche – oh, I could go on (and on and on) with the guided tour. Ever since my dad (who travelled a lot) started bringing me back bottles from Duty Free to assuage his guilt after trips abroad (guilt trips in the true sense), I’ve adored fragrance for the way it can shift our mood, make us smile, make people remember us – and even maybe help make people fall in love with us…

But I agree really strongly with Helen Keller, famously blind and deaf, who commented: smell is ‘the fallen angel of our senses’. (Her own nose was so acute that she could even sense impending rain). Basically, your sense of smell is a seven-stone weakling. (So was mine). But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with some of the greatest noses on the planet, the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of the fragrance world. In an aromatic haze of flowers, roots, grasses, primitive animal scents, essential oils and nature-identical lab-created essences, they can discern – and, what’s more, remember – thousands of different aromas. Read More…

Smelling Gorgeous – Naturally…

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We regularly receive e-mails to www.beautybible.com asking if we can recommend all-natural fragrances. Once upon a time, of course, all fragrances were entirely natural. But the bottom line is that without synthetic molecules, perfumery would never have become so sophisticated.

By ‘modern’, that really means after 1882, the year when coumarin – a natural isolate of tonka beans – was unveiled in Houbigant’s Fougère Royale, although of course it was Chanel No. 5 that really put synthetics on the map, which perfumer Ernst Beaux laced liberally with Aldehydes – ingredients which heighten natural essences and turbo-charge staying power.

What’s the real difference? ‘Synthetically enhanced scents are loud and tenacious; natural oils keep themselves to themselves,’ says Californian perfumer and author of Essence & Alchemy Mandy Aftel, who is leading a revival in sophisticated 100% natural perfumery in the US. (Hers is a truly wonderful, easy-to-read book, which you can find on www.amazon.co.uk.) ‘Synthetics leave their trail behind in rooms and elevators, while naturals evolve, mellow and age with the skin in a more intimate way. What you’re left with is the soft smell of the human body, not a tinny, chemical dry-down.’

At Beauty Bible, we rather like that – although one potential downside: without synthetics, a scent’s skin life is around two hours. Still, is that a bad thing…? According to Californian perfumer and fragrance author Mandy Aftel, her clients aren’t bothered by this. ‘They appreciate the true pleasure of perfume, the sensuality of re-applying it.’ (And so do we.) Read More…