Fragrances are big business, but if you think about it buying a bottle of something to mask your own natural scent seems like a bit of an odd thing to do. Having said that I wouldn’t want to live in a world without fragrances…We’ve all been stuck on a crowded bus or rammed tube car with our faces pushed into someone’s stinky armpit, so it’s not like we don’t need to make ourselves smell better. But what does a persons fragrance say about them? Everyone has a couple of fragrances, either perfumes or aftershaves, that they absolutely hate. Getting a whiff of your old boyfriend’s aftershave from someone else on the street can bring back a whole host of bad memories. Scents have an incredible capacity to invoke memories and remind us of places, people and times gone past. Ultimately fragrances impact on our emotional state in a ways we don’t really give much though to. I have a bit of a fragrance addiction and I wouldn’t hesitate to throw money at something that was going to make me smell good. But I’ve grown tired of most of the smells I used to love, and nothing really seems to represent me, everything is just so generic and insipid… until I discovered Penhaligon’s that is.
The fragrance industry and the fashion industry are deeply entwined. Most perfumes and aftershaves come from the designers and design houses, who make more from selling smells than they do clothes. And like fashion fragrances are just as susceptible to trends and fads. The big fragrances of the 80’s like Poison or Fahrenheit are seriously pungent and overpowering smells, a reflection of the shoulder pads and power dressing that typified 80’s yuppie culture. My problem with modern ‘fashion’ fragrances are they don’t last very long. The cynic in me thinks perhaps this is on purpose, forcing us to use more of the product than is neccessary, like the “lather, rinse, repeat” instruction on shampoo bottles, with some fragrances costing almost £1 per millilitre, are we being conned? So who do we turn to for something a little better?… the experts, that’s who.
Penhaligon’s have been around since 1870 and are the official perfumers to the Royal family. William Henry Penhaligon was Queen Victoria’s perfumer and the company have maintained that privilege ever since… so at least I know I’m in good company! Their range of frangrances encompasses everything from the original 19th century best-sellers to brand new ultra-modern smells that rival even the biggest fashion houses ranges. They offer a fragrance profiling service that I can’t recommend highly enough, you can have it done in store or even online. Their experts take you through their fragrance library asking you what you do and don’t like, all the while reading your body language and gauging your reactions. Then when you’re done, hey presto, they point out the fragrance that’s perfect for you. Mine is called Sartorial, and if the name wasn’t perfect enough I’m totally in love with the smell too. Created by master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, it was inspired by the scents of the workroom at Norton & Sons, Bespoke Tailors at No. 16 Savile Row. Taking in the scent of chalk, fabrics and the inside of sewing machines it’s almost as avant-garde as Comme Des Garcons’ wackiest smell. It’s a complex scent that lasts all day, everyone asks me where it’s from and I get great pleasure from teling them every little detail about it. It even looks like the bottle is wearing a little bow tie, how cute is that? So if you see me out and about furiously sniffing my own wrist or the lapel of my shirt, don’t be alarmed, ask me if you can smell it too. You won’t be disappointed.
Words by Warren Beckett
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