How to build your own fragrance wardrobe

Peter Murray at Pulse of Perfumery

Peter Murray at Pulse of Perfumery - Credit: Archant

We change our clothes according to the occasion - so why stick to the same old perfume? Janet Reeder discovers the art of putting together a fragrance ‘wardrobe’

Classic: Chanel no 5s campaign

Classic: Chanel no 5s campaign - Credit: Archant

Marilyn Monroe famously wore only Chanel Number 5, and nothing else, in bed. But she was missing out. Buying fragrance is one bit of retail therapy we can all enjoy, whatever our age or dress size. There’s so much pleasure to be gained from amassing a small collection of perfumes to suit a variety of occasions.

Plus, wearing an ‘old favourite’ can be quite ageing, I’m afraid. The classics are fine in moderation, but why always douse yourself in Miss Dior when you can have a fragrance fashion fix?

So why not start by taking a ‘fragrance journey’ to discover the many alternatives you can have to your signature scent?

You can now book an appointment at a department store and enjoy an olfactory experience that will lead you to something contemporary, unexpected and interesting. For example, I shocked myself by ending up with the masculine smell of Acqua Di Parma’s Oud when I did this in Selfridges a while ago.

And for those not yet aware of Pulse of Perfumery (PoP) in Knutsford we have an amazing perfumery on the doorstep. You can book a consultation, or even take along a party of girlfriends for a perfume experience at this lovely store.

PoP perfumier Peter Murray won’t take you out of your comfort zone, if you don’t wish to be, but by asking a few simple questions he can pinpoint the kinds of fragrance you might enjoy.

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Peter insists that even if we don’t tailor our fragrance to every occasion, we should reach for a different bottle when the seasons change.

‘As the nights draw in and the weather changes, so does my choice and preference of fragrances that I will wear over the next couple of months,’ he says.

‘Summer seems to be well behind us now, albeit a fantastic one, and the fabulous citrus colognes from Tom Ford (Neroli Portofino) and Acqua di Parma and the aromatic fougeres that I enjoyed immensely will now take a break and be shelved until such times that the weather improves. I won’t forget them, I will just move them to another space in my fragrance wardrobe.

‘I really do enjoy the seasonal changes as this is a time to rethink how I wish to smell. The winter provides perfect conditions for the woody, spicy orientals that I love. In particular I’m a real fan of the Lubin (French fragrance house since 1798) Eau de Parfum Idole. It is a real elixir of spices: rum absolute, doum palm, saffron, orange, frankincense, cumin, sugar cane and more. I always get fantastic comments when I wear Idole, both from women and men, which is a great tribute to this fragrance that can be worn by both. Opening notes are fairly strong, but the dry down is very sexy (so I’m told!).

‘I will also be delving into the selection of BOIS 1920 fragrances from Florence. We have a beautiful artisan leather box which contains eight of the original fragrances. This set is only available at Pulse of Perfumery in the UK (£149) or Barneys of New York ($380). The purity of these scents is quite incredible. You can really get carried away as they all (14 fragrances) smell amazing, intriguing and different. I have just started to wear Bois ORO. WOW. This is a really smokey, rich, warm woody juice that seems to last on my skin for ages. There are hints of Aoud oils, but the perfumer, Enzo Galardi, has blended this beautifully. It smells very expensive which is just as well at a price of £272 for a 100ml, but if you are looking for something very different and only available in four accounts in the UK, then it might be worth a try.

‘We encourage our customers to think about the seasonal changes when it comes to their perfume choice. A bit like your own wardrobe of clothes. The linen suits and flimsy cotton dresses are now being replaced with woolly hats, sheepskin coats and chunky jumpers. The heating gets turned up and so should your fragrances.’

Of course Christmas is the perfect time to explore fragrance. It is a fantastic gift (men disabuse yourself of the notion that if your other half has a few fragrance bottles on her dressing table she has “enough”. She never has enough). A beautifully be-ribboned box will always be a delightful gift.

Jo Malone Lifestyle Director Debbie Wild explains how to choose a Jo Malone fragrance for the festive period

‘The way you choose to wear your fragrance contributes to any first impression. Choosing which fragrance you will wear to a party can be made playful by pairing your outfit to the essence of a scent, finding a style match with a fragrant impact. As Pomegranate Noir was inspired by the LBD (little black dress), you may like to match this daring and enigmatic fragrance with a dress that embodies sophisticated glamour.

‘Velvet Rose & Oud is reminiscent of an embellished tailored suit worn with a silk blouse – the effect is magnetic and chic, a winning combination for any party, event or dinner. To really impress your hosts (and guarantee an invite to the next) lightly perfume your thank you note with the scent you wore on the night.’

Fragrance tips

1. Re think the same old perfume - it can be so ageing!

2. Have fun. Book a perfume journey at a department store or boutique

3. Take along a list of your favourite fragrances

4. Try fragrance “layering” using one scent over another to create a more personalised fragrance

5. Think in terms of the seasons when choosing perfumes

The trends

1. Androgynous.

Androgyny was big on the catwalk but unisex has been on the fragrance Zeitgeist ever since Calvin Klein launched CK One in 1994. What has changed is that fragrance is no longer being labelled “unisex”, it’s all down to whether they suit you and your personality.

Great for Androgyny: Tom Ford

2. Noir Fragrance

If you’re stuck for what to wear at night look for a fragrance with Noir, or black in the name.

New noirs: Opium Black, Noir d’Orient

3. Re-worked classics

OK so you’ve worn a particular perfume ever since you were bought it back in the 1990s and just can’t bear to cheat on it with something else. help is at hand. Many perfume houses have re-booted their most popular perfumes for a fresher approach.

Great reinventions: YSL Opium, Chanel

4. Niche fragrances

This is the opposite end of the re-worked classics trend for die- hard fashionistas who want to smell like no-one else. Maybe they are by a cutting edge label, or contain strange ingredients or they could be fragrances that contain offbeat ingredients.

Best for niche: Harvey Nichols

5. Celebrity fragrances

Why on earth anyone would be persuaded that Pharrell Williams is also a great “nose” is beyond me but the trend for following the fragrant trail left by pop stars and actors continues.

Best celeb fragrance: Pharrell’s Girl