“A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.” ― Christian Dior
To me the one thing that a woman should never be without, is perfume. Perfume is the crowning glory of glamour. For most of my life, I have had a love affair with perfume. These days my dressing table is crammed full of a huge variety of scents from the timeless Chanel Number 5, through to a plethora of A lister and designer-endorsed perfumes. For me, scents evoke memories far more than photographs. A mere whiff of the Body Shop’s Dewberry can send me back to my student days, a hint of L’Aimant by Coty and I am back dancing in Sissie Smith’s studio: with Thierry Mugler’s Angel I am in Majorca being kissed by the sun on a caramel beach. Perfume can evoke an era, long-gone, complete with emotion and thought.
My mother used to keep her perfume hidden away in a drawer. It was Givenchy. In those days perfume was presented in large chemist style bottles. The wearer would use the bottle top as a dabber to place the perfume on the wrists and behind the ears. I can scarcely remember ever smelling the scent, as it was kept hidden away. It was something for the rare ‘special occasion’ such as dining at The Chard or going to a family party. My mother would have a special lavender dress and peep-a-toe shoes. She would wear her hair in a page boy style and complete the look with a tiny amount of Givenchy. Before she would go out, she would come in to my bedroom and let me smell the perfume. It smelt expensive, as though you had poured an oriental liquid gold on your skin, which just happened to smell both sweet and spicy.
I remember when my father bought her Chanel Number 5 and she found it too insipid after Givenchy. She decided to let me have it instead. When I smell that, I think of my ‘A’-levels and getting ready for university. My grandma loved to have the scent of rose or magnolia about her house in air fresheners or pot-pourri. Whenever I smell these scents in Marks and Spencer, I am transported back to her immaculate council house in the seventies or eighties.
My real obsession with perfume started in 1987 when I was a student. I happened to gain a Christmas job working in Debenhams in a fur outlet named ‘Sovereign Furs.’ It was such a friendly place to work. The ladies there were all over fifty and fussed over me as if I was their child. On the first day, they took me down to the ground floor perfume counters and made me choose a scent that I liked. I chose ‘Giorgio- Beverley Hills’. The reason for this, was that this was an era before anti-bacterial hand-washes. Before touching the furs, one had to coat one’s hands in perfume to kill off any bacteria. Giorgio smelt expensive. It was over thirty pounds a bottle in those days and yet nowadays it is almost half the price. It had a rich golden colour and if ever you want to go back to the height of the eighties, then give it a try. I loved the smell which seemed to evoke that California lifestyle, complete with sunshine and endless parties in pastel coloured-clothing, big hair and legwarmers.
From Giorgio I matured to Van Cleef and its Eau de Toilette. This perfume had a more earthy and oriental scent. It was hugely expensive in the early nineties and so I could only really afford a tiny amount on my wrist.
Over the years I have probably tried just about every single perfume and I always keep an eye out for new trends. I am currently into bergamot scented fragrances such as Narciso Rodrguez for her or Marks and Spencer’s Island Escape; a mix of bergamot and seasalt. Nowadays you can purchase some very reasonable smell-a-likes. Lidl do their Suddenly range which is very similar to some Chanel fragrances. There are also Milton Lloyd fragrances which can be purchased from Amazon. I find the cheaper ranges don’t seem to last as long but they are a good perfume to have around for days spent at home or if you just want to keep something in your gym locker.
If I had to choose my absolute favourite perfume, it would be Charlotte Tilbury Scent of A Dream. If ever I feel a little down, I will spray on a small amount and it makes me feel beautiful. It is a heady mix of Lemon, Peach and Black Pepper, Jasmine, Frankincense, Tuberose and Violet.
What is your favourite perfume? I’d love to hear your thoughts.