Our “So-scent-sational” guide to buying fragrance for gifts
If you’re thinking about buying perfume as a prezzie, trying to assess what someone else will like, let alone predict how it smells on her skin, can be pretty tricky.
Many of us guess at other people’s preferences using the visual imagery in the ads and on the packaging, or occasionally as a result of a celebrity name attached to it. But there’s a better, more accurate way to gauge it, which is by selecting a fragrance from the same perfume ‘family’ that she already likes.
If you know how to tell your chypres from your aldehydes, you’re well on the way to doing this without help, but if you’re not particularly au fait with perfume categories, a quick trip to your nearest branch of The Perfume Shop is a handy way around the issue. That’s because staff have access to a special index that not only identifies to which perfume group your giftee’s other favoured fragrances belong, but recommends other perfumes with similar characteristics.
Alternatively, you can also check out FR.eD, the Fragrance Editor at The Perfume Society, which suggests six fragrances based on a perfume you already wear. Or – easier still – here’s SoSensational’s own mini version.
She already likes:
*Chanel No5, £62, a soft floral aldehyde with a smooth, balanced blend of iris, rose, jasmine and amber
Worth considering: Hermes 24 Faubourg; YSL Rive Gauche and Lanvin Arpege.
*Estee Lauder Youth Dew, from £29, a bold, sexy, floral-oriental with jasmine and spices that originally started out as a strong bath/body oil
Worth considering: YSL Opium, Tom Ford Black Orchid and Thierry Mugler Alien.
*Jean Paul Gaultier Classique, from £58.50, a rich floral bouquet featuring orange-blossom, ylang-ylang and iris with hints of ginger and amber, but without the spicy headiness of big oriental blends. Think of it as seductive rather than all-out sexy
Worth considering: J.Lo Glow, Jean Patou Joy and Marc Jacobs Decadence.
*Chloe Eau de Toilette, from £42, a simpler floral based on vibrant red roses with hints of freesia; it’s elegant and feminine, and never overpowering
Worth considering: Marc Jacobs Daisy, L’Occitane Orchidee, and Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne.
*Guerlain Mitsouko, from £59.50, part of the chypre category which includes floral notes but drier and more aromatic thanks to the presence of wood and mosses. This classic, which includes oakmoss, cinnamon and amber, along with rose and lilac, is undeniably sensual
Worth considering: Malin & Goetz Rum Tonic, Femme by Rochas and Estee Lauder Knowing.
*4711 Original Eau de Cologne, from £6.49, is the archetypal unisex cologne. Best defined as a citrus aromatic, it’s ideal for those who prefer fresher, greener, marine scents that aren’t overwhelmingly sweet, so in addition to its zesty lemon, lime and orange base, 4711 features basil, lily, cedar and patchouli.
Worth considering: other citrus scents such as O de Lancome (zesty, fresh and dazzling in summer); green fragrances, such as Balmain’s Vent Vert (lime and basil with green grassy notes) and marine blends such as L’Eau D’Issey (defined as an aquatic floral with melon, lotus and rose).
Finally, if you think your giftee may derive more pleasure from making her own fragrance, Penhaligon’s offers a choice of personalised services. At the top end is a fully bespoke service in Harrods Salon de Parfums, complete with an international Master Perfumer who’ll literally fly in especially for you, which partly explains why the initial formula costs at least £35,000! (Think of it as couture fragrance.) Considerably more affordable at around £300-£425 is their customised perfume service which provides a choice of bases to which you then add special essences to personalise it. Lastly, the brand also provides a Fragrance Profiling Service which assesses personal tastes, memories and associations in order to suggest which existing Penhaligon’s scents (priced from £72) are best suited to you. It can be done over a cup of tea or glass of bubbly in one of their boutiques, or online at penhaligons.com so you can do-over over and over again. And it’s not just fun – it’s free!
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