Fragrance

By Kim Taylor

“Pleasure is the flower that passes, remembrance, the lasting perfume” – Jean de Boufflers

Scent is one of our most personal aspects. We each have individual likes, dislikes, and outright aversions. It’s possible you’ve stood at a perfume counter somewhere in great anticipation with your hand wrapped around a gorgeous $125 bottle of perfume. You sprayed it. You inhaled deeply. As the aroma settled gently on your hair and clothes, you smiled…until you realized you were drenched in far too much musk, or too much rose, or that you were too spiced out. It would have been wonderful to scrape it off with a scouring brush, or plunge into a shower on the spot. Know your “perfume style” and you won’t ever be disappointed again.

Most perfumes are a mixture of these fragrance types: Citrus is mixed with spice, fruit is mixed with floral, woods are mixed with greens, and florals are mixed with greens. By learning which “base notes” you love, you can buy the right fragrance for you.

Madame Butterfly
Floral perfumes are the most popular, with rose and jasmine usually conscripted as crown jewels. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a perfume without at bit of floral. But floral scents differ, ranging from sweet-and-heady to barely there. If you like your fragrance signature to be a predominantly sweet and strong floral, then Madame Butterfly is your style, and you should seek out perfumes that contain gardenia, rose, tuberose, Turkish rose, honeysuckle, magnolia, lily, jasmine grandiflorum, hyacinth, jonquil, narcissus, freesia, acacia, wisteria, neroli, orchid, and ylang ylang. These are the salient floral scents for the woman who isn’t afraid to blossom. Deep floral examples: Michael Kors, Lola, Urban Decay Pistol, Vera Wang, Neiges by Lise Watier, Marc Jacobs Blush, Max Mara, Paradise by Alfred Sung, and Grand Amour by Annick Goutal

Enchanting Whisper
If you prefer your florals to be on the delicate side, you’re fragrance style is the Enchanting Whisper. Light, nuanced floral scents appeal most to you. It’s the concept of being understated. Look for perfumes with subtle flower scents like lily-of-the-valley/muguet, iris, violet, carnation, sweet william, geranium, purple freesia, verbena, lilac, white lilac, various lavenders, daffodil, tulip, pea, marigold, peony, heliotrope and mimosa. These are the scents for women who feel that less floral is more. Delicate floral examples: Birmane by Van Cleef & Arpels, Mariella Birani, Marc Jacobs, 24 Faubourg Eau Delicate by Hermes, 212 H20 by Carolina Herrera, and Paco Rabanne pour Elle, and Chanel No. 5.

Green Goddess in the Woods
Green Goddesses love the fresh “green” and inviting aroma of the great outdoors. They appreciate fragrances that contain spring-like notes of clover, cut grass, vetiver, dandelion, bamboo, eucalyptus, aloe, basil, cucumber, blue chamomile, linden, sage, anjelica, pine, rosemary, juniper berry, mint, and fern. This is a woman who will roll down a grassy hill and love every minute of it. Green fragrance examples include Petite Cherie by Annick Goutal, Sensi by Georgio Armani, Cartier Must, Calypso St. Barths The, Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca, and Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mentafolia.

Miss Pepper Spice
Miss Pepper Spice types think a peppery fragrance with a jolt keeps things interesting. If you agree, and want the emphasis to be on “pepper;” then look for warm fragrances that contain nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, caraway, and pink pepper. If spicy is most pleasing to your olfactory palette, then look for perfumes that contain anise, coriander, cardamom, Gaiac wood, ginger, cumin seed, frankincense, and ginger lily. Take note, Miss Pepper Spice always has something cooking. Examples of peppery fragrances are Georgio Armani Mania, Dior Higher Energy, and Bulgari Black. Spice-laden fragrances include Dior Addict, Stacked Style, Empress Lily, Guerlain Mitsouko, Dior Dune, and Yves St. Laurent’s classic Opium.

Forever Fruitful and the Citrus Splasher
Forever Fruitful femmes love the uplifting, tangy scent of pear, the lushly overripe smell of guava, passion fruit, and papaya. Raspberry/cassis, cherry, mandarin, pomegranate, pineapple, peach, plum, tangerine, blackberry, kiwi, Japanese yuzu, sweet blood orange, apple, green apple, mulberry, apricot, wild fig, raisin, and grape are also perfume additions that make fruitful types swoon. In the same vein, Citrus Splasher types revel in the crisp, air-cutting scent of citrus fruits like grapefruit, lime, bitter orange, bergamot, lime blossom, and lemon. Citrus Splashers like to feel refreshed, and who doesn’t? Examples of fruitful perfumes are Donna Karan’s Be Delicious, Ghost by Tanya Sarne, Carriere by Gendarme, Burberry Baby Touch, Baby Doll by Yves St. Laurent, Adrenaline Woman by Adidas, and examples of citrus scents are Jo Malone’s Grapefruit or Lime Blossom, Roger Gallet No. 29, and Demeter’s Mojito.

Wood Nymph
Woody Nymphs love to inhale the mossy earth, the primeval forest, and the aromatic heaviness of tree woods and musk. Fragrances most pleasing to the Wood Nymph include patchouli, various types of musk, amber, sandalwood, ginseng, cedar, tobacco, green chypre, cashmeran, balsam, benzoin, hay, aldehydes, sequoia, coffee, wormwood, white moss, teakwood, white tea, cashmere wood, cypress, rosewood, oak, leather, frankincense, and myrrh. Woods nymphs are the adventuresome souls who will smell everything. Examples of wood nymph perfumes are Prada, FCUK by French Connection, Kenneth Cole, Bambu by Weil Paris, Gucci Rush, and 2 Comme des Garcons Unisex.

Crisp ‘n’ Clean
If your fragrance type is Crisp ‘n’ Clean, then you cherish the aroma of clean sheets and pillowcases, freshly laundered clothing, the smell of an iron on cotton, baby powder on a newborn, and fluffy hot towels after a shower. If this sounds like you, look for fragrances with talc, juniper berry, bergamot, pea, a hint of crisp apple, and a top note of orange blossom. Examples of Crisp ‘n’ Clean perfumes are Randi Shinder’s Clean, Ultimate, and Provence, and the SCO Scent.

Honey Pie
Honey Pie types are usually neophyte fragrance users, or whimsical types who like to keep it sweet. Fragrance ingredients to look for if you like sweet-smelling aromas are Tahitian vanilla, vanilla bean, white chocolate, raison, peppermint, honey, coconut, cotton candy, caramel, brown sugar, sugar cane, and butterscotch. Usually honey pie types find their sugar fixes in lotions. Examples of this fragrance type are Fresh Lemon Sugar, Taste by Dessert Beauty, and Pink Sugar.

Mermaid
Watery fragrances evoking lily ponds, ocean yacht forays, and the sailing girl’s life appeal to the splashy mermaid. Look for fragrances that include oceanic musk, water lily, seaweed, coumarine, and liliam speciosum. Examples of watery fragrances are Calvin Klein Escape, Eau Pure by Caron, Demeter’s Kahala Hawaiin Surf, Davidoff’s Cool Water Woman, Dunhill’s Desire Blue, Philosophy’s Pure Grace, and L’eau par Kenzo.

Whether you’ve determined that you’re a Miss Pepper, a Mermaid, a Honey Pie, or a Wood Nymph, you can now check http://www.sephora.com or your favorite department store web site when a new fragrance emerges to see if the ingredients suit you – which is better than trial-and-possible-error on your skin. Ah, the sweet smell of success!

Originally published February 2005
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