Close your eyes and imagine a time when you have felt safe. Or free. Or sexy. You can probably see the colours around you and make out the contours of the shapes of the room or environment. You might feel the warmth of the fire or the cool of the breeze on your shoulders. Perhaps hear the music in the background, and the feel of the sand on your toes. But if you stop and focus on that oft neglected sense, you will find memories flooding back. Smell. Whether it’s the first baby talcum powder you used, your mum’s hand cream, cut grass, your first boyfriend’s aftershave, smell is a powerful way to transport ourselves to a different time, place, or emotion through its subliminal power.
We are told that all women have a ‘signature scent’ but with so many perfumes available, new launches every week, and every variety of fruit and flower being harnessed for our beauty purposes, the choice is, literally, dizzying. So we’re pleased to have some expert help from The Perfume Studio in our quest to not only find our perfect scent, but make it for ourselves.
Sat in the Hilton Park Lane, drinking champagne and chatting with around thirty other women (The Perfume Studio do create aftershaves, but the majority of clientele are women), we are taken through the 18 perfume blends (created by master perfumer Francois) by our consultant Warren. We will mix these to make our favoured scent, bottle it to take home (and reorder at the touch of a button should we wish to).
This is more than just a sniff test – the complex layering of lingering base, rounded middle and immediate top notes is explained to us, and we quickly become attuned as to whether we prefer the floral scents, woody notes, or something more fruity. We’re also surprised. My friend mixes an ocean breeze with a fruity peach to masterful effect, and despite initially loathing the woodiness of one option, I discover that in the right proportions it creates a subtle and lingering warmth in my final fragrance. Different scents are reminiscent of certain character traits. For example Amy loves the fruity watermelon and peach which suggests a bubbly and smiley disposition, and the ladies sitting opposite us burst into giggles as it is revealed that the peppery tones they favour tend to be preferred by those who also like things to be a little spicy in the sack.
I don’t know if this, which I name aroma, which reminds me so much of my grandfather’s garden that I name it Grandad’s Garden, will become my ‘signature scent.’ In fact I’m not sure that I want people to inhale a fresh spring garden and think of me, or vice versa. We’re so much more promiscuous with fashion and beauty choices these days that no one need stick to one. But I do know that this creative class cum science experiment cum girls afternoon out is a great way to explore and experiment.