Like for many others, I find the holidays the perfect time to restock on my favourite fragrances.
Whether it’s Viktor&Rolf’s Flowerbomb, or Thierry Mugler’s ALIEN, the one thing that is almost guaranteed to be on my Christmas list is my current favourite perfume. During British Beauty Week, I wore Lancôme’s La Nuit Trésor, a scent which I’ve been wearing for a couple of years now; it started conversations with my colleagues about knowing where they could find me in Floral Street, as they could identify where in a room with 60 others I was, based solely on the presence of my perfume. But I have found myself wondering, at twenty-two, is this my ‘signature scent’? Or better yet, does the notion of a ‘signature scent’ still exist?
Alice du Parcq, Fragrance Writer and Presenter, explains that “growing up many of us remember our parents wearing one single ‘signature’ scent (or perhaps three or four over the course of their lives worn for dedicated lengths of time), and that’s probably because the choice on offer was quite limited compared to today. At the time brands launched new fragrances only sporadically, and perfumers had months (even years!) to develop one single scent. Therefore we’re subliminally steered to think we should have one signature scent because that’s what mum and gran did, which some people still like to do, however in today’s creative landscape there is far too much deliciousness out there and the vast majority of my audience that I interact with on social media doesn’t want to commit to just one! It would be like going to a museum and only looking at one single painting”.
The idea of a ‘signature scent’ is difficult to fathom in an age when there are new launches from perfumeries, beauty brands and your favourite celebrities, daily. Alice explains that she believes the “concept of ‘The One’ does still exist but in a gently morphed idea of ‘The Ones’, where fragrance lovers curate a wardrobe of perhaps six-to-ten special semi-signature fragrances that they rotate depending on their mood, the weather and the occasion”.
This made me think, do I have a collection on rotation, dependent on my mood? I’ve always linked scent with memories: from sneaking a spritz of my sister’s Britney Spears’ Circus Fantasy whilst at primary school, or opening a new bottle of Nina by Nina Ricci, after smelling a sample in that month’s British Vogue or ELLE magazine. I remember in the first few months of the pandemic, whilst I was still at University I had meetings, pitches, and interviews, where, despite being at home behind a computer, I would always spray myself with my perfume. My relationship with fragrance is one which revolves around confidence and self-esteem: I know that if I smell good, I will feel and do good too.
Many of us have seen the launch of new perfumes and scents from our homes through digital media. This has led to some questioning how could they buy something which they don’t know if they like the smell of? I suppose the question is somewhat similar to “how can I buy a coat without knowing what the fabric feels like?” The success of online shopping somewhat relies on the copywriter, who pens the description of the product or service you’re purchasing.
Just this month Billie Eilish launched ‘Eilish Fragrance’, a scent the singer describes as her “favourite smell in the world”. The fragrance was teased by Eilish to her 96.2million followers on Instagram, with a picture of 19-year-old with a caption that simply reading “you’ll know more tomorrow”; this was followed by a post announcing the fragrance as a scent that she’d “been chasing for years and years”. Having a social-first strategy clearly worked for Eilish as the debut fragrance has already sold out.
Moreover, with the tech innovations and adaptations taking place within the fragrance industry, perhaps ‘blind’ buying is less risky than previously thought. In September of this year, Firmenich launched ‘Scentmate’ to the UK market. Scentmate is set to revolutionise the fragrance industry with its AI-enabled platform, based on 50 years of consumer insights data. It’s purpose is to simplify and speed up the process of obtaining a winning fragrance; Scentmate matches their clients with perfumers and experts who guide them throughout the evaluation process to obtain the best fragrance, fitted to win for a specific market and consumer. This could mean that your signature scent is waiting for you, formulated especially for you and your needs based on science and data.
Our collective renewed exploration of scent, together with the easing of restrictions and all this entails, can be referenced as a reason behind the overall increase in fragrance sales, for this year to date fragrance is a driving force, with +16% year-on-year growth. Whether you like the idea of ‘blind’ buying to expand your fragrance wardrobe, or if you are happy with the sanctity of your ‘signature scent’, one thing is for certain, my current favourite perfume is already on my Christmas list.
“We’ve all just lived through the most frightening and stressful pandemic of our lifetime: I think we owe it to ourselves to spray the damn good stuff and feel bloody fabulous!!” – Alice du Parcq