Few beauty products inspire the level of devotion that a signature scent can. So when L’Artisan’s delightfully smoky and sweet Tea For Two, which originally launched in 2000, was removed from sale in 2012, it wasn’t long before the beloved elixir started popping up on auction sites fetching exorbitant price tags. The boutique perfumer finally caved to incessant requests and 2014 heralded the scent’s triumphant return.
Bottle? Brand? Notes? A woman’s relationship with perfume has never been more complicated. Sara McLean investigates the intricacies of today’sfragrance tribes
act: the most likely place to catch a whiff of a woman’s perfume is also the least sexy: standing at an intersection waiting on the traffic lights. But
you only need those few seconds to learn a thing or two about her. In the same huddle there’s the young executive doused in Marc Jacobs Daisy (closeted free spirit), the new mum pushing a pram and leaving a trail of Dior J’adore (sophisticated old soul) and another woman rocking white culottes as her Byredo Gypsy Water wafts through the mix (she’s popular on Instagram).
In their 2009 book Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez reported that the most commonly asked question at the perfume counter is: “What scent drives men wild?” But it now goes beyond attracting someone simply with a lovely smell. Today, fragrance has the power to say just as much about a woman’s ethos as the labels she wears and the music she listens to. We’re aligning ourselves to the brand we want the world to see (and smell) us as.
With an influx of designer perfumes, celeb offerings and niche blends, there are more ways than ever to make scent part of your unique brand. Gucci’s latest, Bamboo, reflects its luxury status, with a bottle modelling the iconic bamboo synonymous with the fashion house’s high-end accessories. Purchasing the scent is buying into the perception of who the Gucci girl is, someone actress Gal Gadot embodied in the campaign. “On a beauty shoot there’s an idea to convey the focus is on how the woman looks and her attitude,” says Gadot. “With Gucci, it’s confidence and glamour.”
The quest to personify a brand is big business. Research by IBISWorld showed Australia’s online perfume and cosmetics sales expanded by nearly 20 per cent each year between 2009 and 2014, and were forecast to hit $259 million in 2015, proving consumers no longer linger over a blotter to buy scent. How a bottle looks styled in an Instagram snap is becoming just as important as how it smells on the skin. “Fragrance is more accessible,” says Erica Moore, fragrance evaluator for Fragrances Of The World. “It’s less common for people to have one signature scent reserved only for special occasions. This has seen the market expand.”
But ultimately the selection process still taps into personal preference. “Fragrance is emotive, it enhances certain elements of your personality,” says Celine Roux, fragrance director for Jo Malone London. “You don’t have to have one scent for life; just choose one to suit a particular mood on a particular day and if you still love it as it shifts and evolves on your skin, then you’ve found a good match.”
With thousands of bottles vying for your allegiance, finding your next match can be a daunting task. Use our guide to help spot your scent society.
The One Essence, $118 for 50ml, Dolce & Gabbana, 1800 651 146
From left: Rose Radiant Gold, 24K Brilliant Gold, White Luminous Gold, $110 each for 50ml, all Michael Kors, 1800 061 326