Top secret

Like it or not, looks are important in our society.  How we present ourselves is something we are judged on regularly, often without being aware that it’s happening.  Whilst I don’t consider myself to be an expert on looking good, I am fascinated by the beauty industry – not just the products it creates, but how it operates and sells to both women and men.

My own day to day routine is erratic at best: like many women, I’m sure, I tend to trowel on a greater degree of makeup on a special occasion, or if I’m feeling insecure or tired, to cover a multitude of sins (or attempt to).  In terms of skincare, I’m even worse: I’m very much blessed with naturally clear skin, which I am eternally grateful for, but I still neglect it – I always take any makeup I have chosen to wear off at night, but I don’t have an official cleansing routine.  I use moisturiser when I feel I need to, but apart from that, I’m pretty laissez faire.

I can confidently face the world – whether it’s in pursuit of a pint of milk or meeting friends for lunch – without a trace of makeup, but I feel naked if I’ve left the house without applying any fragrance.  I adore perfume – the ritual of choosing it, the psychology of memories it creates, and the joy of wearing it.

I’m a self-confessed fragrance snob, and it can take a lot to win me over.  I wear a handful of fragrances on a day to day basis, with even fewer in my armoury for special occasions.  These are the scents which rule my life:

  • Songes, by Annick Goutal – this fragrance holds a special place in my heart due to the experience of coming across it.  I read about Les Senteurs years ago in a magazine, and set my heart on a trip there someday.  I visited the shop on my birthday two years ago, and spent a memorable couple of hours trying on lots of fragrances; my arms were covered in different scents and I was in heaven.  We went for lunch so that I could allow the perfumes to settle, and when I returned to the shop, I left with a bottle of Songes as a birthday gift.  It’s a stunning scent, one I choose when I want to feel as if any ordinary day is my birthday, and I always receive compliments on it
  • Vera Wang for Women – a fragrance which has endured.  Wang’s first fragrance for women has been followed by many but, in my opinion, she got it spot on first time.  I was 15 when this perfume launched, and that possibly played a part in why I fell for it so hard.  It’s dreamy and romantic, just like Wang’s gowns.  I wear it sparingly, because for a long time there were so many Wang follow-up fragrances around that I could not find this one.  It still retails, which makes me think that I can’t be the only one to think that the original is the best
  • Miss Charming, by Juliette Has A Gun – I love telling people that I’m wearing this when I’m asked.  This is a truly artisan brand, and again the first in a collection (I’m definitely a love-at-first-fragrance girl!).  In some ways, I feel like this brand was created for me: I adore the packaging, it’s easy to wear and it suits my personality.  I’m currently in serious danger of over-wearing this fragrance, so have eased off my use of it lately.  It no longer strikes me as it once did when I apply it, so Miss Charming and I are taking a break from each other, to ensure that our beautiful relationship endures
  • Chance, by Chanel – another fragrance which now has a few little siblings, Chance grabbed me and didn’t let go.  I was slightly put off this fragrance for a little while when my Mum also decided she liked it, but she has relinquished her grip on it.  I find Chance easy to wear, and can enjoy it day after day
  • Eternity Moment, by Calvin Klein – this perfume is also a stalwart of my collection.  It has endured when others have fallen by the wayside, a failsafe.  As with the others, it is easy to wear; where Miss Charming and Songes are distinctive, quite loud fragrances, I find Eternity Moment to be far more subtle

Those which have been relegated to the fragrance graveyard, but which once ruled my life:

  • Addict, by Dior – one of my first forays into designer fragrance was Addict, and the only reason I no longer wear it is that I ran out, it was the wrong time of year to replace it directly and I fell for something else.  Addict is one of the few fragrances which I have restricted to seasonal use.  To me, it’s very wintry; heavy, smoky, woody and spicy, the epitome of a Christmas perfume.  I’d love to smell it again, because I’m sure it’d take me back to a certain place
  • Light Blue, by Dolce and Gabbana – I was surprised to fall out with this fragrance.  Part of the Addict-era, I wore Light Blue frequently and adored it.  I found a bottle last year (which is part of the problem) which had clearly gone off, and I waved the fragrance goodbye.  Maybe one day I’ll love it again, but for now I’ve moved on
  • Lovely, by Sarah Jessica Parker – celebrity fragrances are much-maligned, but SJP’s first effort was popular in the press.  I enjoyed it too, and wore it regularly in my mid to late teens.  As with Light Blue, something else stole my nose’s heart and I left Lovely behind

The interesting thing for me here is that each and every one of these perfumes is a floral variant!  I was surprised by Addict, as I remember it being very musky and heady, but I am not shocked at the others being from one category – it’s clear I have a type!  If you’re into floral fragrances, give at least one of these a try.

My perfumes lift my mood, make me feel better about myself and walk differently.  I love how they change and develop as they cling to my clothes, bloom on my skin and give me a different waft throughout the day.  It’s a brilliant feeling when the answer to the question, “What’s that lovely smell?” is, “Oh, it’s my perfume”.  But one of the best moments is extracting a scarf from a long-forgotten hidey hole, draping it around my neck and having the aroma of one of my favourite scents transport me back to a happy memory.

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4 thoughts on “Top secret

  1. What surprises me is how often people recognise the cologne you’re wearing – my girlfriend bought me 1 Million by Paco Rabanne for Christmas and plenty know what it is instantly.

    Also, lasts ages – wear it most days and only 1/4 of a bottle down!

    • Of all the posts which might compel you to comment, I wouldn’t have picked this one! Good quality for fragrance is indeed good value for money. They do go bad after a certain length of time though (see my comment about Light Blue above). And yes, it’s interesting that some fragrances are so instantly recognisable, especially given that, due to the nature of our bodies, fragrances smell different depending on who is wearing them. I wonder what it is that makes them recognisable, whether it’s that they are so commonly used, or that they’re incredibly distinctive. Either way, it’s very clever.

  2. Pingback: Can you keep a (beauty) secret? | Kicking On

  3. Pingback: One way of looking at it | Kicking On

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