Scents and Sensibility
Here’s a look at the scents and perfumes that have inspired some of my favourite memories.
Just like interior design, your favourite scents and your choice of personal fragrance should be signatures of your personality and tell a great story. So when the fragrance connoisseurs at The Whale and the Rose asked me to share my opinion about perfume, I happily obliged. Have a read!
What is your favourite scent memory of childhood?
Peonies growing in my mom’s garden—still my favourite to this day! And also, the scent that wafted out of my mom’s closet every time I opened the heavy mirrored doors. It wasn’t a specific single fragrance (though I remember that in those days she wore a lot of different Dior fragrances).
What was the first fragrance you bought yourself and why did you buy it?
The first time I wore a fragrance was in Grade 3. At lunch I decided to spritz on some Miss Dior, then returned to class and was soooo embarrassed when everyone noticed and asked why I was wearing perfume (which, I of course vehemently denied…..). The first fragrance I bought was Perry Ellis. Why? Because I loved his designs (we sewed from his patterns); I was obsessed with his signature, and the fragrance was fresh and distinct (and not too grown up for a teenager). If only I could still get it today.
What makes you notice a fragrance?
Unfortunately the most noticeable fragrances aren’t always the best. I am drawn to fragrances that are subtle and natural-smelling instead of seeming overpowering and manufactured.
How do you scent your own home?
I spray perfume in our room every time I make the bed and keep fresh flowers in the house whenever possible, and I like to have a scented candle or diffuser in the front hall and in the powder room.
What does your house smell like?
Royalty by Tom Dixon and peonies or lilies whenever possible.
What does your favourite fragrance say about your personality?
Acqua Di Parma Magnolia Nobile is my hands-down all-time favourite. Based on the magnolia trees that line Lake Como, it is crisp, classic, timeless and elegant, and well-suited to every day. Of course I’d love to consider my sense of style to fall into the same category (who wouldn’t?) and it’s not too girly, fruity or musky. It appeals to me because it’s not an instantly recognizable mass market scent and I get lots of compliments when I wear it.
What maternal figure has influenced you most in your attitude to perfume?
My mom—her scarves, coats and blouses always smelled wonderful. Over the years, we’ve had similar taste in fragrances and shared everything from Paris by YSL and First by Van Cleef and Arpels to our mutual favourite K de Krizia (another one they sadly discontinued).
Who is the best smelling person you’ve ever met?
Nothing smells better than a freshly bathed baby! Thinking about those early days with our little girls brings back such happy memories.
How many fragrances do you regularly wear?
If you could bottle the scent of a favourite place/ memory/ moment what would it be?
I remember being in France with Alexander (my husband) the year we were married and walking past walls of night-blooming jasmine on a warm June evening. While I have lots of scent memories with happy sentimental elements, that single experience stands out—and our youngest daughter’s middle name is Jasmine.
Favourite flower to scent your home with?
Peonies, lilacs, lilies
What fragrance wisdom do you want to pass on to your kids?
Find the one that suits you; don’t wear what everyone else is wearing, and know the difference between enough and too much.
How important is fragrance to your life?
I don’t leave the house without it and keep it in my purse so I’m never caught feeling underdressed. It’s not the last thing I put on (I like to spray it before I get dressed so it also scents my clothes), but I don’t feel any outfit is complete without it.
All this talk of scent makes me think it’s time to reapply.