How to pick one signature scent

I’ve been lucky enough to have tested a multitude of beautiful perfumes over the years. One of the very best perks of being a beauty editor, is that brands will send through their newest, full size fragrances for you to photograph and try out – because we all know you can’t really tell what they’re like from the blotter. You can only be certain a fragrance is for you once the oils and alcohol has settled into the warmth of your skin. Some were lovely but others were garish, gilded and opulently packaged and were sickly sweet and overpriced.

The  thing I’ve learnt from this beauty editor’s fortune is that a huge collection of fragrances is unnecessary, as the juice tends to expire before you’ve had a chance to finish it. And, a dressing table decked out with 20 fragrances defeats the quest of making more of less. So, as an experiment to myself, I decided to find my signature scent, that I would choose and use to its last drop.

Enter: Editions de Parfum by Frederic Malle. I first encountered this ‘publisher of scent’ in a department store in Johannesburg. The sales woman gently took me through a few of the scents, where the philosophy is that each perfumer was given carte blanche in terms of their creativity and what they wanted to create. Often, brands will taper a Perfumer’s ideas so that the fragrance becomes more commercially successful. Not Malle. Some of the most revered Perfumers have produced scents for the brand and often they have the most unusual end note or unique transformation on the skin.

Things I love about the brand

These fragrances are all packaged in a similar way so that the juice becomes the hero of the experience. The perfumer’s name appears on the bottle – something unheard of in commercial scents. They’re stored in refrigerated cabinets until purchase to protect the oils and each is sold in a black box, bound in a red slip, which when turned to the side looks just like a classic novel, stored on a shelf – A charming testament to the concept of Malle as the publisher and each perfumer as an author. The most important aspect of course is the actual fragrance in the bottle. Lys Mediterranee by Edouard Fletchier is like a light, summer drenched,  ocean breeze and Lipstick Rose by Ralf Schwieger, smells identical  to a bullet of powdery lipstick. The quality of ingredients used is the very best and you can simply tell after one whiff.

After deciding Malle’s brand ethos was exactly what I was after, I pondered long and hard over the one I wanted to become my own. And after many months, my then boyfriend, now husband, presented me with that iconic red box for Christmas. Inside? Portrait of a Lady by Dominique Ropion

This scent is evocative and it lasts forever on my skin, and one, small spritz of the floral ‘oriental rose’ completely lifts my spirits, every time. I wore it on my wedding day and its become my true favourite.

And, although it’s almost finished, Portrait of a Lady, is modest and doesn’t live on my dressing table. Rather, she lives inside her black box, tucked inside my makeup drawer to protect the very best part of it, the scent itself.

X Tessa

+ Photograph taken on my wedding day by Emma Jane Harbour from Lad & Lassgetting-ready-pre-portraits-007-emj_8495

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