I’ve always wanted to be one of those people with a signature scent. Someone that when another person smells that signature scent, they immediately think of me. It’s sexy, having a signature scent. I mean, scent is sexy anyway. Scent dictates whether we like something or not. A lot of people don’t like fondue – not because they don’t like the taste, but because it smells so pungent (and in my opinion, all cheese is delicious, no matter how it smells.)
Even biologically, we exude pheromones that smell a certain way based on our immune system. If somebody smells naturally good to you, it’s because they are biologically chemically different to you, which means your offspring have a better chance of survival. Sexy? Totally.
Long story short – I’ve tried a lot of perfumes in my time. I’ve been on the hunt for my signature scent for many, many years. And a lot of people have complimented me on how good I smell – but I just don’t feel like I’ve got it yet. There are many that have been good, but none have been perfect. I went through a phase of wearing Mugler’s Angel, and a school-mate leaned over, smiled at me lovingly, and told me I smelt like his mum. Yeah. Next.
Anyway, here are the perfumes that have come close. So, so close. But I’m still on the hunt…
Van & Arpels "California Rêverie"
If you ever dreamed of driving down the Pacific Highway, along the Californian coast, in a great Cadillac with the top down, and Brad Pitt was in the passenger seat – this is the perfume for you. Light, floral, with hints of citrus to make it chic, and honey to make it sweet, this perfume says, “I don’t try too hard, but I am naturally beautiful. I once went on a date with Ryan Reynolds, but I thought he was too loud for me. Once, the Prince of Monaco asked for my hand in marriage, but I’m too lowkey for that. Now, I live in the Malibu hills and am best friends with Dakota Johnson and Gwyneth Paltrow, but I also have a farmhouse in Tennessee where I visit my chickens when Malibu life gets too hectic for me. My drink of choice? Vodka with freshly squeezed lemon juice from the lemon tree in my backyard. I had it shipped all the way from Amalfi.”
Chanel "Bleu de Chanel"
Look, I know this is a men’s cologne, but it just smells so good. I honestly can’t resist men who wear this scent. Not in a weird way – I just can’t stop following them down the street with my nose in the air. Yes, okay, it's definitely weird.
Confident, deep, and intensely masculine, this smelled so good that I actually wore it for several months. Yes, I do know it’s a men’s cologne. Yes, I did get slightly quizzical compliments from men who were also wearing the same cologne. I like to think I was disarming.
I’m a huge sandalwood fan, and this perfume is like 80% sandalwood, so you can’t blame me for liking it. Also, having just read the description on Chanel’s website, I also like to think I’m that type of man.
“BLEU DE CHANEL is the fragrance of a man who refuses to be bound by rules. It reveals a character that asserts itself with independence and determination. The spirit of a man who chooses his destiny.” Love that for me.
Tom Ford "Fleur de Portofino"
‘Fleur de Portofino’ smells like warm afternoons floating on a small wooden boat topless in Sicilian waters with some hot Italian guy that speaks three words of English. The only way to communicate? Love. When the sun starts to go down, you’ll head back to town, say goodbye to your lover, change into a short little Missoni number, and head to a port-side restaurant where you can sit outside and laugh with your fabulous friends while eating trofie al pesto and drinking good wine under the moonlight. That’s what this perfume smells like. I love Tom Ford scents. I really do. My only gripe with them is that you put them on, and it lasts about 5 minutes. Such a downer when you’re imagining a full night under the Italian stars. Plus, 50ml costs you 250 US dollars. So there’s that.
Christian Dior "Eden-Roc"
I love Dior perfumes so much that I’m even going to write another article on the best perfumes in Dior’s signature range. Eden-Roc is an exclusive perfume that came out last year – an ode to the legendary hotel on the French Riviera, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Evocative of diving into the warm Mediterranean waters, this perfume honestly made me feel like I frequent Cannes Film Festival every year as a VIP. Light, delicate, subtle, the mineral and sea-salt notes work with the white floral and woody undertones to create an apt sensation of being on the beach on the French Riviera. The sticky pine trees; the sharp, jutting rocks you have to climb to get to the water; and the salt-dusted skin you get lying in the sun after a swim. This perfume? What a babe. I actually bought the larger 250ml size after smelling it for the first time, which is how you know it’s love.
Chanel "No. 5"
I want to love this perfume. I really, really do. So iconic; everybody and their uncle from Minnesota has heard of this perfume. However. It is really old. And I’m not just saying that because it was first released in 1921 – I’m saying it makes you smell mature. Like a very fancy, maybe slightly pompous, fifty-year-old who frequents design fairs. I wore it for a time – exclusively in the depths of winter thank you very much – but felt like rather than wearing the perfume, it instead wore me. And boy, could you smell me coming. In fact, I had several people mention that they knew I was around because they could smell Chanel No. 5 lingering in the hallways, which I introvertedly took as an affront to my character, considering I find people who dose themselves in perfume to be naff, and a little gauche (in my humble opinion). Do you have to wear prescription deodorant, or are you just going through the awkward first couple of weeks when you start a new natural deodorant? Wear this perfume. You will feel like you come from a long line of fabulously wealthy ancestors, and that you have an Upper East Side apartment in New York. But Chanel No. 5 will swirl in the nostrils of all that you meet, and those you just missed in the hallway. No awkward armpit smells detected.
Is it a great perfume? Yes. Is it for me? Very infrequently. If you’ve got a demanding personality and own an apartment on the Upper East Side (and maybe some horses), then this is the perfume for you.
P.S. Sorry Coco, this review of your iconic perfume is slightly criminal.
Hermès "Galop d'Hermès"
On the other side of the spectrum, I enjoyed this perfume because of how subtle and discreet it was. But by the end of the bottle, I didn’t re-purchase it, because well, perhaps it was just too discreet. A ying-yang of a perfume, the femininity of rose is balanced by the masculinity of leather, with notes of saffron to top it off. A warm perfume that melts into the skin, obvious only to whoever gets close enough to your neck to find out. A beautiful bottle reminiscent of a stirrup with a leather strap in Hermès orange, a real shoutout to the house’s history in equestrianism.
Beautiful, but delicate – I cannot fault this perfume, apart from the fact that it’s too quiet. I’m pretty sure I went from wearing Chanel No. 5 to this, and consequently got whiplash from one of Hermès’s leather riding crops.
Yves Saint Laurent "Cinéma"
You know when you’re young and there’s a family friend who’s just a little bit older than you, and somehow infinitely more cool? Anyway, my infinitely cool family friend used to wear this perfume, and me being a blatant copycat trying to emulate that effortlessly-cool-girl-air bought this perfume. And I loved it. Not just because it was the same perfume that she had (everybody knows that perfumes smell different on everybody else – Twilly de Hermès? Smells divine, but as soon as you put it on me… Thumbs down) but because as soon as I put it on, it literally made me smell like some tall, gorgeous French girl who wears short black sequinned dresses laughing while exiting le théatre that she had just been in to watch a show with her probably photographer-or-fiction-novel-writer friends. Yeah. That’s how cool I felt, and all it took was five spritzes of perfume. Confidence booster? Mais oui.
Somehow this scent smells wildly different on every person ever. I have literally chased someone down the street after they flounced past me in a bouquet of aromas, and when I asked what their perfume was? Glossier You. Coincidentally, I was also wearing it at the time. That’s how unique it smells.
I wore it to work every day for 3 months and at least twice a week I had a compliment from a co-worker. What was I wearing? Glossier You. I literally bought a bottle for my sister, and a week later I asked what perfume she was wearing because it smelt so delicious. Guess what perfume? Everybody now: Glossier You! The scent is so versatile – it’s floral without being too floral, fresh without being too fresh, heady without being too heady, and it changes depending on who’s wearing it. If you’re not sure what you want out of a perfume, or simply can’t decide, I highly recommend ordering a bottle of this. You can only get a tester if you order something else from Glossier – and they don’t sell in shops, only online, so it’s a bit tricky to try. However, out of everyone I know who has tried Glossier You, 0% have been unhappy with it, and about 75% have kept it on as their signature fragrance. What about me? Maybe I just like playing the field…