When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously said 'Chanel No. 5'. Unfortunately my efforts to emulate the glamour puss have been thwarted by my children, who said I smelled like Granny. I hope they were referring to the fact my mum likes the same perfume as me, and that I don't smell like old ladies' wee! But the damage has been done - I ended up giving my mum the rest of my beloved bottle and had to seek out my own new favourite.
Today I'm welcoming Cassandra O'Leary, author of Heart Note, a Christmas Romcom Novella, to talk about her favourite perfumes. Buy the book here!
Discovering the Heart Note
Favourite Perfumes and Scents
Love is like a fine perfume… My interest in perfumes started many years ago when I worked as a ‘spritzer chick’ at a department store perfume counter.
Perfume and scent are closely tied to our emotions and memories. I’m sure most people reading this can recall a specific scent associated with their childhood home, mother, or maybe grandmother. [HA! - SEE ABOVE - Vikbat].
As an example, some of the scents I remember from my childhood might not sound that good mixed together, but they remind me of the place and the time, being a kid. Maybe a cooking smell (apple cake with cinnamon), freshly mown grass, the woody scent of pencil shavings, a perfume (Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds), the washing detergent still permeating clothes when you get them out of a drawer (lavender).
Perfumes are also made up of layers of ingredients, the top note, the middle note (or Heart Note) and base note. But they also interact with each person’s skin chemistry – one smells good on one person may completely change and smell horrible on someone else.
You need to try a perfume on your skin and let it unfold over time to discover the true essence. Fascinating!
My favourite perfumes
It’s hard to name only one or two perfumes that I love. For me, different scents evoke moods, seasons or remind me of a certain time in my life. When I started working on the perfume counter at a department store in my early twenties, I hadn’t worn much perfume apart from the cheapies from the discount stores.
But we were promoting the launch of Calvin Klein’s new perfumes such as Eternity, Escape and Obsession. A whole new world of evocative and layered scents opened up, and they were addictive. I loved collecting the perfume samples and trying the different varieties.
My favourite from this era was Eternity, and I still wear it sometimes today. It almost represents that time of my life now, when I was young and finding my place in the world. It’s a fresh floral, light and breezy.
Eternity by Calvin Klein
Scents of seduction
What’s a great scent to wear to feel sexy? Well, the answer can be as different as the people choosing the scent. Some will go for the heavier, spicier scents known as Orientals, with base notes of long-lasting ingredients. Opium or Shalimar come to mind.
When I worked for Yves Saint Laurent perfumes for a while, I fell in love with the heavier, richer, evocative and spicy scent of Opium. I’d wear this perfume when I dressed up in a little black dress for a dinner date in winter, but never in summer. This fragrance is too heavy and rich for summer, when it might seem over the top.
I love the fragrance, Dune by Christian Dior (and lots of other Dior perfumes). The following notes don’t quite describe the complexity of this perfume on the skin. It’s actually described as a floral oceanic scent and there’s a freshness to this scent that reminds me of summer at the beach.
Dune by Christian Dior
For an excellent resource on perfumes and their ingredients, I recommend visiting the website www.basenotes.net – lots of people have reviewed their favourite perfumes and it has full lists of ingredients too.
Thank you Cassandra!
I'm quite partial to Dior Addict, and Estee Lauder's Modern Muse. What's your favourite perfume? Let me know!