I think it’s wonderful when a person has a signature fragrance, a perfume they have decided defines them and they stick to.
I have a dear friend in Paris who chose a Donna Karan scent way back in the Nineties and she still wears it. I have a male friend who wears a fragrance by Montblanc, very random choice, but it smells incredible on him.
Every time I see them, their perfume is an invisible reminder of the wonderful times we’ve spent together over the years, almost like an insider secret that reinforces a friendship.
Fragrance creates and jolts memories, it has a magical power. I don’t have a signature fragrance, as I tend to favour categories at various times; green, fresh scents in high summer, smoky, muskier versions in winter.
Perfume preferences are of course highly personal, but there are classic scents that have wide appeal, often because they are masterpieces.
Here are some cult fragrances that anyone would pleased to find under the Christmas tree – some old, some new, but all beautifully considered.
Chanel No 5
Created by Ernest Beaux in 1921, ostensibly the fifth option out of ten trial samples chosen by Mademoiselle Chanel herself, hence the name No 5, it is still one of most popular perfumes in the world, a clean and modern scent without a hint old lady mustiness. The utter simplicity and elegance of the bottle alone can’t be improved upon, it has icon status in the perfume world.
Le Labo Santal 33
Happily for them, cool cult brand Le Labo created a modern classic with Santal 33, a scent beloved in the fashion world, and loved by stylists who don’t really like fragrance, i.e., most of them. The unisex scent can be smelt everywhere there are influencers, especially the Byron/Bondi chai latte crowd, a soft, smoky fragrance with notes of violet, cardamom, iris, cedarwood, leather and sandalwood.
Narcisco Rodriquez for Her
Make sure it is the original Narciso Rodriguez Eau De Toilette For Her EDT in the black bottle (there are other variations in pink bottles, which is confusing) but this fragrance will literally make people chase you down the street to ask what you are wearing, it is so maddeningly intoxicating. If that’s what you’re after.
It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. The best-selling men’s fragrance in the history of the House of Creed, Aventus has notes of lemon, pink pepper, apple bergamot, blackcurrant, pineapple, jasmine, patchouli, cedarwood, oakmoss, musk … an almost edible concoction that is apparently Gordon Ramsay’s favourite scent – fun fact.
Byredo Gypsy Water
Another cult fragrance, this woody unisex scent is Byredo’s most famous and most Instagrammed perfume. A blend of bergamot, lemon, pepper, juniper berries, incense, pine needles, amber, vanilla, and sandalwood, the unique recipe has proved to be a worldwide hit.
Hermes Eau d’orange verte Eau de cologne
The insider favourite of every understated style arbiter and Hermes’ first cologne, with tangy, fresh notes of orange, mint and moss, it is, paradoxically, simple and complex, a true classic.