There is something so deliciously evocative about the scent of a perfume, wafting underneath your noise with the poise of a ballet trained dancer. The sweet bases notes intermingle with cinnamon and spice, lingering after hours in a musky cloud of delicious sensuality. But it is not just deliberately sensual or evocative, perfumes say a lot about the wearer, personalized to who we are as people, reflecting the interests that we have and the scents we find desirable. I always saw myself as someone who was attracted to a tropical sweet scent infused with pineapples, mangoes and guava’s, but much to my surprise when it came to making my own perfume with Buyagift and The Perfume Studio, I was pleasantly surprised at what I gravitated towards, a headier, more deliberate scent that bordered on masculinity, laced with double servings of spice. It was a scent that was so well suited to the bitter chill of winter, a feel good scent that would put a pep in my step and stave off the cold that was rampant in my bones. It would be a Christmas present worth shouting home about, a distillation of who I was in a bottle, a personalized scent made just for me, by me. And where better to enter the magical wizardry of perfume making than the glorious Kensignton Hilton in Shepherds Bush?
In the run up to Christmas, the hotel was swathed with festive decorations, a sprinkle of tinsel and mini Christmas figurines, welcoming us into their seasonal home. But as we were led into a small room, where our perfume experience would take place, we immediately felt at ease, in an intimate environment where we could talk and laugh, while making the perfumes that would best describe us. I called my perfume Faded Spring, a nod to not only my blog’s name but also evocative of the scent, how ‘winter’ is a spring without the florals, a ‘faded spring’ filled with berries, pine cones and frankincense delight. We toasted our glasses, filled to the brim with prosecco and gathered around mingling, as we listened to The Perfume Studio weave us into a narrative of magical intrigue, where the perfumes would dance in perfect harmony, watching as the whole world stood still while they sat centre stage.
We entered the secret underworld of scent as the ‘perfume stylist’ guided us through top notes, base notes and middle notes, teaching us how to ‘distinguish and differentiate’ between scents, to create a bespoke perfume that would be perfectly made for us. With coffee beans to smell between ‘scent samples’ we began with the base notes, a delicious range that varied from the earthier more virile scents of ‘mossy’ to the sweeter balsamic base, interlaced with a creamy delicious, gourmand blend of vanilla and explosions of chocolate while candied fruits complete the palette. Before our ‘perfume wizardry’ could begin, we started with a small talk on the history behind The Perfume Studio’s brand, where we not only learned the difference between natural ingredients and artificial alternatives-did you know that ‘musk’ was originally made with the glandular secretions from the musk deer?- but also the difference between ‘eau de toilette’ and eau de parfum, the latter of which would last longer and be priced accordingly because it had a higher concentration of ingredients. Helen, our perfume stylist for the day showed us 21 varying blends that were curated by master perfumer Francois Robert, featuring base notes like amber with oriental, opulent accord, middle notes like spicy drawing rich notes from aromatic ingredients like black pepper, and the top notes like citrus for a sparkly, zesty, acidic blend, that was refreshing as it was mouthwatering.
But what was interesting to learn prior to the perfume sample curation, was how Francois Robert’s grandfather created Chanel No 19, and how Francois himself worked with make up artist Charlotte Tilbury on her ‘Scent of a Dream’, showing that perfume has always run in the family, leading to The Perfume Studio’s success based on authenticity. Which is why The Perfume Studio’s ‘Make Your Own Perfume’ sessions are such an innovative idea because scent is ’emotive’ and should not be ‘something we can clone’ if we want to stand out from the crowd. After all as the perfume gods once said, ‘we lace ourselves before the day hoping to prompt a reaction from those who pass us in the street or cross us on the stair. We want to walk around shrouded in a light mist; one which is both unforgettable and impossible to succinctly define.’ We turned our attention back to perfume making, as the magic began, taking a trip down memory lane as each perfume brought out a different memory. There was the middle note of ‘Tonic Sport’ reminiscent of a fresh cool seashore that reminded me of childhood years down the beach in Sussex, as I would swim among the choppy waves, slipping through the water like a mermaid on her quest into the underwater kingdom. There was the top note of ‘spicy’ that hearkened back into teen nostalgia, spend drinking chai teas doused with ample cinnamon, while chickpea curry slipped down my hungry throat. And last but not least the gourmand took me back into my parents past in Madeira, a tropical, sweet scent laced with candy floss and caramel.
The time had come to ‘perfume for my life’, and as I sorted through all 21 scents, I found five that would make up the perfume that best described Faded Spring. There was a double serving of ‘spicy middle notes’ to bring some much needed warmth into winter, laced with black pepper, cardamom and nutmeg creating a warm and rich yet sweet gourmand blend. Interlinked with coriander and ginger, it was a warming perfume elegantly accompanied by a base note of Gourmand, a very sweet and fruity accord that opened with bergamot, sweet almond and bitter rhubarb.Delicately blended with warm florals and precious woods, the slight woodiness of the gourmand paired well with another middle note of tonic sport, which despite its name proved to be an ozonic and marine effect reminiscent of a fresh cool seashore while citrus and herbal notes added a refreshing shimmer, to the otherwise spice led scent. To round off the perfume selection, a top note of ‘fruity’ had sweet, mouth-watering bursts of fruit including guava and mango accentuated with a dash of pear, offset by a second top note of citrus which had a sparkling, fresh, zesty and energizing citrus blend rounded off with a touch of neroli. The overall effect was vastly different to the ‘tropical, sweet scents’ that I would normally procure but it was definitely sensual, a heady blend of festive spice and all things nice, with a dashing of bitter zest to create a deliciously refreshing scent. While the perfume I had made with The Perfume Studio would be a scent that would be dazzling all year round, it was the perfect antidote to the bitter chill that permeated the air, a festive hug, enveloping you in its ever-encompassing warmth.
To finish off our perfume making afternoon, we chose a 20 ml atomizer to match our scent, a delightful fuchsia pink bordering on burgundy that captured the spiciness of the scent perfectly. While our perfumes were being ‘curated’ we ended our afternoon tucking into an afternoon tea spread, served with a hot chocolate that was frosted with cream. The day had faded into night, and my day wasn’t over yet, but for now I relished the train ride over to my next destination, hands wrapped around a perfume that wafted gloriously into the inky darkness. And what a magical scent it was .
Have You Ever Made Your Own Perfume Before?
Please note I was invited to an afternoon tea and ‘Gold Perfume’ making day with Buyagift and The Perfume Studio but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by complimentary services.