1. KNOW THE NOTES
There are four scent families – woody, fresh, floral and amber which can be a good way of distinguishing how a fragrance might smell without even taking the lid off. These can then be broken down into sub-categories, so within fresh you also have green, citrus or ozonic; within amber you have soft amber and woody amber; floral has subfamilies of fruity and soft floral while woody offsprings include mossy woods and dry woods. Although while these can be a really helpful starting point, don’t let them rule your decisions because one rose fragrance won’t smell like another and the way they’re blended with other notes will be the make or break moment – that would be like listening to a song’s rhythm without the melody.
There are also ‘layers’ of fragrance which are divided into top, middle and base. “These help lay out how a perfume is likely to develop over time and while the top and base notes can often win people over, we would recommend paying attention to the heart notes which we like to think as being the conductors of the perfume’s symphony,” says Ruth. Look to brands like Diptyqueand Tom Ford that always list the notes so you can be sure you understand which ingredients will be the most dominant in their fragrances.
2. DISCOVER THE BACK STORY
Another tactic to employ when you’re hunting out your next fragrance via the web is to read the story behind it says Ruth. “Don’t focus too much on the specific ingredients, because the story will tell you the meaning that the perfumer or brand is trying to convey.” Whether it’s conjuring up a feeling or capturing the essence of a destination, this will help you picture how the scent might smell. [copy]And while it might sound like a farfetched technique because scent is linked to the olfactory neurons in our brain which are directly linked to the limbic system – the part responsible for memories – if we know we love the smell of fresh figs because it transports us straight back to a holiday in the Mediterranean, you can be pretty sure you’ll connect with the scent.
Brands like Maison Margiela even take a ‘says what it does on the tin’ approach with their perfume names so you can understand exactly what you’re going to get in the bottle, for example ‘When the rain stops’, ‘Flower Market’ and ‘Under the Lemon Trees.’
3. UNDERSTAND THE BRAND
Talking of brands, every brand is likely to have its own trademark style when launching a scent. “Some brands tend towards more single note style fragrances, where they go ‘all in’ on a specific ingredient or fragrance family while other brands will opt for more complex structures of fragrance formulations, which could span several fragrance family sub-categories. These can feel slightly more mysterious and elusive,” continues Ruth.
To help introduce you to their style, many brands have now launched fragrance sampling sets. For example, Floral Street have a ‘Light and Bright’ and ‘Loud and Proud’ set alongside their ‘discovery’ set which includes eight of its bestsellers that you can acquaint yourself with before committing to a full size. Similarly, Acqua di Parma, Jo Loves and Escentric Molecules all have Selection Sets so you can get a feel for the brand. These are also a fantastic way to gain an insight into the language, branding and ethos of the brand.
Whether you want to choose your new fragrance by brand or by fragrance notes, the most important takeaway is that it’s a personal choice so don’t be guided by the most popular or talked about scent or notes. “If you go back in history, floral notes like rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and peony always played a huge role and were the lifeblood of classic fragrances but now tastes and preferences have evolved and hundreds of brands have come into existence that means perfume has become more personal,” says Ruth. “If you want a fragrance made only of certain notes, you just have to search for it and changes are it will be there.”
Here Are Some Of Our Current Favourites
There are thousands of fragrances available, so we decided to share our favourites from the likes of Tom Ford, Jo Loves and Floral Street, the latest brand to arrive at Space NK.
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