Women

Wanted: the most beautiful scent in the world

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What is perfume for it not to make you feel beautiful? Leyla Tabaksert goes in search of the perfect scent for a very special occasion – her wedding day

My earliest memory of fragrance is from the early 1980s; my mother hoarded pretty bottles of perfume like they were miniature sculptures and they adorned her dressing table accordingly. She didn’t have a ’signature’ scent as such (she still doesn’t). In fact, her favourite post-holiday, duty-free purchase was a box set of teeny perfumes (Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps, Cacharel’s Anais Anais and Estée Lauder’s Beautiful, all classics of the time, would be among them) and she would switch between them all.

But the point is, she wore one every, without fail. As I do now. For me, a spritz of scent is like the icing on my beauty regime cake that, though it’s got faster (read more efficient) since having a baby, always ends with fragrance. If I forget it, I genuinely feel odd, a bit like I’ve gone to work without brushing my hair. During the day I feel a little less attractive, too. And I’m not alone on this – 95% of us wear a fragrance solely because it makes us feel more beautiful.

 

I love the way a fragrance makes me feel (prettier, more confident, g rown-up, groomed), I love those moments when it unexpectedly appears again throughout the day and, if I’m honest, I love that other people might catch a hint of it or give me a compliment me on it. A man on a train once asked what perfume I was wearing and I felt euphoric for days.

In search of ‘the one’

‘Could channel No.5 be strict to boosting your attractiveness. According to a British survey of 3,000 women, one in ten reported meeting ‘the one’ wearing it’. and though it was created in 1921, the floral-aldehyde blend, which includes may rose, jasmine and ylang ylang has stood the top of time – it’s still one of the top five bestselling scents.

But as much as I love fragrance, like my mum, I’ve never dedicated myself to just one – though, naturally, I have a handful I truly love. However, since getting engaged last year, I’ve thought about ‘the one’ so much that I’m sure even Google sighed with relief when I stopped searching ‘wedding day fragrances’ and started auditioning my shortlist instead.

It’s not because I’ve gone off my usual favourites. More that, the one my husband-to-be loves on me and the one I couldn’t live without (Narciso Rodriguez’s woody floral, For Her) seems, well, too sexy for a day that’s dedicated to romance. One of my other long-term loves, Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, is incredibly pretty but just doesn’t feel beautiful enough. What I’m really after is The Most Beautiful Scent in the World.

Bridal bouquets

Back on my laptop, I’ve discovered a handful that, funnily enough, have been inspired by brides. Take the ever-classic Fleurissimo by Creed, commissioned especially for Grace Kelly’s wedding – a heritage like that means its on-going popularity is virtually guaranteed. Then there’s Vera Wang’s first and hugely popular fragrance, named after the wedding dress designer herself, which was created to capture ‘all of the emotion, dignity and joy of a wedding’. It makes sense. After all, just as Mrs Lauder herself said when deciding her fragrance ads for Beautiful should feature a bride, it’s the one moment a woman can count on being incontestably, irrefutably beautiful’.

But what gives these fragrances their incredible mood-boosting powers – and what will work for me? According to fragrance specialist Roja Dove, it’s fragrances crammed full of flowers that slot into the ‘beautiful’ band – but not just any old blooms. ‘Rose and Jasmine form one of the most beautiful combinations in perfumery and lie at the heart of nearly every typically beautiful scent,’ he says. ‘Rose on its own is very cool and can come across as aloof, and Jasmine can have too much oomph, but find a fragrance that combines them together (and lots of them) and it’ll make you feel beautiful.’

John Stephen, master perfumer of The Cotswold Perfumery says it’s all down to science. ‘The signals from your nose go to the base of your brain and into the limbic system (where your emotional centres are) rather than the cortex, the logical-thinking part of the brain that’s linked to your other senses.’ What does this have to do with fragrance? Well, everything. The emotional link means that perfume has a powerful effect on your mood; bringing about confidence, say, or making you feel beautiful.

Beauty in a bottle

So have I found the ‘most beautiful scent in the world?’ Not yet. According to Roja, it’s Houbigant’s Quelques Fleur that encapsulates beauty in a bottle. ‘It defined the floral accord (the building block of floral perfumes) when it was launched in 1912,’ he says. And for perfume expert and consultant Michael Donovan, it’s a handful of favourites: Creed’s Fleurissimo and the contemporary beauty of Illuminum’s White Gardenia Petals (Kate Middleton’s wedding-day scent).

For me, the brand new Live In Love by Oscar de La Renta comes pretty close, and the classic Lalique Fleur de Cristal is alluring, too, but I’m leaving my options open. And when I do find my wedding-worthy scent, I’m keeping quiet – after all, it’s one moment I want to be truly mine.

 

How to buy fragrance

 

Bombarded by samples and wrist spritzes every time you go shopping for fragrance? Here’s how to get it right…

1. Know your EDPs and Ts

Eau de parfums (EDPs) tend to be more intense and suit dark, winter nights, wheareas Eua de Toilettes (EDTs) are lighter, fresher scents suited to daytime.

2. Take your time

A fragrance takes a few minutes to develop, so wait five minutes before smelling it and leave the perfume sales area first – so you don’t confuse it with other scents lingering in the air.

3. Use fragrance blotters

If you’re trying more than one fragrance, spritz them onto the paper blotters provided and write the names on the back so you remember which is which

4. Leave it be

Rubbing your wrists together after you’ve applied your scent heats up the fragrance, making it evaporate more quickly. Instead, spray it on and then leave it to air-drry naturally.

5. Ask for samples

Most good brands will have mini-vials you can take away with you. Dab on the fragrance at different times of day to establish whether it really is your sort of scent

6. Get expert advice

Visit a perfum house to get one-on-one advice from a ‘nose.’ James Craven at perfumery Les Senteurs in London is one of the best.

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