Will Andrews, fragrance expert and creator of some of today’s most coveted perfumes, delivers his top notes on scent selection
There are so many options out there. Where should we start when choosing a fragrance? The choice of brand is significant—its style and general attitude must be a good fit for your personality. You should also aspire to the brand, as this will make you feel special every time you reach for the bottle.
How do I choose a scent? First, know the fragrance type that suits your skin best. You can find this out by sharing our favourite perfume with an in-store adviser. Then, explore other fragrances of the same type. It’s similar to liking a certain grape variety and trying wines from the same grape.
What are the general scent categories? In order of increasing richness and complexity, it’s citrus, aromatic, floral, woody, chypre and oriental. There is often a sub-family, such as the white floral found in Dolce & Gabbana Dolce or the floral-fruity in Dolce & Gabbana The One Essence.
Is there a best time to sample scents? Your nose is most sensitive when you are hungry, so sample scents just before mealtimes. And, of course, don’t wear other fragrances.
What’s your recommended sampling strategy? Start by spraying a paper blotter with each perfume and make a note of the name on each. Wait for 20 minutes and re-smell. This will give you a better idea of how the fragrance smells day to day. When you have found your favourites, apply to the backs of your hands and wrists; one fragrance on each location gives you four easy test points.
Any insider tips when scent-shopping? If your nose is tired due to smelling lots of different fragrances, bury your nose in the crook of your arm and inhale deeply. The smells of your skin or your clothing are both highly familiar baselines, and act as a reset button. Don't reach for the coffee beans.
How should we store our favourite perfume? Treat it like a fine wine. Direct sunlight, fluctuations in temperature and prolonged exposure to air all result in premature ageing of the perfume and will eventually lead to off-odours. So the bathroom windowsill is not an ideal storage place.
What are your thoughts on changing scents for seasons or occasions? Changing your perfume to match the seasons is a great way to refresh your outlook throughout the year. A new fragrance can act as a powerful emotional catalyst to help you move on to the next stage in your life.
For fragrances, do splash out on… A few fragrances that together form a “wardrobe” so that you have a specific scent for specific occasions. This will give you the confidence you need for any occasion; Gucci Bamboo is a nice light scent for work, while Dolce & Gabbana The One Essence is a fruity scent that’s great for a party.
Do not waste your money on… Super-luxe fragrances just because you think spending more will get you something better. Whether you like a fragrance or not is very personal. A high price point buys you exclusivity—not necessarily something that suits you.
Where should we spritz for optimum impact? Women going out for dinner who are wearing a skirt or dress can apply fragrance behind the knees. The fragrance will not be overwhelming at the dinner table, but will gently drift upwards during the course of the evening. Men can apply fragrance to their chest so that it rises gently from an open collar. There’s really no wrong place to apply fragrance—just avoid the eyes, the mouth and freshly shaven skin.