Find Your Scent Soul Mate
Is a signature fragrance—one that truly expresses who you are—actually sold in stores, or is it something far more elusive? Abby Ellin takes us on a journey.
“I’ve never been able to find and wear a perfume that’s totally
me. That’s because I have an almost nonexistent sense of smell—a condition called anosmia that affects nearly 2 million people in the US. It’s not fatal, but it is really annoying. Maybe I’ve just seen too many romantic films where a man becomes intoxicated by the scent of a woman, but I firmly believe that nothing expresses a woman’s
personality as much as her signature perfume. I’ve had to rely on the preferences of the men I’ve dated to help me make my choices. I’ve even consulted the nostrils of friends (and a few doormen!) to tell me if I’ve overdosed or required another spritz. But after my last relationship ended, I decided it was time to find a fragrance that fit me.
That’s where Sue Phillips—a New York–based ‘scentologist’, famous for her 11-question Scent Personality Test and customised fragrances that stem from it—came in. After quizzing me, I was told that my perfect scent fell in the fresh family (think citrus, grassy, and ozonic notes...a ka the smell after a rainstorm). Sue set out a tray of 18 bottles filled with blends of 15 to 20 different ingredients. Given my issue, I didn’t expect to smell a thing. Still, Sue prodded me on, until—miracle!—I was able to detect a faint whiff of four
individual blends: citrus, juniper, green, and balsamic. According to the science of aromatherapy and Sue’s extensive research, they all evoke easygoing, uplifting, and sprightly feelings... words that, I like to think, describe me. She blended them in a little glass bottle and handed it over. But at home, when I placed my nose against my wrist and inhaled... again, there was nothing. How was this possible?
According to my ENT specialist, Stacey Silvers, MD, we all have 12 cranial nerves in our brains. Most smells hit the first one, the olfactory nerve... and mine was damaged. But my fifth one worked. Its function was to detect strong smells
like those I picked up on during the session with Sue. However, once I sprayed the fragrance and the notes were
diffused into the air, they lost their potency. Now I buy perfume for different reasons: perhaps it’s the best-seller du jour, maybe I love the shape of the bottle. Whatever the reason, no-one can say there’s one scent that
screams me. What I wear to dinner tonight will likely be totally different than what I leave in my wake tomorrow. And really, that’s who I am: someone who is hard to pin down,
unpredictable, and thrives on changing the rules.”
6. Lemon Twist Always one to push boundaries, RiRi chose an unconventional citrus base that’s equal parts energising and sexy. Rihanna Rogue, ` 3,317 approx./ 75ml
7. Permanent Vacation The beachy mix of bergamot and coconut milk will help get you through the off- season. Maison Martin Margiela Replica in Beach Walk, ` 6,000 approx./ 100ml