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TAILORING THE INTANGIBLE WITH SOME OF THE BEST PERFUME HOUSES IN THE WORLD.
There is a mysterious power to our sense of smell – scents can, in an instant, transport us back to childhood, remind us of people or places, or even evoke an unexpected emotional response. When it comes to choosing a fragrance, it is usually a case of trial and error, sampling a range of perfumes to find the one that best captures our preferences, from powdery to herbaceous and heady to delicate. But for those who want to take their signature scent one step further, a growing number of perfumers are offering customers the opportunity to create a bespoke fragrance – a scent that defines who you are and the kind of response you would like to evoke in others. Custom fragrances have been around for hundreds of years. Paris-based British perfumer House of Creed, for example, has crafted perfumes for individuals since Tailoring the intangible A bespoke scent is the ultimate expression of personal style. the 18th century. Now, perfume houses around the world, including Fragonard in Paris and Grasse, Goest Perfumes in Los Angeles, and Floris in London, all offer bespoke options.
Penhaligon’s, founded in the late 1860s by William Henry Penhaligon, a Cornish barber became court barber and perfumer to Queen Victoria, recently elevated bespoke perfume to the level of couture. Alberto Morillas, the nose behind some of the world’s most recognisable scents – from Calvin Klein’s CK One and Tommy Hilfiger’s Tommy to Marc Jacobs’ Daisy – will, for £35,000 (S$62,000) or more, create a truly one-of-a-kind fragrance. The formula, of course, will remain a secret that’s kept under lock and key at Penhaligon’s until it’s reordered on demand. Clients are assured that it will never be replicated.
“A bespoke perfume expresses an individual’s uniqueness in terms of personality and mood,” says Angel Cheung, a Hong Kong-based aromatherapist, who studied the art of perfumery in Grasse, the French town where Chanel No. 5 was created. “The experience is highly personalised; nothing like the traditional purchase of branded perfumes at a store.” Cheung now runs Intime Artisan de Parfum, a perfume studio where she offers group and private perfume-making sessions. Participants intuitively choose their favourite scents from a range of 32 unlabelled blue bottles divided into top, middle, and base notes. Then she provides a personality analysis based on the selection and creates a perfume to match. “Most of my customers tell me the personality analysis based on their ingredient selection is spot on, and, more amazingly, the fragrance blend I create from that evokes many memories for them,” she says. Cheung’s intimate interaction with customers revealed that people’s scent choices often do not match gender expectations. “The market tends to stereotype certain perfume profiles based on gender, such as floral for women and aromatic or aquatic for men. But from my experience, many men actually prefer floral notes to herbal or spicy scents under blind testing, while some women look for woody and spicy notes. I think this might be one of the reasons why mainstream perfumes are losing a share to niche brands. People no longer want to be stereotyped by their fragrance choices.” Indeed, for perfume aficionados, bespoking a fragrance is an opportunity to create a personal brand, and be identified by a specific aroma that defines their unique personality and style. With so many possibilities on what you can achieve, why wear what everyone else is wearing when you can create a perfume that reflects exactly who you are?