3.21.2011

The Search for a New Signature Perfume



For the past 7 years I have worn Stella by Stella McCartney as my signature perfume. I have a lot of affinity for Stella- for me, the fresh rose fragrance is not too heavy and not too light , but à la Goldilocks and the three bears, just right. Over the years I have worn other fragrances- for special occasions or when going out in the evening, but Stella was the scent I chose to wear on my wedding day, and, subsequently most every other day of my adult life.

Then this Christmas we had some house guests- my brother-in-law and his new girlfriend came to stay with us for a week. This was my first time meeting his girlfriend- she is a nice woman and we hit it off. One day I went into the guest bathroom to change out the towels and freshen up their room. While doing so I spotted a bottle of perfume on the bathroom counter in amongst other cosmetics of my guest. I moved in closer and confirmed my suspicion. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend also wore Stella.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. I will not lie and say I wasn’t slightly disturbed. After all a perfume is a calling card of sorts, and a very personal one at that. Was there room for two people in the family to wear the same signature scent? I relayed my concerns to my cousin over the phone the next day. She said I was crazy and needed to calm down.

Now obviously I know that many other women wear Stella... it is a best selling scent after all! And I also know that the same perfume will not smell the same on different people- body chemistry can change the dynamic of the fragrance (Which is probably why I didn’t notice it on my brother-in-law’s girlfriend in the first place- I just thought she smelled good!)

Perhaps I was overreacting. Maybe I didn’t need to find a new signature scent… But the following morning when I went to adorn myself with the fragrance I paused while looking at the familiar deep purple bottle. I began to ruminate on the concept of a signature scent. Is one supposed to wear their signature scent until the day they die? Or does one change it up every decade when they analyze where they are in life? I picked Stella as my signature scent in my early 20s. My life is dramatically different now than it was back then. Does Stella aromatically encapsulate all that my new life has become?

Of that, I'm not sure... but I aim to find out!

Gradually over the next few months I will share with you my thoughts and notes on fragrances I’ve tried in the search for my new signature scent. Hopefully, at the end of this journey, I will find a new perfume to call my own.

What am I looking for? Something a bit more niche (less commercial) and unique. A scent that is moving and evocative. Not too bold, but rather something I could wear every day. A fragrance that my daughter will smell in 20 years time and think of me...

I would love to know… what is your signature scent… and is it time for a change?

Perfume flasks from ancient Rome, dating back to A.D. 200 - 400 are pictured above. They are featured at the Getty Villa in Malibu


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31 comments:

steppingmywaytobliss said...

I am currently wearing "Fracas" and "Chanel #5, Premiere". I love both of them but favor the "Fracas". I also got a perfume roll-on from L'Occitane the other day in a gift. I really like it but am not sure which one it is--the name isn't on the bottle. But I was impressed in general with their fragrances--ver fresh and simple smelling. Have fun shopping for your dream scent. xx Bliss

Pearl said...

I wore Chanel No. 5 for 20 years. Two years ago, I changed to Jo Malone's Vintage Gardenia, which is now what I wear every day. Never thought I'd be wearing gardenia fragrance, but I love it. On me, it is fresh and green and sophisticated.

Merveilleux said...

I would love a signature scent but the truth is, my boyfriend has been buying me perfume for the last 6 1/2 years and now I have so many bottles, I don't know what to do! My go to fragrance is something fruity so I love Escada's Summer Heat (which is now Taj Sunset).
I love how you called your cousin to discuss his girlfriend using the same scent! Too funny.
I did feel the same way a few years ago when I wore Pink Sugar a lot and a coworker came to work with the scent all over her! I stopped wearing it...
I wish I could have 1-3 bottles of perfume I love but since I've been gifted with quite the array (and how do you nonchalantly get rid of them??), I just hope my daughter will associate general fruity scents with me..

Esprit de la Vie said...

Interestingly enough the scent I always receive the most compliments when wearing is Stella and I've been wearing it for years. It's my go-to fragrance of sorts. Lately though I have being experimenting with different scents as well and one of my new favourites is Daisy by Marc Jacobs, it's a very light, floral scent and is perfect for daytime wear. Can't wait to read more about your quest to find a new scent!

LPC said...

I recently rediscovered perfume, after 30 years of abstinence. I fell for the By Kilian line - Rose Oudh, to be precise. But I also really like the solid perfumes by Lush. Lust is seriously jasmine, for example. I find I really prefer things with essential oils now. Every since my pregnancies I have been very sensitive to chemical smells.

Sarah said...

I've been wearing Chanel's Cristalle for over 20 years now and I rarely tire of it. I will occasionally walk under a spritz of Coco or slather on Elixir of Love body cream (Caswell-Massey)after a hot bath. I like fresh, sophisticated, and subtle. I'm not a lot of trouble, but I don't want people to smell me coming! (Going back to yesterday's post on keeping a sense of mystery...smell figures into that too.)

Trish said...

My signature scent has been Chanel #19 since it was introduced in 1971. Unfortunately it is only avaiable in Eau de Perfum and Eau de Toilette, and can be hard to find. I would like some of the real perfume again!

Tiffany said...

Oh, I've been wearing Chloe Narcisse for years - apparently the kids totally associate the scent with me. For evening I'll wear Coco. I'd love to find a new signature, but I think it requires the sort of time/dedication that I just can't muster at the moment.

LuxeBytes said...

Scent is an extremely personal thing, and I would've flipped out (privately, as you did) if someone swiped my Stella.

Oh.

Wait.

Someone DID swipe my Stella!

About eight years ago, I met my half-sister for the first time. She swiped my Stella, she swiped my all-black wardrobe, she swiped my hair cut and color. You name it, she swiped it. "Single White Female," minus the dog killing and boyfriend stealing. It made me extremely uncomfortable, especially since my sister, at the time, was not 15 (which would be understandable) but 31.

THIRTY-ONE.

And maybe I'm just a jerk now, but I no longer tell people exactly what I'm wearing as a consequence. I thank them for the compliment and say, "It's an old one by Guerlain." (Or Chanel or Serge Lutens or whatever.)

Scent is primal, sexual, maternal, PERSONAL. I completely understand your perspective, Jennifer, particularly when it involves your brother's girlfriend. She is perfectly innocent in this, of course, in a way my half-sister was not, but it would make me feel a little funny to know that I smell like my brother's partner.

Well, now you have the wonderful task of playing with perfume ahead of you!

Do consider some of the niche lines, like Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, L'Artisan, By Killian, Montale, etc. for your new scent. Barneys is excellent for such lines.

Reese said...

My everyday scents are Hermès Eau de Merveilles (about 75% of the time) or Chanel No. 19. For "occasions" I usually wear Chanel No. 5. I also adore several Guerlain scents, but Guerlain did some unfortunate re-formulating in recent years so I've been afraid to return to them, but I've really been missing my beloved Vol de Nuit, so maybe a trip to Neiman's is in order.

Perhaps you should try a new scent; you might be in a "seven year itch" phase. Put Stella away for awhile and try a few new things. You might decide Stella is still the scent for you. Happy hunting!

josephinetalepeddler said...

I love Coco Chanel. Shalimar and Daisy Marc Jacobs. For me I wouldn't worry at all if somebody else was wearing them. Obviously millions of people already are:) You could always try blending your own from oils and develop something totally YOU. I have never tried Stella but I feel tempted to now. :) I love old classics when it comes to perfume but most of the time (unless you want to pay a mini-fortune) you have to deal with the fact that the most populur fragrances are being worn by others. xx

Beth - In My World... said...

I know exactly what you mean. I used to have a signature fragrance and everyone asked what it was. The everyone else starting wearing it! The nerve!

I have been wearing Chanel #5 Premiere and Chanel Mademoiselle (not simultaneously) although Premiere is my favorite. But sometimes when walking through Macy's I do get the urge to try something else...but then I just keep walking.

Fiona said...

I've always wanted to try an Annick Goutal fragrance. I think one of hers would make a divine signature perfume.

lady jicky said...

I could never stick to one scent but.... I have my old regulars and they are my signature Perfumes!!
Jicky of course , Mitsouko in the cold weather , Diorella in the heat , Infini for when I need to remember - it was my first scent and I got it as a gift for my 16th Birthday , it was what I wanted and my Mother bought it for me. I still love it. I wear Champs Elysee in spring and Nahema when I go out at night in summer.
As for your feelings when you noted your brothers girlfriend with YOUR Stella - I think that is normal and so - don't sweat it. If you do NOT like the girl then you must and you will change it . Otherwise - chill and see how you feel in time .

Diva said...

Well, I've always loved strong, bold scents. Calvin Klein's Obsession and Chanel's Allure were my go-to fragrances, and eventually I started wearing Dolce and Gabbana's The One, which became my signature scent. The One got too popular for my liking and I wanted something even stronger. When I'd visit my parent's house, I'd always rummage through my dad's cologne collection...the man has a crazy collection of nearly 100 colognes; he has Cartier, Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana, Jo Malone, Givenchy, Gaultier, Hermes, Prada, etc. Anyway, he had a bottle of YSL's Opium and I tried some and fell in love!!! Not only is it a classic, so it won't get discontinued like some past favorites of mine did, Oh, how I still miss my NOA, but I don't know a lot of men who wear it, let alone any women who wear it, so I don’t have to worry about someone else wearing my scent....well, except for the former French Vogue Editor Carine Roitfeld, but something tells me I don’t have to worry about running into her any time soon.

;-)

heatherskib said...

Have you considered a custom perfume? I did a custom journey with Sarah horowitz when I got married and found the only perfume my husband has ever liked on me.

Rebekah said...

Once I find my signature scent, I always seem to find another one that intrigues me. I think it's a journey through your lifetime.

For the autumn/winter, I like Prada and Chanel No. 5. For special occassions in the winter, I like Jo Malone's pomegranate noir.

For spring/summer, I wear Jo Malone's French Lime Blossom during the week, Nectarine on Saturdays, and Orange Blossom on Sundays. I've been trying out an Hermes fragrance (thank goodness for samples), too.

The classic Burberry fragrance was nice, too.

See, it's just so hard to choose!

yoga teacher said...

Because of my work, I wear very little scent, but at the end of every class I use a bit of lavender essential oil on my students. When I do wear it, I like Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien, but, as Reese put it, I had a seven-year itch and, on your recommendation, tried Stella. I like it a lot. But I'm missing my Hadrien.
I loved what you said about your daughter remembering your scent. When my 90-year old mother moved to assisted living last year, she gave me a beautiful heavy silk evening scarf. It smells just like she did when she was young and vibrant and in love and looked like Ingrid Bergman. I love it. She can be very difficult now, and that scent on her scarf reminds me that all of that is still part of her.
Finally, (sorry this is so long), but I love to read boisdejasmin.typepad.com. Lately she's been strictly reviewing, but she often includes beautiful photos, recipes, and memories, all driven by scent. You can look by name, scent note, maker, and more.

Sherry said...

I've always worn Cartier for evening and Amazing Grace by Philosophy for day. People stop me on the street when I'm wearing Amazing Grace. It's very fresh smelling. No one ever comments about my Cartier, but I feel fancier when I wear it. Lately, I've also been searching for a new scent. I tried Blvgari-Omnia Crystalline and loved it..only to find out I got a rash each time I used it. I tried Jo Malone, but I feel like they don't last very long on my body. Bond No. 9 has been good to me, but it's still not my fave. I love smelling good though so I'm going to keep searching. I loved reading the comments to see which ones I should try.

Julianne said...

I adore perfume. My favorites are Miss Dior ( not Miss Dior Cherie ) Soir De Lune by Sisley, 1000 by Jean Patou, and Diorella. The note I love is called Chypre. I don't think you are nuts at all concerning the Stella incident. Since you were looking for a new fragrance anyway, maybe it's a sign to step it up :-). I like to have scents that no one else wears, so I wear these that have to be bought elsewhere than where I live.

I really wanted to like the Annick Goutal scents because I love the bottles, but they were really all too sweet for me. I would love to try some Serge Lutens. Any suggestions? I also love Jo Malone but her scents have no staying power for the price. Wish she would remedy this. Fun post!

lady jicky said...

Julianne - if you adore the chypre range you MUST have a bottle of the classic chypre - Mitsouko!!

LuxeBytes said...

Hey J, I posted this in response to your comment on my blog, but I'll cross-post it here, too, so you don't miss it:

Jen, I was afraid after posting that comment I'd sound like a lunatic, but ... my SWF half-sister is, I think, nuttier than a squirrel turd. I did my best to take the high road and grin and bear it (as well as practice every other conciliatory cliche you can think of), but eventually my half-sister grew weary, I suspect, of the pervasive political incorrectness, bawdy humor, and booze at my house, and disappeared from my life! She is a very serious girl ... and I am so ... not.

LuxeBytes said...

This is from a perfume blog I read:

http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2011/03/frequent-questions-whats-perfume.html

Isn't that just too much?!

The Daily Connoisseur said...

I have so enjoyed reading what all of you wear as your signature scents! It is one of my favorite things to know about a person... In fact at the Oscars and other red carpet events I wish they would not only ask "Who are you wearing?" but "What fragrance are you wearing?" too!

Thank you for inspiring me with your creative and classic picks...

This will be a fun series- I'm looking forward to sharing with you my discoveries and hearing your own take on things...

And Luxebytes that is too funny about the Single White Female post on Perfume Shrine!

Love to you all- I hope you have a marvelous weekend xx

EmmaMary said...

Two scents that I don't see mentioned in any of the other comments are White Shoulders and Blue Grass. Both have been around for many years but don't seem as popular now, hence less chance of someone else wearing them!
If you want a truly unique signature scent, begin experimenting with essential oils to develop your own one of a kind scent. Make sure to work in very small batches and make careful notes so that when you hit on just the right one you will be able to duplicate it.

Trish said...

@EmmaMary-Bluegrass was the fragrance I wore for about 3 years, before I fell in love w/Chanel No 19. I really liked it, even though one classmate told me it reminded him of his mother!

Tony said...

Like LPC I also wear Rose Oudh from By Kilian - it's one of my "office scents" that I think are good for work. Other favorites are Rose Poivree by The Different Company (for nighttime things) and Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir (for school or PTA events). Love love love all three of these.

If you haven't made the acquaintance of The Perfumed Court, I highly recommend that you do. The company is made up of three women who sell decants of thousands of different fragrances in amounts as small as a sample vial. I've ordered probably two dozen samples in my own perfume search guilt-free since there's so little waste - of money or perfume - even if something isn't a hit. Joining their mailing list results in the occasional coupon code.

Tony said...

Oh, bother. I'm signed in as my husband and he's locked his laptop down. I'm Marsha and you can find me at hotwaterbath@gmail.com if you have any questions about The Perfumed Court!

Esprit de la Vie said...

Because I love your blog so much I want to award you the Versatile Blogger Award! Congratulations!! Please see my blog http://espritdelavie.blogspot.com/2011/03/versatile-blogger-award.html for all the details!!! Have a great day!!

http://espritdelavie.blogspot.com

Russian Chic said...

Perhaps you could discover your new fragrance among Creed’s signature scents.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Marsha- Thank you! I have used the Perfumed Court in the past and plan on it with various scents I can't get a hold of here...

Esprit de la Vie- I am honored- thank you for my award. It means a lot! xx

Russian Chic- I've already sampled one of Creed's scents- will write about it with the others. Thank you!

And Thank you all for giving such great feedback and comments xxxx

 
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