Normal people that is, not a fledgling fume-nerd like myself. For, ever since I found myself engaged last February, I’ve been thinking about what perfume to wear with that dress. What scent is it that I want to be inextricably linked with what is meant to be, after all, one of the most memorable days of one’s life? I’ve got professionals to deal with my hair and makeup, so my wedding perfume really is the most personal of these decisions.
Two years ago, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Two years ago, I only owned three bottles of perfume: Acqua di Parma, a soapy-fresh intense cologne that I’ve loved since the first time I ever smelled it, as to me it is the scent of a big, handsome man fresh from a hot, massively sudsy (Imperial Leather, naturally) shower after tough game of rugby. But do I really want to be fantasising about Hugh Jackman on my wedding day? Probably not. So, if I was getting married back in 2010, my other choices would have been Cristalle by Chanel, which brings to mind tiny white flowers and the crisp greens of their stems on slightly damp spring days, which I’ve worn whenever I want to feel feminine or grownup. Being neither in reality, the fragrance has awesome powers as a disguise. My final choice in 2010 would have been by Aromatics Elixir by Clinique. That massive patchouli and rose hand-grenade of a fragrance that I wore with careless abandon throughout my twenties, and that I still wear far too much of even now. I like a perfume to be a perfume. Luckily for my groom-to-be, though, I’ve grown out of my love of Giorgio Beverly Hills ...
In 2010, however, like so many other people, I read Perfumes the A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, and my perfume life has been turned upside down as a result. From the book, I have begun to realise that not every single perfume on the market is a fruitycandyflossmusk pink stew, catering solely to celebrity-obsessed pre-teens as it so often seems. Inspired, I devoted most of 2011 to educating myself about perfume, sniffing everything and everything I could, and now that leaves me with my current dilemma. I have too much choice! So, how do I go about picking my wedding perfume?
Unconsciously, it seems, I’ve set myself some ground rules, and these are they:
Do not pick anything celebrity-endorsed. I don’t care how good the fragrance version of Kim Kardashian is (and it is so good that Madonna totally stole the idea for Truth or Dare, let’s face it), the thought of telling people I’m wearing KK on my most special of days gives me the heebie jeebies. As it does on most days, truth be told. I still wear it (and giggle) though.
Do not pick anything limited edition. Scent is memory, and there are going to be times when I’m going to want to smell like my wedding again, and, if that scent no longer exists, how would I be able to make it happen? Same thing goes for anything recently discontinued, so, however much I love (and I do) Jean Paul Gaultier Fleur du Male, another beauty with a soapy barbershop accord, it can never be.
And the corollary to that: Do not pick anything too mainstream. I really, really, really don’t want to smell like a million other women on my “big day”. What if, for example, another guest is wearing the same fragrance? I’m not entirely sure how I’d handle that one, to be honest. So, sorry Cristalle, and Aromatics Elixir, you’re off the list.
Also: Nothing too sweet and girly. I am neither of those things, I’m a big spiky 42 year old, and the idea of smelling like a fruity stew doesn’t appeal. Angel, whilst you’re not really a fruity stew, and I love you, especially in your new leather incarnation (who knew candyfloss and leather could be so sexy?) you’re off the list too.
Which reminds me: Nothing too sexy. Don’t want to get the guests all het up in the receiving line, now, do we? So, that leaves Absolue Pour le Soir, with its dripping honey and lingering sensuous resins (replete with just a hint of cat poo and cough drops) way, way out in the February cold. We’re honeymooning in Paris though, so it’ll get an outing there, I’m sure.
And finally: Nothing too challenging. Some non-mainstream fragrances need a few wears to figure them out. Do I really want my wedding guests thinking “what the hell is that?” after I hug them? Nuit de Tubereuse, this means you, a little bit. Whilst your creamy drydown is divine, you only get to it after a wander through a tropical swamp armed with only a sour mango for protection. Besides which, MrLippie doesn’t like you, and that makes me sad.
So where does that leave me? Ironically, my list of “must not’s” does, in fact leave me some options. After a misfire with my initial choice of Seville a L’aube, a fleshy take on orange blossom that I fell into love at first sniff with, and which MrL decided was too “heady and strong” (he’s a philistine, but I’m marrying him anyway, what can I say?), we went for a fragrance profiling at L’Artisan Perfumer. Eventually we managed to pick out the “his and hers” options of Timbuktu for him and Safran Troublant for me. The spiciness of Safran Troublant is just challenging, and “different”, enough without being too edgy, and the creamy milk and rice of the drydown isn’t so gourmand as to make it feel like I’ve spilled food on myself, as a few foody-fragrances are prone to do. And Timbuktu is a great flinty take on incense, with it not being too churchy, and yet somehow still “clean”, it suits MrL down to the ground, and, judging by the amount of times he’s worn it since, it’s a winner with him too.
So will these be our wedding fragrances? As yet, I don’t know. I’ve been following a policy of paying particular attention to the fragrances MrL spontaneously compliments, and adding those to a mental shortlist. Just the other day he declared that Plum by Mary Greenwell was “delicious”, which, indeed it is, and a great example of a modern fragrance which hasn’t been dumbed down for the masses. But then, there has been my tried and trusted combination of Serge Lutens Clair de Musc (a fragrance that made me so emotional when I first smelled it that I had to fight back tears in Selfridges, so strong were the memories of the various female relatives who can’t be with me on my wedding day) spritzed onto skin prepped with a generous layer of The Body Shop White Musk Oil. This particular combination has garnered compliments from complete strangers, including various hardened beauty journalists ... Well, it’d certainly be unexpected...
About the author
Louise is a management accountant by day, beauty editor by night, and has been writing getlippie.com since 2009 in a (failed) attempt to rid herself of her lipstick addiction. She also writes regularly for SLiNK magazine