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  1. #1

    Default The bespoke process

    Ages ago, I posted here that I was going to have a bespoke fragrance created for me. I was asked at the time to write and tell everyone how it went. It has taken months (because of me and my indecisiveness!) but finally, yesterday, I took delivery of Recital, my own signature fragrance.

    It was created by Michaela Harvey of Pecksniff's in Brighton. Anyone in the UK, especially in the south, I would highly recommend a visit. Michaela is lovely, and Pecksniff's' own brand of general fragrances are grouped into fragrance families and are IMO very high quality. I love their classic chypre.

    Pecksniff's is located in the Lanes of Brighton, which is in itself a lovely area to visit if you get the chance and haven't been there before.

    I booked my session in April or May and went to see Michaela in early July. The process took a couple of hours, and Michaela spent some time talking to me about how perfumes are created (some of that was redundant, and she was surprised and delighted by how much I already knew - I guess most of her clients are just indulging themselves and don't know an awful lot about perfumes). I enjoyed sniffing various essential oils and working out what I liked and what I didn't like. She asked me questions about my personal taste, and my personality, and various likes and dislikes. It was quite in-depth, and very enjoyable and relaxing. At the end of this stage, she asked me to go away and get myself a cup of coffee somewhere (there is a lovely little cafe next-door, which is most convenient!), while she formulated 3 quite distinct fragrances for me based on what she had already discerned were my particular favourite notes, which I would then be able to take away with me. She wrote everything down in a file specifically created for me, and when I returned, I had 3 very different fragrances - one floral, one chypre, and one oriental. She said she would be happy to create more of the samples if I should need to spend some time choosing the one I liked (or if I wanted, I could have all 3, but I would have to pay extra for the other ones). I did actually ask her to do that by phone a month or so ago, and I received 3 new vials of the fragrances. They are in a much lower concentration than the finished product, which needs to be taken into consideration when making the choice. I discounted one fragrance because it faded quickly, but I imagine it would probably be fine in the eau de parfum. I was seriously torn between fragrance 1 and 3. Fragrance 1 was the floral and it was divine. Fragrance 2 was way too much like Rive Gauche for my taste - although my husband and daughter both liked that one on me.

    As it turned out, I had a tough time deciding which one to go with, but in the end I chose the oriental (fragrance 3), and I named it Recital (because of my musical background, and also because I wanted something to pick up on the 'notes' relation with perfumes and music). All in all, it took me 3 months to make my choice (the longest I've taken to make a decision on anything!), and the perfume arrived in a beautifully presented box yesterday (complete with a note pyramid, and a printed card inside the box which states it's exclusively created for me - unfortunately Michaela spelled my first name wrong, so I'll have to get her to correct that for future bottles!). For the whole process, which includes your first bottle of 100ml eau de parfum, it costs £200 (which I think is more than worth it). For subsequent 100ml bottles the price is the same as for any of their usual fragrances. I think it's around the £50 mark. They also can create bath preparations and body lotion and so on in your own fragrance should you require it.

    The web address for bespoke consultations and booking is here: http://www.pecksniffs.com/acatalog/Bespoke.html

    It would make a lovely gift for someone, I always think. I might get my husband one of these, because he loves fragrances almost as much as I do.

    So there you have it. The bespoke fragrance process, at what I consider to be an affordable price. I'd highly recommend it as an experience, and the reaction to Recital in the office yesterday was highly favourable. Everyone said it smelled 'expensive' and that it suited me beautifully. I have to say, it certainly made me feel special.

    For those interested, this is the note pyramid for Recital, which is described in the box as an 'amber oriental':

    Head notes:Rose and lily of the valley
    Heart notes: Tuberose, jasmine, tagette and ylang ylang
    Base notes: Amber, vanilla, patchouli, musk and oakmoss

    (I was surprised by the oakmoss - there isn't a HINT of 'old lady' anywhere in Recital!)
    Last edited by Clemmie; 19th October 2007 at 06:59 PM.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  2. #2

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Thanks for posting, Clemmie!
    This sounds very interesting, I myself have often thought it would be awesome to have your very own perfume made. If I understood you right, it only takes one visit/consultation, too!
    Thanks for posting the link, too!
    Since it was not the same concentration you first smelled, do you think the final product was different in any other way then the strength?
    Everything passes. Everything changes. Just do what you think you should do.
    --Bob Dylan

  3. #3

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    That sounds brilliant. What a great experience! And although it's expensive for a single bottle of perfume, it's probably far less than most of us spend hunting for our holy grail.

    I guess that's the big question: is it your HG? Or one of them (because mood, season, weather, time of day all affect what we want to wear). Will we see 'Recital' as your SOTD a lot in the coming weeks?

    Is it an 'event' perfume or a day-to-day perfume? Or are you like me and wear Opium or Narcisse Noir to the supermarket and hang what people think? Where would you like to wear it and what does it sum up about you? (If that's not too personal a question.)

    BTW:
    Quote Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
    Head notes:Rose and lily of the valley
    Heart notes: Tuberose, jasmine, tagette and ylang ylang
    Base notes: Amber, vanilla, patchouli, musk and oakmoss

    (I was surprised by the oakmoss - there isn't a HINT of 'old lady' anywhere in Recital!)
    That made me grin, Clemmie!
    "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future." Coco Chanel

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  4. #4

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by musse View Post
    Thanks for posting, Clemmie!
    This sounds very interesting, I myself have often thought it would be awesome to have your very own perfume made. If I understood you right, it only takes one visit/consultation, too!
    Thanks for posting the link, too!
    Since it was not the same concentration you first smelled, do you think the final product was different in any other way then the strength?
    It smells the same, it's just more intense, and very long-lasting (which as you probably know is a huge tick in the box for me!). I'm very pleased with it.
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbird View Post
    That sounds brilliant. What a great experience! And although it's expensive for a single bottle of perfume, it's probably far less than most of us spend hunting for our holy grail.

    I guess that's the big question: is it your HG? Or one of them (because mood, season, weather, time of day all affect what we want to wear). Will we see 'Recital' as your SOTD a lot in the coming weeks?

    Is it an 'event' perfume or a day-to-day perfume? Or are you like me and wear Opium or Narcisse Noir to the supermarket and hang what people think? Where would you like to wear it and what does it sum up about you? (If that's not too personal a question.)

    BTW:


    That made me grin, Clemmie!
    Hmmm...is it my HG? Well, I would definitely buy it if it were a store perfume (it is reminiscent of Le Baiser Du Dragon, which I already wear a lot anyway). I wear whatever I feel like wearing, so yes...hang what people think! I've worn it to work, and I'd wear it on an evening out. What does it sum up? I think it sums up my evolution in terms of perfume. I'd never wear a perfume remotely like it when I was younger. This is a sophisticated perfume for a confident woman. I'd wear it day and night, but probably not so much in the summer. I'm now regretting not having sample number 1 made up as a summer fragrance. I'm wondering if I could get Michaela to do that anyway...but what would I call it? <g>
    --------------------------------------
    By the way, US folk can get Pecksniff's fragrances from Luscious Cargo. I would recommend the Classic Chypre for those who like a 'proper' chypre with the woody basenotes that are so important. I love the Pecksniff's chypre, but it doesn't last long on me.
    Last edited by Clemmie; 19th October 2007 at 11:59 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  5. #5

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    Default Re: The bespoke process

    I've lusted for this experience myself.

    And I guess you all know our own Ayala offers this service: http://www.ayalamoriel.com/index.cfm?PageName=Bespoke
    "The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering." Lao Tze

  6. #6

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Yes I was tempted to contact Ayala as her scents (and the process as she describes it) fascinate me. But am I correct when I read the final product is an 8ml bottle and solid pendant? Personally speaking I would prefer at least 50-100ml if I were to invest.

    If I lived in the area though, I would have signed up for one of her interesting workshops in a heartbeat. Alas, Denmark is not Vancouver.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    That sounded just lovely! But I wonder, were there no corrections on the formula after you had decided which one you wanted? Did you have to decide on one of those three?

  8. #8

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Another source for the Pecksniff's scents in the USA is your-cosmetics.com -- this line and several others are currently discounted 15&#37;. (I'm not sure when the special offer expires.)

    I got a sample of the chypre green when I ordered something else not long ago. It's quite nice, with a classic or old-fashioned feel to it.
    Spray it, donít say itÖ
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: The bespoke process

    That is so cool, Clemmie! Having a perfume made just for you must feel so special. It sounds very nice and the name is lovely, too. Enjoy!
    I've trademarked the color bleu

  10. #10

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
    Head notes:Rose and lily of the valley
    Heart notes: Tuberose, jasmine, tagette and ylang ylang
    Base notes: Amber, vanilla, patchouli, musk and oakmoss
    Clemmie, that sounds divine.
    I bet I would like it.
    What does tagette smell like? That's the only note I don't know.

  11. #11

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    Clemmie, that sounds divine.
    I bet I would like it.
    What does tagette smell like? That's the only note I don't know.
    I don't know that note either, and had to look it up. It's a South African weed that smells like green apple. I've never heard of it before.
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by shifts View Post
    That sounded just lovely! But I wonder, were there no corrections on the formula after you had decided which one you wanted? Did you have to decide on one of those three?
    I think if I'd had difficulty choosing any one of them (for example if I didn't like any of them at all...), then I would have had to discuss going back and making adjustments. I don't know if that would have cost more (I have no idea if anyone has ever done this). But I was happy with the 3 samples I had (except for one of them, which I discounted quite quickly), so I didn't see the point in tinkering with it.

    I imagine it never happens that someone doesn't like even one of the 3 possibilities, because Michaela has already spent a considerable amount of time finding out what the client's favourite notes are, and what they very clearly don't like. So she's on a pretty safe bet that whatever creation comes out of the session, it will be approved of. The thing that has really taken me by surprise is just how _much_ I like my fragrance. My daughter loves it on me, and spent a good 5 minutes this morning just sniffing me and going 'mum, that's GORGEOUS. Oh my GOD!' over and over. She wants a decant. Shall I giver her one? <g>
    Last edited by Clemmie; 20th October 2007 at 08:22 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  12. #12

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    To further demystify the note- tagette is the oil of particular marigolds (from the tagetes family not from the calendulas).

  13. #13

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    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyra View Post
    To further demystify the note- tagette is the oil of particular marigolds (from the tagetes family not from the calendulas).
    ...so does it have that dusty flat earthy smell like marigolds.......in quiring minds need to know....
    "The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering." Lao Tze

  14. #14

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    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Thanks for posting the notes, Clemmie! I read the whole post longing to know the notes and was gratified at the end to see them. It sounds like a delightful experience.
    Please, spritz responsibly.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by Taolady View Post
    ...so does it have that dusty flat earthy smell like marigolds.......in quiring minds need to know....
    I can only speak for my perfume, and no, it's not flat or earthy. It's barely detectable, but if I try I pick up a sharpness that gives the overall warmth of the fragrance added spice. The one thing that I find truly gratifying is my daughter's over-the-top reaction to it. She's fairly blase about perfumes - she loves them, but it take a lot to really get her excited. But with this one, she wouldn't let go of my arm and kept sniffing me, and going "my god, that's GORGEOUS". My work colleagues said it smelled high-class and expensive. I don't think it has a lot of tagette in it, but I do think the notes are well balanced so there isn't one pervading note. It's a fine blend.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  16. #16
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    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Clemmie sounds like the whole process was completely worth it!! Im thinking about doing this with Pecksniffs. I got a set they make called the Perfumers Workshop for Christmas last year where you can layer different scents, such as Vetiver, Aqua etc and they're all really nice!
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  17. #17

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by libertine View Post
    Clemmie sounds like the whole process was completely worth it!! Im thinking about doing this with Pecksniffs. I got a set they make called the Perfumers Workshop for Christmas last year where you can layer different scents, such as Vetiver, Aqua etc and they're all really nice!
    Well if you do, please post and let us know what you think. I've seen the perfumers workshop and hankered after it. I have something similar from Body Shop, but I'm sure the Pecksniff's version will be much better in terms of quality.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  18. #18

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimitri View Post
    Yes I was tempted to contact Ayala as her scents (and the process as she describes it) fascinate me. But am I correct when I read the final product is an 8ml bottle and solid pendant? Personally speaking I would prefer at least 50-100ml if I were to invest.

    If I lived in the area though, I would have signed up for one of her interesting workshops in a heartbeat. Alas, Denmark is not Vancouver.
    Dimitri,
    I'm flattered that you consider my bespoke perfume services!
    Just to let you know, if you prefer an EDP it is possible to have a larger bottle. The creme parfum jewelry is not for everyone, and we do offer a replacement (i.e.: another bottle of parfum or a parfum roll on oil) if you don't care for the solid perfume.

    The pricing is for the process as well as the product itself, and most houses charge a lot more for the service alone. What I ask for the service and materials used in the process (excluding the $250 price for the final product the client gets in the end of the process - for the parfum extrait and the pendent) - is only $200, which barely covers just the cost of materials that are used in the process. I don't charge any additional fees for refills either - you can order a refill of your bespoke perfume any time, and will be charged just the amount I charge for any other of my perfumes (despite the fact that it is produced especially for you and the packaging is printed only for you as well).

    - If you shop around for a bespoke fragrance, you may notice that my $450 fee is on the lower scale or a start-up price within a price environment that goes up as high as several ten grands in many cases...

    p.s. I am not saying this as a "defence" by any means, I just thought that since the subject was raised, and many consider bespoke perfumes to be uber-expensive, it would be good to put into perspective the work and the expenses that are calculated before a price is determined. There is a lot less profit in this than it may seem. I really do try to make this as affordable as possible.
    Last edited by Ayala; 23rd October 2007 at 05:19 PM.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Ayala, your price seems reasonable to me. I thought Pecksniff's was very reasonable too, and there's no way I could afford to do it anywhere else. I enquired about one of my fragrances that's now discontinued, with a view to having a version of it made up (by Cotswold perfumery), and they quoted thousands for that service.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
    I'm now regretting not having sample number 1 made up as a summer fragrance. I'm wondering if I could get Michaela to do that anyway...but what would I call it?
    Were your other options based along the same notes or considerably different?

    For a summer scent, I nominate: Pianississimo, Pianoforte, Arpeggio.
    In a world where 6 million people are added each month, every landscape matters.

  21. #21

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by Quarry View Post
    Were your other options based along the same notes or considerably different?

    For a summer scent, I nominate: Pianississimo, Pianoforte, Arpeggio.
    They were totally different. The floral (number 1) was very sweet, pretty, light and summery. I can't remember what the notes were, but I think it had a hefty dollop of gardenia in it. It was a lovely fragrance, but it had no staying power at all. I do like your names! :-) I'm a pianist, so any of those would work splendidly.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  22. #22

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    What I want to know is this:
    Did the parfumeur let you smell the "building block" notes before combining them?
    Smelling single notes would be helpful for me because (for example) one parfumer's "rose" note would smell different from another's.
    I have smelled so many of Ayala Moriel's perfumes that I know which of her notes are my favorites, but those favorites would not translate to a different company. (Ayala's natural ingredients are CLEAN smelling and sometimes smell radically different from synthetics of the same note. By that, I mean they are fresh and open smelling, not penetrating and harsh. As far as "dirty" goes, they can be very warm and animalic.)
    A person also would be wise to smell a large number of the fragrances within the ready-made line in order to choose a company to make a bespoke perfume.
    Last edited by purplebird7; 24th October 2007 at 01:30 PM.

  23. #23

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Quote Originally Posted by purplebird7 View Post
    What I want to know is this:
    Did the parfumeur let you smell the "building block" notes before combining them?
    Smelling single notes would be helpful for me because (for example) one parfumer's "rose" note would smell different from another's.
    I have smelled so many of Ayala Moriel's perfumes that I know which of her notes are my favorites, but those favorites would not translate to a different company. (Ayala's natural ingredients are CLEAN smelling and sometimes smell radically different from synthetics of the same note. By that, I mean they are fresh and open smelling, not penetrating and harsh. As far as "dirty" goes, they can be very warm and animalic.)
    A person also would be wise to smell a large number of the fragrances within the ready-made line in order to choose a company to make a bespoke perfume.
    Yes, we spent ages sniffing single notes. Michaele got a good feel for the notes I like and the ones I can't bear. I also sniffed some in combination, but I never knew what she would combine to create my 3 possible signature fragrances.
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

  24. #24

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    Yes, the trick is to have intuition about combining the notes.
    I have spent time at the health food store sniffing essential oils, but every time I try to combine them, I get a sum that smells WORSE than the parts.
    That must be a parfumer's natural-born "gift".
    Last edited by purplebird7; 25th October 2007 at 02:39 PM.

  25. #25

    Default Re: The bespoke process

    I think it may have something to do with the concentration and the quantities used. I was told that when I was at Pecksniff's. Essential oils are so highly concentrated, and it takes a great deal of skill to combine them successfully. I like to fantasise that I could create great fragrances, but that's as far as it goes for me. :-)
    "I don't know the key to success,
    but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
    Bill Cosby

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