I’m a bit of a perfume collector. When given a choice, I’m the one that chooses perfume samples over skin or haircare products. Scent is one of our strongest senses. A scent can trigger vivid memories, remind you of people you love (or loathe), and mentally transport you to exotic locales.
My mother told me once when I was little (grade school age), I wore Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel and L’Air Du Temps by Nina Ricci religiously. To this day I can still recall those two heady, powdery, über-floral infused scents. Funnily enough, I stay far (far!) away from those fragrance families but, I sure did love it back then.
In high school (the late 90s!) I was usually surrounded by a cloud of Cool Water cologne (worn by almost every male on campus, even my ex-boyfriends, ha), mixed with Tommy Girl, Gap’s Heaven and/or Dream sprays, and of course, Calvin Klein’s CKOne. Other scents in my teenage rotation included the super popular Bath & Body Works Cucumber Melon.
Side note : I purchased the Cucumber Melon set right before a trip to NYC back in ’98 and the scent has always reminded me of that month long December getaway. I graduated June of ’98 and I decided I wanted to celebrate by going to NY, by myself, to visit family. I stayed at my sister’s because she had just given birth to my niece so I was able to help her out with babysitting her two older boys. I even got my first tattoo there! It was a gift from my sis and her husband but, that’s a whole other topic for another day. Needless to say, I will always have a soft spot for Cucumber Melon.
In the early 2000s I was *all* about Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue (in fact, I still have a small bottle to use when I’m feeling nostalgic). It was my daily scent. I even wore it for my wedding and honeymoon!
Naturally, my tastes and personality have evolved as I’ve gotten older. I’m no longer drawn to florals, vanilla or sweet scents. Instead, I love most anything that leans toward being androgynous. I look for scents that are woodsy, herbal, spicy, earthy, smokey and leathery notes.
Have I mentioned how much I love patchouli? It’s got that dirty, earthy herbally thing that I love. However, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea so I use it sparingly or omit it altogether when I know I’ll be in close quarters with people. The last 5 years I’ve used straight up patchouli perfume oil (from Rachel Ballard/Below The Oak) by itself or layered with other oils/perfumes in my collection. I like how it deepens the base notes of any scent I pair it with. It also has the added perk of making the scent last longer – at least in my experience.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated several sample and travel sized bottles in my seemingly endless search for my HG scent. Recently, I went through and whittled down my collection. I got rid of old bottles I’d been hanging on to for sentimental reasons, gifts from well intentioned people and deluxe samples.
The following are the staple scents I have on rotation.
• Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black
Top: violet accord
— Yes, this has vanilla BUT it doesn’t smell like powdery old lady! Honestly, I’m surprised at how much I like it given the notes. Perhaps it’s the sandalwood that minimizes the vanilla?
• Gucci Premiere (discontinued?)
Top: bergamot, orange blossom
Middle: white flowers, musk
Base: leather, wood
— This is totally a date night kind of scent. The leather and wood notes play so well with my patchouli oil!
• Jo Malone ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt’
Top: bergamot, ambrette seeds, buchu leaves.
Middle: sea salt, mineral accord, dry fruits.
Base: driftwood accord, guaiac wood, white musk, sage.
— This scent is a classic for those who love Jo Malone colognes. I tend to wear this with my patchouli perfume oil to dirty it up a bit.
• Tocca ‘Cleopatra’
Top: bitter grapefruit, lush greens, cassis bud.
Middle: white jasmine, peach nectar, tuberose.
Bottom: warm patchouli, golden amber, rich vanilla musk.
— My favorite of all the Tocca ladies. The dry down is super sexy. The amber and patchouli is what makes this amazing.
• Maison Margiela Replica ‘Lazy Sunday Morning’
Top: aldehydes, pear accord, lily of the valley accord. Middle: iris accord, rose absolute, orange flower accord. Base: white musk accord, Indonesian patchouli oil, ambrette seeds absolute.
— This one is oddly similar to Cleopatra (at least from what I can smell). I love combining them for a unique scent.
As you can see, I invest in the travel sized bottles. Over the years I noticed I never really go through a full size bottle of perfume as I end up tiring of the scent. Plus, I often throw whatever I’m wearing that day in my bag to apply on the go. It’s way more convenient and I don’t have to worry about breakage.
With all that said, I’m open to add another to my collection. I like to test fragrances several times before I make a decision to purchase. Test samples are my jam!
In fact, I’m auditioning a couple scents as I type this. I’m leaning heavily toward one in particular but I want to make doubly sure it’s “the one” before investing. Stay tuned for that!