Curating a perfume collection

I’m a big believer that perfume collections should be simple, beautiful and deeply personal. The perfect collection of perfumes takes time to build and will grow with you.

Scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers, which is why I love to have only a select few perfumes in my collection. I have one for day time and night time for summer and winter, plus one for extra special occasions. I’ve never left France without a perfume – Fragonard, Parfums et Senteurs de Pays du Basque and Guerlain have all worked their way into my already over-packed luggage.

I loved an article I read the other day where the author described how she had different fragrances that reminded her of different life milestones. The fragrance she wore in her first apartment, or the fragrance she wore when she first started working in New York. I hate to make things too complicated, but I’d love to at least coincide one of my perfumes with a life milestone like moving to a new city – hopefully one of the bottles would be nearly empty before a big change like that!

This year, when I began my search for a winter perfume for night time, I decided to work out exactly what I actually like in a fragrance. I listed the heard, heart and base notes of all of my favourite fragrances and found I adore almost anything containing bergamot. Tonka bean, coconut and jasmine are also winners in my books.

I made an ambitious list and set off for David Jones, Mecca Cosmetica and Myer. Perfume is an investment; it is both expensive and it will be part of my daily ritual for at least a year. I take my time when I choose it.

  • Make a list of fragrances which sound appealing – seek these out
  • It sounds superficial, but it is a good idea to not only follow your nose when looking for perfumes, but follow your eyes. Perfume bottles are designed to reflect the mood of the perfume and attract the target customer. Boutique perfume houses, such as Byredo and Serge Lutens make this a little more difficult with uniform bottle designs, so you just need to test a few.
  • Good perfume retailers will have coffee beans on hand, to cleanse your palate. My nose gets overwhelmed so easily, so I frequently take a whiff of the coffee beans before throwing myself back in the ring.
  • I take home only the perfume cards which I like.
  • Bring a pen because sometimes the perfume cards only have the brand name but not the specific perfume.
  • Make sure each perfume card is kept separately – in your pocket, in your purse, in part of your handbag, etc. The added bonus is that all of your belongings will now smell lovely. She with the most zipper compartments inside her handbag wins.
  • At the end, choose two of your favourites. Spray one on each wrist.
  • Later on, decide on your shortlist of 4-5 fragrances max.
  • Make a separate visit for each shortlisted fragrance. Spray it on both wrists and see how they sink in over the next 2-6 hours
  • Once you’ve narrowed down to one or two, THEN ask for other opinions if you want. This is your fragrance.
  • Don’t feel guilty about the purchase, because you’re investing in something you’ll wear every day that will become your signature.

Today I fell in love with Si by Giorgio Armani which I would wear as a day time fragrance in warm weather, specifically Spring. I try to just have one for warm or cool weather, so I will have to think about it – I already have one for the summer daytime. Si is very irresistible though! It is extremely feminine, modern and soft yet has a sense of quiet, confident strength.

Si by Giorgio Armani (2013)


Top: Sicilian Bergamot, Mandarin, Blackcurrant Liqueur

Middle: Rose de Mai, Neroli, Egyptian Jasmine, Freesia

Base: Patchouli, Woods, Amber, Orcanox, Vanilla


I also found a gorgeous fragrance which I remember from years ago, Acqua di Gioia by Giorgio Armani. It smells simply idyllic. Perfect for exclusive use on summer holidays, preferably on some far flung island..or wherever your summer budget will take you.

Acqua di Gioia by Giorgio Armani (2014)


Pure summer’s day perfume. Summer holiday perfume. Island holiday perfume! Idyllic.


Top: Primofiore lemon, blackcurrant bud, pear, violet leaf

Middle: Peony, Jasmine Crystal, Sambac Jasmine

Base: Cedarwood, Cashmeran, Brown Sugar


The Shortlist:

I now have five fragrances which I’d like to try. I need to go back to these shops and try one at a time, on my own skin and wear it. This is time intensive and was certainly easier when I was studying in the city because I could pass through every time I went to class. However, now that I work from home I’ll have to make more of an effort.



Nuit de Cellophane by Serge Lutens



Mandarin, Apricot, Osmanthus, White Flowers


Amyris Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdijan


Top: Lemon leaf, orange leaf

Heart: Elemi Balsam, Iris

Base: Vetiver, Oud


Rose Noir by Byredo

rose noir

Top: Grapefruit, Freesia

Mid: Rose Damascena

Base: Cistus, Moss, Musk


The One Desire by Dolce & Gabbana (2013)


Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Lychee, Lily of the Valley

Heart: Madonna Lily, Tuberose, Jasmine, Plum Nectar

Base: Caramel-infused vanilla, sandalwood, musk, Cistus labdanum


Coco Noir by Chanel


Top: Grapefruit, calabrian bergamot

Heart: Rose, narcisuss, rose geranium, jasmine

Base: Tonka bean, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, white musk



I only keep Rose Noir by Byredo because I fell in love with it a couple of years ago. I wasn’t as taken with it today, but maybe I need to wear it on my skin.


I still love Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf, but not as much as I used to. The perfume industry has upped its game since then I feel. I never bought it because the sales assistant said it was their blockbuster perfume of the season and was flying off the shelves. You couldn’t turn your head without seeing a Flowerbomb advertisment. Although many of my perfumes are from big brands, I avoid purchasing the absolute blockbuster, perfume-of-the-moment.


I think it is a great idea to have a work-appropriate perfume too, because I don’t think I’d find any of these suitable for the office. I work from home, so this fragrance would be wasted on me. I think work perfumes are best when they are fresh, light and not too sweet or spicy. I’m sure Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein or Michael Kors would make something perfect for 9-5 (if anyone actually still works such glorious hours anymore). Okay, so appropriate for 7am-8pm.




Before Buying:

  • Does your boyfriend’s mother wear it? Make an effort to find out.
  • Does your best friend wear it?
  • Wear it on your skin. Make sure to check the middle notes and base notes (hours later) too, not just the first impression.

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