Perfume of desire

I am often asked if and how I have been influenced by spending about three months of the year living in France. Has my sense of style and/or beauty routine changed.

I would say that both have evolved in subtle ways. I now keep my basic wardrobe simpler focusing on buying good quality staples in my favourite neutrals such as navy and grey.  Playing around more with accessories especially scarves.

As far as my beauty routine is concerned I have now become a fan of Bioderma available here and Nuxe especially their huile prodigeuse here.

However the most important change I have made is adding perfume to my daily grooming routine. Before I used to reserve perfume for special occasions, evenings out or if I remembered a quick spray as I rushed out of the door. The French way is definitely every day without fail. A well groomed French woman would not dream of leaving the house without a dab or two or three of her favourite perfume. I also noticed that whenever you visit a perfume shop in France they always offer to “spritz” you for the day. Divine.

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So I am on the search for my signature perfume.

I would love to know about your relationship with perfume.

Do you wear it every day?

Do you have a signature perfume?

Are you loyal to one love or do you like to play the field and try out new scents?

How to you choose a perfume?

What is your current favourite?

Expect to read more about the olfactory sense on this blog in the near future as I add perfume to my repertoire of subjects.

I shall be visiting the flagship store of one of the most famous London Perfume houses this Friday to have a “Fragrance profile”. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

If you have any questions regarding perfume or how to choose the right one for you please leave a comment or email me at Chicatanyage(at)btinternet(dot)com.

I look forward to hearing from you.



  1. Cathy
    31st March 2014 / 14:55

    I wear fragrance every day, applying it after moisturizer. I am partial to Jo Malone.

  2. Jess
    31st March 2014 / 15:51

    Morning! I do wear perfume everyday.I have always liked clean, floral scents, and still remember some scents that were too musky, or strong like my grandma used to wear. My favorite currently is Coco Mademoiselle, I love this new Balenciaga Botanica, as well as Coach Poppy. I mix it up and don’t wear the same everyday. I love orchid, lavendar, gardenia, just light scents. I tend to go to Sephora or to the counters to try before I buy.

  3. Catherine
    31st March 2014 / 18:47

    Three points about my relationship with perfume:

    Firstly my mother told me, when I was of a very impressionable age, that your scent should become your signature so should never change – the most a lady should have is a summer fragrance (Chanel Cristalle) and a winter one (Chanel No 5). So I’ve gone through life with these two. And it’s true, they are my signatures, to the point that I’m often asked to grant permission to colleagues and friends to wear the same. Chanel No 5 has been worn by 4 generations of women in my family – I especially love it as it is so timeless and suits women of all ages.

    Secondly, sadly since menopause my sense of smell has become much more acute so that I can now only tolerate Chanel No 5. I think it’s the base scent in mid market perfumes that I really can’t stand – they have been known to give me really bad headaches – so I avoid the perfume ladies in Selfridges and Boots with fear and dread! Luckily they tend not to go for ‘older’ ladies – probably they know they are not as easily parted with their money!

    Thirdly, a thought for possible further discussion. I do think the price of perfume is completely outrageous and actually immoral. If you consider the cost of the ingredients in comparison with the retail price, I wonder why this has never been addressed!

    With best wishes

    • 31st March 2014 / 18:58

      Hi Catherine Some good points. Although I tried Chanel no.5 a few years ago it just did not suit me at all. My personal opinion is that many of the big brands as well as the mid market ranges are now using chemical substitutes for the real essences (many of which are now very expensive) hence the headaches.
      I agree that many of the fragrances are now very overpriced. I was informed by one perfumeur that this is deliberate as many of the well known and highly publicised scents are now so widely worn that the brands are trying to create more and more exclusivity i.e. a sort of perfume couture.
      I will have a friend with me for my Friday visit to the Perfume house. She certainly knows her essences as she develops bespoke perfumes for a Couture house in South Africa. It will be interesting to get her opinions.

  4. 31st March 2014 / 19:05

    Catherines comment is so interesting. I love chanel no5 but perfer the premiere version. I am also partial to Coco Mademoiselle. For summer I always wear Hermes eau les merveilles so that is my signature for summer and for daytime x

  5. Marilyn Leslie
    31st March 2014 / 19:11

    I wear perfume every day. My signature scent is Miss Balmain. I’m not sure how much longer it will be available much longer. I first tried it in 1977 when I was a student in Paris. it was didfficult to find here in the states so I used L’interdit by Givenchy for many, but it has been discontinued. if it weren’t for the internet I would be able to buy the scent I love.

  6. Tiffany
    31st March 2014 / 22:12

    I wear perfume every day, usually Chloe Narcisse. My father gave me my first French perfume when I was very young, perhaps 12 – he always wore aftershave and my mother wore perfume every day, so I guess that’s where I got the habit from.

  7. Martina
    1st April 2014 / 00:16

    I wear it a few times a week…there are so many pretty ones that it would be impossible to choose one as a signature! Lately it’s been Narciso Rodriguez for Her. Before that Bulgari Omnia Coral.

  8. Cathy Wong
    1st April 2014 / 03:31

    I have always enjoyed fragrance, but just as you mentioned, it was not a regular thing for me. In the past 2 or 3 years i’ve started to pay more attention to my own style and really wearing/enjoying fragrance everyday evolved with that. I’ve been intrigued with the idea of one signature scent, but find that I do change depending on the season. My style leans to floral scents, and I’m currently enjoying a lovely rose one by Creed. (I like the idea of something a bit subtle…I think it adds “mystery”-maybe not even noticed right away, just part of who you are).
    I know many people are sensitive to scents and can become unwell from them….I too wonder if it has to do with the chemicals used.
    I would like to go to a fragrance “specialist” who could help me choose what really suits me…maybe I would find a signature scent. Having a “fragrance profile” done sounds simply wonderful! looking forward to hearing all about it.

  9. 1st April 2014 / 04:07

    I wear fragrance almost every day, but not a traditional perfume. I use an essential oil blend that is amazing and subtle. It doesn’t last as long as perfume but doesn’t give me headaches or other reactions. It’s a nice alternative if you are sensitive to commercial fragrances. I love the idea of a signature scent, whatever the source!

  10. 1st April 2014 / 07:23

    I am really impressed by how many of you wear perfume everyday. I am going to have to up my game and get my perfume wearing firmly imbedded into my routine. Sometimes it is a memory thing and I just forget.

  11. Thea
    1st April 2014 / 12:19

    Yes, wear it every day, though I cannot smell it on me! I am wearing a Burberry scent these days, though will go back to my favorite, Dolce and Gabana “Light Blue” when it runs out. People always tell me I smell great! I’ve also worn Acqua di Parma cologne (though I think it’s for men) because I love the smell…I don’t know what “fragrance profile” any of these are, though look forward to reading your journey. I think scents evoke a lot of memories. My favorite aunt (who has passed) always wore Clinique Elixir, and when I smell it on someone in passing, I feel she’s winking at me from heaven. 🙂

    • 1st April 2014 / 15:28

      Hi Thea I too like Acqua di Parma at least when it first came out way back. You are so right about triggering memories good or not so good. I have a few stories around that subject. I also hear that Clinique Elixir is being brought back after being discontinued some years ago.

  12. Bonnie L
    1st April 2014 / 12:41

    So many perfumes, so little time… I definitely wear perfume every day, put on after my shower. For 10 plus years I have been wearing Hermes 24 Faubourg. I believe in a signature scent, but not for life! Your taste changes, after all. I always buy my perfume in France as I have been told they use different essential oils in the US formulations that do not have as much “staying power”. Just as you buy best quality staples for your wardrobe, I believe in sticking with the classic non-synthetic scents.

    • 1st April 2014 / 15:25

      Hi Bonnie L Love your quote, might use it some time. I think you may well be right about the different oils in different countries it may be something to do with the regulations. I know there is a move to change the EU legislation on essences. I am so with you on non-synthetic scents that is why I want to find out more.

  13. Martha
    1st April 2014 / 14:09

    I wear perfume every day. I sometimes try different ones in the store, but always come back to my tried and true, Inis, which is a unisex Irish perfume that I buy online from Fragrances of Ireland. Very light – other people can smell it on me, but unfortunately I cannot. I agree, though, once you find your signature, it’s hard (and maybe even unnecessary) to branch out to others.

    • 1st April 2014 / 15:22

      Hi Martha Not heard of Inis. I too often find that others smell my perfume more that I do.

  14. Debbie Sokoloff
    1st April 2014 / 14:34

    I love fragrance, whether from perfumes or essential oil blends, but in recent years I have become aware of more people who are sensitive to fragrances, so I have stopped wearing them except only occasionally. It makes me a little sad that I can’t freely wear a fragrance because I have loved to choose my scent for the day based on the season and how I feel.

  15. sybes1
    1st April 2014 / 15:05

    I love this article! I recently read Mandy Aftel’s Essence of Alchemy and was hooked. And after going to La Pharmacie in Paris for the first time I was absolutely in love! I too am a fan of Nuxe products (a friend recently risked life and limb by going to one of the popular pharmacies in Paris to get me a Nuxe travel kit!) and Bioderma. Lisa Eldridge has a fabulous video about all the wonderful products that she loves in the French pharmacie. Another great product is homeoplasmine.
    But I digress…..I love perfume but have not been able to wear it often since up until one year ago I was working in the medical field–many perfumes trigger migraines and asthma.
    However, I have been wearing Chanel’s Chance Tendre for several years and one spritz doesn’t seem to offend. I love fresh clean scents but also woody sensual perfumes.
    I’m dying to hear about your fragrance profile–the only tool I’ve been able to use is Sephora’s. I’ve been working with essential oils recently and that has sharpened my perception but certainly not educated me sufficiently to understand the complexities of making a perfume.
    I love the beautiful scent of Nuxe as well as Leonor Greyl’s Huile Secret de Beaute.

    • 1st April 2014 / 15:19

      Hi Sally
      There seems to be a thread running through the comments about intolerances triggering headaches and asthma etc, which in fact are becoming more common generally. My theory is too much use of chemicals and I have a feeling that in order to maximise profits some of the essential oils originally used in perfumes are being replaced by synthetic equivalents. I am going to check this out. Don’t know about homeoplasmine but will enquire when I am next in France.

  16. 1st April 2014 / 15:21

    Hi Jeannie I too use Clarins Eau Dynamisante in the summer. It was my go to perfume some years ago and I thought I would try it again. Not sure it lasts as long as it used to or maybe it is me.

  17. 1st April 2014 / 15:40

    The following comments were sent to me by email. Thank you so much:-


    I enjoy reading your blog. Like you I spend several months a year in France. When I am there I always visit Fragonard in Eze. My signature perfume is Fragonard Belle de Nuit. I wear it everyday and wear Belle de Nuit Intense for evenings. I also like the matching shower gels and body lotions.

    Of course, I also have a Chanel No 5 for those special Chanel moments.

    Best Wishes


    I am fascinated by fragrance and usually it is oriental and floral. A bit of sandalwood thrown in is always good. I have that Tom Ford has two lovely fragrances that fit this bill. I am in Kansas City right now, so I will visit Sophora and let you know. Cheryl B

    Hi loving the emails. Am a 54 yr old blonde who is determined not to be invisible, but working in an office full of skinny 20-something’s can be a bit demoralising!

    Always, always Clinique Aromatics Elixir every morning, and, even if I forget, it is as impregnated in my clothes as in my psyche, so I like to think I waft a signature scent wherever I go. Occasionally flirt with other fragrances (most often in the summer with Clarins Eau Dynamisante, or my new favourite, Mary Greenwell’s Lemon, for example) but CAE will always have my heart.

    Best regards Rebecca

  18. Angela De Marco Manzi
    1st April 2014 / 16:40

    I wear perfume every day. I am currently wearing Chanel Number 5 for the days and Fredric Malle Carnal Knowledge at night. I am also a BIG fan of the the Bond Number Nine scents. They are light, playful, and can be mixed with each other–I generally buy in the Bon Bon boxes so alot of choices to wear either alone or mixed to create something new. Have fun shopping for your fave!!

  19. wendy
    1st April 2014 / 16:46

    I wear perfume every day. I usually have 2, maximum 3 in rotation at any time. My evening scent is Penhaligon’s Night Scented Stock – I used to wear it back in the ;late 70’s as a teen and when they reintroduced it I was so happy. Even in my 50’s it works. My day time fragrances are Jo Malone – the Mandarin & Basil and Lemon Tart – I often get compliments on how I smell, even from my software geek men:-)
    The most important thing is to spend some time allowing yourself to try scents BEFORE buying – what smells fabulous at first can end up resembling eau de cat’s pee after an hour or so – you don’t want to be parting with shedloads of cash for that effect! take a few weeks. Get friends’ opinions. Try your friends’ scents – that way you can give them a real test out without spending money.

    • 1st April 2014 / 16:54

      Hi Wendy I too remember Penhaligon’s perfumes from the 70s and loved them. I may well return to my long forgotten loves.
      Hi Marie-Therese I think I need to train my husband!

  20. Stella A
    1st April 2014 / 17:54

    I stopped wearing perfume several years ago, afraid that it might be offensive to people in my office. I am really torn after reading the posts and am reconsidering. I miss it! Is it true that fragrance goes bad over time? I probably need to throw out my old stash and start anew.

    • 1st April 2014 / 18:03

      yes perfume definitely goes off. It is best stored away from heat and too much light. It can discolour and loose it’s fragrance. A good excuse for using it every day.

  21. Sue Mecklem
    1st April 2014 / 18:35

    I love perfume but work in a fragrance free office so I just wear it for special occasions. I like Chanel No 5 and the old Miss Dior but haven’t found something I love in ages.

  22. Jayne
    1st April 2014 / 22:42

    I too wear perfume everyday and also agree they can ‘go off’ which is why I never buy the large size even if it’s better value. I like the Jo Malone fragrances and you can layer them. Currently though for spring going into summer I am in love with anything Verbena by L’occitane.

  23. Gretchen
    2nd April 2014 / 01:42

    I definitely wear fragrance every day, and could no more imagine having one “signature” scent than I could wear the exact same clothes every day. I fell down that rabbit hole decades ago. I have fragrances for seasons, moods, and events (wouldn’t wear the same fragrance to a business meeting that I would to a dinner out). I’ve always wanted to try one of those profiling experiences with an indie perfumer, just to see if they’d select the same one I would if left to my own devices!

  24. Noreen
    2nd April 2014 / 03:30

    Love fragrance and wear it every day even though I work with the public. I am very careful not to overwhelm those nearby. Love the clean unisex scents – they tend not to be offensive although some ppl are v. sensitive to scent. So Inis & 4711 are great on daily basis. Anything green seems to be fine = Clinique Calyx and Lancome’s Os are good and never get complaints. Moderne Muse – Estee Lauder’s new fragrance also seems to work “at work.”
    Laura Ashley’s long gone number 1 was fabulous but Chanel #5 – no thanks – Chanel #19 is quite nice but I wear that when off the public desk – a night out or with friends. Something abut Chanel seems to make the v. sensitive even more sensitive.

  25. 2nd April 2014 / 05:09

    My one and only is L’Air du Temps… I hope I’ll never tire of it and I still receive compliments when I wear it (from both men and women). It’s definitely my signature scent.

    • 2nd April 2014 / 06:58

      I remember L’air du Temps well I think it was my first perfume.

  26. 2nd April 2014 / 07:01

    Duchess I am definitely with you on the natural fragrance thing. I remember well sharing a small office many years ago with a woman who wore one of those v heavy perfumes popular in the 80s. It used to make me feel very queasy.

  27. 2nd April 2014 / 07:08

    Thanks Sissy


  28. Patricia
    2nd April 2014 / 13:32

    Loved reading the comments: so many new scents to try. I, too, have been looking for a signature scent. A hotel I stayed in in Arizona used Rose 31 from Le Labo (Canadian) and I just loved it. But I couldn’t pull the trigger on the price. I then found Marni original that is very similar. I use the scented lotion every day and I think that’s just enough for daily use. I do not use any scent if I’m going to be somewhere where people can’t move away from me for any length of time, i.e., planes, symphony, etc.

  29. 2nd April 2014 / 18:25

    Coco Mademoiselle… body spray for lighter scent. Eau de parfum for all day. I used to use Kenzo Flower for a few years but then it seemed to change – maybe my skin changed. In my distant youth, I wandered between Paloma Picasso and Shalimar – heavy indeed but compared to the other really popular fragrances of the day like Youth Dew, I was a lightweight! LOL!

  30. Jerilyn
    2nd April 2014 / 22:37

    I like perfume, and I used to wear it occasionally. I just have this fear of invading other people’s space with any scent.

    So, I am an unscented person. I suppose this started as a child being around little old ladies that were overly perfumed. I vowed never to be one of those women. I actually hold my breath when I scurry through perfume departments and have never thought of entering a perfume shop. Someone, a male, left my office the other day and the scent lingered. (I did not notice the scent until they left; it was too much.) Have you ever stepped into an empty elevator and been bombarded by someone’s perfume presence?

    How does one learn how much perfume is too much? For me, having a signature scent could bring on the overpowering little old lady situation – you get used to it, can’t smell it anymore and then
    keep upping the amount – not good.

    • 3rd April 2014 / 09:39

      Good question Jerilyn I will try and find the answer this Friday.

  31. 3rd April 2014 / 05:12

    I love perfume! I haven’t worn it in months. “What? Why?” you ask? My favorite was discontinued. Crabtree and Evelyn used to make a beautiful lavender. I would layer the shower gel, body lotion, and lavender water. My daughter-in-law would say, “You always smell of lavender and sunscreen,” and she liked that. Then they discontinued it, and started making a lavender with vanilla and other scents. I suppose it was cheaper for them, but I don’t like it. I loved their pure lavender. I have been searching since my stash ran out for another source. So far, I am having the best luck at farmers’ markets and craft fairs, but I’m currently out and hope to find something else soon. I realize lavender is old-fashioned…but I like it. Floral, but somewhat spicy at the same time.

    • 3rd April 2014 / 09:38

      I too love lavender and always buy the soaps etc when I am in the South of France.

  32. 4th April 2014 / 00:02

    Wow–this is great! So many ideas. I’m in-between signature fragrances at the moment. For 30 years, I wore nothing but Opium and Fendi. I still love them, but not on me. They are much too heavy. Someone wrote that perfume tastes change and mine certainly have. I still wear perfume every day, but I have found a new favorite. Thanks so much!

  33. Margot Cunningham
    5th April 2014 / 16:50

    I love Chanel No 19 best of the Chanel stable, and any of the “old” Guerlain fragrances. By old, I mean pre – Samsara scents, especially Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleu, with Shalimar in there as well. I can recommend Yves Rocher’s Vanille Noire for a definite signature scent in the more modern idiom

  34. 7th April 2014 / 16:11

    OK, I’m a guy, and I’ve always hated just about anything scented. I won’t wear anything scented myself, and I generally hold my nose while passing thru the cosmetics dept in department stores. But I was so impressed when reading how Chanel #5 is made, in Dana Thomas’ book ‘Deluxe’ that I broke down and bought my wife a bottle.

  35. Sharon Hanna
    7th April 2014 / 17:50

    I have asthma and being around anyone who seems to have “bathed” in perfume makes me seriously ill and I have to use my inhaler. I love, love, love perfume but the only place I can spray or dab it is behind my knees…but I do it every day and always get great compliments on the way I smell. I will be 70 in September and compliments certainly help ones self esteem at this age…or at least it does help mine! I am glad to see someone mention RIve Gauche. I wore that in my early thirties and received the most compliments ever. I may try it again! I remember years ago (the 80s) my co-workers and I took our lunch break and went to a local department store and all of us made the mistake of liberally applying Cinnabar…I think by Estee Lauder. We each had to actually go to the ladies room when we got back to work and use soap to try to remove it. It was so oily and strong that it made all of us sick. That was before asthma had come into my life….but it made me deathly ill. I am currently wearing Burberry. I LOVE this blog! Regards, Sharon Hanna

    • 7th April 2014 / 17:53

      Thanks Sharon and welcome to my blog. I agree about the compliments they lift ones spirits at any age.

  36. Penelope
    8th April 2014 / 05:59

    I always wear perfume, Shalimar is my scent and I have worn it for nearly 40 years! I never tire of it.

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