Chanel No. 5 does exactly that for me. Called the Proustian phenomenon – 19th Century French writer Marcel Proust theorized that scent can transport us to very vivid memories – a scent can immediately take us back to a specific point in time, even if we’ve forgotten all about it. A tiny whiff of those notes (Neroli, ylang-ylang, bergamot, lemon and aldehydes), and I’m a little girl, watching my mother spritz herself with those perfumes – her signature scents.
To this day, I associate those perfumes with her and memories of us together. Whether she was getting ready to go to church, to work or out for an evening, her routine for getting dressed for any occasion ended with perfume.
She also wore Lanvin’s My Sin. It was my favourite bottle in her vanity collection. Housed in a black round bottle, this signature fragrance seemed mysterious to me. It intrigued me. And the scent was unforgettable. My father favored exotic spices and scents, and on one of his trips to Alexandria, Egypt, where he is from, he bought my mother and I magnificent vintage perfume bottles.
My mom taught me about the importance, elegance, and romance of a signature scent at an early age. And it worked well for me through my Love’s Baby Soft and White Shoulders years, and I still love those notes of anise, gardenia, and patchouli. The birthday gift from my parents at sweet 16, Chanel No. 19 has 19 notes, and I find that those notes follow me in the perfumes I choose today.
Your Signature Fragrance
You might be wondering what my childhood memories would have to do with you selecting a signature scent. Other than showing my passion for perfume, I meant for this to show how a fragrance can follow us throughout our lives. For me, my signature scent is an essential part of my personal brand, therefore I spend time researching and experimenting before I buy any perfume.
It’s an important beauty decision, and unlike lipstick you remove with a tissue, your scent is left permanently with people. So, the scent you choose as your signature fragrance should tell your story about your personal brand.
Tips for selecting your signature fragrance:
Describe yourself in five words. Do some research around what fragrance pairs with your character. Sales staff, perfume journalism, and online resource like fragrantica.com can help.
Take your time. Experiment with different notes. Learn about the ones you gravitate to.
Always test before buying. Try it on your skin. Body chemistry can take a fragrance and make it an entirely different scent.
Don’t be afraid to invest. Perfume will last longer on your skin and has a better-quality concentration of essences, compared to Eau de Toilette, which may have more alcohol or other fillers. And I’ve found that sometimes a higher percentage of alcohol and other chemicals can make for an unpleasant odor. Also know that perfume is a stronger than the Eau de Toilette, so you may want to go with unscented body lotion and shower gel – or at least choose one that complement your signature fragrance with a similar scent profile (notes).
Easy does it! You may adore your signature scent, but not everyone loves perfume and artificial scents, and some people have fragrance allergies and are prone to headaches. You should also note that after a while you many not smell your fragrance because you’ve become used to the scent. So be modest with how you wear your signature scent and be aware of how much you dab or spritz. If you’re going to a hospital, doctor’s office or to any medical environment, skip the fragrance altogether.
Don’t commit to just one signature fragrance. I like to alternate from two scents one for spring/summer and another for autumn/winter.
A signature scent can complete your look and complement your personal brand. At the end of the day, finding your signature scent is like embarking on a sensorial journey. So, you should enjoy it.