Notes & Noses - Expanding my Fragrance Arsenal

I wrote a while back about wanting to learn more about fragrance, and more specifically, get away from the typical man thing of having a single scent that I wear all the time, every day, for years and years!

I’ve found myself watching an increasing amount of fragrance review videos on YouTube, which is all well and good, but you can’t smell any of the recommendations through a screen. In an ideal world, I’d like to attend some sort of workshop to teach me more, but in lieu of that, I came up with a genius plan, which also had the added bonus of making use of some otherwise dead time!

It occurred to me that with two trips to the USA in a month, that I could use the time right before my flight in duty free trying as many fragrances as possible in order to give me a rough idea of what I liked. 

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My first trip was to Miami from Heathrow Terminal 3. I started by going around randomly testing various designer scents. Every time I found one I liked, I took a photo of it on my phone. I also bought two fragrances specifically for use in the summer (and also on the beach in Miami). The first was Invictus Aqua, by Paco Rabanne, which I really love. The second was Davidoff Cool Water Wave, which I thought was nice and light. Perfect for the beach when you don’t want to be wearing anything over powering. 

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After spending the best part of an hour and a half in Duty Free, I looked back at all the photos I’d taken of the various products I liked, and then using websites like Fragrantica, I started making a list of all the notes in each one to see if there was any correlation between them. Turns out there was!

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Bergamot, Grapefruit, Pink Pepper and Ambergris/Ambroxan featured across many of them. Not all of them, but enough to be a trend at least. So from there I looked up various other fragrances with similar note breakdowns to try ahead of my New York flight a few weeks later. 

My New York trip came around pretty quick, and once again, after the soul destroying ordeal of airport security, I found myself in Duty Free, only this time I was in Heathrow Terminal 5.

During my pre-Miami fragrance fest, I came very close to buying Armani Aqua Di Gio Profumo, so I thought I should begin there. This time however, it didn’t excite me as much for some reason. I guess this is when occasion comes into play. I’ll probably still add it to my collection at some point, but ultimately I wasn’t 100%, so passed on it. 

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I actually preferred the new Aqua Di Gio Absolu, which like Profumo, has Bergamot in the top notes, so I may opt for that, but that’ll be a decision for another day.

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After deciding against Aqua Di Gio, I went to the two fragrances that defined my teens. The first was Jean Paul Gaulthier Le Male. I loved (and still love) this fragrance. It has Bergamot in the top, and is just one of those fragrances I’ll never tire of. I did also have Le Male Terrible at one point, which was a nice take on the classic.

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After Le Male, Issey Miyake’s L’eau D’issey was something I wore consistently until only a few years ago, when I got tired of girls telling me it reminded them of an ex boyfriend! 🤦🏻‍♂️

Surprise surprise, this also has Bergamot in the top notes (are you seeing a trend here?). I also have a few sprays left of some Nuit D’issey, which is darker take on the original, and judging by how little I have left, another favourite.

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Whilst trying the various offerings from Tom Ford (controversially, I don’t like ‘Fucking Fabulous’!), I made a friend in one of the staff, who then joined me on my journey around the store, giving me a whole host of amazing suggestions of what to try. 

I ended up buying an unexpected fragrance from Atelier Cologne. Clementine California doesn’t have any Bergamot note anywhere! What it does have is mandarin, clementine and juniper over a woody base. There is some Pepper in the mid which I love, but it’s the freshness of the citrus top notes that I love for a light summer fragrance. 

It also came with a nice leather travel sleeve. I opted for it in turquoise to match the presentation of the fragrance.

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My second purchase was slightly more left field at first glance. Versace Versense is actually a women’s perfume, but with notes like Bergamot, Mandarin, Sandalwood, Cedar and Musk, it basically has all the things I love, but in a light fragrance that to be honest, comes across as unisex in a similar way to fragrances like CK One. Either way, I like it, and I’ve had some nice compliments from it too.

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So my fragrance arsenal is getting a bit more depth to it compared to a year ago. Definitely a few gaps to fill. I’d like a couple more evening options for both summer and winter, as well as a good gym fragrance, but I feel a lot more versed in terms of knowing which notes I’m drawn to.

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