The expert trick to finding your signature scent

There’s something so romantic about the idea of a having your very own signature fragrance. Not in a J Lo Glow kind of way, more like the kind of scent that defines you when you walk into a room. Well, believe it or not, you probably have all the things you need to create a unique perfume of your very own!

In a world of bespoke everything, fragrance layering is a way to tailor your scent to suit you. “Layering fragrance enhances the olfactory experience, adding a richer, deeper signature to your fragrance - and it increases longevity,” says Nick Smart, Director of Agence De Parfum.  We asked Nick to fill us on how to get started.

Step 1: Choose the right fragrance families

For first-timers, Nick suggests combinations of florals and greens; florals and woody scents; or for men citrus and wood work particularly well. “A floral scent mixed with a green-based scent is the perfect summer alternative, as it adds zest and a fresh depth to your fragrance,” Nick says.  “I like Clive Christian 1872 Feminine layered over Mortel by Trudon, or for evening Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance layered over Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume - the powerful floral and ambergris combination delivers a smouldering sensuality for the evening.” So, are there any fragrance families that don’t get along? “Gourmand, woody and oriental scents can often be difficult to blend but it’s up to individual taste,” Nick says.

Step 2: Start heavy, finish light

One of the golden rules of fragrance layering is to start with the heaviest scent first. “Always start with the deeper fragrance, a woody or a sophisticated oriental, as this will offer an anchoring benefit,” says Nick. “Then layer with a light fresh floral or citrus scent.” Don’t go crazy when you start with your base, you don’t want it to overwhelm what comes next. Generally, you can be a little more generous with the fresh or floral element. “The base determines how the top and middle notes hold, so it’s important that the base you choose has adequate depth and resilience,” Nick says.

Step 3: Contrast is key

While it may be tempting to stick within your scent family, pairing florals with other florals can be… well, kind of like being run over by a flower truck. “Contrast works better, as the fragrance then evolves in a classic pattern; headnotes refresh into floral/herbaceous heart notes, drying down to the rich woody/oriental base,” says Nick.

Step 4: Stick to two fragrances

Now that you’re on the fragrance layering train it may be tempting to get carried away and layer three, maybe four of your favourites. But before you go overboard, take a moment and slowly put down the perfume. “As a rule, never add more than two fragrances as the evolution becomes too complex and heady, often causing a ‘souring’ of the fragrance,” Nick says.

What about oils?

New York Times beauty writer and creator of Ellis Brooklyn fragrances, Bee Shapiro discovered the real version of celebrity scents during years of interviews. “I’ve had lots of interviews with celebrities like Emma Roberts and Zoe Kravitz and what they do is have their complex really fancy luxury scent and then go to Whole Foods or something to buy single scented oil to layer… and that’s how they customise.  And I thought, ‘That's genius!’ because it’s less intimidating; it takes one very controllable thing like a single oil and pairs it with your favourite smell.” Bee liked the idea so much she created her very own layering kit – the Ellis Brooklyn Adventure Fragrance Layering Kit which takes all the guess work out of your mix.


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