NEW YORK (AP) — A bottle of fragrance is an almost irresistible gift to give: It’s a luxury item that might not break the bank; it’s personal and long-lasting; the packaging is beautiful — and those right angles on the boxes make it a breeze to wrap.
Fragrance, though, is also a very personal present, leaving it with the potential to be a hit or miss. There are the pleasant smells that remind one of a happy childhood memory or a favorite vacation, and the not-so-pleasant reminders of grandma’s stuffy attic or flowers given by a love lost.
To further complicate things, those turn-ons and turnoffs will be different for everyone, and there’s body chemistry and the unique interaction between fragrance and skin to consider, too.
Still, there are some educated guesses to be made about preferences, says Rochelle Bloom, president of the Fragrance Foundation, an industry trade group. “Fragrance is magical, transformative. Literally, one drop changes everything. It can take you to a special place.”
The Associated Press asked experts to create perfume profiles for different personalities based on their other passions in life. They recommend mostly “notes” — the building blocks of fragrances. They’re combined in countless ways.
The gift list:
• FOODIE. Almost every fruit flavor has a fragrance equivalent, with citrus and berry particularly popular, but apple, cherry, cranberry and black currant are among the other options. There are nut notes, including almond and hazelnut, and you can find coffee and cappuccino as well.
Robin Coe-Hutshing, founder of Los Angeles-based beauty retailer Studio Beautymix, makes the case that food fans are very in touch with their senses, leaving room for some experimentation. She suggests fragrances with a hint of lime, basil, coriander, cucumber or mint.
For anyone with a sweet tooth, vanilla is a great treat in the scents world, says Victoria Christian, whose family fragrance company makes the world’s most expensive perfume, Clive Christian No. 1, which can cost up to $5,500 in its top formula and bottle. But it’s important to find the right partners for vanilla, to prevent it from being too cloying. Consider peaches, rhubarb, ginger, cardamom or cinnamon.
Fragrances to consider include DKNY’s Be Delicious, Dior’s Escale a Portofino, Bond No. 9’s Andy Warhol Success Is a Job in New York, Creed Sublime Vanilla.
• FASHIONISTA. Fragrance is the entry point into the world of designer labels.
The relatively inexpensive price tag even allows people to build up a “wardrobe” of several different designers. (And most top-tier designers have a fragrance collection; it’s a sign they’ve made it into the big leagues.)
“All the designers have their special vibe, their signature look and it’s the same when they put their name to a fragrance,” says Bloom.
Christian says the high-fashion follower likes attention, and what will get her there is a strong, out-of-the-ordinary note: perhaps ambrette seed, a smell familiar in the air of the Mediterranean resorts indeed frequented by designers.
For a more literal fashion influence, suede and leather have both been replicated into notes.
“The high fashion girl wants to make an impact, have a second glance and want to be noticed,” Christian says. “A fashionista isn’t a top-to-toe label. She’s looking for something unique.”
Try Vera Wang Glam Princess, Very Hollywood Michael Kors, Chanel No. 5, Ralph Lauren Heart of Gold.
• HOMEBODY. There’s nothing basic about this type of person, but there is something calming, says Coe-Hutshing, who also developed the Burn collection of fragrance and the Memoire Liquide Bespoke Perfumery, and recommends the notes cotton flower, violet, honey and green tea.
This woman is probably an aficionado of fine craftsmanship, Coe-Hutshing adds, making her more likely to stick with one favorite fragrance once she’s found it instead of bouncing around from one trendy perfume to another.
Christian thinks she’d like an uncluttered feminine floral, especially a rose. Bloom suggests scented candles.
Try Jo Malone’s Red Roses Collection, Marc Jacobs Cotton, Green Tea Exotic by Elizabeth Arden, Chloe Eau de Parfum.
• JEWELRY FANATIC. A beautiful bottle design is the first thing to look for, says Bloom, and you’ll find some adorned with pearls, crystals, gold and silver. “Many of the bottles look like precious jewels all by themselves.”
For the scent itself, Christian would go for something
“fancy.” “A woman of this caliber, you must give her a perfume, a pure perfume with a multifaceted complex formula that unravels on the skin,” she says.
A classically built perfume might have bergamot or nutmeg as a top note, ylang-ylang, jasmine or other white flowers as a heart, and a base of sandalwood and cedar.
The white flowers remind Coe-Hutshing of traditional pearls, while rich woods or patchouli are for fans of rock ’n’ roll-inspired gold and silver chains.
Try Clive Christian No. 1, Bvlgari Green Jade, Nanette by Nanette Lepore, Avon’s In Bloom.
• PARTY GIRL. This woman smells “like an island,” says Coe-Hutshing, with notes of jasmine, gardenia, tuberose and lily. You notice her and her fragrance when you walk by — it’s part of a carefully crafted image that is supposed to appear nonchalant but really takes effort, she explains.
“Jasmine is a big scent. If you wear the right concentration, if falls heavy on your skin and leaves a lot of depth,” agrees Christian, noting that Cleopatra was rumored to wear jasmine as she seduced Marc Antony.
Bloom thinks lively top notes of guava or pineapple and a base of coconut milk would add to the mystique.
But this woman can also be very sophisticated, so a more opulent scent, with black orchid and spices, might be another route.
Try Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, Marc Jacobs Daisy, Estee Lauder’s Brazil Dream, Alien by Thierry Mugler.