i want to write about this whilst it’s fresh in my mind, though i can’t imagine i’ll be forgetting about it in any near future.
recently i won a competition, and part of the prize was for me and a friend to make our own bespoke perfumes at floris, on ebury street (the flagship store is on jermyn street). making my very own perfume has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and one i thought would never actually be realised.
i invited sade of in my sunday best along with me as i sensed it was something she’d really enjoy (also because she’s wonderful) too.
we were invited down into the basement level, in a room filled with shelves of golden floris display boxes, perfume ingredients, petals in vases and greenery along the windowsill.
firstly we had a bit of a chat, discussing briefly what sort of scents we liked. our bespoke perfume manager, penny went though variants of scents from different fragrance families – like woody, oriental, floral, citrus etc and gave us a little info on the history of the scents as well as how they’re derived.
i found this really boosted the experience for me as i love learning about the history, meaning and symbolism behind things. i also love that making perfumes is a really interesting mix of science and creativity. there’s a perceived magic about it, but what it really comes down to is mixing chemicals together. as well as this, the way everyone percieves smell is different, as it’s so closely linked to your memory (in the limbic system in your brain, where emotion, behaviour and mood are also processed) and i think that’s where the ‘magic’ comes into it.
i think we initially went through about 15 fragrances, all on blotter sticks, and had to choose a few favourites out of those. it became quickly apparent i (or just my nose?) am really not fond of the ‘green’ scents, as well as anything overly synthetic. there were also quite a few scents that i would never wear, but still quite enjoyed the smell of – some had that ‘i don’t really like it, yet i can’t stop smelling it’ sort of quality to them too.
going into this, i already have a strong sense of smells i love and even though i wasn’t putting it into my mind to influence me, clearly my gut instincts ran true, and i ended up with a fragrance that is a mix of my three favourite things, namely: floral, warm and powdery with a hit of citrus.
after that, we went through a few more ingredients that would go with what we’ve already chosen, and then it came to testing them on our skin. this part of it is important, because of the way scents work with your body chemistry. they can smell quite different on the stick than they can on you.
finally, we got towards the end and the perfumes were made. it’s interesting to see them being made in front of you too, and to see how much of each ingredient goes into it. when the bottle was made up and i actually got to smell my finished perfume, it was instant love. a few days later now i still keep smelling it because it just makes me so happy.
the whole experience is quite bewitching, and you feel like you’ve had part in concocting some magic potion. the magic being that this has been created for you, in front of your very eyes, and specific to your tastes. i really feel like the perfume made for me really smells like ‘me’. it’s a hard thing to put into words, but i just smell it and i feel like it’s part of my soul. which sounds cheesy, but ultimately true ..for me, anyway.
oh, and yes, i totally named my perfume after my cat. i do love the name ava too though.