Fragrance layering, or the wearing of more than one perfume at a time, is often frowned upon by perfumers and you can understand why. Years are spent developing a new scent by trained noses who are paid to create something fabulous, why fiddle with it? Is it even allowed?
Today’s perfume consumers – and we’re counting ourselves here – are a savvy bunch. We know a lot more about perfume, thanks to sharing our passion and knowledge on websites and social media. Once you understand a little about fragrance – what ingredients are used, the different ‘families’ – the more we want to push the boundaries, be playful and create a more personalised scent experience.
We view the idea of fragrance layering a bit like we approach getting dressed, once you understand how to put an outfit together you might play about with the accessories, add a jacket, switch up the shoes and develop your own style. Just like with clothes, some scent combinations don’t work, but with practise you discover some come alive and feel very ‘you’ when they’re worn together. Check out our How To Wear Scent With Style for a few more tips in this area.
So yes, it’s definitely allowed, you can mix up your scents. In fact once you start it’s hard to stop because creatively, it’s very rewarding and before long, you’ll have developed your own, unique scented style. And who doesn’t want that? In a homogenous and globalised world, we’re all seeking to be a bit more individual.
We’re encouraging you to play. Use your imagination and create your own, deliciously personal, olfactory signature. It’s easy and experimenting is fun. Here’s how.
Work with a curated collection. Innovative brands have tapped into this enthusiasm for a more customised scent experience by developing fragrances that are designed to work well together. Jo Malone London has always encouraged layering within its range (our favourite is a rose mash up of rich Velvet Rose & Oud cologne worn under the fresher blast of Red Roses) and regular readers will know we’re fans of Layers, by the Experimental Perfume Club.
An interesting new brand that crossed our desk this month is Hermetica, a clever collection of fragrances designed by John and Clara Malloy (we interviewed Clara here) which all have touch of the anchor formula, called Source, within them, creating a common scent-thread that allows for compatible layering.
Source is a rich, ambery citrus with great longevity and works beautifully on its own or as the base for layering up with any of the remaining twelve scents, which are divided into florals, orientals and woods. Want a more floral vibe? Try layering Multilotus over the top, adding a petally softness with lotus flower and osmanthus. The scents are alcohol free and use an innovative formula that blends together your combo and even moisturises the skin. There’s also an online dictionary of ingredients which explains the character of each note, to help you cook up your own recipe. Our advice is to buy the whole collection of samples, reasonably priced at £25, and have a play.
Pick a favourite ingredient note. You only need a little understanding of fragrance to discover you love some ingredients better than others. In our fragrance wardrobe there can never be too much patchouli, for example, so how clever of new brand Ostens to develop a collection of fine fragrance quality, single note, fragrance oils (called Préparation) that can be layered into your favourite scents to enhance their standing. There are five oils; jasmine, rose, patchouli, cedar wood and cashmeran which use both the highest concentration and the very best quality ingredients available and can either be worn on their own, where they have the feel of super-charged essential oils, or as companions to something already in your fragrance wardrobe.
Additionally in the Ostens range, there are matching fine fragrances (called Impressions) that can be layered over the oils, but we love the idea of pimping up your favourite floral with a touch of Rose Préparation Rose Oil Isparta or adding sensual Preparation Cashmeran Velvet to anything that needs a bit more cashmere jumper softness. This base note layering is a lovely fragrance ritual to get behind, as it enriches and deepens our fragrance connection.
Styling it out: develop a fragrance personality. As you gain confidence wearing perfume, it’s actually pretty simple to see how you can personalise your fragrance selection to make it even more you. Our clothes wardrobes are full of well worn favourites which we frequently restyle by adding a new accessory or a colourful scarf, and we apply the same thinking to our fragrance wardrobes. For example, you may wear an old favourite, perhaps a weighty oriental, and accessorise with a lighter, flightier cologne or floral on top.
We played this scenario out with one of our all time favourite fragrances, Tauer Perfume’s l’Air Du Désert Marocain an award winning classic we’d suggest everyone had in their scent wardrobe, with its spiced, dusty warmth and reassuring longevity. We layered Goldfield & Banks’ new Southern Bloom over it, a scent inspired by the native baronia flower grown in Fraser island in Australia. The bruised-earth floral notes in Southern Bloom seemed to dance through the elegant spiced air of the L’Air Du Désert Marocain a little like a scented romance. Both seemed to hold hands and settle on the skin to create intriguing versions of themselves, the same, but different.
Start with scarves: scenting clothes. A great place to start your fragrance layering journey is by scenting your clothes. Scarves should always be scented, in our opinion and it’s a ritual we love to engage in as the weather gets colder. After you’ve sprayed your skin, try selecting a complimentary fragrance for spraying on your scarf to wear the two together. Another intriguing place to scent is jacket and coat linings, which can reveal another scent layer as you disrobe, or inside a hat or handbag, where a deliciously captivating scent can sneak unexpectedly into the air and intrigue your companions.
A perfect scent for spraying on scarves is Dusita’s Fleur de Lalita a gentle and beautifully balanced floral bouquet, where its soft jasmine, ylang ylang and rose notes seem to perfectly compliment the smooth softness of silk or the textural warmth of cashmere and wool. The added advantage here is if you ever leave a scarf behind, just one sniff will remind the finder to whom it belongs.
Our beautiful images are by Jean Philippe Calver