Defining your fragrance style

I love helping someone discover their fragrance personality and I usually always have such a process going on with someone. But I only do a few per year because I have found a method that feels right to me and it’s a way that requires much time and focus from me. Now I know most people have been happy with the results of scent profiling online services or the consultations departments stores offer and if it has worked for them that’s great. I find however that the time and research included in these services just isn’t enough.

Scents are not easy quick-fixes, it’s very very intimate and personal what you are attracted to and identify with and not. And its really not unusual at all that someone doesn’t really feel sure about what they like, what they should look for… and that is perfectly ok. It’s really perfectly ok and normal and it’s not a reason to just be satisfied with something easy that a shop offers you. You just need more time. Also preferences can change, because we change, both on the inside and our bodies. So maybe you loved a perfume for 10 years and then suddenly it doesn’t feel at all like “you” anymore. That’s perfectly normal. Maybe you have no idea what to do with that feeling and what to look for instead. That’s perfectly normal too. Embrace the discovery and take your time.

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So, that is what my way of doing scent consultations is about. I give time, the time that is needed. Sometimes it is a month, sometimes it is a year. Finding the olfactive reflection of your personality should not be rushed. Now you may wonder what on earth happens for a year or even a month. So I would like to dedicate this blog post to talking about the process that I work with. Maybe reading it and looking at the questions will give you some inspiration on your own scented journey.

Step 1: Someone asks me for a consultation
This happens in many different ways. Sometimes it is a friend, sometimes someone heard about me ny word of mouth. Often it is a person who has been at a lecture and wants to have a consultation or give it as a gift to someone else. Fairly often I get e-mails after appearing on radio or in the media with requests, this is the case with the consultation process I am doing currently.

Step 2: Introduction
In an informal way we get aquainted, I ask what the person is looking for and try to get an idea of their vibe. This is often via e-mail and sometimes a personal meeting. I have had clients in the same city but also on the other side of the world so it just depends on what works best. I will be honest here and tell you that it happens that the process ends here and when that happens its usually because I realise that this person doesn’t not really really want a new perfume. They think they should get a new one, or someone (a partner told them to). But they love their perfume. Or they think the perfume they have is too common or unsophisticated. Now of course we can work with that. If a person has a perfume they feel very comfortable with but would like something more modern or feminine or sophisticated in that same style… that is a brief I can work with. But honestly, when people love the perfume they have it often turns into a less dynamic process. And noone has to get a new perfume of they don’t want to. If you’re happy with what you have enjoy that. 

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Step 3: Questionnaire
Now if we proceed the next step is that I e-mail a questionnaire. This is not brain surgery and so I have no need to keep these questions secret. Some of them are very basic standard, some of them are my additions that work to get my olfactive creative juices flowing in the right direction. The questionnaire is a straight-forward way to start talking about scents because when we do that our brain helps us find directions. Both me and my client. Many people find it difficult to tell me what they want or like and this guidance helps a lot. Also it is a way for me to show that everything about a person gives me a valuable clue. What perfume they like, but also what season they like, how they describe themselves, body language, other sensory preferences. You may think you are not telling me anything useful but in fact you are. Whatever you say it helps me and its my job to translate the information into notes, not the clients.

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I never stress anyone about the questionnaire, because it is absolutely essential that the answers are very honest and so a deadline cannot be focus here. Sometimes I get answers sent to me by the next day and sometimes after two months. It takes the time it needs to take. I thought you might be interested in knowing what I ask? This is my basic set of questions. Sometimes I remove or add something depending on the person and situation.

– Which fragrance(s) (can be perfume, cologne or other scented product) do you currently use? Other scented cosmetics? Are you content with them, super-happy or not really? What do you like about them/it?

– What does your current fragrance lack that would make you like it more?

– How often and when do you use your fragrance?

– What would you like to add to your fragrance wardrobe? Something for a specific occasion or a signature scent or other?

– Which spices do you like?

– Do you like flowers? Which ones?

– What kind of greens do you prefer? Flowers, grass, moss, trees or other.

– Which scents and smells in your daily life (not cosmetics) do you like?

– Which season or climate do you feel the most comfortable in?

– Five adjectives that describe you in a way that you like. Do you want to emphasize or tone down any of these?

– Is there anything about how others tend to perceive you that you would like to adjust?

– What kind of outfit are you the most comfortable in?

– Which are your favorite materials and textures?

– Which city do you identify with the most?

– Five brands that have your vibe or style.

– When do you feel the most you and the most alive?

Maybe when reading this you wonder how this helps me choose a perfume for someone. It does. But it takes a lot of sensibility and research for me and I really feel I need to understand someone’s vibe to get it right. I don’t want to just find something that smells good. I want to find something that you feels smells like you. So I need to know a lot in order to do that, and as a consequence these processes do turn into very personal conversations. I feel honored and humbled by the trust people bring to the dialogue and I can honestly say these processes teach me a lot about both life and olfactive things.

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When I get the answers I withdraw with them for a while and this is the part where I need the same understanding about time taking time from my clients towards me. Sometimes I get an olfactive vision very fast, sometimes it really takes a while for me to find those special details that will make it right. Maybe it’s a perfume note, maybe a brand. I will spend lots time thinking, reading, and often ordering samples. One of the benefits of getting suggestions from me is that I am not tied to any perfume house or store and so when I present suggestions they can be anything from a very famous perfume to some limited art project fragrance or indie perfumer creation.

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That is what happens after I have spent time with the answers: I put together a bespoke discovery kit with samples of various perfumes and my client borrows this kit for a while. Now this is where I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the perfume houses and brands who help me with my setup by providing me with samples. Thank you. The discovery kit has sometimes been done in two steps, if I feel I don’t yet have a defined image of preferences I will add some wild cards or reference perfumes so that we narrow the map down a little. Most of the time this discovery kit is the final one though and one of my suggestions, or several, is something that indeed is a new discovery that feels right.

Jul et Mad fragrances.

Does it sound complicated? Maybe it does. But keep in mind that scents, brains and personality are complicated beautiful things. That’s why they are also so amazing to explore and talk about.

I hope this post still made sense and do feel welcome to post comments or questions!

Photo credits: Katherine Chan.

Photo credits: Katherine Chan.

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