re you a bit lost when it comes to your perfume? Do you love the idea of having a signature scent but have no clue where to begin?
Perhaps the whole spraying mania of a department store perfume aisle is just not for you. Or perhaps, feeling overwhelmed by the choice, you end up reverting to the much-loved (yet nowadays entirely inappropriate) eau de toilette of your teenage years.
Whatever the cause of your perfume paralysis, it could be time to bypass the sea of Boots tester strips, and enlist the help of a professional.
London is a city crammed to the rafters with amazing perfumeries, and many of them offer bespoke services that allow you to create a totally unique, heaven sent scent.
These are the ones to know.
Ormonde Jayne offers two bespoke services. The first involves meeting with brand founder Linda Pilkington several times over the course of six months. She’ll make a very detailed mental portrait (everything from your eating habits, to what scenery and landscapes excite you) before selecting scents from her private library. You’ll spray and sniff repeatedly until you find your dream scent, which they’ll then bottle in an engraved rare crystal flacon.
Their quicker (and cheaper) 90-minute ‘Your Scent, Your Strength, Your Style’ service allows you to choose one of their signature 15 fragrances, then choose the strength: either Extract (poured at 40% concentration, £185) or Intense (poured at 50% concentration, £205). Lastly, you choose from the 8 gorgeous bottle colours (or you can have a clear flacon) and they will engrave your name and initials in our boutique. All while guzzling champagne and Charbonnel and Walker chocolates.
Price: ‘Your Scent, Your Strength, Your Style’ starts at £185 for a 50ml bottle, poured at 40 per cent strength. The fully bespoke service costs between £3,000 – £6,000 depending on the oils chosen and the bottle.
Bonus: Not to be missed if you love the scent Oudh, which Ormonde Jayne is famous for.
Not only were British brand Floris responsible for Kate and Wills’ wedding fragrance, but they’re also the oldest privately owned family perfumers in the world.
Opt for their two-hour scent customisation experience and be guided through base notes and top notes while sipping on champagne. You’ll leave with a monogrammed bottle and your exact scent mixture noted in the company’s 300-year-old ledgers.
Floris also offer a full perfume design service. Over a period of six months you will work with their resident ‘nose’ to design your own signature scent totally from scratch.
Price: Customisation Experience, £550. Full Bespoke Perfume Design, £5000 (including a 100ml bottle of Eau de Parfum and five repeats).
Bonus: Edward Bodenham, 9th generation member of the Floris family, will be on-hand to guide you throughout.
Wake up in the middle of the night and decide you just gotta have that signature scent? No problem. Miller Harris take bookings for their 90-minute Fragrance Profiling service at any time of day or night, and will even close the shop for you during the day should you fancy it. After some initial questions to establish a sniffing starting point (where have you lived? what food do you like?) the expert will select three ‘lights’, three ‘darks’ and two wild card perfumes with which to take you on a wine tasting-esque journey to finding that perfect scent.
Price: £250 if you want the private, middle-of-the-night (or day) experience, with a 100ml bottle of fragrance, or £100 if you’re happy to do it when the store’s open (plus a 50ml bottle of your chosen perfume).
Bonus: We mentioned the bit about 3am private store sessions right?
Experimental Perfume Club
Launched in 2017 by perfumer Emmanuelle Moeglin (who has 12 years’ experience working for brands like L’Oreal and Puig), this micro-perfumery specialises in creating bespoke perfumes for individuals and brands alike.
Head to their newly opened lab-cum-store in Covent Garden (53 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9DG), where you’re free to experiment with fragrance layering and have your own fragrance blended for you, complete with a personalised label and bottle. Ordinarily the EPC runs day-long group workshops which are on hold right now due to Covid, but are well-worth booking in for once things get back to normal.
For now, book in for one of their 1-2-1 appointments for a fragrance deep dive, either ‘Le Petit Parfum’ or ‘Sur Mesure’. You’ll leave with a 50ml fragrance and the Experimental Perfume Club will store your unique formula for you.
Price: Prices from £250 to £600 for a one-to-one, including one 50ml fragrance.
Bonus: All creations are kept in their library so you can re-order refills at any time.
Master perfumer Roja Dove has an encyclopaedic knowledge of scent – and a cult following to match.
The first step for anyone booking in for his £25,000 bespoke service? A cup of tea. “It helps make them comfortable in my company so they can truly act themselves,” says the 64-year-old.
You’ll then sit with Dove for many hours, during which he will blind scent test hundreds of raw materials on you, judging your reactions, in a process he invented called Odour Profiling. “I unpick their olfactory locks like a cat burglar to develop the building blocks of their scent personality – everything is as unique as a fingerprint and by taking the time to get to know the client on a personal level, I am able to recreate that completely individual smell,” he says.
Dovewill then create a couple of slightly different fragrances for you to choose from, before you order your final perfume in a bottle, cap, plaque and box all designed exactly to your taste.
Price: Roja’s bespoke service starts at £25,000 and takes an average of 6-12 months.
Bonus: He’s launched 59 fragrances and has 40 years experience, so you’re in safe hands.
The Perfumers Story (Azzi Glasser)
“Azzi possesses a certain sorcery, in that she is capable of capturing the perfect essence of a character in scent,” says Johnny Depp, just one of the many celebrities to have commissioned a bespoke scent from award-winning nose Azzi Glasser.
Her private, appointment-only Bespoke Atelier service takes between three and four months and promises to capture your unique fragrance DNA print.
The finished perfume is presented in a beautiful personalised hand crafted luxury Perfume Vanity Case which encloses four giant 150 ml flacons, personalised with the name and formula number of the unique perfume, plus 10 travel sized bottles (30ml) of the same fragrance.
Price: The Bespoke Atelier service starts at £15,000.
Bonus: Helena Bonham Carter, Jude Law, Kylie Minogue, Orlando Bloom and Cindy Crawford are all fans