Us chaps are often slightly lost when it comes to buying gifts, especially for the ladies in our lives. But fear not, here is the perfect gift idea that you will be dining out on for years to come!
All gals love perfume, but wait… before you all stop reading because perfume is the biggest of all of the “non-thought” presents that gets done by those who can’t think of anything else, I implore you to keep reading.
As I was saying, all gals love perfume and what could be more romantic that bespoke perfume from one of the world most prestigious perfumers. Now, that would be pretty special right? Not only would your special lady get a scent as unique as her, but she would be able to spend some time creating it with you. Something you can do together.
“The Learned Lady” and I recently did exactly that and I shall briefly describe the process and the experience.
On Jermyn Street (my favourite street in London) is the world famous perfumer, Floris. The Jermyn Street shop is their oldest shop and has been the heart of their business since 1730. Since then it has supplied the great and the good with fragrances, it holds two royal warrants – one for The Queen (the only perfumer to hold the Queen’s warrant) and a second for the Prince of Wales. It has famously supplied Sir Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale and of course Ian Fleming who wore Floris No. 89. Fleming loved the company so much he mentioned it in no less than three of his James Bond novels (Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever & Dr No).
However, our consultation was at their Boutique in Belgravia, a lovely intimate shop with shelves of fragrances in the front part of the shop and a consultation area at the rear of the shop with oil paintngs of the Floris family, including the companys founder Juan Famenias Floris overseeing each and every fragrance design.
The process starts with the Fragrance wheel, not dissimilar to the aroma wheel that is used in the wine world, which lays out the four basic groups that fragrances belong to:
These four basic groups are then split again into more specific notes. For example Fresh is split into Citrus, Fruity, Green & Water.
With the basic groups laid out the process can start with some sniffing! Running through each group you start to sniff the dozen or more fragrance bases which will give the perfume the primary character. It is at this point where you start to narrow down what type of fragrance is going to be created, from dark, woody, spicy evening fragrances to fresh, light, delicate day time fragrances. The path you take depends entirely on what your lady wants.
Having narrowed down to a couple of base fragrances then there is a whole list of specific aromas which are used to fine tune and customise the bases. It is sniffing all of these specifics that I found really fascinating as each smell evokes memories in your own mind and it is enormous fun trying to figure out what you can smell, from sweet vanilla to earthy mossy green smells each reminding you of something. You get to go through the whole range to decide what you like and what you are less keen on before the perfumer helps advise what might work and what might not work with your base fragrance. A bit of tinkering and it becomes time to start mixing.
With ancient looking glass measuring cylinders and conical flasks the perfume is carefully mixed and at each stage the fragrance is carefully monitored with the most sensitive piece of instrumentation there (your nose) and choices are made to add a small aliquot of this scent and a few drops more of the other until your fragrance is finished. It is then bottled by hand and given a unique name that you and your gal get to choose (assuming it has not already been taken of course!).
The recipe is entered into a log by hand where it will remain as a permanent record of the specific recipe so that each time you come to reorder some more perfume the exact same fragrance can be replicated (this is years of presents for your wife or girlfriend all sorted there and then!)
Customised perfume is a little more involved than nipping in to Boots and buying a bottle of the latest celebrity endorsed, mass produced stuff that everyone else can wear. It is a truly unique gift. Not only will your gal have her own fragrance that nobody else can wear, but the two of you can get to enjoy the whole process of designing it together. It doesn’t get more romantic than that!