Custom Made Perfume: A guide to create your unique scent - Part 1
We live in the age of customisation and personalisation. During the last couple of years there has been a very large increase on the number of companies and stores that offer custom made or personalised products and services; actually pretty much everyone offers a service that turns an ordinary gift item from the shelf to a thoughtful, special and treasured item. Is it because suddenly everyone wants to look different and unique, with items of clothing, accessories and even home ware either getting minor touch ups or being created from scratch to mirror your character, mood or fancy? Or is it because we want to go back to the roots of industrialisation when everything was handmade and the effort put into making something reflected the value and intentions of the gift giver?
Either way, it’s a trend that seems to be finding a very large audience and of course most stores, now offer engraving, embossing and other services to make your bottle of mainstream perfume a bit more special.
However the “real deal” is to actually make your absolutely very own perfume, a privilege that belonged only to royalty, the wealthy and maybe the wives of perfumers. One of my favourite stories involves Parfum de Therese, the fragrance legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska composed for his wife and was released many decades later under Frederic Malle’s line. It still remains one of the most popular scents they offer.
My first encounter with custom made fragrance came from Selfridges that claimed they could distill your character in a scent through their Fragrance Lab experience back in 2014.
The scent chosen for me was Two Six Seven with notes of Aldehydes, Violet Leaves, Metallic Fractions, Styrax, Birchtar, Neon Lipstick Accord, Habanolide, Ambroxan & Castoreum
All the notes sounded great and actually are what I would potentially use myself but they were put together in an unbalanced way so that the final product was a very poor interpretation of what I expected. Out of curiosity I purchased a few more perfumes from the experiment and again most of them were too very unbalanced despite their great potential based on the notes used, a fact that proved to me that the intentions can be grand but it all comes down to the perfumers nose to create a fragrance that will appeal to you in a deep level and make it “your own”.
I have since attended Sarah McCartney’s (4160 Tuesdays) workshop and have managed to create my own perfume with her guidance, a dark and mysterious chypre I call Bunny Queen.
However as I have been reading about all the perfumers and perfume houses that offer this service all around the world, below I have listed all I could find online!
When in Paris:
Kilian works in close contact with the client throughout the process and the unique scent is tailored and refined until it meets your expectations. At the end of the process you will receive 1L of bespoke perfume poured into a beautiful crystal carafe made by Saint-Louis and housed in the signature black lacquered woodbox. The box comes with 6 iconic KILIAN 50ml bottles and 2 travel sprays of your choice. The plaque on the bottles will be engraved with a name of your choice and the formula of the perfume will be exclusively yours.
My dream is to actually manage to afford this service by Guerlain as this supreme luxury is truly a work of art. Guerlain has a long standing tradition in Bespoke Fragrances and the final product is the fruit of a close collaboration between the perfume house and the client. The Director of Fragrance Development, Sylvaine Delacourte, acts as an interpreter of memories and dreams, discovering your innermost desires and preferences and the results of a series of tests and trials are passed on to Thierry Wasser, Guerlain’s In House Perfumer, who will then put all of his talent towards composing the perfume of a lifetime. From the initial idea to manufacture, approximately one year's work is required.
After choosing your unique fragrance, you will be given two litres of perfume, enough to last you five years, in a superb 500-ml Baccarat crystal Quadrilobe bottle, accompanied by twenty 60-ml bottles and three 30-ml bottles.
You will also be the life-long owner of the formula.
If this option is a bit expensive you can choose your favourite Guerlain perfume and personalise it, by engraving your bottle, a service often offered in most shops;
I had my Mon Exclusif personalised by a lovely ceramist at Selfridges when it was launched.
You can also have your perfume bottled in your favourite colour bee bottle – this is a service offered in the Paris and most international Guerlain boutiques.
Customers visiting Guerlain Perfume Boutiques can choose the colour of their Abeilles bottle and have it filled with one of eighteen different fragrances from the perfume fountain. The bottles are then hand tied in any colour ribbon you like before finally engraved in the style you like. This is service that Harrods offers as well and this year Selfridges exclusively offers black bee bottles!
For more than a decade, Francis Kurkdjian has been creating bespoke fragrances for a private clientele. Following his collaborations with major perfume / fashion houses, his work with individuals wishing to create their bespoke fragrance can take up to five months during which Kurkdjian will present you with samples to try and decide how your dreams, emotions and memories have been translated into scent.
At the end of the process you will receive two 60 ml engraved bottles in a case with refills available whenever you need more!
A perfume all of your own, created in collaboration with Mathilde Laurent, Cartier’s In House Perfumer. In the Salon des Parfums, in a private room in the Rue de la Paix boutique in Paris, you will describe your dream perfume to Mathilde Laurent who will transform it into a unique personal creation; an olfactory portrait in the pure Cartier tradition, balancing the high standards of the brand with your personal, intimate desires. Again the procedure takes many months and you end up with a perfume formula that belongs only to you.
Jean Patou – with perfumer Thomas Fontaine
Jean Patou’s In House Perfumer Thomas Fontaine, who is responsible for the revival of the Jean Patou Collection Héritage line, the House’s most famous and historic fragrances, is offering a bespoke service as well.
The journey of creating the ultimate olfactory reflection of oneself starts with a series of meetings where a feel of your personality, culture, desires and tastes is discussed, explored and revealed and after a few months you will receive a personalised Baccarat bottle filled with your choice. The fragrance becomes a part of Patou’s perfume archive and can be reordered by you or future generations.
Stay tuned as in a couple of days we'll continue with Part 2 and see what happens across the pond!