Each year, new fragrances are launched in a flurry of glamorous
and expensive marketing hyperbole. Many women embrace these
seductive new fragrances, but
there are those who are addicted to one fragrance and make it their
SANDRA SYMONS reports.
Do you have a favourite perfume, one that you always wear with
sensual pleasure, one that seems to be a fragrant extension of
yourself, one perfume that elicits approving comments from others?
If so, join the ranks of Madonna, who always wears Youth Dew, Jerry
Hall (Opium), Cathérine Deneuve (L'Heure Bleue), Princess Di (Diorissimo),
Marilyn Monroe (who always wore Chanel No 5), Jackie O (Joy) and
Audrey Hepburn (L'Interdit).
Studies in the field of sensory physiology and emotional
psychology suggest a close relationship between particular emotional
profiles and fragrance preferences. They show that women who wear
fragrance usually return to their personal fragrance preferences.
In many cases, women with particular personality characteristics
- such as being extroverted and sociable, or quiet and reserved, or
even tempered, or volatile and unpredictable - can be matched to
particular fragrance categories.
The international fragrance compounding house, Haarman and
Reimer, has done much research on the psychological impact of
fragrance. Given that the sense of smell is the one that depends
most upon a connection with other senses, it is not surprising that
our choice of fragrance is very often determined by our
psychological and emotional needs.
Perfume, like the colours and clothes we wear, gives us a chance
to identify and emphasise our moods and feelings as well as project
something of the moods and feelings we desire.
While each of us is a constantly evolving being who experiences
different moods at different times in differing intensities, we
maintain a constant inner emotional core which may be expressed in
many creative ways.
Generalisations notwithstanding, here are some personality types
and the fragrances they are attracted to, according to psychologists
who have studied fragrance and its influence:
* Active women with an optimistic approach to life are
attracted to fresh, spring-like floral notes such as hyacinth, lily
of the valley and freesia;
* Young, or young-at-heart women, who are reserved and
enjoy solitude and tranquillity tend to prefer oriental fragrances
with a heavy sweetness;
* Women who have an extroverted, impulsive and spontaneous
nature and thrive on activity and change like fresh floral
fragrances with notes of pineapple, raspberry, blackcurrant and
* Women who like the security of an ordered life yet are
emotional ambivalent prefer floral oriental perfumes that combine
earthy and sweet notes;
* Mature worldly women gravitate to perfumes with powdery
flowery notes combined with balsamic intrigue; and
* Emotionally stable, extroverted women are typically
attracted to chypre fragrances that combine oak moss with, say,
Do you see yourself in any of these categories? Let's look
at it another way - think of the fragrances that you prefer, do they
fit a particular fragrance category? Does that fragrance category
match up to any of the brief personality profiles described
Over the years, my favourite fragrances have included Coty's
Imprevu (when I left school), Balenciaga's Quadrille and Grès'
Cabochard (when I was in my first job), Rochas' Femme (when I
married) and Guerlain's Mitsouko (which I now wear all the time).
Recently, I was given a bottle of Ulric de Varens' Varensia and find
All these fragrances belong to the chypre category, that is they
have notes of oakmoss, woods and citrus, resin, cedar and tobacco. Do I fit the emotional profile that is bracketed with chypre
fragrances? Well, I do regard myself as emotionally stable and
Haarman and Reimer has another way of categorising fragrance and
personality. It offers seven basic categories of fragrance type and
matches them to mood tendencies.
Here they are:
* Aldehydic-Floral Notes
(projecting a fragrance mood that is classical, elegant and
cultured). Women who like fragrances with these characteristics have
a personal style which is elegant and exclusive, free from the whims
of fashion. Culture plays a special role in their lives.
Rich floral aldehydes include Arpège and Je Reviens; those with
crisp or fresh notes include Safari and Rive Gauche.
* Floriental Notes
(romantic, dreamy and idealistic).
The women who wear these
fragrances are sensitive and refuse to view life from a sober,
rational standpoint. They are controlled by their feelings, moods
and emotions. Classic floral orientals include L'Heure Bleue,
* Oriental Notes (introspective, sensitive, reflective). Women who
favour oriental fragrances understand themselves. They reject
superficiality and have intense relationships. They value inner
tranquillity and harmony and are happy in their own company. Classic
orientals include Donna Karan, Shalimar.
* Powdery-Aldehydic Notes
(independent, unconventional and unfettered). The women who
prefer these qualities in a fragrance demand a free and unattached
life shaped by themselves. They are artistic and highly
individualistic. They seek to live by their own ideas and
convictions. Classic soft flower powdery aldehydes include Chanel No
5 and L'Interdit.
* Fruity-Floral Notes
(carefree, playful, cheerful).
Women who choose fruity-floral
fragrances love a free and spontaneous life and enjoy it to the
fullest. They are curious and open about everything new and thrive
on change. Classic or rich citrus floral fragrances include Eau de Guerlain and Ô de Lancôme.
*Fresh-Green Floral Notes
(dynamic, active, extroverted). Women who wear such fragrances
are willing to accept certain risks and make a strong commitment in
exchange for interesting and varied work. They like to play an
active role in events and show great initiative. Classic and rich
green fragrances include Aliage and Private Collection.
(professional, pragmatic, self-assured).
The women who wear chypre fragrances take charge of their lives. They solve problems in
a practical, uncomplicated way. They accept responsibility and
project self-assurance and strength of will. Classic chypres include
Femme, Knowing, Mitsouko, Paloma Picasso.
There is an eighth Indefinable Fragrance Category
projecting a fragrance mood that is down-to earth, well-balanced and
harmonious. Women whose fragrance category cannot be easily defined
may be described as natural and uncomplicated. They are realistic
and dependable and promote a sense of security in those around them.
They are perceived as warm and compassionate. They reject the whims
Let's go back to several of the celebrity women mentioned
earlier, take a quick look at their fragrance preference and
speculate if the matches seem right.
French actor Cathérine Deneuve wears Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue,
a classic floral oriental with a heart of Bulgarian rose and jasmine
and base notes of musk and vanilla. Rose offers a romantic elegance,
jasmine an intoxicating, powerful energy. Musk conjures up
sensuality and warmth and vanilla adds a tenacious, deep sweetness. Do you think that Deneuve seems to fit the suggested profile of a
romantic, idealistic dreamer, a sensitive woman shaped by her
feelings and emotions?
Princess Di's fragrance favourite was Diorissimo, a fresh
floral with a heart of white flower notes of opulent jasmine and
volatile lily of the valley and a base of warm boronia and subtle
rosewood. According to the fragrance profile, this suits a carefree
and playful woman who loves spontaneity and wants to live by the
motto 'you only live once'.
Audrey Hepburn's favourite, which was created specially
for her by Hubert Givenchy, was L'Interdit, a classic soft floral
with heart notes of jasmine and rose and soul notes of amber and
incense. Given these key ingredients, the fragrance suggests a
profile that is intoxicating and captivating, sweet and precious,
warm and alluring. Aldehydic floral notes suit a woman who is
classical, elegant and cultured.
According to Hans Otto Schmitt, of Haarman and Reimer, 17 per
cent of women habitually use just one fragrance. The company's
research indicates that many of these women fall into the
"Their fragrance indicates, and reinforces, their inclination to
withdraw and feel warm and comfortable in their own space," he says.
"They are more interested in keeping the world at bay than inviting
the world to enter their space.
"Most of the fragrances chosen by these woman are warm orientals
and chypres, fragrances like Opium, Vanilla Fields, Casimir,
Shalimar and Tabu. Most of these fragrances are base-oriented (that
is, the base notes are more powerful and lingering than the top
"Key ingredients in these fragrances are typically vanilla, musk
and sandalwood which, like incense (olibanum) actually have a
chemical reaction on the brain that induces something like mild
euphoria," he says.
In aromatherapy terms, certain essential oils have a powerful
effect on our emotional states. For example, vanilla unleashes
deeply felt emotions and provokes hidden sensuality; sandalwood is
warm and seductive; patchouli is earthy, profound and forceful;
smoky, musky myrrh implies strength and courage; jasmine provokes
erotic thoughts; benzoin penetrates the emotional shield; ylang
ylang stimulates the senses; and bergamot is persuasive and enlivens
one's sex life.
Not surprisingly, there are many women who favour a single
fragrance because they believe it expresses something important
about their personality, says Michael Edwards, author of Perfume
Legends. "The fragrance becomes the woman's 'signature'. You usually
find that a woman who has a signature fragrance feels very
comfortable with the fragrance."
The fragrances that women choose as a 'signature' typically pack a
psychological wallop. Indeed, they are emotional dynamite in a
bottle, with every whiff, capable of conveying a myriad messages and
End of copyright article by Sandra Symons ©