Do you have a favourite fragrance? Would you wear it on your wedding day, or would you look for something different for that special occasion? Olfactory perception, our sense of smell, is supposed to be the sense most associated with memory recall. I guess you could say it is the most nostalgic of the senses. I think it would be lovely to have a special perfume for your wedding day that you didn’t often wear but every time you did, you’d be transported back to that day. So today we take a look at some special wedding fragrances, with some tips and a little bit of history.
Keep in mind that your wedding day is not the best time to experiment with a new scent, so make sure you have tested it out beforehand. Also think about your surroundings on the day- a summer beach wedding might call for something light and fresh, whereas something heavier or spicy might suit a Christmas wedding. Don’t overdo it on the morning of your wedding, there is nothing worse than getting a perfume headache and then worrying for the next few hours that you put too much on. Better to under-do it where perfume is concerned, you can always re-apply during the day.
Did you know that certain types of perfume go in and out of fashion? Think of the fresh, aquatic scents go the 1990s like CK One- this type of fragrance was replaced in the 2000s by more fruity fragrances like Dior’s J’Adore and Clinique’s Happy. If you’re on the look out for a signature scent to wear at your wedding, it might be a good idea to take a look at some classic examples of the different fragrance types. I’m pretty sure you’ll have come across one or another of these at some stage. The basic categories that fragrances fall into are floral, fruity, oriental, woody, and musk. We only included one for the guys (that will have to be a subject for another post!) and lastly I put in my favourite scent too.
1. Floral ✈ Chanel: No. 5
Perhaps the most famous perfume in the world. Coco Chanel asked her perfumer, Ernest Beaux, for a scent that ‘smelled like a woman, not like a bed of roses’ and hence the product was marketed this way. As in the case of at least one of the other famous perfumes below, the creation of this fragrance reportedly resulted from an accidental addition- in this case it was an overdose of a certain aldehyde or synthetic fragrance component which actually ended up working out. It was called “No. 5″ simply because that was the number on the bottle that Coco Chanel picked from the selection Ernest Beaux gave her- being a little superstitious she left the name as it was. The scent of No. 5 is one of several floral notes blended with a powder aspect and end notes of a warm amber/sandalwood mix. This lush and rich yet refined scent was developed in 1921 and has sold consistently since. The first bottle was designed by Chanel herself to fit with her minimalist style.
2. Fruity ✈ Dior: “J’Adore”
Sometimes hailed as a modern classic, this is a recent addition to the perfume hall of fame. Created in 1999 by Calice Becker for Dior, it has a sweet, balmy and ambitious mix of fruity floral aspects. A first impression of mandarin gives way to floral scents like orchid and rose, followed by a heavier trail of plum, blackberry and wood tones with even a slight touch of musk in the end notes. Generally the longer a scent stays on, the more you will be able to notice its ‘end notes’- which is why perfume can seem to change or adjust to your body after you wear it for awhile.
3. Oriental ✈ Guerlain: “Shalimar”
First debuted in 1921, ‘Shalimar’ means ‘temple of love’ in Sanskrit. The story of the musky and haunting fragrance’s creation took hold of the imagination of the times. It was said that the brokenhearted Pakistani emperor who built the Taj Mahal in his wife’s honor also had this scent created in her memory, in an attempt to capture the scent of the gardens he used to peruse with her before she died in childbirth. Jaques Guerlain felt that vanilla was an effective aphrodisiac and wanted to base his creation on this element. The accidental addition of an ‘impure grade of vanillin’ however is thought to be how the mixture was rescued from on otherwise overly sweet scent; along with the addition of bergamot, patchouli and vetiver. At the time Shalimar’s musky, slightly animal scent placed the fragrance almost on the verge of respectability. More about the perfume’s technical creation and some interesting reflections on the period in which it evolved can be found here.
4. Woody ✈ Clinique: “Aromatics Elixir”
Created in 1971 by the master perfumer Bernard Chant, this has been a consistent seller since. A very potent sultry scent, it has mossy notes of sandalwood, patchouli, ylang ylang, jasmine, rose and vetiver, and is instantly recognizable if you have come across it before.
5. Musk ✈ Body Shop: “White Musk”
Ubiquitous but a classic, apparently this scent is entirely synthetic. A very delicate, easy to take and ‘clean’ musk scent with floral hints. Now that the 90’s craze with this perfume has died down, it might actually be possible to wear it again! Will always remind me of being in school so not sure if I’d be able. Maybe I’ll give it a go again soon- or at least call in to the Body Shop for a reminiscent sniff. The White Musk version for men sounds interesting too.
6. For the Groom ✈ Creed: “Green Irish Tweed”
Founded in 1760, this is one of the oldest perfumeries in the world- having been in the Creed family since its formation six generations ago. Fragrances here are still made using processes that were used in the 18th century, and production includes a staff of 30 people who bottle by hand. The house creates scents for many famous clients, with a six month waiting list for the honor and a minimum order of 10 litres (that’s a lot of perfume!) Their best selling item is said to be the male fragrance “Green Irish Tweed” according to this interview with master perfumer Olivier Creed.
7. My Favourite ✈ Hermes “Iris Ukiyoé”
I always loved the fragrance “Leap” by the Body Shop but it was discontinued years ago. I found one that I think is slightly similar recently- the Hermes fragrance “Iris Ukiyoé”, part of the Hermessence collection created by Jean Claude Ellena. In the gift set you can get 4 little 15ml bottles for €115- but you can have four different scents from the range so it actually is good value, especially if you like to mix it up with your perfumes. Iris Ukiyoé is one of the seven fragrances, and I was actually fascinated when I started to read about how much work went into the creation of this scent. It is based not only on the Iris blossom but is also a homage to Japanese art- Ukiyoé is a type of ‘floating image’ Japanese art as in the woodblock prints above. The “floating” denotes not only water elements but also the ephemerality of life itself. I would describe the scent as fresh, dewy, jasmine-like yet with a warm quality too. I thought the image below by Christophe Piallat captured the way I think it smells, if that doesn’t sound absurd..
Some people take scent very seriously. In fact I came across a whole perfumer’s vocabulary, which I love. Perfume Shrine has some interesting suggestions for wedding day fragrances divided into Romantic, Classic, Purist, Adventurous and Casual scents. Here are some tips for choosing a fragrance when you’re in a store. Would love to hear what perfume you plan to wear on you wedding day!