Beauty: Diptyque Fragrance

I have spoken before about my deep love for beautiful perfumes and fragrances (regular readers may remember this post), but I don’t think the fact can be overstated.

I’m not sure about you, but I find something so wonderfully luxurious about the act of spritzing on a favourite smell as the final flourish when getting dressed (or, for that matter, undressed) each day. A seeminigly small act it may be, but it is, I believe, the one that most imparts the personality of the wearer upon the passerby. Few things are are as sensual and as emotionally evocative as our sense of smell. After all, we attach more feelings and memories to scents than any other sense and thus subconsciously judge strangers by how their smell makes us feel, so it is important that the fragrance you choose to make your own is one which evokes a trail of happy memories in your wake.

Needless to say, it’s important to get this right.

Constantly in pursuit of the perfect bouquet of fragrance (whether for myself or my home), I’m never one to turn down the wisdom of the experts. Diptyque is one of my favourite brands full stop (I wear their perfumes year round, and their divine scented candles are one of my favourite small luxuries for the home), so when I heard about their fragrance fitting service I leapt at the invitation.

Which is how I came to find myself perched on a stool in the charming little Diptyque boutique on Brook Street a little while back. I was meeting with Diptyque’s manager who couldn’t have been more lovely (we ever shared the same Australian-transplanted-to-England accent), and we began with a casual discussion that took in everything from my favourite colours, to the type of clothes I liked, to my favourite memories and the smells they evoked (the smell of orange blossoms in the sun in my childhood backyard, blousy garden roses and tiny violets in my mother’s garden, fresh mint and basil in an English herb garden…).

I then smelt a collection of single-note fragrances (in the form of Diptyque’s candles, each with their labels hidden so that my preference could not be influenced by my perception of the names of each one), grouped into three fragrance families (spicy, green/woody and floral). I already had a very clear idea of what scents I did and did not like, so it was reassuring to have this reaffirmed, with a few I wouldn’t have thought of myself added to the mix. In case you were wondering, I like white florals with a hint of sweetness and perhaps a fresh green undertone (but I can’t bear overpowering spicy, woody smells).

I was then taught how to layer fragrances which, for some reason (and despite already owning several Diptyque fragrances), had never occurred to me. But when you comine two different scents, they somehow elevate each other to become even more beautiful. I’ve been playing with this ever since (with seemingly endless combinations), and people are always stopping me in the street to ask what perfume I’m wearing (a wonderful boost for the ego, I tell you!).

Good combinations to try: start with a woody or a fresh green base and a layer a floral or citrus scent on top. I’ve been favouring Diptyque Neroli (orange blossom) with Olene (jasmine and narcissus and white spring florals) on top which smells heavenly for warmer days (or grey days when I’m craving sunshine) and either Eau Rose (delicate pink rose petals and fresh green notes) under Do Son (a heady tuberose and white floral), or Philosykos (fruity and woody fig tree) under L’Ombre dans L’Eau (blackcurrant leaves and Bulgarian roses) for cold days when something warm and luxurious is required.

I’d love to hear how you layer your favourite fragrances, and how you pair different scents with different seasons or occasions.

Love, Miss B xx

Diptyque offer complimentary fragrance fitting consultations (approximately 30 minutes) at all of their boutiques. I visited the little store located at 37 Brook Street, Mayfair.

Beauty: How to Build a Fragrance Wardrobe

I’m often asked the question: ‘how to I go about building a collection of fragrances?’ In short, there is no simple answer because fragrance is so deeply personal (and what is right for me will certainly not be right for everyone).

I have a great admiration for those women who are able to pull off the single signature fragrance and make it completely their own, but I’m somewhat more schizophrenic in my olfactory tastes. If, like me, you like the idea of having a wardrobe of fragrances, then this is how I go about it:

1. Embark on a fragrance treasure hunt. Whenever you pass by a department store beauty hall, beauty boutique, duty free counter or while on your travels, have a sniff of the bottles which you like the look of (this isn’t as shallow as it sounds; fragrance developers invest a huge amount in ensuring the bottle symbolises the mood of the scent inside). Try a few on a card and spray your favourite on your wrist (it will smell different as it reacts with your own ph levels).Light/summery scents, L-R: Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh, Chanel Les Exclusifs Gardenia, Margiela Untitled L’Eau, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, Stella McCartney Lily, Marc Jacobs Daisy.

2. Follow your instincts. Try and ignore the hype of million dollar marketing campaigns when choosing one to buy. The only thing that really matters is: do you smell gorgeous when you wear this fragrance? Does it complement your tastes? Also ensure you try everything a few times before you buy it. Try those you love on your skin and check it again a few days later (we react differently to scents depending on our moods and hormones, so you want one you’ll always enjoy).

3. Make it special. We attach more memories to scent than any other sense. Make fragrance-buying a special occasion; do it in a place you love, when you’re in a good mood, or when you’re on a particularly wonderful holiday so that you always associate their smell with good feelings. It may sound silly, but it really works!Warm/wintery scents, L-R: Diptyqye L’Ombre dans L’eau, Stella McCartney Stella (limited edition print bottle), Jean Paul Gaultier Classique (limited edition bottle), Marc Jacobs Marc Jacobs, Chanel Les Exclusifs Gardenia, Stella McCartney Stella (limited edition print bottle).

4. Match your moods. I prefer to have several different scents to call upon, depending on the season, my mood, the time of day, and the occasion. By way of example: for the first days of Spring, I want something light, pretty and floral which echoes the optimism that rings in the air at this time of year (Margiela’s Untitled or Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh have been on rotation the past few weeks); warm summer days to be spent lazing on the grassy banks of the River Cam call for something sweet and fresh (Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, Marc Jacobs Daisy); and for winter or evenings, only something warm and comforting will do (Stella McCartney Stella or Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau). When I’m in the office, I call on clean, sophisticated scents (Marc Jacobs original or Stella McCartney Lily fit this bill), and when I’m feeling nostalgic or sad, I’ll seek solace in a precious spritz from the bottle of my Mother’s Jean Peal Gaultier (which was her fragrance signature and which to me always smells chic and pretty and like her warm hugs).

5. Find your signature. Even once you’ve built a collection you adore, there is something to be said for finding your failsafe favourite; your ‘signature scent’ if you will. This will be the one you reach for time and time again (in any number of situations), and which triggers an immediate sensory response whenever you spray it on. In case you’re wondering, mine is Marc Jacobs’ original scent; I distinctly remember the first time I sprayed it on, for I instantly (even irrationally) felt like a better, more appealing version of myself. The first day I tried it was a wonderful day filled with happy moments, and it’s accompanied me on so many glorious holidays, travels and special occasions ever since that it is now bound up with feelings of happiness and loveliness and fills me with a flicker of joy whenever I wear it.

I don’t know about you, but I think every woman should find a scent that makes them feel like a knockout version of themselves!Do you have a wardrobe of perfumes? I’d love to know what your favourites are!

Love, Miss B xx

Souvenirs de Paris

Heavenly scented treasures from Diptyque and Annick Goutal; the obligatory mini Eiffel Towers (which I will dot around the house beside candles and atop books)

Today is an enforced lazy day (as in; breakfast at 11, a refusal to leave the house all day, and lounging around in silk pyjamas with endless pots of tea), so I’m delighting in finally unpacking my souvenirs from Paris. After a trip, it always seems to take me a full week to unpack – partly out of busyness, but also because I want to delay the gratification of having brought home new treasures from my journey abroad.

Even though I was only in Paris for a long weekend, and I didn’t set aside any time specifically for shopping, I still managed to sneak plenty of wonderful souvenirs into my Lulu Guinness case. Here are a few of my favourite Parisian momentos:

Fleur d’Oranger candle (I will re-use the porcelain holder afterwards), Marie Antoinette tea and a jewel-like box of macarons from Laduree; vintage postcard and a menu from Cafe de Flore (which I may have snuck into my bag in exchange for a large tip)

French perfumes, beauty and gorgeous scented candles: I love the beauty hall at Le Bon Marche or the tiny perfumeries around Le Marais district (I always make a point to stop by Diptyque, Annick Goutal and L’Artisan Parfumeur when I’m here). Don’t forget to visit a French pharmacy for excellent beauty products that are mostly unavailable (or significantly more expensive) elsewhere.

Gourmand delights: A trip by Laduree (for a box of macarons, a coffret of tea and a scented candle), Pierre Herme (heavenly artisanal desserts, wonderfully adventurous macaron flavours, and gorgeous jams), and the department store food halls (I always stock up on chocolate and tins of orange blossom pastilles) is a must.

Vintage treasures: Rummage around the Parisian flea markets (Le Puces is the best) or the little stalls that line the Left Bank of the Seine. This time, I collected turn of the century hand-coloured postcards (I determinedly hunt these down in each of my favourite cities), old books at Shakespeare & Co, and a vintage Chanel military badge and early No. 5 bottle.

French fashions: Most of my favourite French brands (Carven, Sandro, Maje, Isabel Marant, Petite Bateau) are naturally much cheaper  in Paris. But I also love discovering new (to me) French designers that are yet to arrive across the Channel. This time, I learned of Claudie Pierlot – an old French house that is now being led by the sisters who design for Sandro and Maje respectively. I love the French coquette -meets-each chic vibe, and picked up an adorable ivory silk peplum-waisted top which I can’t wait to wear. I also love to buy French silk lingerie (Chantal Thomass, Princesse Tam Tam and Mimi Holliday are fun), a tiny jewel (usually a brooch) from Chanel to add to my collection, and a copy of Vogue Paris at the Eurostar terminal (the funnest way to use up my Euros).

Vintage treasures, Chanel brooch, Claudie Pierlot sillk bow top and beautiful silk lingerie

What do you love to souvenir when you travel? Do you have any favourite Parisian treats?

Love, Miss B xx

Recent Treasures

I’m forever going on about the importance of saving up for special pieces that make your heart flutter, rather than accumulating lots of stuff which doesn’t really make you happy. Which is why, despite their rather exorbitant price tag, I finally bought those glittery Miu Miu booties that I had been daydreaming, fantasising and generally obsessing over for months. I knew it was meant to be when, after trying them on for the third (!) time in store, my pulse started racing and I got sweaty palms as though I was on a really good first date. And so I finally went for it, and I haven’t regretted it for a second.

Because I spent the equivalent of my rent money on a pair of shoes, I’ve largely avoided making any other major fashion purchases the past month. But there was room for a few small luxuries which are currently making me smile just as much on a daily basis.

Straight to the top shelf of my beauty cabinet is Chanel’s new ‘Graphite’ polish (a glittery dirty golden metallic which has barely left my fingers since I bought it), while Stella McCartney’s beautiful limited edition perfume (the original Stella fragrance repackaged in three different floral prints from her Spring/Summer ’11 collection) and Lierac’s body oil and illuminating moisturiser (which smell of a beautifully soft cocktail of jasmine, gardenia and camellia) make me feel a million dollars even when I’m wearing nothing but silk pyjamas.

This ridiculous/fabulous printed silk top by Antipodium makes me feel fun and silly (like I should be playing Patsy and Edie’s sidekick in an episode of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’), and this vintage aurora borealis crystal necklace (found on one of my regular vintage jewellery ebay trawls) is currently satiating my magpie tendencies. And finally, a gorgeous new lingerie set from Elle Macpherson – surely the ultimate small luxury (because few things can make you feel deliciously gorgeous while wearing something as simple as jeans and a tee shirt quite like sensationally beautiful underwear).

I’d love to know what new treasures are currently making you smile?

Love, Miss B xx