~by guest writer AlbertCAN
Fragrance layering sounds impossibly chic, but often harder than a trifle dab of this and that. Part of the delicate problem lies knowing the basics of your fragrances, somehow understanding how to rev the aromatic engines in harmony. Thus in layman’s terms I am here to put together a concise, easy to follow guide on the fundamentals of perfume layering.
|via scent compass|
Before the layering can take place I want to show you a few simple application rules. Some of you might know this already but I prefer covering all grounds. Still, for those of you new to the game: less if always more. Discretion and common sense always is the key to success in fragrance layering: to start always choose to play with two. More only if you are confident.
Even perfumer Jean Claude Ellena advocates some wild combinations of scents (Angel and L'Eau d'Issey together?)
1. Layering doesn’t have to be merely pairing equal-concentration scents, meaning that parfum A can blend beautifully with, say, eau de cologne B. In fact that’s often how I layer. This is also taking into the accounts that historically houses (such as Guerlain and Chanel) have separate formulations for parfum, eau de parfum and eau de toilette even within the same line. (Personal example: Chanel No. 19 parfum & 4711 Eau de Cologne)
2. Ancillary products, such as deodorants, body lotions or body creams are absolutely fair game layering with regular fragrances. Still, often they are designed to amplify and to hold onto the fragrance molecules a little longer, so please take that into consideration when layering. Nothing worse, say, a tuberose body cream with an extremely diffusive spicy 80s fragrance! (Personal examples: Terre d'Hermès deodarant & Creed Green Irish Tweed eau de toilette; Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche deodarant & Terre d'Hermès eau de toilette)
3. Layering doesn’t mean applying everything on the skin. Try misting your undergarments with fragrance X and apply fragrance Y on your skin. (Personal example: misting Hermès Hiris on a garment & wearing Guerlain Mitsouko parfum to boost the iris effect)
4. Layering does not mean applying everything at the same time. Sometimes heavier fragrances such as the orientals or the chypres have lovely drydowns to pair with a different fragrance. (Example: extending a few drops of Guerlain Shalimar parfum with Guerlain Jicky eau de toilette)
5. Layer with purpose. Most of us in the know layer because we see an improvement in the combination, not because we want to wear something nobody else has. (If I do it for vanity reasons penning this article would be self-defeating.)
I shall further illustrate the last rule: I enjoy wearing eau de colognes but the sillage and the longevity of each, by themselves, tend to leave me wanting more. So my staple combination is actually 4711 Eau de Cologne x Chanel Eau de Cologne x Tom Ford Neroli Protofino, spraying 4711 on the garments (not directly on fabrics), body mist with Chanel, and then a discreet spray of the Tom Ford on my forearms as punctuations. Those three would last me a good 10 hours.
- finding a common theme with the fragrances—such pairing a soliflore with an oriental (Guerlain L’Heure Bleue parfum & Chanel 28 La Pausa comes to mind).
- extend the nuance within the lighter fragrance—for instance I would describe layering Piguet Bandit with Osmanthe Yunnan as “the S/M tricks occasionally enjoyed by sexually frigid suburban housewives when their marriages are on the rocks”!
- (only if you know what you are doing) pair with another fragrance a very similar structural analogue: for instance the aforementioned Shalimar/Jicky combination. I also love smelling Givenchy Ysatis with Estee Lauder Knowing—but only with a deft hand on a very chic person who knows what on earth they are doing. Not for the faint hearted!
Now one caveat: marine/aquatic fragrances are case by case only, since though they are generally light in nature Calone (the watermelon-smelling "fresh" molecule) can be extremely dominant and unpredictable. I have never, for since, tried layering L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme even though I have worn it since 18!
So there, now you are ready to play. How to test? The safest say is to spray the choices on test strips first—weeding out all the bad choices before applying gingerly on you. And just like entertaining: never prepare something for the first time right before a major event—stick with a tried and true layering combination in this case! Good luck!
For inspirations here are some further ideas:
Combos published in French Elle (21 July 2003)
Les Tuileries Bizarre Layering Challenge of the Day
PS. My all-time favourite layering combinations:
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere & Hermès Un Jardin après la Mousson
4711 Eau de Cologne & Chanel Eau de Cologne & Tom Ford Neroli Protofino (and if I am feel like pulling all the stops maybe an accent of Guerlain Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat)
Guerlain Shalimar parfum & Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte
Terre d’Hermès deodorant & Creed Green Irish Tweed
Robert Piguet Bandit & Hermès Osmanthe Yunnan
Currently I’m experimenting mint (Prada Luna Rossa, Cartier Roadster, Guerlain Homme) with iris soliflores (Hiris, 28 La Pausa)!
And a few of Elena's perfume layering suggestions:
Le Baiser du Dragon parfum + Narciso Musk for Her oil = the most delicious baby powder scent
Lancôme Trésor + Bvlgari Black = sweet, peachy rubber
Youth Dew body cream + Old Spice = delicious spicy carnation
Pacifica Spanish Amber solid + drop of Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan = mellow skin-like amber
Thierry Mugler Angel (preferably a fav product in bath & body range) + Serge Lutens Clair de Musc = a more floral & lighter Angel
Shiseido Feminite du Bois + rose hydrosol = lighens the oriental and emphasizes the smoother notes
Jo Malone Red Roses + Jo Malone 154 = woody, dark, earthy roses
The Body Shop Citrella + The Body Shop Amorito = Pink Sugar on the cheap
Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan + Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental (both in tiny dabs) = gorgeousness!
YSL Opium + orange blossom soliflores = summery Opium
Dior Dioressence + Eau de Merveilles (Hermès) to reinforce the ambergris scent
Stay tuned for follow-up post, with perfume layering suggestions by perfume Francis Kurkdjian and by Serge Lutens!
We also welcome your own Layering Suggestions & Tips or Questions in the comments!