Les Senteurs is a specialist perfumery with branches in Marylebone and Belgravia. They have just launched a free consultation service in the Marylebone boutique for people who want advice on perfume buying. Both Annie and I have worn the same scent for years and, while there is a nice familiarity to smelling 'like you', we wanted some guidance on ways to branch out and try something new and a bit different.
The shop is a chic Parisian delight of crystal bottles and heady scents from leading perfume houses not generally available in department stores.
The utterly charming and ebullient Nick is our guide. We sit on a gilt sofa and he chats easily to us for about 10 minutes to get a sense of what we are like. The perfume you wear obviously says a lot about you and he needs a sense of our personalities and what we are looking for before he can advise us. As he brings out different bottles and the pile of sprayed sample sticks grows, we find ourselves adopting the lingo. His enthusiasm for the beauty of the creationsis contagious. One perfume perfectly captures a rose. "The bloom, the stem, the earth... It's extraordinary!" he enthuses. We nod. You really can smell it. "You can taste the sparkle," says Annie of another, lighter fragrance, really getting into the spirit. We smell tuberose, gardenia; leather and PVC with a hint of sweat; jasmine and cigarettes (I am back in a summer evening at university); the first multi-floral fragance; the first scent to use synthetic ingredients.
They start to merge into one and Nick produces a jar of fresh coffee beans to clear our palettes. We learn about civet and identify perfumes that contain it; he tells us how musk is now used in cleaning products; the history of great perfumeurs and which high street brands he holds in high regard. The whole experience is a joy.
We leave with four sample bottles, including one each that Nick has chosen for us to wear when we want to surprise ourselves. I haven’t tried mine yet!
71 Elizabeth Street SW1
tel 020 7730 2322
Seymour Place, W1
tel 020 7183 5842