Tuesday 12 December 2017

The beauty panel: perfect scents

The time has arrived to get in the party mood, says our beauty expert, and how better than with a change of fragrance?

Pictured, from left, Chanel No5 L'Eau; Calvin Klein Deep Euphoria;
Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence; Jo Malone London Basil & Neroli Cologne; Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture. Photo: Kip Carroll
Pictured, from left, Chanel No5 L'Eau; Calvin Klein Deep Euphoria; Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence; Jo Malone London Basil & Neroli Cologne; Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture. Photo: Kip Carroll

Sarah Caden

The parties have begun. There's no getting away from that. And, as they have, we have all started to look around for the magic ingredient to make us feel in the party mood. For some, that ingredient is a new lipstick or a manicure. Others need to go clothes shopping. And for some, a switch of scent is the key to feeling a little bit different than average. A little bit better than average, even. Smell is such a powerful and evocative sense, with the ability to summon up a time, or a place, or even a feeling. You can actually spray on your party spirit, if a certain fragrance is the one you wear to such occasions.

There's no denying that the days of having a single signature scent to our names are gone. That went out with giving our hair 100 strokes of the hairbrush before bed. We're less committed people, perhaps; less willing to be identified by one fragrance that wafts with us when we enter a room. In fact, collecting fragrances seems to be our real commitment these days, with some collections like an exhibition of modern art. The striking bottles of today's top five are testimony to the effort that goes into making a scent look good, as much as smelling good.

Best overall

Chanel No5 L'Eau, €89, Chanel counters nationwide

The Noughties' No5 Eau Premiere was the youthful take on the classic No5 scent from Chanel 'nose', Jacques Polge, and now his son, Olivier, brings a new, fresher and more vibrant twist with No5 L'Eau. So there is a thread of similarity here, but enough that is different - just like fathers and sons. Olivier's twist is a more citrus, cleaner, brighter and sharper scent, with unmistakeable characteristics of the original. "The continuous-spray feature is fab for misting the fragrance on to your skin, and the scent is vivid and different enough from No5 to make people ask what you're wearing," one panellist said.

Best Dark Night

Calvin Klein Deep Euphoria, €48.30, available nationwide

The bottle is designed to convey the sensuality of the scent within; all curves and suggestiveness. Musky woodiness lies at the base of the fragrance, with rose, white pepper and mandarin layered over it. It's a grown-up fragrance for anyone who might have gone floral when they were more girl than woman. "This is a dark-purple scent, if that makes sense," said a panellist. "It's a fragrance that goes on strong, settles to something feminine and bold, and then lasts and lasts really well. It's potentially a new signature scent for me. And the bottle looks good in my bathroom."

Best Bright Light

Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence, €122.20, available nationwide

There are two ways to go when tweaking a tried-and-tested scent - darker or lighter. Last year, Marc Jacobs launched Decadence, a floral scent with a warm base of amber and vanilla. This year, he has the fresher, cooler Divine Decadence, which is more zingy and citrusy. The packaging is eye-catching, to say the least: a bottle with a lid like a snakeskin handbag, complete with shoulder strap. "This fragrance makes me think of a gin and tonic," said one panellist. "Which is a compliment, by the way. Bright and crisp and cool."

Best Warm Feeling

Jo Malone London Basil & Neroli Cologne, €54, Brown Thomas

If you like Lime Basil and Mandarin, a Jo Malone classic, you'll like this. The basil here does what it also does in the aforementioned, bringing a sharp, bold tang to a scent that could be too sweet otherwise. Neroli has a softer fragrance than citrus, so it is a cosier companion to the herb. This is a wintry fragrance that is not at all heavy or dark. "A lunch date kept saying that the cafe smelt lovely, until they realised the fragrance was mine," a panellist said. "Warm and soft was how they described it."

Best Girls' Night

Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture, €74, selected Viktor & Rolf counters nationwide

It's not often you come across a perfume that alludes to "auto-erotic experience" in its description. Let's just take that as an expression of the scent's heady sensuality. This is a tweak of the now well-established Bonbon; it's deeper and more intense, with undercurrents of sandalwood, vanilla and neroli. All bottled in a bow, which is a Viktor & Rolf recurring couture motif. "Is deeply girlie a contradiction in terms? Because that's what this is," said one panellist. "It's sweet, but darkly so, and I just love how it looks, as well as the scent."

Email thepanel@independent.ie

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