Layering

And so, layering.

What do you think?

There’s a great quote on Now Smell This where perfumer Calice Becker says on layering, “We hate that! That’s like throwing bricks in the air and hoping they will come down as a house.”  That’s originally from The Perfume Odyssey; A Scent-imental Journey at the New York Times.

Yet I know some who get great effects from their layering experiments.  And companies like Jo Malone promote their range of fragrances as being designed for creative layering.

I assume that what Calice is getting at is that if perfumers spend so much time, energy and money designing a fragrance to play a particular tune over the duration of its wear, mixing them is potential cacophony, and could be interpreted as being an insult to the creator of the perfume – or maybe some perfumers would be excited by the notion of their work going out into the world and being mingled or remixed in this way?

I recently tried to layer two fragrances, one that I didn’t love, hoping I could improve on that one by mixing it with one I did love – bad idea!  All I kept smelling was the one I did like getting interuppted by the harsh notes of the one I didn’t like.

Then I tried layering two perfumes I did like, that I imagined might be complimentary.  Each scent in itself was what I would describe as a relatively ‘one note’ fragrance.  This worked much better.

My friend The Silver Fox has been writing a lot about wearing autumnal scents on fabric rather than (or rather than just) on skin… I’ve been enjoying this so much.  For some reason I thought this ‘wasn’t allowed’.  This might have got into my head after I’d stained a couple of items of light-coloured clothing by spraying perfume on them.  However if you concentrate on dark-coloured fabrics, jumpers, heavy woolens, and the relatively invisible insides of items of clothing, you’re pretty safe.  Anyway, I’ve been spraying my cardigans and tweed jackets and heavy wool scarves every time I get ready in the morning and they all smell SO gorgeous.  Also, it turns out this is an interesting way to play with layering… as I’ll spray my wool scarf one day with Cuir de Lancome, the next with Penhaligon’s Amaranthine, the next with Lust by Lush… and suddenly my scarf becomes a veritable scent rainbow of deliciousness.

What’s your take on layering?  A pile of bricks or a seminal symphony?

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