I have never considered myself someone who likes perfume. The light, dizzying notes of Plumria, Rose or Freesia have never had any effect on me. I always fancied myself a unique and idiosyncratic individual, and the standard department store scent never seemed to characterize me. I longed for something deep and musky, with hints of an exotic smell that was both foreign and alluring. I loved the idea of having a signature fragrance-- an intangible element of your identity that wafted in the air long after you were gone, reminding others of your presence. After reading far too many Chanel quotes about the power of scent, I went on a quiet journey to find a signature perfume. I am delighted to say I have found more than one, which I compiled into a detailed list. In the process I enlisted some friends and experts and tried to find scents that were easily available in Philadelphia and online. Please check out below:
- Fresh: Cannabis Santal
Where to find: Fresh
Recommended by: Gabrielle Mandel
This was one of my first scents. I came across it in the Fresh shop when I lived in New York. I had been experimenting a lot with unisex scents and had fallen under the influence of sandalwood. I found this light, earthy fragrance amidst all the sugary confections of the Fresh store. I still wear it today, and while I do not think it smells like Cannabis, it did manage to raise my mom’s eyebrow when I requested it for Christmas.
- Mondo Mondo: Center of the World
Where to find: Vestige
Frankford Avenue Philadelphia, PA, 19125
Recommended by: Ashley Gleeson of Vestige
Mondo Mondo describes this signature scent as, “…. ethereal and grounding, the center of the world can be seen as a mandala, a sacred tree or mountain, a cloud of smoke. It is that which connects the earth to the heavens, a universal concept that spans all spiritual traditions.” The scent is a mix of sandalwood, cedar, musk, sage, copal, lotus blossom and elemi. Ashley Gleeson of Vestige describes it as, “Sexy, but interesting…. A scent you can’t put your finger on.”
- Le Labo: Vetiver 46
Where to find: Le Labo
233 Elizabeth street New York
Recommended by: Pia Panalgin, designer of Senpai + Kohai/ Stylist at Large
Le Labo believes in soulful fragrances and each scent is freshly blended in their stores. The Vetivers in this potion are nurtured in Haiti and go through a secret local perfume process. Pia Panalgin describes it as the perfect balance between a masculine and feminine scent. This oil based fragrance mixes white Pepper and Cedar with the Vetiver to create a warm sensual scent. You can order online, or if you have the chance I highly recommend visiting the Le Labo shop. If you can’t decide which scent is for you, get their discovery sets to see which scent fits you best.
- Fielle Fragrance: Violet
Where to find: Moon and Arrow, Vagabond, Vestige
Recommend by: Gabrielle Mandel
This beautiful emerald liquid reminds me of early spring. That earthy smell that surrounds you at dusk, mixed with the scent of freshly growing grass. The scent is derived from the base of viola odorata, a flowering plant with tender purple blossoms cultivated in Egypt. I apply it to my neck and love smelling the after-scent of it days later on my favorite scarves.
- OLO: Valens
Where to Find: Moon and Arrow
754 S. 4th Street Philadelphia, Pa 19147
Recommended by: Monique of Moon and Arrow
Valens is a bit of a spicy scent. It mixes black pepper, carnation, cinnamon and geraniums to create a fine scent with a little kick. Each fragrance of the OLO collection is blended by hand and bottled to order. This scent has personality and verve and changes with you throughout the day.
Byredo: Gypsy Water
Maison Louis Marie #4
Marni Marni For Women