The Mad Perfume Scientist
‘Layering’ – the practice of layering two fragrance compositions to create weird and wonderful combinations, has always seemed completely alien to me. I have always enjoyed the fragrances in my collection exactly the way they were created (I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise) and have never felt the need to try and improve or change them by adding something new.
Despite my skepticism, layering seems to be something that a lot of perfume-lovers do and enjoy. Some brands, such as Jo Malone, even actively encourage the practice of layering with their fragrances. These ‘layering’ combinations are designed to enhance the perfume experience, but I can’t help but feel that they are just a cheap ploy with the sole intent of convincing consumers to buy extra bottles.
Despite my skepticism, this layering malarky got me thinking (a dangerous habit, I know); is there any real merit to mixing perfumes? and; Can you actually enhance a perfume by layering it with another? So, in the interest of science I thought that I would conduct a few layering experiments to see whether there is any merit to it, or whether it’s just a bunch of phooey.
For each layering experiment I picked two fragrances that I thought would compliment each other and sprayed both, one on top of the other, on my skin. The fragrance listed at the top of each experiment was sprayed on skin first, left to dry for a minute or so, and then followed by the second fragrance in the list.
I used one spray of each perfume and each experiment took place on two separate occasions.
Angel by Thierry Mugler
Fleurs d’Oranger by Serge Lutens
This is probably the most successful of my layering experiments. I imagined that it could go either way; Angel and Fleurs d’Oranger are both huge powerhouses with oodles of character and I thought that together there may be a personality clash which involved both ‘fumes falling out spectacularly with disastrous consequences.
The actual result is far from disastrous, the medicinal white floral bouquet of Fleurs d’Oranger softens the bitter chocolate of Angel and works wonderfully with the patchouli. These two work together so well in fact, that I’m starting to think that Mugler missed a trick with his floral ‘Garden of Stars’ series, where was the Orange Blossom Angel?! Now I’m thinking I should try Carnal Flower with Angel – Tuberose Angel anyone?
Tubéreuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens
Geranium Pour Monsieur by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle
I picked these two to go together because it seemed like a no-brainer; the camphor of Tubéreuse Criminelle and the oily mint of Geranium Pour Monsieur were pretty much always going to work well together. Despite being a no-brainer I was quite surprised to discover that they together phenomenally well, even more so than I had first imagined.
Tubéreuse Criminelle obviously takes centre stage, she is the Queen of florals after all, but the fact that Geranium Pour Monsieur is very much in the background is all for the best. The Monsieur in this relationship gives Mrs. Tuberose a wonderfully floral freshness that tames her carnal heart.
Gold Woman by Amouage
Pure Poison by Christian Dior
Both Gold Woman and Pure Poison are gargantuan florals and my thinking with this particular layering experiment was that the bright, creamy quality of Pure Poison would add something interesting to the shimmering, dusty floral of Gold Woman. I was completely and utterly wrong.
I have learned that Gold Woman does not wished to be paired with anything other than my clean skin. She resented the Pure Poison so much that she decide to completely devour her until there was absolutely nothing left, other than a strong amount of Gold Woman of course.
Vanille Absolument by L’Artisan Parfumeur
Bendelirious by Etat Libre d’Orange
Eugh, this one did not work at all! I imagined that a good, strong vanilla such as Vanille Absolument would pair perfectly with the cheeky cherry/iris combo of Bendelirious, I did not expect this hideous mess.
I don’t very often find myself rushing to the sink to scrub perfume off of my skin, but this hideous layering experiment had to go. The rum soaked vanilla of Vanille Absolument when paired with Bendelirious created a sour, cherry mess that it best not talked about. Pass the Brillo Pads please…
It seems that my experiments have a 50% success rate, which is a lot higher than I thought it would be. I also was surprised by just how much fun I had picking out perfumes that I thought would go together and testing them out.
Do I think that I will continue to layer fragrances?
To be honest, I don’t think so. I still don’t really see the point. Yes, the Angel/Fleurs d’Oranger combo smelled pretty good but I will always prefer both perfumes on their own, they have such distinct and wonderful characters, why would I want to change them?
I also feel that it’s almost a bit insulting to the perfumer. They have created a piece of olfactory art that should be enjoyed as it is, without any modification. Who are we to mess with their work? After all, we wouldn’t start messing with the Mona Lisa now would we?
Join the Discussion!
What do you think about layering?
Do you have any favourite layering combos?
Have you had any layering disasters?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below!
Image 1 flickr.com