Is there any gift more personal than perfume, which is quite literally worn close to the heart? Selecting the right fragrance as a gift demonstrates care and insight into the tastes of your recipient, but it can also be fraught with worry – even for those with an intimate knowledge of what’s involved.
“To be totally honest, I have to work really hard to buy gifts that are actually for my giftee and not just what I personally love,” admits Anna Lavdaras, a stylist and the founder of lifestyle company Philé.
“It’s definitely tricky,” agrees Carly Rogers, the Communications & Media Manager at skincare brands Dermalogica and Murad. “Last time I bought a fragrance for my partner I spent almost an hour in the store trying to decide (the paradox of choice is real).”
To help refine the process in time for Valentine’s Day, we consulted some of our stylish friends, whose homes have featured on the LUMIRA Journal, for their best insights into how to buy the right fragrance for someone else.
“It’s not uncommon today to first hear about a fragrance online or on social media, and people are far more likely to try a perfume they’ve discovered this way.”
— LUMIRA founder and creative director, Almira Armstrong.
STEP 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH
To channel the olfactory taste of her recipient, Lavdaras picks up on subtle cues by paying attention to broad fragrance families. “I think a good starting point is working off what they already wear – whether it’s citrus, gourmand or oud – and finding something in that family of notes that is perhaps a little different or new.”
Jerico Tracy, curator and founder of Jerico Contemporary, offers similar advice: “Fragrances are so incredibly personal, so I think first and foremost you need to think about who you are buying for. Consider their tastes and preferences and select a scent accordingly.”
Rogers takes a more methodical approach. “I always try to make notes on my phone throughout the year if I hear someone mention a scent that they love. That, or I try to raid their current collection for a trend… It’s always so special when someone goes to the effort of making a selection for you.”
STEP 2: LOOK FOR – AND LEAVE – CLUES
If subtle hints aren’t your forte, try asking direct questions or paying attention to more explicit requests. This tactic serves equally well in reverse, particularly if a certain fragrance has caught your eye.
“I’m very lucky in that my partner knows my taste and is incredibly thoughtful so I don’t need to drop hints so much, however leaving an open tab on a shared computer isn’t the worst way to let someone know what you’re interested in,”
— counsels Tracy.
And if the special someone in your life prefers their scent in candle form, our guide to choosing the the perfect candle as a gift may also be a useful place to start.
STEP 3: BROWSE THEIR LIKES
When searching URL fails to yield any meaningful clues, consider consulting your giftee’s Instagram preferences. “It’s not uncommon today to first hear about a fragrance online or on social media, and people are far more likely to try a perfume they’ve discovered this way,” notes LUMIRA founder and creative director, Almira Armstrong. Knowing which accounts they follow can provide a useful entree to how to choose a perfume for someone else.
“The Tuscan Fig Perfume Oil has become my signature scent after an extended love affair with its candle counterpart for years,” says Lavdaras. “While I’m usually not a fan of sweet perfumes, this unique composition always gets noticed by strangers, and takes me back to summers spent in Tuscany. For bonus points: it comes without the usual nasty ingredients found in most perfumes so I don’t feel guilty reapplying it in copious amounts throughout the day.”
Tracy nominates the Paradisium signature EDP as her go-to scent for summer – “it’s so fresh and light” – while Rogers favours Arabian Oud Perfume Oil. “I’m obsessed with ouds, and they can be pretty difficult to find in Australia. This one is heaven – it’s super moody and instantly makes me feel like a better version of myself.”
Who wouldn’t want that come February 14 – or any other day of the year?
Written by Michelle Bateman