I'll let you in on a little secret: I never (well, hardly ever) wear one fragrance at a time. I can't recall when this became my go-to fragrance routine, but it has certainly stuck. It's a spritz here and another spritz of something completely different there, and sometimes I even use three or four different perfumes. You become your own perfumer, creating a more personal and unique scent without the elite Grasse certification. What better person than yourself to blend the perfect scent for you, than yourself?
Enter fragrance layering—the creative way to use the scents in your fragrance wardrobe to create new unique scents. "I always think about fragrance pairing as a matching of moods and personalities as well. Each scent has its own energy or way of being," says Phway Su Aye, Co-Founder of Gabar.
It's no different to layering the clothes in your wardrobe to build new outfits. I adore the process of blending and creating a tribe of scents that fuse seamlessly and beautifully together. It sounds glorious, doesn't it?
Now for the caveat, I'll put my hands up and admit there have been one or two occasions where it has been a major fail. This is where that prestige Grasse training would've come in handy, however, it's all in the notes, Susan Wai Hnin, Co-Founder of Gabar explains, "Scent families can be classified into four main categories: floral, spicy, woody and fresh. Traditionally, scents that are opposite of each other, or side by side, on the fragrance wheel pair well together."
Like all creative pursuits, there aren't hard rules to the art of fragrance layering, and it's pretty down to personal taste. "I don't think fragrance should be taken so seriously or literally. I think in many ways fragrance is a very personal experience and as such, it should be fun, playful and unique to each individual," explains Wai Hnin.
If you're sold on the idea of creating your very own signature scent so you don't have to make the same amateur mistakes I made, I've taken it upon myself to speak to the experts to reveal the best fragrances combination to create out of your collection.
1. Gabar No. II Ground and Gabar No. III Swim
"I personally love to pair Gabar No. II Ground with No. III Swim because the green tea and orris notes in Swim add a perfect touch of freshness to the dark and creamy notes of No. II Ground, resulting in a compelling scent that is both energising and full-bodied," says Wai Hnin.
Taking a heavier perfume and layering with a scent that is lighter and fresher with notes of floral or sparking fruits can be a great way to cut through the more potent notes like oud, amber and patchouli. This is a great way to revamp a nighttime scent, making it more subtle and easier to wear during the day.
2. Le Labo Jasmin 17 and Le Labo Another 13
A good starting point to layering fragrances is starting off with two perfumes from your collection with the same or similar notes. It is a surefire way to ensure that you create a unique scent with complementary notes rather than one that clashes.
You can't go wrong with cult favourite Le Labo. Its Jasmin 17 fragrance is described as the new modern floral scent, blended from notes of jasmine, musk, sandalwood, vanilla, while Another 13, is an earthy fresh, sweet scent, with notes of jasmine and moss. Both scents, because of that common jasmine note, marry well together to create the perfect sophisticated and sweet, yet fresh, floral scent. A floral scent combo is perfect for the springtime.
3. Byredo Mumbai Noise and Byredo Young Rose
The latest offering from Byredo, Mumbai Noise, and lesser-talked about Young Rose blend together to create the most incredible woody, rich, intense and somehow delicately fresh sensual scent, it's like nothing you've ever smelt before.
Mumbai Noise is a love letter to Mumbai, blended with notes of warm woods, amber, leather and bitter coffee stirred with sweet tonka beans, while Young Rose is an interesting complex rose scent, created with notes of Damascus rose and fiery Sichuan pepper to capture the essence of young people making their mark on the globe.
4. STORIES Parfums Nº.01 and Nº.02
"Our perfumes are fine fragrances and are very complex creations but have been curated in such a way to beautifully complement each other by the art of fragrance layering. This will adapt to the wearer's skin and develop beautifully with a symphony of over 40 notes—presenting a very bespoke scent. The citrus notes of bergamot, grapefruit and orange blossom in Nº.01 lighten the deep, sweet, smokey wood notes of Nº.02," says Tonya Kidd-Beggs, Founder and CEO of Stories Parfums.
5.Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne and English Pear & Freesia Cologne
Don't limit your fragrance layering to just perfumes, scented lotions and oils also work. Use them to create a base for your fragrance to go on top and create a new, long-lasting scent.
"Creative or classic, daring or delicate, scent pairing allows you to pair and personalise fragrances to express yourself and leave a lasting impression. Freshen a rich floral with a citrus zing, add spice for a warm allure. Start with a body and hand wash or body cream for a delicate base, then enhance it with a cologne. Try layering Lime Basil & Mandarin Hand and Body Wash with English Pear & Freesia Cologne to create a tantalising citrus scent with juicy, just-ripe pears and a refreshing twist of lime," says Emma South, Jo Malone London Fragrance and Lifestyle Expert.