Welcome to our brand new series, ‘My Life in Perfume’. We’re asking our favourite fragrance fans to reveal all – from their first perfume purchase to their signature aroma; here are their scent stories…
Amanda Carr is a Jasmine award-winning journalist, trend forecaster and brand consultant passionate about fashion and fragrance. Having worked in both industries, Amanda knows style and what to wear, whether clothing or perfume! She co-founded the influential blog The Woman’s Room and We Wear Perfume, a website that captures the zeitgeist of perfumery by talking to cool, interesting people about the scents they wear.
“I’m a Fragrance Trend Forecaster”
I’ve been in the fashion industry all my working life, and I moved to trend forecasting in 2000. I find consumer behaviour fascinating. I moved to perfume when I could see it was an interesting side of the beauty hall; this was back in 2010/11. It looked very old-fashioned compared to what was happening to beauty and fashion, and it was tough to buy fragrance. You couldn’t cross brand on a department store floor, nobody would help you in the way that you might get a personal shopper to help in fashion, so I was fascinated. Fragrance was replacing fashion for me in terms of what I enjoyed looking at.
I’ve always loved fashion; I’ll always be a fashion girl. But everything moved away from being about collections, visuals, and fabrics to be all about consumer data, and that’s when I switched off. So, I moved to fragrance and did all the things for fragrance forecasting that I’d done for fashion. There was lots and lots to learn about fragrance, but it was fascinating.
I wanted to do something for the consumer because nothing really helped them in terms of style and how to buy fragrances. There were many perfume bloggers out there doing excellent jobs of analysing individual fragrances. Still, I felt that there was nothing for the ordinary person to say, ‘you look cool, what are you wearing?’ I was influenced by many fashion bloggers that produce these great visuals of a super looking person wearing fabulous clothes, so I just took it one step further and asked people what fragrance they were wearing. That’s what We Wear Perfume is all about – interviewing people who like wearing fragrance, who look like they might be quite cool and discovering fragrance that way.
There aren’t that many trend forecasters for fragrance, so I’ve dug myself into a bit of a niche which is fantastic. I love it, and the more you learn about perfume, particularly smell and how we smell, the more amazing it gets. I feel like we’re only beginning our journey to understanding how fragrance affects how we behave, how our brain reacts, and how our emotions are triggered.
1. My First Perfume
Being called Amanda and born in 1960, my first perfume was Aqua Manda. Aunts and Uncles would buy me the soaps; I very rarely got the fragrance because I was only young. People kept buying it for me, and I liked it. It’s a shot of mandarin – very easy to wear if you’re a teenager as well. My best friend wore Charlie (she was called ‘Charlotte’ but ‘Charlie’ for short), and if I had been choosing for myself, I would have gone for Charlie because I loved it and I loved the advert. The advert was very much about being a young, confident female wearing trousers in the 1970s, which went against the grain. I wasn’t a girly girl; I was very much an ‘I’m going to do it my way’ sort of girl. But my friend wore Charlie, so I couldn’t!
2. My First Perfume Purchase
The first perfume I bought for myself was Diorissimo. I moved from the citrus of Aqua Manda to the lily of the valley of Diorissimo, which felt more grown-up. I love lily of the valley. I think it’s a wonderful scent. My mum had Diorissimo and used to wear it quite a lot, and I think I must have nicked my first few bottles from her. It wasn’t her only perfume, but she particularly liked that one. I wore Diorissimo for quite a long time all through my early 20s – I just thought it was such a beautiful, easy floral fragrance to wear. It’s just so pretty, and you didn’t have to think too hard about it; you just knew you were going to smell good wearing it.
3. My First Mind-Blowing Fragrance
Two perfumes answer this for me. The first is Beaufort London; one of the first brands I came across when I moved into fragrance, and I thought Leo Crabtree was interesting because he was a musician. When I first tried the fragrance, I remember thinking, well, why hasn’t anyone done this before, these are like tiny boys stories in a bottle, and they smell so different, and they smell so adventurous. I’ve got three sons, all of whom love fragrance, but none of whom wore fragrance until we started on the Beaufort. When I came home and told them about the stories, the blood, the rust, you know, the birch tar in Tonnerre, they were all over it, because they’d all read, and loved, the Master and Commander series of books, and they’d all been very Harry Potterish as well. This was a safe space for them to wear fragrance and capture their imaginations and wear something interesting. I just thought that was wonderful. I love and wear Fathom V, but it was being able to come home with a bottle and capture my sons’ imaginations with fragrance, which really blew my mind.
Number two is Miller Harris, L’Air de Rien, which is unfortunately now discontinued. I have a horrendous girl crush on Jane Birkin. I think she’s amazing. Not for any particular reason, I think she looks great, and I love the whole vibe around her. I like the fact that she’s eccentric, and she doesn’t do what everyone else does. I met her and Lyn Harris at the launch when Lyn was still at Miller Harris, and she was everything I expected her to be. I thought she was going to be standoffish, but she was just wonderful. When I was interviewing her, she dug about my handbag and showed me what was in hers. She also gave me this great tip on how to keep your feet warm whilst wearing Converse by lining them with sheepskin. I love the perfume as well; it came out when fragrance and fashion were completely not aligned. We had amazing fashion houses doing wonderful things, and then they’d have this rather tacky edition of perfume that was supposed to be the same but wasn’t; this was a hole that needed filling in my life. I wanted something fashion orientated that evoked lots of things I connected to, and L’Air de Rien did it for me – it still does. It’s such a distinct perfume, it really does smell like the slightly grubby insides of a handbag, and I think there’s something rather grounding about that.
4. My All-Time Favourite Perfume
It’s impossible to answer, so I’m not even going to try! Instead, I’m going to set a parameter on it and say my all-time favourite for today because I’m always looking forward. I’m always sure that the next fragrance will be the best thing I’ve ever smelled, so rather than looking backwards and studying the traditional fragrances, I look to the future, skipping forward to the next big, best thing.
Today I’m loving Sana Jardin’s Incense Water. I love what the brand is doing in terms of sustainability. The fragrance industry has a long way to go before it cracks sustainability – ingredients are doing well, as is harvesting, especially with adapting to blockchain and getting properly identifiable provenance, which is great. Still, the packaging isn’t where it should be. I love what Sana Jardin is doing, especially with their female workers, how they’re allowing them to use the offshoot products of what they are growing to do their own thing with perfume. It’s really good, and I like that they’re conscious of what can be made sustainable and what can and can’t be recycled. I also love this fragrance. When I read about Incense Water, I thought it would be very incensey, but it’s just a lovely, lovely rose. It’s just nestled into my lifestyle, and I find it very comforting.
5. My Everyday Scent
The Incense Water from Sana Jardin, but also the brand Aman; this is a new fragrance brand from the hotel group. Perhaps it’s because we haven’t been able to travel and these are very much based around smells of particular places, like New York and Morocco. There’s one here called Haru, which I’m obsessed with, and it’s the smell of Tokyo, one of my favourite places. It smells of cherry blossoms in a light, floral way, but it’s also got a cement-like urban feel to it, which is what Tokyo is all about. Those are my current obsessions, but they’ll change next week.
6. My Most Sentimental Perfume
Again, I’ve got two! As well as Diorissimo, my mum also wore Madame Rochas. Sadly, she passed away ten years ago, but I bought a bottle from a junk shop to remind me. The top notes have gone, but it still smells very ‘Madame Rochas’. That is what she wore every day, she wore other things too, but Madame Rochas, in particular, was hers.
Then there is my Aunt’s fragrance. I have a very glamorous Aunt called Marie – she’s my Dad’s sister, and she always had a slight air of mystery about her in that she was a successful working woman in Devon during the ’50s and ’60. Her big luxury was Chanel beauty, so whenever we went to stay with her, we would sneak into her bathroom at her beautiful house, and absolutely everything would be Chanel. There would be Chanel soaps, Chanel makeup, Chanel everything. I just thought it was immensely glamorous because we were at the stage where we were using lifebuoy soap at home. This was in the ’70s and ’80s, and it was super glamorous. She even had the special invitations from Chanel for VIP customers, and at her home, I found a few of the old magazines that must have been just for VIP customers and press. I’ve got lots of her miniature bottles of Nº5 and Cristalle Eau de Toilette and Coco Extrait. They are all original formulations, so they smell amazing. I particularly like Coco, which she used to wear a lot. There’s none left in the bottle, but you can still smell it, and it smells rich. Chanel makes me remember my Aunt and that introduction to glamour. She left a mark on me that is still existing.
7. My Perfume Collection
I’ve got a special box upstairs in my house because hundreds of fragrances go through my little office every year. In that special box are the ones that I don’t want to let go of, and currently, there’s about 25 in the box; everything else I give away to people who like what they smell. It’s a way of pushing things out into the world, and if people like a fragrance, maybe you can convert them, and that’s exciting.
8. My Favourite Perfume Brands
I didn’t realise before, but I am clearly a Miller Harris groupie because all of the fragrances I go to are Miller Harris; I discovered this through the #EscentualScents blind trials. I particularly love the Forage collection. I think that’s wonderful, and I’ve recommended it to so many people. I love Peau Santal and Powdered Veil – all of those soft skin fragrances. On a trend note, they were on it before everybody else was, and they created some really beautiful fragrances in that skin soft sandalwood era.
Having talked about my Aunt and Chanel Nº5, the Chanel I wear is Nº19. This, for me, stands out above all the others. If I’ve got to be really elegant and pull out all the stops, I will wear Chanel Nº19 because it makes me feel good. Also, other people recognise it – they recognise that Chanel handwriting, and I think that sort of sets you into a particular place. It’s quite a useful solution fragrance. I also love Jersey, from Les Exclusifs de Chanel because I think it’s really beautiful for a lavender fragrance.
I also wear quite a lot of Ormonde Jayne because my tendencies go towards elegant grown-up fragrances. Ormonde Jayne fragrances do a bit of that; they’re the modern Chanel. Damask is my current obsession, but I also wear others, such as Tolu.
Another brand I really like is Buly. Their fragrances are water-based so if I’m travelling around London, and I’m on the tube and the bus, I’m always aware of what I’m wearing and that I smell strange, but these fragrances are always much gentler. So, I often reach for a Buly.
And the last one is I also I’m a big fan of Sarah McCartney and 4160 Tuesdays. I quite like that she’s a teeny bit eccentric as well. I really admire her, and I have got a lot of her fragrances. At the moment, I’ve been wearing Centrepiece, which is a sweet, honeyed gourmand.