There's nothing more personal than a person's scent, and memories of everything from childhood to holidays to physical attraction can be triggered by a fragrance. With new personalized-scent technology, it's easier than ever to find the perfect bouquet in a bottle for friends, family, and lovers.
Working from her downtown shop at Fourth and Pine, perfumer Elizabeth George develops "fragrance signatures" for her clients. To concoct these unique aromas, she requires that you or your giftee sit through an initial consultation to sample scents and then follows up with additional meetings where final adjustments are made.
A pure fragrance from George starts at $100 an ounce, and the concentrated essence can be added to lotion, body powder, and bath gel. George also stocks hard-to-find French and Italian perfumes, and she will locate and special-order fragrances that no one else carries.
If you'd rather formulate a fragrance in the comfort of your home, simply log onto www.reflect.com. There, you'll answer a series of personal questions designed to narrow down your singular preferences and needs—and soon you'll have a new scent that you can purchase through their Web site.
Don't want to spend the time necessary to contrive an alluring fragrance all your own? Opt for a visit to Sephora, the glitzy cosmetics emporium that promises a bigger and better selection of fragrances than any department store, at surprisingly competitive prices. Sephora carries its own fragrance line, plus just about every other national brand. The year's bestsellers are sure bets for men: Emporio Armani, Acqua di Gio, Ralph Lauren Romance for Men, and Issey Miyake L'Eau Pour Homme. Hot new scents for guys include Gucci Rush and Lolita Lempicka for Men. (Men's scents at Sephora range from $29.50 to $45.) For women, Issey Miyake Le Feu d'Issey Light is expected to fly off the shelves this season, closely followed by Carolina Herrera 212, Baby Doll by Yves Saint Laurent, and Ralph Lauren Romance for Women. The new must-have fragrances for the female in your life are Ralph Lauren's Ralph, Giorgio Armani's Mania, and Anna Sui Sui Dreams. (Women's scents at Sephora range from $37.50 to $54.)
To find rare scents that local department stores no longer carry, log on to www.perfumeinc.com. This discount fragrance site asks you to fill out a request form that's then submitted to an online consultant. You supply your e-mail address and fragrance request, and they try to hunt it down for you.
Say It With Scents
A gift says so much—and implies more, perhaps, if its name sends a message, so . . . it's back to Sephora for more! For that boyfriend who can't seem to commit, try pressing the issue with a bottle of Truth, by Calvin Klein. Hint that an overly attentive male pursuer should give you some breathing room with Jean Paul Gaultier's Fragile. Or explain your hesitancy about a new relationship with Calvin Klein's Contradiction for Men. Express a budding interest in a coworker with Flirt, by Prescriptives (available at Nordstrom, 1-800-7-BEAUTY, $27.50) or Dazzling (Silver or Gold), by Estee Lauder. Suggest the depths of your ego with Lucky You (Lucky Brand store, University Village, 529-8104, $35) or boldly expose your heart's desire with Obsession (Calvin Klein) or Estee Lauder's Pleasures. For those heady days after the start of an affair, there's always Goodlife, by Davidoff. (Unless noted, all scents available at Sephora, prices range from $32 to $80.)
From the Get Fresh line—the best scent is the chamomile-apricot—comes sweetly suggestive body-care products, including Skinny Dip shower gel, Hands On lotion, and Come Clean hand soap (starting at $12; available online at www.gloss.com or at any Gene Juarez Salon location). The Dirty Girl product line offers everything from soap to hand-and-body cream to bubble bath, starting at $5. Blue Q follows suit with a Virgin/Slut soap set, and creams and soaps with suggestive names like Queen, Voodoo, Tough Girl, Good Luck, and the straightforward favorite Total Bitch. Selected Dirty Girl and Blue Q products are available at Anthropologie, Fireworks, and Sephora, but for the complete product lines, log onto www.rebeccaclark.com, where you can even request special naughty gift-wrapping papers.
Smells Good Enough to Eat
"Yummy" is the only way to describe the Fresh products line. Just the appellations of its body soaps, fragrances, and home incenses are enough to make your stomach growl. Women's fragrances come in orange chocolate, original vanilla, and fresh pomegranate, and body soaps are available in pear and chocolate. (There are flowery scents, too.) Fresh products are available (soaps start at $7, fragrances at $24) at Essenza in Fremont or online at www.beautyjungle.com.
Some fragrances don't need decorative boxes or wordy descriptions—like the unique Demeter colognes. Any fragrance you can imagine is captured in their one-ounce bottles, from tomato, orange juice, and grass to leather, dust, and bamboo. And, even better, each of these smells exactly as you'd expect. Have you ever wanted to smell like a birthday cake or a gin and tonic? At $15 a pop, you now can. Limited Demeter fragrances are available at Sephora, but the entire line is available at www.sephora.com.
Amy Hatch is a freelance writer in Seattle.