Close to my heart knit £300 and fragrance £95

Eureka. I have a new signature perfume. It’s Bella Freud’s Close to my Heart  which launched last night, at Fenwick of Bond Street. Created by the award-winning perfume designer Azzi Glasser, who works closely with Bella Freud on her fragrance line and manages to capture what’s hot right now, in a very Bella way. Close to my Heart is brilliantly described by my friend, beauty writer and fragrance expert Vicci Bentley as, ‘Softly, slutty tuberose and a ‘hug me’ amber base. A lovely, modern floral that’s not too frilly, a bit like Bella.’ Can’t beat that. Tuberose according to Vicci is the flower of 2016, and is a very difficult note to pull-off without smelling cheap, ‘Giorgio Beverley Hills was banned in some restaurants,’ she explains, ‘because it was so fucking offensive and cloying.’

Alyson Walsh; That's Not My Age;
Bella Freud fan. Photo: Dvora @Fashionistable

Not so long ago, I turned to Vicci (@craftycrone) for help finding a new fragrance and we had a spritz-athon at her office. Described by Vicci as ‘edgy back in the day’, I’d been wearing Comme des Garcons Odeur 53 for about 20 years. She quite rightly pointed me in the direction of Bella Freud’s Ginsberg is God (good call, I’ve long been a Bella Freud fan); and along with a sample of Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino Acqua and Jo Malone’s Wild Strawberry & Parsley cologne, this turned out to be one of my favourite scents. So, it was fun to go together to the launch of the fabulous new Bella Freud pop-up shop at Fenwick (third floor, month-long residency) and sniff out my new signature scent. A fantastic party with all the right ingredients: excellent music, potent cocktails and a cool crowd. Very Bella.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: Bella Freud attends the Bella Freud Fragrance Launch at Fenwick Of Bond Street on September 6, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bella Freud
LONDON (Photo by Darren Gerrish/Getty Images) Bella Freud

And Vicci Bentley’s expert advice on finding a new signature scent is:

•  Shop when you’re in a good mood. Because of the scent and memory link, it’s impossible to forget how you felt when you first found that perfume. There’s total recall in every spray…

•  Might be an idea to wear your favourite clothes…. you’ll feel very ‘you’. So the scent will always conjure that confidence.

•  Keep your nose open. Don’t try and recreate an old favourite – you’ll miss some great surprises. But don’t step too far out of your comfort zone either. If you’re a floral kind of girl, it will take a lot for you to love woods, say.

•  Go to a scent boutique rather than a crowded store where everyone’s pushing something. Get independent advice from an expert.

•  Take your time. If you like a scent, try it on your skin, then wait at least a couple of hours to see how it develops.

•  Never buy a scent because you liked it on someone else. It might smell quite different on your skin. This is your signature, remember?

The red ‘Close to my Heart’  sweater is exclusive to Fenwick and available in store; other colourways are available HERE. Close to my Heart perfume is also available HERE. And the Bella Freud 1970 sweater is available HERE.


What’s your signature scent?


35 thoughts on “Expert advice on finding a new signature perfume (mine is Bella Freud’s Close to my Heart)

  1. Clarins- Eau Dynamisante.
    It’s fresh, clean, and transports me to a place in my mind that feels like I’m breathing oxygen and have the sun on my skin.

  2. Like you, I’ve been wearing my favourite (Roma by Laura Biagiotti) for 20 years, and I recently decided it was time for a change (plus it’s not quite the same any more since a reformulation as well as being more and more difficult to get hold of). I found the choice really quite overwhelming, but have finally settled on Decadence by Marc Jacobs. It goes against all my principles of not wanting something too “mainstream” (seems to be everywhere at the moment), but the scent just seemed very “me”, which I guess is all that matters!

  3. Mitsouko. For close to 40 years! Marrakech Intense from Aesop is good, but pricey and doesn’t seem to stay with you for long. Declaration by Cartier – smells of curry (i.e. cardamom et al) so reminds me of food in a good way!

  4. I found that after menopause perfumes smelled very different on my skin. Anything heavy or musky feels cloying and artificial. I now like fresh citrus /bergamot , herby , ‘green’ or ‘blue’ based perfumes.
    Dermologica Body Hydrating Cream smell divine, lasts all day with no need for perfume, although if they made a perfume in this fragrance I would buy it.I also love Paul Smith Rose and Jo Malone (almost any of hers, the names alone make me want to buy them.

  5. Mine has always been Oscar. I still like it more than almost any other. I am open to new fragrances but always go back to Oscar.

  6. I have three signature scents. I’m seasonal. In summer I wear Fraginsrd’s Fleur d’Oranger. The scent is light and blends well with the hot weather. I always refill when we are in Theoule. For cooler weather it’s Guerlain’s La Petit Robe Noire. I LOVE the cherry tones and I remember where I was the first time I tried it–Orly airport. I was hooked. During the cold, deep winter I wear Guerlain’s L’ Instant. Bonaparte brought it back for me from Paris when we first started dating and it has remained such a great winter scent because it is so warm. It is also the scent that always gets a ton of compliments.

  7. I have used Jo Malone for decades in the Summer: Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne, Winter: Pomegranate Noir Cologne (my favorite). People stop me all the time to ask what fragrance I am wearing. Love it!

  8. I am an oddity in that I have almost no sense of smell. I get a slight sensation in my nose but always the same one: the brain can’t distinguish between one scent and another. But you don’t miss what you’ve never had and I always wear scent! I have a huge ‘library’ and rely on the hug test before I buy. Buy a sample, spray it on, and test the reaction when I hug. ‘You smell gorgeous!’ from more than three people and it goes on the list.

    I wear very few modern scents, though Jo Malone’s Lime, Basil and Mandarin is currently meeting with approval from my ‘noses’. Generally, though, I wear ‘old’ scents. Often the modern versions have been reformulated to their detriment as certain ingredients become rarer and poorer versions are substituted. You can still get old versions on ebay. ‘Crepe de Chine’ by Millot is one favourite – it was discontinued because the ingredients became simply too expensive. Other scents I often use: Guerlain’s ‘Apres L’Ondee’ Chanel ‘Bois des Illes’ and Dior’s ‘Eau Fraiche.’

  9. Jo Malone lasts about an hour on me and my favourite, Jasmin and Honeysuckle, was discontinued when Estée Lauder took it over. My current favourites are Miller and Harris Rose Silence and Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose.

  10. I’ve really worked on this. Right now I use both Annick Goutal’s Ce soir au Jamais and Escentrict’s Molecule 01. I love the Molecule but it fades quickly. The Ce Soir au Jamais is very much a rose base…something I never liked before but find myself drawn to now. (Worries about my also being a little old lady with plastic sheeting over the sofa also springs to mind whenever I confess to loving rose scents….). And I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Hermès new scent Galop d’ Hermès which is also a rose base with hints of leather.
    Here in the states we have a couple of companies where you can order online samples of different perfum for a few dollars each so you can really and truly try them out. Best idea ever and also a wonderful place to get travel sizes of your favorites.

  11. I am a seasonal person too! For the last 5 years I have been using Biotherm’s Eau de Vanessa Bruni which was a limited edition. I loved it and bought a couple of bottles but this winter it will finish so will have to find something new which I find incredibly difficult after menopause – everything seems to smell like either cheap hairspray or even cleaning products or too musky or too much vanilla! For transition I like rose-based perfumes like Chloé’s (can’t remember the exact name) and the summer is relatively easy – Daisy, Issaye Mikaye’s summer version and Un Jardin aux Nil are among my favourites. I would love to become acquainted with Jo Malone perfumes but living in Switzerland makes it difficult.

    1. Honestly, Linda, you’re missing nothing with JM, some of them smell lovely but, I’m my experience, none of them has any longevity.

  12. I find my new ‘signature’ every few months, sadly. It seems I fall in love too quickly with a scent and then within weeks grow to truly not like it anymore. I have a drawer full of Dior, Chloe, Chanel, Balenciaga and such, all unloved and going to waste. I can feel myself being pulled towards Chanel’s Allure and am fighting the urge to go buy a bottle – I know as soon as I do we’ll have a falling out. I am envious of those who have a fragrance they dont tire of and adore.

  13. Jo Malone Grapefruit under everything; in winter I add Blackberry and Bay; in summer Tuberose or Orange Blossom. Yes JM lacks staying power but I smile on my way out the door in the mornings. While JM candles are a huge splurge, I think of them as an investment cheaper than therapy. A few years ago in Madrid I bought a bottle of Serge Lutens Fleurs d’oranger. The bottle is near empty (okay, it should be thrown out) but every time I open it I remember the light on the plaza and how fresh the day was…

  14. Time to confess to a significant but not ruinous perfume habit. Thankfully I discovered the sampling service in a couple of lovely independent London Perfumeries Bloom and Les Scenteurs so I can really try something out before committing to a full bottle. However I do have a lot of bottles and think of it as having a perfume wardrobe rather than having a signature scent. My “wardrobe staples” would be Ormonde Woman (from the fabulous London perfumer Linda Pilkington at Ormonde Jayne), Flashback (Olfactive Studio), Zeta (by the wonderous Andy Tauer) and when it’s really hot nothing can beat good old O de Lancôme the scent of the riviera!
    Just one note of caution on the whole signature scent thing – if we wear the same perfume every day we can become anosmic to that scent and consequently apply more and more to ge the same effect. If you’ve ever worked in an office you will probably have had a colleague who has done that!

  15. It was Guerlain Apres L’Ondee for years but pregnancy changed how everything smelled on me and I have yet to find a replacement. I now need much lighter fresher scents and Annick Goural Nuit Etuilee gets a lot of wear even though it makes me sneeze!

  16. In the summertime, I wear Fracas for special occasions; it’s a tuberose/gardenia perfume.
    It does not smell cheap and, boy, it isn’t cheap. It’s as you Brits might say rather “dear.”
    This time of year, I also like Chanel’s “Cristalle”: citrusy, a bit herbaceous, yet very feminine.
    Come winter, I switch over to Mitsouko, Femme and Bal a Versailles.
    Yes, I’m one of the holdouts who still loves chypre perfumes.

    1. I love chypres too. 31 Rue Cambon is my official signature scent, but I’ve been wearing Cristalle so much over summer it’s almost taken over. I’m saving up for Diorella next; Tania Sanchez described it as reminiscent of Thai beef salad, which sold it to me!

  17. I always return to either Stella or Paul Smith Rose for day/warm weather. For nightime and when I feel exotic/sexy always – L’Occitane Eau d’Iparie. I agree, menopause does do weird things to your sense of smell and fragrances that I used to love make me feel physically unwell!!!

  18. Almost anything from Angela Flanders. “Precious One” is lovely and her 2 boutiques in East London are Aladdin’s Caves of perfume.

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