Photo: Harper’s Bazaar

In ‘Does our taste in scents change with the change?’ beauty writer Vicci Bentley admitted to moving over to the light side. Replacing spicy, leathery fragrances with lighter florals, post-menopause. Here Vicci picks some of her favourite, new floral scents:

Lest the Bri-Nylon spectre of granny and her Devon Violets beckon, take heart.  Menopause or not, bright, white floral fragrances (think jasmine, tuberose and ylang ylang) are trending again, possibly as light relief from the heavy rose-ouds and sickly sweet ‘fruitchoulis’ that have permeated perfume halls for far too long, now. Not that these modern florals are at all mimsy. It’s just that accents such as like hauntingly soft, cool iris, ‘hug me’ amber and ‘blue sky’ neroli are supporting features which put easy sensuality way above basic sexiness. Couture versus cleavage is the manifesto, now.

If like me, you’re a newly-fledged floral fancier, mull on these.

Diana Vreeland Full Gallop Eau de Parfum, £180 (from November. Other Diana Vreeland fragrances available HERE). Not remotely horsey, this is Inspired by the fashion diva’s love of dance – from Ballet Russe to the Tiller Girls, with whom she actually performed! Heliotrop’s marzipan moorishness is peppery and musky with powdery clouds of iris. A very high class hoofer.

Lola James Harper, The Promenade in Vincennes Wood, £34 (available HEREIngredients listed are green tea, lily and wood. To me, it’s the sweet, sharp, rusty scent of autumn in a grove of oak trees. The perfect woody-floral compromise.

Ormonde Jayne Jardin d’Ombre, £195 (Fortnum & Mason. Other Ormonde Jayne fragrances available HERE)There’s something pleasingly vintage about perfumer Linda Pilkington’s limited edition for Fortnum’s. Limey citrus notes give way to beautifully smooth iris and jasmine heart before ambery woods kick in. She denies there’s tea, but it has that cosey, hay-like appeal too.

Prada Olfactories Purple Rain, £195 (from November. Other Prada parfum available HERE) Nobody does iris quite like Prada perfumer Daniela Andrier. This is like the ‘liqueur’ version of Infusion d’Iris, cool and airy with aldehydes brought gently down to earth with the exquisitely soft, prune-leather aspect of vanilla. Light meets dark velvet. 

Bella Freud Close To My Heart, £95 (available HERE). Alyson and I debated this one. You either love or loathe tuberose as it intensifies on skin and, after a while, she found it a tad heavy. I liked the uplift of neroli and whiff of incense. The mossy, musky base has oud too, but such a light touch. Smells like cashmere feels.

Tom Ford Private Blend, Vert Bohème (available HERE). Out of TF’s four new scents on a green theme, I love this modern take on a classic chypre. Upbeat mandarin, magnolia and honeysuckle mingle with violet leaf and woods. Galbanum – the green note – gives it a ‘70s, Rive Gauche kick.



Take it easy in the comments box.


25 thoughts on “Perfume preferences and menopause (part two)

  1. I have tried several scents over the years but always come back to Annick Goutal’s Eau Du Sud and Eau D’Hadrien. So fresh.

  2. I’m not sure if my perfume taste has changed post menopause as I’m a fairy dedicated perfumista and follow some intelligent reviewers like Victoria Frolova on Bois de Jasmin. However I do wear more of the newer style colognes from people like
    Olfactive Studio and Atelier Cologne who have revamped to make them heftier and longer lasting but still with a “cologne” style. My all time desert island discs save this one bottle from sea out of my list of eight has to be Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne (who do a great sample set).
    And I still enjoy leather, tuberose and tobacco notes inspite of lower oestrogen levels!!

  3. My perfume choice has definitely changed. A big shout out for Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt or Blackberry and Bay, haunting and fabulous!

  4. Tom Ford’s fragrances are beautiful and mesmerizing. However, for the price point, are not worth the money because the scents dry down and fade within 15 minutes. He needs to reformulize so they linger for a long time!!!

    1. I think it depends on the specific scent. I recently acquired samples of two: Vert des Bois faded off my skin in an hour or two, but Vert D’Encens is still quite present 24 hours later.

      I also wonder if it depends on the person — most scents seem to disappear on me very quickly these days, and I don’t think it’s all down to a diminished sense of smell.

      I definitely agree that it’s not worth spending the money for something that doesn’t last, whatever the reason!

      1. You have a good point. That’s why I’m so faithful to my Guerlain L’Instant and La Petite Robe Noire–also by Guerlain. Both scents stay with me in such a beautiful and delicate way. In the summer I’m faithful to Fragonard’s Fleur d’Oranger which stays with me as well.

  5. My tastes haven’t changed due to menopause, although I don’t wear the same kind of fragrance as I did in my teens and twenties when I favoured spicy fragrances. For years now I’ve only worn fresh, light scents…or citrus ones. Never florals. Wonder if that’s because I’m allergic to many flowers. Fresh flowers in our house usually means I have to move them out on the deck and look at them through out sun room window:) Ha…same with perfume, I guess.

  6. I only started wearing perfume post-menopause, perhaps because I couldnt afford it in my younger days or perhaps because I was a smoker and reeked of an old ashtray all the time anyway! I now love fragrance, probably too much. Way too much money has been spent in the search for my ‘signature’, something that I have now come to accept will never happen. This week I have been fortunate in being able to purchase three new perfumes, Gorgeous Gardenia by Gucci, Fiori by Vince Camuto and Dahlia and Vines by Nest. At least I have learned one thing and that is that I do love florals!!

  7. I don’t know anyone who wears perfume anymore — maybe things are different in the States? Or in maybe just in New England? I know too many people with sensitivity issues, I guess. Perfume to me seems old fashioned — though I can understand its appeal.

  8. I think scent is like everything else in our lives; not a destination, but, rather, a journey. Always fun to experiment.
    One of the most intelligent books I have ever read on fragrance is ‘Perfumes: The Guide’ by Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez.

  9. Lulu, that makes me so sad.
    What happened to romance?
    What happened to mystery?
    I don’t want to live in a place where all foods are gluten free and women don’t wear perfume.

  10. The difference between gluten free and perfume free, of course, is that people with gluten sensitivity can simply choose to eat something else. With scent, the sensitive have no choice. If a perfumed person joins them in an elevator, that is that.
    I do hear what you’re saying though, and hope that your perfume-wearing brings you much romance and many wonderful mysteries!

    1. Not always quite so easy to avoid gluten. It’s in medications, in shampoo and other cosmetics, hidden in cross-contaminated products, and left as residue on cutting boards, toasters, utensils. Suffering of any kind is no fun, but having coping mechanisms when we know we have personal challenges is also a form of civility, just as being respectful that others may not find the same joy in my Shalimar or my other choices. We all have to live together, and be mindful of our actions. Or, go live like a hermit. What’s the fun in that.

  11. Alyson, thank you for your blog – I look forward to each one, and post-menopausal changes in our scents – and sensibilities -is an interesting topic to explore.
    How about an article on niche perfumers and perfume? For someone looking to find a “signature scent” or just to have one’s world of scent blown open to new possibilities, experience and education, niche perfumes could be the answer. Visiting the UK last September, I went with my dear friend V to Bloom in Covent Garden and spent an hour or more somewhat randomly sniffing scents (they are in glass cupboards under broad categories such as “green”, “rose”, “animalic”, “fruit”, and so on) while V was taken on a hunting expedition through many perfumes by the friendly, wry, and vastly knowledgeable proprietor, Oksana. The hunt was not random, but driven by notes and molecules in each scent, identified by V as liked, disliked, unsure, and identified with name by O. Then more scents were selected to sample in which the preferred ingredients appeared in other ways, were shifted, altered with additions, subtractions, complementary ingredients, etc. Completely opposite scents were tried as well. V went away with a group of hefty samples to live with for a couple of weeks, and happily went back recently to purchase a bottle of the chosen one (or two). I went back a few days later for my own one on one (complimentary, by the way) with O. I, too, left with a bag of samples, including one that I had impulsively tried on my arm the first visit, was surprised by its unusual first note and tried desperately to rub off (not possible with only water!). As I wore it through the day I discovered I loved it, and it is now a contender for The One. All in all a most interesting and enjoyable experience.

  12. Thanks for all the suggestions – may have a sniffle around and put something on my Xmas list. The dearly beloved other knows better than to go off list. 😉

  13. Diana Vreeland has a perfume OUT by her GRANDSON!THAT is NEWS TO ME………….since people tell me I’m A LOT like HER…………..(BE STILL MY HEART! THANK YOU VERY MUCH) I must FIND to SNIFF TEST!I like the SWEETER scents ALWAYS HAVE……………NOTHING has changed with me but I went throughout THAT M STAGE AT AGE 40!YES…….young young……..and it was a BREEZE!
    OFF TO make a list for SANTA!!!!!!!!

  14. I always loved old fashioned scents like Guerlain’s Mitsouko. But last year I discovered Jo Malone – especially the cucumber and green tea variety. It’s lovely, light, fresh, a whisper into the night. I associate it with impish creatures foliage and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  15. I always loved old fashioned scents like Guerlain’s Mitsouko. But last year I discovered Jo Malone – especially the cucumber and green tea variety. It’s lovely, light, fresh, a whisper into the night. I associate it with impish creatures, foliage and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  16. Like Maureen, I am head over heels for Ormonde Woman (I want that discovery set, but am afraid I’ll fall in love with more of them), and heartily endorse her recommendation to read Victoria’s blog, where I learn so much from her and from the readers. For those who find fragrance disappears too quickly, Victoria had a suggestion to spray your fragrance into a handful of body cream and massage it in (far cheaper than buying those usually-garbage scented creams). I just clued in a male friend who finds his Dior disappearing (we are both of northern European ancestry – read fair, fair, fair). Moisturize yourself with a carrier oil, like jojoba, and then apply fragrance, or spray it on a scarf or clothing. I would not want to live in a world without fragrances (I may not “get” the whole bag addiction thing, just like most wouldn’t “get” my multiple-dozen bottle collection, plus samples and decants), but I also don’t want anyone to get ill. Just like I’m glad there’s now gluten free foods because of my celiac, I want everyone to be okay…if someone had a peanut allergy, I sure wouldn’t want them exposed to nuts. But an outright ban? Surely, there’s got to be a way for everyone to be safe and happy.

  17. Like several others who have commented, I’m scent sensitive (walking by a perfume counter in a department store can bring on an instant headache!). I’m also deathly allergic to bee stings so must keep everything I use on my body as scent free as possible––particularly in the summer! As much as I love to smell scent on others, please don’t be offended if I don’t give you a “hello/good-bye hug” as it is literally dangerous for me to have your scent transferred to me. Still, one of my all time favorite perfumes is Narcisse Noir by Caron––I don’t even know if it is made anymore––it is/was a lovely dark floral scent––perfect for winter. I knew someone who wore it years ago and I always thought it added a layer of mystery to her personality.

  18. I stick with the perfume I wore from my teens Miss Dior. Now I’m in my mid sixties. The perfume in the Dior stable has been revamped a lot recently with Natalie Portman as the model. The old version is still available as Miss Dior Original. Best to buy in the 50ml aerosol size, so the scent doesn’t change. For some reason duty free shops at Heathrow airport only sell the 100ml bottles. When it does a bit off, too much alcohol, I still use as room spray into air. A lighter summer scent again Dior is called Escale a Portofino. Lovely citrusy smell. I put perfume on first thing in the morning to lift my spirits, part of getting dressed.

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