A few years ago, I was in Jo Malone on Sloane Street, and was testing all the scents. I had only two bare arms, and there were about 16 of them. Each arm got about 8, and they ended up getting mashed up. It was a really fun–but nose-confusing–experience. I bought the two I liked best, laughing to the shop assistant about the technique I used. She sort of dead-panned me and said that the whole theory behind Jo Malone’s stuff is to use layering for a personalized scent. So there you have it.
I’m a big fan of blending Gucci Envy and A*Men to provide a nice sweet/spicy mix that really gets girls clinging on to me for long periods of time. The trick is to only use a small spray of the A*Men because it is a much stronger scent.
I don’t blend, personally, but my mother always layers Gucci’s ‘Envy’ with Dolce and Gabanna’s ‘Light Blue’. she’s sensitive to heavy perfumes so the two compliment each other nicely. It’s a bit more difficult to blend cologne, i’ve found. I tried layering two of the Hugo Boss ‘In Motion’ range but it just came out too heavy…
here in Brazil, there’s a famous hairstylist that always does it. he also wrote about it on NOVA, the brazilian Cosmopolitan Magazine. but i think the best blend is the perfume with the unique scent of each skin !
I love your blog, which I browse almost daily. This post of yours inspired me to comment, since perfume is a topic dear to my heart given my profession (and I also write about perfume on my blog, http://www.boisdejasmin.com ). Blending can be an interesting way to create a novel effect, although there are specific rules to follow. Blending musk base (like Kiehl’s Musk) with something likewise constituting a base note (like incense or wood) would give best results, if you are new to this. As for florals, Jo Malone fragrances offer plenty of floral options that can be blended with each other. Try Jo Malone Orange Blossom with any of the citrus colognes. Santa Maria Novella fragrances can also be blended easily. If you are near Barneys, try Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental with Fleurs de Citronnier. That is one of my favourite combinations on a man.
Good luck! Victoria
P.S. If you are in Florence, do try to visit Lorenzo Villoresi as well (although his fragrances are available in NYC, the experience of visiting his studio is quite something.) If you like Comme des Garcons spicy-incensy fragrances, you might also find his very appealing.
Moreover, I have a few articles from French magazines which run suggestions given by the top perfumers in the industry. Here is one excerpt: “The Rules of Successful Layering according to French ELLE magazine
The safest way to do it is with citrus notes. They blend easily with floral, woodsy and even ambery fragrances. Such combinations enable you to associate two different ‘scent worlds’ and prevent either of the two fragrances being redundant.
COMBOS PUBLISHED IN FRENCH ELLE (21 July 2003)
Unisex: Kenzo Flower + YSL M7 Adds floral notes to the muskiness of M7; turns it into a feminine scent
Light: L’Artisan Navegar + Annick Goutal Des Lys Lightens the ambery notes of Navegar and adds a fresh note to them
Fresh: Sisley Eau de Campagne + Kiehl’s Cucumber Spray Two green scents together. Creates a very soft, summery perfume.
I like to blend my fragrances with an oil that complements its basenotes – whether it is the same to make it richer, or different to change it slightly. IMO, musks are great for this, I also love a good vanilla or gardenia.
if you’re into the whole blending thing, i recommend you check out christopher brosius’s fragrance company, i hate perfume (cbihateperfume.com). in addition to offering some interesting fragrances, you can also buy individual accords which you can then use to blend your own fragance. you can even have him make a custom fragrance for you.
I don’t use commercial colognes but I have had mixed success (so to speak) creating my own cologne blends from natural essential oils mixed with alcohol and water, then aged for a few months. Some favorite ingredients are neroli, sandalwood, and vetiver. Unfortunately by the time I get around to testing, I have forgotten exactly what’s in it. I need to keep better notes!
i collect perfumes — rare, vintage perfumes, mostly, but many newer ones as well (nice to see victoria here from bois de jasmine) — and i agree, the CdG line is amazing. also among the more modern scents serge lutens has some great fragrances, as does frederic malle. but i am too much in awe of the great noses to mess around with their creations. i can’t imagine improving on tabac blond, bandit, apres le ondee, bois de violet, and on and on and on. to wear a classic scent by guerlain or caron or dior that has endured for a hundred years is enough of a personal statement for me. basically, if it ain’t broke…
if you would like to read one of the most entertaining books on the subject be sure to check out “the emperor of scent” by chandler burr about the life and work of luca turin, one of the most fascinating individuals the perfume world has ever known.
jolie madame is one of my all-time favorite scents (by the germaine cellier, the first great female “nose” — she also created the deeply wonderful bandit, jm’s big sister scent). jolie madame needs nothing! let it speak for itself and you cannot go wrong, but do try to get ahold of good (as in unopened, carefully stored) vintage bottle of it, because the earlier version is even better.
having said all of that about not mixing, the suggestion of combining cuir de russie with femininite du bois is so intriguing i just might have to eat my words and try that combination. you may have a new convert on your hands, but it feels so wrong to monkey around with either of those scents, especially cuir de russie — almost sacrilegious. maybe if i have a drink first…
Excellent. Finally some fragrance folks here. If I were you (which I’m not, sob), I’d take Victoria’s advice, especially on SL Vetiver Oriental and Fleurs de Citronnier – they’re extraordinary on their own, too – JM and Lorenzo Villoresi. But Santa Maria Novella scents are actually a terrific start. Layering is the simplest way to do it. It was frowned upon by many a person as barbaric in the not so distant past, since it was said to interfere with the integrity of the original blend/s. Well, I say layer, blend, mix, wear on its own, smell lovely. Go you!
Sart you must be familiar with Aedes de Venustas in the w.village. They have probably the entire santa maria novella fragrance line along with serge lutens, l’artisan, Etro, Creed, Montale etc. I think a light incense base that still smells floral because of the white lily is L’Artisan’s Passage d’Enfer.
A fave combo with Khiels musk oil is the Le Labo rose scent (which is supposed to be a male fragrance). Also in the summer I like Narciso’s For Her edp with Nar’s monoi body oil. I used to mix it with the Estee Lauder Azuree oil which was unfortunately a one time release this summer.
I’m a big believer in personalizing one’s scent (after all, it’s the “accessory” you put on first when getting dressed, right)? I’m too lazy to blend my own, but I make up for that by having a scent custom made for me by this genius company in LA, so I never smell like anyone else. And it is an oil-based fragrance, which seems to last longer and evoke more “yummy!” responses from people than any mass-made fragrances I’ve worn in the past (and by mass market, I don’t mean cheap drugstore brands, I just mean available to anyone at a dept. store or whatnot).
I am a life-long self-blender. I currently blend Fresh’s sandalwood vert with their patchouli pure for summer. In winter, I wear Hermes Elixir des Merveilles which is actually their own blend of an existing scent (Eau des Merveilles) with yummy scents like chocolate and orange…mmm…
Perfume blending is super hyped at the moment, no wonder the issue is brought up here, hehe. I bought “Old leather” and “White soap” from Christopher Brosius. I smell like a very clean biker. Another nice mix is Annick Goutal’s Duel and Hotel Costes e.d.c. Heavy as hell, but very sexy, for a decadent party night.
Is there a place in nyc that does custom blending for perfume? i would really like to know about it if there is. in the 80′s i had a friend who used to mix grey flannel and polo – either of them on their own is a bit normal but when combined really gave a spark and it was a very sexy scent on him.
I’m a guy and I blend. And I ADORE SMN. Walking into the farmacia and apothocary, away from the touristic fray of Firenze, is like entering a true sanctuary. For my personal blend, I really want to share with all you guys because I swear I have yet to NOT SEDUCE someone with this scent, it almost needs no introduction and I like how it’s a mix of the high and the low: SMN ‘Potpourri’ (a timeless classic, as in back to the 14th c. classic) and Eau de Baux by L’Occitane. The musk and spices in SMN ‘Potpourri’ provides the depth; the Eau de Baux is lighter and full of cedar. The two produce a powerful, exotic combination that I would dare use the term ‘oriental’ to describe it and I’m Asian!
Funny anecdote, I was once prepping up in my work locker room after a post-work run and the cleaning lady was there wiping the counters, etc. and she had to stop, sit down and have a moment bc she was taken away by the blend. And I had applied only the faintest amount too. It was almost like a Proustian moment for her!
I’m a guy and I blend. And I ADORE SMN. Entering the farmacia and apothecary, away from the touristic fray of Firenze, is like entering a true sanctuary. For my personal blend, I want to share with all you guys because I have yet to NOT SEDUCE someone with it. I also like how it’s a mix of the high and the low too. I blend SMN ‘Potpourri’ (a true classic as in back to the 14th c. classic) with Eau de Baux by L’Occitane. The musk and spices of SMN ‘Potpourri’ gives it depth; the Eau de Baux is lighter, contains higher notes, with the dominant scent being cedar. The combination of the two is so exotic, I would dare use the term ‘oriental’ to describe it and I’m Asian!
A funny anecdote, once I was prepping myself in my work locker room after a post-work run, and the cleaning lady was in there wiping the counters and such. I had applied the faintest amount of this stuff on myself and she had to totally stop, sit down and take a moment to reflect. She was so overwhelmed by it, it was as if she was swept to another time and place – like a Proustian moment!
Lots of us hard-core perfumistas blend our fragrances. It’s a natural extension of our fascination with all things smelly. Personally, I’m more likely to go with a scented lotion topped with a perfume. Right now I’m obsessed with the combo of Le Labo Aldehyde 44 lotion and Piguet’s Baghari perfume. Bliss.
I blend Kiehl’s Original Musk with Mademoiselle Jacadi, which I think makes the Jacadi just a little more womanly. It’s so interesting that Kiehl’s Original Musk is used to mix so much! I wonder what it is about the scent? Depth?
I’ll sometimes were something citrus-y (like the original Armani) on my torso, and then a spray or two of something woodsy (like M7 by YSL) around the neck and wrists. It makes it more intriguing and not so one-dimensional.
I currently use Costume National scent intense and the funny thing is, the woman who sold it to me tried to convince me to blend it with this other scent. At the time, I liked how it was by itself and didn’t really know that people blended scents but I definitely will start to create my own smell. Anyone have suggestions as to where a guy can find some quality scents that are very light but not too feminine?
IMO, there’s nothing more personal than your own skin ph to blend any fragrance, so it shouldn’t be necessary to blend with other fragrances to make it more “personal.” Nevertheless, I’m a fan of blending, specially soft fragrances. My favorite blend is Helmut Lang (applied generously) with a little bit of D&G Masculine. It’s very fresh and crisp, with a sweet undertone. I also like blending any manly wood/spicy cologne with a couple drops of a strong feminine perfume (like DiorAddict) for a touch of drama. It usually creates a terrific effect!
Well, you’ve gotten enough advice but here goes. First of all on your next trip to Paris don’t miss Frederic Malle (the new shop is supposed to be beautiful) I’m fond of angeliques sous la pluie. And, of course, go to the Palais Royal and visit serge lutyens the scents are fabulous, quite rich infact. I like Arabie, which doesn’t necesssarily go with my lime/vetiver scent personality but is is just so damn sexy. I grew up with a few classics. My father always wore Inperial from Guerlain and there used to be a version labeled “extra dry” (just like he liked his martinis!) which he searched out. And as children our nanny used to comb our hair with violet water. I’ve taken this a bit further now. In the summer I spash on rose water after a shower as a light tonic for freshly sunned skin BTW White musk is a classic unisex scent so I’m not surprised to see it used frequently by “mixers”
There was a place in London that custom made scents to your exact taste. It cost about ÂŁ60, so was an ideal present for someone. Then you could go back in a they could remake what you had before for the price of a normal perfume.
212 Herrera + Joop is fresh.
I know women often wear mens fragrances but do men ever lightly mix womens with their own? They all seem to be quite overpowering, so obviously it would have to be something subtle.
I plead ignorance here … I have a few different colognes, but I’m a “one at a time” guy. I’ll leave the blending to the experts, and simply enjoy the results … I’m not going to blend my clarets, so why blend colognes?
I’m also a little confused as to the process … I have images of you folks cracking open store-bought bottles and pouring them into test tubes and beakers in your bathroom at home … am I completely out to lunch? Or is it as simple as spraying on two colognes at the same time?
One question: How does anyone blend perfumes without smelling like one bathed in them? I’m always most concerned that I don’t end up smelling like I was attacked by someone at the perfume counter, and since most perfumes come in spray bottles, it’s very hard to just get a little bit. I couldn’t imagine wearing more than one spritz – so I’m stuck not blending. (Luckily I love Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom)
I do blend essential oils (bergamot or grapefruit, lavender, sage and rose geranium), but those can be extracted with an eye dropper, and I use more as bath products.
The processes I use are either to put a different fragrance on different parts of my body (Jicky all over, Bandit in my hair, and Angelique Encens on my pulse points) or to “layer” a new fragrance over what I had been wearing all day. Sometimes I layer single notes, sometimes complete perfumes. Sometimes I don’t layer at all. It’s a little like jazz…
Scott – Big fan of blending… although Single Malt is usually my tipple: but, seriously, the men whould try a cloud of Creed Green Irish Tweed in the mornin’ – followed by a splashette of Classic Paco Rabanne as the day flows onwards… The ladies – and whoever else – will love you. And you won’t knock anyone over either. Less is more.
My favorite scents are from Iunx in Paris in the 6th. The store is an experience, and totally worth a detour. They also have fabulous home scents and candles, but I love their ‘eaux’. I use one with strong anise/black licorice notes – do any of you fragrance buffs know of any other light scents that favor licorice? I’ve been haphazardly searching for one I can buy stateside…
Wow, I’m late to this party. I think musk is a masculine scent. I love Kiehl’s Original Musk and have worn it for years but if I want a straight man to really love my scent, I better blend it or wear something else. Maybe Kiehl’s Original Musk has enough yang to balance out scents that are too yin? I think the best scents are balanced.
KIEHLS french rose is my mixer when I am feeling remotely feminine…mostly stick to CDG and Diptyque fragrances…I like smelling like a middle eastern spice market with a touch of old catherdral on 2 feet.
It is likely that Kiehl’s Original Musk is used as a base for so many because the original Kiehl’s location in the east village used to custom blend musk with their other (lesser known and eventually discontinued) essence oils to create custom made fragrances for their customers up until the late 90s. Kiehl’s would create and then keep customer’s unique fragrance recipes on file and apparently they even had one for Julia Roberts. Here’s some more info I found online:
Around 1970, both The Body Shop in Berkeley, CA, and Kiehl’s in New York City introduced single-note “essential oil” fragrances. The concept was to allow customers to mix and personalize their own perfumes, so all kinds of scents were offered, from light florals to heavy musk. But the hippies who bought the oils found the simplicity and intense sexuality of the “musk oil” quite satisfying by itself. (http://www.epistola.com/sfowler/scholar/scholar-musk.html)
At any rate – custom blended fragrances would be something I’d love to see brought back to Kiehl’s.
to anna– perhaps the most famous of all of the anise scents is guerlain’s l’heure bleue, and justifiably so — it is a stunning and absolutely timeless fragrance — but if possible stick to the eau de parfum or the extrait.
Can anyone recommend a good vanilla scent? Might want to add it to my repertoire. I don’t blend, but my faves are Max Mara, Penhaligon’s Ellenisia and, newly (an xmas present), Dior J’Adore. Guess that makes me a girly girl. I find Max Mara to be the most “serious” or “business-oriented” of those.
I’m female but I love the scent of CD’s Fahrenheit for men so much I wear it occasionally. Unfortunately, I remind people of their husband or dad or whatever. I’m looking for something to blend it with so I can somewhat feminize it. I’ve tried blending it with Carolina Herrera’s 212 as well as Escada Island Kiss but no success. Any suggestions? anyways, I love your site. Thank you!!
Santa Maria Novella scents are great for blending. You can get them so much more cheaply at the source. Don’t leave florence without at least 4 bottles of cologne. In fact if you would pick them up for me I would give you something fabulous in return (besides paying for them of course) like a cherry designer garment of some sort, which I have lots of I could use to get rid of! Sublime opoponax, cunning frangipane, macho melograno and oh so dangerous, for most too hot to handle, marescialla! These are what you need, these are what I need. firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: the where to find a custom blending pro in NYC, there are several local options. But My favorite is actually a woman named Sarah Horowitz of Creative Scentualizations, who is based in California but comes to NYC several times a year with her big suitcase of essential oils, which she uses to whip up a personal scent for each client based on their current preferences, childhood memories evoked by a particular note, etc. It’s really cool.
It’s not cheap, but the fragrance is yours and yours alone, and because they’re all oil-based, they tend to very mellow, warm and not overpowering at all (e.g., you’re not going to gag people in an elevator). I think she also does a line of pre-blended scents, as well, which are considerably less expensive but still quite nice, if memory serves.
Oh, and she recently launched a new line at Barneys, too.
Oh, and I agree that Aedes de Venustus is great, as is CB I Hate Perfume (the latter is probably a better bet for custom-blending, Aedes if you want an under-the-radar pre-made scent). Amber is a really nice woodsy layering note, too, if musk is not your thing.
My wife, who holds perfume blending workshops and writes the blog http://www.theorganicbeautyexpert.com is always asking me to sniff things… if there is one thing I’ve learned about this topic it is that the perfume changes over time as it blends on the skin, so if you are going to blend your own, test it over time and also on different parts of your body as the perfumes will react differently.
What a great thread. I need to bookmark this because I am a scent fan, and while I have not found the right scents to mix, I do like the idea of experimenting. I am also a girl who likes wearing men’s cologne and am predisposed to the idea of mixing a light feminine scent with men’s cologne.
Chamade/Chanel nr 5 50/50 meeting point: aldehydes effect: think Charlotte Rampling in beautiful tweed in the seventies. Parisian elegance with an Englisch eccentric twist, woman in mens gear.
Les nuits d’Hadrien/Shalimar 66/33 meeting point: citrus (yes indeed!) effect: elegant oriental, very aromatic because of Hadriens herbs. More restraint in comparision with the sensuality of Shalimar pure.
Bois Vanille (Serge Lutens)/Eau de fleurs de cedrat (Guerlain) 50/50 meeting point: the kitchen effect: cake becomes gourmet godess. Here in Europe we really like female curves and a woman eating with joy is considered sexy. Also: a woman that stimulates saliva because of her delicious vanilla/citrus scent is very, very desirable!
I blend colognes together. I make a living using my nose in the spirit industy and have recently be interested in sents. Having trouble finding interesting off the shelf colognes I just descidied to to blend. I agree Kiehl’s original musk is a great base for both men and women.
Schumann’s Own, indeed! I just bought my first Kiehl’s Original Musk at the Kiehl’s counter in Nordie’s in Bellevue, WA., and the saleswoman laughed and said, “I don’t understand it! I’ve sold four bottles in the last few days and usually I sell about one every three months!” I told her about the blog. D’ya think it would work with Eau de Issey?
Khiel's original musk is the holy grail. It smells like thousand year old incense infused wood, smoky and warm and a little bit sharp, that has just been scrubbed with creamy white soap. Earthy, compelling, and paradoxically clean. I bought it on a whim once when I found it marked down at Marshalls…what I really liked was the bottle; a simple, perfectly proportioned rectangle in smoky brown glass, with a crisp white label and a brushed black aluminum cap…so utilitarian, yet so luxe, it reminded me of the kind of toiletries my ever dapper grandfather kept on his dresser.
It has become my signature scent. Men simply cannot resist it. I have had my neck nuzzled more times since that purchase….*sigh* come spring, I layer it lightly under Fresh Cannabis Rose, another paradoxical scent, bitter, fresh, and feminine but never cloying, another brilliant no-nonsense bottle.
At the height of summer, when incense would be foolish, I blend the Cannabis Rose over Pacifica Malibu Lemon Blossom for a crisp, bright burst of herbed citrus, sun, and warm, drowsy rose petals.
Have been layering for quite a few years, I use Jo Malone’s Nectarine Blossom & Honey cologne with their Tuberose cologne (since stopped – I cried!), but now use with Miller Harris Noix de tubereuse, not quite as good, perhaps I may try Estee Lauder’s Tuberose next time. I’m so often asked about what perfume I wear, it’s my signature scent.
Yes! Have been layering for years. It’s not really a new concept. Sarah Schwartz made a set of three perfume “veils” just for this purpose several years ago. Tried to find them again recently, but seems they aren’t made anymore. No problem, I have plenty to mix with the 30 or so that I keep going at any one time. Oh, I’m a guy btw. Thanks!
I just discovered the idea of mixing perfumes when a vendor said he did it. I figured that this was probably just an up sell strategy (which it probably was), but the idea stuck in my head.
I like Santa Maria Novella’s Patchouli a lot, but it comes on a little strong for me at first. So I’ve taken to mixing it with some SMN Angels of Florence to lighten it up. I love the combination and it feels unique. Someone else said that you can take a very masculine base like patchouli and then add just a dab of something feminine like the Angels of Florence floral and it can work well.
I’m not sure if I’m overdoing the dose. It helps that these are colognes and not perfumes, so they are not quite so powerful. There’s more wiggle room for layering.