It’s been said that one should have a signature drink and a signature scent. I like these tenets of adulthood. As someone who stands in the drugstore aisle for 20 minutes agonizing over which toothpaste to buy, there’s something extremely comforting about removing choices. Whether you’re bellying up to the bar with your buddies, or heading out the door for a date, having a signature drink and scent means you can quickly move on to more important things in life.
Sadly, I have neither (though a Shirley Temple probably comes closest on the drink side – does that count?). I’ve always bounced from scent to scent – gifts from boyfriends rendered immediately useless upon breaking up, since memories of the ex-flame become so intertwined with the fragrance. Now I’m in a holding pattern, waiting for just the right scent to hit that I can claim just for me.
I was thinking about the question of signature scents when I attended the launch of Banana Republic’s new men’s fragrance, Wildblue. With notes of sage, driftwood and cedar, it’s summer-ready and very refreshing. Talking to the perfumer, Jean-Claude Delville, I got a better sense of the business of scents. A rock star in the world of fragrance, Delville has created countless signature scents for both men and women. Most notably – for me at least – Clinique’s Happy, a scent I wore all through middle and high school.
Also called “a nose,” Delville takes thousands of scents, smells and notes and whittles them down into an interesting, inviting arrangement that makes you want to nuzzle your neck into the person wearing it.
I loved talking to him because he was so passionate about his work. In short order, he compared the role of a perfumer to that of a pianist, an artist, a rock climber, a chef, a soccer player, and finally, a piano. Everyone should be so lucky to be so enthusiastic about work.
When asked if he thought a man needed to pick a scent and stick to it, he said no, that men can change what they wear from one season to the next or from day to night. Of course, his livelihood is tied to people swapping out their current scents for a new one, at least from time to time.
Tell me: Do you have a signature scent? What is it? When did you start wearing it? If not, which scents do you keep in rotation? Email me at email@example.com with your picks.