Talking scents

A range of perfumes
A range of perfumes

The doctor’s waiting room was heaving with bodies.

I pointed my backside at a gap between two women and backed in doing the car reversing beeping noise in my head.

Safely shoe-horned betwixt them, it took just minutes before I developed a headache, became wheezy and started to cough and sneeze. This was caused by the heady perfumes both women were wearing. One had an overpoweringly citrus scent, the other a floral bouquet. Both aromas shimmied up my nose and began to sumo wrestle each other. I sat there with vibrating nostrils waiting to be called, as I slowly asphyxiated beneath their deadly colognes. If I didn’t need a doctor before, I certainly needed one then!

I have allergic reactions to most things smelly, from air-fresheners to scented candles. Many perfumes and passing body spray trails are a form of torture to my airways. I remember vividly one particular, perfume which used to make me feel physically sick. It was called Giorgio Beverly Hills and was basically the stench of the 1980s. Everywhere you went this overpowering aroma would floor anyone in its wake. Such was its sheer power that several restaurants in LA banned it! Then there was Poison, another popular fragrance of the 80s which was more that aptly named, its fumes were positively noxious to my nostrils and who could forget the seriously heady Obsession perfume, another 80s fav! Those deadly fragrances of the 80s certainly packed a punch to the senses!

The average perfume contains about 14 secret chemical ingredients that are capable of triggering mild to severe allergic reactions in fragrance-sensitive people. There is only one fragrance that I can wear comfortably and that is Chanel No 5. I’ve worn it since my parents gave me my first bottle on my 18th birthday, it was also my mother’s signature scent, though it no longer has the same vintage smell that I adored. Ingredients and the amounts that perfumers are permitted to use, are increasingly being restricted by perfume industry regulators. One reason for this is because some key ingredients found in perfumes are allergenic, hence many of our timeless classic scents evolving slightly with allergenics removal.

Egyptians were responsible for the origin of perfume. The elite of Egyptian society, men and women alike, would wear fragrances like lily to denote their status. Things have certainly developed from there; the global perfume industry is forecast to be worth $38.8 billion by 2017.

More than 100 new fragrances were launched in 2015, but one of the industry’s bestsellers is still the 94-year-old Chanel No. 5. The only fragrance that was new to the top five bestselling scents last year, was Marc Jacob’s Daisy. A recent survey revealed that many consumers are loyal to an existing brand and they constantly replenish their supply rather than trying something new. This is one of the reasons the top sellers rarely change. Another favourite included in the top five bestsellers list was Coco Mademoiselle. My friend is a huge fan of this fragrance; she loves the smell but not the price. After doing some extensive nasal investigations she has found a smell-a-like fragrance at a fraction of the cost. Next’s Nude is very similar to Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Also, Lidl’s Suddenly Madam Glamour, is virtually indistinguishable from Coco Mademoiselle according to bargain expert Martin Lewis! My pal wore the Next Nude recently and I couldn’t detect the difference from her usual Coco Mademoiselle sillage. Said friend will of course be resuming normal bona fide Coco service when her partner buys it for her for Christmas. Until then, she’s sporting the cheapie (but telling everyone it’s the real thing if they comment on her whiff!) Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a spritz of designer scent to make us feel good, but sometimes our budgets just won’t stretch to their exorbitant prices. In the meantime, you could always fill in with a smell-a-like from a more affordable brand. For instance, if you’re a fan of Marc Jacob’s Daisy, you’ll probably like M&S’s Butterfly which has the same fruity aroma. Zara Rose smells like Dior J’adore. Avon’s Timeless is similar to Miss Dior and allegedly, the scent closest to Chanel No. 5 is Coty’s L’Aimant, which I’m definitely going to try out. So, there you have it, you can still give the impression of designer scents with a cheaper smell-a-like. As Shakespeare said: ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’