Like many a woman, I went through a real sorcery phase in my early teenage years. Having progressed from the starter kit of Guatemalan worry dolls and dream catchers, I developed a peculiar interest in the goth actor Fairuza Balk and her role in teen witchcraft movie The Craft, all accessorised with sterling silver moon jewellery, a copy of Valerie Ann Worwood’s The Fragrant Pharmacy and rose quartz crystals secreted in little velvet pouches. Had I come across Scent Of A Dream, Charlotte Tilbury’s new perfume, at such an age, I think I’d have been besotted.
“Change the energy frequency of the people and environment around you,” says the sales copy.
“Yes, please!” cries my 14-year-old self.
“A portal that attracts LOVE, LIGHT, POWER, POSITIVITY AND SEX TO THE WEARER.”
“Sex! Er, OK then!”
“With mind-altering Fleurotic* frequency.”
*That’s floral/erotic btw.
“With newly discovered psycho-active ingredients of the Future.”
Of the future? Wow. And this is where adult Lizzie races back on to the scene to interrupt this magical reverie because, firstly, I didn’t realise we could time-travel, and secondly, if perfume were psycho-active it would be a drug and we’d be having debates on Panorama as to whether it should be legalised.
Let’s be honest, wanting to smell attractive shifts bottles of perfume. While we like to think that our reasons for buying a scent have nothing to do with impressing others, and should relate to how WE want to feel, or where we’d like to be taken in our imagination, fragrance cannot quite break from its role as the invisible hypnotist’s pendulum. “Will people notice it? Will people like it?” is often back of mind.
However, when we started entering the territory of starbursts, magical intent, “fleurotic frequency” (erotic or neurotic?), heaven and unity, I became rather worried that Noel Edmonds had hijacked proceedings. Remember that time he was on the telly, talking about cosmic ordering and his spiritual energy balls?
Perhaps by layering on this anticipation – this talk of pheromones and frequencies, sex and love, power and seduction – we are being primed to believe that we’ll adore the perfume whatever. A bit like a warm-up act getting the crowd riled up before the American pastor comes on stage. I mean, can a perfume really be “the scent of attraction”? Will the universe realign itself around me?
Only one way to find out.
I wore Scent Of A Dream for five days. On day one, I sprayed it on – and it’s got a great atomiser, by the way; it really mists and gets the scent projecting well. First impressions: a pretty, quite retro floral fragrance which to me speaks of Margo from The Good Life*, Laura Ashley dresses, court shoes and Home Counties summer events. A gin and tonic kind of perfume. It doesn’t smell particularly of sex. Rather, you get lots of rose geranium and lemon at the start, moving into a quenching, aquatic jasmine, and then some synthetic musks and the citrussy, coniferous pepper of frankincense in the base. I also thought I could smell a material called Cashmeran which, on its own, can resemble cardboard, and which gives a nice nuzzly finish to fragrances.
This was pretty much the story of my week. Apply scent, heftily. Wait for the sound of wolves baying. Wave my arms around like an early Kate Bush music video and ask blatantly what people think
*I actually love a bit of Margo, so this description isn’t designed as an insult.
But what about those around me? And blokes dropping to their knees?
It was all a bit quiet on the Tube into work. No one winked at me or stood closer. Maybe I was sniffing myself a bit too often to make it clear that I WAS WEARING A FRAGRANCE OF INTEREST.
In my shared office space, I asked the guys next to me: “What do you think of my perfume”? It seemed a bit forward to go in with, “Do I seem attractive to you today?” We have to work in the same room after all.
In they leaned to try it. Bless them. They were game.
“It smells like perfume,” one of them said. “Yes. It does,” nodded the other.
It was a start.
This was pretty much the story of my week. Apply scent, heftily. Wait for the sound of wolves baying. Wave my arms around like an early Kate Bush music video and ask blatantly what people think, which in one instance was unwelcome and resulted in a look of horror. I thought we’d made it to that stage in the friendship. Clearly not.
At the end of day three, I was frustrated. Maybe I hadn’t tuned into the fleurotic frequency, and my cynicism was dampening the erotic potential of the perfume.
Then, something extraordinary happened. I was with a friend and asked my standard question, ready to give up on the whole thing.
In she came, towards my wrist. As her nose made contact with my skin, we both received a huge static shock. She was thrown away from me and shrieked. Then I shrieked, in response. Once again she came over, and got a second shock.
The perfume had delivered us a powerful message and our energies were most certainly reacting. But whether it was the scent’s psycho-active power or a bit of static from the red carpet in the room, I couldn’t possibly say.