I'm in the middle of reading Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion by the Guardian's beauty journalist Sali Hughes. When I reached her chapter on perfume, I decided that I had to share her insights. She has an abundance of good advice in her book, but it's too much to share in one go, so let's start with the most salacious and I'll reveal the remainder of her secrets in future posts.
1. Guerlain 'Shalimar':
History: Created by Jacques Guerlain in 1925 in tribute for the love between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan was the Mughal Emperor of India in the 17th century. He fell in love with Mumtaz Mahal when they were young teenagers, and were betrothed for 5 years before getting married. Mumtaz Mahal was a powerful empress; her husband trusted her with important matters of state and sought her strategic advice. She died while giving birth to their 14th child when she was 39 years old. Overcome with grief, Shah Jahan commissioned the Taj Mahal in memory of their love, and buried his deceased wife within the monument. Guerlain chose the name 'Shalimar' in remembrance of Mumtaz Mahal's favorite garden.
Notes: Bergamot, jasmine, rose, iris, vanilla, tonka bean, lemon, and exotic amber.
Celebrities Who Wear It: Brooke Shields, Diane Sawyer, Joan Collins, Laeticia Casta, Meryl Streep & Rita Hayworth.
Price: $144 for 0.25 oz.
2. YSL 'Opium':
History: Launched in 1977, the perfume was inspired by YSL's fascination with the Orient and designed to celebrate overt sensuality. Perfume blogger Katie Puckrik describes the scent as a "gypsy campfire."
Notes: Mandarin, bergamot, myrrh, and jasmine.
Celebrities Who Wear It: Salma Hayek (who lists the scent as one of her favorites because her mother wore it, and now Hayek's daughter Valentina steals it from her mom), Carine Roitfeld (who has worn it 'head to toe' and no other scent for 20 years), Emily Blunt, Gisele Bundchen, Heidi Klum, & Jerry Hall.
Price: $62 for 1 oz.
3. Chanel 'Coco Noir':
History: Launched in 2012 as an intimate and seductive fragrance addition in Chanel's collection.
Notes: Grapefruit, bergamot, rose, jasmine, patchouli, and sandalwood.
Celebrities Who Wear It: Karlie Kloss.
Price: $98 for 1.7 oz.
4. Frederic Malle 'Carnal Flower':
History: Perfumer Dominique Ropion spent 18 months developing 'Carnal Flower.' Part of the perfume's complexity comes from Ropion's use of tuberose. As Ropion explains, Tuberose's moniker as an "olfactive Everest" is well-earned as the plant is notoriously difficult to use in perfume:
Celebrities Who Wear It: Mila Kunis and Catherine Deneuve.
Price: $255 for 50 ml.
5. Chanel 'Allure':
History: Described by the brand as "clean and sheer, warm and sexy," the fragrance is fresh and citrusy, and opens to vanilla nuances.
Notes: Jasmine, water lily, peony, vanilla, and orange blossom.
Celebrities Who Wear It: Princess Letizia of Spain and Princess Stephanie of Monaco.
Price: $94 per 1.7 oz.
6. Mary Greenwell 'Fire':
Notes: Pepper, nutmeg, grapefruit, and bergamot.
Price: $195 for 50 ml.