Getting to know a big city is as much a sensory experience as it is a socio-economic one. The sights, sounds and smells underpinning a walk down a high street, or a commute through rush hour traffic leave an instant and lasting impression, sometimes more acutely felt than the people we meet. To add to the maelstrom of neon signs, car fumes, and chattering voices is a familiar waft of woods, fruits and musk – all of which can be traced back to one source – perfume.
There are casual scents, formal ones, and even sporty kinds to choose from. Business travellers know only too well the role a good fragrance plays in making the right impression. However, what use are a sharp suit and stylish pair of shoes if they don’t complement your overall aura?
Perfumes take their inspiration from many places. Those which borrow their names from big cities share an intuitive connection with the places they’re attempting to represent; A certain glitz, glamour and sophistication fitting to a wealthy metropolis.
With Christmas around the corner, what better time to take a look at some of these releases:
Shanghai Marc Rosen – Women
An aroma of the Far East is awakened through the combination of jasmine, magnolia and Chinese osmanthus which inform this scent. In the top, notes of apple and cinnamon call to mind autumn – a season easily observed in Shanghai thanks to the maple and ginkgo leaves which line the streets between late November and mid-December. This perfume first hit the shelves in 2005 where it won the FiFi Award for Best Packaging on account of its beautiful bottle design. Much like the city itself, the perfume remains lively morning and night – spray it on first thing and it’ll likely still be lingering around in the late hours.
Tokyo by Kenzo – Men
Tokyo’s bright lights are brought to the fore in this explosion of ginger essence, lemon and grapefruit which screams Japan through and through. Green/woody notes arrive in the form of green tea and cedar, with nutmeg and cloves providing a nice balance of spice. Marie Salamagne is the nose behind this fragrance – a perfumer who also gave us the likes of Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium and Vivienne Westwood Boudoir Sin Garden.
Midnight in Paris by Van Cleef – Men
This oriental fragrance from the luxurious Haute Parfumerie line is brimming with Parisian charm, from its dark blue glass flacon to the sophisticated blend of tonka bean, incense and amber which line its drydown. The mood given is that of a cool autumn night, with the opening leather note conjuring to mind a classy gentleman in an open-topped sports car. Expect a powdery scent cloud and moderate longevity.
Joop Berlin – Women
The same fashion house which gave us the original Joop! Homme Eau de Toilette in 1989 is responsible for this 90s feel-good floral-fruity perfume which owes its character to Berlin’s vibrant club scene at the time. Released only a couple of years after the Berlin Wall came down, it emanates hope, fun, optimism and is well suited to young, outgoing types.
Burberry London – Women
Described as an indispensable fragrance for those visiting the city, Burberry London provides a seamless mix of old and new. Traditional notes of rose and honeysuckle are balanced out by clementine and peony to provide a bubblegum sweetness which is deeply feminine. Think “English rose” in a field of jasmine. The male version is more on the spicy side, made up of cinnamon, leather and tobacco leaf.
Sienne l’Hiver – Men and Women
Sienne l’Hiver, meaning Siena in winter, gives us a whiff of an old cobbled Italian city at the coldest time of year. A smell of autumn leaves, chestnuts and truffles are here interpreted as fern, tuber, and frankincense. Suitable for women as well as men, this elegant and sophisticated scent has a cooling herby vibe, just don’t expect massive projection.
Jaipur Homme Boucheron – Men
Inspired by the gardens of the Maharajas, Boucheron’s take on the capital of Rajasthan (Northern India) is a floral-spicy powder bomb which is bold, intense and utterly sensuous. Mid notes of jasmine, carnation and rose bring to life the city’s pink architecture. Cinnamon and cardamom, meanwhile, work together to draw the spice out of the city’s various street markets.
Manhattan Bond No 9 – Men and Women
The city that never sleeps owes its nasal passages to Bond No 9: a high-end perfume house whose fragrances derive their name from New York streets and neighbourhoods. Manhattan at night forms the basis for this musky gourmand take on New York’s most densely populated borough, with fruity wafts of peach, plum and bergamot evoking colourful crowds and bright yellow taxis.