My Love Affair with Fragrances & discovering Le Labo

Just the other day I was driving my daughter and her friend Molly back from school when Molly declared that my car smelt like water! “But you can’t smell water Molly?” I said. “I can smell anything” said Molly. She wasn’t wrong as it happened, earlier that day I’d been to the garden centre to pick up some plants and although they were no longer in the car, Molly could clearly smell the fresh ozone scent of the fauna.

It got me thinking, maybe Molly could be a nose? You know those clever people that work for fragrance houses that have the most incredible talent for sniffing out the perfect fragrances and oils that when mixed together become the greater sum of their parts?

I think I would have liked to have been a nose, if I’d have been aware of such a role, as I have always had,from a very young age, an obsession with perfume.

Finding these grainy photos of Le Labo in Paris on my camera roll recently got me thinking where all this obsession,no pun intended, started? It was my cousin Susan who was the foundation of it. Susan, 10 years older than me, dated George Best at the height of his career in the 1970’s when he played for Manchester united. She was glamorous and beautiful and smelt amazing. I vividly remember her arriving at my parents Christmas party, with another older boyfriend, George was onto pastures new as he was want. They pulled up in his red soft top sports car, both wearing matching white trouser suits, it was the heady days of Saturday Night fever craze? She had a bubble cut perm and the most incredible fragrance wafting behind her as she entered the room. I still don’t know to this day what it was but I instantly promoted her to goddess status and from that moment on my love affair with fragrance began.

My tastes have changed over the years from Charlie by Revlon to quite quickly graduating to Miss Dior without missing a heartbeat. My nose became sophisticated long before the rest of me did and my friends all knew me as the girl who wore perfume nobody else had heard of? As snobby as it now sounds, as soon as somebody within my group of friends or colleagues started wearing the same fragrance as me, I moved onto something else. Ok I admit I was/am a perfume snob!

Eventually over time I realised my favourite smells were woody, earthy scents, possibly connected to the fact that I am an earth sign or even more possibly inspired by my husbands love of warm earthy fragrances. He has worn Comme De Garcon 2 for years, which always reminds me of old books, incense and churches, it is amazing. My nose is also hyper sensitive to anything too sweet and heady, which also dictates my choices. In the 1980’s I literally couldn’t be in the same room as a person wearing Diors Poison as it would immediately trigger a migraine and make me feel physically nauseous.

I remember when I had our children, an elderly midwife telling me that the best thing you can do when trying to comfort a crying baby is to wrap a piece of your clothing around their mattress and then place the sheet over the top for safety. The smell on your clothes can then be smelt by your child for instant calm. It worked wonders and my son, now 22, still wears my dressing gown when hung over for comfort, you know I’m in serious trouble for this right, but I’m underlining the point, and my daughter sprays her clothes with Jil Sander Eve or Molecule One when she’s missing me. Coincidentally or maybe not, my daughters name is Amber, one of the most heady & seductive fragrances, under pinning many of my favourite scents?

It’s no surprise then that for my 50th birthday one of my oldest & dearest friends, gave me euros to spend in Paris, which is how I found myself in Le Labo, in le Marais, having some Vetiver blended by a gorgeous afro haired girl called Audrey. How do I still remember her name? Le Labo type a message onto the perfume label for you, detailing who blended your perfume and a special message such as who very kindly and lovingly gifted it to you so you remember forever.

This post isn’t sponsored. All the words and opinions are my own. It just sparked a memory triggered by Molly in the car and I thought i’d share it with you all. What are your favourite fragrances and do you have one that instantly reminds you of somebody? x



  1. Sarah J Stubbs
    18 March, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Am very much like you re perfume – hate anything too sweet and prefer the earthy woody notes always (and am also a Capricorn- Earth sign). Began with Eau de Lancome, then Chanel No 19 but now love ones like Byredo’s Gypsy Water, Diptyque’s Eau de Lierre and from Le Labo – Santal. What a wonderful time you must have had at their Paris store. Beautiful !

    • karen
      18 March, 2018 / 6:39 pm

      I loved le Labo Sarah. I hadn’t heard of them before, it was about 4 years ago when I visited but I think they have a concession in Liberty? I like the sound of Gypsey water, the name alone is very evocative x

  2. Caroline Corcoran
    18 March, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    Perfumes have always been one of my passions. I also like to wear a fragrance which isn’t “mainstream”. Currently enjoying the heady notes of a few Frederik Malle beauties. (not specifying which ones, in case everyone else starts wearing!)

    • karen
      18 March, 2018 / 6:37 pm

      haha I don’t blame you keeping the exact one secret. I haven’t heard of frederik Malle, that’s another one to try although i won’t buy I promise 🙂

  3. 7 April, 2018 / 7:01 pm

    Sadly I’m allergic to perfume, I think I overdosed on it when I worked for Chanel! Still have a bit of No5 though for the occasional use

    • karen
      9 April, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      My friend Caroline works for Chanel at Manchester Airport,you might know her? she has two sons to Kid Creole, remember him?

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