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Perfume: top 10 fragrances for women
March 28, 2012 | By:

Josephine Fairley of thescentcritic.com reveals her favourite grown-up fragrances, both classic and new, from Chanel No. 5  to Tom Ford Black Orchid  

Beauty_Top ten fragrances.Chanel No. 5, £45 for 35ml Eau de Parfum spray at Boots

You have to feel seriously grown-up to wear Chanel No. 5: too early, and it’s the equivalent of slipping on your mum’s high heels. But if not now, when is the time to dazzle in this sparkling, ultimate classic? It’s ushered in with a ‘whoosh’ of aldehydes before the swirl of rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang burst forth.

Guerlain Shalimar, from £35.50 for 30ml Eau de Toilette at John Lewis

This is one of the all-time greats: a great swirl of powdery, sweet vanilla notes with serious va-va-voom. Not one for shrinking violets. It has a light, bright opening, with plenty of citrus, but it’s the divinely decadent incense, tonka bean and opoponax in the base that are its true signature.

Diane von Furstenberg Diane, £47 for 50ml Eau de Toilette at Selfridges

The 60-something style diva has created a radiant signature scent for women of un certain age. It has the va-va-voom of frangipani, the softness of violet leaves, and the intrigue of amber, myrrh and musk.

Caron Tabac Blond, £105 for 50ml Eau de Parfum (or try a sample for £5) from Les Senteurs

This is sophisticated and surprisingly contemporary for a fragrance created in the 1920s, pulsing with incense, leather, amber, with an underlying crème brulée quality and lashings of patchouli.

Guerlain Mitsouko, from £51 for 50ml Eau de Toilette at House of Fraser

I’m constantly surprised that many women have never encountered this: I rate it even more highly than Shalimar. Icing-sugar-coated, smoulderingly Oriental and perfectly-balanced, Mitsouko segues smoothly through all its stages as nostril-fuls of deliciousness (peach, rose, jasmine, labdanum and vetiver) succeed each other.

Mary Greenwell Plum, £90 for 100ml Eau de Parfum at Mary Greenwell

I consider this to be the greatest fragrance launched in the past five years (and it’s not nearly as well-known as it deserves to be) from make-up guru Mary Greenwell. She created this because she always uses scent as the finishing touch when making up supermodels. It has lush, fruity top notes, but is not over-sweet, with rich florals at its heart (rose, jasmine, gardenia, orange flower absolute) on a really sexy base. Divine, divine, divine.

Estée Lauder Private Collection, £49 for 50ml Eau de Parfum Spray, at John Lewis

This is the fragrance that the great doyenne of beauty created exclusively for herself, until friends insisted that she share it. It is a floral/green scent of the utmost sophistication, garlanded with honeysuckle and jasmine, alongside green leaves and spices.

Tom Ford Black Orchid, £45/£65 for 30ml/50ml Eau de Parfum at House of Fraser

Deep, dark and mysterious, with the tang of blackcurrant and sensuous florals on an Oriental woody, spicy base. When skin-warmed, it becomes deliciously creamy and sensual – and see if you can detect the black truffle note.

Dior Diorling, £69.50 for 100ml Eau de Toilette at Debenhams

An enchanting ‘vintage’, ultra-feminine Dior masterpiece, relaunched last year to celebrate its 50th birthday. Drift off into a world of jasmine and bergamot – enriched with patchouli and leather notes – which was inspired by an English garden.

Roja Dove Danger, £195 for 100ml Eau de Parfum at Harrods

To quote Roja himself, this rich semi-oriental – with its fusion of fresh citrus and white flower notes on a creamy, spicy, powdery base – is for the woman who is “ripe, experienced and ready to embrace life fully”. It’s extravagant, and extravagantly-priced (but gorgeous!).