Anoushka Probyn is passionate, elegant and... nice.
When I was 15, my scent was Marc Jacobs Daisy. Floral, cloyingly sweet, it was the scent of staying up all night at sleepovers, crushing on boys who didn't know I existed, going into "Town" to browse Topshop and take endless photos in clothes I couldn't afford. At 18 it was house parties, rum and cokes, and tacky Leicester Square nightclubs with equally tacky dress codes. I stole my Mum's Chloé, a heavy, musky scent in-retrospect far too old for me. Coincidentally it is now the signature scent of my current flatmate, and every time I get a whiff I am transported back to the pre night out jitters, to bodycon dresses and overpriced cocktails, and that youthful anticipation of adventure.
Next University, and another Marc Jacobs, this time a men's scent, Bang. A woody fragrance with hefty peppercorn top notes, a world away from the feminine, floral choices that came before it. Reinventing myself, perhaps? Or is that too deep? Either way, it is a scent that got old before I even got halfway through the bottle.
After Bang came a string of scents. There was one that reminded me of my childhood, though I can't for the life of me tell you why. Several crisp, fresh unisex colognes (I've never gone back to the feminine scents of yesteryear), a fruity scent that instantly transports me to a European Summer.
This is perfume's transformative power - it can evoke memories and moods with such a thoroughness that no other accessory comes near to. It can act as a talisman: a scent for special occasions, a scent for that extra hit of confidence, a scent for first dates and another for breakups.
I'm drawn to fragrances that are subtle but complex, that compliment you but do not define you. I will never be a woman shrouded in a heavy cloud of musk, whose perfume announces her presence before she enters a room.
I was recently introduced to Prescent, a new Primrose Hill based perfume brand who create limited quantities of seasonal slow perfumes inspired by a hero ingredient - for Summer 20, vanilla. Vanilla perfumes can be hit and miss - more often than not it brings back memories of a saccharine Body Shop eau de toilette my pre-teen friends and I thought was oh so chic. However for their Day and Night perfumes, Prescent redefine the scent, bringing a newfound complexity that layers hints of vanilla with a myriad of spicy, floral and fruity notes.
There is Day - a refreshing unisex scent with suggestions of citrus paired with a woody base. Then Night, my personal favourite, marrying vanilla with Indian ginger, cardamom and a kick of spicy cumin, for a scent that is sensual, suggestive of warm summer nights in foreign lands. They are beautifully connected, yet individual, and both so versatile that they work as easily for everyday-wear as they do as a splash of something special for a date night or holiday.
As a I hit my late 20s, these will be the scents that define the moments that come. The loves, the losses, the moments of happiness and sadness. The Day scent, with it's hints of Italian citrus and convenient travel size, will be perfect for exploring cathedrals punctuated by regular pasta and prosecco in Rome and Florence. Night, that reminds me so much of Summers in India, will come with me for lazy days spent on the Kerala backwaters, Kingfisher in hand, nowhere to be and nothing much to do.