It is common knowledge that we each have our own distinctive smell, a natural scent created by pheromones that are associated with our unique body. But what if you could create your own fragrance that conveyed your individual personality? Would it be spicy, fruity, woody, or floral? And what would that say about your character? Well, now you can find out, because pioneer perfume artisan Angel Cheung is inviting you to sniff your way to self-discovery and create your own bespoke perfume in her beautiful studio in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Having studied perfumery in the French town of Grasse, which gave birth to Chanel No. 5, Angel worked as a marketeer for several major perfume brands over the last decade, before deciding to turn her passion for fragrance creation into her own brand, Intime Artisan de Parfum. In her gorgeous studio, tucked away above the bustling bars of Knutsford Terrace, the certified aromatherapist invites guests to delve into the world of perfume making, sniffing their way through a collection of 32 ingredients to select ones they are intuitively drawn to, which she then uses to create their own signature scent.
But what has this got to do with your personality? Well, I found myself asking the exact same question, as I sat in her studio with a blank marking sheet in front of me, along with a library of unmarked blue bottles displayed in three separate layers. My task was to select several fragrances from each layer – the top, heart, and base notes – based entirely on how I felt when I sniffed each one. In theory, removing the possibility of being influenced by the name of ingredients I like the sound of, or the perception I relate to them, would allow me to choose them intuitively, thus revealing a true reflexion of my true character, the way I want the world to see me, and above all, how I want to feel as I go about my everyday life.
Keen to know how that smelt, I made my way through the collection, sneakily trying to guess each fragrance and finding myself surprised at how quickly I was drawn to or turned off by each ingredient. Ticking my way through the list, I soon filled the quote of drops required for each layer of my soon-to-be eau de parfum, and it was over to Angel for the analysis.
“Hmm, interesting”, she said to me with a knowing smile. “This is quite a complex selection with many opposing scents”. I wasn’t entirely surprised at this point – after all, there are many facets to a personality and I’m no exception. According to her analysis of my selection, which weighed more towards citrus over mint, and light floral over heavy floral, with a heavy dose of fruit and a dash of classic spice, white musk, and ambergris (which comes from some species of sperm whale!), I am a “playful” character with an interesting balance between introvert and extrovert qualities. “You love to be surrounded by people, but you also cherish alone time – perhaps with a good book”, she surmised. Well, that is pretty accurate, although if I’m being totally honest, I’d swap a good book for Netflix.
Angel explained that while the presence of spicy notes indicates assertiveness and a strong suggestion that I “know what I am doing and where I am going”, the aquatic notes hint at a love of freedom without boundaries. I guess that explains my travel bug mentality and the fact that I have chosen to take my time to “settle down”. Interestingly, my selection of scents swayed heavily towards more eastern ingredients such as jasmin petal, orchid, and gardenia, which Angel says are less common among tourists visiting the city.
“Different nationalities are drawn to different notes”, she explained. “The popular fragrances that people wear in Paris, for example, are totally different to those enjoyed in London and Hong Kong. Many tourists visiting me from Europe tend to go for different notes to those who are born and raised here.”
This isn’t surprising really, given the fact that I have spent the last seven years living in Hong Kong and travelling around Southeast Asia at any given chance. But while Angel’s analysis of my personality was pretty spot on, what I found interesting is that my signature scent is not at all what I expected, and it wasn’t until this morning when I sprayed some on my neck before leaving for work, that I realised it reminded me of my late grandmother.
While I recall she always smelt “like flowers” and occasionally wore white musk, I don’t remember her ever wearing exotic fragrances from the east. But funnily enough my perfume evokes powerful memories of her beautiful English garden, and sunny days spent playing with my siblings when we were kids, pushing each other around in her wheelbarrow and popping fuchsia buds with our naughty little fingers.
“Smell is a very powerful and personal thing”, Angel explains. “I believe the instinctive elements of choosing a scent are past experience, memory, culture, and personal background. That is why a particular smell might help us recall a memory of a person or a place that is meaningful to us. The very name of my brand ‘Intime’, is a French word meaning ‘intimate and personal’ and that is what I strive to offer – an opportunity for people to create their signature perfume inspired by their own story, tailored to their unique personality, image, and emotions”.
They say that “home is where the heart is”, and there is something quite magical and comforting in the thought that deep down in my subconscious, I carry a little piece of it with me, however far I roam, and however many new experiences I gather along the way. Apparently home is a memory of being a child and playing in the sun-filled garden of my grandmother who I loved dearly and who played a significant role in my formative years.
As a heart-warming finishing touch to her workshop, Angel asks her guests to choose a name for their fragrance so that she can create a label for their personalised bottle. Before my revelation about my grandmother, there was only one clear word that sprung to mind when the freshly mixed notes hit my nose – Serendipity. It seems to perfectly summarise my journey so far – a sense of half knowing where I am going, but somehow always ending up in unexpected places and making accidental discoveries thanks to a playful twist of fate. But ask me to pick my ingredients in a few year’s time, and the outcome might tell a totally different story.
Are you ready to find out how your personality smells?
Intime Artisan de Parfum, 903, Koon Fook Centre, 9 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, (+852) 9782 1237
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