I’m not exactly a girly girl. My manicures chip, my makeup wears off and now that I’m in Seattle, I wear too many hoodies. Yet my secret diva self is much like Kim Kardashian – and I love experiences that are custom built to my tastes (I mean, really, who doesn’t?) So when I found out that I could create a “signature scent” during my stay at the Four Seasons on Lana’i, I jumped at the chance.
I met Teresa Blackwell in the Four Seasons at Manele Bay spa, where she doubles as the spa manager (but her Twitter name is @ScentOfLanai - how cute is that?).The resort partners with Ajne, a company specializing in organic perfumes based in Carmel, Calif., that has created perfumes for celebrities from Jessica Biel to Aaron Eckhart to Debra Messing. Teresa, who trained at Ajne’s main store, took me up to the patio overlooking the pool so we could create my custom scent.
I didn’t see custom perfume blending on the regular spa menu, so I asked Teresa about who usually takes part in the service. She told me that scent creation is popular with the many bridal parties that the Four Seasons receives (while I had my perfume made at the company’s Manele Bay resort, Teresa also goes up to the Lodge at Koele). Moms and daughters also like to make scents together, but she even makes complimentary fragrances for couples. The blending is free; you pay for the actual perfume, which ranges from $100 to $350.
The session started with Teresa and I sitting down and talking common scents. What smells am I drawn to? she asked. Vanilla? Florals? Patchouli? Yes, Maybe, No, I told her. With that as her guideline, Teresa reached into her expandable tool box of various smells and flavors.
Teresa gave me little paper strips featuring different scents, and I laid them out on the table in the order that I liked them. In between strips, I took a long whiff from a bowl of coffee beans; supposedly the smell cleanses your nose, just as sips of water between wine improves your palate.
You know how your eye doctor gives you two choices and sometimes it’s hard to choose between them? That’s a little bit of how I felt when Teresa handed me the different scents. Some smells were completely different, yet both appealed to me. And then others smelled far too evocative of old memories – jasmine puts me smack in the middle of New Orleans, while my grandma always an aura of rose perfume around her - for me to wear them.
Through trial and error, we had it narrowed down to about 5 top smells. Teresa took it up another level by combining scents that I liked and asking me for another round of ratings. When I chose a combo of Cool Bleu, a light scent named after musician Charlie Parker that Teresa described as “herbacious,” and Passion, a heavier floral smell, she told me that no one had picked that combo before. (what can I say? Perhaps my nose is strange).
In the last week, I’ve worn the fragrance almost every day. Not only do I like the smell, the idea of a signature scent appeals to the girl in me who read too many fashion magazines back in he 80s. It seems both retro – am I the only woman out there who remembers the confidence of the Charlie girl? – and chic – after all, didn’t Coco Chanel invent the signature scent? Even if now the names associated with perfume are more tabloid than timeless (Kim Kardashian, hello), having my own fragrance seems like a delicious indulgence, something old-fashioned and vaguely Parisian. More Judith Krantz, less Malcolm Gladwell, And sometimes even a non-girly girly girl likes having that in her life.