Sign on the Dotted Line, Please: Signature Fragrances review

     Since the beginning of commercial perfumery, people have disagreed about what scents are the strongest. Traditionally there’s a scale that begins with splashes and colognes and ends with straight-up parfum, but even that’s inaccurate. For example, you can spray Tory Burch’s namesake scent (100 ml, $120*) all you want and not get great scent payoff, but a few sprays of Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver (100 ml, $100*) will last you all day long. That technically shouldn’t be possible, since by definition Tory Burch is more concentrated as an EDP. What’s more, companies like Atelier Cologne have invented entirely new steps in the ladder like “Cologne Absolue” that are supposedly even stronger than anything else on the market despite the misleading name. So how do you decide what’s worth spending your cold hard cash on? The answer is by trying it on, my friends, or having me do it for you.

     Signature Fragrances is a UK-based contemporary niche perfumery that’s built on the idea of strong, stronger, and strongest flamboyant scents. Their fragrances contain little to no alcohol, the traditional carrier for fragrance which evaporates on the skin and allows for the “pyramid structure.” With four distinct fragrance families (five if you count oud) and a personalized bespoke service, founders Solomon and Yinka hope to cater to every personality. One thing you’ll notice right away is how stylish their bottles are, truly works of art that remind me of crystal sculptures in jewellery store displays.

© Gil Segev 2015

© Gil Segev 2015

     I received a set of samples to try since they are currently exclusively sold in Europe, but I hope that a Canadian or American retailer picks them up sooner rather than later. They arrived beautifully packed in a mesh bag tied with ribbon, and each vial was filled right to the top (which was shut so tight I had to pry them open with scissors!). The company offers these deluxe sized trial versions with free worldwide shipping, and recommends trying their fragrances before buying. Coming from the industry, I can tell you that’s highly unusual as they don’t hasten you to make a purchase. They even have a great 14-day return policy in case you’re not completely satisfied.

     Lola is from the Sweet family, released in 2014. I could really tell the scent was concentrated because it was very slick upon application, reminding me of the new Poison Apple Apothecary fragrances I reviewed last year. You wouldn’t know this is a sweet scent upon initial application, and you’d also be hard-pressed to pinpoint its gender. In addition, all the notes kind of hit you at once without particular structure. You have lush jasmine and soapy rose flowers thrown together with clean pine, rich patchouli and a hint of sticky honey, a truly elegant unisex juice that’s perfect for the outdoorsman/woman in your life. Super pretty and fresh, reminds me a little of a better, more floral Katy Perry Killer Queen.

     Nouveau is another 2-year-old juice, this time from the Fresh category. The smell is a refreshing juniper and mint with a slight tobacco hint. Then it all merges to become a typical yet sweet fresh men’s cologne – good stuff for the office and daytime wear. Fans of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male (125 ml, $90*) and Armani’s Acqua Di Gio (100 ml, $82*) should check it out.

     Another 2014 child, Woody Conjure suggests a woodshop where sunlight streams through dirty windows, the tables are covered in sawdust, the blades are hot from cutting against the grain, and a wood fire burns in a metal stove. Burnt woods and testosterone overdose, not the biggest fan of this from Oriental Woods. Un Chercher, however, is much better with a lovely combination of sweet lavender and herbal tea, bringing to mind Maison Martin Margiela’s Tea Escape (100 ml, $125*). Super relaxing, this is an excellent perfume for anyone who works a high-stress job or needs to chill out. Quite feminine, too.

     Verdict: I think what most impressed me about this collection, other than how strong the fragrances really were, was that I didn’t see any citruses, which are the common currency of top notes. In fact, each of the scents was a new twist on something familiar, which makes choosing one of their fragrances a breeze and a treat; thank you to Sarah for organizing this review! I can definitely see myself owning of their delicate flacons in the future in Un Chercher or Lola, and encourage you to check Signature Fragrances out at the links below. In the meantime, I need to take a shower – this stuff sure sticks!

*Prices true at time of writing.

You can check out Signature Fragrances at their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

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