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Bella Freud – Warm and woody and resinous – May 23, 2018

Bella Freud EdP bottle -


For a long time now, I’ve toyed with the idea of having a nose create a perfume just for me. Every now and again, I explore the idea. I research, I study and I investigate. And there are plenty of perfumers out there who offer their services to create bespoke perfumes.

Perfumers like Mathilde Laurent for Cartier, Francis Kurkdjian or Lyn Harris for Miller Harris, will create something just for you. They’ll spend months learning all about you – your personal history, your childhood, your favourite smells. Or they don’t, as Luca Turin opines:

“Bespoke perfume, as practiced by a few famous perfumers working for large firms, is tiresome nonsense. It is predicated on three unlikely notions all being true: 1- That there is one perfume that best fits your soul 2- That the perfumer will divine which it is in the course of a one-hour interview conducted in a limo coursing through Paris and 3- That she will set aside the much more urgent work her boss is nagging her about, i.e. that shampoo version of the big seller, and focus entirely on satisfying your little narcissistic fit. That will be $200,000, thank you. I wonder how much Paul Auster would charge to write a book just for one person.”

Actually, one source cites bespoke perfumes starting at $10,000.00. I don’t care who you are, that’s still a lotta cash! This is when the idea of a bespoke perfume gets back-burnered.

But there’s another element to the bespoke perfume process: knowing what ingredients you really like. Mandy Aftel and Dominique Dubrana at La Via del Profumo will create a signature fragrance for a price that’s within reach, but while I can name notes I like – myrrh, incense, spice – I’m not sure how much or what aspects of them should be highlighted/muted or what other notes go best with them. It’s like saying you love garlic and so you put way too much in your garlic butter and it tastes, well, too garlicky.

So, here I am today writing about Bella Freud’s signature scent, the one she had nose Azzi Glasser create for her, called Bella Freud, because where I currently stand on the whole bespoke thing is, if I can’t move forward with having one made for me, then the next best thing is to find someone else’s I like and I love Bella Freud EdP.

Great granddaughter of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and daughter of renowned British painter Lucian Freud and Bernardine Coverley a writer, gardener and free-spirit, Bella was born in London in 1961 and had a very boho/hippie upbringing – living in Morocco, England, and Mexico. In the 80’s she landed a job at Vivienne Westwood’s shop in Chelsea, where she got bitten by the fashion bug, so she moved to Rome to study fashion and tailoring before starting her own design company in London in 1990. In 2014 Freud teamed up with perfumer Azzi Glasser and launched Bella Freud Perfumes. Bella Freud EdP was launched in 2015.

It opens with a warm, sensuous, sweet note of amber and nose-tingling bergamot. As the amber settles, it gets powdery. It’s just gorgeous – something I love the smell of without knowing how much I love it until I smelled it here. Pink pepper stills the amber, allowing the rosy aspect of the berry to introduce a floral heart of jasmine, ylang ylang, geranium and osmanthus. Palmarosa, a species of grass in native to India and Indochina, has a rosy aspect and a sweetness that it adds to the heart. The flowers are perfectly matched and together create a beautiful, heady, natural-smelling bouquet. As the fragrance develops, the base of rich, earthy patchouli mixed with vetiver and aromatic Tonka bean drifts up through the flowers. There’s amber here too, and sandalwood and musk, but it’s the inclusion of smoky frankincense that closes the deal for me.

Bella Freud EdP is a deliciously amber-centric scent that the dries down to a unique warm, woody, resinous, sensuous skin scent.

Of the creation of the fragrance, Ms. Freud ‘claims to have been ‘shocked’ at how well her friend Azzi had distilled her very essence. ‘It was almost disconcerting to find that somebody had read me in such a spiritual way. It was like she’d nailed a part of me through pure osmosis.’

I’ve never met Azzi Glasser, but she seems to have created a scent that I could call my own. This doesn’t mean I’ve totally given up on the idea of a bespoke perfume, but it does mean that this gorgeous EdP brings me closer to identifying what I want in a fragrance made just for me.

Besides, even if I did have a bespoke perfume made for me, I’d still wear Bella Freud, cause, well, why wouldn’t I? It's gorgeous!

Bella Freud is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.