Wednesday, 2 November 2016


Did you know that there are fewer “noses” in the world than there are astronauts? Such is the rarity of these refined olfactory skills and expertise of trained “noses” that they can match the scent of any flower or herb and identify any perfume.

A Special "Nose"

I recently had a conversation with a friend of a friend, Judi Bradbury, who is indeed one of these fine noses, and has just set up a business matching fine fragrances to individuals who want something more than just a bottle of perfume.

“Most people buy their fragrances in a department store or duty free airport shop – or possibly even smell something they like on other people,” said Judi, “but I spend time with the client to understand what they like and then find a perfume which is more of a signature fragrance for them.”

Working with Penhaligans, the English perfumers, Judi spent many years honing her craft working with the finest ingredients, a tradition she is carrying on today.  “I am now working with a number of genuinely creative artisan perfumers who have created a wonderful collection of unusual fragrances which are not readily available in the shops.

“They are niche brands which the artisans individually create, and they steadfastly refuse to mass produce their products, because they are passionate about quality.”

Judi’s work as a fragrance profiler is conducted from a studio in her home in rural Cambridgeshire.  She will work with her clients to match them to a fragrance from her niche collection of fine and unusual fragrances.  She finds out what kind of smells her clients like, using individual scents, allowing them the luxury of time and indulgence as she allows the scent to develop over an hour or two.

“I like to make it a relaxing experience, with a glass of bubbly, making sure that I pay attention to detail and listen to what the client wants.  Most perfume shops give you a quick spritz and expect you to make your mind up straight away, but perfumes need to develop on the skin to get the true fragrance.

“Smells are evocative and can conjure up memories of happy times, of nostalgic eras, of people no longer in our lives, memories and special occasions. Fragrances can also affect how we feel and can lift your spirit and lighten your mood.”

Some of the wonderful fragrances which Judi works with are traditional French scents from perfume houses with a wonderful heritage of creating beautiful fragrances, including Illuminum White Gardenia – which media outlets claim Kate Middleton wore on her wedding day – Bois which was voted the best perfume house in the world by the perfume industry, and two recently re-launched brands – Molinard (established in 1849) and Le Galion.

Other brands have wonderful stories attached to them.  One of these is “Eight and Bob” – the story of US President JFK who visited France as a student in 1937 and got chatting to  socialite and perfumer Albert Fouquet, who gave him a sample of the fragrance he wore.
Back in the US he wrote to Fouquet asking him to send eight bottles for himself and friends, and a bottle for his younger brother Bob (Robert Kennedy). With his attention to detail, Fouquet reproduced the box to exactly match the shirt JFK was wearing when they met.  Fouquet was killed shortly afterwards and sometime later, during the second world war, the family butler, Philippe, who had assisted Fouquet in creating the unique fragrance, recreated it and instead of sending it in boxes, he carved out books to hide the bottles from the Nazis. That could have been the end of the story, but the family has since recreated the fragrance which is now on sale – in book shaped boxes.

History told through fine fragrance

Going further back in time, Napoleon was a great advocate of fragrances and was a huge fan of Francoise Rance, whose descendant Jeanne Sandra Rance has also re-created the great Frenchman’s fragrance.  Apparently he liked wife Josephine to smell “au naturelle” though she favoured the fragrance of jasmine.

Another more modern fragrance which Judi has in her exquisite collection is Bal A Versailles by Jean Desprez, loved and worn by both Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor, and liberally used by actress Joan Collins during her Dynasty days (for those of us who are old enough to remember the TV series).

Back to Judi and her wonderfully fragrant studio –  at the Chestnut Retreat - personal consultations are available and she also loves to talk about perfumes.  Your individual profiling consultation offers a unique and insightful olfactory journey to discover your fragrance preferences.
A few of my perfumes - some inexpensive fragrances up to my own favourites - Jo Malone's Lime, Basil and Mandarin, Viktor and Rolfe's Flower Bomb and Tom Ford's Black Orchid

She works with the world’s finest fragrances, and once profiled, the selection process will narrow down to three elite preferences that are tried on your pulse points to see how they dry and settle to your natural skin type which will determine your signature scent. These fragrances are not available on the high street and cost between £95 and £295 – but worth it to know that you have a fragrance for life which is totally “you”.

She also “scents” venues for special occasions, including weddings, and can also make up your signature fragrance into candles for your home – a truly decadent option.

Judi's website can be found here.

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