The Perfume Companion book
Courtesy Frances Lincoln

A Definitive Guide to Finding Your Signature Scent

More than 500 fragrances are profiled in Sarah McCartney and Samantha Scriven’s upcoming book, “The Perfume Companion.”
By Michelle Erdenesanaa
September 17, 2021
2 minute read

As the overpopulated, multibillion-dollar fragrance industry introduces hundreds of scents every year, choosing one that smells and feels right can seem daunting. To assist in the pursuit of perfume, industry veterans Sarah McCartney, founder and perfumer at the London scent brand 4160 Tuesdays, and Samantha Scriven, who runs a blog called iscentyouaday, lend their encyclopedic knowledge of aromatic liquids to their upcoming book, The Perfume Companion: The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Next Scent (Frances Lincoln), out next week on Kindle and in hardcover on November 9. Fluent in the science behind the olfactory system, the psychospiritual history of scents, and the deceptive power of a flashy bottle, the pair’s guidance comes across like a close friend with a highly discerning nose.

The book features around 500 fragrances, which run the spectrum from classics to budget finds, categorized by their dominant notes, including citrus, oud, leather, and musk. A detailed scent profile and an expressive illustration of its vessel accompanies each one. Flipping through the pages, one gets a sense of navigating a catalogue, apothecary, and dreamscape all at once—perhaps smelling “the nape of a neck at bedtime,” or “heady garlands of jasmine worn at family weddings in India.” Throughout, McCartney and Scriven reference the grip that scent can have on our minds and bodies, citing anecdotes from anthropology and chemistry in between their entries. Discover what processes alter fragrances over time, why we can now spritz to oblivion without staining our clothes, or why, in the Middle Ages, some considered the potency of plant extracts “the work of the devil.” Along the way, you just might catch wind of a new signature scent.