“Perfume is the most intense form of memory” said Jean-Paul Guerlain and as the last master perfumier of one of the world’s oldest perfume houses, he’s a man who should know.
Someone else who knows a thing or two about perfume is Antonio de Figueiredo, owner of Parisian perfumerie Marie Antoinette. Tucked away in a quiet square in the heart of the historic Marais district, his tiny red-painted shop is where your olfactory system will think it’s died and gone to heaven.
Sourcing perfumes from Parisian perfume houses including Houbigant, Lubin, Robert Piguet and Parfums d’Orsay, this is where you’ll find something completely different and individual. There’s a men’s range too so the chaps needn’t dawdle around outside while the girls savour the scents.
Antonio’s view is that perfume should match your personality and each customer in his shop has his undivided attention. Asking me what kind of fragrance I like, floral or musky for example and about my personality, he selects some perfumes which he thinks will suit me as an individual.
First of all perfume is sprayed onto one of those little paper strips so beloved of department store staff. There the similarity ends. By identifying which perfumes I like based on the paper test, I choose three which are sprayed onto different areas of each arm.
There’s no hard sell here. Only a very few perfumes are tested on the potential wearer at one visit because as Antonio rightly points out, “they will mix and you won’t be able to make the right decision”. Most remarkable of all, I was encouraged to leave the shop and walk around for half an hour to let the perfumes develop on my skin to get a true sense of their notes.
Did I buy? I confess not. I liked two out of the three perfumes that Antonio had selected for me but not enough to warrant their €90 price tag.
Even so, I seemed to waft fragrantly along the street and at the first shop I went into the assistant asked: “What is that perfume you’re wearing? It’s gorgeous”.
Looks like I’ll be making a return visit to Marie Antoinette!
Marie Antoinette, Place du marché Sainte Catherine, 4th arrondissement. Métro : Saint Paul
Open Tuesday – Sunday from 1200 to 2000