I'll never forget the day I fell out of love with mass-produced perfumes.
I'm a teacher, and I work in Paris. It was a rainy Friday afternoon last year. I'd had a grotty, heavy week, and because I pass a fragrance shop on the way to the station going home, I called in and treated myself to a bottle of my favourite parfum.
Not cheap - and made by a well-known, well-respected, French household name fragrance house.
I got home, poured myself a well-earned glass of wine, ran a bath, and relaxed.
Afterwards, I excitedly opened my new box of perfume and sprayed some, fresh on my body and neckline - and then it hit me. This was never the same floral smell I remembered. To be honest – it was horrible. The notes were all wrong. It smelt a bit like wearing toilet cleaner! The longer I wore it the less it smelled. I felt ripped off. It got put away on a shelf - it's still there somewhere.
I looked into alternatives - and one thing kept coming up time and time again. Indian perfume - how Indian perfume makers are stepping up to compete with the fragrances of well-established global perfume brands.
In truth, I discovered that it was very much the other way round! Indian perfumery blenders have been creating stunning, esoteric, jaw-dropping attars for millennia - way before Paris, London and New York ever existed.
Men & Women in India have always tapped into the incredibly varied array of natural ingredients that grow across the country. Fragrant roses of endless variety - deep, heady jasmine - earthy, deep, grassy vetiver - warm, woody, and complex oudh - powerful, sweet patchouli, exotic and primal sandalwood.
Families have handed down the secret and natural methods for creating unexpected and killer scents from generation to generation.
I was lucky. One of the names which cropped up was "ISAK." This is a family perfumer in Lucknow which has existed for six generations. Originally creating perfumes for royalty across India - for Maharajas and Maharani, Nawabs and Begums and Raja and Rani - the company expanded and is now making these dazzling aromas available to a wider audience worldwide.
These are not the insipid, five-minute wonders that we have come to expect - with budgets spent on multi-million rupee advertising campaigns, rather than the ingredients. This means the power of the bouquets mastered by ISAK's "noses", or blenders, have a sillage (the degree to which a perfume's fragrance lingers in the air when worn) which can last all day.
I sent off for the "Discovery Pack" which is a "taster menu" of the nine perfumes that make up the range of liquid gold that this company produce.
They arrived in a small hessian bag which already hinted at the olfactory delights which were about to envelop me.
Over the next couple of weeks, I tried all nine.
They are all fabulous - but my favourites turned out to be "Above and Beyond", "5th and Always", and "Edge of Dreams".
Your fragrance is such a personal thing. It depends so much on your mood, where you are going, what you are doing, who you are with ... so the idea of trying out the whole range is genius. You don't have to spend a fortune on perfumes you will never wear.
ISAK's is easily one of the best perfume websites for buying perfume online. This is because it is written by the people who actually make some of the best luxury perfumes India produces - not an anonymous marketing company lurking somewhere in cyberspace.
To buy perfume online is normally a bit of a lottery if you have never tried the product. Best selling perfumes in India are not always the best perfumes in India - if you see what I mean!
In any list of Indian perfume brands, ISAK should be up there in massive neon lights. When you try these little vials of delight you will smile so hard your cheeks will hurt. Perfumes online will never be a problem for you again. I have tried to buy fragrance online many times before but this was easily the best online perfume store I found.
It's great fun exploring and discovering new scents and perfumes - so a huge shout out to a small. bespoke, home-grown artisan company who have transformed the way to buy fragrances online. India is retaking its place on the world stage of online perfumes.
If you are looking to buy perfumes online and are getting fed up with the usual perfumes brands you cannot go wrong with ISAK's range. I have never had so many cool comments about any scent I have worn before - I have my confidence back, my swagger - and they have transformed my self-image.
Order and devour them - they are delicious ...
Written By: Gary Cooper
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