In The Circle Of Trust – My Top Five Perfumes (For Now)

The original title of this post was: “What remains when the wild frenzy ends.”

But then I thought about Robert DeNiro’s character in Meet the Parents, who maintained a Circle of Trust, wherein only a very select few trusted individuals were allowed.


In the recent months, as many of you know, my perfume wearing habits have changed and today I want to explore a bit which perfumes are still with me after this transition and why.

I’ve experienced a narrowing of my perfume tolerance (not taste though!) and many things I used to love are not wearable for me at the moment (for example: Shalimar and Ambre Sultan are no-go’s for now).

Which perfumes do I still rely on (after an apparent loss of faith in many of them) to let them into the Circle of Trust?

Dior New Look 1947: A powdery cloud of abstact florals, comforting and feminine.

Hermès L’Ambre des Merveilles: An airy combination of fresh orange notes and a soft amber base. Cosy and so easy to slip into like a favorite sweater.

Chanel Bois des Iles: Like a Chanel handbag it works just as well in jeans or an evening gown. An ideal balance of sophistcated eleagance and comforting warmth.

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre: Warm iris and rose sparkle through a softly aldehydic cloud of enshrouding mists, subtly soapy, perfectly powdery.

Puredistance I: An abstract floral on a musky base emanating purity, clarity and serenity. Pure white in a grey world.

circle of trust

All of these perfumes are somewhat similar (at least in feel). Apparently I crave abstract florals, modern aldehydes that create a powdery haze and a warm oriental base. Comfort seems to be the common thread here. Comfort and elegance, the cashmere sweaters of the perfume world are in my circle of trust. The leather jackets, the silk blouses, the taffeta gowns, the ripped jeans and the cotton shifts of my fragrant wardrobe are on hold.

So I conclude, it is not diversity I am after, but I crave the same kind of comfort, elegance and softness again and again. Complex stories, demanding perfumes, challenging scents, provocative fragrances – please take a seat in the waiting room. We’ll let you know when a vacancy opens up…

Honorable mentions, who are allowed into the circle of trust now and again:

Roja Dove Unspoken, Hermès 24 Faubourg, Nabucco Amytis, Puredistance Opardu, Jour d’Hermès and the Guerlain L’Art et la Matière line.

I have found contentment, at least for now. And that is perfectly fine with me.

Do you have a fragrant Circle of Trust? What is in, what is out right now? What does it take for a perfume to get in?


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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90 Responses to In The Circle Of Trust – My Top Five Perfumes (For Now)

  1. I’m not sure if I have a circle of trust… I have a lot of fragrances in heavy rotation, but that changes depending on the season and what is recently acquired … The minute I start thinking about what my circle would include is also the minute I start wondering if I left anything out.

  2. Madeleine says:

    Hi Birgit,

    I love your circle of trust! I have also noticed that my tastes have changed and past loves are languishing too.

    Right now it’s all about patchouli and rose for me. My circle is defined by needing lots of sillage and powerful fumes. They need to be strong! My five would be:

    Lady Vengeance
    Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia
    Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan
    Robert Piguet Visa
    Serge Lutens La Myrrhe

    Oh wait, that’s six! Interesting to note that I didn’t wear any of these a year ago, but can’t imagine life without them now.



    • Olfactoria says:

      Strong, powerful perfumes can be such an insurgence of steel in the spine.
      Great circle of trust, Madeleine!

    • wooddogs3 says:

      Madeleine, I loved reading your list! I’m with you on the Ford, Lutens, and Lady Vengeance, and will have to try the others. I’m delighted to see Velvet Gardenia get some love. I grew up in southern Louisiana surrounded by gardenias, and to me it’s the only fragrance that really captures their glorious decadence.
      Recently I tried Vengeance Extreme, for which I had high hopes, but didn’t like it quite as well as good old Lady V. Have you sampled it?

  3. annemariec says:

    I wonder if there is something going on in your life that is unsettling, without you realising it? Well, perhaps it is best not to over-analyse! If you know that elegant and comforting perfumes are the solution, why brood over the problem … ?

    Hermes is a theme in your circle of trust, but I know it’s a brand you love. (I finally bought by 24 Faubourg, by the way. Happy!)

  4. Jordan River says:

    Constant craving has led to consistency of choice. That must be a relief in some ways. Wondering if there are analysts for perfume choices. I guess Vienna would be the place! Disappointed to see Cuir d’Hermès is outside the circle or is that in my imagination or yours? Lol. Hope it is part of the circle one day someday. I trust Jubilation XXV, Encre Noire, Black Afgano, Memoir Man, Vaniglia del Madagascar and Noora. But will I trust them tomorrow? Yes I think so.

    • Olfactoria says:

      It is a relief indeed. At least I can trust my own choices when it comes to perfume. 😉
      Here’s to unrealistally hoping that Cuir d’Hermès leaves the realm of fiction one day and turns up in my circle for real! 🙂
      I loved reading about your circle scents.

  5. I believe that the hormonal changes that women go through at different stages of our lives have a very strong influence, especially when it means we can suddenly wear perfumes we couldn’t before. I notice this as I go through menopause, which is opening up a whole new world of things I couldn’t previously wear. 🙂 And of course it’s also seasonal, just like that cashmere sweater. My circle of trust right now, in winter, is all about comfort: Ambre Sultan, Pour un Homme, Shalimar, Séville à l’Aube and then I don’t know. Fleurs de Citronnier? Chergui?, Le Troisième Homme? These are my go-to fragrances when I can’t quite think what to wear. When I’m feeling more confident, I wear brighter things like Ma Griffe, Bandit. Sa Majesté la Rose and Diorissimo.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Wintertime is comfort time, you have beautiful choices in your current circle.
      I know too little about sensory perception and hormonal status to comment, but I tend to agree with you that it is a big influence.

  6. Sandra says:

    I love your circle of trust! Beautiful choices for such dreary days here. I don’t have a circle of trust per se. I love my vanillas now, Guerlain SDV and Gourmand Coquin, Casamorati Lira and Dama Bianca. I need comfort too. The serious lack of sun is also why I need these comfort scents. Hopefully I will branch out as soon as the weather warms up.

  7. NAAH! Can’t do it. I love your list though.
    Sorry Birgit.
    Portia xx

  8. ringthing says:

    I agree with Sandra, your circle contains some lovely scents! Iris is perfect for this time of year; Chanel 19 is getting lots of wear, and Jacomo Silences. I have winter ennui and do a lot of sampling and digging through my collection right now, not just perfume but jewelry and scarves also. It’s a craving for color and change.

  9. Figuier says:

    Lovely circle – can I come too? This year I’ve gone *very* seasonal, perhaps as a result of the cold weather. So I’m wearing not just cashmere-sweater scents but also big-woolly-handknitted-scarf type fragrances and gluewein-hazy ones: Terracotta Voile d’Ete (ok this is a trans-seasonal favourite, by far my most-worn), Indochine, Coromandel, Mon Parfum Cheri, Rose Oud

  10. masha7 says:

    I’m with Portia on this one- I just can’t! For too many years now, I am too far gone to change. But there are some I go back to again and again, like a cat. Hanae Mori’s Magical Moon and Shiseido’s Koto and Zen (the original and the Pearl), Kenzo Flower (original), Gaultier’s Fleur du Male, Mugler Cologne, and my Indian attars. Definitely an Asian theme going on here!

  11. Now what an interesting an idea – one which speaks of a certain degree of inner peace one can’t help but think.
    I am too restless a soul to limit myself so – though your choices are exquisite.
    Sad though to see Shalimar thus banished – could not l’heure bleue take her place, she would seem a fitting substitute?
    In admiration.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Olfactoria says:

      Good afternoon, Perfumed Dandy,
      what a pleasure to see you here.
      I like the way you frame it: inner peace is surely what I seek and what I gain from these perfumes.
      I’m heartbroken about my current Shalimar intolerance, but nothing lasts forever and so this state of disgrace will pass as well. L’Heure Bleue extrait is a rare – but regular none the less – guest in my circle.

      • How pleased I am to be here, truly.

        Oh I am pleased too that your poise allows you to spend a little time in the blue hour now and again.

        I trust that the Caleche you speak of is slightly older – I find the new one a little, well simple. Such a shame…

        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

        • Olfactoria says:

          Funnily enough, I am not aware that I did speak of Calèche here, but I did indeed receive a pristine vintage extrait from a very generous friend just yesterday that is simply divine.

          Now that surely makes me contemplate the secret identity of the Perfumed Dandy…

          • Goodness – maybe I simply had an extra sensory perception of Caleche – how strange!

            Talking of Hermes, one wonders about the floral confusion of Jour and whether that might fit a wistful but calm mood at some point.

            Yours ever
            The Perfumed Dandy

  12. Suzanne says:

    I don’t have a circle of trust,but I do have perfumes that once I start wearing them, I crave them for days straight and don’t really want to change them up. Amouage Opus I, Parfums DelRae Amoureuse, Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan and Annick Goutal Heure Exquise are four that will usually hijack my attention for days on end.

    Your post reminds me yet again that I want to try L’Ambre des Merveilles — I’m going to order a decant today. I love that you have Iris Poudre in your circle of trust … it’s so beautiful and really strikes me as a very Birgit perfume! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, what you are saying about me and Iris Poudre is a great compliment (and I love those! 😉 )
      I like your “a few days in a row” perfume habit, you get so much more out of wearing something for a few days, the perfume can really be explored and enjoyed.

  13. FeralJasmine says:

    I’m coping with a family health emergency lately, and find that my tastes suddenly narrowed. A little L’Ambre des Merveilles during the day in the hospital, for warmth and comfort with little sillage. At night, Jour Ensoleille on good nights for joy and hope, vintage Opium(judiciously applied)on nights when I need something to occupy my mind hypnotically. No doubt my tastes will expand again soon, but it interests me to note that perfume has become so much a part of my life that, without thinking, I use it as an emotional regulator.

  14. brie says:

    The winter has been brutal and my tiny body cannot stand the cold so I have been turning to SSS Cocoa Sandalwood for comfort, especially at night. And in anticipation of spring (and warmer weather, birds chirping, lilacs blossoming, etc. 🙂 !!) I have been craving SSS Jour Ensolielle, SSS Lieu de Rieves, Pacifica’s French Lilac and Maroma for Men Lavender Cedar perfume oil.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I must try the new SSS soon, hearing such good things about it (mainly from you! 🙂 )

    • FeralJasmine says:

      I don’t know the Pacifica line at all. Every spring I long briefly for a pure lilac scent. Will have to sample that one.

      • brie says:

        Reportedly Pacifica perfumes are all natural and ridiculously affordable (which for me is a godsend given that I finance perfume for four in my house!). They are simple pleasant fragrances and the French Lilac is always a staple for me right before spring arrives. The Tibetan Mountain Temple (orange, ginger,vetiver,patchouli) is really nice too. And their soy candles are divine!

        • FeralJasmine says:

          Finance perfumes for four? Bless you! I can barely afford my own. Will definitely look into Pacifica.

          • brie says:

            yes…I have passed the “curse” …I mean “obsession”…on to my three children!!! But this is why I rarely buy high end niche! Can’t afford it, especially if the other three want one as well 🙂 !!

  15. Alexandra says:

    While I am still enjoying sniffing around, and occasionally try something new (I spent last weekend in LAP’s Nuit de Tubereuse, much to my own confusion) I currently appear to have placed my faith in six perfumes:
    SL’s Chergui, NV’s Mohur, LAP’s Safran Troublant, SL’s Ambre Sultan, PG Cadjmere and Amouage’s Epic
    So sweet and warm appears to be the central theme (in line with the miserable weather), with an honourable mention apparently going to rose scents…

  16. Tara says:

    Love the Circle of Trust! That pic and diagram really cheered me up this morning.

    I’ve been thinking about my circle scents and have come up with Vol de Nuit, Puredistance 1, Equistrius and Diorella. Similar to you, these are unchallenging perfumes that have a calming affect. Also, they always feel right

    If you run low on Bois des Iles just let me know and I’ll send you a top-up.

  17. acstrommen says:

    I consider my “circle of trust” perfumes to be the ones I am comforted by, or reach for the most often. These include: L’Heure Bleue, Jour Ensolielle, L’Ambre de Merv, 31RC, BdI, ELDO Vraie Blonde, PdN Le Temps de Une Fete, and No.5 parfum. Interestingly Birgit, Shalimar has fallen out of my circle too. I used up 1/3 of a bottle last winter and haven’t worn it more than 3 times this winter.

    I haven’t stopped my testing frenzy, but do so in an odd way. I wear my “circle” ‘fumes on my neck/torso, and only test on my wrists. That way, if I don’t like it, I’m not held hostage by it wafting up into my nose. I have to sniff my wrists. If I test something 3 times and like it, I will allow it neck space. The last scrubber: Histoire’s 1804. Turns out I don’t like pineapple!

  18. ariane says:

    Agree with the hormones theory-are one of your boys 4 years old?I have heard that after 4 years the hormones go back to pre-giving birth state…I wonder even if our monthly cycle plays a role in our perfume choices!Love the circle of trust thing,we use it in our family and say it half jokingly to our daughter when she goes too far!My perfume circle would include Puredistance Antonia,31RC,Mona di Orio Vanille,Iris Poudre,Grossmith Shem-el-Nessim and Isabey Gardenia,a newly discovered gem!

  19. Civava says:

    I’m not so designated…yet. But whenever I’m fed up with testing new perfume samples I usually turn to my old favorites: Shalimar, Byzance and Sfari and newly Traversee du Bosphore.

  20. As usual new ideas pop up all over these posts. I am so thankful for them. I do have a “Circle of Trust” and most of these have been comforting me over a long period of time: Calèche, Vol de Nuit, Jicky, Dune, and one new love – Mona’s Vanille. The next one I want to try is Bois des Iles. The drugstore favorite is Wing Song, something from teen years.

  21. Sorry, that is Wind Song, of course.

  22. Dear Birgit,
    I adore big nighttime fragrances, jewelry and evening clothes. I would happily drown into a vat of Jubilation 25 and wear Oscar de la Renta dresses everyday. Truth is I have only a few occasions a year to do so. My days are usually spent in photo studios, working very close to people, in a more informal environment or working from home. I have also switched to less demanding beauties. I still wear my bog bombs, but just once in a while.
    I agree with Bois des Iles as the perfect ”goes with everything” fragrance. I have been wearing Mohur, Opardu. Kiki, the much misunderstood Interlude Woman, Magnolia Romana, Fueguia Ballena de la Pampa and Hiris during the past months.
    I want to own only the things I can use and wear and that extends to fragrance.


  23. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Iris Poudre ? Hah!
    I wonder how your circle will change when spring (finally) arrives 🙂
    Nowadays I either wear Amytis or Ouris (on very “excentric” days Nawab of Oudh …)

  24. Alice says:

    dear Birgit,
    Not sure if its the weather, or my tastes have really changed, but lately I’ve been uncomfortable with green chypres, or sharpish smells, which has removed cristalle, ormonde woman and a few other former favourites from my circle of trust (great idea by the way).. but remaining firmly in it for now are feminite de bois, daim blonde, tea for two, iris poudre, and a new favourite – fracas-; looking towards the spring I would add juste une reve and neroli 36.. all ones I have worn a lot and feel very safe with.

  25. florence says:

    Dear Birgit, what a lovely idea: a circle of trust…..I realize that after having tested and bought many decants and FB, my habits have changed too and, maybe, I made my circle of trust…but a big one: Vanille by Mona di Orio for the warmth, the adventure, the smoky spicy woody vanilla, Ambre Russe which takes me in its arms and protects me, at the same time I feel being Anna Karenine in a ball at St Petersbourg, L’air du désert marocain by Andy Tauer: a lately love: warm, woody, ambery, spicy, magic, Orris Noir to feel so elegant, Absolue pour le Soir to wrap me, Figue Amère by Miller Harris to feel the wind near the sea, La Fumée by Miller Harris to be quiet as if I was in front of a fire, Brûlure de Rose and Fusion Sacrée pour Elle to be very feminine…….is it too much? maybe but I really love them, they are on the first line among the others.

  26. fleurdelys says:

    I’m so winter-weary right now that I don’t have the energy to ponder too much over my daily perfume choices. Neither do I want to be distracted all day by an assertive fragrance. Therefore, vintage floral aldehydes have been in heavy rotation: Chanel No. 5, Replique, Arpege. They are ladylike, always proper, and appropriate for any venue. Their aldehydes lift my mood and make me think spring isn’t so far off after all.

  27. Have you tried Mona di Orio Musc? Based on what appeals to you right now, I think you might like it! Very soft, feminine, comforting.

    My current circle of trust is extremely inclusive 🙂

  28. My circle of trust has been static for some time now. I don’t see any fragrance breaking into the list in the near future. My standards include:

    Guerlain Vetiver
    Dior Eau Sauvage
    Bvlgari Black
    Chanel Pour Monsieur
    Caron Pour un Homme

    I think the thread of similarity running through mine has to do with classic, gentlemanly fragrances. All of them are older with the exception of the Bvlgari. I suppose this corresponds closely with how I like to present myself.

  29. Undina says:

    I don’t understand why it was so hard for Portia and some others! I spent just 10 minutes and easily limited it to seven…ty great perfumes. You see, I’m a very trusting person 😉

  30. hajusuuri says:

    My circle of trust keeps changing which probably means I really don’t have one! That said, I love Iris Poudre – best drydown ever ever ever (and now I’m thinking the travel spray set I bought may not last too long). The only thing that is keeping SSS To Dream from being in the circle is that i only have a tiny bit left yesterday BUT I received my order from Laurie TODAY and hallelujah, I can spritz away!

  31. Vanessa says:

    My circle of trust is so broad that it appears more as a large, flattish oval – yes, a sort of Zeppelin shape, maybe. Currently top of the “easy and instinctive picks” (which is not quite the same thing) are comforting / powdery scents, notably Bois des Iles (like you!), Taif, Orris Noir, Poivre 23, Angelique Noire, Parfum Initial and more in that vein.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Lol, it’s the Hindenburg of trust! 😉
      (But not a disaster of course!)
      It seems to be time for Bois des Iles right now, I smelled it in the street today (albeit not far from the Chanel boutique).

  32. Joe says:

    Sometime ago I would have found it hard to imagine that I would have anything like signature scents which I wear more than one day every two weeks or so, but here I am too. I suppose I have grown up (at least as far as perfumes are concerned) and don’t feel the need to have full bottles of this weeks latest and greatest.
    In my circle
    Givenchy Gentleman – The Guiness of male perfumes, dark, creamy and satisfying.
    Chanel Pour Monsieur – Just perfectly balanced and never wrong.
    Parfum de Nicolai New York – A powdery cloud of refinement.
    Guerlain Derby – Masculine but cultured.
    Penhaligons Sartorial – Strange accords, steam, chalk etc but somehow still beautiful to wear.
    And about 100 others which get their turn when the mood fits.

  33. Dionne says:

    I’ve got a circle of comfort right now as well, but in my case I think it’s just more of a case of February blahs combined with post-Mexico….. I’ll call them the gurglies. I’ve got a bunch of samples that are unsniffed, which is unusual for me, but I decided to just take a breather and wear the loves: Ormonde Woman, Black Cashmere, 28 LP (which have been my top three for a looooong time) as well as Ambre Fétiche, Ambre 114, Cuir Ottoman, and my new fling, Lumière Blanche. Granted, if my energy took a dip in the summer, some of those would be different.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You’ve been to Mexico? What a great break from Canadian Winter Wonderland. 😉 Sorry about the gurglies though.
      There are times when the circle is all one needs, testing can wait for a while.

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