Solid perfume is an underrated marvel, and the ingenious alternative to wrapping perfume bottles in socks, jumpers and plastic bags for travel. They’re tiny enough to carry through your day in a very small handbag or pocket, then quickly flipped open and either dabbed on with fingertips or swiped across pulse points straight from the packaging.
Jo Malone London’s Solid Cologne is a fantastically useful gift, and decent value when refilled over a long life. You kick off with a very clever, sturdy and luxurious Solid Scent Duo Palette with two sliding sides (£26), each housing a solid refill (£20) that can be swapped out in perpetuity. Jo Malone is all about pairing and layering fragrances, but even if you’re content with one at a time, this design allows you to pack two perfumes for a trip away and still take up no more suitcase space than a matchbox.
Personally, I’d fill with Blackberry & Bay, a sharp, sophisticated fruity scent for people who find most fruity scents a sweet, sticky abomination, and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, the warm, cosying but not overpowering aroma of cardamom and incense.
I’m steadfast in my belief that Glossier’s You is among the best fragrances of the past decade, and I continue to wear it often. So I’m delighted the brand has reintroduced its solid version (£24), which allows for afternoon top-ups while the glass bottle stays safely at home. It’s refilled for a friendly £14, and again, the compact is built to last, which is handy, since its very pleasing pebble shape means I can hardly put the damn thing down.
The scent inside the compact is very easy to wear – an extremely appealing paradox of fresh fizziness and musky warmth – and also works brilliantly as an unobtrusive base for most other fragrances.
The first solid perfume I ever bought was by Diptyque, the firm that can fairly be credited with reinventing the category. The number of fragrances offered in its solid format is limited – albeit to some of the best. The painted Bakelite-style travel compact is pricey at £48, but comes loaded with fragrance and looks and feels suitably special, almost like jewellery.
Refills are a reasonable £29 for two identical pans. I wouldn’t hesitate in choosing Philosykos, a figgy masterpiece, and L’Ombre dans L’eau, a mouthwatering blend of blackcurrants and fat, wet, velvety roses that’s quietly seductive on woman or man.
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