How to create a capsule fragrance wardrobe

Nasomatto Pardon and Aesop Marrakech Intense

I frickin love talking to fragrance people. They’re so passionate, poetic and downright knowledgeable about perfume and the senses. One who is more passionate than most is the effusive Michael Donovan, founder of Profile PR and perfume e-tailer When I saw Michael last (at the Frederic Malle boutique where he schooled me on everything there is to know about Mr. Malle and his magical juices), we talked about our fragrance journeys and about the evolution from having one signature scent to having a wardrobe of different ones.

I like the idea of having a capsule fragrance wardrobe that represents a concise edit of perfumes for particular moods and occasions. Michael agrees that it’s good to have a choice so you can dress for your emotions. “The idea that one fragrance will work for every occasion and across the seasons is the same as imagining that you could wear the same outfit every day,” he says. “A ‘wardrobe’ of scents lets you choose according to occasion, season and mood.”

A true fragrance enthusiast, he also believes in dressing perfume first. “Fragrance can affect our mood, so it’s sensible to apply your perfume before anything else. So you may have been about to wear jeans and a T-shirt, however a spritz of something sensual can put you in the mood for something altogether more sophisticated and alluring.” Yep, sold.

So what should go in this capsule fragrance wardrobe? I asked Michael for his recommendations and added a few of my own. Feel free to add yours in the comments…


How to choose a fragrance wardrobe. Day fragrance - Chanel Jersey and Perfumer H Orange Leaf

Michael recommends Eau d’Ipanema by A Lab On Fire. Freshness, a twist of berries and mango, jasmine and freesia. This represents summer in a bottle. £90/60ml. Buy it here.

Mediterraneo by Carthusia. This is the oldest recipe in the world (from 1390); a fresh yet sophisticated combination of crushed lemon leaves and green tea. It is a very well behaved fragrance – you can take it anywhere. £80/100ml Buy it here.

DRG recommends Jersey by Chanel Les Exclusifs. This is my go-to if I have a day of back-to-back meetings and need to feel energised and focused. It’s clean and cologne-like with a sharp zing of lavender countered by a subtle musk. Buy it here. I also love Orange Leaf by Perfumer H, a gentle uplifting citrus.


How to build a fragrance wardrobe - Weekend fragrance Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay and Urban Outfitters Macaron Rose

Michael recommends Oh Denim by Uermi. This is perky pink pepper, sumptuous florals, amber and vanilla – eminently wearable. £105/75ml Buy it here.

Fleurs de Rocaille by Caron – An aldehydic classic with notes of violet, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine and ylang-ylang creating an infinitely wearable and elegant scent. Invoked by Al Pacino in ‘ Scent Of A Woman’! £89/100ml Buy it here.

DRG recommends Blackberry & Bay by Jo Malone. A year-round favourite, this is a juicy green scent that’s fresh, fruity but comforting. Buy it here. I also love Macaron Rose by Urban Outfitters. It lasts all day and blends non-cloying rose water with the gourmand warmth of sugarcane. Buy it here.

How to build a fragrance wardrobe. For holidays and travel, include Hermes D'orange Vert and Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Shimmering Body Oil Spray
Michael recommends Debaser by D.S & Durga. Think figs and coconuts, the happiest scent on the planet – utterly delicious! [Yes, it’s actually named after the Pixies song!] £139/50ml Buy it here.

Peacock Throne Hair Fragrance by Thameen. Hair fragrance is genius for travelling in the summer. Hair is porous so holds the scent better than skin. Peacock Throne is an exotic light bouquet of summer flowers – jasmine, taif rose, iris – over a spice vanilla base. £85/50ml Buy it here.

DRG recommends Eau d’Orange Verte by Hermes, a sophisticated, versatile green citrus. Get the mini 15ml size so you can carry it with you for respritzing throughout the day. Buy it here. Bronze Goddess Shimmering Body Oil Spray (not technically a fragrance, but that’s how I wear it) by Estee Lauder, so delicious and beachy, it’s intoxicating. Buy it here. I also can’t not mention Shay & Blue Sicilian Limes – a punchy feel-good citrus. Buy it here.


Nasomatto Pardon or Aesop Marrakech Intense

Michael recommends Black Afgano by Nasomatto. A work of genius, this exudes confidence and personality. £118/30ml Buy it here.

Beat Cafe by JUSBOX. Warm, honeyed cognac over golden tobacco and a warm leather base. This brooks no argument. £130/78ml. Buy it here.

DRG recommends Pardon by Nasomatto. Seriously punchy, this opens with magnolia and tonka bean then dries to a warm but distinctive woody base. Buy it here. Aesop Marrakech Intense – cooling and spicy at the same time. Amazing for summer. Buy it here.


Dries van Noten by Frederic Malle

Michael recommends Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle. Tuberose is the Little Black Dress of flowers and this is velvet perfection. £245/100ml. Buy it here.

Flamenco by Ramon Monegal. This is exuberant and extravert, a glorious hymn to the theatrical dance using Turkish Rose at its heart. £180/50ml.

DRG recommends Dries van Noten by Frederic Malle, my staple ‘gentlewoman’ fragrance that delivers instant confidence and elegance. Buy it here.


For a feminine but sexy fragrance i love In the Garden of Good and Evil by By Kilian. And also Tangier Vanille by Aerin

Michael recommends A Weekend in Fontainebleau by IDEO Parfumeurs (for women) – this refers to the trysts between Diane de Poitiers and King Henri II in the woods and moves from fresh forest to unadulterated desire! This is all about seduction. £140/100ml buy it here.

Grey Labdanum by Abel is 100% natural and a dark, smouldering combination of patchouli, clary sage and labdanum with highlights of grapefruit and violet. Irresistible – £45/15ml But it here.

DRG recommends In the Garden of Good and Evil by By Kilian. I won’t lie, the name itself adds to the seduction. It’s a jasmine and apricot-drenched concoction that’s perfect for humid summer evenings. Buy it here. A bit less obvious, I love the sensual muskiness of Tangier Vanille by Aerin. Yes, you can be sexy without being vampy. Buy it here.


WORDS AND IMAGES: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
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Gentlewoman style: The Gigi

Ana Gimeno Brugada in The Gigi womenswear

I was going to include The Gigi in my post on double-breasted jackets but I decided it needed its own dedicated post.

Here’s stylist Ana Gimeno Brugada wearing The Gigi, a spin-off of the popular Italian menswear brand, Boglioli. The womenswear offer is essentially Ana personified, from the relaxed tailoring pieces to the insouciant styling.

If you’re the kind of girl who likes the idea of wearing a pyjama top to dinner, then this is up your strada. What’s interesting is that apparently formalwear is on the decline as customers balk at the excessive pricing and just prefer a more laid back look. So The Gigi embraces the shabbier variety of suit styling, with crumpled cotton layers (I love the piped edges) and slipper-esque footwear rather than brogues or oxfords.

GQ calls it ‘detached elegance‘. It’s not for everyone but it speaks to me…
The Gigi womenswear
The Gigi womenswear
The Gigi womenswear
The Gigi womenswear

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Ana Gimeno Brugada; The Gigi womenswear
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THE DRG STYLE INDEX: Vogue,, The Estee Edit, Deciem and more!

Here’s the latest weekly DRG STYLE INDEX ranking, a round-up of the brands and industry stories currently buzzing on my radar…

Venetia Scott appointed Vogue Fashion director
It’s been such a weird week this week. We’re still in post-election chaos and then the news of the West London tower block fire has shocked and horrified us all. I’ve lived in West London all my life so this is very close to home. But there were a few chinks of good news. I’m really happy to hear that Venetia Scott has been appointed Fashion Director of Vogue. I’m a huge fan of her photography and styling and can’t wait to see where she’ll take the fashion.


Farfetch swallows up
It’s a shame that as an etailer never really hit its stride. This week it merged with Farfetch in what seemed like a very rushed announcement. The URL now redirects straight to and the content side of Farfetch will be boosted by the Conde Nast machine. It sounds like the plan is still to monetise all Conde Nast’s editorial content, so we’ll see how that one plays out…


What to buy from The Estee Edit
Estee Lauder’s millennial-focused brand The Estee Edit has been retired after just one year. I think it has some great products but maybe just too many that sounded the same. Personally I was a little overwhelmed by all the ‘glow’ SKUs. There were some standouts though – namely the Pore Vanishing Stick (a great mattifier – I use this every day) and Dissolve the Drama 2-in-1 Make-Up Remover and Cleanser. It’s not all bad though. Estee Lauder Company plans to double the offer of Victoria Beckham Beauty instead…


Oh wait. More ELC news. The Internet is up in arms at the news that the Estee Lauder Company has bought a minority share in niche beauty brand Deciem. Owners of The Ordinary as well as nine other well-priced skincare disruptors, founder Brandon Truaxe was apparently quite vocally anti-Estee Launder in the early days. Sigh… it seems that every start-up has its price. Here’s his promise to customers

Apparently blog ghostwriters are all the rage. I knew I was going wrong somewhere…

Pout Case is a phone case that thinks it’s a makeup palette. Gimmick or genius?

Google has opened a virtual fashion archive that lets you deep dive into all manner of fashion and cultural institutions. It’s the virtual rabbit hole to end them all…

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Vogue, Business of Fashion, Disneyrollergirl, Deciem
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On archives and exhibitions: Balenciaga, Jessica Ogden, Cartier, George Rodger

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion exhibition at V&A

London is enjoying a golden age of art and fashion exhibitions. You could easily do nothing else all day but soak up one multi-sensorial orgy after another. I made Hockney at Tate Britain by the skin of my teeth and I’m currently gearing up for Matisse in the Studio (from August 5th) and Basquiat at the Barbican, of course (from 21st September). Here are some current recommendations…

BALENCIAGA: SHAPING FASHION A couple of weeks ago I went to the press preview of Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion at The V&A (until 18th Feb 2018). The exhibition is split over two levels; on the ground floor is a deep dive of the couturier’s legendary cutting techniques and upstairs is a legacy space showing the work of contemporary designers inspired by the Balenciaga look.

Fashion students and design geeks will do well to allow plenty of time to study the downstairs vitrines. Curator Cassie Davies-Strodder, has done a fantastic job creating immersive ways of showing off Balenciaga’s pattern cutting techniques. There are videos of couture craftsmanship, 360-degree views of the mannequins in motion, plus selfie stations for good measure.

Cristobal Balenciaga, the son of a dressmaker, began his designs with the fabric first. There are plenty of fabric swatches to pore over, including an example of a swatch book that Harrods kept in its sewing rooms for seamstresses to make their authorised Balenciaga copies from in the 50s. (At the height of his success, Balenciaga employed nearly 500 staff of his own staff in Paris.)

But it’s the explanation of his silhouettes that is the real draw.

From his ‘semi-fit’ dress (fitted at the front, loose at the back) to his baby doll, to an evening dress cut from a single piece of fabric with no side seams, an extensive study of Balenciaga’s sartorial engineering can be seen here. Because many of the archive pieces were so fragile, the V&A enlisted x-ray artist Nick Veasey to capture some of their hidden construction details using his forensic x-ray photography. Balenciaga’s 1954 balloon hem dress actually has internal hooping to hold the voluminous layers of fabric, as well as secret straps that tie above the knee.

Don’t miss the playful elements like the do-it-yourself cutout paper patterns that you can tear off and fold to fashion your own miniature plaid coat. This is a really thoughtfully planned exhibition with loads of interactive opportunity. Bonus tip: Consider going after 30th June when the new Amanda Levete-designed Exhibition Road Quarter will be completed.

Balenciaga Shaping Fashion exhibition V&A

A lesser-known exhibition that sounds equally visit-worthy is Jessica Ogden: Still at University of the Arts. Jessica Ogden is one of those names that’s hugely influential but you wouldn’t know her if you walked past her in the street. One of the London 90s anti-fashion set, she made her mark creating upcycled pieces for Oxfam’s No-Logo initiative. A business based around her signature homespun style floundered in the mid 2000s but not before Jean Touitou (of A.P.C fame) could step in to store her archive. The current vogue for quilting and patchworking? Ogden was doing it ten-plus years ago.

The time has now been deemed ripe to delve into her past, and the result is an installation of clothes that celebrates handcraft, memory and emotion. I’ve had a sneak peek on Instagram and it looks fab, so I’m aiming to head to this before it finishes on 23rd June.
Jessica Ogden Still exhibition in Church Street London
Jessica Ogden Still Exhibition
Jessica Ogden Still exhibition in Church Street London

Over at the Design Museum, there’s a new exhibition curated by Norman Foster centred on Cartier and design (until 28 July). The early part focuses on the societal changes of Paris during the turn of the 20th century when the newly linear layout of the city itself influenced Cartier’s designs. In this section, the spotlight is on radical pioneers, engineer Gustave Eiffel and aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont. Santos-Dumont’s eccentric antics included raising a tea table and chairs several feet off the ground to give his guests the sense of being up in the air. The wristwatch, as we know it today, evolved from Santos’s need for a timepiece that could be worn on the body, not on a pocket chain. Louis Cartier came up with its Santos watch which, along with the Cartier Tank is now part of the Design Museum’s permanent collection.

The exhibition also draws parallels between the geometric lines of the Eiffel Tower and Louis Cartier’s new architectural jewellery. If you’re a watch or jewellery enthusiast or just a fan of beautifully designed objets, there’s plenty to enjoy. From the many examples of Tank watches to some superb feats of craftsmanship, I particularly loved the cabinet of travel-friendly miniature curiosities. Oh to be the kind of person with a need for a pocket utility kit or mini billfold with a teeny tiny watch integrated within.

The latter part of the exhibition shows the more contemporary side of Cartier. Spot the discreet product placement of a Cartier Panthere watch on Sofia Coppola’s wrist (she recently directed their ad campaign for the Panthere) and check out the posters of iconic Cartier-wearing tastemakers such as Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent. According to his quote below, Andy Warhol – forward thinking as ever – foresaw us all wearing watches as accessories rather than timepieces.

Cartier In Motion exhibition
Alberto Santos-Dumont elevated dining at the exhibition Cartier in Motion at The Design Museum 2017
Cartier Santos watch at The Design Museum
Cartier Desk set with clock 1931 Cartier in Motion The Design Museum
Cartier billfold Cartier In Motion exhibition
Andy Warhol quote on cartier Watch at Cartier in Motion exhibition
Yves saint laurent and Sofia Coppola in Cartier

* Photography buffs have a few days left to see this small but excellent show at the Morton Hill gallery in West London. George Rodger was one of the co-founders of the Magnum photo agency and after covering the Second World War, felt the need to get away to a different environment entirely. He took himself to the Sudan where, with the help of the Sudanese government he immersed himself in the day-to-day of the tribes of the Kordofan region.

This is the first time these colour works have been shown. At the time, black and white was the preferred medium, and colour its poor relation. The muted but rich quality of the colours in these prints gives them a cinematic, otherworldly cast. (You can also catch ‘Mysterious Arrangement’ next door, a fab show of Rupert Shrive’s ‘portraits’ of mixed media sculptures.) Both shows are open until 23rd June.
George Rodger – The Nuba and Latuka, Sudan, 1948-49

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion is at the V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL until 18th February 2018.

Jessica Ogden: Still is at University of the Arts London, 31-33 Church St, London NW8 8ES until 23rd June.

Cartier in Motion is at The Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG until 28th July.

George Rodger – The Nuba and Latuka, Sudan, 1948-49 is at Morton Hill Gallery, 345 Ladbroke Grove, London W10 6HA until 23rd June.

Check websites for times.

*Disclosure: Mr DRG runs the Morton Hill gallery

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Balenciaga/Disneyrollergirl x 6; Jessica Ogden x 3; Disneyrollergirl/Cartier x 2; Cartier; Disneyrollergirl/Cartier x 4; George Rodger
NOTE: Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here

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CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman