Testing every scent in the Replica by Maison Margiela Discovery Set*

So I am absolutely obsessed with perfumes. I could hang around the fragrance counters in a department store all day sniffing away at everything. I am fascinated by how they work, and the evocative power of scent. But of course, fragrance is best experienced on the skin, so I decided I would start buying fragrance discovery sets to try out as many new scents as I possibly can, without buying full sizes (my bank account is grateful!). And then, I thought I’d share my thoughts on each of the fragrances I try, because why not? I have a pretty sensitive nose so hopefully my insights will be helpful! The first discovery set I decided to try was the Replica by Maison Margiela Memory Box* – a collection of Eau de Toilettes inspired by beautiful memories. This set* contains 10 scents in 2ml bottles, and costs £33. So without any further chit chat, let me get into the reviews!

AD NOTE – Products contained in this post were entirely purchased by me, but affiliate links are used throughout and are marked with an asterisk.

Beach Walk*

Oh my. This scent. Not to sound dramatic but when I first sprayed this on I was stood there smelling it for at least five full minutes. It is utterly enchanting. I thought it would be a sort of standard fresh smelling fragrance, but it is nothing of the sort. A sparkling, bright warmth evokes the beauty of sand in the sunshine, light glittering and heat radiating from the grains, cut through by the fresh sea breeze. It is so delicate and elegant, with fresh notes of lemon and bergamot combined with dynamic pink pepper and rich, warm coconut. This is sunshine distilled into a perfume, and the beautiful balance between warm and fresh means it really does conjure the sense of a walk along a pristine beach.

Coffee Break*

This fragrance is one of the softest, creamiest and most comforting scents I have ever smelled. I was expecting it to have the somewhat unpleasantly acrid ‘fake coffee’ smell that coffee scented cosmetics and candles can sometimes have, but it’s absolutely nothing like that at all. It’s smooth, rich and warm, and has a spiciness that reminds me of the perfumes my granny used to wear – she was a woman of truly impeccable taste and style, so believe me when I say that’s honestly the highest compliment I can give to a perfume. The notes in this are so unusual compared to what I’m used to in fragrances – milk mousse, red apple, spearmint and lemon are combined with coffee, lavender, sandalwood and orange blossom to create a scent that is almost marshmallowy in it’s softness, yet somehow light and almost a little bit fresh.

Springtime in a Park*

This lovely fragrance conveys the joy of spring in such a beautifully balanced way. Spring flowers are powdery, sweet and sometimes musky, and this can be overpowering in my opinion, if the fragrance is formulated without subtlety. There’s no trace of that here though, this perfume is handled magnificently. Powdery sweet blooms of lily of the valley and Damask rose are tempered with crisp, slightly aromatic notes of sweet pear, bergamot and tart blackcurrant, creating an incredibly vivid sense of leaning over to inhale the fragrance of a spring flower, while the brisk spring air breezes all around. Musk and vanilla base notes ensure this fragrance stays with you long after the first spritz, like the memory of those delicate spring blossoms resting on your mind.

Bubble Bath*

Eeek I really don’t want to say what I have to say here. I hated it. To me it just smelled of toilet cleaner. I am SO curious to know what it smells like on other people, because there is simply no way that it smells like that on the people who tested it! I need to find someone else to spray it on. It is supposed to smell soapy and powdery, which it definitely does, but clearly something wasn’t working with my skin chemistry!

Autumn Vibes*

A beautiful, evocative scent, with crisply woody and subtly spicy notes. I adore autumn, and this perfume is the perfect encapsulation of a romantic autumn afternoon outdoors. Notes like aromatic carrot seed, nutmeg, cardamon and moss conjure the feeling of walking through an auburn toned woodland, red leaves rustling as they tumble down from the moss-covered trees on a fresh, crisp breeze. I wish I could say more about this one, but its rather straightforward in its autumnal loveliness.

Under the Lemon Trees*

This is a stunningly fresh, aromatic scent, beautifully capturing the sensorial delight of walking in a citrus grove. Kalamansi lime provides the intensely layered citrus scent, while cardamom, cedarwood, coriander and cistus emulate the heady fragrance of sun-warmed tree bark, and green tea evokes breeze-ruffled leaves. Unfortunately, this fragrance faded almost immediately on my skin, which was a real shame because I adored it! (Update; I recently bought Fresh Beauty’s absolutely gorgeous Sugar Lemon Body Wash and the combination of that with the fragrance seemed to help the fragrance to last longer! Results may vary, but if you end up loving the scent as much as I did but suffer with the same problem, it might help!)

By the Fireplace*

This is another fragrance that really surprised me. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this wasn’t it! You know when you’ve been sitting next to an open wood fire all evening, and when you leave, your clothes and hair are coated in that unmistakable smell of burning wood? This fragrance has taken that scent, removed the acrid, cloying, burnt part of it, and distilled it into this incredibly elegant, woody fragrance that instantly conjures images of a roaring wood fire. Gaiic wood oil is the hero here, its smouldering, tobaccoesque notes are responsible for that incredible fireside dimension, while spices like pink pepper, vanilla and clove round it out it by giving it a warm, rich heart. Orange flower petals provide an ethereally elegant top note, elevating and opening up the perfume, while chestnut provides a nutty sweetness. Honestly I think this is a masterpiece.

Sailing Day*

This fragrance has a strong sense of traditional aftershave to me, which is something I don’t like for myself, but I think I would really enjoy it on someone who suits aftershave. Aquatic notes, juniper and seaweed conjure the scent of the sea, while coriander, iris and ambergris provide balance with a warm richness. Even though I don’t think I’ll wear it, I think it’s brilliant, and the story of this one is really well formulated – sitting back a boat surrounded by the sparkling ocean, the warmth of the sun beating down on the deck, it’s a really pleasing, well executed concept.

Jazz Club*

Smooth, sweet and completely enchanting, I absolutely loved the rich spicy depth of this fragrance. It really does evoke the intimate atmosphere of a darkly lit jazz club, where time has no meaning and the air is electric yet relaxed at the same time. Capturing the senses with an opening of neroli and pink pepper, the fragrance warms into rum, sage, tobacco and vanilla. It is deeply aromatic and irresistibly alluring, definitely something to wear when you want to imbue yourself with a quiet sensuality, powerful, confident yet understated.

Lazy Sunday Morning*

It’s quite an esoteric concept to distil into a perfume, but Replica have succeeded amazingly in creating a scent that really does conjure the sense of a slow, relaxing start to a day. Gentle, delicate, airy notes like pear, ambrette and lily of the valley create a tranquil, calm feeling, while fresh sweet florals provide a warm, bright aspect – like soft sunlight and a gentle breeze wafting through an open window. It is such a perfectly peaceful scent, I absolutely adore this one and cannot get enough, it leaves me feeling optimistic, inspired and so wonderfully uplifted.

I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity about Replica’s fragrances, I am certainly beyond impressed with them, even the ones I didn’t like I can really appreciate the artistry behind them. I just need to decide which one I’m finally going to purchase! Each fragrance is linked above, but here* is a link to the Discovery Set, so you can experience them for yourself.

My Favourite Fragrances

I love a fragrance that is floral and fresh. It has to be natural and subtle, not cloying or overly sweet, the kind of way flowers really smell when you’re outside in the sunshine with them. I own three extraordinary niche/luxury fragrances by Diptyque, Serge Lutens and Byredo. I wanted to talk about them because they really are something special, and if your preferences fit the description I just gave, I think you’ll love them too. The right fragrance can lift your mood and make you feel amazing even when you’re squeezing onto the Jubilee Line at 7am on a Monday. Fragrances are extremely personal and the right one can transform you, but it’s so hard to find ‘your scent’ with all the choice out there. I’ve also given some advice about how to make the right choice at the bottom of this post.

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Inflorescence by Byredo is the least subtle member of my collection, because it’s inspired by the intensity of spring flowers; the first blooms of the year, filling gardens with their fragrance. I love its bold, complex notes of freesia, lily, rose and jasmine. I think that Inflorescence is the best fragrance Byredo have created, I find their others smell a bit run-of-the-mill, could be by anyone. Inflorescence smells like nothing else. It’s phenomenally complex, intoxicating, heady, but fresh and uplifting at the same time.

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Serge Lutens Fleurs d’oranger is still my favourite of all time, so fresh and sweet, with orange blossom (obviously), jasmine and tuberose to round out the floral side, and citrus to give it a lift. This fragrance is regarded as a masterpiece by some and isn’t hard to see why – not only is it without question the best orange blossom scent that’s ever been created, few fragrances are this upliftingly fresh whilst also retaining a gorgeously sweet, lush, summer feeling. Although I adore the other two and thoroughly enjoy wearing them, this one is ‘my scent’, and I get the compliments to prove it, too!

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Finally, Philosykos by Diptyque is inspired by the scent of the leaves and fruit of the fig tree under the hot Greek sun. It is peppery and fruity, really unusual, but intoxicating. There’s freshness from fig leaves, sweetness from the fruit, and even woody notes from fig tree sap; extraordinarily well balanced, and ‘figgy’ to the core. This was the first premium fragrance I ever bought and I still absolutely adore it; but I’ve actually given it to my boyfriend to wear so I can still smell it whilst wearing my others. It suits him down to the ground and lasts all day on his skin. Diptyque fragrances are also all unisex, although I don’t buy into such nonsense …it’s a smell, as long as it suits you and you love it, just wear it!

Buying niche and luxury fragrances

I know that these aren’t cheap (trust me, I KNOW), but I really do think fragrances are something worth investing in (I have genuinely spent a total of £330 on these three over the years). There is some absolute shite out there in the fragrance world, with so many lazily designed, recycled ideas, so much overpricing, so many cheap formulations and imitations. These three fragrances are the best of the best in terms of quality, uniqueness and artistry, but I didn’t just trip and fall on them, I had to look.

The first step is obviously to find out what you like. I began this by spending an long time in Liberty’s fragrance section a few years back smelling everything, thinking about what I liked and I didn’t. Both of my grandmothers and my mum had awesome fragrance collections, so I was already firm on some likes and dislikes, and I had been given a few mass market perfumes as gifts in my teens (Clinique/Chanel etc), but it was good (and fun!) to have a look for myself, without necessarily looking to buy. Whenever I smell something I love, I douse myself in it and leave the store. If I’m in the right place financially to potentially invest, I go back three or four more different times and spray it again. As a result of freebie hunters, you might find a lot of resistance when you ask for a sample (I bloody do, is it just me?) although with the rise in online shopping I think it’s getting easier. If you can get a sample, do that instead, but if not, and you truly love a scent, keep going back until you either don’t like it anymore, or you cannot stop thinking about it. Then it’s time to think about buying. You don’t have to buy from somewhere like Liberty, and it is possible to get luxury fragrances on sitewide sales like on Feelunique. But you’ll struggle to do that with niche fragrances, which is why it’s so important to make sure you are head over heels in love with it before you buy.