Illustration by Izzy Ryan.

Illustration by Izzy Ryan.

Anyone who has been spritzed as they walked past a fragrance counter knows what perfume is all about, but what makes a fragrance someone’s signature scent? It’s easy to recognize, but much harder to define. It’s the scent we instantly associate with a parent, grandparent, paramour, or close friend; it’s a smell that makes us smile and reminisce. To find out how a person discovers their signature scent, I asked some of the people I admire most—and who also happen to smell the nicest—how and why they chose their own favorite fragrances.

Mrs. Casady, IB English teacher. Our bond over Annie Dillard’s prose and Doc Martens made me curious about her fragrance of choice.

ALYZON ZETTA: Do you have a signature scent?

MRS. CASADY: I don’t think I have a signature scent.

If you had one, what would it be?

It would be some kind of fruit or flower. But nothing too strong. I don’t want to sneeze when I put it on.

That’s surprising, I definitely thought you would be more of a…

You think I’m a patchouli girl?!? I’m NOT a patchouli girl!

Maybe not patchouli…I don’t know, something very, um…



Probably not. I don’t like things that smell like a chemical, though. That’s toxic. That’s why I gravitate toward things that smell like a fruit or a flower. Like jasmine.

Yeah, there we go. I feel like you’re revealing your softer side to me.

My inner flower?

[Laughs] Yes.

Honeysuckle—I like the smell of honeysuckle.

See, I knew it was in there. Do you remember what your mom smelled like, or your grandma?

My mom wore Shalimar [by Guerlain]. And my grandma smelled like a shop full of china dolls.


She would just collect all these dolls—these little, weird dolls—and then she would take them all out and put them in this huge cabinet. When you opened up the cabinet there was a waft of porcelain doll coming at you.