Coming up smelling of roses

THE Beckhams have done it, and so have Paris, Britney, Coleen and even Katie Price.

Every pop princess and semi-famous actress, sporting hero and supermodel, from Kylie to Hannah Montana, Peter Andre to Usher.

These days you're no-one unless you're pictured looking sultry and sexy, clutching a bottle of your very own bespoke perfume.

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Of course, if you don't fancy wafting into Tigerlily smelling of Eau de Kim Kardashian or Victoria Beckham, then there are plenty of other sweet or citrus, musky or flowery, heady or light unguents to choose from in a UK fragrance industry worth around 640 million a year.

Every year, around 200 new perfumes are launched on to fragrance shelves that are already heaving with products, whether it's top-end French designer labels, to cheap and cheerful offerings from footballers' wives Coleen Rooney and Alex Curran, or Heat magazine celebs like Chanelle Hayes and Kerry Katona.

As the final countdown to Christmas starts, perfume counters are today braced for one of the busiest shopping days of the year, when gift boxes and aftershaves, expensive bottles of Chanel No5 and, yes, even bargain celebrity offerings will disappear off the shelves.

But what if you want something more original, such as a signature scent that no-one else can claim as their own?

"No woman wants to walk in a room and find three women wearing the same dress as she is," says Edinburgh-based aromatherapy and perfume expert Alison MacColl.

"It's the same with perfume. We like to have something unique that matches our personality and makes us feel good."

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She has been designing bespoke fragrances for clients of her complimentary health and aromatherapy business for around six years. Many of them are now so hooked on their own personal eau de parfum that they return time and again for refills and often go on to create their own bespoke perfume range for evening and for daytime.

"First, I ask clients to tell me their top three perfumes and I look at the basic key ingredients in each," explains Alison, left. "Quite often people may think their favourites are completely different, yet they actually contain similar ingredients.

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"Then we sample different aromas until we find the right one. It's not about recreating a perfume, it's about combining different 'notes' to make something unique."

There's more to perfume than simply smelling nice, she stresses. For the whiff of a familiar fragrance can send our minds reeling back in time.

"Scent can evoke nostalgic memories for years to come," she explains. "The area of the mind where the memory is held is the same part that processes smells and it's where emotions are held. It's why a smell can trigger a very strong emotional memory."

Susan Kynoch, of the networking organisation PA Exchange, says the bespoke perfume she created with Alison is unlike any other fragrance.

"It's completely individual which means it's very special. It's been made for you, to exactly what you like."

She asked Alison to create a unisex fragrance suitable for her members - business professionals, personal assistants, and office managers. "We tried a lot of combinations and then found exactly the right one," she says. "It's a fantastic idea."

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Alison MacColl runs individual and group perfume sessions. For details go to or call 0131-334 1311. You can also create your own scent at Jo Malone, on George Street,