Any mystical mind probably already knows “the wand chooses the wizard” but what about perfume? What supernatural forces are at play when it comes to divining the scents we’ll vibe best with?
With the world feeling heavier, searches for all things occult, esoteric and spiritual have grown as a place for us to escape to. See, for example: witchtok; an outpost on TikTok where users can gather to discuss everything from how to determine whether they’re a witch, to beginner spells. The same feeling emerged after the world wars which saw a boom in supernatural literature. Fortune tellers took off as clients sought out their prophecies, and amulets were worn or carried to offer protection and to ward off evil.
It feels, now more than ever, that scent can offer up its own invisible amulet thanks to its ability to comfort, soothe and reignite nostalgia. Likewise, fragrance can shift your mood according to the notes and aura it projects. When you find a scent you click with, it can bolster strength, conjure creativity, or transport you to another place entirely. That’s magic right there.
However, is it possible we can get in our own way when it comes to finding “the one”? If you take away marketing and packaging, if you discard the traditional “scent families” you’d normally fall into, if you listen to your psyche and give a whole spectrum of scents a chance…who knows what might happen?
That’s exactly the approach that Joy Isaacs, founder of Argentum Apothecary, has taken with her scent wardrobe. I visited her store in Notting Hill, along with our beauty writer, Shei, to sit down for a fragrance reading to see what it unearthed. For context, Shei is a fragrance connoisseur. She’ll layer up the most boujee, mysterious concoction so she never smells like anyone else. Meanwhile, I routinely reject most fragrances that cross my path and struggle to connect with them, given that they sit so closely and intimately on my skin. It means I rotate the same handful of scents on repeat.
When we arrive, the store feels modern and clean and the monochrome black bottles that neatly line the shelves encircling the shop add order and mystery in equal parts. In the centre of the floor, a small seating area flanks a circular table where, already, there’s a fragrance wheel waiting, holding 13 scents. Beside it, sits Joy, who welcomes us in, offers us a menu of herbal teas and introduces us to the fragrance reading. Given its ancient and mystical concept, you’d be forgiven for expecting a witchy figure, dressed in head to toe velvet. Instead, Joy – dressed smartly in a black top and trousers, with voluminous auburn collarbone-length hair and a soft, lilting South African accent – is a very modern empath. Her career saw her weave through finance, HR and marketing before the idea for her skincare and fragrance brand came to her in a dream.