The Universal Layer : Lalique Amethyst

Today Elisa talks about her most versatile layering perfumes and gives examples on how to create layering combinations. For more tips and information on layering, see How to Layer Perfumes (Part 1 and Part 2) here at Bois de Jasmin or “Adventures in Perfume Layering” at Open Letters Monthly.

Layering is a controversial practice among perfumistas. Some question why you’d disrupt the experience of a presumably complete work of art – isn’t that like hanging a Calder mobile in front of a Pollock painting? But I’ve found that the nose isn’t capable of appreciating every single material present in a perfume at once; we tend to experience it as a whole, a single smell, and that opens up possibilities. Much as you might need to layer two lipsticks to find your perfect red, layering two (or more) perfumes sometimes produces a better – or at least appealingly different – scent experience.

orchids

Lalique Amethyst is one of those perfumes that I like in theory but rarely wear in practice. Like Rosabotanica, it’s mostly a great set of top notes (blackcurrant and rose) without much of a base. Its simplicity is what makes it both a little unsatisfying on its own and one of my favorite layering perfumes. Naturally, it’s nice for bringing out more rose and blackcurrant in perfumes where those notes are already present (as in Moschino Funny!). But I was surprised to discover that it’s truly a shapeshifter in pairings; it layers pleasantly with almost anything and it’s nearly impossible to predict what the combination will smell like!


Lalique-Amethyst

Amethyst + Paloma Picasso EDT

Initially, this combination smells like an entirely new perfume, somehow conjuring a powdery honey accord similar to the one in Love, Chloé. The Amethyst knocks some of the husk out of Paloma’s voice, and the end result smells less like a typical hard-edged ‘80s chypre and more like really good floral soap.

Amethyst + Estée Lauder White Linen

The green notes in Amethyst smell almost minty in some contexts (geranium?), and aldehydes can also have a cold effect, like ice-frosted glass. Amethyst brings White Linen’s rose garden accord to the fore and makes it even chillier and more pink-cheeked.

Amethyst + Dolce & Gabbana The One

The most surprising of the combos I’ve tried, this layering transforms The One (a vanilla-forward oriental with lactonic florals) into a pretty fruity-floral. In The One, Amethyst seems to have found the base it was meant to have!

Photography (top image) by Bois de Jasmin

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68 Comments

  • Katy McReynolds: Interesting. I love to layer as well, mostly because my skin tends to absorb fragrances and by layering I give longevity to perfumes that wimp out on me in the base. I have a jasmine and coconut lotion I wear under all my white florals. I wear a lily scented lotion under my lily fragrances. My recent layering experiments include Bvlgari Black with SL Chergui, Bvlgari Black with Givenchy Pi, the original Lolita Lempicka with Angel EDP. This last combo sweetening the dirty patchouli base of Angel. I had never thought to layer the Paloma Picasso…. I will have to give it a go! Once I tried EL Aromatic Elixir with Habanita–I do not recommend this! I am not sure what I was hoping to accomplish. Epic fail. May 29, 2014 at 7:52am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks for your sharing your fave combos! Black + Chergui sounds fab — but it’s in the high 80s here today, so I might have to wait to try that one out! May 29, 2014 at 8:47am Reply

    • silverdust: Katy, so glad to meet a kindred spirit. Most everything disappears on me as well. I don’t have overly dry skin, so part of me suspects that it’s the scent industry either cutting $$ corners in making lasting fragrances or the nanny-state regulatory boards putting the kibosh on premium ingredients.

      With the popularity of dry-oil sprays, more possibilities open up for layering. It’s not a possibility on rain-forest-weather-type days in Virginia, but dry-oil sprays go a long way into stretching a little longevity into today’s perfumes. May 29, 2014 at 11:38am Reply

      • Victoria: I hope Elisa will forgive me for butting in, but you’ve asked me a question about longevity in our contest’s thread, and I’m sorry, I forgot to answer there.

        If you notice that perfumes don’t last on you, try asking someone else to see if they can still detect them. We often get used to our own scents, and some people’s noses adapt much quicker than other’s. So, just ask your friend or work colleague if they can smell anything. It’s also a good tactic to select perfumes with appropriate sillage for different situations.

        Or let me know which perfumes or brands you’re having trouble with. I find that some of the most expensive niche perfumes are the ones that leave the least trace on my skin. Hermessences, I’m looking at you. May 29, 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

        • Elisa: Thank you for jumping in V!

          Another possibility is a musk anosmia. Since musk is such a common base note, if you can’t smell the musk, you’ll smell nothing once the top notes fade. If that’s the case you could try wearing more oriental-leaning scents with woods/vanilla/amber in the base. May 29, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

      • Katy McReynolds: Silverdust, I live in Virginia too! In South Eastern Virginia to be precise. May 30, 2014 at 1:08am Reply

    • Malmaison: Hi Katy, Black with Chergui sounds amazing and it’s winter here on he other side of the world so I’m going to try it out today! Can I ask what the jasmine and coconut lotion is? I have a similar problem with fragrance duration and am always looking for a good extender (though I guess as per the comments below that could be a musk anosmia too). May 29, 2014 at 4:05pm Reply

      • Elisa: I was wondering about that lotion too! May 29, 2014 at 5:47pm Reply

        • Katy McReynolds: The jasmine and coconut lotion is from Margot Elena’s line for Target Apotheke:M. There is a fabulous shower gel too! Very reasonable and just heavenly smelling! I also use the lavender and chamomile body butter from the Body Shop under Caron Pour Un Homme and Pacifica’s Tahitian Vanilla lotion is great layered with Bvlgari Black and with Prada Candy. May 30, 2014 at 1:04am Reply

          • Elisa: Nice, I need to make a Target run this weekend, I’ll look for it! May 30, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

  • Mals86: I don’t usually layer perfumes – I think I’m just lazy, can’t be bothered to try combinations. But I do notice that some of my body products, usually the cheapish things from Bath and Body Works or The Body Shop, work wonderfully under fragrances. Could be because the body products are usually more simple, just a few notes.

    I like B&BW Moonlight Path under No. 5. TBS Moroccan Rose body butter is really wonderful with No. 19, bringing its rose note to the front. May 29, 2014 at 9:01am Reply

    • Elisa: I think that’s key as well — simple stuff is very easy to layer, less ways to go wrong! That Moroccan Rose scent from The Body Shop is great. I also really like the Persian Rose scent from Pacifica. May 29, 2014 at 9:04am Reply

    • Melissa: Yes — those inexpensive, linear scents are perfect. I bought The Body Shop Chocomania EDT unsniffed because I like the body products, and found it much less chocolatey than I anticipated. It smells more like nutty caramel, maybe, but mostly it just smells like “warm and sweet.” At first I was disappointed, but I ended up getting way more wear out of it as a nice cozy layer to winterize summer perfumes than I ever would have gotten out of a true chocolate. May 29, 2014 at 9:06am Reply

      • Elisa: My favorite body butters right now are the Honey and Shea scents. I always have a couple of tubs in the house. May 29, 2014 at 9:10am Reply

      • Merlin: Melissa, I have the body oil and butter of chocomania. Which scents do you like to layer it with? I haven’t had much success so any ideas would be helpful! May 29, 2014 at 11:37am Reply

        • Melissa: I like it for adding a sweeter touch to rich scents — a few sprays of Chocomania and a little dab of Coco was my brunch vibe over this winter — or for making springy little florals warmer — I’ve had pleasant results with Lush’s Ginger and Orange Blossom and Marni by Marni. May 29, 2014 at 4:37pm Reply

          • Merlin: Thank you so much. I do have a little bottle of Coco which I like very much but find that it can be a touch severe. I’m going to try this trick tomorrow:) May 29, 2014 at 4:54pm Reply

    • Jillie: Hi Mals! I like TBS body butters too and put on the peach under PdN’s L’Eau a la Folie. I suppose it’s not really layering but amping up the mango note and making it last longer. May 29, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

  • WJ: Very interesting.
    I never layer. I have too much perfume to go through as it is, but I love reading about these ideas. May 29, 2014 at 9:08am Reply

    • Elisa: Well, theoretically you could go through twice as much perfume if you layered every day … 🙂 May 29, 2014 at 9:10am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I usually don’t layer perfumes either, mainly because I’m too lazy to make experiments. The only two combos I wear regularly are Lumiere Blanche with Dzongkha (which I mostly add in the evening) and Byredo 1996 with Iris Silver Mist (to amp up the iris notes) May 29, 2014 at 9:53am Reply

    • Elisa: I often try combos on paper first, so I don’t have to scrub up if it doesn’t work.

      Usually when I layer, it’s because I put something on and then feel unsatisfied. I rarely layer my favorite perfumes. May 29, 2014 at 9:56am Reply

      • rainboweyes: Me too! I love Lumiere Blanche but I mostly wear in late summer when evenings become chilly, so layering it with the spicier Dzongkha makes sense to me.
        1996, though, is one of the scents that I’m not 100% happy with. I love the opening and the heart notes but the drydown is way too warm to me – it must be the amber and vanilla – so my attempt to make it less cosy is adding a splash of cold, metallic iris. May 29, 2014 at 1:45pm Reply

        • rainboweyes: I also had a problem with Eau d’Italie Sienne d’Hiver, I found it a bit too masculine. So I mixed it with Montale Chocolate Greedy and voila – it turned out great! May 29, 2014 at 1:49pm Reply

          • Elisa: Oh how interesting! I’ve always thought orris and chocolate have something in common. (This is exploited in Tauer’s limited edition Dark Passage, which I love.) May 29, 2014 at 2:02pm Reply

  • Andy: At the risk of sounding stodgy, I’ll admit that I don’t ever layer—intentionally. But, sometimes I’ll put something on and realize that I actually wanted to wear something else, and so I’ll end up with my skin wafting two scents in different places. Such was the case last night when I had on encre noire, and realized after an hour or two that Angel Taste of Fragrance was what I really wanted. The resulting combination brought out the hazelnut aspects of the vetiver in Encre Noire, which nicely complemented the Angel’s chocolate. Almost like some sort of weird Nutella perfume. If only I could muster the nerve to start layering, your combinations sound excellent and make it seem really fun! May 29, 2014 at 10:07am Reply

    • Merlin: I very often do this too. I think of it as wearing complementary scents rather than as layering. I like it because it maintains the integrity of both perfumes and allows one to enjoy them alternately! May 29, 2014 at 10:14am Reply

    • Elisa: Nutella accord! That sounds simply fantastic. I love the nutty aspect of vetiver and oud. May 29, 2014 at 10:18am Reply

  • Merlin: Some interesting ideas! The most powerful scent I have is Piguet’s Oud which is the smell of dark polished wood and a little severe. I sometimes layer it with Evening’s Edged in Gold to deepen EEG and make it slightly less sweet and have even more presence. I have also worn it, to good effect, with Tea Rose. It makes TR far less shrill and the TR also makes it more feminine. Tea Rose works quite nicely with Eau de Beaux as well:)

    Iv found that the problem with layering is that the combined scent often has no personality at all, rather than being an interesting hybrid. When one finds two scents that really can make a distinctive third, its like gold! May 29, 2014 at 10:13am Reply

    • Elisa: Tea Rose is awesome for layering! I layered it with Coriandre once and it morphed into the most beautiful rose chypre, similar to L’Arte di Gucci.

      I need to get some Eau de Beaux so I can try that combo! May 29, 2014 at 10:20am Reply

      • Merlin: With Eau de Beaux it forms a nice rosy amber:) I don’t have Coriandre but your recommendation gave me an idea and I have just tried Halston Z-14 with Tea Rose and am totally loving the combo.

        I have quite a few masculines in my collection so tea rose works nicely to make them a little more femme. I remember reading somewhere that Kenzo’s Flower is also good at this role, so I must maybe look into that! May 29, 2014 at 11:11am Reply

        • Elisa: Flower is one of my all-time favorites!

          Clarins Par Amour is another good, simple rose that layers nicely with a lot of things. May 29, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I use sometimes two perfumes toghether (same effect as layering, i suppose). Some combinations are nice, like Shalimar and a light rose (Paris Première, Un Zest de Rose), L’Heure Bleue and Hiris, Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa and Trésor. May 29, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

    • Elisa: Those combinations sound very elegant! May 29, 2014 at 10:24am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Sorry, Paris Printemps May 30, 2014 at 4:58am Reply

  • Bastet: I love to layer and have really enjoyed reading the wonderful ideas in this article and the comments.

    Two of my favorite combinations are Angel plus SL Clair de Musc, which seems to soften the Angel and make it more friendly (BS White Musk works well here too); and Infusion d’Iris with No. 19 (recommended by Victoria, I believe). May 29, 2014 at 12:16pm Reply

    • Elisa: I need to find a basic musk for layering. Clair de Musc is on my to-try list! May 29, 2014 at 12:24pm Reply

      • Bastet: I use CdM most often to enrich the musk in other perfumes, but its also great alone. May 29, 2014 at 12:31pm Reply

  • The Perfumed Veil: I just layered TF Noir de Noir and Euphoria. I didn’t like the Noir today so I wanted to change its character and this did the trick. May 29, 2014 at 12:20pm Reply

    • Elisa: Ooh! That sounds like a powerhouse combo. I find Noir de Noir smells very different on different days and in different weather. Some days it’s more rosy and some days it’s just a big patchouli bomb. May 29, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

  • Jillie: You are giving me ideas! The only time I have ever layered was sort of accidentally when I sprayed on D by Diana von Furstenberg and found it almost too chypreish, so then spritzed some Annick Goutal Rose Absolue on top and thought the result was a little like Guerlain’s Parure! May 29, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Elisa: Adding rose to a chypre is almost never a bad idea. May 29, 2014 at 12:25pm Reply

  • leathermountain: Reading all these comments, not to mention Victoria’s inspiring pilgrimage to the Roses de Mai, I’m starting to think that adding rose to anything is almost never a bad idea. This also reminds me that I have heard that rose functions as a unifying note, and is at work in many scents that don’t bring rose consciously to mind. Is this true? And does it mean, in practice, something like geraniol and linalool? May 29, 2014 at 4:02pm Reply

    • Elisa: I think it is true! I often don’t perceive rose notes in complex blends as rose per se, but just kind of a pinkish hue. May 29, 2014 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Malmaison: One of the best layering combos I’ve ever tried is one I stole off someone on Fragrantica who layered Byredo’s Gypsy Water with CB Burning Leaves. This is a wonderfully evocative winter scent, completely different to either individually (and I love both perfumes) – less linear than Burning Leaves, more grounded than Gypsy Water. I’m terrible at coming up with ideas so love threads like this! May 29, 2014 at 4:10pm Reply

    • Elisa: Sounds fab! I love when the combined scent smells like something totally new. May 29, 2014 at 5:36pm Reply

  • MontrealGirl: How interesting! About a year ago I had a perfume sales lady telling me her favourite perfume was actually the combination of Lalique Perles and Lalique Amethyst! Either perfume on its own she did not like but the combination was unique and she insisted that the order in which she put it on made a difference too (first Perles, then Amethyst). I had to admit it smelled lovely and she was right but I never got any samples to try it out on myself. The only combination I’ve tried is Pure eVe from The Different Company (almond) with Aqua e Zucchero (sugar) from Profumum Roma. May 29, 2014 at 7:59pm Reply

    • Elisa: Oh wow! I don’t have any Perles — I wish I could try that out myself!

      This reminds me of SJP, reportedly always layering the same three perfumes. May 29, 2014 at 8:02pm Reply

  • Amer: the impression I have from the most commercially successful laliques (Encre Noire, White, Perles, Fleur de Cristal) are that they have the overdose of one note as a common trait. I don’t have any recent experience from Amethyst but judging from your description it seems to fall into the same category. I think all those I mentioned offer themselves for layering, and for the same reason. May 30, 2014 at 5:33am Reply

    • Elisa: Hm, yes, kind of the Jo Malone principle. May 30, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

      • Amer: minus the overpriced – transient nature factor June 1, 2014 at 1:40pm Reply

        • Elisa: True! I got my big bottle of Amethyst for something like $30. June 1, 2014 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Star Girl: Great post! I have a question for you and your readers. I have a bottle of Fendi Theorama. Based on the reviews, I thought it would be right up my alley. I like orange, but there’s a sickeningly sweet and artificial orange note in it that’s overwhelming and unbearable. I need something to layer it with to subdue it. I love the bottle but I can’t keep it just for that reason. Ladies, I’d appreciate your help. Thanks 🙂 May 30, 2014 at 7:50am Reply

    • Elisa: Oh, I love Theorema! I have a bottle or I’d try to take it off your hands. 🙂 Since it’s so well-loved and so hard to find, I bet you could sell or swap it for something attractive. But maybe you could try layering it with a leather perfume? May 30, 2014 at 10:55am Reply

      • Star Girl: Thanks Elisa. I’ll give it a try 🙂 June 1, 2014 at 3:24am Reply

  • Bookwyrmsmith: I like BBW Into the Wild products to underlayer Burberry Brit Sheer or YSL Baby Doll.
    A great combo I found was layering a whole lot of Lady Stetson with a spray or two of CDG Avignon . May 30, 2014 at 11:59am Reply

    • Elisa: You know I’ve never tried Lady Stetson? I wonder if I can find a drug store tester somewhere… May 30, 2014 at 3:57pm Reply

  • leathermountain: I tried it, inspired by your post. Thank you for that. I think I’d call it shingling rather than layering, because the overlap is partial: Many hours in Jungle L’Elephant started to try my patience, so I added Entre Naranjos, figuring that something in the general department of pomander and creamsicle should at least be pleasant. It is! I had been disappointed with my second testing of Entre Naranjos, finding it sharper and simpler than what my first impression of it suggested. Third time, shingled over Elephant, seems to be a charm. I had been intimidated by the endless array of permutations, but this is fun! May 30, 2014 at 3:55pm Reply

    • Elisa: Shingling! I like that concept! May 30, 2014 at 3:58pm Reply

  • Jennifer C: I’ve got a layering combo on today, kind of a subtle one. I decided to try layering Philosykos and Silences, and it works really well! Silences brings out the green aspects of Philosykos while slightly moderating the sweetness. May 30, 2014 at 4:22pm Reply

    • Elisa: Nice, I never would have thought of that! I bet it makes the Philosykos last longer too. Coincidentally, my husband wore Philosykos layered with Bulgari Black yesterday. May 30, 2014 at 4:24pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I don’t layer much either and I would never have thought of using Lalique Amethyst for layering but I am going to try the Lalique Amethyst with Dolce & Gabbana The One. That sounds like a fascinating pairing! I may get really creative with this! Thanks so much for the great suggestions. May 30, 2014 at 8:56pm Reply

    • Elisa: I hope you like it! May 31, 2014 at 1:05am Reply

  • Hannah: I’ve found that I really just like the opening of untitled by MMM, so I like to wear it with Tubereuse Criminelle and with Eau des Merveilles. May 9, 2015 at 5:10am Reply

  • Hope: I have been so greatly blessed by this site for years now as I slowly build my fragrance collection with better and more fulfilling choices. I belong to the mass of disappointed ladies who lost her signature scent upon Tova’s reformulation many years ago. Thanks to the information in these articles I now understand what happened and don’t feel as abandoned as I once did. A very pleasurable part of life was taken, and though I searched, nothing could fill my Tova’s shoes. But today, I truly enjoy my fragrance again! I have found so many perfumes that truly fulfill the cravings…. and the education from these writings has played a major factor in that happiness. 🙂 August 30, 2015 at 9:42pm Reply

  • Hope: About layering…
    I am a baby when it comes to these things, but I thought a couple of my unusual discoveries might prove interesting.
    I poured over the 4 and 5 star rating lists and chose samples based on the descriptions and have love-love-loved what I have purchased!
    Many times, receiving several new samples, due to overexcitement or simply wanting a little “more” I ended up wearing many perfumes at once, sometimes each at its own pulse point, sometimes everything all over. This produced a deep incense feel which I adore.

    Three neat discoveries:
    1) At first Bvlgari Black (now one of my favorite stand-alones) was so shocking, I didn’t know how to pull it off. So, I topped it with Pink Sugar. Intoxicating!
    2) A la Nuit– just no. Out of probably 20 I tried and fell in love with, this one left alone made and still makes me cringe. I tried to get the fragrance to fade, but decided maybe I could cover it. Bvlgari Black doubled up over this transformed it into something beautiful on my skin.
    3) I just knew I was supposed to like Aromatic Elixir, but it felt like it was beating me in the head (even though Knowing fit fine!)… AE took persistence, but now I love its salty sour notes and reach for it often. I had this over my heart and on a whim put Eau de Tommi Sooni II on my wrists. The dry down for that one smells to me of rising cinnamon rolls ready to go in the oven. It is addicting, the contrast between AE and the spicy sweetness of TS or sometimes Eau Absolue by Mona di Orio (tenacious)! I am smelling my wrist all day!

    Again, thank you and Victoria and the other authors for renewing my hope in the fragrance arena. A missing part of me is restored. August 30, 2015 at 10:22pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you for sharing, Hope! I think Black + Pink Sugar sounds fabulous 🙂 August 31, 2015 at 8:44am Reply

  • black men: Hi.
    I need to find a basic musk for layering. Clair de Musc is on my to-try list! March 6, 2017 at 5:33pm Reply

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