Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing something unprecedented – fragrances! As it turns out, I realised that many Singaporean males actually buy and wear fragrances on a regular basis. Coupled with the fact that there are several homegrown brands specialising in fragrances, I decided to branch out into perfume reviews as well!
For my maiden review, I shall be reviewing a whole host of perfumes from local fragrances label, Singapore Memories. They sent me 8 different perfumes to review, and I’ll be giving my layman’s opinion on them later on below. I’m incredibly excited about this, so let’s get started with the article!
Update: I’m pleased to list a curation of Singapore Memories perfumes on my new web-store, The Shiok Shop.
Singapore Memories – the Brand
To delve deeper into the brand, I sat down with the founder of Je t’aime Perfumery (the parent company of Singapore Memories, as well as Perfume Workshop), Mrs. Prachi Saini Garg for a quick interview.
Tell us more about Singapore memories as a brand, how it was started and what it hopes to achieve.
SM: We would like to be the leading souvenir manufacturer in Singapore. When people think of Singapore, most automatically think of Orchids. There are lot of Orchid products out there, but none actually has its smell. This led me to researching if Orchids have scent at all. Surprisingly, I found a long list of Fragrant orchids. Some of what we found are here- https://www.perfumeworkshop.com/perfumeoilorchid.html. Most of them are native species of Singapore, which grew in wild forest before Singapore became a concrete jungle. Now they are confined to gardens and parks.
How many sprays would you recommend for perfumes, and at where?
SM: Spray and location of spray depend on the weather. If you are in winter in Japan, you may need to spray 3-4 times and on warm areas of your body (pulse points- wrist, behind ears etc). This is because the perfume will not evaporate in cold winters and need body-warmth.
However, if you are in warm climate, like Singapore, never put perfume on warm parts of body. Here the room temperature is very high and perfume doesn’t need additional body-warmth. If you put the perfume on pulse-point, it will evaporate fast and it’s a waste of expensive perfume.
In your opinion, what should consumers look out for in a perfume? What separates a quality perfume from a sub-par one?
SM: Find something personal. Something that makes you remember a good time.
Smell and memories are processed by same part of the brain. It is important to find a scent that brings you happy memories. Don’t buy expensive perfume, just a nice one!
Could you elaborate on the crafting process behind the making of your perfumes?
SM: It was a very long (5+ years) of work. We first found orchids that worked for us and turned them into perfumes. Then came customer feedback, which took another year or so.
The perfumes were of course designed by me and 2 other perfumers. One from Europe and 1 from India.
Lastly, which of the various Singapore themed perfumes is your personal favourite?
SM: My personal favourite is “Orchids by the Bay”. Vanda and Girl and very popular amongst Singaporeans but I prefer “Orchids by the Bay” the most.
Singapore Memories – Review
Before I give my opinions on the various perfumes of Singapore Memories, I must state a disclaimer – I don’t have any background knowledge of perfumery. I’m not a trained perfumer, have not undergone any courses on fragrances, etc. My opinions and ratings stems from a layman’s perspective and my personal enjoyment of the various perfumes, which of course is subjective to my individual taste.
With that stated, let’s get on with the review!
First up, we have the award winning Aranda 1965.
As aforementioned, the Aranda 1965 is one of the crown jewels in Singapore Memories’ vast array of perfumes, having been awarded the title of “Most innovative product & fragrance” by Beauty Insider. According to the brand, the masculine Aranda 1965 “generate lasting enthusiasm and is the scent of achievers”. In crafting the Aranda 1965, the brand took inspiration from the Aranda family of Orchids, and is dedicated to the visionary leaders of Singapore’s past who took Singapore from where it was after independence in 1965 to where it is today – hence the name.
The Aranda 1965 comes across as complex. To me, the key differentiating factor between cheap perfume (you know, those sold at Zara/Pull & Bear/beauty shops) and quality ones is how dimensional the scent is. The scent of the Aranda 1965 comes across as layered – it’s masculine, floral, yet also with a hint of citrus fruits (especially orange) in it for lightness. Out of all the perfumes Singapore Memories sent me, the Aranda 1965 is perhaps the one that I’ll pick as the one to wear everyday, due to its versatile scent that makes it suitable for almost every occasion. I love its rich and intoxicating smell, and it’s just a very pleasant perfume overall. Rating: 9/10.
Some trivia: Singapore is actually located one degree north of the Equator (which incidentally makes it perfect to grow orchids here), with the fact giving this perfume its name!
According to the brand, the One Degree North is “created to celebrate the Native Orchids, Equatorial Rain and Fresh Breeze that other fresh-goodness comes along with it”. The perfume also has “timeless notes of variety of orchids, combined with refined new-age notes of Sea-Salt and Aqua, topped with joyful Citrus”. Whilst the Aranda 1965 was described as the perfume of choice for leaders, the One Degree North is positioned as the perfect scent for “a carefree man, an explorer and a voyager”.
As compared to the Aranda 1965, the One Degree North is definitely lighter, with a subtler scent. The main notes I got from this perfume were sea salt and lemon, and it immediately conjures the smell of a sea breeze one might experience when walking by the beach. However, it did come across as a tad more one dimensional, and did not smell as complex as the Aranda 1965 did. The One Degree North will probably be something refreshing I spray on when going out with friends, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. Rating: 7/10.
Next, we have the Reves de Singapour, which means “Dreams of Singapore” in French.
A revival of the Reves de Singapour perfume of old (then made by Lancome for women in 1983), the Singapore Memories Reves de Singapour is the brand’s take on that iconic scent. According to the brand, the Reves de Singapour is resembles its namesake closely, but now with a dash of orchid: “Your perfume now starts with delicate notes of Singaporean Orchids and slowly evolves into a complex rich-woods. A dash of resins and tinge of spice, to remember the past, but nothing heady.”
The first notes that hits me from the Reves de Singapour is spice. The spice hits you like a punch, and one can definitely get hints of cinnamon and nutmeg from this perfume. Thereafter, there’s woody scent in the heart and base notes. It evokes the experience of walking down a Turkish or Moroccan market – it’s an exotic perfume. It’s a perfume that makes one feel sexy, for the lack of a better description. However, it is definitely a less versatile perfume than the Aranda 1965 or the One Degree North – this will probably be something one sprays on before a date, or perhaps a love-making session. Rating: 7/10.
Oud is one of the most popular types of perfume on the market today, and also one of the most expensive. Oud is commonly regarded as the most expensive wood in the world, and as such Oud perfumes tend to be on the pricier side.
According to the brand, the Peranakan Oud “celebrates the unique aromas of the Peranakan culture.” To do so, the fragrance “takes the classic Oud and makes it slightly soft with Tonka bean, Praline and Green Tobacco leaves.” Described as the heart of Singapore Memories’ collection, the Peranakan Oud is supposed to “speak directly to the senses, with sobriety and intensity.”
The Peranakan Oud is a strong, intense perfume. It really packs a punch, more so than the aforementioned perfumes. Like the Reves de Singapour, the first notes that I got were spice, spice, and then more spice. Given that spice is a big part of Peranakan culture, the scent definitely befitted its name. Afterwards, the distinctive woody, musky smell of Oud penetrates through. I definitely got hints of tobacco as well. This is where it becomes “love it or hate it”. I would say that Oud is an acquired preference, akin to say black coffee or cigars. If you’re someone who loves deep, sober scents, the Peranakan Oud would speak to you. Otherwise, the perfume might be a tad too overpowering, especially if you are just venturing into the world of fragrances. That being said, as far as Oud perfumes go, the Peranakan Oud is definitely interesting due to the addition of Peranakan spices – which gives it a lighter note than most Oud perfumes – and tobacco, and it is on this basis that I give my rating. It’s also relatively affordable for a Oud perfume! Rating: 7.5/10.
If the Peranakan Oud is not your cup of tea, you can consider the Orient!
The Orient is a perfume that Singapore Memories engineered to conjure up the beauty of Asia. To do so, the brand added Agarwood, Sandalwood, Neroli, Rose, Champaka and other Asian flowers to develop a concoction that smells distinctively oriental.
In many senses (pun intended), the Orient serves as the yin to the yang to the Peranakan Oud. It is a very versatile scent, something that I feel almost anyone can spray on and pull off. It is floral, light, but with a slight woody undertone for some depth. It’s also something familiar – imagine the smell of a Bali massage parlor, or perhaps the toilet of an atas hotel. Personally, it’s not my favourite due to its relatively simple olfactory profile, but it’s perfect for an everyday perfume that everyone in the family (both the guys and the ladies) can share. Rating: 7/10
The Singapore Girl was awarded the “Best Fragrance for Her” award by Beauty Insider, so I had high hopes for this one!
The original Singapore Girl was a highly popular perfume in the 1970s, which has since been discontinued. In its heyday, the Singapore Girl perfume was sold in virtually all major departmental store, and even sold on board the airplanes of Singapore Airlines! In 2016, Singapore Memories introduced their own version of the Singapore Girl, which they state is near identical to the original fragrance.
Whilst I’ve never smelt the original rendition, I really like the Singapore Memories’ version of the Singapore Girl. Its olfactory notes are intricate, and the combination just draws you in. One gets citrus for the top notes (lemon probably), which evolves into a floral, woody scent. More so than the others, the Singapore Girl smells vintage – it takes me back to my childhood, where its scent reminds me of what my mother used to put on in the late 90s/early 2000s. That being said, I wouldn’t say that the Singapore Girl is solely restricted to females. I love the gender fluidness of perfume, where the homme/femme labels are merely suggestions, not restrictions. Personally, I would spray the Singapore Girl on in a heartbeat, especially if I was dressed up in something a little more dapper/retro (like this double breasted vest, for instance) before heading off for a Manhattan at a jazz bar nearby. Rating: 9/10.
Moving on, we have the Vanda 1981, named after the Vanda Miss Joaquim flower which was crowned Singapore’s national flower back in 1981.
As aforementioned, the Vanda 1981 perfume leverages heavily on the scent on Vanda flowers for its perfumery notes. According to the brand, the Vanda 1981 is a “mischievous yet gentle perfume, for a smart and curious lady, ready to explore the world.”
Unfortunately, I’ll have to say that I enjoyed the Vanda 1981 the least. A large part was due to its one-dimensional notes, whereby all I smelt was floral. There’s a strong jasmine scent in the top notes – it reminded me of opening a bottle of Heaven & Earth jasmine green tea. Afterwards, the remaining notes were still floral, bringing to mind the olfactory experience of walking through the Botanic Gardens. It’s definitely a pleasant perfume that I would have no hesitation spraying on if I want to smell fresh, but it definitely won’t be my pick of the bunch. Nevertheless, if you like light floral perfumes, you should definitely still check the Vanda 1981 out! Rating: 6/10.
Last but not least, we have the Orchids by the Bay, which founder Mrs Prachi revealed earlier to be her personal favourite out of the lot!
Singapore Memories state that the Orchids by the Bay perfume is a “beautiful and unique style of exploring the freshness of bay-winds echoing with the delicate Orchids.” Its scent is supposed to conjure life’s simple pleasures, such as “a siesta on the beach or walking at night on the beach.”
First off, I love the appearance of the Orchid by the Bay perfume – look at that blue/green/yellow colour gradient! It looks like one of those Taiwanese rainbow teas. In terms of scent, it is a joy to the senses. It smells like a combination of the One Degree North, and the Vanda 1981 – I get the salt notes that the One Degree North possesses, as well as the orchid, floral notes of the Vanda 1981. It’s a really interesting and layered scent, and I must say it actually does bring to mind the smells of walking down the beach. I can see why it’s Mrs. Prachi’s favourite! Rating: 9/10.
Conclusion – so Singapore Memories “shiok” or not?
Definitely. You guys know how much I love supporting local brands – this entire website is dedicated to that – and I love it when homegrown brands unabashedly pay homage to their local roots. Singapore Memories has a nice variety of perfume available, all at very affordable prices. My personal favourites are the Aranda 1965, the Singapore Girl, and the Orchids by the Bay. The Aranda 1965 makes for a great everyday perfume to the office, with the Singapore Girl being a nice exotic option for a night out whilst the lighter Orchids by the Bay is perfect for a weekend out with friends. Lastly, I have to shout out the Peranakan Oud too – it’s very affordable for an Oud perfume, yet still possessing some unique characteristics. To be honest, I find the perfumes by Singapore Memories to smell much more unique than those from the aforementioned big brands, which tend to possess similar olfactory notes in order to cater to the mass market. In addition, the perfumes would make for great gifts as well (especially for overseas friends) and won’t put a hole in your pocket!
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant readers 10% off! After the discount, an 18ml EDT costs $25, the 18ml EDP $34, while the 100ml EDT bottle can be had for just $115! That’s a great value proposition, especially when you compare Singapore Memories to the prices of the big brands (A&F Fierce, Ralph Lauren Polo Blue, Versace Dylan Blue, etc) or even some of the other local brands.
Update: A curation of my favourite Singapore Memories perfumes can also be purchased on The Shiok Shop.
View the full range of Singapore Memories’ products here.
Mrs. Prachi also conducts her own perfume workshops for those that would like to try their hand at making their own perfume! It’s a great idea for a date, or a team bonding session. For those that are interested, I chronicled my experience undergoing one of their perfume workshops here!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!