Alison McGill of Weddingbells chats perfume

Alison McGill of Weddingbells chats perfume

We spoke to the scent-loving editor-in-chief about her favourite fragrances, from bridal bouquets to the sea air of Edinburgh.


We long ago noticed the opinion, talent and gorgeous red locks of Alison McGill, editor-in-chief of Weddingbells Magazine. So of course, we were thrilled when we discovered she was a kindred spirit when it came to perfume. So we’re sharing…

Q: What is your favourite smell of summer?

ALISON MCGILL: I love late spring/early summer days when lilacs linger in the air, and breezes are light, crisp and fresh. Another favourite smell of the season is strawberries. Local berries are my absolute favourite and nothing smells like summer quite like a bowl of fresh-picked ones drizzled in balsamic vinegar and garnished with mint from the my garden.

Q: I’m sure you’ve considered many wedding-bouquet flowers in your time at Weddingbells Magazine. What do you think are the best smelling wedding flowers?

MCGILL: There are so many amazing ones I love…I think having a gorgeous looking and smelling bouquet and flowers for your wedding day is integral. Peonies, lily of the valley and stephanotis are three I particularly love. I also adore lavender in a bouquet. Fresh or dried blooms work equally well and the scent is a calming one which can help settle any wedding day jitters.


Q: How did you pick your own wedding day fragrance?

MCGILL: My wedding day fragrance was Cartier Le Baiser Du Dragon. I wanted a scent that was exotic and exclusive, and this heady blend of patchouli, vetiver, Bulgarian rose and gardenia was my perfect match. I actually met with a nose or fragrance expert who helped me find this gem. She considered my wedding style, my personality and my everyday fragrance loves to guide me towards my wedding scent.

Q: You named a few of your favourite cities for us; how significant is their scent in your memory and love of them?

MCGILL: Some of my travel spots definitely have specific scent memories for me. Edinburgh smells vaguely of the sea and has a fresh, clean air that’s quite remarkable for a city. I always associate Jo Malone Blackberry Bay with the city and the Scottish highlands as that was the fragrance I was wearing on my last trip there in 2014.

Though I love cities, I am a country girl at heart and I love smell of pure, clean air, there’s nothing more soothing or refreshing to me. One the most treasured spots I’ve visited in recent years is Ballyfin Demense, an opulent 20-room Relais & Chateaux property in the Irish midlands, about 90 minutes outside of Dublin. The smell of grass, crisp mountain air, and the incredible aromas from the property’s cutting garden, veggie patch and orchard are magnificent.

JoMalone_PomegranateNoirQ: How many fragrances do you have in your regular rotation?

MCGILL: I currently have quite a few fragrances in rotation and never wear the same fragrance back to back. I like to spritz on a new one every morning, and if I’m going out at night, a different scent for evening as well. Currently in my rotation, lots of Jo Malone: Tudor Rose, Sea Salt & Wood Sage, Red Roses, 154, Incense & Cedrat, Orris & Sandalwood, Midnight Tea from the new Rare Teas collection.

Other favourite fragrances: Tom Ford Black Orchid, Neroli Portofino, Violet Blonde, Champaca Absolute, Guerlain Shalimar, Thierry Mugler Alien, Narciso Rodriguez Eau de Parfum, Chanel Beiges.

Q: The term fragrance wardrobe is often used by perfume marketers. How do you wear your scents?

MCGILL: I like to mix up my fragrance from one day to the next. I always choose based on mood, never by occasion. I also don’t subscribe to the theory that certain scents work better for day or night. I’m very ruled by emotion with my fragrances! I also never leave home without fragrance, and on the rare occasion it does happen and I forget, I feel completely unfinished! It’s a very important part of my personal style and beauty routine.

Calvin Klein Obsession released in 1985Q: What is the note or notes that you seem consistently to be drawn to?

MCGILL: I tend to be drawn to heavier scents and if sandalwood or bergamot is involved, I’m sold.

I typically don’t love florals or very powdery scents. The first fragrance I fell head over heels for was [Calvin Klein] Obsession. I wore this exclusively during my teens and it definitely became my signature. That is a fragrance that’s hard to forget and its intensity is unparalleled (even today!). I do still wear this one from time to time and still adore it.

Q: How do you scent your home?

MCGILL: I really love air diffusers and my favourites are by Jo Malone. I tend to rotate between Pomegranate Noir and Red Roses. I also love Jo Malone candles: Oud & Bergamot and Green Tomato Leaf are current faves. Diptyque candles in Ambre and Feuille de Lavande are also amazing.

Q: What person has influenced you most with respect to fragrance?

MCGILL: I can thank both my mother and grandmother for my love of fragrance. My grandma was always so glamorous—Rita Hayworth-esque red hair, red lips, perfect nails and always smelling beautiful. Perhaps I inherited my love of heavier scents from her as she loved YSL Opium and Paris, both of which are very specific and dramatic fragrances.

My mother was a classicist and Chanel No. 5 was her everything. I always have a bottle of the fragrance on my vanity to remind me of her. When I smell the fragrance, I’m overcome with the feeling of a warm embrace from her—it’s a fragrance that’s very dear to me.

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Feature_HarryRosen_AdamVaughnRead more:
Talking fragrance with Adam Vaughn of Harry Rosen
Interview with Susan Langdon of the Toronto Fashion Incubator
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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.