"A WOMAN who doesn't wear perfume has no future," according to Coco Chanel. She's not alone in her opinions on fragrance as Christian Dior backed her up by saying "A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting".

"This experience is designed to take away the decision making of picking the right perfume."

In short: your perfume is important.

Fragrance LabFragrance Lab potions, powders and perfume ingredients

It's one of the things that many women say they can't live without, and as the global perfume industry is rapidly growing and now forecast to be worth £27 billion by 2018, and it's clear there's a lot of money to be made in scents. Just choosing the right one is the difficulty.

As part of Selfridges' Beauty Project, on-going until 12 June, customers can come and have their character analysed to find the perfect scent for them. London's Oxford Street has the full laboratory but Manchester can still offer the service express-style.

Having always struggled to know which perfume to buy and being overwhelmed when faced with thousands of glass bottles of all shapes and sizes and a typically over-eager shop assistant, having the choice made for me appealed.

FragranceFragrance Lab, SelfridgesRachel Howe at Selfridges greets me and shows me to the table of various test tubes and scientific apparatus (main picture). There are vials of all sizes with coloured powders and liquids displayed to attract customers. And attract them it does. Barely a single customer walks by that doesn't stop to curiously pick up a beaker. "I've had loads of members of staff asking if they can come over and have a go," Howe laughs. 

"Can you tell what this one is?" She asks me as she hands over a beaker of lurid pink powder. I sniff it. I sniff it again. I sniff it a few times and I'm still none the wiser.

"It's beetroot," she smiles. One that has reportedly confused much of the general public since the fragrance lab moved into the ground floor of Selfridges, Exchange Square.

Indeed, the whole concept of the Fragrance Lab has puzzled and attracted the public since it moved into the Beauty department of Selfridges. At £65 for a 50ml bottle it isn't cheap, but then perfume rarely is. Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb fragrance, which continues to be a bestseller since its launch in 2005, will set you back £68 for a 50ml bottle and even Chanel is in the region of £60 to £75 depending on the retailer.

The problem is always; which perfume is right for me?

"This experience is designed to take away the decision making of picking the right perfume. Instead of choosing a perfume based on the bottle, this finds the best perfume for you," Howe explains as she sits me down in front of a computerised screen.

"I want you to be impulsive and just choose whichever statement or picture appeals to you first."

The TabletThe tablet questionnaire holds all the answers

I set to work at the tablet screen. Some of the questions had predictable notions behind them, asking me which picture I prefered when one option clearly highlighted a creative personality and another an organised OCD inclination. I clicked through each question, some were easy to answer and threw me. At one point I found myself being drawn to a picture of ice cream and another of St Paul's Cathedral for no reason at all.

After the questionnaire was complete, a number flashed up on the screen. 157. Demoted to a number I turned to Howe, who hurried off to fetch my fragrance.

"It's chosen everything for you, right down to the bottle and the packaging."

She reads out my personal analysis, finishing with, "You're the stuff fashion editors are made of...does that sound right to you?"

Spot on. I'll take that.

Fragrance AnalysisA personal fragrance analysis of Niamh Spence

She places my bottle on the counter top, it's slim and monochromatic. It's not what I expected, especially when so many other fragrance bottles are ornate and elaborately girly affairs. I glance down at my outfit and realise that I'm slim, and currently dressed in black and white. Girly and ornate I am not.

The label appears scientific, numerical and logical. My love of organised numbers and straight lines is satisfied. 

"Are you happy with it?" She tentatively asks me. I nod. "Oh good, there's been a few people that aren't happy with theirs. Especially as some of the questions point to being quite forward and embracing technology and the final product isn't quite what some people expect."

So the description and appearance I'm happy with, but what about the scent? Afterall, that's the point of a perfume.

It's light, without being unnoticeable. It has fruit notes to it without being sickly sweet or overbearing and girly. Two sprays are enough to last all morning and it's a noticeable scent; even a stranger stops me in Tesco later that day to ask what perfume I'm wearing for.

Fragrance 157Fragrance 157

Follow Niamh Spence on Twitter at @missnspence

For more information about The Beauty Project at Selfridges Exchange Square, look here.

The analysis process is free, but 50ml perfumes can be purchased for £65. The Fragrance Lab express service can be found on the Lower Ground Floor, Selfridges Exchange Square, M3 1BD.

Tel: 0800 123 400


Score: 17/20 

Product: 8/10 (It's more laborious than choosing off the shelf, but gives a personalised product)

Effectiveness: 4/5 (Personalised perfume that suits my taste)

Service: 5/5 (Helpful and friendly assistance throughout)