Yes, OK, you can do this with drugs and alcohol, but their powers are limited, temporary and not without a certain risky unpredictability. What you really need is a magic potion. Something seemingly innocent, not too dramatic, but with the capability of rendering the cantankerous contented, perhaps. And if it could also double as a Christmas present for the person who thinks they have everything, so much the better.
What we probably don't need is another new perfume, but Life is a little different. It's a collection of six individual fragrances, launched simultaneously (without fanfare) and aimed at anyone who prefers not to run with the pack. With names such as "en'tice", "en'trance", "en'hance", "en'act", "en'gage" and "en'chant", they'll appeal to those who like to put a spiritual spin on scent, as a sort of safe mood-altering substance.
Fashionably minimal and uniform in design, Life is the result of a rather exotic three-way collaboration. Lev Glazman left his native Russia in the Seventies and, with his partner Alina Roytberg, established the US- based natural bodycare line, Fresh (Browns and Liberty being among the UK stockists of their beautifully packaged smellies). Lev's passion for scent is shared by the third member of the team: a British perfumer, Lyn Harris.
"I read about her company, Mio, in Arena, and knew that I had to meet her," Lev explains. "It seemed very ahead of her time, with an elegant approach that looked beautiful. We did meet. We obviously had a similar vision and I knew that we could create great energy and dynamics together." For six years, Lev and Alina had been nurturing the idea of a special, niche fragrance for Fresh and now, with a Paris and Grasse-trained perfumer on board, reality was a little nearer.
"My brief," says Lyn, "was to create a mood range of fragrances that would not only make you smell nice, but feel good too. They had to be breezy rather than in-yer-face powerful and competing. I wanted them to include a lot of natural ingredients, particularly food ones like basil, bergamot and mint, which work well with the body, infiltrating it rather than sitting on top of it."
But why six? "We want to give customers the freedom of choice, not dictate one smell to them. You can go to your bathroom and think: `What do I want to wear today? What mood am I in?'" says Lev, who admits that his life is practically ruled by fragrance. "They can change a mood - a fragrance can affect wellbeing. It's almost protective, like surrounding yourself with an aura."
A nice thought, if a tad fanciful - and it isn't actually guaranteed to protect you against seasonal gremlins. However, you could give it a go, because out of six, there ought to be at least one that, as Lev promises, "if you completely give in to it, will come at you". He advises trying them all on blotters first, then spraying a maximum of three on the body - without rubbing them in.
There are two that Lev recommends for winter: "bold and organic" en'gage, with tangerine and orange top notes blended with spicy basil on a rich base of vetiver and amber, and en'tice, which he describes as "moody and desirable" with fruit and citrus notes boosted by tuberose, orange flower, jonquil, vanilla and woods.
Life, pounds 43-pounds 46, only from Liberty, Regent St, London W1. Mail order: 0171-734 1234