We need to de-skank the blog after Friday´s … emissions. So today´s post functions like those good old smudge sticks in Santa Fe, clearing the air with its sweet breath of sage (insert your favorite New Age incantation here). Let´s play a game, based loosely on something that happened to me recently.
My friend comes over to visit. We chat. She says, surveying my sample vials lying around everywhere, ugh! This perfume thing of yours! She just can´t stand perfume. I’m puzzled. She explains – she´s been squirted umpteen times by those gals at Macy´s, most recently with “something called Baby Fat” (although she´s thinking she must have heard the name wrong), and she´s smelled a couple of Lancomes, and some things by that Lauder woman. Nothing moved her. Perfumes are boring and they all smell the same.
No! I say. They´re wonderful. Look, I´m going to make you up some samples. You might not fall in love with any of them, but by the time you´ve smelled all of them you´ll definitely see how beautiful they can be. Dosage: wear one a day and call me next week.
So. What should I give her?
I tried to stay away from my great loves that are weird or skanky, because I remember how difficult I found them initially. (I could be wrong, though.) I tried to highlight different notes in my choices. Finally, I tried to pick things that maybe aren´t universally loved (what is?) but do seem to please large numbers of fragrance fans. Remember, I´m trying to get her to join the cult. Here´s my list.
- Fendi Theorema EDP
- Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare (waffled between that and MDCI FK2, another lovely, friendly rose)
- Laura Tonatto Eleanora Duse (a dark violet, one of my first loves when I was starting off, although I was torn between that and something lighter, like L´Artisan Verte Violette)
- Caron Tabac Blond EDP (how to find a great leather that isn´t too much? This is stunning, although I thought about SL Daim Blond too…)
- L´Artisan Passage d´Enfer (what if she gets that weird liver note? But it´s lighter and cleaner than many other incense frags; maybe Heeley Cardinal instead?)
- Guerlain Apres L´Ondee (powder/iris/anise/nectar of the Gods/Guerlain/so sue me)
- Donna Karan Chaos (woods, although that’s a bit of a cheat, isn’t it? FdeB? What’s a clean woods frag?)
- Houbigant Apercu (this is very perfume-y, sort of a cleaned-up Mitsouko, but I´d feel weird not including one floriental)
- Divine by Divine (a monumental white floral that doesn´t scare me; would Malle Carnal Flower or even Piguet Fracas be better?)
- Bvlgari The Vert (a great tea that´s everywhere; thought about L´Artisan The Pour Une Ete instead)
Clearly this list reflects my biases, and there are some problems here, like fragrances that are discontinued and/or really hard to get ahold of. There are also significant holes – where´s the amber? The musk? Something gourmand? What am I missing? What would you have chosen?
bottle image: bottlesandscents.com
March-My skin ate Hillary, boo-hoo.
Woman, I bet I could dab gasoline on you, one of my all-time hated smells, and it’d be gone in 5 minutes…
There’s a party goin’ on…. I’m arriving late but what a glorious read! Coup, L, FdeB maybe Divine Bergamot for the citrus and I think I would start with less than five with some guidelines on applying only one and giving it time.
Always interesting how our worded definitions of ‘light’ or ‘gourmand’ are probably very similar but the perfumes each might place in those catagories are different. 😡
It was fun for me to read all the suggestions. Applying one a day is advice I give routinely and never follow myself, having the self-control of a 2-yer-old…:”>
Short attention spans seem to be a trait some (most?) of us share. o:-)
Anne — BTW that’s me up there commenting as you — I’m still getting used to the threaded comments.:d
I agree with Marina, take it easy with her! L is a great suggestion. I would go with that for starters. 🙂
V — the problem is, it’s hard for me to remember sometimes what “easy” and “for starters” looks like!;)) I think the one Newbie list Ellen did up there was excellent.
What a truly Samaritan, kind thing to do! I think your choices are gorgeous. The only one I would add is Chanel No. 5, perhaps the Sensual Elixir so as not to turn her off.
Tamara — No. 5 is such a classic … and an aldehyde … maybe I left it off b/c I assumed she’d smelled it? But that’s a silly assumption. Plus it’s fun to smell in context of other niche frags.
Fun topic March!
I have very few suggestions, as I feel like I’m a rank beginner myself. I love what everyone else put forward: Some classics from the big houses, some niche lines, some florals, citrus, spice & gourmand.
I second the suggestion for trying L’Artisan – there are TONS of friendly fragrances in this line. I don’t think you can beat Hadrian for citrus. I would definitely encourage spreading the Apres L’Ondee love – I think it’s the most accessible of the Guerlains. Hermes has great stuff too (how about Osmanth Yunnan? Caleche Eau Delicate?)
So many perfumes so little time 🙂
Cheez — great suggestions, all. I can’t believe I blew off Hermes like that, either.
March, I’m a newbie – and Mitsouko makes my bells ring, also. However I’ve spent years wearing (dare I confess this in the niche fragrance forum?) Opium & Cinnabar – and the three seem to share more than a few “notes”.
Just received my samples from Patty -and “Carnal Flower” (loved it)is summer nights in the south before the days of air conditioning mixed with orchid prom corsages.
Geez, there’s a skank factor in both Mitsouko & Carnal Flower? Maybe I’m just a skanky kinda girl-
Susan — no shame in Cinnabar and Opium!!! I actually read once that Opium was loosely based on Cinnabar. Opium I adore; the men’s version is also lovely.
Hi March-what a mitzvah to indoctrinate a new perfumista! While trying hard to not scare your friend, may I suggest Datura Noir for a sweet, wearable higher end scent, and Hillary Duff’s Love Thing for easy, likable access?
Louise — Hilary Duff Love Thing — did you end up buying it?!?!
Really, March! It would be cruel to get a friend hooked on fragrances she would not be able to get hold of! I turn my eyes away whenever anyone mentions Chaos. I’ve never smelled it and probably never will unless it comes back into production. I refuse to be seduced by the impossible.
I loved Ellen’s and Patty’s lists. The fragrances they mention are pretty, approachable, and available. Marina’s admonition about the gorgeous Tabac Blond was right on point. You have noticed its burnt rubber opening, haven’t you?
L’Artisan is generally a very approachable label. The Pour un Ete is a nice, fresh tea fragrance. L’Eau d’Ambre is a quiet, comforting amber. I once got a compliment on La Haie Fleurie du Hameau from a woman who hates perfume to a blitheringly neruotic extent. It’s beautiful.
Maria — no, as a matter of fact I don’t get the burnt rubber opening!!!
L’Artisan is where I started; as Marina pointed out on her blog today, the scents tend to be interesting AND accessible.
What a great list, and a great idea for a post. I’ve never tried the Donna Karan Chaos, but I think Fem.d.Bois would be a great choice — different but not too challenging. What about Cuir Amethyste? Just got a sample of that from Fragrant Fripperies, and I love that deep violet note. I get why the guys like it on you, March. (Didn’t you say that awhile back?)
Patch — I thought about that. You don’t think the whole thing’s too … niche? Such a weirdly sexy smell.
Oh yes, the fragrance was one of the original Malle releases, I think the first one that was created for the line by Maurice Roucel.
T&C’s country club/society pretensions have always made me gag, but I love their horoscope and that article may be very useful for you and your friend. But I don’t think a subscription is necessary, my love.
Vi — Oh, I might subscribe to it anyway. They keep running interesting articles about fragrance. Plus it will impress the mailman sooo much!/:)
aimtx — the only people who I can’t work with at all are the “perfumes are poison” people. Of course, they couldn’t come to my house or hang out with me anyway — the smell would kill them.8-x
Tigs — fragrance geekery makes total sense to me. It’s not like it fits in with some other part of my life, either. It’s just its own weird addiction.
Tigs — no, no, no — no offense taken!!!!! I LIKE suggestions. I had “Theorema” mentally under citrus, because of the orange, but it’s not really citrus in the way we’re talking about. I am wild for grapefruit but tend to leave it off for the same reason you do — too many people get Cat Pee. My favorite grapefruit of all time is probably Mandragore, although any number of people don’t get grapefruit. I smelled something else grapefruit-ish recently, am now cross I can’t remember what it was!
Justine — okay, Malle MR is in (I had En Passant in, then deleted it, on the grounds that someone would tell me they were sick and tired of seeing it on my lists):d I totally agree about Lutens Clair de Musc, and I guess I left it off only because it’s so beautiful I don’t think of it as musk. ;)) Yeah, I know. Don’t examine that sentence too closely.
Lauren — PS — generally I try not to be a slacker and include a reference to the image at the bottom of the post. Today’s is from bottlesandscents.com, which as far as I can tell is an antique-bottle-selling website.
Lauren — hah!!! YOU find CF “hard to resist.” Me too, although others clearly find it much easier to resist.:-” Glad you’re educating your students properly.
Vi — that’s a great gift list. Was it the MR oil or fragrance? Somehow I didn’t know there was a fragrance :”> and now only the oil smells right to me.
Okay, that’s it. Getting a subscription to T&C. They do have some great articles, although anything that includes Angel and leaves off Caron sounds a little suspect.:d
Sybil — huh. Well, for me that spot has long been occupied by Borneo.b-(
P — Chinatown is an excellent suggestion, and how could I have forgotten all those Hermes scents?!? What a dummy. I actually do have another friend who’s getting into fragrance, and she’s falling in love with Hermes one at a time, starting with Sur Le Nil, Caleche, and Mediterranee.
Angela — I think I’m sticking with Ellen’s list, it’s a great one. Although you never know. Even as a rank newbie, with zero skank tolerance, Mitsouko was love at first sniff for me. Mitsouko was the fragrance that made all the bells ring.
Iris — F-bomb…. (shivers) okay, the xtreme I can take. The original … well, you’re probably closer to right than I am, but it’s not my favorite.
S — how come Magical Moon doesn’t get more love? I’ve even blogged a couple of times about how great it is, and the silence is deafening. That would fill both the woods/incense niche, and I think the Royal Bain is a great suggestion. Chergui … you don’t think that’s intermediate level?;) It’s just soooo rich.
Oh, you’re a better friend than I am. I’ve just given up on most of my friends, with their closed-minded perfume views. (“Perfume gives me a headache.” “Perfume smells like alcohol.” “I only want to smell clean.” “Flowers smell like old ladies.” “Musk smells like sweat.” And so on and so forth ad nauseum.) It just drives me crazy, so I’ve shut up about it. They know I’m a Frag Hag, if they have questions they can come ask. Otherwise, they can smell boring. Ppphhhhhttttt!!!
March – I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to come off as if your plans were inappropriate. Some people really get into perfume after smelling something big and bombastic. (Angel!?! for me, for example.) I think your friend is lucky to have you! (Although she might eventually be financially poorer…) Carthusia Mediterrraneo would be great. I’m tempted to suggest a grapefruit too, something cheerful, but many people get B.O. or cat pee from grapefruit. I guess I’m thinking you should go light because many people who say they don’t like *ALL* perfumes are the types who claim that strong sillage puts them into a coma.
Just thinking, too, of something funny my brother told me yesterday. He was over at my uncle’s and my uncle was commenting on the amount of vials I had with me last time I visited, and was saying: “It’s kind of weird how Erin in so into perfume. You’d expect her to be interested in…I dunno… sweat socks.” His wife, my aunt, was horrified and tried to make him recant, but both my brother and I understood what he meant. I *am* obsessed about it, and I’m not glamorous or stylish or into cosmetics. I’m just a perfume nerd, and I can’t explain how I – or any other perfumista – got this way.
Not one Malle? and where are you covering the musk? I think Luten’s Clair de Musc is very easy to like. Malle’s MR, or L’eau de Hiver or En Passant take your pick, though mine would be the MR.
But honestly, my friends who hate perfume, they learn to like it simply because I’m always wearing it. Giving them vials never works well for me, because they are so determined that they hate perfume. Its not until they smell something yummy on me that they are open enough to try it on themselves. Your friend may be mroe willing to play.
Oh, forgot to ask where the picture is from? So beautiful!
I wouldn’t include anything discontinued, very hard to find, or stratospherically (sp?) expensive. After all, you just want her to appreciate perfume, not become another addict (yet).
Here’s some I share with non-appreciaters:
Parfums de Rosine La Rose;
Champs Elysees (b/c it’s easy);
Carnal Flower (it’s hard to resist);
random Demeters that I like;
I give decants to my adult students all the time and they’re so surprised that I’m so interested in perfume b/c they have never given fragrances a thought.
Thanks for another good blog day!
Have you read the current issue of Town and Country, March? There’s a great article about the 85 “greatest” fragrances ever. Well, Angel and none of the Carons, except for the men’s is included, but I think it will be a good reference for you as you prepare your friend’s samples.
I agree with Patty: Please do not include any discontinued or hard-to-find fragrances, because if she likes one of them and can’t find it, it will just be another reason for her to be discouraged.
I recently prepared some samples for my best friend. I think they were Carnal Flower, Anne Pliska, Daim Blond, Musc Ravageur, Ambre Sultan, Lipstick Rose and En Passant. She ended up going crazy for MR and ordered a bottle immediately from the Barneys website. I was shocked, because she is always so measured and careful in most of her decisions.
March…It was Andy Tauer’s Orris that knocked Miel de Bois out of the “most unwearable by me” spot. I dunno why…his other stuff is fine on me.
As much as I’m irritated with Bond, Chinatown is pretty great and shows that a strong perfume can work, or Flowerbomb.
I’d definitely stay away from the stuff that is discontinued or really hard to get, so it’s trying to get a mix of stuff that is great, but still accessible.
Of course, I think you need some Hermes on that list, like Un Jardin Sur le Nil or Eau de Merveilles. Maybe Miller et Bertaux Spirtus for the incensey scent? I think that’s one of the best ones out there, but not so strong that it kills a person.
If you had some, Chanel’s Bois des Iles should always be in that beginner’s packet.
Just reading the names is such pleasure! The thing with someone who doesn’t (yet) like perfume is that she probably doesn’t have much of a nose (yet). She could easily be freaked out by anything remotely challenging, and of course most of the best scents are challenging, at least a little. Maybe she needs a starter pack, then an intermediate sampler pack, then samples for the advanced?
She’s so lucky to have you to lead her along!
For a gourmand, I would add Flowerbomb to the list. It’s easy to like as long as one likes ’em sweet.
Tigs — okay, you’re right, I should probably kill a few of those off. Ellen’s list is much better. But I was trying too squeeze all those different smells in there. What do you think for citrus? Hadrien? Yuzu Rouge? Carthusia Mediterrraneo?
Marina — I dunno, I think Chaos is pretty tame? You disagree? My test is Daughter #2, who doesn’t like much in the way of strong personality, and she signed off on it… Tabac Blond is so creamy! You’re getting more skank?
March – i would define myself as a generic “perfume” hater as well, and I certainly have tons of the niche stuff. carnal flower might kill her. i’m going to plug for some ‘pleasant’ things like SL Chergui, Caron Royal Bain and maybe Magical Moon (I get incense in it too, but some have called it strong), maybe MpG Amber. Then some clean, green things. Green Tea (of most sorts) is a great suggestion. And if she really thinks perfume is boring (and not just stinky) then why not CB I Hate Perfume? A friend bought CB ‘carrot cake’ just as an olfactory stimulant (my term) – she doesn’t wear perfume at all. have fun!!! great post!!!
I like Ellen’s dry and light selections – as you say, not my favourites, but accessible and not intimidating for someone who is not used to wearing perfume. You definitely need a citrus is there. It’s hard, but I think you need to leave out some you love.
Tabac Blond? Chaos? March, take it easy on your poor friend. You’ll scare her off perfumes once and for all. Go very gently with her. Apres L’Ondee is quiet and inoffensive. So is The Vert. Tabac Blond! Seriously! :d
Ellen — now that right there is a FABULOUS newbie list, and I mean that in a totally complimentary way. You’ve covered a lot of territory without including anything that’s going to scare the horses. I’d forgotten about that Arden, I actually really like it. Ginger is a note I also like very much. Thanks, saving your list!
Flor — those Chanels are both lovely and easy to find, and not worn everywhere. Good call. About the Therese I will say … :-” … I’m happy if you’re happy?;)
Leopoldo — laughing at the Adam imagery … I wish Lys was nicer to me. The problem is, if it’s not playing nicely, it’s impossible to remove.:-w
How do you do that in the morning? I’ve noticed that before. And I think they’re all spelled right? I doubt I could name 10 frags before 11 a.m. Or are you cheating and writing from your perfume closet?;) Great suggestions. BTW Patty is using her wiles to lure me into the Caron urns…
Elle — I knew I could rely on you! The ambers are excellent suggestions (I’d prob. go with Pliska, or maybe AN) Caleche is a great call, and I adore Rive Gauche, took me awhile to grow into that one. Have you smelled the Rive Pour Homme? It’s delish as well. You’re right about the Cuir and the Bois, they are just all-around gorgeous (although Cuir seems to disappear rapidly on me all of a sudden). No, no throwing in the deep end!/:)
Chaya — oh, that sounds like fun!!! Although you definitely weren’t working with a perfume virgin./:) I don’t blame your husband for running away.
Sybil — come on, tell?!? Which one is all gland on you? The curiosity kills me… I am still shocked by some of my frags, they would have put me off perfume forever if that’s where I’d started. Kai is a better suggestion than any of mine. And you’re right about Caron as well; just because it doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean everyone else can’t love it. Coup is much loved.
Really, plastic violet?:o Man, I love that thing.
Theresa — I thought one easy-to-find scent might be a bonus;) but that L’Artisan is sooo gorgeous. I wish it lasted longer on me, though.
Carmen — L is an excellent suggestion, why didn’t I think of that?:-? A gourmand I’m actually crazy about, because it’s not too foody. Definitely some Chanel, Dior … I really like Y as well.
Cinnamon — great suggestions! although I’ll quibble that some of yours are really hard to get ahold of too … and although I fell in love with MdeM early on, I’m worried it’s just too scarifying for virgin noses;)
Haven’t learned to appreciate most Guerlains, Carons, or Lutenses — so I feel kinship to amateurs. Perhaps it’s an amateur thing that I am so interested in “dry & light?”
Here are ones that aren’t the most expensive & are in production:
rose – Parfums d’Empire Eau Suave
violet – L’Artisan Verte Violette
leather – Lutens Daim Blond (so accessible!)
wood/incense – Comme des Garcons Kyoto (very accessible)
tea – Eliz. Arden Green Tea (not the best, but good & so easy to find & cheap)
citrus – Goutal Eau d’Hadrien (is there anyone this doesn’t smell good on? optimism in a bottle)
fruity floral – YSL Baby Doll (again — mass produced can still be good – rhubarb & redcurrant make it more interesting)
ginger — Miller et Bertaux #2 Spiritus/Land (because it’s on my short list for all-time favorite anything)
hot — L’Artisan Piment Brulant (before this, didn’t know perfume could be so hot!)
Oh, what a fun idea, March!
Chanel 19 and Cristalle are easy to love and they are not scents every other person wears. Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue. FM Le Parfum de Therese is so beautiful, I think it’s a must-try.
I’m not going to make any suggestions – you women have got it covered. Though this post has made me get out my samples and decants so that I’m creating a real heady stink today as I rotate between different body parts being proximal to nose, as though I’m doing some slow-mo Adam and the Ants dance…
Un Lys is winning out – can’t get enough of pure today, I suppose.
I guess my list would be an amalgam of severals here. I’d include Kolnisch Juchten here, though. . . just because:)
Jicky (vintage PDT if you have it)
Chanel parfums–Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles
AG Songes EdP
SL Fumerie Turque
Encens et Lavande
Rose de Nuit
L’artisan Fleur d’Oranger
fleur de Narcisse
Andy Tauer Orris
Hermes Ambre Narguile
Miss Dior vintage parfum
MeB #3, Green
maybe Sel de Vetiver
OK, that’s enough for now. . . . .
I guess my natural instinct of throwing ’em in at the deep end w/ MKK and CB Musk isn’t the best. Your list sounds great for luring someone in. Soon she’ll be like the rest of us, sobbing over Chanel prices. I’d also let her try Goldmund because everyone should try it and experience the Peru Balsam, Anne Pliska, Ambre Narguile and Ambre Sultan for that missing amber, Bois et Fruits and 10 CC for cedar, Miss Dior and Rose de Nuit for a chypre fix, Rive Gauche edp (the only current one similar to the original) or Caleche for a green chypre (just because I’m a green chypre sl*t) and although I don’t personally like it, maybe LV Musk since it seems to be a crowd pleaser – but I’d still toss in the only two musks I really like, MKK and CB’s. Oh, and Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles because…well, w/out them that would be like learning a language w/ two of the most essential words missing. And, no, I never claimed to be objective. 🙂
DH caught me in perfumista ‘flagrante delicto’ a few weeks ago, with a fellow lover of life’s goood stuff.
I was wallowing around on the bedroom floor, surrounded by vials, stoppers, pipettes, labels, bottles, scotch tape- you name it.
There arose a fright-inducing honk of Black Aoud, Bellodgia, L’Air du Desert, Patchouli Leaves, Avignon, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Muscs Maori, Ambre Narguile,Miss Balmain,Tabarome Vintage, Angelique Encens, Iris Silver Mist, Ambre Sultan, Daim Blond, Tabac Blond,Un Lys, Parfum de Therese,Santal Mysore…
Poor man had to hole up in the kitchen to escape the fumes.
As you can tell, my friend has SOME personality- no shrinking violet she- a real Valkyrie, that girl !
She waddled home with her kill, and has beenvery busy sniffing, ever since.
This is all coming from my relative know-nothing state, but I remember the shock of smelling some things early on…I couldn’t believe how putrid some of them seemed. Tell her to keep trying. My nose has developed, so almost nothing puts me off. I say almost nothing, because I just last week tried Secretions Maqnifique (and we all know how that smells!) and one other (which shall remain nameless) that smelled like my dog blew a gland on my arm. So…here are my feeble suggestions…
DD1 the violet queen says L’artisan tops Duse, because she gets a weird plastic note in Duse. I’d actually put Kai in for a white flower. It’s pretty boring, but pleasant. I’d throw in Sel de Vetiver, because I’m obsessed w/ it and it’s light. And I’d actually put in a nice Caron like Coup de Fouet. If she’s a gardener, the spicy carnation smell will make her happy (made me happy, in our subzero weather, anyway) and it doesn’t last, so if she hates it, it will go away soon!
I think sometimes, that people who don’t like (or think they don’t like) perfume, have bad skin for perfume. If all you’re exposed to is department store stuff, and it all rots on you (and most department store stuff does rot on bad skin types) why would you like perfume? It’s a quest…
I would go with The Pour Un Ete over the Bulgari.
Don’t go for obscure, discontinued, hard/impossible to get; stick to things that will be available to her should she be seduced (this, from the niche/vintage queen). I wouldn’t go into complex/quirly either. I’m thinking things that aren’t too heavy or overwhelming: this is a novice here, and a traumatized by spritzers novice to boot!
There should be one Chanel (NÂ°19 or Cristalle which is utterly charming); one Guerlain (L’Heure bleue); one Dior (try her on L’Eau Noire… and Diorissimo); one YSL (Y would be interesting). Why not a gourmand like L de Lolita Lempicka?
oops, meant Diptyque Opone. Olene is a nice white flower but has nothing on the big tuberose scents.
What a fun, challenging and interesting question! I have some friends who I’ve just turned on to scent (in fact, on his most recent trip to London, the guy made the point of stopping off at Les Senteurs after I ceded a vial of Caron Yatagan — he went home with a sample of Knize Ten). In any case, my ten list (well, one of them) would look like this (in no particular order):
1. Mitsouko (parfum) — because it so utterly refined but carnal as well.
2. Etro Messe de Minuit — evocative and beautiful.
3. GD Sous le Buis — a wondrous example of ‘green’
4-7. a melange of roses: Joy, Diptyque Olene, Agent Provacateur, Ormonde Jayne Ta’if
8. Dior Eau Sauvage
9. Santa Maria Novella Patchouli
10. L’Artisan Mechant Loup