Yes, No, Maybe So

anne-taintor.jpgOne of the hallmarks of a fragrance obsessive is to obsess, right?  Which I´ve been doing, weaving several threads together in my mind.

Nancy generously gave me a bottle of the original Estee Lauder Azuree, and I was thrilled.  (Aldehydes, bergamot, gardenia, jasmine, cyclamen, ylang, orris, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, leather, musk.)  She laughed and pointed out that she´d given it to two people previously, both of whom had given it back in disgust.  I can see that.  I love Azuree now, but it would have repelled me two years ago.  Like learning to love oysters, I´ve worked my way up to that kind of heavily aromatic fragrance bomb.  Still Too Much: Clinique Aromatics Elixir, which I admire rather than enjoy.  (How did I love Mitsouko from first sniff?  I still have no idea, except to say that I think it smells really good on my skin.)

At the other end of the spectrum are fragrances I swooned over at the first sniff which now make me almost physically ill, and (unlike, say, a bad plate of oysters) they´re not associated with some terrible experience or person.  Exhibit A:  S-Perfumes´ 100% Love.  It still has a lot of fans.  I still think Sophia Grojsman´s combination of chocolate, labdanum and rose is daring.  I still can´t believe I wore this.  I wouldn’t last 15 minutes now before scrubbing.

Then there´s the annoying pool of fragrances I can never make my mind up about.  Case in point: Yves Saint Laurent´s Cinema EdP, which is wafting at me from my left arm as I type this.  Cinema is a floriental created by Jacques Cavallier in 2004 that smells like YSL´s entry into the gourmand marketplace.  Notes are: clementine, almond blossom, cyclamen, jasmine, peony, amaryllis, amber, musk, benzoin and vanilla. The opening smells a little fresh and soapy; then we reach a point ten minutes later when I think, yes, creamy, I need this.  It´s somewhere between Organza Indecence and Armani Code, and as comforting as a creamsicle.  Then I sniff it some more and it seems sour; maybe the musk?  On the other hand, isn´t the fact that I´ve worked through three sample atomizers indicative of something besides my inability to make up my mind?  I just … don’t know.

I don’t have this kind of shifting relationship with anything else in my life — not with clothing, not with food.  Sure, I may get temporarily tired of a favorite food if I eat too much of it, but I don’t get up one day and say, I never want to eat mint chocolate chip ice cream again in my life, what was I thinking?!?!.   And while I recognize some of my past fashion decisions as … unfortunate with the benefit of hindsight, I never pull on a beloved shirt one morning and think, ugh, I hate this.  This is hideous.   Nor do I run into stores and embrace previously despised fashion looks (hammer pants, 5-inch heels, blue eyeliner) as suddenly “me.”  Although … actually … my red lipstick obsession feels sort of like my fragrance obsession.

How do our feelings change about fragrance?  The only piece that seems obvious and natural to me is developing a tolerance for “difficult” fragrances through repeated exposure.  But how to explain the sudden infatuation with, say, vanilla scents that prompted sneers of disgust the previous month?   How to understand the sudden discarding of a beloved scent as vile, or merely dull?   How to come to terms with an inability to decide how to feel about a particular fragrance?

So.  Eliminate, please, from your thoughts all the fragrances that have been tainted by some terrible mental association, or redeemed by some positive connection.   Have you changed your mind about some previously loved or loathed scent?  And why?   Is there any scent you simply can’t decide about, and why do you think that is?

image:, I love her quips

  • karin says:

    Hi March! I know I’m a bit late in the game, but wanted to comment on your mention of 100% Love. I purchased the current iteration of 100% Love, not realizing that there were two other versions before it. I had fallen for it when I purchased a decant from The Perfumed Court awhile ago, and when I bought a bottle from Barney’s recently it was not the same scent. Turns out there were three versions – one in 2005, one in 2006, and one in 2008. There was also 100% Love MORE in 2007 (no longer available). I’m convinced the sample I had from TPC was an earlier version. It was not sweet, not cloying, soft and incensey. This current one is very sweet, and smells just like chocolates and what I detect as raspberry jam! It’s not bad, but it’s not what I fell in love with. Is it possible you may have had a similar experience?

    I can also identify with your switching fragrance loyalty. I’ve loved certain fragrances, then grown tired of them. My hypothesis? There are so many factors that determine how we perceive scent, and those factors are changing constantly. Our bodies are not static. We have hormones and sweat glands and who knows what else that act different at different times of day, at different temperatures, at different who knows what? It’s not surprising that we have varying reactions to the same scents. I think there’s also the excitement of newness. If we marry ourselves to certain scents, they get boring after awhile. At least that’s how I am. I love to discover. Of course, there are some people who stick with the same perfume their whole lives. We already know that none of us who refer to ourselves as “perfumistas” are like that, though! We like to try new stuff!!! And perhaps something we may *think* we like at first sniff isn’t really all that great – but it’s the newness that excites us. We like it as long as it’s “new,” but then realize later on, hey, maybe it isn’t so great after all…

    • March says:

      I only know about two versions – regular and MORE. I never could decide why people needed MORE, but clearly they did 🙂 I have not tried the current iteration. I got to the point I couldn’t stand it any more.

      The excitement of newness gets me every time. I lose interest just about the time I buy a bottle. :”>

  • ggs says:

    Anne Pliska! Don’t know what happened, but this was one of my first niche perfume favorites and now I can’t enjoy it anymore. I ran through a decant, ordered a FB, wore it on and off for a year or two. Then, I began to get an odd sweaty note from it that just turned me off.

    • March says:

      Huh. I wonder if your fragrance turned? You might, just might, want to resample (maybe from TPC?) Bottles do go “off.” Depends on how much you want it…

  • Sometimes I grow out of a perfume and simply don’t love it anymore. I recently ordered a bottle of Roma, which I remember as light and minty, with a creamy drydown. It is now as sweet as an orange circus peanut candy, achingly so. Did I love this diabetic overdose once or has it been reformulated? I don’t know.

    Sometimes my body likes a perfume for a few days, then the next time I put it on–a week or so later, it seems to be completely different. Apres La Mousson did that to me. The first two days, it was fabulous, I got no melon. I ordered the big bottle AND the body cream.I waited three days and the next time it was an acre of melon. It is still a giant melon. I have several perfumes that did the switch on me.

    And yet, I keep buying. . .

    • March says:

      giggling — Roma is all circus peanut to me, but I’ve never tried an earlier version, so what do I know? 🙂

      Why does the melon show up when you buy the bottle? One of the frustrating mysteries of life… :-w

  • DianaWR says:

    Violets. I cannot get behind violets. In theory, I should love them, but every single time I put one on my first thought is, “This is nice” followed by a “Holy CRAP! Why did I put this on my body!?!” It just gets super strong and soapy on me. Yet I keep my samples and every few months I keep retrying them.

    • March says:

      Huh. Well, according to some theories on here, maybe with enough exposure you’ll come to love violets! Or in the right combination with something else.

  • Shelley says:

    Love Loathe : My first full bottle purchase was L’eau d’Issey. Was just coming to perfume, and thought I had found something “me.” As it turns out, it is one of the few things that I repeatedly reinvestigate, and find it repeatedly disappoints. I guess you could say it went from “me” to “meh.”

    Most scents have migrated up and down an interest scale, but few slammo changes. So, like the food analogy, with most of my assorted scents, there is usually some point at which any has a pleasant use.

    Can’t make up mind : Estee Alliage. I think…I even got a FB–ironically, a bit of an oops, because I was hunting for Azuree–I dunno…do I regret purchase? No. Am I happy with purchase? More in the “oddity” rationale than “I love it.” Will I use it? Sure. How often? I don’t know. That one is a rather narrow band undecided.

    Then there’s Kingdom…have I mentioned how intensely that sends me scrubbing? :-& Every time but once? 😕

    • Musette says:

      You and K, sittin’ in a tree….I swear=))

      But I think I get it: are you still hoping to replicate that ‘once’? Like really great first time nookie that is never quite the same afterwards – but one keeps hittin’ it, hoping for a repeat? (:”> my poor, misspent youth)


      ps. I sent you a little something – did you get it yet?

  • sybil says:

    I have the worst skin in the world. It turns lots of stuff bad from the get-go, so if it makes it through the dermal test, it might be more or less OK for the long run. One that’s not cutting it lately…Slatkin’s Black Fig & Absinthe. I used to love that licorice note, now I’m getting too much sugar. On the plus side–everyone on the planet (except my sister) seems to like Bulgari Black on me, and what seemed at first like a rubbery tar mess has become a frequent go-to…I’ve never gotten AE or Mitsouko (and never tried 100% or Cinema) to work, and just now I’m mourning the death of Hypnotic Poison on my skin. However, it smells great on my 13 year old tester–almondy, herbal and strangely delicate.

  • fountaingirl says:

    Oh yes! Years ago I wanted to make AE work, and it wouldn’t. I remember a MakeupAlley review that said AE “turns [her] into a blanket” as in musty old blanket in the attic, and it used to do this to me. Recently I got a hankering, wanted to try again, and got a steal on a nearly-full partial so I went for it and it works!

    The main trouble I have these days is that, while I am willing to put in the ‘work’ to develop a love for a given scent, the DH is sometimes less …. thrilled to be exposed to one of the more challenging fragrances. So far his favorite on me seems to be Bvulgari’s Au The Blanc, which is lovely and nice and all but jeez, I got that as the fallback “won’t offend anyone” scent!

    • March says:

      You have to ignore those husbands. Mine runs from me when I ask him to sniff something, and generally the girls have wised up and do so too. I’ll probably keep trying AE forever. After all, I learned to love Youth Dew. 😮

  • Erin T says:

    Oops! This is a reply to Robin’s comment below…

  • Robin says:

    But back to the food, don’t we in all truth make similar decisions? No, you might not give up on mint chocolate chip ice cream for all time, but at some point, a Hershey’s bar isn’t as satisfying as it used to be. It’s been reformulated (HA) and it never was top notch anyway. You’d probably rather have a Dolfin. I know there are foods & beverages I used to love & now recognize as not so wonderful as I once thought.

    • March says:

      Ah, but isn’t this an argument about quality? Sure, the Gap scents didn’t smell as good after I met Guerlain. And the Dolfin has def. put a dent in my more pedestrian chocolate tastes (for which I blame you entirely. Everything that isn’t Louise or Patty’s fault is your fault. About which I will be emailing you, I got your pkg!)

      But that 100% Love? That’s not a quality issue. G-d, Robin, what was I thinking with that one?

      PS – I should go look, hope you’re the right Robin! There’s a “wrong” robin and an Anita and another Erin!

  • Trish/Pikake says:

    I’ve been on the trajectory towards natural perfumes for a while now. Combo of migraines and also wanting to move in that direction for health/eco/environmental reasons as well. (Does that count in this discussion)?

    But what really slayed some perfume choices for me was pregnancy. I cannot go near Gucci EDP (the pink juice), In Love Again, and I have a hard time w/ Hiris.:((

    • Kim says:

      hmm… that brings to mind my hormone theory – I wonder if it affects our skin chemistry somehow, making us dislike what we used to like?

      • Trish/Pikake says:

        For me, those were the perfumes I was wearing when I was first pregnant, and then was so nauseated and repulsed by perfume. So the association just stuck. Now when I smell those, the feeling of morning sickness comes back. It’s too bad, especially w/ Hiris, I loved that one so much.

        But I do think hormones play a role in how we preceive smell and how scents meld on our skin. I buy the theory.

        • March says:

          I would have died. I couldn’t wear fragrance, or even cope with scented things, when I was pregnant. No smells, nowhere. Cleaning products were terrifying. 🙁

          • Trish/Pikake says:

            Oh no doubt, I couldn’t even look at a perfume bottle throughout my pregnancies. I had to get unscented everything.

            When I see pregnant women in the clinic and they have on perfume, I marvel at the fact they can stomach it.

  • dleep says:

    The scent of tuberose used to make me feel sick. Now I am obsessed with Fracas. Go figure. Could it be menopause?

    • March says:

      I think everyone should, at some point in his or her life, be obsessed with Fracas. I finally gave my bottle away, but what an extraordinary fragrance. 😡

  • Natalie says:

    I find I can’t wear certain perfumes that I used to love not because they make me retch, but simply because I am no longer that person. Diorissimo is still a thing of loveliness, but I have become so much darker and more complicated that wearing it now feels like an oxymoron. Meanwhile, I’m sure that 10 years ago I would have thought that Bandit smelled like cat pee…

    But who knows? Perhaps I’ll revert to serene and lovely Diorissimo lady a few years down the road. The challenge is predicting which ones still hold future potential — God knows I’ve regretted getting rid of perfumes, clothes, even apartments that I thought would never suit me again!

    • patchamour says:

      I have to agree with you, Natalie. As I get older, and older, and older:(, Diorissimo is impossible to wear. Funny thing about Aromatics Elixir. I’ve always loved it, but my husband and son both have EEEeeewww fits whenever I put on even just a tiny dab of it. I’ve done blind tests and it’s always the same. (And they both like patchouli.) AE, they say, reminds them of liniment.

      As for changes, awhile back I would have thought #22 too floral and sweet, but now I’m in love with it.

      • MJ says:

        How does one wear Azuree? I have it, and AE, and am still trying to tame both – is one shot of spray to the midriff all I should use? Walk through a cloud of it? I know I can do it! I just need to work with it a little longer.

        That said, I’m wearing 3 spritzes of Yatagan today and feeling fine (and it is not overpowering).

        I used to LOVE YSL Paris when I was a teen/20something. Now it is just too floral for me and brings to mind a 16 year old putting on perfume (with her braces and glasses) – bring on the Yatagan, 3e Homme, Cinnabar, FdB.

        • March says:

          The walk-through-the-cloud thing wasn’t light enough for bombs like Fracas… I’d suggest spraying it on something (like a kleenex) and then dabbing it? I bet Azuree and AE would be decent dabbers, nobody but Louise should be spraying those things on. I am fortunate that my Azuree spray is one of those superfine ones you can goose just a squidge. And even then I studiously ignore it for about 30 minutes 🙂 And I never put it on immediately before heading to the car, everyone else hates it. But I love its weird smoky aldehydes.

    • carmencanada says:

      I know what you mean about Diorissimo: I found it too pure for me too. But it’s not. It’s got dirty undertones. No, really.That is, it had them before it got reformulated. Now it smells like a copy of itself.

      • Natalie says:

        Weirdly enough, I never noticed dirtiness in the “old” Diorissimo, but the new one definitely has an off note to me — not sure if it’s dirtiness or skankiness or some cheap ‘n’ nasty new component of the reformulation, but it doesn’t smell as good to me (the off note detracts from the scent rather than adding to it). I still can’t imagine wearing even the old version now, however.

  • carmencanada says:

    I’ve just been re-reading Jean-Claude Ellena’s Le Parfum and he does say that a novel perfume structure will go literally unnoticed when it first comes out: the brain is activated more strongly by repeated exposures and familiarity.
    Don’t know exactly how this fits into the debate but I suspect developing new tastes has to do with those repeated exposures: all of a sudden you reach a critical mass, and boom! You find that you “get” a whole new category of scents. And what you “get”, you’re close to liking/loving because all of a sudden you understand the language.

    • sweetlife says:

      Ah — understanding the language — yes. And some perfumes, as you noted above, are particularly good ambassadors, no? I have a long list of perfumes that explained their category to me…

    • Erin T says:

      And also there are days when a much loved food – a big hunk of a very mushroomy Brie de Meaux, for example – just does not work, and you feel more like having a cleansing bowl of steamed greens or a blow-your-head-off dosa, or whatever. No, you haven’t gone off the King of Cheeses forever, but your aversion on that day could be as subjective as with perfume, I think: it “just feels wrong” sometimes.

  • sweetlife says:

    You know, when I first went to down the perfumista rabbit hole I was, for a long time, terrified to commit to anything more than a sample, because I was so sure that my tastes would change. And change they did. But I’ve noticed that they wax and wane as much as they “progress” or expand. I’ve yet to just completely hate something I once loved. I stop wearing it for a long while, then give it a hesitant try some months later and think — ah! now I remember why I love this!

    I often think of the correlations between fragrance and food, but maybe a better analogy here is music? A certain song or composition can crystallize a moment of our lives, it satisfies us in some deep way that we need at the moment, but then we change and need something else. Maybe it was just a pop tune that perfectly captured our longing or our burst of joy, and then it becomes a dreaded ear worm. Or maybe its some big bombastic symphonic thing and we need a little Bach instead. It might be awhile, but its likely we’ll be able to revisit all those songs at one point or another, even if just for the nostalgia…

    • March says:

      Do you think taking that break is part of what allows you to love it again? That the absence makes the heart grow fonder? I acknowledge that, for myself, a certain part of what I am “looking for” is the newness of the experience. So some fragrances improve just by my putting them away for a few months. 🙂

      And I think your comparison to music is a good one. Music is more abstract than food. Yes, more like perfume. More likely to move us in various ways. And (like perfume) it can be revisited, assuming it’s a recording. Some of the songs I dislike the most on my iPod are the ones I loved and played over and over and over until … I’m sick of them.

  • Anita says:

    I think one reason for reversals in reactions to fragrances is the absence of well developed abilities to hold on to the structure of olfactory experiences. This may result from (1)limitations on the human capacity for olfactory imagery, or (2)limitations on the ability to translate the olfactory experience into intellectual experience (e.g. words or pre-verbal intellectual structure). Many transient sensory or spiritual experiences are retained for retrieval by means of intellectual devices (analysis, myth). In the case of fragrance, our perception may be forced to start closer to “square one” each time, so that we may discover the genius of a scent in which we could not previously find our way, or we may fail to get the point of a formerly loved scent…… I have read that even Luca Turin changed his earlier negative opinion when he praised L’Heure Bleue and that his “love” for Nombre Noir changed to some lesser form of admiration. However, I imagine that these changes occur far less frequently for Luca Turin than for others because of heightened sensory abilities and a sophisticated intellectual grasp of the subject…….Of course, preferences do change for other reaons, such as psychological needs and relativity – if vanilla is very prevalent, a vanilla scent is less likely to overwhelm us with vanilla and we can learn, slowly and gently, to appreciate the nuances of vanilla. When the experience of a scent is more powerful because of summer heat, we may discover something we will remember and love in its more subtle form in winter………This is just one woman’s attempt to grapple with a mystery.

    • March says:

      I haven’t forgotten you. I keep pondering what you wrote and interweaving it in my mind with Carmencanada’s comment two down about JCEllena and novel perfume structures… back after dinner. :)>-

  • Elle says:

    It’s taken me years to fall in love with some scents that I was indecisive over (much longer for some I loathed initially – as in almost all white flower scents). The ones I’m indecisive over tend to be of really high quality and loved by people whose taste I often share, but which simply don’t work on my skin or just seem to be unpleasant to me. I keep samples on hand and continue trying them on a regular basis (high on my current list of these is Theo Fennell – will *not* give up hope on this one). I have to confess that I didn’t love Andy Tauer’s scents for a *long* time. Wanted to. Very much so as he’s such a nice person…but there was no real love there w/ his scents. But I kept on resampling and one day when dutifully retrying Lonestar Memories, magic happened. Suddenly I could not live five more minutes without this scent. And from there I fell in *completely* in love with almost every other scent he’s made. I honestly can’t explain it. I’ve also learned to love all natural scents. I loved the SIPs from the start, but was ambivalent – at best – about most others. No longer. *Love* Ayala’s line and quite a few others, but I think this was about my nose slowly getting trained to appreciate them. There are some groups of scents – like vanilla and musks – that I fall in and out of love w/, but there are also individual scents I have fallen out of love w/ – completely and finally. One that springs to mind – and it’s hard for me to even type this now – is TF White Patchouli. *Loved* it initially and even bought a bottle. What was I thinking?! It literally makes me retch now. And just this past week I discovered I’ve completely fallen out of love w/ Zita – a scent I used to adore. Shudder! Oh, and 100% Love – that’s a scent I could only possibly feel more positively about eventually (although that’s very doubtful). It’s always been scary, scary stuff on my skin. I’ve not even done much resampling. Too stomach turning.

    • March says:

      The problem with 100% Love is, once it’s on there, it’s on there! And it’s never, ever going away… heaven forbid if you get it on your clothing.

      I need to spend some more time with the naturals. Those Aftelier ones ended up being really interesting.

      Honey, GIVE UP on Theo Fennell before your nose falls off!! =))

  • Nava says:

    March, you crawled inside my head because I was thinking about doing a post about a certain fragrance that I have a negative association with, that I never wore again after the inciting incident. It’s been 10 years.

    For me, It has to be Mitsouko. Wearing it is akin to wearing a beautiful pair of shoes that cripple you to the point of tears. They’ll never be comfortable, but you keep trying over and over again because they’re there in your closet.

    Recently, I’ve been off anything citrusy, sweet, vanillic and gourmand. Incense and spice are my choices for now and I think it will stay that way for a while. :”>

    • March says:

      This is definitely an incense/spice time of year. They are both so soothing and comforting. Then spring starts to peek its head out (you wait, it will sneak up on you!) and then suddenly it is time for something light and bubbly. 😡

  • Melissa says:

    So far I have not had the experience of recoiling from a scent that I previously loved. Nothing that dramatic happens when I retire a fragrance from my rotation. When I first grew infatuated with fragrances, a few years ago, I wore some of the vanillics. I tired of them quickly, but I still like them on others.

    I do shift from dislike to like pretty continuously now. At first, it was a spontaneous process, as I sampled an increasing array of fragrances. As others have mentioned, an entire genre or sub-genre would open up to me after changing my mind about one of its members. I always wore orientals and floral aldehydes with ease. Other categories would capture me after one of its members enticed me: Cuir de Russie for leather, Mitsouko for chypres etc. Now, I intentionally challenge myself with notes, accords and genres that I find difficult, such as gardenia, tuberose, fruit blends and non-oriental florals.

    As for maybe so scents? I have a bunch of them! They sit among my collection, tempting me to either wear them or swap them away. Some of them I admire a great deal but just can’t bring myself to wear. For some reason, 31 Rue Cambon falls into this category. I wear it on occasion, but I have swapped most of it. It is beautiful, but it wears me, rather than the other way around. Others, like Shocking by Schiaparelli, tempt me over and over, but I can never make up my mind about them.

    • March says:

      That’s funny. I wore 31 RC yesterday (I am trying to actually wear fragrances for a day like a normal person, what a concept!) I find it staggeringly beautiful, but I could not do two days in a row. It’s such a presence on me. Invariably the next day I’m wearing a light tea scent or some such just to have a break, like I’d eaten an entire cake. 🙂

      Personally, I find falling in love with a particular note or accord, and then pursuing it, one of my favorite ways to sniff.

  • Juno says:

    I just started noticing this – a year into perfumania – Fracas was my absolute go to scent for a decade (I think I have four bottles floating around) and when I put it on a week ago it was sickening, cloying. Organza Indecence I adored a year ago, and now strikes me as almost too sweet and ALMOST too obvious. And Dzing, which I loved originally, now hovers on the edge of…too sweet.

    I think that might be it, sweet and floral have become trickier – has my body chemistry changed or has getting to know so many other things changed my perception of detail and nuance?

    Mitsouko I liked straight off – but I don’t find it as challenging as others seem to. I just put it on and though, oh, I like this and that was that.

    • March says:

      Huh. That’s interesting. It sounds like you’re playing up the sweet notes in these. Maybe a hormonal or skin chemistry thing? My advice is to tuck them away somewhere, you may be back in love in the not so distant future! /:)

  • Musette says:

    I think you (and everybody within planetary hearing distance) knows how much I’ve tried – and failed – to appreciate Aromatics Elixir…for going on 3 decades now! I ‘get’ it. Alas, it also ‘gets’ me. Migraine City.

    Weirdly enough, I can’t now stand L’Heure Bleu in parfum, where I used to adore it.

    I can’t start to list others, for the same reasons as Carol Sasich gave: too many variables. But those two stand out as constants.


    • March says:

      Oh, so sad about LHB! I hope your mojo comes back. And there must be plenty of people out there who love AE, but we are not among them. Still, I admire its cojones. 😉

      • Musette says:

        Oh, me too! AE is kind of like that girl in grade school who was really badass and thought you were a dweeb – so way beyond your ken but you so wanted to be like her – or at least be her pal(did you have one of those? I had more than my share 🙁

        L’HB actually smells better on me in EdT than parfum – it is the ONLY Guerlain to smell thus. The parfum does a powder-bomb thing on me whereas I get some interesting subtleties in the EdT. Vol de Nuit in parfum is killlah! Smells like vinegar and peanuts in EdT – go figure.


        • March says:

          I have it in EDT and honestly I didn’t like it as much in perfume. Too sweet. As I guess you got too. Actually, that’s not precisely right. Increasing the strength of the scent defeated some of its point to me — it’s less ethereal. The parfum is more gourmand.

          I bet AE smells great on Louise, I’m going to ask her.

  • Carol Sasich says:

    Body chemistry , age , time of month , weather ….who knows but mercurial is the nose for sure . When I got a sample of L’Artisan Le Haie , I sighed and swooned and couldn’t sleep ntil I got a bottle . The bottle came , and was so thin and metallic….usually after a couple bottles of anything , I’m ready to move on . Plus a tweak in the formula is death for me !!

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s terrible about Le Haie! I wonder what happened? The only thing I can think of …. this has happened to me more than once, I tried something in a sample (ie, little dab) and then when I sprayed it on, it was so different. Maybe Le Haie is a dabber on you? I feel like if they’d release it more widely it would give La Chasse a run for its money, it’s so gorgeous. I also wish L’Artisan would stop fiddling with their scents 🙁 along with everyone else. I hear vintage Mure et Musc is incredible.

  • Anne says:

    There are many Guerlains, among others, that I needed to time to learn to appreciate. I agree, and understand why that happens, it happens with food tastes as you say. But all these other questions you raise? So frakking crazy, so mysterious, so mercurial. The kinda’ stuff that keeps my arm to my nose and a smile on my face.

    • March says:

      So… did you learn to appreciate those Guerlains? I am still working on my Caron appreciation. :d

      • Anne says:

        The Guerlains yes, most of the time. The Carons, except for my beloved Coup de Fouet, I think I need many more years. But then again getting it and liking it can be 2 different things. Some of my early, early niche loves, Nanadebary Green and CdG White I absolutely cannot stand now. Anything with a predominate sandalwood note used to be ok but these days it is actually makes me ill.

        • March says:

          Um, yeah, what is going on with the sandalwood? I think they’re using different sandalwood synthetics now. Maybe some are more palatable than others? It can be really screechy.

  • Frenchie says:

    I’ve been wondering about this myself. About a year and a half ago I got into perfume a bit more seriously: started sniffing the classics, niche and reading a lot. This phase started with an obsession with white florals. Tuberose was my queen, followed by gardenia and I couldn’t get enough of them. Some 6 months ago something changed I just couldn’t wear them anymore. Some of the previously loved ones started making me physically ill. In the end I took a brave step and gave them away to a couple of friends who appreciated them fully. Every now and then I go and sniff these perfumes to see if I have made a mistake by giving up on them, if it was just a passing whim. But no – I still can’t stand them! I cannot imagine wearing Fracas of Fleurissimo ever again.
    At the same time I started liking leather scents and chypres. Nowdays I can’t have enough of Dzing! and Mitsouko, both loves at first sniff. No idea why this happened but it is quite strange how the switch from white florals to leathers and chypres happened in an instant.

    In the category of ‘can’t make my mind up’ is good ol’ Angel. I have bought it and then given it away 3 times!! I think that it is time to stop, give up and not buy it again. I just don’t get this frag and it’s time to accept it 🙂 I like it on other people but on me it is nothing special. Maybe that’s the answer.

    • March says:

      Now there you go: perfect example of what I’m talking about. You focused on a category of big white florals – tuberose, gardenia. Love love love. Then BAM! you can’t do it any more. I wonder what that’s about? I mean, it’s not like you got the stomach flu while wearing Fracas… lilies, like DK Gold, make me cringe. At the same time they’re so beautiful. I think big white florals are a thing unto themselves, maybe along with roses? A Whole Lot of Look. Wait, I’m throwing oudh in there too. :d

      And that’s interesting about Angel. It does smell very nice on certain people. It smells great on Louise, for instance. So if it’s just meh on you it’s disappointing, huh.

    • Liesl says:

      The gal who does my hair wears Angel and it is caramel and spice on her. On me, it was berries with a heaping tablespoonful of pepper. I tried it again a few nights ago because perception sometimes changes from the first try to the second, and I tell you it was worse the second time. I went and scrubbed immediately.

      What is it with that one? I don’t even want to smell like best case scenario caramel and spice. I feel like Angel is telling me what to do. It’s not ‘It smells fine on my skin, I just don’t like it,’ it’s ‘It smells rancid on my skin, and I still don’t like it, but I really want the whole thing to be up to me.’ 😕

      • sweetlife says:

        “I really want the whole thing to be up to me” — LOL!

        That’s how I feel about many things I intellectually admire and that should, by all rights, notes, and laws of nature, work great on me, but that just refuse to do so, no matter how many times I try them.

        • Frenchie says:

          LOL I know exactly what you both mean. I really want Angel to smell nice on me despite me not really wanting to smell of dessert 😐

  • Louise says:

    For me the journey from interest/disinterest, pleasure/pain, love/hate has been mostly about genres of perfumes, similar to Denyse. There are a few perfumes that took a few wearings to appreciate, mostly because the structure was new to me; most of my instant hates have given way to a new adventure after a few tries.

    I first loved orientals, specifically Opium, and heartedly rejected any florals (too remniscent of mom’s White Shoulders). I still love my orientals (though Opium has given way to Cinnabar extrait), and generally find them easy to wear, along with their cousin gourmands. These came next, especially the vanillics, I still love and enjoy OI, and Vanille Noire du Mexique, and several of the newer niche gourmands.

    Chypres came next, and Mitsy opened the door for me. I adore my chypres, especially the greens, but they do grate on me some days, and I quickly put them away. Next wearing, they’re golden again.

    Florals, and especially aldehydic ones, have come very slowly to me. BdI was my gateway, then #22, and now many appeal-Baghari (til the too-sweet drydown), Ferre by Ferre, Detchema.

    No specific category has fallen away, and the less-worns in a specific genre are usually just rotated away as I seek a new fix-currently sparking and/or rich florals. Today I am wearing vintage Bellodgia-no love at first sniff, but stunning and just right.

    • March says:

      Cinnabar extrait … my preciousssssssssssss…. 😡 Now that is a smell to behold. I remember the first time I smelled it with Patty in NYC and thought, wow! I have a small vintage flacon and sometimes nothing else will do.

      You were doing those gourmand vanilla dealies way before I was and you were somewhat of an inspiration. I think you’re blessed because you can carry “big” smells like galbanum, leather, aldehydes and oakmoss beautifully on your skin.

  • Kim says:

    I think a few things contribute:
    education – as with art and food, knowledge and exposure improve your appreciation and so your tastes change (thanks Perfume Posse!!)
    climate – heat and humidity makes a difference – L’Heure Bleue was the eye-opener for me on that one – didn’t like it until I wore it in the humidity and heat – go figure!
    maybe hormones? (don’t shoot me but….) would love to hear from some guys as to whether this happens with them as much as with women – do women’s tastes change because skin chemistry is affected by our cycle changes? or is it solely due to taste and climate changes, in which case men would have just as much of this happening?

    my essential perfumes have always been love at first sniff – Chanel No. 5, Cuir de Russie, & Bois des Iles, Paloma Picasso. All instant love, and remain so regardless of climate, time of year, etc. The others took a bit of education, the right climate, and/or getting the parfum extrait version i.e. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar. Somehow the Chanel base is perfect for me almost all the time, whereas the Guerlain base doesn’t suit me quite as well – another possible factor?

    • March says:

      The base definitely makes a difference. If you love the Caron base, or Guerlain, you’re more likely to love the others or at least find them tolerable. And several people have commented on earlier, different posts that a particular climate (humid, cold) seemed to bring out the best in a fragrance.

  • carmencanada says:

    As I’ve been wearing classic/niche, “challenging” fragrances for going on two decades (Carons in the 80s, Lutens and Malle in the 90s were my houses of choice) there’s nothing I go back to wondering what I was thinking… What I reject is based on the fact that it is too strongly associated to a period of the past, and feels weird. Lutens and Malle are all still in the running, but the Carons are too far back in my personal history.
    Now what’s happening is that I’m forever expanding my palette of tastes. I used to not be able to wear aldehydics: done. They sneaked in through Cuir de Russie. I used to shun delicate florals: done. Can’t get enough of them. I’m even cautiously working my way up to the neo-aquatics/ozonics.
    The only thing I can’t do are the big, shoulder-padded, room-clearing 1980s scents, because I skipped that decade entirely in mainstream fragrances and I can’t connect.

    • March says:

      Hon, when you embrace the aquatics/ozonics you let me know! And which delicate florals are you loving these days, I’d love to know.

      I am as you know on a room-clearing big-hair 80’s bender right now 🙂 but again my affection for them is biased, because they evoke happy memories. Maybe if I were smelling them cold I’d think, ugh.

      • carmencanada says:

        March, “embrace” may be too strong a word but I’m not recoiling any longer. You start with the Roudnitska melon note and you work your way through its echo in the JCE Jardins series. Then you start noticing a smidge of calone (or a similar material) here and there and it’s not blatantly horrible — I’m thinking of the Montreal line Claude-André Hébert I reviewed a couple of days ago, or of Pure Distance that Patty reviewed here a while back, where it does nice things to the floral notes.
        I’ve been testing a couple of more outrightly ozonic, the new Goutal Un Matin d’Orage (ozone + gardenia) and Ego Facto Jamais le Dimanche (not out yet in the States, alas), which I’ve both reviewed, and I was rather taken by the calone + incense combination which gives them an interesting mineral note, like the taste of some spring waters…

        As for delicate florals, I’m on a big Vanille Galante, Beige, Eau Première kick right now. I want green and blossoms and spring! I like the new Lutens Nuit de Cellophane too but I only have a tiny sample so I can’t say for sure if I’d wear it a lot. Probably.

        • March says:

          D, maybe it is my nose, or maybe it’s my skin. I feel like I magnify those aquatics all out of proportion. However. I think the calone + mineral note actually sounds kind of delicious, I can see how that would work.

          And I think VG, Beige and Eau Premiere are a nice change from some of the weirder fragances we try. I think of them as palate cleansers. 🙂

        • Jarvis says:

          carmencanada: I seem to be riding along side on the way to neoaquatic land. And yes, for me, it started with “getting” Roudnitska’s melon note, and also overdosing with Hedione (and understanding the wateriness inherent in jasmine!). I think Vanille Galante blew it wide open for me, though. Now, when I go back to Fleur de Liane (which I had dismissed last fall as not being of interest as a watery, green floral), I am suddenly enjoying it.

  • Joe says:

    Hi March. I still feel fairly new to this addiction … I mean hobby, so I’m still on the learning curve in terms of coming to appreciate certain scent categories. However, I’ve already had the requisite Mitsouko Conversion: I love wearing it to bed on a tshirt and it almost has the effect of a security blanket now when I do that.

    I didn’t “get” some gourmand categories like vanilla & coffee, but finally this winter something clicked and I bought some LA Vanilia and am on the hunt for more and more vanillas. I also remember first trying L’Eau de Navigateur and not being impressed, but when sampling it a couple weeks ago I practically wanted to chew my arm off… in a good way! I’m kind of sad that sucker is dc’d.

    I’m still working on Vol de Nuit. Bought a small vial of extrait about a year ago and I still get almost nothing but “meh” ever darn time I try it. Definitely not loathing, but I feel like I need to keep trying to find something to like in that thing. It must be there, right, if Everyone says so…? :d

    • March says:

      I adore adore adore Navegateur, and want to reassure you directly from the Chicago boutique that it isn’t d/c’d. just harder to find. :d I have and love a bottle as well (Navegar is a little harsh on me.)

      So pleased about the Mitsouko! And the Nordstrom near me used to have VdN extrait in a tester (! don’t see that much any more, at least around here.) I felt like I “got it” about half the time, and the other half it was muddy and unsatisfactory. But I always wondered whether I should dig up another bottle? Maybe next time I’m in NYC…

  • Jan V says:

    Hi March!
    I got your reply re: Scent Bar get together and am looking forward to meeting.

    A little off topic….While I’ll have to think a bit about scents I’m ambivilant towards, it’s funny you mention Azuree. I LOVE it, the original. Would I have even waited for a dry down upon spritzing in a store if I hadn’t read some of your and other perfumista’s reviews??? No Way. On paper, it is hideous; also the first 15 minutes are a bit of a challenge for me. After a good dry down period, I adore it. As for AE, I bought it unsniffed and it’s also difficult at first. Then, after about six hours(!) when I’ve forgotten about it, I keep smelling something good! It’s rare to have that long to wait for a proper drydown though so I rarely wear it.

    Oh, I had bought a bottle of Cinema for a great price at TJ Maxx a while back. Maybe I didn’t give it a proper chance, but it didn’t do a thing for me. It was not terrible, but not anything memorable IMHO. There are so many great ones to spend on that I returned it in spite of loving the bottle!

    Oh, Mitsouko…don’t know about this one. I guess it’s common to be conflicted about this one. One moment I feel like I have to get the Brillo out, then later I seem to detect something beauti

    I’ll be thinking of more later!

    • March says:

      OK, first of all, how did everyone find bottles of Cinema at TJ Maxx?!? Yet another example of how our TJ’s is total crap.

      Chandler Burr I think talks about pressure in the industry to make fragrances smell good on paper strips since that’s how many people try them first. (Also: focus on the top notes.) And you are right, original Azuree is Exhibit A in the opposite construct. It smells sour on paper and takes a while to calm down sufficiently to enjoy. The problem with so many modern mass market perfumes is, in my opinion, after the first 20 minutes all interest is gone.

      Now you’re making me want to grit my teeth and try the AE again. :d

      • Existentialist says:

        I think sometimes we have to wait for the scent to call to us. If you are thinking you have to grit your teeth to try AE, then wait a little longer. Your unconscious mind knows what it smells like, and it will let you know when you are ready for it. This was my experience with both AE and Azuree. You will know when you are ready, Grasshopper. 😉