Guest Post by Musette
Does there come a time in every perfume lover’s life when s/he takes a look/sniff at the vast array of scents out there and thinks, at least for a minute “Heck, I could probably do this myself!”??
Hmm… here’s what happened when a computer program and I did just that. Sorta.
Let’s start off by saying JCE sure ain’t shaking in his slippers just yet, though I did give it my best shot! I ‘designed’ a perfume, “Veiled Empress”, courtesy of Germany’s My Parfuem website. My Parfuem is an online DIY perfumer that allows you to choose pre-set bases with names like Female/Male Exotic and Female/Male Flower, etc. and add ingredients from there. The online creation is structured via a zoomy pie chart, with each ingredient broken down by type (floral/fresh ‘n fruity/spicy) – you can add as few or as many as you desire. The cost is 29 euros, with an additional 10 euros shipping to the U.S.
Sounds good so far? Ehhh… not quite. At least not for me. Let’s get back to the basics, which is the bases. The components are not listed, dangit, so you’re kinda working blind, to say the least. I don’t have a clue what Female Exotic is, though the pie chart has really pretty colors (I am a sucker for pastel pie charts and as you add more ingredients the chart colors zoom up and down; I swear, I’d still be fooling around with the chart but I have a Job, even if I do need to Get a Life!). My first inclination was to play it safe and go with a straight fruity-floral but c’mon – where’s the fun in that? At least try something a leetle different, right?
So I started with the Female Exotic base. I figured hey, it’s got two words that should make sense in a perfume – let’s see where this goes. I was banking on it smelling either like Shalimar or a drag queen (or both).
Olivia? You can go take a nap, honey. Your crown is safe. I ended up mixing in the dark, like a lunatic, akin to adding Cadmium red to something you pray is chrome yellow, but could be viridian. I really could’ve used some info on that base composition. One gal’s ‘exotic’….and all that.
The site also gives you no idea what’s going on with the ‘fume as you’re adding or subtracting ingredients. It would’ve been great to know if I was steering my boat into heavy floral waters or was I heading towards a spice market . Or if there’s any cure for my overuse of metaphor.
One of the goals was to figure out how this would work in general terms so I split my already scattered mind into two segments – one: a regular person who just wants a perfume to smell nice and the other: the perfumista wannabe, trying to figure out which notes would be required to support other notes (I can only claim ‘wannabe’ status, sorry!)
Here is the composition, described as “bloomy-exotic”
1x Ambergris 2x YlangYlang
1xTangerine 1x Musk
2xBergamot 2x Fresh Grass
What I got smells like a powderbomb with a touch of spice jumping around and a whole lotta sillage. The base is still an unwelcome mystery – it has a generic ‘blarrg’ smell (to mangle Lee’s description) that makes it smell like 90% of what you can find at any mid-level dept store. I think it could actually have had a fighting chance to be something much better, had I been aware of what’s in the base. And if the base were better quality. But at EU29 ….I dunno. It’s okaaay. It’s the sort of thing you would give as a gift, if the giftee weren’t really focused on perfume and just wanted the cachet of creating their own personal scent. [March butting in – you can give a gift certificate for the site, they’re clearly selling the idea of this being a fun thing to receive as a gift.]
And that would’ve been the end of it but I decided to do a bit of research with this – I took it on a road trip, blind-testing it across a wide spectrum. I covered different socio-economic groups including:
- 2 Really Wealthy Women , head-to-toe Hermes, blowin’ out the Platinum card like there’s no tomorrow
- 2 Regular Gals who shop at Wal-Mart and wear things like Charlie because it’s inexpensive, you get a lot of it and it smells nice
- 2 Regular Mid-level Gals who shop at Kohl’s but will drop a bundle on something they like, be it perfume or jewelry.
- 2 Regular-Upscale Women who wear things like Gucci because “it smells expensive”
- 1 visiting perfumista
- 2 high-end perfume SAs (male/female)
- 2 regular guys
- Lee (who may not have received my sample yet)
(descriptions are just to give you an idea of the type of folks I blind-tested this on, ‘cuz it gets really weird from there)
And, for giggles and snorts, I matched it against my latest love, PG Drama Nuui on everyone but March, Nava and Lee. Blind test, remember. Just opinion shopping.
So how’d it go? VE ate Drama Nuui’s lunch! Sucker punch!!!
Of those 11 folks who tried it: only THREE preferred DN over Veiled Empress. One of the SAs chose VE as their “you are stuck on a deserted island with only one of these scents to get you through your days” – the other chose DN but it was a close call – lots of consideration. Huh.
The perfumista chose DN but didn’t absolutely hate VE
One guy (El O) chose DN (VE made him sneeze)
Both RMLGals hated both VE and DN. (I’m not diagramming this – they’re just out!)
Regarding Veiled Empress I got things like ‘it smells powdery and fresh’ (that was a positive, even though I stunk up our tiny post office so bad with that blind test the Postmaster came out of the back and ran me out of there!), VE got “rich, older lady,” “nice,” “I would wear this a lot,” and one “where can I buy it?” Our postlady actually JUMPED BACK from the Nuui. Shriek!!! The other lady just looked stunned and confused at the Glory What Is Drama Nuui.
Wackos. Don’t they know that Drama Nuui is Da BOMB? Bomb-o-licious?
It is on my planet. Swear!
I will let Nava and March speak for themselves. They are not included in my highly precise research data.
I’m STUNNED that folks chose this over Drama Nuui. Which means that for all my argifyin’ about what My Parfuem should do (and I still think they should outline what elements are in the bases) they may be onto something. I don’t think this is for rabid perfumistas, unless they get more info into the program, break down the base components and describe what is happening to the composition as you add/subtract ingredients. If they ever decide to implement those elements into the program this would be a fun, interesting gift to give someone who is interested in perfume in general and likes the idea of creating their own. But for everybody else, it could be just the ticket to personal perfume heaven….?