For about a decade there has been in Australia a perfume chain known as Perfume Connection, consisting of mall outlets in major cities, and a website. Today the Perfume Connection shop in my city closed its doors.
When it began, Perfume Connection seemed to aim for the middle of the mainstream market: celebuscents at one end of its range, and and good smattering of the top-brass Chanels and Diors at the other. It didn’t sell knock-offs but it didn’t sell niche either.
In the early days Perfume Connection used to sell perfume minis, and when my children were small and we had hardly any money, I used to take full advantage of this. The minis ranged in price from about $19 to $25 each, which is a lot for 5 mls of perfume but of course you got the pretty little bottle. And before online fragrance selling took off, there was in my part of the world just no way to buy designer perfume cheaply. Australian department stores don’t make samples for you to take home and so unless you got lucky with a special promotion or a gift-with-purchase, it was full price or nothing.
How I loved those perfume minis in Perfume Connection, arranged like tiny jewels in their cabinet! I got to know Arpege, Cristalle, and L’Air du Temps that way, and I even that weird thing – Princess Marina de Bourbon (too fruity for me, but still fun). But then, almost over night, the minis disappeared. The company must have got busted for selling them, because minis are supposed to be ‘not for resale’.
In recent years the prestige brands at PC started to disappear in favour of lower end stuff, and brands I never see anywhere else, like La Perla and Stendhal. For ages I have been wondering what is going on at Perfume Connection and today I found out. The store in my city sold the last of its stock, and closed its doors.
Fragrances are one sector of retail in Australia hit hard by the online revolution. Even with shipping it is often cheaper to buy from a discounter based overseas. There are many reasons for this, including local taxes and a high Australian dollar. A senior SA at PC told me that the whole company is folding, including all the shops and the website. (However, the site is still up and it still lists about 35 retail outlets.) Is Perfume Connection a victim of online discounters, I asked her.
‘Well, I’m not an online shopper myself’, she hedged. ‘What about you?’
‘Ah, um, it depends on the product … ‘, I replied, equally evasively.
‘Yes’, she agreed. ‘Perfume is one of those things you have to try first, isn’t it?’
Indeed it is, I thought, but of course what people do is try the testers in the shop and go home and order online. I do it all the time (often buying not full bottles but decants). I am one of the reasons she and her colleagues are losing their jobs.
Anyway, today I made up for it a little. I bought Gucci Rush for 25% off, and an almost-full tester of Lauder’s Private Collection. My friend bought Givenchy’s Ange ou Demon, and a tester of Dior’s Poison. I have a lot of good memories of Perfume Connection, and I was glad to be there on the last day in my local store.
I’d heard of Rush but not smelled it. After testing it on my arm for an hour while I shopped for groceries, I could not get back to Perfume Connection fast enough to buy it. At home after soaking in the bath to wash off all the various perfumes I had tried, I gave myself a fresh spritz of Rush and sat down to enjoy the wonderful online reviews. Bloggers love reviewing Rush, and no wonder. If you love it, it makes you feel happy. Just – happy.
It reminds Katie Puckrick of her disco clubbing years, and even though Rush was released later than that – 1999 – I agree. She thinks of Sylvester’s ‘You make me fell mighty real’. My pick is Amii Stewart’s ‘Knock on Wood’. How I loved that song! Here it is, in all its screaming technicolour. Enjoy!