Prescriptives Calyx, Chanel Coromandel: You smell (fill in the blank)

A few comments on a recent post of mine gave me pause for thought about how others perceive our fragrance. The perfume we wear can elicit strong responses, both positive and negative and sometimes in unexpected ways.

Prescriptives Calyx, Chanel Coromandel: You smell (fill in the blank)One of my earliest perfume compliments came back in the ’80s. I was wearing Prescriptives’s Calyx for the first time at work and walked into our small newspaper’s composing / pasteup room. One of the guys there had just put the story type on a page and it was running too long for the space allotted it. So after I had marked where it should be cut, he leaned in to trim it, looked over at me and said, “Wow! You smell absolutely delicious!” I think he liked it so much that he ended up buying some for his girlfriend. And I still like Calyx; if I were more inclined to wear more than just a dab or two, I think I’d probably still be hearing about it (in a good way, I hope.)

Then a few years ago, just after the Chanel Exclusifs had come out, I decided to test-drive Chanel Coromandel to work on a chilly winter day. (This was before the trend of offices cracking down on perfume, of course.) It evoked oohs and ahhs from several of my scent-loving co-workers, who remarked on how rich and elegant I smelled. So I pulled out my vial, and they dabbed away. It was a unanimous hit and I think that one or two of them got compliments later on it as well.

And we’ve all heard about people being chased down by strangers asking them what they’re wearing. Never happened to me, but, wow, wouldn’t that be flattering?

So what’s the best (or most interesting, odd, unusual, etc.) perfume compliment you’ve ever gotten? Or what do you wear that you know will get you noticed? For instance, I feel pretty certain that if I were to wear Carnal Flower to a party, wedding, etc., I’d get some positive feedback on it.

60 Comments

  1. I was once asked what I was wearing. When I said “Poison”, they answered “yes it certainly is”. Never wore it again..

    • Oh, no, Julie — how rude of them! I don’t care what anyone says, I like Poison (albeit in small doses). If you’re a Posse reader, I know you smell good, so I’ll sit by you any day!

    • I would not have liked to be on the receiving end of such wit. Ouch, for sure.

  2. It’s really rare for me to get any kind of compliment on perfume. My mother doesn’t like it when I wear Cuir de Russie, Mitsouko, Shalimar or just about any classic perfume. Her opinion is that they smell like ‘old lady’ perfume. Probably because there were a lot of old women that doused themselves in those because after a certain age, your sense of smell goes. Lately, I’ve taken to wearing a lot of Mitsouko (current formulation and ordered a vintage decant) this fall. But she really hates Sarrasins though because the opening is full on indoles. The last compliment that I got on a perfume was when I was wearing Deneuve (sadly discontinued) in extract form.

    • Hi, Eldarwen. I’ve finally come to realize that that’s what happened with many of the older ladies who went overboard with their scent (at my church growing up it was almost always Youth Dew). I feel badly that so many great classic scents get dubbed “old lady” perfume though. I can’t wear many of those you listed but they smell divine on several folks I know, so I can appreciate them for that. BTW, I love Sarrasins, too. So what do you wear that your mom likes?

      • My mother doesn’t really like most of my collection because they are ‘old lady’ or ‘too weird’. She has tried my Amouage Lyric, Deneuve and Worth Courtesan. Her opinion is that they smell better on me than her. I checked and Sarrasins and just about all the other cloche jars have arrived at Barney’s. I almost fell out of my chair at the price. It’s $300 for 75ml and still wouldn’t be able to order it online. The $300 is way too steep for me on a Serge Lutens scent. I guess that I am going to have to content myself with my decants of Sarrasins and have to save some pennies for A La Nuit. Not all is quite lost though, I have saved almost enough for a full bottle of Amouage Lyric.

        • Good for you on the Amouage — and those bottles are always so beautiful! I hear you on the SLs, it’s just gotten way too pricey. And for most things, I’m just as happy to have a nice-size decant anyway. Enjoy that Lyric when you get it!

          • I know a lot of readers do not like ebay,but it is a place to get many of the Serge Lutens at a discount. Yesterday a 3/4 bell jar of Sarrasins went for $99.

    • LOL, Eldarwen, your mother sounds a bit like mine. I love white-flower and indole-laden perfules. Oh, lilies and tuberoses! Then, at her first whiff of me, whether I’m wearing dime store cologne or $1,000/bottle French parfum (decant, of course!) her reaction is “Whew! You smell like a funeral parlor.” To just about any other scent it’s “… a $2 w***e.”

  3. Heya Ann,
    Jin and I were out grocery shopping and the lady behind us with her partner smelled so good I just had to ask. It was like the sun came out on her face, she was so happy to be asked and puffed out her chest to tell me it was Calvin Klein’s Obsession. We both went so red and our partners both looked at each other, rolled their eyes and smiled. It was like a 1950’s movie.
    My most complimented fragrance is Pear + Olive by Slumberhouse. I feel like a rock star when I wear it.
    Portia xx

    • Too funny, Portia! So nice of you to compliment her — that was probably the highlight of her day and you made her so happy. And on some people, Obsession really is terrific. If that Slumberhouse = rock star, I am SO getting some of it to try!! Thanks!

  4. A friend of mine told me that my perfumes smell really musty in the bottle but great when I put them on. I think the sample he was talking about was Cuir Venenum by Parfumerie Generale.

    • Joan, you’ve got some great skin chemistry there then! I’ve not tried that PG, but now you’ve piqued my interest. Thanks!

  5. I am glad that you are a Calyx fan, Ann, as it is certainly one of those perfumes that seem to divide the perfume community. But I have loved it from the moment I tested it all those years ago when it first launched, and always had lots of compliments when I wore it. The biggest of those was from a colleague at work who asked if I minded if she bought it to wear as her wedding perfume!

    Clinique’s Aromatics Elixir is also a love it or hate it type, but again I used to have people following me to sniff me (a bit like a pack of dogs really!). Caron’s Infini was another person magnet and I would get lovely comments on how amazing I smelt. I wear perfume for myself, but compliments are the icing on the cake, aren’t they?

    • Wow, Jillie, that wedding request was an amazing compliment! Calyx really is such a feel-good scent, both for the wearer and the sniffer, I think.
      I can understand, too, how Aromatics Elixir got you a “following” — it’s a great scent. I can’t wear it (it wears me), but on the right person it is just magic.
      I have not sniffed the Infini, but need to do so, as my Caron education is woefully lacking. But I don’t mind staying after school to catch up, tee-hee!

  6. Sisley #3- my dear husband. Go figure.
    My Mom’s 1960’s Chanel #5-my 17 year old son.
    Molinard de Molinard and Habanita-at grocery store.
    Poivre Piquant+de Hadrian-church.

    I love Calyx and need to acquire some.
    So many of the beautiful perfumes mentioned go rank on me.
    So frustrating!

    I love your posts Ann. Your questions and responses feel so welcoming.

    • Hi, Sarah! Those are some lovely scents and a nice collection of compliments. It’s extra-special when family members like something, isn’t it?
      And thank you so much for your kind words. I adore fragrance,
      and perfume folks are just the best, very friendly and generous, so I love chatting with them. Wish I could meet you all in person and give each of you a big hug!

    • Oooh, that Shalimar! A great fragrance on the right person really draws people in, doesn’t it? Shalimar is such a classic — really wish it liked me, but happy it’s a winner for you.

  7. When I used to only wear Shalimar a man wrote me and told me he’d been in a foreign city and got into an elevator and looked around to see where I was. It was such an evocative compliment. These days when I wear either Une Rose or
    Musc du Ravaguer by Malle everyone ask.s

    • Ah, there’s the lovely Shalimar again. When it works, it so works. M.J., what a wonderful compliment — you and Guerlain really made an impression on him! Great Malle choices, too — I can’t do rose, but the MR is so sultry and sexy, it’s bound to get noticed.

  8. My little granddaughter always comments “You smell wonderful!” when I wear Tocade.

    • What a sweet compliment, dear Pam! When the kids notice, it’s just so special. How old is she? BTW, I really need to try the Tocade again one of these days. Hope you’re doing well.

  9. In the 80’s my Mother was famously chased by a woman on the street who wanted to know what she was wearing – Estée Lauder Private Collection.

    With me, a few office workers (mostly female) have on occasion given compliments and asked what I was wearing. The culprits: Lady Danger (Juliette Has a Gun) and Lutens’ Chergui.

    • Oh, what a great story! Thanks for sharing. Even after all these years, I still think Private Collection is the bomb. But I have to be dressed up to wear it or I just don’t feel right.
      Chergui is so beautiful, isn’t it? I need to try the JHAG. Can’t believe I’ve not sampled anything from that line.

  10. I am going to be an outlier, here, I expect. I’ve received more compliments on Encre Noire (pour Homme) than I have on any other scent I wear, including one from a friend who said “I just want to sit next to you so I can huff you!”

    I will also mention that I have a perfume-hating relative, so I frequently douse myself in something strong to keep him away. Strip (by Agent Provocateur, now discontinued) is a good one for that, and I’ve received many negative comments on that, none of which I care to repeat.

    • Mmmm, that Encre Noir sounds delish, and to have someone want to sit by you and huff — well, that’s just off-the-charts cool! Sorry about the negative comments you’ve gotten, but as long as you enjoy the scent, that’s what really matters.

  11. Mycolleagues love Mythique and Bottega Veneta, not so much any of the Lutens that I wear, not even Iris Silver Mist, which is highly suspicious to me!

    • What? No comments on the ISM or other Lutens — some noses at your workplace must not be in perfect working order 😉 Or maybe it’s just that the Serges are so gorgeous that it leaves them speechless. But the Mythique and BV are really lovely scents in their own right. Enjoy them all …

  12. My husband loves my vanilla scents (Eau Duelle, SDV, Un Bois Vanille), so when we have a special date night, I’ll usually wear one of them. He always remarks how wonderful I smell.

    I love Coromandel, and I have a friend and colleague who loves it on me. So if I know we’re going to be at the same party, I’ll usually spritz some of that on. He mock-swoons when he catches a whiff.

    • Francesca, I’m with you on those lovely vanillas — your hubby has great taste! And so does your friend for enjoying your Coromandel.

  13. One summer, back in the ’90s, I was running a training program at a chemical plant and they gave me a room on the 2nd floor of the maintenance building. I had the only room in the building with air conditioning, so I got lots of visits from the workers on the first floor when I was between classes. Although I had moved on to another company by the time the holidays rolled around, the company was kind enough to invite me to their Christmas party. One of the wives of one of those maintenance guys told me that she and her husband had been shopping one day when her husband called out “Teri’s here. I smell her!”, and insisted that they hurry through the aisles and try to find me. We both laughed, realizing that, although phrased a bit awkwardly, it was definitely a compliment. Obviously this all took place when I was still wearing a ‘signature’ scent.

    In my current job, I work with a large group of guys – young and more mature – and they often come by for a whiff of my SOTD, giving me their critiques (unsolicited, but not necessarily unwelcome 😉 ). By far and away the best-liked scent of all that I wear is Patricia de NIcolai’s Fig Tea. Another one they all like is Parfums Delrae’s Debut. Vintage Bellodgia (Caron) is another surprising favorite.

    And yes, I have used my nose to chase a woman down the entire length of a large mall, sniffing like a bloodhound to isolate my quarrry, because she was wearing a scent that excited me. I remember she blushed at the compliment (in these days she’d have probably thought I was a stalker!) and told me exactly what it was and where to find it.

      • Oops, you’re so right. Mea maxima culpa.

        It was in the ’80s and it was the newly-launched Giorgio’s Red.

        • I used to wear that! it was my signature scent for years in the 80″s. I first smelled it on a magazine scent strip and looked all over to find it. Loved it! And got lots of compliments too!

          • What a fun story, Teri! How cool that you have your very own scent-critiquing “panel” at work — that must be fun. And glad your chase worked out so well and you got the Giorgio Red.

            Maggiecat, that was a great signature scent to have. I’m trying to remember exactly what it smelled like, but I do recall that it was not quite as overpowering as the original Giorgio could be, nor as ubiquitous either.

            • Oh my goodness — just looked on the Surrender to Chance site and they have samples of the Giorgio Red — whoo-hoo!

            • It’s a big ole ’80s scent for certain, but rather than being a floral bomb, it’s a spicy floriental that reminds me just a scoche of Samsara. The original Red was very much a chypre, but the more recent reformulation is sweeter and fruitier.

  14. Best compliment from strangers: at a hair salon, all the stylists went crazy over BK’s Straight to Heaven. Funny, because it’s one I like but don’t love, go figure…

    I have the greatest husband, and I always value his opinion on my perfumes. I try to wait for that unsolicited comment (hard for me to restrain myself from shoving my wrist under his nose…lol). I also treasure those honest (brutally honest sometimes) remarks from my teenagers. If they like it, it must surely beautiful…um wait a minute, their favorite perfume is Taylor Swift Wonderstruck…maybe not…but I’m flattered anyway! 🙂

    • Hey, Sherri, that’s pretty amazing to get a compliment at a hair salon, with all those other competing scents. Isn’t it funny that it wasn’t one of your most-loved fragrances? Sometimes that’s the way though.
      You’re lucky to have a great husband who notices (mine, though a wonderful guy, just shrugs and says, “It all smells good”). But my son will be pretty honest one way or the other, so I know what you mean …

  15. I’m a light applier, so I don’t get compliments from people very frequently, other than from family. I did get a compliment on 31 Rue Cambon once at work (“I really like that perfume. It’s very flowery.” Flowery? But hey, at least the coworker has good taste.)

    I do tend to receive a higher percentage of compliments when I wear white florals.

    • Hiya Mals, thanks for stopping by. I’m on the exact same page with you — I apply so lightly anymore that there’s not much to comment on or compliment. Too funny about the RC and “flowery,” but as you say, at least they have good taste.

  16. Most interesting comment – A co-worker pronounced me ‘sensuous’. I was wearing Jil Sander Sensations. Since we had worked together for almost 30 years and his only previous comments had fellen in the realm of ‘nice’ or ‘interesting’, it took me awhile to pull myself together and stop gawking at him.

    • Whoo-hoo, Mary Beth! That was a doozy! No wonder you were nearly dumbstruck. What on earth did you reply to that? Or maybe all you can do at that point is say, “Uh, thank you very much.”

  17. Funny topic. I always laugh when I remember a boyfriend, when I used a different perfume, used to say, I like the way you smell naturally. And I always had miguet on. He thought I sweated lily of the valley I guess.

  18. The only compliment I have ever gotten was when I wore Halston.

    I smelled some great perfume on a woman in the MD’s office, long ago, and had to ask what it was. I can’t remember the name now, but it was from QVC. I ordered it immediately and couldn’t wait for it to be delivered. Alas, it smelled HORRIBLE on me, to the point that it made me physically sick! Learned my lesson on that one. Now, I sample before I buy!

    • Oh, no, Cyn — that’s awful! And some of those HSN scents probably aren’t all that easy to sample. But glad you scored with the Halston: a great scent and I always loved its cool bottle, too.

  19. Another Calyx lover checking in! My biggest compliment getter is Shalimar, I’ve had several people follow me to ask me what I was wearing. I also got loss of compliments when I wore Dolce and Gabbana’s original (red cap) Pour Femme. Men adored it- I waitressed at the time and tips were very good!

    • Yay! Hey sweet M, you are one of the lucky ones for whom Shalimar was made — wish you’d rub off on me 🙂 I don’t remember ever sniffing that D&G, but if it brought on the tips, it was a winner!

  20. Calyx always elicits great responses. I wore it back in the day as well – and I remember two instances: One, where I was holding a friend’s baby for awhile. When I gave him back she said “wow. he smells INCREDIBLE! “. The other, I was in a coffeeshop with El O when a women leaned over and said ‘wow, you smell terrific! What are you wearing?”

    The most recent fabbo responses have been for Liz Zorn’s Centennial (my CPA) and Xerjoff’s Irisss (at the bank). Both responders were women – men don’t comment on things like that around here. Alas.

    xo :Devil:

    • Howdy, divine Ms. M! I forgot that you are a Calyx fangirl from way back, too. I need to sniff that Liz Zorn as you and others have raved about it.
      BTW, is it some kind of social taboo there or does complimenting a woman violate their man code or something? Maybe some of the guys do like what you’re wearing but can’t (or are afraid) to say so.

  21. I have a co-worker. Both she and I were into perfumes long before I knew words “perfumista” or “niche” (and she learned them from me though she’s still mostly goes for mainstream perfumes). But since we both liked and had many perfumes we never knew who owned what perfume and from time to time would say: “Oh, it smells nice! What are you wearing today?” And on many occasions it was the same perfume. Hugo Boss Deep Red. We both owned it. We both liked it. But we didn’t recognize it every time when the other one was wearing it.

    • Wow, Undina, that is TOO funny! I guess great minds really do think alike, eh? That you both liked it on each other but didn’t recognize what it was, well, that’s a real testament to the power of skin chemistry. Do you two have any other scents in common?

      • The second perfume that we both like and own is Vera Wang by Vera Wang. But this one we recognize (almost always 😉 ).

        • Cool! And who knows? You might have others in common but just have never worn them around each other. Wouldn’t it be neat to peek into other people’s perfume cabinets once in a while, just for fun?

  22. Hi sweet Ann, the lady who turned me onto Calyx! I get compliments on a number of fragrances, but the one that consistently gets me compliments from strangers is Hermes 24 Faubourg. This always suprises me, as it seems to get mixed reviews from online perfumistas, but apparently I smell good in it! 😉

    • Hey, doll! Thanks for stopping by. So glad you are still grooving on the Calyx. And I’m joining you in the 24 Faubourg chorus — such a flat-out beautiful scent — how could it NOT get noticed? And the parfum version is simply to die for …

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