Quirky Monday: Odd or unexpected notes in perfume

oddHave you ever worn a fragrance and one (or more) of the notes just kept pinging your nose, for better or worse? And you’re thinking, “What on earth is that?” My recent reunion with Aviance did just that for me and got me pondering unusual or odd notes in scents.

Some that I’ve come across:

The aforementioned Aviance (Prince Matchabelli from the ’70s) has what I’ve dubbed a “lighter-fluid” accord in it, but I rather like it as it adds to the scent’s dry, quirky nature.

After an AMAZING start, Ramon Monegal’s Mariposa came out swinging with a big fig note that put me down for the count for the rest of the fragrance’s life. It’s like the fig just KO’d all the other notes in the middle to drydown. My weird skin must amp that note something fierce because it wasn’t nearly so noticeable on a friend. Wanted to love this one so much … big sigh.

odd 2Niki de Saint Phalle’s marigold note adds an interesting twist to an already unusual scent. It’s equal parts weird and wonderful, and though not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like it, you like it. It gets bonus points for coming in a variety of colorful, interesting bottles, especially this one with the entwined snakes.

The oregano (or was it the pimento berry oil?) did me in with Amouage Interlude Man; the scent’s first 20 minutes were rather jarring to me, then it settled down nicely into a warm, vanilla-ish smoky goodness. But not nearly nicely enough to go down that bumpy opening road again. I know many of you love it, but I’ll have to give it a pass.

Pucci’s Vivara had a cold, almost stainless steel-like ribbon running through it that was a bit off-putting and made the fragrance feel sterile and somewhat clinical at one point in its development.

A whopper of a chemical, plasticky note overwhelmed M/MINK on me and gave this Byredo scent the distinction of being the first real scrubber I had ever encountered. The Adoxal, perhaps? I think this fragrance is an odd bird that people either love or hate, but there’s no doubt that it’s got originality in its corner.

BTW, isn’t there a fragrance out there that many people say seems to have a celery note in it?

For better or worse, what are some of the most unusual or odd notes that you’ve come across in your fragrant travels?

88 Comments
Mary P. July 8, 2013

There is a note in Kenzo's Jungle L'Elephant that reminds me of putty or caulking in the middle and I have no idea what it is.

Kismet June 12, 2013

When I first tried Atelier Cologne's new Mistral Patchouli, the opening instantly reminded me of Raid bug spray--anise, maybe? Some days it still does, but oddly enough I grew to like it. The drydown is soft and mellow, but still interesting. Now Mistral P. has become one of my summer favorites and I wear it a lot.

Farouche June 11, 2013

The opening skanky medicinal notes in Le Labo Oud 27 brought me to my knees, and not in prayer, except maybe to make it all go away! After an hour or two, the drydown is pleasant and interesting, but not enough so to make me ever spray this on my person again. I got this in a swap, and will swap it away asap.

Nadja Sand June 10, 2013

Well, I've encountered a whole array of feces and urine notes... Some vomit too and a bit of horse manure. I can't quite handle urine notes, or vomit, but feces/manure is actually kind of nice! One manure favorite that comes to mind is Olympic Orchids Tropic of Capricorn

Amer June 10, 2013

There it is again, the beautiful snaked bottle. Still haven't found it on ebay. I give up! I am very open to the "weird", ink, gasoline, blood, you name it. It is the "off" I have problems with. For example, there is something in Luna Rosa by Prada that smells like sweaty, oil stained clothes... not that I have any of those. Terre d'Hermes seems to have a celery note to my nose.

Jennifer Counts June 10, 2013

I really like the marigold note in Niki de Saint Phalle. That's probably my favorite thing about it. I also like the caviar note in Womanity. Now for the ones I don't get along with so well: I get something Windexy in Alien. I want to like it but that thing just bugs me. PdN L'Eau a la Folie was straight up Lysol. Ys Uzak Pohadka had a thymol-like note that reminded me of Method anti-bacterial kitchen cleaner. In both Ineke Sweet William and SL Santal Majuscule I get a note that kind of reminds me of butter-flavored cooking spray. I'm guessing its a synthetic wood material. It wasn't a deal-breaker but it struck me as a little weird at first. I really wanted to like Tauer's Carillon pour un Ange, but there is something in it that really irritates me. I like the scent, but there is something in it that gave me coughing fits the day I wore it.

Tiara June 10, 2013

Not sure what the exact ingredient is, but I cannot take the overcooked buttered popcorn vibe. There have been several perfumes from which I got that but the one that bothered me the most was SSS Champagne de Bois. I typically do quite well with Laurie's scents so that was a major surprise. And yes, I tried several times so it wasn't a fluke.

eldarwen22 June 10, 2013

I don't know why is the I find Coco Mademoiselle and Amouage Ubar to be perfumes that I really can't stand on me. I get the whole bug spray and flowers vibe. People have told me that I smell good but I keep getting a whole lot of bug spray.

rosarita June 10, 2013

I read this post last night and didn't comment until this morning so I could really think about it. There is a note in some perfumes that I like otherwise but I get an Ajax or Comet cleanser whiff, usually in the drydown, that really bugs me. I now take my time and really sniff these scents at all stages and have identified vetiver in some form. I can conquer the cleanser bit by breathing deep and concentrating. Sounds weird, I know. Otherwise, most of the off putting notes I smell are pretty common, I think - bandaids in some aouds, turpentine in Borneo, menthol in Carnal Flower, that kind of thing.

Mals86 June 10, 2013

I sometimes have difficulty with that celery note - it was very prominent, to me, in Iris Ukiyoe, so that I started to call it "Iris Ooky." After having some conversation with Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio (I get on well with her florals in particular), we determined that it may be a jasmine fractional material that smells very close to celery, so I'm not surprised it pops up in several scents. Aromatics Elixir smells like urine on a rose hedge to me and is therefore totally unwearable. Oddly enough, I can and do enjoy blackcurrant, which does smell sort of cat-pee-like to me, I just don't care. There's something in the drydown of PdN Maharanih that smells exactly like sweaty jockey shorts to me. I mean, very man-specific sweat.

Elia June 10, 2013

Reading through these posts I finally remembered what else I've scrubbed. A*Men. There's a burnt note in it, which is ridiculously loud and purely reminiscent of industrial chemicals. The SA hit me heavy and I didn't want it following me around all day so I washed it straight off.

Lynley June 10, 2013

There's a chemical screechiness to Red Door that I can't stand. It gives me a massive headache and just smells vile to me. I look at the list of notes and nothing seems to be the culprit as I like those notes in other frags. odd. Poison used to do the same, for more than 20 years! Until one day I suddenly developed an understanding and instant love for tuberose- and kaboom! Poison suddenly smelled lovely!

fleurdelys June 10, 2013

Yes, I have had that happen, and it always means the fragrance is not for me. Mostly, it has happened with chypres, which I'd love to love but just can't. Paloma Picasso, Niki de Saint Phalle, Knowing, etc., all have a note (maybe the oakmoss?) that makes me feel like someone is poking me in the back with a stick. Another was SSS's Femme Jolie,very pretty in general, but there was one note that kept popping out and harassing my olfactory nerves, as pesky as a mosquito.

Lynne Marie June 10, 2013

Cartier's So Pretty - Eventually you get to these wonderful fruity/ black current notes that are just luscious but first you have to wade through about 20 minutes of what I can only describe as a "soiled diaper" note - so NOT pretty. I just can't wear it, even to get to the good stuff.

Tara June 10, 2013

Melon (shudder) - Angel for women smells like huge rotting melons to me. Totally impossible, makes me gag. I love the mens version though... Chocolate and coffee, yum!

Sherri June 10, 2013

Absinthe! Sometimes it is too much to bear, as in Kilian's Taste of Heaven. Other times it is that little bit of interest, in my mind that little "beauty mark" that renders a beautiful woman both stunning and interesting, as in the case of Amouage Memoir.

Connie June 10, 2013

Carrots in Bois dÓmbrie!

masha7 June 10, 2013

I had a funny (sort of) experience with L'Artisan's Dzongkha. I wore it out several times, and people were looking at me funny, but not saying anything. Then someone asked me privately why I smelled like whiskey. I said I didn't drink whiskey, can't stand the stuff. He sniffed me and said he begged to differ! About a month later, the mystery was solved when I smelled Dzongkha on someone else. That whiskey note was HUGE! Why hadn't I smelled it before? Now that's all I can smell when I spray it. So sad, I can't wear it now.

Helena June 10, 2013

Caviar note in Womanity

poodle June 10, 2013

Peach is a tough note for me sometimes. When it's good it smells like peach, when it's bad it smells like cat pee. I'm with you on the Interlude Man. I'm thinking it might be the oregano too now that you mention it. Whatever it is it gets in my nose and it's just grating and unpleasant. Iris Silver Mist sent me running for the soap as well. I don't know if it's the amped up iris that I don't like or something else about it. I could not get it off fast enough.

Elia June 10, 2013

I've only just tried Sécrétions Magnifiques, and the opening is truly repulsive. Coconut is general is a cheap trick in perfumery and layered over seaweed makes for a truly horrible effect. I also really don't like the pee in Shalimar's opening. I think it's the only thing I've ever scrubbed.

Lisa D June 10, 2013

Yes! Chypre Rouge has a strangely celery-like note in it, that I've kinda come to appreciate. Angelica, maybe? This one doesn't get much love - I've heard some people compare it to the scent of Red Hots - but I really like it.

Emily S June 10, 2013

I get a very distinct adhesive smell from Timbuktu-- something like peppery tape. Also, band-aids in TF Black Orchid- rubber and sterilized, yuck! And Amy K, you have me interested to smell a pickled green bean!

Amy K June 10, 2013

The Unicorn Spell comes to mind: violet, iris, and pickled green bean. It was a little too odd for me.

Liz K June 10, 2013

I think it is the hemlock in SSS Forest Walk that just makes me feel uncomfortable. Is that the cinnamon-y scent in the opening? The rest of the ride is great but the first hour or two I have to really fight not to gag. I have been known to put a dab on under a long sleeved shirt and go outside to do some work until the opening smooths out. Needless to say, this will never be a fb scent for me.

hajusuuri June 10, 2013

Coconut (but a good buttery smooth, well done one) in Slumberhouse Olive + Pear. I don't like coconut in perfume but in Olive + Pear, it was masterfully blended.

Artist June 10, 2013

Tomato Leaves!! and warm dirt! Memory of Kindess / CB I Hate Perfume

RuthF June 9, 2013

Yes, Amouage Lyric woman, I almost love this fragrance but there's one small facet that bothers me, not sure what it is?