What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet




Well, yes.  There is that.  But once you hear (or see) something named it’s difficult to separate the thing from the name.  At least it is for me.  And names can be so evocative that it becomes difficult to imagine something not as exotic as a name would suggest.

I thought about this when cinnamon reviewed the Guccis, particularly The Voice of the Snake.  Now, I dunno about you but when I first read that name (back when they first came out) I was sooo intrigued – the idea of an exotic, raspy, dry-as-dust reptilian voice… Kaa from Kipling’s The Jungle Book first came to mind, when he nearly snared Baloo and Bagheera, with his figure 8s and his raspy, hypnotic voice.  I imagined a modern, reimagined Djedi, a dark cave…maybe some cast-off snake skins (which do have a smell)… that living, reptilian smell (I have a herpetologist hobbyist friend – her ‘Snake Room’ smells ‘specific’)..  alas, much as cinnamon’s experience mine was…. Eh. Certainly it did not live up to what the name conjured.

There are so many others, not all ‘eh’ , but all of them are driven by the name.  Annie Vannier’s Romea d’Ameor perfume line (what happened to that line?  Try as I might, can’t find a website, so the fabulous Fragrantica it is) always springs to mind when I consider this.  It’s a brilliant concept, the entire line based upon important women in history (types (or a certain class?), not a specific woman, which makes it even more intriguing).  And I absolutely ADORE the tippy-shaped bottles but love them more en masse than separately because of the colored tassels (but that is for yet another post, how easily I can be swayed by an accessorized bottle.  Sigh)…

But those names!  That is a LOT of heavy lifting for a perfume.

Consider:  The Great Empresses of Japan.  The Sovereigns of Egypt. The Princesses of Venice, et al.

Those names conjure such impressions!  The Princesses of Venice (from back when it was a city-state) … I can imagine Venice, the epicenter of trade and the gateway to Asia…gorgeous women in gorgeous silk gowns, crossing intricately tiled floors to their private gardens overlooking the canals….

What on earth could that possibly smell like? Well… it doesn’t smell at all like I envision it (my vision includes a heavy rose, some frog (canals, don’tchaknow) and a bit of a sweaty note – this is, after all, the Republic of Venice, from the first Doges … ‘twas a sweaty time.)… to be honest, I’m not persackly sure what it should smell like but the name conjures something a bit more portentious than the citrus notes would suggest.  The scent itself is lovely – just not what I was expecting based on the name.

Ariana Grande’s Sweet Like Candy, on the other hand…

And it’s not just perfume.  I’ve fallen in love with nail polish names and desperately want to wear them, even as I know (I KNOW) they will make me look like I have a fungus.   And absolutely gawjus YNBB (my superpower, the YNBB line) with vomiticious names (OPI, I’m lookin’ at you).  But when a name works, it works.  Witness the gorgeous Gomez and his brother-from-another-mother, Jupiter.  Both deep purple/blue/black glitters, they totally embody my notion of what Sr. Gomez and the Thunder Planet should look like..

Flowers (including the aforementioned rose)… I’ve fought my way through either loving a name/hating a rose or hating a name/loving a rose.  One of my favorite narcissus, Baby Boomer – omg.  I HATE THAT NAME!  Gorgeous flower, though.

Obviously this is a Me Problem – folks can name things as they will and I’ll either love it or I won’t.  But I’m curious:  am I the only Name Whiner out here?  Do any of you get stuck in the name game?  Tell me about it.  M. Jacques just got a pawnicure and is wanting to poke the rando button.

Speaking of … he has a WINNER! from   my last Musings post – actually, he has TWO!  Teresa and rosarita!!  Gmail yer evilauntieanita (commenting here that you won is lovely – but it doesn’t give me the details I need to get your stuff to you).  I’ll get some goodies out to you!

  • alityke says:

    Turning this coin over. Isn’t the best evocative name/scent match Dune?
    A single syllable yet the word is so descriptive. The perfume is a perfect word made scent

  • March says:

    Late to the party, but what a lovely post! Baby Boomer is deeply stupid name for a flower. I remember having buy a rose years ago because it was called Sugar Moon, which I thought was such a lovely name Xo

  • Tom says:

    I am there with you on the name thing. Sometimes the name just doesn’t work with the juice (baiser du dragon- great name for a IMHO rather forgettable scent) or is sometimes a warning (pink sugar- although I would have called it “radioactive toothache”)

    I even feel that way about other products- I thought it was a big mistake for Cadillac to drop the names and gor for alphnumeric soup that they couldn’t stick to or justify- why would I want to trade my Eldorado for an ETC? What is a CT4 and what is a CT5? Is one bigger? Better? Do they resonate more than Calais, Seville, or deVille?

    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    • Musette says:

      No. They do not resonate more. They do not resonate at all. But it seems as if the general populace has abandoned a lot of nuance……. we may be the last generation to really appreciate the beauty of words like that..


    • alityke says:

      Are these names created by AI, just easier to type in or part of the car dealer/manufacturer code?
      Is Lone Scum right & AI is taking over the world?

  • Maggiecat says:

    I’ve written before about Juliette Has A Gun and their Lady Vengeance. To me, LV us a strong, but warm and comforting scent, for when the weather or the world is cold and I need a good cuddle. As a former teacher trained in Active Shooter drills, however, I found myself reluctant to wear the scent to school lest I be asked what I was wearing and end up in the security office.

    • Musette says:

      Maggiecat, this comment breaks my heart (not your fault) – the fact that teachers being trained in Active Shooter drills has become the norm.
      LV is a warm cuddle, innit?


  • Maya says:

    I have definitely tried perfumes because of their names and if the notes seem interesting. The Voice of the Snake caught my attention too, but no, it has saffron, so no no no. I always think snake with Xerjoff Irisss! I’m with Dina C on Tom Ford. It also feels of desperation to me. I still love Mark Buxton Sleeping With Ghosts and am going to buy backups. That all started because of the name. It worked for Buxton and for me. It got me to try others of his – Black Angel and Devil in Disguise, both of which I like – and I found at least one perfume I love.

    • Musette says:

      Irisss is one of my favorite irises and… I don’t think I’ve ever thought ‘snake!’ Must revisit!
      The Buxtons sound lovely!
      I love some of TF’s work but some of the names do sound desperate, don’t they!

      • Maya says:

        I think Irisss is beautiful too. It’s not the fragrance but the name that makes me think snake. The sss in the name is like a hisss to me. lol.

  • Dina C. says:

    Your snake description gave me chills, Anita. So creepy. I have an aversion to them having been bitten a few years ago. So, nothing with “snake” or “spider” in it. No thanks! Also won’t give a penny to Tom Ford’s raunchy named scents. That vulgarity is a complete turn off. I don’t care what they smell like. I won’t reward those marketing tricks. On the flip side, I’m a sucker for words like garden, poet, song, castle, silver…anything pretty.

    • Musette says:

      Honey! Getting bitten by a snake would give pretty much anybody an aversion to them! I hope it wasn’t venomous – and if it was, I hope it wasn’t too horrific (obviously you’re still here so it wasn’t TOO horrific but venomous bites create so much drama!)


  • Anita Lane says:

    Thank you Musette!!
    Names don’t bug me much. Neither do bottles, I’m all about the juice lol. Otherwise I’d never try Zoologist and they’re one of my favorite houses, but wearing Moth, Bat, especially Cow, are oddball names. (Cow is a big favorite of mine.)

    • Musette says:

      LOL! Zoologist is persackly what I am talking about – I loved the idea, loved the names… did not love the juice(s) so much. Glad you do, though!!!


  • cinnamon says:

    Ah, names. Don’t know how many times I’ve been caught in the ‘that’s so good I have to try it’ trap simply to be disappointed (see ‘Snake’ above, which per the SA is the most popular fragrance in the line — go figure). I like that marketing people try but generally they aren’t that successful. Every once in a while they nail it though. And then there are simply words that sound so good, such as (to my mind): indubitably, unctuous, felicitations, and many words in Yiddish, which sound exactly like what they mean (eg, mashugana — go look it up 🙂 ).

    • Musette says:

      I love those words – and I agree that a good-sounding word is a lovely thing! Names can be a trap, I agree! That ‘Snake’ one was a real trap, dagNABBIT!


  • Portia says:

    HAH! So many Musette.
    Almost anything with NOIR in it.
    One that I had really high hopes for was Masque Kintasugi. Nope.
    Now you ask I can’t think of more, sorry.
    Portia xx