Thursday, May 27, 2010

There's Hope for the Average Perfume Customer Still

I don't make a habit of reporting my fragrance consulting services, as I believe one person's qualms against jasmine and another's perception of patchouli as "mothballs-like" are of no particular interest to others, unless they happen to share them. Yet a recent session proved so particularly surprising and satisfactory on multiple levels, one of which is reinforcement of the belief that the consumer isn't a fool after all, that I thought you might get a kick out of it and maybe start a dialogue about similar observations you have made. At any rate, you'll be the judge in the comments!

My subject was a girly girl in her 20s, style-aware and groomed, interested in fragrances in general, exposed to mainstream market scents and marginally familiar with basic perfume vocabulary. Her skin is normal and lightly-toned and she has dark hair and light green eyes. She initially professed a like for floral fragrances, noticing two I wore in the preliminary conversations (Insolence Eau de Toilette and Lys Mediterranée) with no particular "NOs" pointed out. She possesses what is commonly called "a mathematical mind" and considers fragrance wearing a feminine touch but also a delight for the senses. This info is routinely amassed to summarise preferences and peculiarities, although I follow a complimentary technique based on a quick pop-quizz with multiple choices that seem out of the loop ~which you will please allow me to keep to myself for now, after all I have a business to attend to.

I organised the list of fragrance bottles to try so that most would be accessible without too much trouble where she lives, that they span across different fragrance families and different eras and that they embody some of the characteristics which came out of the short interview and test she took. I also took pains to propose fragrances which for the most part could be worn in a warmer climate, with a couple of exceptions.

So what did I present her with? Here's the list!

1. Diorella by Dior (A classic green-fruity chypre with summery appeal)
2. Cristalle by Chanel in Eau de Toilette concentration (A fresh citrusy "green" that is higher pitched)
3. Eau d'Hermès (A mid-of-the-century classic built on citrus-leather accords with a "dirty" musky underside)
4. Lys Mediterranée by F.Malle (A salty, spicy floral of lily and a foray into niche)
5. Insolence by Guerlain in Eau de Parfum concentration (A metallic and hair-spray violet & berries scent that is especially lasting)
6. Grand Amour by Annick Goutal (A heady floral bouquet that veers into floriental)
7. Rumeur by Lanvin (A modern woody musk with undefinable florals thrown in)
8. Shalimar by Guerlain in vintage Eau de Cologne (The classic oriental standby with a bronze-y feeling of smoked vanilla and oppoponax).
9. Theorema by Fendi (The discontinued marvel that combines the gourmand aspects of orange chocolate and traditional resinous heritage into an oriental fit even for summer)
10. Fumerie Turque by Serge Lutens (A milky take on a masculine theme, tobacco, and the trial by fire on baroque compositions)
11. Mitsouko by Guerlain in vintage parfum concentration (The very essence of rich fruity chypre with a murky depth of oakmoss sensuality)
12. Eau de Merveilles by Hermès (An odd duck out, fitting in no particular category, poised as it is between a salty ambergris skin-scent and woody overtones of non-definable nature)

A dozen does not a dime make: The testing period involved at home living with the fragrances for a few days, before choosing one as a favourite which would be the compass into more specific and nuanced suggestions (and to that end, I welcome your ideas!). Her pick?

No drumroll emoticon could be enough, as the choice although perfectly transparent for the two of us, is quite surprising to the rest of the world I guess: The unisex masterpiece from 1951, bring niche before there was niche, and the one which one of its accolytes, perfumer Jean Claude Ellena professes to like "one among a handful of people in France who wear it". Eau d'Hermès then, my friends, and don't let me catch anyone bad-mouthing youths as uncouth. Some of them know a good thing when they see it!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Fragrances for Myers Briggs types, Questions & Answers with a Fragrance Consultant, In Which I Fragrance Consult

photo collage found via troktiko , bottles photo by member Guerlain/Susana on Fragrantica's public board


  1. Fascinating report. And yes, I'm as surprised as you to learn that the girly-girl picked EDH of all things. From your description you'd think she'd have run to seek shelter from the bad, dirty world that is that animalic musk accord EDH lovers like myself cherish; the whole point of EDH after all is its contrast of high class and hot sweat. But anyway, kudos to the girl for having the savvy for an edgy selection.
    Thanks for sharing.
    All the best,

  2. Wow, that is very interesting. I've not yet tried Eau d'Hermes, mainly because I never see it around. I recall reading LT's review in The Guide and being dissuaded from trying it, as he places it in the "mature" camp. That being said, I love that she picked it. It makes me think I need to investigate this, since by my tastes I should totally love it with all of its animalic elements! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Very interesting and, yes, surprising. At least to me. It's nice to see a young'un choosing something so unexpected, though you say her choice was transparent for both of you during the consultation. Wish you could reveal more!

    By the way, I finally got myself a bottle of Eau d'Hermès at last.

  4. Michael,

    ah, but I had presented it as a citrus-leather... I didn't mention anything dirty and lo and behold she didn't focus on dirty! Now that she loves it, she starts to realise that it has an intimate feel, but she's unphazed.

    Yeah, high class combined with hot sweat is a perfect description!!(love this frag) :-)

  5. Jared,

    it's definitely a worthy discovery, especially if you like musks with a hint of leather in there and classic citrusy-spicy cologne notes. It is nothing like a modern "aromatic fougere" is, of course (all starched and ozonic sharp), but it's not exactly stuff only for grandpas either! ;-)
    You could pull it off!

    If you can't find it anywhere to sample, I would be happy to send you off a small decant so you can try it at your leisure. Just email me using the contact in the profile and I will have this out in the mail for you! :-)

  6. G,

    without ruining the consultation's privacy terms and the advantage of doing this my own unique way (*wink*), I can tell you that she had shown a predeliction for freshness with good staying power that did not fall into either the powdery-ambery nor the mossy earthy kind. This is probably why she picked two statement-making (and weird in their own way) florals initially, before zooming into EdH. But once the juxtaposition of "class and sweat" hit the nostrils, there it was.

    Congrats on the purchase and wear it in good health, it's fabulous!! :-)

  7. Fiordiligi11:08

    Hello - I'm back in the swing of things! What a fascinating article, my dearest, and what a surprise that this young lady should choose a scent that I think is marvellous and that Roja Dove, who also adores it, calls "filthy." Indeed there is hope.

    You clearly offer a Very Important Service to your clients!

  8. Thank you for the explanation! I would have thought she would go for the florals, like you said. Great that she zoomed in another direction!

    I'm loving EdH. Can't wait to try it when the heat kicks in here!

  9. very interesting- hooray for Hermes and for taste!

    Whenever I play let's perfume shop with people they end up saying the like all my tips but will stick with Lacoste Pink or whatever. Sigh. I am in the process of converting a civilian to Apres L'Ondee though!


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