Monday, June 13, 2011

"Stop Dousing with Musky Perfume" (From Facebook) & a Giveaway

It's always interesting to hear about the perception of people on fragrances and scent related matters. So when I came across a mention* of an actual Facebook post that addressed the dreaded "old lady perfume" phenomenon, I knew it had hit a chord. The actual FB post wrote: "Dear Middle-Aged Women, please stop dousing yourselves in musky perfume. No one enjoys it but you. Thanks".
This is probably the most passive-agressive thing I have read in a long time. Let me count the ways:

1. Condescending tone: Pretty obvious, dear Facebooker!

2. Blanket statement: Obviously not all middle-aged women resort to that behaviour.

3. Confusion: What exactly is "musky" again? As we have discussed, there is a huge cultural association of musk in perfumes and most people don't even know what they're talking about (precious few have smelled real musk from the deer musk). Musky emphatically does NOT equate aldehydic, nor mossy/ dry/ powdery (most usual categories of mature women's perfume due to fashions at their heyday), nor even animalic per se, as we have determined in our extensive Old Lady vs Older Woman Perfume Wars article.

4. One iota of truthfulness, but meddled: Indeed dousing one's self with perfume might be too much. Touché! But again, "dousing" is relative. What's much to you might be little to me and so on. Who makes the rules?

5. The pièce de résistance: God forbid if anyone does anything to please themselves!! No, in this Botox-ed, plastic boobs & prosthetic butts, fake hair tresses and spinning-toned bodies' society you have to first think about how you appear to others and only later (much, much later) on what pleases yourself. If this is how we're supposed to live from now on, you can count me out. I might have more fun in my coffin.

Just because someone has a public soapbox on Facebook gives them the impression that they can vent publicly on whatever irks them on day to day life. Let us discuss at length our nose snot, isn't that interesting.
Some of us are only approaching middle-age, but we could cite many younger (or older or same-age, doesn't really matter!) people we have met, who were wearing the most obnoxious, far-reaching, oversurupy plastic-fantastic fragrant stuff that would make us want to reach for the barf bag if only we weren't brought up with piano and French.

In the end it's all a matter of choice: Affronting the issue by taking that someone close by, in private and -depending on level of intimacy- voicing your displeasure in direct, concerned and polite terms. And accepting all the while the option that you might be shot down with a "It's what I like and it's within my rights"! Which it is, you know, unless you're literally dying from some rare anaphylactic case as soon as you touch their perfumed skin. Or posting passive agressive statements on public venues (where -worst of the worst- your intended target might casually read and have no means of retorting) blanket-stating your disdain on all concerned, as if anyone gives a fig. It merely reflects on a lack of communication skills and effectiveness radar threshold on the poster's part.Which do you choose?

To rub salt on the wound (I know many would be right now tearing their hair in protest), I'm giving away a bottle of my own personal collection: a musky perfume all right, which is de trop in my own collection which already comprises many concentrations of it. An older vintage Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez in Eau de Cologne. Draw remains open till Thursday midnight.

*mention by cykeane/mua
pic of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin in It's Complicated via womensvoicesforchange.org


  1. Excellent point on pleasing ourselves, and also on the passive-aggressive nature of posting blanket "don't"s on Facebook. I might as well post the admonishment, "Please do not text in darkened theaters. I paid for my ticket as well as you did - go in the lobby if you can't shut your fingers up for 90 minutes." That one burns my shorts, but I doubt that the people who offend in this way are going to read my post and actually do anything to change their behavior. Much better to speak gently with the offender in person.

    That said, I do really, really hate getting stuck next to someone who's wearing too much perfume. "Too much" is indeed subjective, of course, but I sincerely wish that people would be considerate with their fragrance application in situations where others might be bothered, but would be negatively impacted by having to leave the area, as in a theater or classroom.

    Bal a Versailles is gorgeous, but I'm stocked up on it, so no need to enter me in your generous drawing!

  2. Silvia16:39

    who cares what's posted on Facebook, so unimportant in the big picture! I just love Bal a Versailles

  3. Anonymous16:43

    Point 5 is the cat's behind! (That's a good thing, BTW). I am very tired of being judged on outward appearances. Of course how we look matters: stand up straight, make eye contact, firm handshake. But the habits being formulated now are so damaging to society-people pose,all the times, like there is paparrazi behind every garbage can!
    Anyway, you have, as always, given me food for thought :) Thank you for that, Helg! Now, on this hideously cold rainy day, should I wear one spritz of Shalimar, or L'Heure Bleue?

    Carole MacLeod

  4. dleep17:01

    I have never tried Bal a Versailles and would love to be included in the drawing. I hate the term "old lady" when it is attached to anything!

  5. BARBARA O17:18

    Put me in the drawing.
    I really like the old perfumes!

  6. Dear E.,

    Oh my, what a ridiculous FB comment! I should laugh about it, but to be honest: it irks me endlessly!
    The nerve of some people...

    Having had a neighbour who loved to marinate herself in some cheap smelling perfume which you could still smell in the air for at least five minutes after she had passed by, & I'm talking about meeting her outside, not in the hallway, - I never found out what she actually wore, but given her consumption, it must have been something fairly inexpensive - I know what overdosing means ;-D

    But still I think it's important to wear what pleases yourself (be it perfume, clothes or makeup) instead of endlessly thinking about how you might appear to others - after all you can never please everyone!

    When I hear the word "musky", I don't necessarily think about elderly women's perfumes (& as you already pointed out, not all older women smell alike!), but rather of the clean musks a lot of perfumes that aim to please the young consumers, use & which I can't stand BTW.
    Maybe I should write a FB post about how people should stop wearing all these clean, detergent-like smelling 'fumes because they tickle my inner aggressivness? *hm*

    Anyways, I'm all for indivual fulfillment & as long as I don't hurt others with the perfumes I wear, I'll happily go through life smelling as old & musky as I want to :-)

    Please enter me in the draw - it's embarrassing to admit, but I don't any formulation of Bal à Versailles & I'd love to change that ;-)

  7. Anonymous17:52

    I LOVE BaV and also many musks - e.g. Helmut Lang, Villoresi Musk, etc. Thx - Alica - alica@cleis.net

  8. I guess at my age (40+) I have hit the "Old Lady" stage when it comes to fragrance as well as technology. I wear my vintage perfumes proudly (but delicately, I hope) and I just refuse to be a part of FACEBOOK. I kinda feel like I'd be right back in high school again hoping someone would "friend" me. I just don't need to feel that kind of pressure any more! :-) Of course I'm also the kind that would prefer you call me to texting me. My husband actually called his kids & left them messages to CALL their mother for Mother's Day and NOT send her just a text message. I think people have gotten colder and less sensitive because of technology since you can speak your mind, insult plenty and never have to look at hurt faces. None for me! Oh, and BAV is just a gorgeous "Old Lady" perfume!!!!

  9. Gisela18:12

    It's obvious that this Facebooker doesn't know much about perfume. He/she just seems to hate it, and middle-aged women too - which makes that FB post absolutely irrelevant for selfpleasing, funloving, gorgeous smelling perfumistas like us. ;-)

  10. I'd love to win some Bal a Versailles and I would proudly wear it around town, middle-aged, perfume dousing lady that I am. :-D ('Cause that's just how we middle-aged ladies roll!) Really, how irrational is it that someone thinks venting on Facebook is going to change anything? So many people seem to feel free to judge--and moralize for--others, these days.

  11. I'm with Tabatha. Please stop using perfumes containing clean musks in overly large quantities - those things attack my smell receptors. And I mean literally. I can't smell anything else after that for hours.
    I only now realized this - if you want to smell clean why washing yourself and having clean clothes can't be enough?
    I can tell I'm a bit frustrated with that comment you discussed (I have almost no tolerance for ignorantly stupid people and I had to say it).
    But I know a bottle of Bal a Versailles would help make me feel more relaxed. ;)

  12. Bal a Versailles sounds wonderful- and would be perfect for me: a vintage perfume for an (early) vintage woman...entering middle age isn't for wimps, I can tell you!!

  13. Anonymous18:50

    Bal a Versailles going begging? Sits up and begs nicely.

    cheerio from occasionally musky but never minging middle-aged Anna in Edinburgh ; - )

  14. Anonymous18:50

    Bal a Versailles going begging? Sits up and begs nicely.

    cheerio from occasionally musky but never minging middle-aged Anna in Edinburgh ; - )

  15. I love this post! Brilliantly funny. Count me in for the Bal a Versailles draw!

  16. Aline19:23

    I know stupidity when I see it and this FB comment is chokeful of it to the point of being ridiculous, as if anything would change due to some venting on a public forum. Some middle-age or older women do use a vast amount of perfume, not necessarily musky, lol, but that's neither here nor there, it's irrelevant, the fact is we can't dictate to other people how to be and that's the point you brought out so well.
    I would love to claim that mature perfume as mine, if I may.

  17. Eva S19:58

    This soon-to-be middleaged woman would love to be entered in the draw!If I win I'll wear it proudly in celebration of my first gray hairs!
    Eva S Sweden

  18. Yum, Bal a Versailles!

    Silly me, I don't even think of that as musky.

  19. Agreed that the average joe has no idea what "musky" means -- it seems like people use the word "musky" to describe anything they don't like. And amen to pleasing ourselves.

    Please enter me in the draw!

  20. Who cares what this pipsqueak thinks? I LOVE Bal a Versailles, please enter me in the drawing! And if I win, I will douse myself in it!

  21. ElizabethC21:18

    Many of the perfumes that I have heard called "old lady" are ones that I just love. They have history, are creative and have many dimensions. I wear perfume for myself - no dousing, just enough to get beautiful wafts of scent now and then. Please enter me in the drawing for Bal A Versailles.

  22. "I might have more fun in my coffin." I love that, so true and indicative of our increasingly sterile world we live in. Please enter me in the draw.

  23. Great post. This middle aged woman intends to continue enjoying musky fragrances! Please enter me into the drawing. Thanks

  24. Stephan23:14

    Middle-aged women can have very insightful ideas to share. And really, I would love to join your fun in the coffin anytime.

  25. Mimi Gardenia23:22

    It's clear that Facebooker doesn't know what he/she is talking about ! *LOL* Silly person !
    Now I really want to buy a bottle of Musc Ravaguer EVEN more and dowse my middle aged self in it...... so there.
    PS E - please enter me for your drawing ! Thanks !

  26. Anonymous23:50

    Brilliant post! Thank you for eloquently responding to ignorant comments about perfume.

    Facebook seems like such a strange opportunity to reach out an hurt people's feelings. It used to be that only the horribly rude would say mean things to you, now people post derogatory comments that are out in the 'net forever.

    I think vintage Bal a Versailles is the perfect, measured response. (I have a bottle, so leave me out of the draw, thanks! :D) Be well.

  27. I love wearing perfume--not because it pleases others but because it pleases me! I would love to wear your Bal a Versailles with pride!

  28. Anonymous01:14

    Poor frigid, dull, close-minded thing, probably hates a beautiful sunset too...I went thru' a bottle of B a V in my first year of teaching at age 22 so I have been an old lady for an awful long time! No need to enter me, still have a stock of vintage P.
    I only wish I could smell a gorgeous stonking 'fume on everyone anywhere; its such a statment about taste, personality, charisma.

  29. Most of the perfumes today smell like candy/fruity/cotton candy messes and hit me like a blast of bathroom deodorizer. They don't seem to want to complement a body's scent, but obliterate it and mask any hint of the wearer's personality.
    If the old school perfumes are "old lady"-fine. I don't want to smell like I'm trying to attract pedophiles.

  30. Literally have Musc Ravageur wafting off of my decrepit, middle-aged body as I type. Take that, candy-calone wearing, Pink-butt-emblazoned youngster!

  31. Amen to number 5!

    It amazes me how anorexic today's perfumes have become. its especially apparent when I smell a new reformation of a classic. it's sad that we are afforded so little space.

  32. It's sad that people can be so narrow minded and so often try to dictate what others should feel, should like or what to love.

  33. No need to include me in the drawing, I got my own bottle that I'll wear tomorrow in musky solidarity, sister!

  34. Please include me in the draw. I'm 55+ and proud of my perfumes. It's usually the gals with the "signature" scents that they can't smell anymore because they've worn it too much that blast me out of the room!

  35. Anonymous04:21

    This post makes me so mad I feel like spraying myself silly with some "old lady" perfume and gallivantin' all over town. Please enter me in the draw. I want to do some damage.
    --Suzy Q

  36. Are you kidding me...you're giving that away?! Oh I would love to be entered in the draw; I am not acquainted with Bal a Versailles, although it is on my list of scents to try.

    And do I dare say...lmao at many of the comments. All that tapping drives me nuts. What irritates me no end is when someone texts continuously while having a so-called conversation with a person. Rude. And it generally isn't anything of import; they're just updating their FB statuses with pointless remarks about old ladies. One of these days some old lady is going to douse them with "musk" when they're not paying attention.

  37. Valentine04:37

    I'm actually a bit divided on this. On one hand, I LOVE perfume, love sampling, trying new, interesting things, and see scent as an art form. On the other, I often find other people's scent preferences obnoxious/unpleasant and wish they hadn't bothered. The FB post is obviously someone who was simply subjected to a scent he/she didn't like and doesn't know enough about perfumery to explain why it was unpleasant. BUT I do agree that if something makes you happy and doesn't cause the general public to gag and wretch and suffocate and die, then wear it!

  38. Anonymous06:51

    now people are debating about the smell of skin, attacking, defending, explaining.

  39. I love this post and all of the great comments! I have a newer edt of BaV and would love to try the vintage cologne, so enter this middle aged woman into the drawing please!
    You know if that facebook poster has any luck, they will in a few years time have the pleasure of middle age and to be ridiculed by some ignorant teenager. It gives me a little giggle to imagine. KK

  40. What a great giveaway. I tried recent of it at Esxcense. I must say it is one of my favorite heavy oriental perfumes.

    And I really don't care what people say about my perfumes. I wear what I like. I accept also critics from my coworkers because they have to work with me in the same office but that doesn't mean I'm not going to wear perfume others cannot bear. I enjoy perfume too much to let people ruin that.

  41. Alexandra10:32

    Thank you for bringing the so called "old lady" theme up. I have confronted it in so many reviews, and it shows among other things that the particular people are not reconciled with time, and apparently with themselves.

  42. Bal a Versailles is on my wish list so, please, enter mee the draw

  43. Well this 40+ lady says: "doesn't that little whipper-snapper know that 40 is the NEW 20?" And musk will beat candyfloss any day! Bring it on!!!

    And Oh, I would love to smell Bal a Versailles again, thank you for including me in the draw.

  44. I'm obviously in for the draw.

    But, wtf? In protest, I'm going to pour a handful of something that stinks to high heaven on my hair when I'm going downtown. Montale's Wild Oud or some such.

    Speaking of musk, I saw in a LPS (local perfume store) a ceramic ball akin to pomander, that holds natural musk or some such. If the owner weren't a total annoying jerk talking crap about perfumes (sure, I totally believe that all stuff used in the brands they carry is natural and that all 'natural' perfumes can be combined and the combos will always be good. Tee hee.), I'd buy it. Now I have to scrape those 100 euros and check when there's some normal sales assistant. The thing smelled stunning, that's it.

  45. Also, I apologize to the world, I have some specific anosmia and there are a few fragrances that smell nicely discreet to me... only to me. I know it about a few but there might be more of which nobody told me that it curls their toenails upwards. Tell me in a non-confrontational manner, as you would tell your colour-blind colleague about their mismatched socks, and I'll bear it in my mind for the next time. But... dare you yell. I'll yell back.

  46. A brilliant post! I alvays wear my perfumes for myself and with proud. Even if it's such an "official skunk" as Musk Koublai Khan or Eau de Rien))
    It's indeed a matter of choice - not always conscious- what to wear..
    Count me in)

  47. DRTVrMoi12:38

    Excellent rejoinder. That posting confirms why I will never join Facebook.

    Thank you for the draw.

  48. Count me in on the draw. I love the older classics and BaV is on my wish list. It's actually one of the lighter, powderier scents I like. And I remember fondly my teenage years, scented with Caswell-Massey Musk Oil!

  49. When I was a teenager, I hated the kind of musk personified by Jovan Musk. But that was decades ago! Now I am really getting into the many varieties and versions of musk. I would love to have a vintage Bal a Versailles!

  50. Bravo to this wonderful post!
    Loved it!

  51. Ugh people can be so obnoxious, especially when they feel they have free reign as on Facebook.

    And I've still not yet tried Bal a Versailles so I'd love to be included in the draw.

  52. Note to FB commenter: Quit dousing yourself in Axe,,,your age is showing" Love your post, Elena! I would love to smell like Bal a Versailles!

  53. People who douse themselves in perfume to the point of toe curling and eye watering have given perfume a bad rap. It mainly seems to be elderly women and 13 year olds that have done this. But that happens with anyone no matter thier age. I am 28 and will proudly wear the "old lady" perfumes. A small spray is usually sufficant for me

  54. Zazie15:58

    I wear perfume to please myself (trying not to douse myself in it, whatever it means), and Bal à versailles would please me immensely.
    Thanks for the draw!

  55. Anonymous16:15

    Brava, Elena! Apparently the Facebook poster needs his/her nappy changed after a rant like that.

    I've always been one to wear fragrance, based on my likes, not the dictates of the paid touters. I wore Shalimar for years cause I loved the way it loved my skin chemistry and never failed to elicit compliments, wherever I went, and this was in the era when men just didn't wear "women's" perfumes.

    I love the "classics" because they were composed with great care and intelligence, not cranked out, as they are today, like so many smell alike sausages.

    Perhaps the Facebook poster would find life more olfactoraly serene in a monastery.

  56. gautami16:38

    I am a proud owner of a lot of old lady perfumes.
    Bal a Versailles would please me immensely too.

  57. Bal a Versailles! Please include me in the drawing. :-)

  58. Anonymous19:16

    What a great post! I love perfumes of all kinds. Please enter me in the drawing for Bal a Versailles...always wanted to try it.

  59. Anonymous21:09

    LOL! Is this a problem middle-aged women have? Sounds like the fb poster doesn't know what musky perfume smells like. What a weird rant to post! Anyway, I was literally talking with someone earlier this week about Bal a Versailles, which I have not smelled BTW. Please do enter me b/c it sounds fabulous!

    --Nikk F.

  60. Nancy C.21:17

    Old lady perfumes are my favorites. Please enter me in the draw. I've always wanted to try BaV.

  61. Hi Elena,

    This all comes from people being afraid of growing older. As if anyone can help it or stop doing it! Please enter me in the drawing. I've never tried this and it would be a real treat to have one from your personal stock. Thanks! Suz

  62. Anonymous08:12

    Amazing post, amazing offer! Can you really part with it?
    I had a belly laugh with that FB member: Is growing old so bad? She must be very afraid of it. She will be the target of other women who will laugh at her choice of anything in a few years' time. It's the way of things.


  63. As a middle aged women who does not "do" facebook - get stuffed! LOL

    On ya Helg!!!

  64. Hi Elena,

    My favorite are Musc Ravageur and Noir Epices, not shy scents at all! I would love to smell Bal a Versailles, please add me to the game list !
    Thanks, Fabrice.

  65. Anonymous13:41

    oh, how i wish someone was brave enough one day to post such a stupid comment to me one day in person;-) i couldn't stop laughin. me eg, i'm so fed up with these so called youthful quasi perfumes pretending to be the luxurious thing, packed in fancy bottles with sophisticated notes and stories behind, but when you look underneath they smell so cheap and bad, there's no word for that... i can't stand these sugary sweet candies worn by almost each teenager who got trapped by famous brand and who thinks the stuff they wear is a top thing cause it's made by such and such company that's referred to great quality;-)
    besides, one day all that crap can be called old lady fragrance if their enthusiasts will stay faithful to them and what's gonna happen then? what's gonne be addressed to younger customers?

  66. Oh! I'd love the BaV! Please enter me in your draw! Thanks! :)

    I wear perfume for MY pleasure! Silly FB poster...

  67. Your comments ring so true.

    I would love to smell vintage BaV again - please enter me in the drawing! Thank you.

  68. Being a woman in the "targeted" category who loves perfumes I appreciate the response. I thought for a while if it was disproportional or presented to the wrong audience but I came to the realization that it was just right. Yes, most of us who reads it here think in a similar manner. But not all of us can express our thoughts that well or thought enough on the subject to be prepared for when we come across similar bigotry. Reading/talking about it helps.

  69. Oh please, please may I be in this draw? I love vintage perfume and my Aunt wore this, though I never smelled it on her as she lived in another state. My Mother informed me of her perfume choice. I think she marveled at the expense though Mom wore Miss Dior.

    I have to say, I get the "old Lady, powder" comments so often from my teenage girls that (I wear a lot of vintage Guerlain) I have to just ignore it, sadly. I love the memories of my Mothers scent as she left the house on dates with Dad, but I guess my girls have no such appreciation. That said, I wonder if years down the road "Old Lady" scents will be all the fruity florals of today, hahaha! If my daughters have kids someday maybe their kids will think they smell like "old Lady"!

  70. Oh people can be so rude. Hmmmph... *middle age woman looking around* LOL


  71. Loved this article & love "old lady perfume"! I am the middle-aged woman dousing herself in musky frags to please herself. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!


  72. AnneMarie14:16

    This Facebook poster is making the assumption that only women where musky scents and only older women, at that. I adore some musks (the delightfully inexpensive and beautiful smelling Krishna Musk comes to mind), yet I am only in my mid twenties. I have long wanted to try Bal a Versailles - sounds right up my alley. Please enter me in the drawing!

  73. Can I jut say: "Amen, sister!" ??
    Damn...I don´t agree with everyone´s scent choices but who am I to tell someone I don´t even know personally what to wear or how to wear it???
    Also, I would bet the original poster can´t even tell what a "musky perfume" is.
    Me, I´d love a chance to try Bal A Versailles. :o)

  74. Would love to be in the draw!

    Of course, what the Facebook poster really means is that middle-aged (i.e., 35 and up) women should sit their shriveled selves in the corner, be quiet, and stop bothering the important (i.e., young) people. Screw that.

  75. I'm late for a draw, but wanted to give you my thanks for the post. That's right, eloquently and passionately put, if the name of the game is to appear rather than to be and please others way way before even start thinking about pleasing oneself, then count me out.

    And E., count me in under your scented banner! :)

  76. Thank you all for your most kind and funny and poignant comments! I am glad this struck a chord and it should give me immense pleasure to envision someone of you wearing that "old lady" perfume somewhere public and eliciting reactions (positive and negative, there's merit to both).
    The winner is announced on the home page, check it out.

  77. Anonymous19:40

    To the poor youngster who posted the "old lady perfume" comment on Facebook: Perhaps it's time to move out of your parent's basement already...

    Yes, SOME middle-aged women (and SOME older women) do tend to overdue it with their choice and application of personal fragrance just as SOME men (young and older) with their use of unsubtle Axe-like cologne as do SOME women (young and older) with their use of nuclear-fruit-device juicy-couture-butt-wearing fragrance as do....

    Most grown-ups eventually realize that when it comes to fragrance, as with most things in life, quality beats quantity and less is usually more.

  78. Anonymous23:00

    I love this! "Old" is relative. What is young and edgy now will be dismissed as passe by the next,younger generation: what goes around truly does come around! The kid who wrote that rant doesn't know musk from magnolia, IMO. If he
    (and it may be a she)speaks with such authority of the scent of old women...does he go around smelling old ladies? No, sexism and ageism are what stink. BTW, I have two bottles of BaV. I think I'll spay some on and go scare the younger generation!


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