The other day in the Underrated Perfume Day feature I tackled a fragrance that surprised and continues to surprise me: the original Coco perfume. In my fragrance review of Coco by Chanel I elaborated on how in all my years as a perfumista (and that's all my life, actually) I had never seen a bottle on anyone's shelf, though I know that it's often mentioned in awe online and it's spoken of in revered tones; plus it's still being sold, so someone's got to be buying it, by market law.
In the same post I also recounted a perfume mystery: how such a well-liked (by the sounds of it) fragrance had failed to elicit enthusiastic swap takers when I had presented a big bottle of extrait de parfum for the taking a handful of years ago (I had to beg to get it off my hands). The response I got (which can be read in the comments) was intriguing to say the least.
Out of the woods there leaped commenters who said that "yes, I do like Coco" and some of them even admitted to wearing the stuff! Incredible! Where had I been all this time? In a sea of YSL Opium, I suppose, but still…
One of my readers posted an interesting tidibit: in Germany Coco far surpasses the sales of No.19 by Chanel, and another specified that Coco is never to be worn in summer, nor in casual situations, never in the office etc. This got me thinking that ~bearing in mind that in Greece Chanel No.19 far surpasses the sales of Coco~ we're dealing right enough with a cultural chasm and a weather continuum as well. It's all too natural that a warm, dense, caressing oriental perfume is doing well in a country that is snowed up half the year and a coolish chypre fragrance with dry, starchy iris is doing well in a country that is enjoying temperatures of over 25C half year long and is sunny even in the coldest of days. It makes sense, you know?
But it also impressed me that many readers mentioned how their appreciation has waned a bit compared to the 1980s and 1990s simply because they're now immersed in a sort of perfume obsession that distracts them too much with too many samples, too many niche releases etc. The market has also seen the fragrance launches multiply like Gremlins in a pond in recent years. That's also kind of a natural conclusion.
My thoughts grazed another path as well. There are some noli me tangere perfumes, perfumes that are aspirational and require a better self to approach them, someone leaner, richer, smarter, what-the-fuck-er in order for us to claim them and graft them unto ourselves. Coco isn't too haughty, but some others are (are you saving your Amouages and By Kilians for special occasions when dressed up to the nines? I feel your pain). I used to think like that from time to time, "saving" myself for specific perfumes, deeming them too important to trivialize with the mundane and the everyday. I don't do that as much nowadays. I think it has to do with my "to hell with it" attitude which has matured over the past couple of years due to mundane and everyday reasons, ironically enough.
So, what gives? In a society that we're never good enough for so many things, is perfume itself becoming the yardstick against which we measure our shortcomings? And is admiration that never gets materialized into reality an exercise of borborygmi answered with Lean Cuisine?
I'm throwing a thought to the wind and hoping someone catches it.
Do come out off the galley and confess in the comments: Are there perfumes that you feel you admire or respect but don't wear as often as you'd like to? Which are they? And why do you believe this happens?