Friday, December 13, 2013

Respecting a Perfume vs. Actually Wearing It

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.

via Pinterest

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? 


  1. I respect No.5, but I cannot stand it!

  2. I respect and admire floral perfumes, especially classics like Fracas and Diorissimo, and enjoy smelling them on someone else but they are not "me". I don't, however, keep perfumes or anything else for "good" or special occasions; my life being what it is, I'd never wear anything if I did. Vintage Shalimar extrait, my grandmother's pearls and tatted pillow cases, you name it, I believe in using it. I'm not getting any younger and the special occasion might not ever come, y'know? The aforementioned grandmother, and my own mother, had dishes and tablecloths and hats saved for "good" that sold for pittance after death, barely used. That's just sad.

  3. Anonymous16:51

    I meant to comment the other day but the time got away from me. I do own a big bottle of Coco and I love it, but the fact is, I hardly ever wear it. I think the explanation is not too complex. Partly it's like what you say about Greece: I live in Texas, in a hot humid environment (Houston)and it's just too much for about 9 months of the year. But also, it's too glamorous for me! I'm a university professor and in a male-dominated field, and I never want to appear too "femme." It's really not a wear-to-work scent anyway. Most of the times I go out and dress up, it's either for the opera or for a dinner,and I also don't want to overpower my seatmates or fellow diners with my fragrance. Another perfume I own and really love but also don't wear is Parfums Delrae Amoureuse. Love, love, love it, but it's "too much" for conditions of my life. I just looked up the notes on Luckyscent--white florals and honey--and I noticed they call it a "bombshell." I don't actually aspire to be a bombshell, nor would I fantasize about such if or while wearing these, but I just don't have the right cultural frame to wear them. So I guess I'm confined to things like wearing them to bed or sniffing them in my dark closet!

    And P.S.: I happily wear several Amouage scents including Fate, so for some reason they strike me as very different and not so "bombshell-ish" in nature.


  4. Zuzu18:11

    Yes! Most perfumes feel too grand, and too frivolous for me despite my obsession with scent and classics like Shalimar, No. 19, Youth Dew, Azuree, etc. Though I do sometimes when I just don't care will wear these to work.

    Regarding Coco: it is so beautiful, and it smells intense on me, but beside the sample, I haven't gathered the courage to buy a full bottle knowing that I'd wear it only on very special, personal occasions. I know deep down I could not wear it often to work because even one spray is "too much" for people these days. To top it off I'm younger and work on social justice issues so maybe you can see my predicament. Perhaps, I should just say "screw it" and wear as I please!

    On another note, I love your blog.

  5. leathermountain20:35

    Vintage perfume gets me a bit tied up as you describe. I actually don't feel that way about expensive contemporary perfumes, precisely because of my samples overkill. I'm happy to wear a sample of just about anything. If I end up falling hard for something very expensive, then I guess I'll save up for it and then wear it when I want to. But the vintage stuff raises questions of worthiness, which I think I cannot explain.

  6. annemariec21:09

    Yes, 31 Rue Cambon requires (for me) a better self and while it is one of the most beautiful perfumes I own, I rarely wear it. I just can't graft it to myself, as you put it, can never make it my own no matter how much I try.

    But I do save some perfumes for special occasions. It's a case of matching the perfume to the occasion. VC&A's First is too grand for grocery shopping, but great (in small amounts) for dinner in a nice restaurant. If I wear it for occasions like that, First accumulates lots of great memories and that makes it all the more pleasurable to wear.

    I think that Coco does have an air of formality to it that makes it tricky to wear now that, 30 years having passed, we live in less formal times. Hardly any mainstream releases these days seem aimed at formal dinners, nights at the opera or boardroom lunches. Of course women still attend those events, but may not seek to make a statement at them with their perfume.

    Maybe many women feel that they don't need perfume to help them project an air of success and confidence so much? Many have actually attained that success and confidence for real, and can relax with their perfume?

    I greatly enjoyed this post - a lot to think about.

  7. For me perfume is very personal, i wear sensuous Nude and Voile d'Ambre at work, occasinally I can surprise them with Black Cashmir, but the deep, spicy stuff I save till I get home and are curled up in my favorite chair in the evenings.

  8. Definitely! I LOVE Ambre Sultan, Corormandel, and Cuir de Russie but have to hide in the shadows to smell them. Everytime I put them on (especially Cuir de Russie), I think "I really wish I had the lifestyle that worked with this". I can't wear them to work, they are too strong for my boyfriend, I'm not the exotic dom I perhaps wish I was so these are worn for watching tv with the cat. How pathetic that sounds!

  9. solanace22:47

    Call me a fiend, but I live right in the tropic and I'll wear anything with my flip flops, Amouage Gold, l'Heure Bleue, Fracas, Shalimar... Actually, I've been coveting a Coco FB. Not saving the delicious fumes I enjoy spending my days with for the Manolos I'll never own, or for the snow that will never fall here.

  10. Oh how much I respect Samsara, but the new version, I just cannot wear it. I just dont. I think is gorgeous (yet not half as gorgeous as the original).
    Chanel no5 vintage version: all my respect but I just cannot see myself being that person (that is my mom)

  11. Sarah K01:12

    There are some Lutens perfumes that I respect, because I find them interesting to smell, but wouldn't wear outside the house since I am not sure that they are actually nice to smell on a person.

    On the other hand, if it's something I consider a classic perfume and I like it, these days I'll wear it wherever and whenever. I don't save anything for 'special' occasions. Perhaps because I feel old enough at 40 to wear 'grand' perfumes whenever I like, or perhaps because I have so much perfume that nothing needs to be saved. Though I do try to keep the spray count down, and give the scent a couple of hours to calm down before heading out of the house, if it's a sillage bomb.

  12. Anonymous02:08

    I will wear Coco (scored a vintage bottle for $25 at a consignment store), but I do have rules for wearing it. I must be wearing black, makeup, good jewelry and that doesn't happen very much in my life as I'm a caretaker for both my elderly mother and my son with autism. So I respect and even honor it, but I should try to wear it more for myself. I feel more "done" when I do.

  13. It's funny, I'm always fairly dressed up and don't worry about if I should save my Amouages for some big event, but I do get funny about wearing my very favorite perfumes, even when I have backup bottles. I seem to be afraid that I won't give them proper attention while I'm wearing them and somehow waste them. I don't spend much time socializing, so perfumes are something like a devotional practice for me, which may sound strange but is definitely true for me.

    I do feel lucky that I'm self employed and my work rarely prohibits me from wearing my favorite projection monsters or really strange scents. It's probably for the better considering I like old fashioned chypres and orientals and would probably scare the hell out of the average American with my sillage :D

    And there are a great many perfumes I think are beautifully made and respect but can't wear, usually those with aldehydes. For example, I've tried and retried Van Cleef and Arpels' First and I just can't do it...

  14. Anonymous05:48

    I should respect Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle but I struggle with it. And I mean I really do. This perfume is so revered I had to order a sample. I was dismayed by the opening and it just got worse.

    It wasn't the tuberose - I liked the way it was handled in Carnal Flower, with a touch of milky un sweetened coconut. It was the lashings of civet and apple blossom/pollen. Both headache AND sneeze inducing.
    In case anyone thinks I'm a perfume light weight, I love and adore fairly big perfumes such as Portrait of a Lady, I enjoy a challenging perfume such as Ninfeo Mio, I loved many many perfumes, so why does the much loved and reputed man magnet Carnal Flower repulse me so?

    Am I alone n this impression? I let my male friend sniff it and he just found it to be a fresh slightly boring floral better suited to younger women.

    I found it far from fresh, if I'm being honest, and I am, it smelled like a urine sample of someone with cystitis. Or something you might smell in a badly managed horse stable where the hay has been left to rot in horse pee. Dearie me, I apologise to those who love this perfume, I'm happy if you're happy with Carnal flower but I can never wear it!

  15. Great article, thank you!
    My perfume wardrobe consists of about 20 perfumes. I respect and admire them all but there is always only one signature scent. When I have used it for too long I am not able to smell it anymore and start to search for a substitute till I can perceive my beloved one again. It is the difference between loving and liking. Idylle and Shalimar Initial for example I like. They are nice, but I got bored after a few weeks.
    Another problem is being in public. I really fell in love with Eau du Soir by Sisley. But is so strong and I would not be surprised if a certain note smelled like p** to others. This scent would be my choice if I lived in the woods on my own.
    So I stick to N°19 (in the boardroom!). And, yes, I own a little bottle of Coco EdP half empty and turned now (12 years old). I think it is the perfume I received the most positive remarks for.

  16. Elia08:18

    I'll wear anything, at any time. I'm not great on saving for an occasion. I'll wear them to work too, which sometimes gets the wrong kind of comments but it's rarer than one would maybe expect.
    There are however perfumes that are far more wearable than others. I love Absolue pour le Soir, but you can't exactly use it as a signature, it's fairly demanding. I've used it out of 'context' but I've not even made it through my sample yet to consider the full bottle. Whilst idk, something like Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune requires no thought, you can spray it any day, anytime.

  17. Anonymous08:43

    "Gremlins in a pond" .... he he! That's a wonderful simile, and has made me smile.

    I think that the original Miss Dior was one that I respected, didn't necessarily admire and certainly wouldn't have worn. But now that I am older (and maybe wiser), I wonder if I should try it again? It might be that I just wasn't ready years ago to wear it, and now my tastes are so different.

    As you say, there are many factors to take into account when looking at the popularity of perfumes, including location, weather and body chemistry; personal perception is probably the biggest factor of all.


  18. Excellent question.
    Life has changed since finding all the perfumistas and Niche, Indie, Natural and others. Also writing a blog means constant wear of something new and different for research purposes.
    Many of the fragrances that i love to pieces get bypassed so I have a small collection of extraordinary extraits on my desk that at the end of most days I will dab/spritz on the back of my hand and wear to bed. Currently there are 12 and I make sure that they all get some skin time. It's selfish frag love and I get to lay in the dark listening to my partner snore like a freight train and the magical frags send me to the land of nod on a cloud of gorgeous.
    Portia xx

    1. I love Portia!!

    2. I enjoyed reading the responses as much as the article.

      I am not a typical perfumista. I appreciate a lot, but am very very particular with what I will wear. I have a concoction that works for me summer and winter. I unapologetically wear an amber paste and oils along with a favorite perfume, (that I hope never goes away) all the time. I almost have a ritual with how I apply my layers. We were discussing ritual in our other discussion, and somehow, I feel more connected and complete with my layers of scent.

      I always seem to get compliments on how I smell, so I don't worry whether it is hot or cold.

      I love Chanel Coromandel, but it is something I will visit when I need a jolt out of my comfort zone (but it is only a squirt that I walk through, with my oils and amber, as my base) Sometimes I will put a dab of Joy on, because it reminds me of my mom. Joy was her favorite fragrance (she passed when I was 15, so when I need "mommy" energy, I at least grab the bottle and sniff. I love Aromatics Elixir even though it is mainstream, but I won't wear it, because it reminds me of someone from high school, to this day, and it will always be her perfume, though I did try for a while, and one day, someone said "I hate your perfume"!!! Awesome :) so I just appreciate it from a far.

      I will always have Channel 19 around. I wore that in high school. It is not the same as it once was. I bought the extrait version a couple of years ago, and I liked it, but it is not the same. I have some vintage, that I will sometimes put on before bed.

      The thing is with me, if I love it, and it works with me and reflects me, I will wear it. I am not one to save things for a "special occasion", because I want to be "me" in all occasions.

      I don't taunt myself with fragrances that are out of my price range, because if I love it, I will want to wear it without worrying that it will be gone soon, and how will I replace it without breaking the bank :)
      Some fragrances are a house payment! LOL

    3. It's lovely that you found the dialogue engaging and stimulating.
      Ritual is something that is so very neglected nowadays, so any chance one gets for enacting ritual is welcome, in my books at least. Saint Exupery says it well in Little Prince: by ritualizing our pleasure we augment it. Heart beats faster etc.

      It's also great that you "don't save things". It took me ages to realize that. It's very true.
      As to perfume prices they have become the new house payments, true. :D

    4. And we all love Portia, great wit!

    5. I respect and admire L'Heure Bleu but cannot wear it as it smells not too distantly of furniture polish....Adore Chanel Eau Poudre,something about the fresh zest and creamy powderyness that envelopes me greatly!! Great article, enjoyed it immensely.

  19. Merlin10:34

    I fell for Coco quite early in my perfumista life (age 30 or so). It just smelled GOOD to me, and my boyfriend liked it too. Now that I have experienced so much more, however, I do find it a little on the formal side. I still love that cinnamon-spicy orange-ness but I tend to wear more 'laid-back' perfumes more often.

    I'm a little wary of the idea of acquired and mature taste in perfumery. While on the one hand I'm aware of enjoying much more than when I began this hobby, I still think the idea of a perfume which one must learn to like / or be sophisticated enough to like is a little dubious. Its like one starts wanting to prove ones credentials by liking smells that are slightly repellant. On the other hand - I once found vetiver repellant and now I can't get enough so - ??

    Another problem (for me) is this idea of being able to tell a good perfume from a perfume I merely like. It seems like one would need a far more expert nose than I have to make such differentiations.

  20. I wear them all, within reason -- for example, no L'Air de Rien worn to the ob-gyn's office where there are lots of pregnant women. That's just etiquette though. Life is too short to deny one's self this unfattening pleasure! So I wear my Rein when alone or as a sleep-scent. That goes for the other "difficult" ones too.

    My own respect-but-can't-wear would be Diorella. That garbage-y back note; I know why it's there, certainly respect the perfumer's intent, but…no.

    And I sure wish I'd been around when you gave away that bottle of Coco!

  21. Astrid15:59

    The only thing that makes me hesitate about spritzing is the irreplaceability of most of the fragrances I like most - just can't imagine I'd own one I don't like. Stocked up a healthy supply of Fendi, Eau d'Eden, vintage Paloma, K, Rumba, etc. but still, every spray brings them closer to gone forever.

    I buy very few new scents because most of them are either terrible, loaded with cheap chemicals, or outrageously expensive. Glad I stocked up on the '80s!

    Because it's a negotiation to use discontinued vintage, I even more appreciate the few modern fumes that are still Coco...that can be sprayed without guilt.

    The more I sniff, the more I love Coco's perfect resinous and (especially the extrait) honeyed mimosa, its dense-but-transparent character, and its complement of quality ingredients all the way through the drydown (which lasts for days). It's the only fragrance I ended up buying the Extrait, EDP and EDT for, and wear it often. I hope Chanel maintains its quality - would hate to have to start backing it up too.

    For me, Coco works any time of the year. Applied in a suffuse veil (do not overspray) it emanates golden tendrils of rich, transparent amber, smoky resins and a perfectly melded trace of floral all day. There is no cloying "floriental" note, nothing jarring, nothing out of place. It's perfect.

  22. annsmith16:17

    can't wear scents in summer here. attracts nasty insects. but come fall and winter, even spring, i can. but there are scents i would only wear at home for my own enjoyment. wear them, spritz my sheets, linens. why not enjoy whatever you like. just for you. its wonderful !!

  23. Laurels17:25

    I think of many florals as being too ladylike for me--that I'd need to be much neater and well-groomed than I generally am to pull them off. (Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs, Estée Lauder Private Collection, etc.)

  24. A very thought-provoking post...Being very fond of my vintage perfumes, I find myself in agreement with commenters who might abstain from regularly using what is surely a dwindling and irreplaceable supply. My daily work environment is extremely casual. I actually swapped away a gorgeous, very vintage & almost full bottle of Femme because I knew I would never wear it. I'm not so worried about what other people think about my choices in fragrance but then I also take care to dress "appropriately" for whatever occasion.

    If I stopped buying perfume today, I would still have enough full bottles of both vintage and modern, as well as myriad samples, to last the rest of my life.

    On another note: how can I thank you enough for the word borborygmi? I love it almost as much as ranunculus. :-)

  25. Maria17:53

    I don't think of perfumes as glamorous, formal, casual or whatever else categories crawl around the Web. It just doesn't make sense: what's casual for you is your dinner neighbor's opera nightmare; your exquisite chypre will be someone's unfeminine sharp stink etc. To me it's more like art: are Canaletto's paintings good and do they deserve respect? Yes. Do I want any of it at home? No way, not my taste. Same goes for perfume: is, say, Terre d'Hermès good? Yes. Do I want my boyfriend to wear it? No, and not because he's not good enough, I'd just rather he wear Habit rouge.
    Or, say, if I wake up and feel like a goddess almighty, but have a day of casual errands ahead of me, am I obliged to choose an Aqua Allegoria instead of something more powerful? Why does activity dictate what perfume I wear? Makes zero sense to me.
    Also, I often see, at least here, that the more expensive a perfume is, the more likely it is to be judged 'glamorous' and 'luxurious' and be set aside for special occasions...
    That said, I myself never felt not glamorous enough or not anything enough for a perfume. Now and then I feel a scent is too boring for me... :-D I call Protagoras to defend me and reverse your yardstick metaphor: man is the measure of all things. Including perfume!

  26. Interesting post. The only perfume that always seemed too grand for me was 31 Rue Cambon. I ended up selling it because I realized I didn't really love it. It wasn't "me" to begin with. I wear all my other perfumes any time and all the time. Coco goes well with jeans and a sweater. It's actually a cozy perfume. I tend to wear my expensive perfumes more than the cheaper ones- I want to use them up and get my money's worth!!

  27. Oooh, yes, some perfumes seem to get my respect and love and basically no wear time. :)
    For different reasons though.
    Most of my perfume wearing is at work so no big guns (like larger than life tuberoses or Shalimar).
    Then, there are some perfumes you (or at least I) need to be in the right mood for or they might wear you (SL Fleurs d'Oranger is one such for me).
    And then there are of course those I like to wear for special occasions (I don't have much of them and they fit perfectly), like Chanel 18 when I want to sparkle like diamonds. ;)
    There is another problem I have though - in the bunch of stuff I have and get all the time, I forget about some of my favorites (and they are running low) so I don't wear them much, Which is stupid basically and now I'm aware of that, I try it and not do it.

  28. Anonymous06:21

    I wear my perfumes according to my mood no matter what the occasion. I am confronted with undesirable smells i.e. pollution, kebab, waste, stinky people etc. all the time,that I really don`t care if I might offend someone with my "smell":) Who is to judge that I can only wear this for the opera or that in the office. For example, after a visit to the opera it is common in Vienna to go to a close by "Würstelstand" (Hot Dog) stand and there you stand all donned up eating a simple Hot Dog.Some might think this is not appropiate......

    Greeting from Vienna.

  29. Carol,

    that one is a common culprit I hear!

  30. Rosarita,

    yeah, excellent point!
    It's so sad to see old but perfectly unused things go by and knowing the people who saved them never enjoyed them…it reminds us of our own ephemeral presence on earth all the more pointedly.

  31. Calypso,

    thanks for sharing!

    Uncanny, I was thinking exactly of Amoureuse the other day. Half a bottle in the closet and I don't wear it. WHY?? I love it very much and no, the bombshell notion wouldn't deter me (even if I'm more bookish than bombshell). It's inexplicable.

    Good on you for the Amouages!! You go girl!

  32. Zuzu,

    thank you so much for the lovely compliment! Happy to have you on these pages. :-)

    What a good explanation of the pull and the stop factor of Coco. And I agree on the rest of your reasons, makes sense.

  33. A,

    that's a most interesting comment.
    The vintage itch is satisfied through antique store hunting and ebay browsing and risked at usually bottle size, while the contemporary niche and expensive stuff is scratched through samples galore and mad accumulating of tiny vials. The medium is the message, they say, and what does this habit say about our ticks and fancies? Plenty, I should gather!

    Thanks for a most insightful comment!

  34. AMC,

    31RC, really??? I mean, really? I wear it to go pick up bananas (no, really, I do). Forget it's Chanel and wear it, lady! It's beautiful, versatile, very wearable and nicely polite though full of its own personality.

    Now First…yeah, it does conjure up images of "posh & occasion". (This was actually its intended message)

    As to Coco, I think you hit the nail on the head with your: "I think that Coco does have an air of formality to it that makes it tricky to wear now that, 30 years having passed, we live in less formal times. Hardly any mainstream releases these days seem aimed at formal dinners, nights at the opera or boardroom lunches. Of course women still attend those events, but may not seek to make a statement at them with their perfume. "

    Man, I could have thought of that myself, but you did. Kudos!

  35. Hilde,

    if you can wear Black Cashmere to work, you needn't fear anything. You can wear whatever you want! You're a trooper.

  36. G,

    hmmm…CdR especially isn't dom-ish, it's not Bandit or Cartier Santos, you know. I say, go ahead, wear it (when boyfriend is not around), what do you have to lose? Only your inhibitions!

  37. Solanace,

    wise words.

    Keep the Coco in air-conditioned conditions, please.


  38. Wefadetogray,

    which reminds me I need to re-smell Samsara. Feels like eons I last wore that one.

    Granted on No.5: I bet lots of people have your problem. Nothing wrong with that! (You have a good smelling mom)

  39. Sarah,

    you intrigue me: I hadn't thought of the SL scents that way (Do you care to thrown an example of those which wouldn't be best on a person? I'm genuinely curious)

    Love your technique on minimizing sillage. Reminds me of grand ladies in times past who had all the luxury of time and the savoir vivre to know how to enjoy luxuries.

  40. Anon,

    with what you do every day, you DESERVE Coco, even if it weren't the steal you got it for!
    Dress up sometime, wear black and good jewelry and go out and enjoy wearing Coco. Life is short. And I applaud your giving nature.

  41. Oakmoss,

    ha, that's a novel way of seeing this, how fascinating.
    There is a degree of socializing coming into equation when we pick something I suppose (same as with clothes to a degree), so it's both liberating and a bit self-constrictive to have to choose without that factored in.

    Aldehydics have a loaded profile. My theory is because they're so associated with moms and dads going out for the big night out when we were children. The next generation won't have that problem.

  42. Rosestrang,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your commentary on Carnal Flower!! Brava! I respect your honesty.

    It is something of a mega super duper tube, despite the "freshness". It's self-explanatory that it would have been inspired as an American favorite right off the bat for the Malle line.

    To be honest I also find it huge. Not repulsive, but more ooomph than I'd like.

    (But had to scratch my head on calling Ninfeo Mio "challenging". Really? I suppose if one doesn't like fig leaf and citrus perfumes. But still. Why, if you care to elaborate?)

  43. Martha,

    thank you!

    Well, it makes sense. I get it. Nice does not create passion. You need tension for that. (I do too)

    I think Eau du Soir has changed over the years. I remembered it as nicer, smoother, less strident, more abstract. I could be wrong.

    Love No19! :-)

  44. Elia,

    of all the perfumes in all the lines in all the possible words, Absolue pour le soir, great as it is, I wouldn't peg it as "wearable" and therefore "much used statistically". Goes with the territory. You're a brave soul if you upgrade to a full bottle and wear it in public.

    And Pamplelune, ah not even that is safe. On some people it smells like sweaty garlic. (worse luck!)

  45. Jillie,

    thank you! I'm revealing childhood fandoms. ;-)

    I totally think personal perception is the strongest factor. I had conducted an experiment with young girls with the original Miss Dior some years ago: initially repelled ("heavy", "stong" "bitterish"), but one of them asked to have her scarf sprayed. She liked the scarf smell, even if in the air she didn't like it initially. So not all hope is lost.
    I say, go for it!

  46. Portia,

    sweets, story of our life. I do think that some of my favs have felt very neglected due to the constant testing and consulting and criss-crossing etc.

    Love your persistence in really seeking out the pleasure of choosing something you love to wear to bed. These days I don't always remember, myself.

    Thanks for sharing!

  47. merlin,

    excellent comment!

    I especially liked:
    "I'm a little wary of the idea of acquired and mature taste in perfumery. While on the one hand I'm aware of enjoying much more than when I began this hobby, I still think the idea of a perfume which one must learn to like / or be sophisticated enough to like is a little dubious. Its like one starts wanting to prove ones credentials by liking smells that are slightly repellant. On the other hand - I once found vetiver repellant and now I can't get enough so - ??"

    So VERY true!!

    I like to reply to such thoughts with a quote from Pretty Woman (don't raise your brows, I'm not beyond pop culture, this is wise, actually, read on). "It's like with the opera. People either love it or they won't. And if they won't, they may grow to learn to appreciate but they won't love it." (I'm slightly paraphrasing)


  48. P,

    you're a considerate soul! (but we knew that already)

    You know, in the maternity ward the chief nurse was wearing Hypnotic Poison. I commented upon it, how beautifully it wafted. She smiled, not with apprehension or apologetic intent, exclaiming what a classic it is (NB. It's a really big seller in Greece).
    It told me everything I needed to know: pregnant mothers and new mothers aren't necessarily that repelled by fragrances. It has to do with culture and conditioning too! (NB.We're pro-perfume as long as it's lightly applied)

    Funny on Diorella. It's a love or hate perfume and it didn't look it like one, when I was small. But it is.
    I can see you wearing Cristalle more easily. It's close but no cigar. ;-)

  49. Astrid,

    a fine defender of Coco, if there ever was one. Brava! I'm sold, where is a new bottle to test this once again?
    (seriously, you have almost converted me).

    You know, I regret having emphemera in my heart too, but…it happens. If only everything was as permanent as diamonds, old-fashioned tattoos and taxation. (J/K!)

  50. Ann,


    Sorry about the insects.

    Have I told the story of how once under a bigaradier tree, I was stung by a bee attracted to my perfume? It was SL Fleurs d;Oranger. Under the sharp pain of the sting, I felt flattered, the poor insect had taken me for a real flower. :-)

  51. Queen,

    thanks, glad it has provided enjoyment and intellectual stimulus.

    The vanishing act of vintage perfumes is sad. Poignant. Reminiscent of our mortality. Therefore spiritually elevated. Awe inspiring. (How am I doing?)

    Really, practically, all things perish. Let's enjoy them while we can. And go on.

    As to Ranunculus, I had to Google it up!! (I am zero proficient on gardening, totally inept, but you can ambush me with any Greek-rooted word any time!!)

  52. Maria,

    how can I not LOVE what you write? It's magnificent that you bring forth the "all things' yardstick is (wo)man" (awful translation on my part).

    To be honest, I think the whole notion of ocassion/casual/weather suitable/work-evening classification is just perfume marketing. Makes us buy more perfume! ;-)

    Good on you for breaking the cycle!

  53. Ricky,

    ha! Another one who finds 31RC grand. And you find Coco cozy. Huh, I have the reverse problem!

    (To be honest, I think that people have a tendency to find warm perfumes cozy and cool perfumes as haughty, which is as interesting a perception as any and needs to be tackled next).

    Good thinking on having your perfumes work their financial outlay by doing the legwork!

  54. Ines,

    thanks for sharing, all good and valid (or at least commonly shared) reasons. I think you're not alone.

    It's good that we realize that we treat familiar things with a sort of contempt and that we try to amend. They're not worthy of this indifference, poor little scented babies. :-D

  55. Gina,

    if I told you I have done the exact same thing (opera then hot dog in the street) in Vienna too, would you believe me? :-D
    (the local variation is ancient tragedy at Epidaurus, then souvlaki)

    I'm less stuck up about certain things as I grew older, so imagine how more liberated I will be as I grow older still.

    As I noted above in one of my replies, I think the whole classification of perfumers per occasion, time, season, outfit etc. is mostly marketing. It makes perfume move and people buy more to tick all the slots. But it doesn't make sense, deep down. Only our own desire does.

  56. Laurels,

    funny, florals, you say, huh?
    Most people would say chypres (hmm, Private Collection is a floral chypre, in one taxonomy) or big orientals. But florals do make sense too!

    I guess there's no category too safe to think it is without someone having some qualm about it. Goes to show how loaded perfume wearing really is!

    Thanks for sharing!

  57. Sarah K00:59

    I think my issue with some of the Serge Lutens scents that I find interesting, but not necessarily wearable, is mostly just my narrow-minded ideas of what perfume (or people wearing perfume) should smell like! SL creates a lot of things that to me smell of food or of are hyper-realistic reflections of scents found in nature. To give some examples, Santal de Mysore and Arabie both smell delicious to me but they are food smells: both smell like versions of fruity curries. The earthy notes in Iris Silver Mist and De Profundis conjure up the sense of being in nature - I find the scents interesting and beautiful but also disconcerting when that is the smell of a person.

  58. Anonymous06:14

    I love Coco! When a day really needs a boost, I put some on in the morning. I prefer to wear it at home when I can enjoy it, but I think a light touch goes anywhere. Nonetheless, I can understand anyone who feels otherwise. Mine comes in an elegant black and gold plexiglas case like the Chanel version of the black monolith in 2001 a Space Odessy, and there are the original ads with the ever elegant Ines de la Fressange dashing to the opera. It's impossible to measure up to that, but what's the point of smelling plain, anyway?

    A perfume I respect but rarely wear is L'AP Timbuktu. It's so weird, and to my nose has a strong celery sweat note (I know it smells fresh to many, but not me). I enjoy it anyway, but I'm afraid people might think I wore my office clothes in the gym, so I wear it at home or when I can maintain a safe distance.

    Also, FM Portrait of a Lady is fascinating but sooo dramatic, with all that deep rose and patch. I wear that one at home - mustn't scare the horses!

  59. Sarah,

    aha! You make a good point. We have been conditioned to expect a certain "thing" from fine fragrance and it is jarring when that isn't met.
    Interesting examples from the SL line, I do agree on Arabie (which I love, but do wear unlike you) and iris Silver Mist and De Profundis. I hadn't thought of Santal de Mysore in that way, maybe I should retry with what you have in mind.
    I do have a personal example to recount apropos, though, which you might find funny and enjoyable: My SO upon smelling Ambre Narguile at the Hermes boutique (I presented it to him) told me that it's very nice, quite delightful, but not exactly what one thinks of as perfume, more of an ambient scent for feeling peaceful, cozy, very sensual. He did make a good point. Even though I believe that AN is more than just an ambient smell, I can see where he's coming from.

  60. Anon,

    I absolutely LOVE Ines de la Fressange, so genuinely elegant, so absolutely lovely as a personality too, so down to earth in her elegance. One would never in a million years fault her for pretentiousness.
    The ads were very "oomph" and opera-style formal, I agree. But as you say, if something clicks, why not make it your own and wear it all the time (in moderation)? Wish that could be me.

    Hmmm, I don't perceive Timbuktu as fresh and would wear it more often if I didn't have more incenses which are more "wearable" for my situation. I find it has a mud-like quality, like mud pies, which is a bit alien to many people. It's not thick, though. Marvelous work.
    As to POAL it's huge all right. But it's meant to be. :-)

    Thanks for sharing, I find these comments fascinating to read and think about!

  61. Sarah K14:33

    On the Ambre Narguile, I wonder if it was the sweet foody notes or the tobacco notes that your SO was reacting to when he said that. Oddly enough, I find the honeyed tobacco notes in things like Back to Black and Tabac Rouge very pleasant as fragrance to be worn. It's fascinating to think about how very different each person's ideas of what is "wearable" are and why that might be so.

  62. Sarah,

    after some probing he mentioned the apple pie notes. Here foodie notes are NOT considered fragrance material for the most part. He did like it very much all the same.
    I think tobacco notes are more of an ambient scent that 'sticks" to a person (as a pipe smoker), therefore more acceptable for fine fragrance which is supposed to enhance/disguise a person's scent.

  63. Zuzu03:03

    HI :)

    I just came by to this post again to say I ended up purchasing Coco a few days ago, and am pretty happy I did.

    Another commenter said that Coco is trying to be elegant and all Chanel up in the house, but it's meant to be an oriental and therefore bound to be loud (paraphrase). Well, I spray only once and it is a hum of beautiful rose, spice, and understated sultry-ness. Just the right amount of something in my opinion especially in winter. And I've worn it to the office, ha!

  64. Zuzu,

    brilliant, I'm so happy for you!! In cold weather this could actually be good, I know it must be.

  65. Anonymous01:42

    I remember there's one time I visit my relatives abroad in the countryside that even my most casual wear seems a bit overdressed. It's hard to imagine wearing some of my most formal perfume there on the daily-basis. Some perfume just don't feel right for certain environment/occasions, for instance I feel perhaps my by Kilian Imperial Tea works better than Chanel Coco Noir there. However this is a interesting post, makes me start thinking whether I have too much assumptions toward a scent.


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