Friday, January 16, 2015

Top 10 Best-Selling Feminine Fragrances: France 2014

Best-selling fragrances lists are a very popular feature of the Perfume Shrine blog and for a reason: they provide probing into the psyche of the masses ~which we perfumistas love to think are distant from ourselves and yet we feel a pang of welcome "belonging" when we find one of our favorite perfumes in them! Ever the optimists, I should wager. Listing also has the added benefit of enraging so many with so little effort, so if you're generally grumpy it's great ammunition as well.
In any case, if you haven't consulted our Perfume Best-Sellers Lists they're all grouped (by country and by year) on the Right Hand Column of this blog, so scroll down to get a look. For this post we venture into of Parisian chic.

the timeless La Deneuve; one of us actually (via)

The French top sellers list of perfumes is always a great way to discuss the cultural differences (or rather the differences we think there exist, please consult my introduction on this article for more thoughts) between American and French tastes in perfumes. After all, the French style of perfume has been very narrowly defined in past decades, though globalization, emerging markets and the rise of industries in other lands has helped change/broaden that.
So without further ado, here is the full list of French best-sellers for 2014 according to the NPD Group analysis of the market:

1. Lancome La Vie est Belle qualifying for 5.3% of the market (66 millions euros)
2. Dior J'Adore (last year's #1)
3. Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire
4. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
5. Chanel No.5
6. Yves Saint Laurent Opium
7. Thierry Mugler Angel
8. Dior Miss Dior
9. Guerlain Shalimar
10. Kenzo Flower by Kenzo 

What do you think? Agree, disagree, surprised? 
Share your thoughts in the comments and share what you smell on people in your area if you like!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine:
Best-selling Fragrances USA & France 2013 (1st quarter)
Top 20 Best-selling Fragrances for women in France for 2011,
Best-selling Fragrances UK 2014,
Best-selling Fragrances Brazil 2011,
Top appreciated fragrances France 2012,
Past ascribed gender: Best masculine fragrances for women, best feminine fragrances for men


  1. Anonymous14:21

    Hello Elena! It's always interesting to have a look at the best-sellers list.
    I live in Corfu. What I smell all the time, at least three times a day, applied in more than generous quantities, is La vie est belle. It seems like every other woman is wearing it. I like it myself, but only wear it at the comfort of my own home, as I don't want to smell like every woman on the street.
    Hypnotic Poison is the only other perfume I smell so often, again, everywhere (and I don't even like that one!).
    Other than those, I catch whiffs of Kenzo Flower, Armani Code, and Angel. Aromatics Elixir is another one I think wuite a few women are wearing.
    It will be interesting to read what other people think is worn a lot in their area!

  2. Anonymous17:47

    Coco Chanel would be horrifled to see La Vie Est Belle as France's best selling fragrance. Back in the days of Chanel, only bourgeoises or mid to upper middle class French women wore perfume, they loved sophisticated perfumes, whereas today, just about anyone does, it's no longer about smelling rich or elegant, it's about smelling fresh, clean, sexy, young, and LOW people having fun. Sad but true!


  3. I feel that the French cannot really do a "favourites" list.
    France has ALOT of tourists all the time and maybe its the Tourists buying these perfumes and not the French people !!! LOL

    *Oh I hate that Petite Robe... why Guerlain ... why!!!

  4. Anon,

    thanks for the very detailed comment!
    Corfu is such a special place, isn't it? :-)
    On that note, I do find that your findings are reflective of the general "trends" of Greek women, to be sure. La Vie Est Belle is a major "new" entry and of course Angel, Hypnotic Poison and Aromatics Elixir are perennial favorites, smelled everywhere. It's funny that indeed despite the rather warm climate (well, not this winter!) people do wear quite a bit, yes? Flower by Kenzo I do smell a lot around as well, very true. Code hadn't registered too much, to be honest, need to pay attention and see.

    I can't really fathom why LVEB has been SUCH a bestseller across Europe, it seems. I mean, pretty, yes, but in a totally expected way: cross of Dior Homme, Delices and Flowerbomb sorta. But it caught on. I suppose it'll be one of these fragrances that people interested in fragrances will start wearing after a decade of its heyday, like they do with Light Blue. ;-)

    Thanks again for chiming in and telling it like it is.

  5. Emma,

    pertinent comment and has a point that needs to be stressed: why are we SO focused on the "young and sexy" part of the equation.
    (NB. Fresh I don't discount because "fresh" in one translation or another has always been at the core of the ritual of perfume; it was to signal that one was groomed and was purposefully putting something extra on top ever since the improvement of sanitation in 18th century and onwards and always a sign of the rich/wealthy).

    I think the need to validate one's sexual card "credit" has been so pressing because the mores of relationships and attachments has changed so much in the last 50 years (and even more so in the last 20 years with the increasing loneliness and date fixing through online media). Once upon a time people put on perfume to advance their social agenda (confirm their status) and to become memorable to their love interests, today they do it to graft on a much coveted "personality" image of "still worthy in the sack". In a way the latter is ironic, because now more than ever that "worthiness in the sack" has been narrowed in the public domain (older women although plentier than ever before are shunned by public images more than ever before). The social standing in a democraticized society (esp. in the US) is less important.

    Interesting discussion. Needs to be an independent post, really.

    1. Anonymous19:47

      Absolutely, it wouldn't be uncommon for Fashion models to be in their late 20s and even 30 until the 1970s.
      Today high fashion models are 16 or 17. The woman's ideal image today is a teen girl, not a woman.

      Worthyness in the sack... the former owner of a major online dating site claims 90% of men in their 40s and 50s look for young women in their 20s, and women 45+ just get what they can find.... how depressing!

      On social status, whether it's the French banlieue or bad neighborhoods in the US, these are people who couldn't care less about elegance and being sophisticated, they worship ghetto subculture with rap and hip hop.

      Generally speaking American women don't care about fashion, just watch American daytime television, you're wondering if they dress so hideously on purpose, however when they have money they love to flash big diamond rings, clunky jewelry and luxury cars. US Presidents cannot be too fashion forward or intellectual, yet they play golf, a boring rich mans sport, whereas in Europe playing golf would be considered controversial for politicians.

      Who buys La Vie Est Belle in France? I'd say average girls... I know it sounds mean... well Chanel, who by today's standards would be considered highly politically incorrect and far right wing, would agree with me on this; -)


  6. M,

    good point really, because certainly true.

    However the French do wear lots of mainstream department store perfume too (and LOTS of drugstore finds which are rather good, to be honest!), as attested by actual friends and acquaintances I happened to either sniff or ask, so in that regard accurate. Whether indeed the spontaneous or the duty-free purchases account for much of LVEB is a question worth pondering, but this particular scent has swept over Europe (it's big here as well) so not too surprising.

    As to LPRN by Guerlain it had a ginormous advertising campaign in France, really out of the ordinary (with posters in bus stops and the like) so again not surprising.

    In the end people want to belong, anywhere in the world, right? :-)

  7. Anonymous14:36

    The best seller list definitely indicates global marketing. The MacDonaldisation of perfume!

    It seems kind of a pity because I'd like to see marked differences indicating the differences in cultures. After all people still eat better in France - it's more an ingrained part of everyday life than it is in, say, London.

    Also fashion seems slightly different (not that I'm an expert!) with French showing a characteristic interest in detail and aesthetics while London is more 'quirky' and colourful.

    I suppose the bigger differences will be outside of Europe and America. It's turning into one big homogenised WEST!

  8. Rosestrang,

    exactly, there is that element writ large. There is a massification of the market too, with crowd pleasers becoming the vast seller in contrast to the very quirky blends. (This is also evident in niche where there is a different kind of "crowd pleaser" but definitely one as well in there).

    If you notice however the top-10 is strictly French brands or, if we take the case of Kenzo, brands operating in France and markedly so (Kenzo is almost Parisian).
    This is a small but not insignificant detail. The French are promoting their brands, but not exactly the classic "style" perceived as French (maybe because it's so related to older people?). In an era when American women dream of Parisian chic (and buy the books to imitate it), the French want to smell like everyone else. Very telling, eh?

    Still, I'm relieved I don't see Marc Jacobs scents, celebrity scents etc. on that list. Small mercies. :-)

    I think the list of Brazil (linked in the article) is markedly different (it's all relative) as are the lists of the Far East and the Middle East. The "west" is pasteurized and homogenized. For the time being ;-)

  9. Emma,

    the data you present are definitely interesting.

    I think "young" is equal to "nubile, pliable, manageable" to most middle-aged men's minds. They want someone who will be hassle-free, won't have a power struggle with and possibly someone who will be more fun (since youthfulness and a kind of silliness that can be attached to an idea of fun sometimes go hand in hand). It's debatable whether they're bothered by most 35+ women's demands on marriage and children (if they haven't already accomplished that) is a deterrent, since many 25+ also eventually demand these things from them. It's a moot point?

    The 45+ audience of women. Hmm, with the advance in the MILF category (certainly the publicize-ation of it, thanks to online porn, since a predilection for it always existed as a niche) and the celebrity "cougars", one would assume that these more mature women are not considered "finished". It's true however that they do tend to attract either significantly older partners (55+) seeking for a companion or much younger (25, 30) in search of good, experienced sex.
    I don't know what that says about the reality of it. I think it all depends on what a woman and any said culture gives emphasis on. A woman who has focused her entire existence on her fresh beauty of youthfulness is bound to become seriously disillusioned (on more than one level) once she hits 40 and is still unattached. If she lives in a culture that exalts youth things get even tougher. I believe in certain European countries (France, Italy...) older women are not considered "finished" unless they look a certain way. They do need to do some upkeep and not look like they're 80 when they're in fact 50, of course, but they do present their own allure and don't feel the need to go the plastic surgery look that makes everyone look the same. Just look at Monica Bellucci, Jacqueline Bisset,Irene Papas, etc.

    The matter of elegance and ghetto-fabulousness you describe, that's a vast subject. I don't have the benefit (?) of US daytime television, but I do think daytime television everywhere is sorta sketchy aesthetically wise. (The Greek daytime television looks like porn when it tries to attract viewers, plunging necklines, heavy smoky eyes, lots of up-skirts on ladies presenters, it's demeaning actually....)

  10. [continuing]

    From my own observation of American women both on US soil (a limited experience, granted) and abroad, one can easily detect two trends:

    1) the "dress for comfort" group, who take comfort too far therefore not flattering their figure and assets (sneakers no matter what the rest of the look entails, pleated shorts on heavy-set women or even obese, velour tracksuits accessorized with huge bags and sunglasses etc)
    2) the very "done" look, with a total look, coiffed hair, full face of makeup, nails in flashy style, clunky jewelry as you say (sometimes expensive and possibly could be stylish if it were in moderation) etc.

    In both instances one (a foreigner) wants to subtract something, substitute for something simpler, more straight-forward, plainer even!
    I think however that the sparsity of style is something that someone needs maturity in order to attain. Deducting and dividing comes after adding and multiplication, right?

    Chanel herself was on the vanguard of this sparsity, which stemmed from her humble upbringing and her refined sense of making the low seem new and fresh and bright and, yes, elegant (after all, elegant means "curt" and "straightforward" in science). She was indeed far right wing, though one suspects it was because she wanted to protect her financial interests and therefore more of an opportunist (so much the worse for her!)

    It's funny, I know of a very elegant, famous Greek politician who embraced golf in his mature years. Center-right wing, he looked patrician, but was a self-made man actually.

  11. Anonymous19:01

    Have you watched the 1969 Chanel interview, it's on YouTube and I think there's a link with English subtitles.
    She talks about morals, religion, women wearing pants, insecure older women trying to dress younger etc. I also enjoyed watching the Yves Saint Laurent response to Chanel attack interview. She admitted he was very good but that he would copy her style on which he replied women who dress in Chanel want to look like Mademoiselle Chanel, women in YSL want to be themselves. She hated the world of 1969 - can you imagine what she'd think of our world today if she were still alive - Saint Laurent loved his world.
    I think she was insecure that her style would die with her. If it had not been for Lagerfeld I wonder if Chanel would still be as big as it is today.

    Men are insecure, any woman with strong personality and character who's on the market knows that. Middle aged guys on want pretty dumb girls half their age, like you said they want easy going fun relationships, sexual chemistry, no connection, no commitment. Attractive women in their 40s and 50s can easily find much younger men indeed, it's much harder to find men their age bracket.
    And if you're a middle aged single woman in Manhattan, good luck because with the highest ratio of women per men in North America, 1/3 of men gay or bisexual and beautiful young bitches all over the place willing to date much older men for a comfortable lifestyle, you'd better have a good game!

    When it comes to American women, again generally speaking you get one extreme or another. Plain Janes who don't care about style - most of my female friends in New York dress gender neutral - and high maintenance women, fake from head to toe, Real Housewives type, botox and injections, but look who am I to criticize, I've had my cheeks and lips injected with fillers to enhance my looks, haha!


  12. Miss Heliotrope00:29

    O gosh, so much to respond to. First, having lived in the US for 6 years - I think many women (& men) care about fashion, but differently. The basic level of dressing was higher than here (Australia), but it was blander it some ways - evened out. I do think some of that is less not caring than a different value - a more protestant feeling that looking nice is fine, but looking like you are trying too much is decadent.

    We would go to Italy on holidays, and often found the contrast very funny. The US had less extremes, but that meant poorer people (in our area) were cleanly & often stylishly dressed - if not expensively. In Italy, there were wealthy, incredibly presented women in fur coats (an aside - we were living in upstate NY, it is 20 below freezing most of winter, and not a genuine fur to be seen - we get to Italy, comment on how warm it felt in comparison, and restaurant coat racks are full of dead animals). Also, more people in Italy were all wearing the same thing - my FIL lives there & spent an entire holiday telling me I was embarrassing for wearing a striped scarf, bc every single person there has Burberry check on (real or not) - you cant stand out. The next year,he had a striped scarf on(& so did everyone else). Sigh.

    Back to scent: besides myself & husband, have smelt perfume on precisely one other person this year (back in Melbourne, but I dont get out much, to be fair). A medical specialist - which is odd, bc most dont wear any, and Ive seen a lot. I think it was Chance. I know other people wear scent: both my MIL & SIL, but cant smell it, even when kissing them (although to smell anything other than cigarettes on SIL is impossible).

    I would rather smell perfume.

  13. Emma,

    YSL is like a god to me. The things he did for women and style should be canonized. (Of course Chanel did a lot as well and she was even more of a pioneer). Yves did lend himself more to being sympathetic, his fragility, his "beau gosse" physique, his dreaminess and introversion, even his failings. With Chanel you knew you were getting someone hard as nails, probably because of her deprived upbringing. But she was right in many things. Though I doubt pants are only for younger women?? (she says I believe that she invented them for them? I'm watching the clip)
    You forgot to add that she talks about her American clientele (and in not dismissive terms!)

    Funny, I just had a newsflash: is the sitar playing in the "pantalons" modeling a version of If I were a Rich Man from the Fiddler on the Roof? Now THAT might be high irony considering Chanel's past with the Jewish! Haha!

    It's interesting what you say about Plain Janes vs. High Maintenance. I suppose the divide exists in several cultures, but women are more antagonistic in more patriarchal societies (such as our own, where everyone strives to look "sexy", often to odd results -the French are no different in that regard, though to their credit they appreciate less skin exposure; I THINK!!).

    American women have at least emancipated themselves from that tyranny of trying to please potential mates, I think they just do it for themselves as a "I'm worth it" statement (re: the high maintenance work, I mean, since men rarely if ever appreciate Botox, injections etc, unless we're talking about breast augmentation and lipo-sculpting). Agree?

  14. I also wanted to add that the 1960s were really the cut off point for what we consider stylish on many levels.
    If you look at old photographs, back in the first decades of the 20th century and up till the early 60s everyone looked like they had come off a movie set; so co-ordinated, so "done", so elegantly so too like they were meant to be that way, not just look it. And that was not only for rich or wealthy people, but also for the working classes, which is an interesting observation I find, especially since no matter how the vogues have changed they more or less continue to look "appealing" to our eye (well, excluding a few extreme styles of makeup from the 20s or the odd detail here and there).

    From the late 1960s onwards, only those who pay some attention to their style look good and continue to look good in advancing decades later. My mother for instance who had always maintained a feminine and classic style looks good even today in her 70s photos, but then she didn't go to extremes then. One of my aunts who kept a rather steady style through several decades with minimal changes in hair and dress (not to look retro) seems as almost she hasn't aged a day if you compare photos: it's clear that she has aged, but her look looks timeless, making her herself look timeless. Know what I mean?

    These matters are very dear to my heart: how our eye plays up tricks on us and how we associate the eye with the mind process and deduce on visual clues.

  15. Miss Heliotrope,

    as always a detailed and nuanced comment, thank you!

    There's a point that people dress for style differently across cultures. The mantra of the LBD for instance is a classic for the New York girl (and anyone on that calibre), but for the French (and many Europeans) it's the "easy solution out", showing no imagination, much as we embrace black (well southerners do, the "we" refers to us). The US additionally is such a multi-cultural and multi-nuanced nation (contrary to Oz) that I suppose each major city has its own fashion plates and style "musts".

    Italy in contrast (and Greece as well) are tiny compared and much more homogenized in what is considered stylish. There no big discrepancies between -say- Salonica (which is possibly the most "groomed" and "glam") and Corfu, between Crete and Mykonos. Just different social strata doing their thing.

    The desire to emulate the latest "must" is indeed strong in southerner cultures, but that is not necessarily an aesthetic choice as much as a re-affirmation that you're socially able (and informed) to get the latest "it" thing; -it pertains to social status, more than a desire to mingle and fade out (that is not happening in brash and boastful cultures like the Italian, the Greeks, etc).
    It's of course ironic that in one's desire to distinguish themselves they end up looking like everyone else who thought the same thing!
    The Burberry accessories are funny indeed, since in Britain Burberry is now considered "fit for chavs" (if you don't know the term, Google it; a British person introduced me to it when I took my beautiful full length Burberry trench-coat on a trip with me)

    But who said that Europe is always and necessarily "better"?? :-) :-D
    I;m happy that the crisis has made us re-evaluate things and seek the unique and the worthy besides the social advantages that go with it.

  16. Miss Heliotrope00:57

    O gods - I had a long response done & the damn system shut down.

    To try again:

    Australia has the multi-cultural & nuance, and regional variation (see the silly Melbourne/Sydney squabbles), but we also have a very small population, and a retail sector that thinks smaller.

    One can buy clothes that are cutting edge fashionable, but really only suitable for 18 year olds, and one can buy clothes for old people, possibly from last centuary.

    To buy anything else, including classic but stylish stuff for anyone over 19 but under 100, is very hard & involves a lot of time & often money. In the US, we found a number of stores offering multiple choices in this sort of area; eg: chinos for men & women in a dozen shapes, several colours of the season, and then classic colours. Here, there are sometimes three styles & maybe as many colours. If chinos are in this year - & even then usually only for men.

    A lot of this is population & costs, but it means that Australians are some of the biggest overseas online shoppers in the world - our stores have responded not by widening their offerings, but by lobbying the government to tax our purchases (which would still be cheaper than much of what is sold in shops). On occasions when I have gone into a US store that has set up here (GAP), I was horrified to see that rather than providing the choice they did in the US, they have pared down to offer roughly what our own stores already did.

    ex: I am at home in tracks & light top: the former US, the latter UK - all track pants I could find last time I needed some were tight & thin, which was useless for winter. The top: light, fitted, 1/2 sleeve boat neck (I might have several in different colours): not available here as skimpy singlets are in. Or tshirts with porn-images. Or baggy things that would come to my knees...

    My husband hasn't be able to buy work trousers (not suit ones) for summer for two years, as the fashion has been for very tight fit, and he feels that 40 something public servants should perhaps not.

  17. MH,

    so sorry for the Blogger malfunction. It happens sometimes and hitting back loses the comment text.
    You're free to recomment as many times as it needs to be done.

    Thanks for all your trouble to explain the situation.

    I have heard this complaint (on things to buy locally) by Lady Jicky, who's also in Australia. Well, not strictly for clothes, but for several things. Very pared down selection. Probably what you say so well: population and costs. But yes, it does make for a big online spending and I think companies should think about shipping costs again *tsk tsk tsk*

    I think there's the element of a surf culture there, in what you say, about the T-shirts. We get that too of course, though there's a lot of other streaks going on as well: the hippy-ish things for island wearing, the super glam things for island night clubbing, the very artistic minimalist things that refer to Cycladic art, etc. (and which rich vacationers wear with a vengeance) It takes all kinds.

    Funny that chinos should be considered only for men. You'd think they're totally utilitarian and cool for your extra hot summers. What about loose linen pants?

  18. Miss Heliotrope05:49

    I have some! I only tried about 10 shops & spent three days in bed with a headache afterwards.

    & bought the entire collection: 2 colours, one style...

  19. Miss Heliotrope05:50

    PS - this is Melbourne, what's surf culture?


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