The most spontaneous posts on Perfume Shrine often involve a small rant and this is one of them. The ideas for the rants also strike me as I'm going through the motions; no preplanned, big thinking dissertation projects, which is probably why they come out of the blue. The other day was one such day of an unwelcome epiphany, concerning several issues we have touched on this site before: similarity between current perfumes, recycling of ideas and ingredients while not revealing sources under penalty of Chinese torture, focus group practices that deprive any originality, pricing of fine fragrance at fine fragrance level while the perfume formula obviously costs as much as a mass-range shampoo... Unlike wanting to find a dupe for MAC Ruby Woo lipstick or DiorShow mascara, perfume stands for something that can't be irrefutably compared in qualitative terms by the average consumer. With cosmetics, it's right there in your face, you can't deny it. With perfume...not as easy to claim your case.
What made me have this light-bulb light up in my brain? Simple. Re-smelling the best-selling (or so it seems from the commentary and the numerous flankers) Chloe Eau de Parfum, the re-orchestrated one from a few years ago.
It smells like -effing- L'Eau d'Issey!
Now, the two fragrances, L'Eau d'Issey (feminine) from 1992 and Chloe Eau de Parfum (2008) share no common notes apart from rose I believe (which scent doesn't, you ask). You can compare their respective fragrance notes pyramids here and here. Of course seasoned readers of this blog already know notes do NOT correspond to actual ingredients in the formula; they're meant to convey an olfactory impression. But still huge numbers of people review Chloe EDP as rosy, as well as soapy (and it is sudsy in a very sharp, shrill way most definitely, as I had said in my fragrance review of reformulated Chloe eau de parfum, comparing it with the vintage ). The same doesn't happen for the modern classic floral aquatic by Miyake of course, people view it as watery, aquatic, white floral; no rose, no powder, no soap.
In fact I see that I had already mentioned that the Chloe EDP opening reminds me of L'Eau d'Issey all those years back when I first wrote the review in 2008. Can't be blamed for a reformulation, then.
But wait a minute. Are people that suggestive, then? Not quite.
Here is one reviewer of Chloe on Fragrantica, blurting it out in plain sight:
And even though there are tons of other reviewers insisting on the classiness or uniqueness of it (and they do have a perfect right to like it and wear it in good health), I strained my eyes to find someone hinting at what I had perceived at of the blue.
In the end it does seem I am not alone, nor mad at feeling the similarity.
Here it is:
The most fascinating part of it is Chloe EDP smells identical to the cheap chemist's dupes of L'Eau d'Issey sold in plain glass bottles for a buck! Even the formula of the Miyake is considered "expensive" nowadays?
This valuable lesson also teaches us something important: Familiarity is of paramount importance in perfume tastes. We like what we're familiar with. If an idea has worked once, it will work again, assuming the time lapse is just right; too soon and you risk being called out as derivative, too long and you risk being considered as moldy as an attic full of mothball-preserved clothes.
This is why the industry churns out endless variations on a known theme. And when the theme is considered somewhat passé, they recycle it under a different campaign, a different image and a different set of notes. But it does smell very, very similar all the same.
Consider where your buck flows to.
For those reading Greek, please consult my article on Perfume Sameness on this link.
Next, we will have a niche samples giveaway, stay tuned!