Perfume Journey : How to Start Enjoying and Exploring Fragrance

Whenever I mention to a new acquaintance that I work in fragrance and we plunge into a discussion of perfume, most people remark that they never thought that scents could be so fascinating. We take our nose for granted. In various surveys asking people what sense they would most likely give up, most select their sense of smell. But it only takes a moment of reflection to realize how hard this loss would be. As many studies show, without the sense of smell, our food tastes bland, our libido suffers, our world loses color and even our memories becomes so much poorer. The message is simple: take care of your nose and use it to its full capacity.

Enjoying perfume is only one facet of being scent obsessed–cooking, gardening, and even something as simple as taking a walk in the park counts too. But perfume is such a great adventure. It cheers me up when I feel down. It makes me feel elegant. It indulges my fantasies and wanderlust. Exploring scents for their rich history and fascinating craftsmanship gives me as much satisfaction as art and music, and it is just as rewarding.

But when you are standing in front of a crowded perfume bar, it’s easy to feel disoriented. Where do you start? What do you smell? It doesn’t help that the sales associates are only pushing the new releases their brand pays them to promote or that they are usually not trained enough to guide you. I wish I could go to the perfume counter with you and spray away (although I admit to being just as confused when I face the dozens of perfume bottles filled with nearly identical juice). Instead, I decided to take a look at Bois de Jasmin’s archives and highlight articles relating to different aspects of perfume enjoyment. I hope that this selection will be helpful both to perfume newbies and perfumistas with many years of perfume  exploration under their belts. I also look forward to hearing your tips and thoughts on this topic.

Playing the Field: How to Approach the Perfume Counter

If you are reading this blog, you’re probably already interested enough in perfume to be curious to explore more. Perhaps, you have a couple of perfumes in your collection and are looking either to expand your wardrobe or to try something new. The reason I start this discussion by talking about the perfume counter is because that’s where most of us dip our toes into the endless sea of perfume. Approaching the perfume counter in the right way and figuring out how to make sense of what you find there is essential. In my Perfume Shopping Tips Article, I talk about ways to research scent selection, how to smell, and most important, how not to get overwhelmed by the choice at the perfume bar. If you live outside a big city, Suzanna’s article How to Survive As a Small Town Perfumista gives some ideas how to manage your perfume hobby.

When you are just starting out in your perfume hobby, you should smell as much as possible and don’t rush into purchasing anything. Instead, collect samples and revisit them from time to time to hone your nose and to learn about your tastes. In The Art of Seducing Yourself : How to Select Perfume, I describe some ways to understand your preferences. This may sound facile, but sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly we enjoy. The most important person you have to please is yourself, so listen to your instincts. A beautiful perfume will give you an emotional rush and butterflies in your stomach.

So, where do you start if you want to try more than what’s available at your local mall. In Exploring Niche Perfume, Bois de Jasmin readers share their favorite niche and indie brands and their recommendations on where to start.

Approach each new scent with an open mind and allow the perfume to develop on your skin and run its full course. Ask yourself these questions: Do you enjoy the perfume at all stages? How well does it last on you? Do you remember it the next day? A beautiful perfume is memorable, harmonious and full of surprises. In a two part article on The Price of Luxury Perfume and Value For Money, Quality and Other Perfume Musings, the topic of perfume quality is explored in more depth. Favorite Affordable, Inexpensive Fragrance talks about cheap & chic scents that won’t break the bank. Also, you might find extra tips in my article on How to Make Perfume Hobby Affordable and More Fun.

Sometimes you may find that a perfume smells great on the blotter and not so interesting on your skin. In Do You Have Skin? On Skin Chemistry and Perfume, I describe how individual body chemistry can affect the way fragrances smell on skin. In some cases, a perfume might require more than one trial before you can determine whether you enjoy it or not. Suzanna covered this topic in Perfume Pursuit: Is Fragrance Worth A Long Courtship?, and the comments to this article offer many interesting suggestions. Perfumes That Challenge and Perhaps Seduce gives some examples of fragrances that might be difficult to approach, but that eventually reveal their beauty.

A question might be raised about the gender divisions in perfume. Can you wear a fragrance marketed to the opposite gender? This can be a fun exploration in itself, and Running with the Boys : Adventures at the Fragrance Counter describes my own discoveries (and mishaps).

Bois de Jasmin also has a selection of articles and city guides on perfume shopping that might be helpful. If you travel to Paris, you might like to consult my Paris Shopping Guide (and be sure to stop by Grain de Musc for more Paris perfume suggestions).

Finally, even if you don’t speak a word of French, Bela’s website Fragrance Name of the Day will help you pronounce perfume names with a perfect accent.

Benchmark Perfumes

Sometime it helps to smell fragrances that are considered great and  unique. For instance, you might like to look at Guy Robert’s Selection of Perfume Masterpieces, a compilation made by a great perfumer who created some of the most remarkable fragrances of the 20th century such as Hermès Calèche, Christian Dior Dioressence, and Madame Rochas. In the ongoing series Fragrances That Influenced Perfume History (soon to be resumed!), I present an overview of perfumes that scented the 20th century and had a profound impact on fragrances we smell today. You need not have classical perfumes in your wardrobe, but it’s still worth exploring them. In 10 Things I Love About Classical Perfumes I talk about my favorite reasons for enjoying perfume classics.

Or you might be interested to know what women around the world like and buy: Perfume trendsTop Selling Feminine Fragrances USATop Selling Feminine Fragrances FranceTop Selling Masculine Fragrances USA, and Top 20 Bois de Jasmin Reader Favorite Fragrances.  By contrast, Top Great Market Failures offer a look at the market flops, some of which are excellent.

Building a Perfume Wardrobe

The promise of a signature scent is tempting–a scented signature that our friends and loved ones will always associate with us, but is it really so fulfilling? In Signature Scent, fragrance expert Marian Bendeth explores why a signature perfume may not the best way to wear fragrance. We don’t wear the same clothes, eat the same food or listen to the same music. In the same way, having a perfume wardrobe might be a more enjoyable way to dress up in fragrance. By a perfume wardrobe, I don’t mean a collection of dozens of perfumes. A small, well-edited selection is much better anyway. In Building Perfume Wardrobe, I describe how I approach building my own wardrobe.

Under the tag how-to-wear-perfume, you will find lots of posts about different ways to enjoy fragrance. There are no specific rules, and your choices will be driven by your personal preferences. Be sure to read the comment sections for these articles, because they are full of great and inspiring advice.

Perfumes For Different Occasions

For instance, Suzanna’s Perfume At The Office : Workplace and Scents looks at ways to wear perfume in close quarters. “Can’t Decide What To Wear” : Choosing Perfume is about our favorite fragrances that always feel right, even when you can’t decide what you are in the mood for. Little Black Dress Perfume : Best Versatile and Elegant FragranceElegance in a Perfume BottlePlaying Femme Fatale : Red Lipstick and Perfume, and Red Lipstick Fragrances explore the ideas of elegance and glamour that your fragrances might convey.

Occasionally, we also want our perfume to touch and  inspire others. Most Complimented Perfume is a favorite topic, as is Perfume As Seduction : On “What Drives Men / Women Crazy”.  Most Romantic Perfume is another discussion of scents that evoke romance and allure.

Some fragrances have a strong emotional effect, making you feel relaxed, comforted or uplifted. Daytime vs Evening FragranceRefreshing Perfume, and Relaxing Fragrances : How Perfume Alters Our Moods are a few posts on this topic. I discovered  recently that many of us love to wear fragrance to bed to help us feel either sultry or relaxed, and the comments to Perfumed Nightgown : What Do You Wear are very interesting to read.

When you have played with your fragrances enough, you might consider layering. Layering Fragrances : Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and French Elle Part 1 and Layering Fragrances : French Elle Part 2 give guidance on how to approach fragrance layering.  Tips and Tricks: How Do You Apply Perfume? is about the ways to scent yourself and make the fragrance linger on your skin.

If you are interested to explore fragrances appropriate for different seasons, please take a look at my selection of fragrances for fallwinterspring, and summer.

Smelling Notes

At some point, you will be interested in the ingredients you’re smelling in your perfume. Some materials might be instantly familiar such as vanilla, rose, cinnamon, pepper, and freshly cut grass, while others will be a mystery–what’s that starchy, sparkling thing in the top notes of Chanel No 5 that smells vaguely like candle wax? (Aldehydes!) Since my day to day work revolves around perfume raw materials, I enjoy writing articles that focus on various fragrance ingredients, from amber to ylang-ylang. The full selection can be found at Perfume Notes IndexSpeaking Perfume : A-Z of Common Fragrance Descriptions might be helpful to figure out the meaning of the common terms found in perfume reviews. Myth of Perfume Pyramid explains why the marketing concept of a perfume pyramid is misleading.

You might also be interested to learn about perfumers/noses who are behind the fragrances you are smelling. Interviews includes conversations with Sophia GrojsmanSerge Lutens,  Yann Vasnier, and more. Some of my favorite perfume books are discussed as well, and I recommend checking them out if you are hungry for more information.

Since smell and taste are tightly linked, I enjoy exploring this overlap in my food themed articles, which can be found at Gourmand Library Index. You can find tested recipes for scented drinksdessertshomemade preservessalads and vegetable side dishes and much more. Spices and flavors can enhance even the simplest preparations and help transform something as ordinary as a grilled chicken breast into a gourmet meal.

AP Credit: Delving Deeper

The more time I spend researching scents, the more fascinating this topic becomes. Perfume history is inextricably linked to developments in science, new movements in art, trends in fashion and social changes. If you enjoy learning more about this topic, the Perfume History category offers different articles such as The Game of Love : Perfume in Kamasutra, 18th Century Incense RecipeSweet Honey Water : Perfume Recipe from the 17th Century, Maria Tallchief, Balanchine and GuerlainBig Shoulders, Big Hair, Big Perfume : 1980s Through Fragrance, and even the history of drugstore perfumes in Classics on a Budget : Drugstore PerfumesComing of Age : An American Perfume Story is Suzanna’s beautiful exploration of American perfumery tied with her own experiences in becoming a perfume lover. Discussions of historical perfumes and fragrance houses can also found under the Classics and Vintages rubric.

Perfume is a business and sometimes its practices are confusing and frustrating. Under the tag of perfumery-business, you will find my articles about what it takes to make a bottle of perfume. The ongoing series How Many Hands Touch Your Bottle of Perfume will further contribute to this topic.

Extra

I have hundreds of perfume reviews here, and you can sort them by houseby creatorby noteby mood, or by rating.

A to Z Tips for Enjoyable, Affordable and Rewarding Perfume Hobby includes numerous tips that have been contributed by Bois de Jasmin readers and if you are not sure what a decant is or how to order samples, it’s a great place  to start browsing. Also, NSTperfume’s New to Perfume and Want to Learn MorePerfumeposse‘s Perfume 101 and Perfume 201 are  excellent resources that include many great recommendations. Enjoy the journey!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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80 Comments

  • Lucas: That’s a huge compilation of articles. Young perfumistas, read Bois de Jasmin and you won’t get lost in the perfume world! September 26, 2012 at 7:26am Reply

    • Rachel: A nice one, Lucas! How did we survive in the pre-internet days? I mean, maybe things were simpler, but I met so many lovely people thanks to blogs and online discussion forums. September 26, 2012 at 8:42am Reply

      • Victoria: I think that you’re right, things were simpler, we all somehow survived, but I also made lots of great discoveries and friendships thanks to internet. So, I’m not complaining. September 26, 2012 at 10:17am Reply

        • Lucas: Internet really helps. Thanks to it I met many interesting people who offered to send me samples of fragrances I had difficulties in finding. Thanks to internet I got involved in swaps and can organize splits at Polish Perfume Split Board. September 26, 2012 at 12:21pm Reply

          • Victoria: That’s fantastic, Lucas! The perfume lover community is known to be generous and eager to share. September 26, 2012 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that it’s helpful! There is so much choice today that I get confused the moment I see the row upon row of perfume bottles. Finding a right perfume among them seems so daunting. September 26, 2012 at 10:15am Reply

  • Barbara: Wow! What a great resource! You’re such a hard worker, V. Thank you very much for putting it all together and for your blog in general. I use my nose better and to pay more attention to it these days. :) September 26, 2012 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Barbara! When one is more attuned to scents, the world really feels more colorful and exciting. September 26, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

  • mysterious_scent: The article is very organized! September 26, 2012 at 8:20am Reply

  • Patt: What a fabulous resource, Victoria! And the accompanying photographs are nothing short of amazing. September 26, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Patt! The subjects of the photos were also very photogenic. :) September 26, 2012 at 10:18am Reply

  • jillie: What a feast of reading I have before me! I’ve quickly looked at a couple of the references, and was especially interested in your Sophia Grosjman interview as she has created so many of my favourite fragrances. She sounds as beautiful as her perfumes. Thank you for putting all this together.

    I discovered a lovely scent via its candle version. Ormonde Jayne had sent me a gift of a little Ta’if candle with my purchase of a bottle of Tiare, and the more I smelt that little jar of wax, the more I fell in love with the perfume. So I just had to buy the juice! And have bought several bottles since ….. September 26, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Sophia Grojsman is as warm as her perfumes and one of the most talented people I’ve encountered (but I must make a full disclosure, she’s my teacher and mentor). I did that interview before I started studying perfumery (I was still at the university and planning to enter a totally different field), and I remember how influential meeting her was for me. Hope that you will enjoy the post!

      Ta’if is just addictive. I have used up so many samples and decants of it ever since I discovered OJ 7 years ago that I finally decided that yes, I also need a full bottle. September 26, 2012 at 10:25am Reply

      • jillie: I am so thrilled to learn that Sophia was your teacher and mentor, V! And yes, you do need a full bottle of Ta’if – it’s one that I yearn for, especially as the days get colder. September 26, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

        • Victoria: Ta’if is a perfect cashmere blanket perfume. I know that I will be reaching for it a lot during the chilly Belgian winter. September 26, 2012 at 3:34pm Reply

  • Rachel: V, I hope that this post goes into your “Featured Posts,” because I know I’ll be referring to it *many* times.

    The photos are stunning as always! The first one especially is beautiful. September 26, 2012 at 8:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Rachel, thank you, I will do that.

      The first photo is a perfume display at a niche fragrance boutique in Florence called Olfattorio. I loved the way they’ve arranged their selection. But the real testers were elsewhere. September 26, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

  • Elena: Wonderful! Others have said it before, but I’ll say it again: I would be thrilled to death if you wrote a book! I can just imagine it filled with your gorgeous photography and your elegant and informative writing. September 26, 2012 at 9:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for your support and encouragement, Elena! So many ideas, so much to do. :) September 26, 2012 at 10:27am Reply

  • Zazie: Wonderful article, and so much interesting reading material, to discover and to (re)read!
    1. The best piece of advice I would highlight from your article(s) is to try many samples before you buy, because the more you smell, the more your nose gets “better” at understanding differences and nuances.
    We are usually drawn to what is familiar, so sniffing a lot before committing to a bottle helps a perfumista “en herbe” to learn to fly with her own wings and to develop and understand her own tastes.

    2. When I discovered “now smell this”, I applied to the Monday mail feature, in order to get suggestions on possible scents I would like. Looking at the list of notes and perfumes I thought I liked/disliked, I cannot but wonder at my own ignorance. I’m glad I wasn’t selected for the feature, it would have been useless. Smelling and reading is the only way to give words to your perfume perception, so you can use terms such as gardenia, musky, chypre in a correct and “shared” way!

    3. Don’t let your own image of yourself “sabotage” your sniffing sessions. Honestly, I didn’t have an open mind at the beginning. Based on my personality and on the image I wish to project I presumed I would like those chic, unisex, edgy, woody, leathery, streamlined fragrances. A confident and elegant tomboy bottled. I tried to love the Tam Dao, the Corso Como 10, the incense series from CDG, but no, at best, I liked…

    It took time and lucky chances for me to try on skin Fracas, Shalimar and the likes (which had been hastily dismissed after a smell-the- cap trial, but mostly based on their “image” and “fame”). I discovered that my perfume tastes geared towards the opulent, symphonic, uber-feminine and preferably floral compositions. An interesting and surprising revelation, I can assure you!
    Sorry, for the long comment, but I remember how posts like this one helped me at my very beginnings!
    Thank you for all the effort you put into this wonderful and fragrant project! September 26, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Gosh, Zazie, thank you so much for such a great and inspiring comment. I cannot agree more with all of your points, and as I read, I nodded my head.

      You’re right, the most important advice I would give to anyone starting out is just to smell, smell, smell. Smell women’s and men’s, niche and department store brands. The more you smell, the more you learn about your tastes. Staying within your comfort zone is very tempting, but the best discoveries are made when you challenge yourself a little. September 26, 2012 at 10:31am Reply

  • Cecile: This is so helpful! I also would like to mention two articles you didn’t include (or maybe I just missed them) but that I really love: one is about 5 simple pleasures and another is about why we love perfume. I have these two printed out. September 26, 2012 at 9:26am Reply

  • Ferris@DKchocoMan: As always I enjoy reading your articles. This one in particular is chunk full of information, so much to digest. I have to go back and reread parts of it to get all the references and links to other wonderful perfume websites! This is one blog I have to book mark for sure. You are very knowledgeable about perfumes. September 26, 2012 at 10:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Ferris, thank you! I’ve been meaning to put it together for a year (!), but it’s really quite a task to go through the archives, so I finally managed to get together a couple of weeks ago. Hope that it’s helpful and you will find new links and references in it. September 26, 2012 at 10:35am Reply

  • Jenna: The best advice I ever got when I plunged into my perfume hobby was to disregard the perfume notes and just trust my nose. I can’t believe that I thought I hated musk. You’ll laugh when you hear what my favourites are these days… Annick Goutal Musc Nomade, Serge Lutens MKK and Kiehl’s Musk. Goes to show that you need to be open-minded. September 26, 2012 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: I can give you a whole list of notes I thought I disliked! I can’t agree more with you, Jenna. Being open minded leads to the best discoveries, plus perfume is a fairly low commitment. If you don’t like it, you can always wash it off. September 26, 2012 at 3:35pm Reply

  • iodine: “Enjoying perfume is only one facet of being scent obsessed–cooking, gardening, and even something as simple as taking a walk in the park counts too”.
    Here, dear V, I would link to your marvellous posts on cooking and gardening- they’re so precious, too!
    (BTW: Have you ever been considering some cooking post on tonka beans? I’ve recently discovered them and can’t wait to share recipes with you!) September 26, 2012 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Done! Thank you so much for your tip. :)
      I’ve been obsessed with tonka beans lately, and I’ve tested several recipes with them. Will definitely share soon, and I can’t wait to hear your suggestions. It’s such a beautiful flavor. September 26, 2012 at 3:37pm Reply

  • Kerrie: Thank you so much Victoria for taking the time to create this wonderful article and pull all this information together for us in one place. I am going to thoroughly enjoy going through every bit of it. You are such a treasure! September 26, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: And I’m lucky to have all of you–to learn, to share, to exchange thoughts. So glad that you’re enjoying this post! If you have any suggestions, please let me know. September 26, 2012 at 3:40pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Dear V – You need to turn this post into a separate “Reference” page and update the links once in a while.

    It certainly makes a nice way to assess the many ways you’ve addressed the world of fragrances and how they fit into our lives.

    Quite the Opus, IMHO. :) September 26, 2012 at 12:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will definitely do that! I started writing a short post with some links from the archives, and before I knew it, it turned into this! :)

      Scent is so much more than the stuff in the perfume bottle, and I have found so much satisfaction in following my nose. Even in the past few months, which have been rather tough, the scents have always made me feel better and have been my “most portable form of intelligence” as Luca Turin says (and beauty, I would add). September 26, 2012 at 3:44pm Reply

    • maggie: I have ‘Evernote’ed this page so that I can go back to it easily – it is such a fantastic resource, thanks Victoria!
      If your not familiar with Evernote do check it out, it’s a fantastic information-saving tool. September 27, 2012 at 5:18am Reply

      • Victoria: Maggie, what a perfect timing! I just signed up for Evernotes this morning and was just exchanging emails with another friend who uses this program. It’s an excellent program, isn’t it? And my pleasure, I’m so happy to hear that you and others liked this post. September 27, 2012 at 5:22am Reply

  • Gretchen: I wholly agree with the quality and luminosity of your writings, Victoria, and love the pieces Suzanna shares with us. I delve into your archives regularly both for education and entertainment (good writing is never to be missed, in any form!). You’ve just made it easier to track down information, and this comprehensive post is terrific. I have to laugh at the idea of perfume styles matching our personalities…I’d never have guessed that my favorites are the old-school operatic scents (L’heure Bleue, Carnal Flower), or that I’d own almost as many full bottles as I do shoes. What a wonderful blog to help educate me and feast in each day! September 26, 2012 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Gretchen! This means a lot to me.

      I remember being told by one sales associate that I can’t wear L’Heure Bleue, because it doesn’t suit my looks or personality. Ha! I feel so good wearing this perfume. Right now, I have a blotter scented with it on my desk, and my whole office smells of orange blossom and iris. September 26, 2012 at 3:48pm Reply

      • SL Clark: The snobbery of it all, reminds me of a certain well known Napa Valley winery tasting room.

        Handing my wife a lovely Cabernet (which I like) produced a “cough syrup” remark, sending the sales associate into a fit of rage. Had the rep handed her what she *wanted* and asked for by name, a Moscato, she might have made a sale. But alas, the rep wasn’t going to open a bottle of THAT, , , September 26, 2012 at 4:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: I really get irked by that too. There is a difference about being passionate about one’s interests and to be a snob. The California wine industry has done a lot to create an active interest in wine, but it has also cultivated the kind of attitudes you’ve described. On a related thought, while I think that perfumery is an artistic endeavor, I don’t equal it to that of painting or sculpture. It’s a product that’s meant to please and delight, not a museum piece. September 26, 2012 at 5:59pm Reply

  • Alyssa: What riches! Thanks for taking the time to compile and categorize all these, V. I will definitely be referring people to this post. September 26, 2012 at 2:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Happy that you’ve enjoyed it Alyssa! I will definitely be adding more to this post over time. September 26, 2012 at 3:49pm Reply

  • Steve: Victoria – What a wonderful article and thank you for all of the wonderful resource materials! I love the “Fragrance Name of the Day” – I always feel like I am butchering pronunciations! September 26, 2012 at 3:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love Bela’s voice, and I wish she would record a longer text, so that I could listen to it and just swoon.

      And thank you, Steve! I’m trying to keep things organized. BdJ’s archives are so bloated, and they really need some way to be accessed easier. September 26, 2012 at 3:51pm Reply

  • maja: I simply adore your blog and read it all the time. If I need a review I’ll always google your blog first :) Love your elegant writing besides your obvious knowledge and good taste. :) Living in a small country in the middle of nowhere (practically) I only have access to mainstream fragrances and have to order everything niche or different from abroad. My main problem in this fabulous new addiction/hobby/passion are samples from online sites. Either the packages don’t arrive or the samples are too expensive or I have problems with customs. Are there online sites that you think are better than others? September 26, 2012 at 4:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Maja, thank you for your kind words! I’ve recently moved to Belgium, where the perfume shopping is very good, but the selection among the niche brands doesn’t come close to what you can find in NYC. So I’m also exploring mail-order a lot, mostly for samples. So far, I’ve had great experience ordering from Luckyscent. The small orders shouldn’t be covered with any duties. I understand that other non-US shoppers had good luck with Surrender To Chance. Have you tried either one? I’m curious about your experiences. September 26, 2012 at 5:53pm Reply

      • maja: Luckyscent doesn’t ship to my country :( I’ve tried TPC and Posh Peasant so far. But I think I’ll switch to Surrender to chance, looks promising. Thank you! September 27, 2012 at 2:58am Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve had great experience with STC in the US, and my friends in Europe and Australia did too. But do indicate when you order that your package has to be marked as a gift with a value of less than $20. They ship very fast and have a great selection of samples. I also love TPC and Posh Peasant, but I haven’t ordered from them since I’ve moved. September 27, 2012 at 5:05am Reply

  • Esperanza: What a gem of information. Thank you very much for sharing this with us all. I will come back some times to read all the articles you linked to. Your blog is one of my favorite perfume blogs at this time. September 26, 2012 at 6:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Esperanza, for stopping by and for your nice words. I will be adding more links to this post, as some other commenters suggested, so it will evolve. Glad that you liked it. September 27, 2012 at 4:48am Reply

  • Andrea: I just had to comment that you have outdone yourself with this article, V! An encyclopedia of riches, to be sure…

    I saw the comment about Sophia Grojsman… She is the reason (well, you are partly to blame!) for my perfume “addiction”. When I found out that she had created literally all of my favorite scents through the years, I had to learn more about the artistry of perfumery. I had unknowingly been showing a preference for all things Grojsman. (To the extent that I wore her perfumes for one of the most special days in my life: my wedding. Twice! Yes, wearing Eternity at the first wedding didn’t necessarily ensure that he would stick around that long. Bulgari Eau de Parfum was worn when I married my husband.)

    Thank you for this lovely compilation, it is certainly a resource without equal. I have tried to explain to my children that reading your-and Susanna’s- writing and finding the scents you describe is like smelling poetry! September 26, 2012 at 6:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Andrea. It’s a cumulative effort! :) And it was fun to look back and see what all of us have been interested in the early years of BDJ. It’s like re-reading old diaries or letters.

      What a beautiful story about your relationship with Sophia’s fragrances. She has a reputation for being a mother to all of the young perfumers, because she’s very warm and generous. She’s always helping out someone–a person she meets in the street, a friend of a friend, a distant relative. Amazing how these quality are so obvious in her fragrances. I also didn’t know this at a time, but one of my first signature perfumes was Tresor (one of Sophia’s). I even broke up with a boyfriend who didn’t like it! Bulgari EdP seems like a perfect wedding fragrance, elegant, bold and grand–just right for the occasion. September 27, 2012 at 4:59am Reply

  • Wrenaissance Art: First, your writing is so evocative that it brings your experience of the different fragrances to life in the reader’s mind. Very enjoyable reading!
    Second, for some of us with signature scents , the fragrance found us, not the other way around. That is, there seems to be something in the body chemistry combining with the perfume that just doesn’t occur with other scents. Or worse, other perfumes on our bodies actively repel others! September 26, 2012 at 10:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that you put it nicely about a signature perfume. There are some fragrances that just seem so right that you don’t want to wear others. I don’t know if it has to do a lot with the body chemistry, or with some emotional connection. If the right perfume manages to find you, I think that it’s very special and it should be treasured. I just don’t think that one should spend their efforts searching for The One and only right perfume. I also think that having a signature perfume and exploring the world of scents aren’t mutually exclusive, and my favorite scented experiences have to do with scents beyond the perfume bottle. September 27, 2012 at 5:03am Reply

  • annemariec: Just settling down at last with a glass of wine to browse the links in this post that I have not read before (and some that I have!) and everyone’s comments. Wearing Ineke’s Field Notes from Paris. Lovely! Many thanks for this post – it must have been quite an effort. September 27, 2012 at 4:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I love imagining you on the other side of the world winding down with a glass of wine just as I’m starting my day! :)
      Field Notes from Paris sounds like a perfect companion on a quiet evening. My choice this morning is Guerlain L’Heure Bleue. We have an interminable rain today, so it’s my comforting cashmere blanket perfume. September 27, 2012 at 5:08am Reply

      • annemariec: Oh I adore L’Heure Bleue in the rain! In fact, these days I only wear it on wet days. I hope it gets you through today. September 27, 2012 at 5:33am Reply

        • Victoria: The funny thing is that it’s sunny today, but it’s raining heavily! That’s Belgium for you. So, L’Heure Bleue feels perfect. I don’t have to do any scent or raw material related work today, so I have a luxury of wearing perfume for pleasure.

          Another great perfume on rainy days for me is Ormonde Jayne Ta’if, which Jillie mentioned earlier in this thread. It feels so comforting, like an extra layer of something soft and warm. September 27, 2012 at 5:43am Reply

  • Natalie: This is such a great post, V. Some of these resources are new to me, too! September 29, 2012 at 10:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Natalie! So glad to hear that it was helpful even to someone as experienced as you are. September 30, 2012 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Maureen Bradley: Victoria–As I am neither a beginner nor a fully pedigreed perfumista (I consider myself somewhere in the middle), I really enjoyed this post. I read it initially and thought ‘I may visit some of those links soon’, but by the end of the evening, I’d read them all. I always appreciate your very kind and insightful way of including the ‘less-knowledgable’ into the fragrance fold. You offered me some new information along with some very good reminders. As one of the ‘small town’ girls (without either a Sephora or a large department store in sight), it was particularly nice to know I am not the only one in a small, Midwestern town who has this fragrance ‘affliction’. My world opened up with the internet, and suddenly I was able to experience the legendary and brand-spanking-new scents that the ‘big city girls’ were raving about. You and other like you are the crucial educational link in the chain of my love for fragrance. Thank you, as always for your insight, your honesty and your interest in helping the rest of us learn more about this lovely art form. September 30, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Maureen, I’m so happy to hear that you liked this post and that it was helpful. There is so much to perfume, but the most wonderful thing is that the journey, the process of discovering and learning is the best part. I feel very passionate about it, so I naturally want others to come along for a ride. :)

      Living in a small town shouldn’t be a deterrent to discovering scents, and I personally have lived in small college towns most of my life. I loved Suzanna’s article too.

      And of course, please don’t hesitate to ask questions, advice, etc–all of us are a generous bunch. :) September 30, 2012 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Alice: Victoria, I’m a new commenter, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while. Reading you I feel like I’m reading a letter from a friend and I love your kindness and generosity both to your new commenters and to the regulars. You make everyone feel welcomed. I haven’t commented before, because I usually print out your posts and read them during my evening commute. Your writing is gorgeous! But this post was just too good not to comment. Thank you for your hard work! October 1, 2012 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Alice, thank you very much for your nice words and for sharing your thoughts. We all learn from each other, and I’m so glad that you found us. October 1, 2012 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Mel: Oh my! First of all, this is a Fantastic article/post. I have read the article, but am yet to click on the various links which I no doubt will do and most likely comment on. This is great – I am not a newbie, but am definitely not a perfumista yet. October 4, 2012 at 10:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Mel! Hope that it will be helpful as you continue your journey. :) October 5, 2012 at 2:37am Reply

      • Mel: Thanks Victoria, I am sure it will be. October 5, 2012 at 6:44am Reply

  • Cristina: As a person obsessed with perfumes, I am so glad I have found this site. It seems to have everything I want and more…I have already recommended it to my daughters and all my friends who are equally in love with fragrances…
    Thank you and good luck!!!!
    Cristina December 2, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Cristina! I’m happy that you found us and that you’re finding the information interesting and helpful. :) December 2, 2012 at 10:45am Reply

  • Iain: So hooked! I’m never leaving :-) Thanks for sharing the wisdom, Victoria. December 13, 2012 at 11:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Iain, thank you very much! Glad that you enjoy it here, and please stick around. :) December 13, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Anne K: What a fabulous introduction to perfume! Thank you very much, Victoria. I’ve been reading your blog obsessively over the past few months and I finally decided to post. Your blog is well-written, elegant and friendly. I love that you explain everything clearly and make me dream through your descriptions. March 12, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Anne! I’m very happy to hear it. :) March 12, 2013 at 10:32am Reply

  • Mlle Hunnicutt: Thank you, Victoria, for this article. I adore scents, and possess a “super nose” (I have a thin cribriform plate which gives me more smell and taste receptors than usual), but have never seriously gotten into perfume, mostly because A lot of perfumes smell heavy on my skin. I just spent three weeks in France, where I stumbled upon a Nicolaï shop, and purchased 30 mL of Number One Intense EDP, and later I sampled several Caron scents at Les Galeries Lafayette. This has inspired me to expand my perfume wardrobe and thanks to your blog I have the tools to do so! Merci beaucoup Mme V! October 8, 2013 at 3:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy you liked the article! Hope that it helps you in your explorations, and of course, don’t hesitate to ask questions here. All of us love meeting other people passionate about perfume. Your condition has an interesting side effect, so you probably are very sensitive to scents you encounter. October 9, 2013 at 9:00am Reply

  • Gentiana: Thank you for this article, Victoria!
    It is so helpful!
    I am diving since a few decades into perfume-world. The things developed in steps since mom’s and aunties’ perfumes I always had to try, to my first perfume as a girl.. Than the second… I was about 20 and I’ve dreamed a perfume, with smell, look of the bottle and a few ingredients. After that I started to search THAT perfume… and never found it. But I smelled a lot. It was in the late nineties when I found the book of Joan Oakes – The book of perfumes. That was the beginning for the real quest, by having some basic information about ingredients, houses etc.
    In between perfume became my most important relief: after a hard day, smelling a few of my perfumes relaxed me more than a glass of wine.
    But I NEVER managed to do a really systhematic quest in perfume world. I am always overwhelmed at the perfume counter. And I did a lot of rush buys that I later regretted.
    I discovered niche perfumery in 2009 and things went even worse.. :)
    I already was obsessed, information I’ve got was not enough, mainstream fragrances had nothing new and no more interest to me, niche perfumes were above my budget and I had no store in my town.
    And when I had a journey to Bucharest I tried to smell as much as possible in 1-2-3 days and begged for samples.
    At the end of 2011 I got Octavian’s book (in romanian) and, being very long ill, I read and I had time to navigate on the net. And I discovered your blog and Grain de Musc and the others.
    And I am so happy!
    My hobby became THE hobby… (And it helped me to get through one of the worst period of my life).
    I learned to order samples on the internet (some perfume houses have nice and friendly sampling programs, some don’t), I still feel puzzled, I have not enough skin real estate and time to smell everything, I neglect my work reading the perfumistas’ blogs for hours and hours, I spend my money for samples or for sume eccentric unsniffed perfume purchases (the latest: an arabian emirates Dehn-Al – Oudh Al- Cambodi)… And I feel thet you and Suzana and the other blog writers and the blog readers are my friends.
    Although I feel to shy to interfere in topics.
    Thank you for writing. And thenk you for doing so well. January 16, 2014 at 5:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for your story, and please don’t feel shy to jump in, ask questions or just share your thoughts. All of us had to start someplace, and it’s more fun to do it together. :) January 16, 2014 at 5:36am Reply

  • carole: Hello,

    It is impossible for me to put into words the gratitude I have for you, for inventing Bois De Jasmin. Years ago you wrote about Caron scents so evocatively, and you patiently answered some ridiculous questions I had. Everything about you and your blog is impossibly elegant, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    My Patous are wonderful-thank you for answering questions about those for me. There is not a lot if information about them. Maybe the reissues will generate some more interest. Also I think the move towrds the original quality vision of the line will be a saving grace.
    Have a good evening,
    Carole January 28, 2014 at 4:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much both for your nice words and for reading me. The generosity and kindness of the perfume community are always inspiring, and I’m as happy to sit down to write and reply to comments as I was when I first started this blog 9 years ago. I’m always happy to respond to any and all questions too!

      Your mention of Eau de Patou on Facebook makes me want to research it further. I bet that the line will gain a bit of exposure with the reissues. It certainly needs it. January 29, 2014 at 10:40pm Reply

  • Kay W.: Thank you for this post, and thank you for your blog! June 10, 2014 at 8:49pm Reply

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