Perfume and Compliments : Elle Article

Elle Magazine recently published my article “How To Be Unforgettable” at Elle.com. In this piece, I explore what makes a fragrance memorable and why some perfumes receive more compliments than others. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Perfumer Sophia Grojsman was returning home one evening when she noticed a man following her. As she quickened her step and clutched her handbag, the man shouted, “Wait, wait, I don’t mean any harm, I just want to know the name of your perfume. It’s amazing!” The fragrance was Calvin Klein Eternity, which Grojsman was designing at the time. Once launched, Eternity rapidly climbed to the top of the charts, and today, this explosive floral is still among the best sellers. Grojsman’s anecdote is an extreme example of a perfume compliment, but the poignant reactions that scents can provoke made me wonder—what is the ultimate head-turning perfume? To read the rest, please continue to Elle.com.

Do you ever compliment others on fragrance? If so, what perfumes have received compliments from you?

Painting: Cassatt, Mary, A Corner of the Loge (In the Box), 1879. via Wiki-images, some rights reserved.

Enjoyed this? Get blog posts via email:

Or, stay updated via:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • RSS

120 Comments

  • JM: The two perfumes I’ve been complimented on are Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom Cologne (always compliments from women). The other is Annouck Goutal’s Gardenia Passion (men love this, I had one fellow ask me to write the name of it on a piece of paper for him). January 3, 2013 at 3:47am Reply

    • nikki: Yes, Gardenia Passion gets a lot of notice, such a fun fragrance! January 3, 2013 at 3:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Orange blossom has a great presence, even as a pure raw material. Jo Malone Orange Blossom is one of my own favorites. January 3, 2013 at 6:04am Reply

  • blauriche: I think the fragrances for which I tend to receive the most compliments are Chanel Coromandel and Hermes Bel Ami. Probably also Hanae Mori HM and Rochas Man. I think as a man, people tend to notice more when I wear something that’s typically feminine. I’m not sure everyone likes it, but I feel like I also get compliments from people whenever I wear Balenciaga L’essence for example.

    Great article, btw! January 3, 2013 at 3:47am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s an interesting idea, and it makes sense to me–interesting, distinctive scents are more likely to catch someone’s attention. January 3, 2013 at 6:04am Reply

  • Astrid: Was it not Paris Ms. Grojsman was working on when she was stopped in the street? January 3, 2013 at 3:48am Reply

    • Victoria: The story comes from Ms. Grojsman herself, but she also has quite a story about Paris. This is not surprising since these two perfumes are such bombshells. January 3, 2013 at 6:05am Reply

  • Patt: On my way to a holiday lunch out with work friends, I stopped at the nearby Hermes store and spritzed myself with the new Jour d’Hermes. It was not only instant love for me, it garnered several compliments from my friends, and was long lasting as well! January 3, 2013 at 3:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Jour d’Hermes is wonderful, isn’t it! It radiates so beautifully. The first time I wore it, my husband complimented me on it without being prompted. January 3, 2013 at 6:06am Reply

  • Portia: Heya,
    Just recently I couldn’t believe the incredible fragrance I was smelling on someone nearby while at a supermarket checkout. The lady ahead was mid 50s and well presented with her man friend and I asked her what that fabulous smell was & expecting an Amouage/by Killian/Micallef/Xerjoff but it was Eternity by Calvin Klein. So it’s not just Sophia Grojsman who can rock that frag.
    Portia xx January 3, 2013 at 3:50am Reply

    • Victoria: A great story! And I will tell you honestly that I will take Eternity over Amouage (except for Gold)/by Killian/Micallef/Xerjoff anyday! January 3, 2013 at 6:06am Reply

      • Anaïs: The only problem is that Eternity no longer smells the way it did originally. The Coty reformulation is a pale imitation at best. Eternity used to be my signature perfume, and I am so sad that it is gone. How I’d love to get my hands on the original. January 4, 2013 at 11:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: I agree with you, Anaïs. It’s unfortunate that it had to be reformulated. But I still prefer the current (even if it’s an inferior) version to many of the overpriced niche brands. Eternity is a very difficult perfume to reformulate, because the original formula relied on the exact balance of certain very distinctive materials. But this is the case with pretty much anything older. The regulations leaves nothing untouched. January 5, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

  • Ruth: Great article! I compliment others on fragrance quite often. There are many fragrances which I wouldn’t want to wear myself, but which I enjoy smelling on others – examples include Angel, Coco Mademoiselle and Miss Dior Cherie.

    I agree that it’s a particularly personal compliment, and it can lead to a discussion about how long they’ve been wearing it for, other perfumes they like etc. If someone likes perfume enough to wear it, they’re often quite happy to have a conversation about perfume with an obsessive like me! January 3, 2013 at 3:51am Reply

    • Victoria: It really is! Some of the most interesting party conversations happened when the subject of my perfumery profession comes up (or scents in general). January 3, 2013 at 6:08am Reply

  • Austenfan: The fragrance I give most compliments on is Coco Mademoiselle. Which I don’t like on paper or on myself. Just getting a whiff of it on someone else is apparently the only way for me to enjoy it.

    I have received compliments on Vamp à New York, the original Nina , Bois de Paradis and most of all L’Heure Bleue.

    A nice article! January 3, 2013 at 3:53am Reply

    • Victoria: I feel the same way about it. But I often compliment others on it! I feel that it smells better at distance. January 3, 2013 at 6:18am Reply

    • Candice: Austerfan – If you live in NYC and would like my 99.9% full bottle of Vamp, you’re welcome to it.
      I’m a big fan of Tuberose, but find this particular version too cloyingly sweet. February 10, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Ari: Congratulations, Victoria! The article was beautifully written, and I have no doubt that fumies and non-fumies alike will all enjoy it.

    All of my perfumes get compliments from men, but that is because they are uniformly sweet orientals/gourmands. (I make no claim to sophisticated tastes!) Hermes Ambre Narguile in particular earns me a lot of praise. January 3, 2013 at 3:54am Reply

    • Ari: The first perfume compliment my boyfriend gave me was about L’Heure Bleue! I remember being so surprised that a 21 year old male would appreciate such a classic fragrance. January 3, 2013 at 3:54am Reply

      • Victoria: He has a great taste, as do you! January 3, 2013 at 6:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Ari! I recently had to study how the materials diffuse, so it was fascinating to see how some notes have an incredible power on their, while others need a couple of supporting actors.

      Gourmand scents receive plenty of compliments for me as well. And hey, Hermes Ambre Narguile is pretty sophisticated in my book! :) January 3, 2013 at 6:20am Reply

  • nikki: Yes, very interesting and informative article, Victoria! Congratulations!
    People in Berlin always commented on Creed’s Angelique Encens while I get a lot of compliments in Arizona when wearing Boucheron’s Jaipur or Maison de la Vanille Vanille de Madagascar. Pheromone by Marilyn Miglin was noticed in Chicago, but the most compliments I get are for either Chanel’s Coco or APOM by FK and I was stopped on the street while wearing EL’s Spellbound. January 3, 2013 at 3:56am Reply

    • Heather: I always stop and compliment people when I smell Coco! I would love to smell more of it and less of its spawn. January 3, 2013 at 3:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, Spellbound has a gorgeous sillage! January 3, 2013 at 6:21am Reply

  • Heather: Lovely article! I had read the Grojsman anecdote before but the fragrance wasn’t revealed, so I am pleased to learn it was Eternity. I received a bottle of it as a high-school graduation present when it was relatively new (dating myself) and I do remember being complimented on it. I seem to remember it as being brighter and more radiant than a lot of what was popular at that time. Some years later I wore Angel when it was first released and received countless compliments on that. It really seemed to stop people in their tracks, in a good way because it was so novel then, but I stopped wearing it once it became more widely available and I can’t stand to smell it now. Most recent compliments have been on Armani Eclat de Jasmin and SL Santal Majuscule. January 3, 2013 at 3:56am Reply

    • Victoria: The latest compliment I’ve received was on Santal Majuscule! I adore this perfume.

      Have you smelled Eternity parfum? Even if you’ve had enough of the EDT, the parfum is worth trying. January 3, 2013 at 6:26am Reply

      • Anaïs: Any suggestions on where to find the parfum would be greatly appreciated. January 4, 2013 at 11:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: Most Calvin Klein counters have it, but not all of them have testers. Otherwise, you can look for a mini on Ebay. The best part is that those minis are inexpensive and the formula are much more likely to be older. January 5, 2013 at 9:32am Reply

          • Anaïs: Thank you, Victoria! Just placed a few orders and can’t wait to receive them. January 6, 2013 at 10:10am Reply

  • Jillie: It is so lovely to read the anecdote about Eternity, as it has been one of my favourites since it first appeared and I have often received compliments on it. My sadness is that it is not always very loved by a lot of perfumistas, a fact that I only discovered recently and which amazed me. I always return to Eternity after months of wearing other perfumes.

    I have an anecdote about it, too: I was about to have a “reading” with a clairvoyant at the Institute for Psychic Research (a long story!), and as I followed her into the room, I noticed she smelt lovely and even though I guessed it was Eternity, I had to ask her what she was wearing. When she answered Eternity, I couldn’t help thinking what an appropriate scent it was for someone in her line of work! January 3, 2013 at 3:57am Reply

    • Jillie: Oh, I’ve just remembered that another perfume that always got me compliments was Calyx, and I have a feeling that Sofia created that too! She is brilliant. January 3, 2013 at 3:58am Reply

      • Victoria: She really is! And yes, Calyx is one of hers. I wore it almost exclusively at one point. January 3, 2013 at 6:26am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a fantastic story! The choice of scent seems perfect.

      Eternity is a wonderful fragrance, but it has been so overused (like Angel, Coco Mademoiselle or J’Adore) that it’s probably hard to approach it with an open mind. And yet, experiencing it (especially in the parfum) is quite an experience. It was based on an apple blossom accord, but leave it to Sophia to give it a few twists. January 3, 2013 at 4:15am Reply

      • Austenfan: You know that I have never actually smelled J’Adore? I should, but I know that it used to be so much better than it is today. It is an omission however which I ought to remedy. January 3, 2013 at 4:16am Reply

        • Victoria: Do smell it, if you’re at Sephora and have a spare minute. It’s worth knowing, even if its current incarnation. January 3, 2013 at 6:27am Reply

  • solanace: Great article, as usual, and I loved the very relevant quotes. Congrats! January 3, 2013 at 3:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Hope that you and your baby are doing well. January 3, 2013 at 6:27am Reply

  • Erin T: You image choice is so much more interesting than Elle’s, which I guess is expected! The article is wonderful, as always.

    The few times I’ve ever worn Coco Mademoiselle it has garnered compliments, so I can testify to that one, for sure. For all that many people claim to be patch-phobes, I do notice that scents like Coco Mme. featuring a strong woodsy-patchouli note seem to garner compliments for me, even though I don’t wear them often: Angel, Lush Karma, Eau de Rochas and Coromandel. I don’t wear attention-getting amounts of perfume so it’s relatively uncommon that somebody who doesn’t already know about my perfume interest comments on my fragrance. But I’ve had a handful of strangers who have followed me to ask what the lovely thing I’m wearing is – always such a nice feeling – and three times (!!) it’s been Lush Karma, once Etro Shaal Nur and once Bvlgari Omnia. All three woodsy, and I’ve always felt the latter two suited me and my temperment, so I felt quite “affirmed” both times, but I remain baffled by the Karma, which is why I’m falling back on the patch explanation. January 3, 2013 at 3:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I love this painting, and I wanted to use it in something for a while. Such an alluring image.

      Patchouli is an interesting note. Many people claim to dislike it, and yet they love Coco Mademoiselle, Angel and Prada.

      It also gives a fantastic diffusion to fragrances, and that aside, it has a very distinctive, memorable sillage. January 3, 2013 at 6:29am Reply

  • Sandra Levine: When I used to wear L’heure bleue (years ago, in the vintage formulation) more than one man ran after me in the street to ask what the fragrance was.

    I complimented a woman’s fragrance once, in a doctor’s office, but she claimed not to remember what she had applied that morning.

    Another time, at the movies, a woman complimented me on L’Or de Torrente, and said , “Boy, am I glad I’m sitting next to you!” January 3, 2013 at 3:59am Reply

    • Victoria: The same thing happened to me once with L’Heure Bleue, and I still remember that incident. It’s such a gem of a perfume. January 3, 2013 at 6:30am Reply

  • ralu: I get compliments on Carnal Flower (shocking! ;) ) and Organza Indecence. January 3, 2013 at 4:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Those have such a great presence! :) January 3, 2013 at 6:31am Reply

  • Andrea: My most recent compliment was on Rose Praline (Praline Rose?) by Rosine. My most unusual compliment was when undergoing a procedure: I do not wear makeup (well, noticeable makeup, anyway!) or scent as instructed in pre-surgical instructions. But I did have Philosophy Amazing Grace lotion on and the anesthesiologist asked “what kind of perfume are you wearing? It smells really good!” as I was passing out! I foggily replied “it’s um, a lotion… Amazing something” as I struggled to stay awake! He should have asked me before he put me out! January 3, 2013 at 4:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I always admire your ability to keep your high spirits and to remember your little pleasures even in such circumstances. And Amazing Grace lotion does smell fantastic. January 3, 2013 at 6:15am Reply

  • irem: My most complimented fragrance must be Kenzo’s Ca Sent Beau. I have received countless compliments on it, mostly from women. I had first smelled it on a distant friend, complimented her and asked the name of her fragrance. Next time I saw and smelled her again I had to purchase a full bottle unsniffed. I went through multiple bottles and tons of compliments. I stopped wearing it around the time when I started reading perfume blogs (ca. late 2005) and playing around with Mitsouko and other perfume almighties. But I still keep a bottle of Ca Sent Beau.

    The funny thing is I have mostly not really enjoyed “wearing” the fragrance myself. I absolutely love its silage – I’ve recently sprayed it on mom and almost swooned every time I got a whiff of her scented trail. But close up on skin, I find it a bit disappointing; artificial and slightly jarring. I don’t think I would have ever purchased it if I had first tested it by spraying my wrist.

    What kept me using the fragrance for years was not the many compliments, though – and by many, I mean almost daily compliments, sometimes several a day. I fell in love with it every evening when I put away my clothes. They would smell heavenly!

    When I got my copy of Perfumes the Guide (Turin & Sanchez) Ca Sent Beau was one of the first fragrances whose review I had to check. I both was (no one ever talks about it) and was not (it indeed smells good) surprised to see it garner five stars.

    Victoria, I am curious about your take on Ca Sent Beau. January 3, 2013 at 4:01am Reply

    • annemariec: Right, I’m going to retrieve my bottle of Ca Sent Beau from the far reaches and wear it tomorrow! It was an impulse purchase from a few years ago (it was on special) but I have never been able to decide if I like it or not. I’m fascinated by your comment on it. It is certainly one that flies under the perfumista radar. I hardly ever see it mentioned. Many thanks for the reminder! January 3, 2013 at 4:13am Reply

    • Victoria: This is exactly how I feel about Cacharel Amour Amour. As for Ca Sent Beau, it’s really well-crafted, and its tangerine inflected tuberose is unusual. It smells fresh and warm at once, and I enjoy it particular for these contrasts. I’m not surprised that it gets you lots of compliments. It has a wonderful presence. Plus, you must wear it really well. January 3, 2013 at 6:14am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Another interesting and beautifully written article. It is a (rare) pleasure to smell a good perfume on others. In the last 10 years I complimented fullhearted on: Diva, Mitsouko, Beautiful, Rive Gauche. In a very crowded bookshop (before Christmas) I smelled something reminding me of Je Reviens, my signature scent long ago. Nobody claimed to be perfumed. So I don’t know what it was. Such a pity! January 3, 2013 at 4:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve smelled Insolence at a museum in Amsterdam. The woman wore it so well–enough to be noticed, but not enough to be overwhelming. January 3, 2013 at 4:06am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: What a coincidence! I was wearing Insolence in a museum, not in Amsterdam, but in Haarlem. Insolence has such a good longlevity, I like it when I have to travel.
        Did you go to the Rijksmuseum?
        Perhaps you like to go to the Bijbels Museum; they have oils mentioned in the Bible: acacia, nardus, olive, etc. you can smell them and they have also plants in the garden. Herengracht 386. It is 5 minutes walking from the Leidsestraat ( take tram 5 from the Central Station). January 3, 2013 at 4:07am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you for your recommendation!

          We went to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum and we enjoyed both of them. January 3, 2013 at 4:08am Reply

  • Jani: My friend Tammy wears Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess and it smells magnificent on her. I can’t hold back from gushing about it every time I’m around her. I also became enthralled with the scent of an acquaintance who wore St. Laurent’s Champagne/Yvresse. She firmly refused to tell me the name of it, wanting to keep it for herself. But I begged, she relented, and her fear became a reality. The next day I went to the perfume counter and bought a 3.4 oz. bottle (but never wore it around her). And Victoria, it’s about time I tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Not only have I learned a lot about the art of perfumery, but you transport me to faraway times and places with your exquisite descriptions. Thank you for 7 years of delightful reading! I’ve even placed a shortcut to your blog on the favorites bar of my browser. January 3, 2013 at 4:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Yvresse is a beautiful fragrance, and it’s another one from Sophia Grojsman! Her perfumes really are like a warm embrace.

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it here. January 3, 2013 at 6:13am Reply

  • maja: Other comments make me sad – I don’t get complimented so much :( Maybe it’s my under spraying… I got only a couple while wearing Coromandel and Eau des Merveilles. January 3, 2013 at 4:03am Reply

    • maja: ps. Great article, as usual :) January 3, 2013 at 4:03am Reply

    • Gretchen: I’m in the same camp, and I don’t think I under spray. Only once did I receive a comp,intent from a colleague, and it was for Bois des Paradis. I’ve not even received any “ew, what’s that smell?” comments in tight quarters! I’m thinking I need to really ramp up my sprays to mega dosage level, but then I fear I will become That Woman who can’t recognize she’s gone overboard! January 3, 2013 at 4:22am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s probably the underspraying. I notice that when I wear something for pleasure, I wear a tiny amount, but when I wear something for testing, I add 2-3 sprays. In that case, compliments are much more frequent, but still not on everything, even if it’s noticeable. January 3, 2013 at 6:13am Reply

  • behemot: Very good article, Victoria.

    It is so interesting with Hiris. It is really delicate, but there is something about it.. Whenever I wear it, it gets noticed and complimented. On the other hand, another Olivia Giacobetti’s creation, L’Artisan “Dzing” provokes a lot of frowning from these around me even if I wear only a drop.. January 3, 2013 at 4:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Dzing is my ultimate “wear it for myself” perfume. I love it, but I can imagine that it’s mix of cardboard, straw and warm fur might be strange. :) January 3, 2013 at 4:19am Reply

      • behemot: Yes, I wear Dzing when I am alone, but my cats definitely like it :( January 3, 2013 at 4:20am Reply

        • Victoria: Your cats have a great taste, what can I say! :) January 3, 2013 at 6:31am Reply

  • Melissa: Nice article, Victoria :) I was thinking about my perfume that garners the most compliments & without question, it’s not Vanille Absolument, EL Tuberose Gardenia, or any others that I consider incredibly beautiful…it’s Pure by DKNY! It is a comfortable scent that may best capture my personality, which leads me to ponder the probability & relationship of compliments to perceived personality. Of course, chemistry aside, on some level there must be a willingness & patience involved in appreciating scents as art. January 3, 2013 at 4:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Melissa. I agree with you that the match between the scent and your personality is another key for a memorable perfume. I notice it among some of my favorites, and Hermes Hiris is definitely one such example. It’s not the most diffusive perfume, but it’s complimented a lot. January 3, 2013 at 6:11am Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: In all my years of wearing perfume, I have never been stopped by a stranger to ask me what I am wearing or to tell me I smell good. I have only received one compliment from a colleague and at the time I was wearing Au The Rouge by Bvlgari. January 3, 2013 at 4:05am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Ah, Domestic Goblin, same thing with me! in all my perfumed years only 3 compliments- Sa Majesté La Rose (at the museum in Rotterdam), Hiris +L’Heure Bleue, and Michael (Kors). January 3, 2013 at 4:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Most of my compliments come from friends and family, but I really think that it’s all in how you wear the perfume. For instance, my mom gets complimented a lot on fragrance from strangers, and we wear the same perfumes. She has a way to apply to create that ultimate “distinctive, but not loud” sillage. January 3, 2013 at 6:33am Reply

  • Daisy: Wonderful article, Victoria!

    I really enjoyed reading it. Memorable perfumes is such a great topic to write about!

    The fragrances that garnered the most compliments for me were Kiehl’s Original Musk (more than one male friend ended up buying bottles for themselves after smelling it on me), Molecule 01 (by far the most complimented), and Eau des Merveilles. January 3, 2013 at 4:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, it was a fun topic!

      I remember your Molecule 01 story. Doesn’t it have such a fantastic aura! January 3, 2013 at 4:10am Reply

      • Daisy: I was in Aedes the other day and saw that Molecule 01 now comes in a refill! Where was that when I was wearing it?!

        Now that would be my 2013 wish: more refillable options :-) January 3, 2013 at 4:10am Reply

      • Victoria: I myself complimented a couple of people on it. That was in NYC, where you can came across some unusual perfumes. In Brussels, I hardly ever smell anything other than Coco Mademoiselle, La Petite Robe Noire or Angel! January 3, 2013 at 6:12am Reply

  • Cams: I get compliments all day when I wera Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. It smells like a seductive spice market! A favourite! Great article! January 3, 2013 at 4:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Jungle L’Elephant too, and I’m so happy to see that it has other fans. January 3, 2013 at 6:33am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi V,

    Bois des Iles did that for me, which was eerily creepy at the time but turned out to be harmless. First (Van Cleef & Arpels) began a short relationship when I was dining out with a friend and a glass of wine was sent to my table! First turned into my last (with him, anyway). January 3, 2013 at 4:12am Reply

    • Victoria: But what a great story! :) January 3, 2013 at 6:34am Reply

  • annemariec: That’s a beautiful piece Victoria and I enjoyed it very much. Australians are a fairly reserved and laconic lot, and it is rare to get a compliment on perfume. Fortunately my daughter is a great complimenter; Rose 31 garnered her most recent comment.

    I’m interested by the idea of ‘radiance without noise’ and am keen to try the fragrances you mention. Chanel No 19 I know very well of course. There is a Tocca counter near me and I may just make an excuse to dash to the shops at lunch time to try Colette. Dear me, I just remembered I need to buy curtain hooks … yes, I really must … January 3, 2013 at 4:16am Reply

    • Andrea: Colette is a favorite of mine! I settled on it as my “signature” but moved on to about 10 other “signatures”, each of which last until I discover my next love. However, Colette is yummy and comforting/fresh at the same time, which is rare. I hope you like it! Also try the Kyoto candle at Tocca, if you like a fresh delicate peach scent… January 3, 2013 at 4:24am Reply

      • Victoria: I can’t believe that I’ve missed that Kyoto candle. I need to find a Tocca store here in Brussels. January 3, 2013 at 6:37am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Anne-Marie! I hope that you like Colette. It’s the only fragrance from Tocca that I like, and it has such a beautiful contrast between amber and fresh notes. The rest of Tocca’s collection is nice, but a bit bland for my taste. Colette is still a casual, easy to wear fragrance, but it has charm and sophistication. January 3, 2013 at 6:36am Reply

  • Ruth: In recent years I’ve been complimented on SJP’s Lovely and, most memorably, on Prada Infusion d’Iris. With the latter, I was told by a total stranger that I should never stop wearing it! January 3, 2013 at 4:17am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a marvelous compliment! Wow! January 3, 2013 at 6:37am Reply

  • Merlin: Like some others above I have never been complimented on my frag by a total stranger. Thats right. Never. I wear quite a bit, usually about 5 sprays, at least one on my clothes as my skin does make perfume ‘disappear’. I guess the good part of this is that there is no temptation to wear scents that other people will approve of. It is entirely a personal pleasure.

    I often compliment large sillage scents simply because my nose registers them, and not that many people wear them – so there is a pleasure in the sudden unexpected stimulus. Mostly these have been either Angel, Alien or Hypnotic Poison. I don’t wear any of these three. I used to work in a shop and once a lady came in with something not only noticeable but also sublime. It turns out it was Montale’s Crystal Flowers but it is not available here and I have not smelled it since. January 3, 2013 at 4:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Compliments are not the end in themselves, after all. I usually don’t wear enough perfume for it to be noticeable to others, because I like a very very light sillage (otherwise, I myself get overwhelmed). It doesn’t bother me if people don’t comment, even if it’s my husband. But whenever someone does unexpectedly, it feels like a nice bonus. January 3, 2013 at 6:40am Reply

  • maggiecat: It’s funny what we receive compliments on…I’ve received numerous postiive remarks about SJP’s Lovely, which seems to work particularly well on me, and once on Balmain’s Ivoire. I have no clear explanation for this… January 3, 2013 at 4:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Lovely and Narciso Rodriguez for Her garner many compliments for me, or at least, they did when I wore them more often. January 3, 2013 at 6:41am Reply

  • Lynley: My most complimented perfumes seem to be the sweeter ones, like L’occitane Neroli, Kenzo Jungle L’elephant and ester lauder/Tom ford’s Azuree Soleil, and these mostly from men. I get a little disappointed sometimes when I’m wearing something I find totally amazing and unusual and no one notices or comments :-( lol My most recent compliment though was from a woman who said she’d followed my scent trail through the aisles of a store to find out what I was wearing, which was Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose. It makes me happy to recommend brands and perfumers I love! January 3, 2013 at 4:18am Reply

    • annemariec: Funny, Incense Rose is the only fragrance I have had a compliment on (other than from my daughter). The pity of it is that I am only moderately fond of it myself and wear it only occasionally, really just for the sake of using up the sample. Oh well. January 3, 2013 at 4:20am Reply

      • Lynley: Annemarie, this was the same for me when I was wearing it! I much prefer eau d’epices, lonestar memories and l’air du desert, and I’ve never had comments on these. I was wearing incense rose as I’d ordered a sample pack with it and felt it was being neglected! To me it smells like the pot pourie my nan used to make and I remember only dried rose petals and orris root powder used as a fixative as the smell… January 3, 2013 at 4:21am Reply

        • annemariec: Desert and Une Rose Chypree are my picks. But I can’t stand to see those other samples sitting neglected in the tin! But maybe Incense Rose smells better on you and I than we realise. January 3, 2013 at 4:23am Reply

          • Merlin: I too prefer Desert and Une Rose, but Incense Rose has faaaar more projection on me; and my bf. says it is more distinctive. I would probably like it very much on someone else but all the frankincense makes it too cold for me to enjoy on myself. January 3, 2013 at 2:43pm Reply

            • annemariec: I agree – it’s too cold me me too. And yet its sillage certainly seems to get attention. January 3, 2013 at 4:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also love being complimented on fragrances that I particularly enjoy.

      Don’t get disappointed though, because it doesn’t always mean that people don’t like it. As long as you enjoy it, that’s the most important part. January 3, 2013 at 6:43am Reply

  • TaffyJ: I hope no one is offended by my comment, but I believe people who receive compliments on his or her perfume are probably very attractive, young and/or very stylish. In other words, the perfume can be an avenue to approach this gorgeous person…or simply to find out the scent so that the complimenter might share in the glamour.

    Not that an older woman can’t be gorgeous, but I would be amazed that older women receive compliments on a regular basis. (I am in the older women category; I am lucky that I make it across the street alive, much less receive compliments. Older women, in my and my friends’ experience, tend to be invisible.) (unless of course one is an exceptionally beautiful older woman).

    Still, I enjoyed your article very much! January 3, 2013 at 4:21am Reply

    • Lynley: It is possible that that may be some people’s intentions, but I’ve had comments from people I’m sure are merely commenting on my fragrance, and admittedly I often wear with a somewhat heavy hand as I like to be immersed in a cloud of delight :-) so maybe they can’t help but comment as it’s so noticable! (only when I don’t plan sharing confined spaces though!) The woman in the store I’m sure had only interest in my sillage (and I remember
      being rather less than glam that day)
      I was on a cruise with my mum recently (she falls into the not so glam older woman category (sorry mum! ;-) lol) and was approached by another elderly woman who asked about her perfume. Mum was quite surprised, and said it was Maroussia, which has quite a definate silage too, so I think it can just as often be a time and place thing, and being obvious. Not all my comments have been compliments. (“Epic huh? It certainly is!!” or “yes, there is an elephant in the room isn’t there” to jungle l’elephant…) January 3, 2013 at 4:22am Reply

    • Victoria: I think the subject of compliments is really fascinating, perfume compliments aside.

      I don’t think that the compliments are the provenance of only young and stylish, it’s really about the people around you, how they interact and also whether you’re in circumstances when it’s appropriate to receive a compliment. People hardly talk to each other in the NYC subway, but if you sit next to someone at a coffee shop, she or he may strike up a conversation.

      For instance, my mother gets way more compliments than I do. When we were checking into our flight back to the US one time, a French airline clerk after asking all of the usual questions said to my mom, “Do people often tell you that you’re beautiful?” To which my mom coyly replied that her husband does. :) Of course, this was in France. Can you imagine such a scenario in the US?

      And here’s an interesting article on the topic of age and desirability:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/08/AR2008020801607.html January 3, 2013 at 6:58am Reply

  • Dominic: I noticed i get most compliments when i wear the most beloved fragrances. I got many compliments on Dior Addict, defnitely on Angel, Insolence or Jungle Elephant. It’s nice to get a compliment and hear that you small nice but first of all I wear perfume that make me happy, whether they bring compliments or not. I do compliment people as well, but not too often. And what makes me puzzled is when I ask them what fragrance is that and they don’t know or remember, nothing. Crazy, isn’t it? January 3, 2013 at 4:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I really think that how you wear the perfume matters a lot. Hiris is hardly a bombshell, but it makes me feel so good that I must smile more when I wear it. That’s my theory.

      Maybe, they just don’t want to tell or they genuinely don’t remember. A makeup fanatic would know for sure the number and name of the lipstick she’s wearing, but I often don’t remember. It must be something similar. January 3, 2013 at 7:07am Reply

  • Merete: I enjoyed the article. In the Nineties I got quite a lot of compliments for Coco Chanel.
    These days, I’ve received compliments for 31 Rue Cambon, which, to me, is an exquisite example of “Radiance without Noise”.
    I don’t want to “impose” my fragrance on other people and thus, when I get complimented for my fragrance I sometimes get a feeling that I might have “oversprayed”. Therefore, I tend not to compliment others’ fragrance, which is quite a pity, I guess. January 3, 2013 at 6:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I also wear very little, mostly because I myself get tired of my own sillage if it’s too strong.

      But people really do love perfume compliments, so if you are in a situation when you can comment positively on someone’s fragrance, I’m sure you will make them smile. January 3, 2013 at 7:09am Reply

      • Merete: Yes, I’m sure I will, actually. When I compliment strangers on other things (clothes, looks etc), I always get an immensely positive reaction. But as somebody else remarked, scent is extremely personal. January 3, 2013 at 7:26am Reply

        • Victoria: I know what you mean, so it isn’t always appropriate to mention it (or at least, it doesn’t feel that way.) I doubt that I can summon up enough courage to compliment a total stranger, but if we’ve had even some interaction, then it is a different story. I recently complimented a sales clerk at the train station on her choice of perfume, as she was helping to process my ticket exchange. She smiled so happily. January 3, 2013 at 8:34am Reply

        • Deborah: I sometimes want to give a compliment, but I worry it’s too personal. On the other hand, I love perfume compliments myself. January 3, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

          • Deborah: PS Nice article, Victoria! I enjoyed it. January 3, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you very much, Deborah! January 5, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

  • Cyn: I once smelled Tosca on a woman while I was working at an OB/GYN office. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever smelled and the woman was only too happy to tell me where she purchased it.

    I quickly ordered a bottle and, to my dismay, it smelled HORRIBLE on me. I was so upset that once I found Halston, which smelled lovely on my skin, I wore it exclusively for years, afraid to repeat that awful Tosca experience.

    I am happy to say that I thereafter learned of decants and sampling before purchasing something that smelled so great on someone else. January 3, 2013 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s always tricky to buy something just because it smells good on another person. I know that some people don’t believe in skin chemistry, but to me, it really makes a big difference. Sometimes the differences are really dramatic. January 3, 2013 at 2:12pm Reply

  • lari: My mom wore Balmain Ivoire the last 15 or so years of her life. She always smelled wonderful and she was quite pretty but large. Men of all ages asked her what was the lovely perfume. It never ceased to amaze me. Yes, it was lovely on her (I still find it attractive on other women and not so common) but it really evoked a lot of response.
    I used to wear Moroccan Jasmine Essence from Kiehl (now sadly and stupidly defunct) and on the NYC subway years ago and a woman ran after me saying “oh miss, is that Oscar?” when Oscar had just come out. It was hilarious, she was unhappy when I told her no. I had a lot of positive response to that scent from many people…A young mother whom I had known since her childhood said that my “Fendi” which I also wore often smelled to her always of comfort- a really lovely thing to say. When wearing Caleche recently someone mentioned to me I smelled “vintage”. I try to be light handed with scent (especially when they are big scents), but they see to evoke comment. My last and funniest-I had bought Kiehl “Rain Essence” about 30 years ago. On my way to my office, a very tired sleepy coworker sharing a cab with me, began sniffing around (her eyes closed) and commented that i/the cab smelled like a wet garbage dump. She in fact had something there. Handed that off to a friend who didn’t think so.
    Victoria thanks so much for this blog. I read it regularly and though I only have a few scents, I am always interested in others…searching for love? January 3, 2013 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: I smelled Ivoire at a perfume store the other day, and I got reminded of how beautiful it is. Your stories are priceless! :)

      For me, the best part of exploring fragrances is simply smelling. I have plenty of perfumes to scent me for many more years to come, but I just enjoy discovering new scents. The best part is that I don’t need to spend a cent on this. Even a trip to the uninspiring local perfumery can be fun. January 3, 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

  • OperaFan: First of all – Congratulations on another published article!
    Most of my friends and co-workers know that I’m a fragrance fanatic, so have grown immune to my changing SOTDs. Fragrances that I Have received compliments for over the years have included SSS Champagne de Bois, PdN Odalisque, Un Air de Samsara, Montale Taif Roses, Jicky, and Parure. My husband loves it when I wear L’Heure Bleue and Samsara. The last 2 I consider the best and most important ones. January 3, 2013 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much!
      Some of my friends are definitely so used to it that they don’t notice, but others are intrigued enough to lean in closer to figure what I’m wearing on that particular day. Plus, if they’re around me, for better or worse, they can’t help talking perfume. I enjoy converting others. :) January 3, 2013 at 2:28pm Reply

  • Emily: Though I’ve never worn perfume specifically to attract attention from others, it seems I’ve always gravitated toward noticeable perfumes. I used to wear Hanae Mori Butterfly, and that drew a lot of compliments (though, looking back, I’m horrified to think of how liberally I applied the stuff). Then I switched to Narciso Rodriguez for Her (EDT), which also tended to be noticed. Of the stuff in my current collection, L’Heure Bleue, Aromatics Elixir, ELdO Like This, and Fracas are probably the biggest compliment-getters — though I’m often told that Fracas smells “fresh” and “clean,” which is not at all how I perceive it. January 4, 2013 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also don’t perceive Fracas as fresh and clean, but you know, I’ve heard some people describe Poison as fresh. These terms are a bit vague though, so perhaps the minty top notes seem fresh to some, while others notice warmer, sweeter notes first. January 5, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

  • Maya: The only perfume I ever get compliments on is Thierry Muggler’s Womanity. I don’t like to over apply my perfumes, but this one just screams out loud. January 7, 2013 at 3:36pm Reply

  • Mimi: I think I’ve only ever gotten complimented on Nahema and Climat. As long as I don’t get the bug spray or old lady comments, I’m fine with what I wear.

    I have complimented Coco Mademoiselle on others quite a bit as well as Euphoria and Knowing. I guess I like woody, patchouli scents.

    Not long ago I complimented a relative on her scent, it smelled like Opium to me, but in a good way, and I asked what it was. She said she didn’t know. I am probably awful, but I never believe that; perfume is just too much a studied choice for someone to not know what they are wearing. Later, I realized she was most likely wearing Chinatown by Bond No. 9. (I do understand that a lot of women don’t want to tell you what they are wearing.)

    Ivoire Balmain was mentioned in this piece. I managed to get minis of the new version and it’s very elegant. January 26, 2013 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Elisa: In the 90s I did a lot of business travel from the east coast to LA. Plenty of people asked me about one of my favorite fragrances, Calvin Klein Escape. For the past few years I’ve had enquiries about Rance Next Age Plaisir. A beautiful scent, but now almost impossible to find. January 26, 2013 at 6:18pm Reply

  • Debra Slotkin Shulman: I always enjoy your insights about perfume, a new interest of mine. I don’t often get compliments on my perfume, but I dated an old boyfriend because he had to find out about “the girl wearing that great perfume.” I was wearing L’Air Du Temps – the vintage version because this was in 1970. I was also stopped in the street one summer in the 70’s and asked what perfume I was wearing and, of course, it was L’Air Du Temps! L’Air du Temps is also my husband’s all-time favorite. I had stopped wearing it because I didn’t have any vintage left and the new version just is not the same. I found an unopened, boxed bottle of the toilette water in an antique store and purchased it on the spot. The following day I wore it to work and when we were sitting down to dinner that evening he asked, “You wore the new stuff this morning?” When I said yes, he said he could smell me even after I left and he loved it.
    I also received compliments when I wore Vera Wang. A young man helping me choose a picture frame leaned over the counter and asked me “What perfume are you wearing?” When I answered “Vera Wang” he said “I have to get me some for my girlfriend!” I was in my 50’s and he was in his 20’s, so I don’t think flirting was the motive.
    I wear perfume for me, but it is nice to get compliments. January 29, 2013 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Candice: I always get a ton of compliments when I wear St. Barthlemy by Jouany (a fairly new indie brand). I live in NYC and so I’m always in taxis and buses and get lots of requests for what I’m wearing, with people actually writing it down!
    My very chic, fragrance loving super, and one of my doorman went to Bendel’s and bought it for themselves. It’s an exceptional fragrance on both men and women.

    The other one I get lots of compliments on is Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle. It’s another one of my favorites. February 10, 2013 at 11:49am Reply

  • sissieface: people have followed me through the store to find out where the smell was from and what it was on MANY occasions. I get all day non stop compliments ant time I wear the original Juicy Couture. I can’t believe the reactions I get from so many strangers. Literally all day from everyone every time i wear it. March 30, 2013 at 7:09am Reply

  • Lydia: Two times stand out immediately for me, one many years ago, one recent.

    I was browsing in a museum bookstore last year, and a woman there observed out loud that something smelled really good and asked if I was wearing perfume. My sample for the day was Lys Mediterranee, and I wrote down the name for her. I think the fact that she broke through the normal NYC reserve to ask me about the scent is a good indication of how much she liked it, and it made me really happy that I might have introduced her to a new favorite fragrance.

    Back in 1991, Bill Blass released three fragrances: Nude, Hot, and Basic Black. I impulsively tried on samples for all three simultaneously and was amazed at how incredible they smelled together. At the bank later that day, the teller suddenly stopped in the middle of a transaction to ask me what perfume I was wearing and we agreed that it was a fantastic combo. (I always wondered if she went right out after work and bought all three.)
    I ended up buying Nude and Hot, but I didn’t get Basic Black because at the time, I couldn’t justify buying a perfume I knew I’d never wear by itself (B B was much too masculine on its own for me). I’ve always been very sorry I didn’t. It’s still available, but I’m guessing reformulations have changed it a lot since the 90s, so I don’t know if it would still balance Nude and Hot as well as it did back then. April 4, 2013 at 1:26am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Michaela in The Simple Art of Dreaming: One of the best animations I’ve ever seen! I was especially impressed by Someone who brings the Hedgehog to the shore. No face, no name. The elegant modest savior. And… October 31, 2014 at 8:06am

  • George in The Simple Art of Dreaming: Lovely! Like the Ninth Wave but with a hedgehog! October 31, 2014 at 7:54am

  • Sandra in Recommend Me a Perfume : November: Happy Halloweeen everyone. This is my favorite thread! I just scored some perfume at the hermes sample sale last week- everything was 50% off! The kelly caleche parfum I bought… October 31, 2014 at 7:24am

  • Marilyn stanonis in Caron En Avion : Perfume Review: Ah, yes, The Snows of Yesteryear! I hope I can find my copy! I love memoirs, and I believe it is a memoir. This afternoon from you and my fellow… October 30, 2014 at 10:03pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2014 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved.