Savoring Scents

Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Guerlain Shalimar, Bulgari Black, Annick Goutal Sables, Chanel Cuir de Russie, anything with woods. The only thing these perfumes have in common is that I disliked them after my first encounter and now they’re among my favorites. I even remember giving away a bottle of vintage Guerlain L’Heure Bleue because I dismissed it far too quickly. Now I want to kick myself! So please don’t repeat my mistakes. If you’ve ever taken one whiff of a perfume, determined that you didn’t like it and crossed it off your list, you might as well not have bothered to smell it. Making a decision based on one sniff would be like deciding that one doesn’t like Tolstoy based on the first page of War and Peace.

poppies

Any scent, however simple or complex, requires more than one encounter. For instance, professional tasters believe that it takes 5 to 10 tries to determine if you dislike a flavor, and the same theory can be applied to perfume. Since a fragrant blend will change its character and even style over time, it’s especially important to be patient. Even the mood in which you smell can play a crucial role in shaping your judgement.

But why should we bother with something we don’t like? Aren’t there enough scents out there with which we immediately click? There is a fine balance between forcing oneself to like something and keeping an open mind to new sensory thrills. The biggest satisfaction and the most exhilarating pleasure of perfume is in discovery. All of us naturally gravitate to some types of aromas, but when you push the boundary a bit, you can find many treasures.

By the same token, if something is immediately likable, there is always the danger that the perfume will end up boring you and the half-finished bottle will just sit on your dresser. If I continued to rely only on my innate love for anything white floral, I would have a battery of simple jasmine and orange blossom blends on my dresser. But an intriguing blend may end up thrilling you for years to come. Today, when I wear the smoky Bulgari Black, I don’t think of “burnt rubber,” but of incense scented tea and bonfires. Every time I wear it I discover another layer, another twist, another surprise.

Savoring is how I prefer to think about smelling. When I have a pile of samples on my desk, instead of scarfing down one scent after another, I would rather savor them over a period of time. Of course, it’s tempting to dab everything on my arms at once, but the enjoyment is often in the anticipation of pleasure.

I enjoy perfumes much more when I let them tell their story slowly. Sometimes I wear the same perfume for several days in a row. Or I may keep a scented blotter on hand to take little whiffs as I work. While it would be unrealistic to devote several days or weeks to each scent, I nevertheless challenge myself. I repeatedly wear scents that don’t immediately appeal to me and occasionally I score a nice surprise, whether it’s the fun and fruity Calvin Klein Downtown or the musky Chanel No 19 Poudré. Over time, it becomes easier to differentiate between scents you don’t like and those you don’t like but that seem like they’re worth pursuing.

Another great part of savoring scents is that taking things slowly helps to control the expense of a perfume hobby. Perfume is a luxury, but enjoying scents need not require a big bank account. You can get free samples at Sephora or acquire a few vials from various sampling services for the same price as that of a couple of Starbucks lattes. Drawing out the pleasure of a single sample vial is an infinitely better experience than taking many sniffs from different bottles.

Last but not least, please don’t feel like you have to like the much lauded  fragrances. Classics were crafted in an era when the creators didn’t fear to challenge the perfume wearers, and they deliberately sought to provoke an emotional response. As a result, many classics are polarizing; they were never meant to have wide appeal. You may never care for Guerlain Mitsouko, nor understand all the fuss over Chanel No 22 and you may even hate Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois. Give them a fair chance, but don’t feel guilty if there is no match made in heaven for you. Our scent preferences are complex and highly individual, but it’s all part of the fun.

Extra reading: 

Starting Perfume Journey

How to Make Perfume Hobby Affordable and More Fun

Are there any perfumes about which you’ve changed your mind? Do you have any of your own smelling tips?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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135 Comments

  • Carmen: I understand what you mean. I only like to wear very light and fresh fragrances, and if I smelled anything that was slightly stronger I used to think it stank (whether it was floral, musky, powdery…). I’ve started to discover the world of scents and perfumes very recently, and now I’m open to other fragrances. I’m going to keep wearing fresh scents, but I’m able to appreciate other smells, and I’m learning to like different perfumes (even if they are not meant for me)
    Is it weird that I like to smell perfume but not to wear it? 😛 September 4, 2013 at 8:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Not weird at all! That’s how you get familiar with new scents, new aromas. After all, it’s fun to smell. We use our senses so much more consciously, but once you start paying attention to your nose, it’s amazing what a difference it makes in enjoying life in general. September 4, 2013 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Lucas: Hello Victoria! It was a great article to read. When I try new perfume I never try to judge by the very first whiff. Sure the first impression might be positive or negative, no matter what I don’t give up on a fragrance too quickly and I give it another try couple of days earlier. When I have a chance I also try to sample new things in different conditions like indoors/outdoors, sunny/rainy weather, cold/warm day.

    Answering your final question. Yes, it happened to me a few times but it was the way from liking to disliking (Pour un Homme de Caron & Dsquared Potion for Man)
    I have a reversed relationship with Cuir Ottoman which I didn’t like at first and now I own a bottle of it. September 4, 2013 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: I also didn’t care about Cuir Ottoman at first, but it really grew on me. Same with Pour un Homme de Caron. September 4, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

  • Kristina: I can just encourage everyone not to dismiss anything because it is not “pretty” or doesn’t smell good (according to your taste). Sometimes I use up my sample, decide that I don’t like the scent – and then I can’t stop thinking about it. The second sample arrives, same thing. Finally I end up buying a bottle because I can’t get it out of my head. 🙂 Happened with Timbuktu, among others. September 4, 2013 at 8:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Timbuktu is another one for me. When I first smelled it, it made me think of musty pine needles. Funny, my mom was more open-minded about it and kept trying the sample again and again. I came around thanks to her and also thanks to Robin of NST who loves this perfume and encouraged me to try it again. September 4, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

      • Mer: But… musty pine needles sounds great!

        My biggest challenge is gonna be a sweet gourmand that doesn’t make me gag :/ September 4, 2013 at 4:00pm Reply

        • Victoria: Now I think so too (about the musty pine needles, I mean). 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 4:17pm Reply

          • Mer: I’ve added it to my to-test list 😉 September 4, 2013 at 4:20pm Reply

            • Victoria: 🙂 Please let me know what you think! It does have a brash opening, but the rest is wonderful. September 4, 2013 at 4:27pm Reply

              • Mel: Timbuktu was love at first whiff for me. I consider myself a functional illiterate w/ regards to scent. Someone gave me Debut as a gift and I shuttled it to the back burner for two years straight. Intermittently, but methodically, I dabbled w/ it until now I don’t love it but at least I understand its beauty. September 5, 2013 at 12:23am Reply

                • Victoria: I like Debut very much and it’s probably one of those perfume that had an instant attraction for me. But I hardly ever wear it or feel tempted by my sample. I admire its beauty though. September 5, 2013 at 9:13am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Very true. I would have a very boring perfume collection if I did not give challenging scents a chance. I did not like Ormonde Jayne Ta’if when I first tried it because it is not what I expected in a typical rose scent. I am wearing it today, and I am struck by its beauty! September 4, 2013 at 8:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I would too! It would be just orange blossoms and jasmines and I would get tired of perfume after a while. 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 12:52pm Reply

  • george: So true. I also think that a lot of great perfumes are pushing it a bit, so that the opening tends to be a bit too much and that it is only when they relax a little that they really reveal themselves. Patchouli 24 is a good example of a perfume that is somewhere on the line between right and wrong in its opening, and only lets you decide which when it calms down a bit. Also, Kristina mentioned Timbuktu, which is really on the edge of being too dense when first applied, but then calmly proceeds to a dry down like nothing else around. Conversely, perfumes that reveal complete pleasantness in their first minute often become uninteresting within a short period of time. In the spirit of this I retried 28 Rue Cambon recently as (despite its opening) I really didn’t like it the first time I wore it; and- do you know what?- I still didn’t like it, despite my complete appreciation of its sense of red carpet flashbulb glamour. Accordingly, I must file it alongside L’air Du Desert Marocain (smells like a washing up bowl), as greatly appreciated fragrances by other people I just don’t get, although I have a strong impression that my problem with LDDM and incense extreme and other Tauer fragrances is that they have coriander in them, as when I read that certain people have this problem, I went through all the fragrances I thought I should like but didn’t, and guessed that they might have coriander in them, and the guesses were correct. It makes me wonder if 28RC has an ingredient that just doesn’t gel with me. So yes, savour! But sometimes- give up! Though I think I will always be reaching for 28RC to see if my opinion ever changes. September 4, 2013 at 8:51am Reply

    • Kristina: Ha, same for me with Rue Cambon. I find it stunningly beautiful – and completely boring! September 4, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

      • Victoria: I really wish Chanel would make 28 La Pausa and 31 Rue Cambon in the parfum concentration. September 4, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

      • zari: I find gardenia beautiful, and at the same time mostly boring. I’ve even a gardenia bush planted. I’ve a full bottle of Marc Jacobs just sitting there staring crossly at me for ignoring it etc. September 4, 2013 at 3:40pm Reply

    • george: 31 rue cambon, even!!! September 4, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: When it comes to classics, this is even the case, because they are constructed in a very different manner from the modern perfumes (ie, they are not all top notes!) Plus, some ideas can seem strange and unexpected, so it takes a while to warm up to them.

      Yes, sometimes you retry things again and again, and well, no magic happens. I file Jean Patou Joy in that category. I understand that it’s a classic, that the formula is very special, that it has all of that precious jasmine, etc. But I can’t fall in love with it. September 4, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

  • solmarea: Does fragrance sit on skin any differently when sampled from an atomiser rather than direct from a vial? September 4, 2013 at 9:20am Reply

    • Lucas: Solmarea – that’s a good question.
      I dare to say – in some cases – YES.

      For example last winter I noticed that when I sprayed Cuir Ottoman directly on my skin it was heavier on the leather while when I applied by dabbing the leather accord was muted and iris was stronger. September 4, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

    • Kristina: It definitely makes a difference for me. I feel that I get the full dimension of the scent only when I spray it (probably this is different with pure perfume). September 4, 2013 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: In some cases, there may be a difference, because when spraying, you’re smelling over a larger surface, while when dabbing, the amount is concentrated in one spot. I haven’t noticed a dramatic difference in terms of scent itself (although sometimes you see different nuances), but definitely lots of difference in terms of diffusion and tenacity. September 4, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

  • rosarita: Most enjoyable topic! I’m glad you included mood in the list of things that might affect a response. It took ten years for me to appreciate Angel and now I love it, but only occasionally. By slowly sampling I’ve found that very often a sample or decant of something is plenty and a full ull bottle isn’t necessary;in fact, most of my collection consists of decants especially of expensive perfumes. It’s how I’ve managed to love many different scents on a very small budget. Sorry for the typos, I don’thhave tablet typing mastered yet! September 4, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Me too! People often comment that perfume is an expensive hobby, but I started it as a student living on a meager stipend. By spending only $20 a month on perfume, I managed to sample and explore lots of different things. Plus, these days you can do swapping, exchanging via different forums and Facebook pages devoted to fragrance. September 4, 2013 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Patricia: Patchouli and vetiver have often been problematic notes for me, but over time I have learned to love Vetiver Pour Elle and Coromandel. Fortunately (?) I am a bit of a perfume hoarder, so I rarely get rid of anything, unless it is a decant from a full bottle for swapping purposes.
    Great article! September 4, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

    • Aisha: I used to run away from anything with patchouli, but then I also discovered Coromandel and have since changed my tune.

      I’m also a perfume hoarder and have a hard time getting rid of anything — even if it’s of a sample of perfume I don’t care for very much. My excuse is that I’m trying to learn to like it. 😉 September 4, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I was convinced I didn’t like patchouli, but the first time I smelled pure patchouli oil, I was in love. It smelled like warm stones, melted bitter chocolate and wet earth. Meeting Coromandel years later was a love at first sniff. 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 1:05pm Reply

      • george: I remember first coming across patchouli when a teenager and madonna had the insert to the Like a Prayer album cassette impregnated with it. It smelled great!- and Coromandel is my go to for something approximating that, too. September 4, 2013 at 3:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve watching VH1 Classic this week, and they’re having a program on the 1990s. At some point, hearing Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box, I was reminded that their “In Utero” album had a leaflet that smelled like a doll’s head. Not sure if it was intentional or whether it was just the smell of the plastic casing. September 4, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

          • Victoria: P.S. And I forgot to mention another Nirvana-perfume connection I discovered much later; that the song “Scentless Apprentice” from In Utero was inspired by Patrick Süskind’s novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. September 4, 2013 at 4:07pm Reply

            • Aisha: Have you read that book? I’ve been curious, but sounds a little too disturbing a read. September 4, 2013 at 7:21pm Reply

              • Hannah: The descriptions are really gross, which makes it a love it or hate it book, in my opinion. I don’t like the movie at all either, but I really don’t like that director (Tom Tykwer, best known for Run Lola Run and recently co-directed Cloud Atlas). September 4, 2013 at 8:09pm Reply

              • Victoria: I didn’t find it disturbing, but some scene are macabre. Still, it’s a great book and definitely worth reading. September 5, 2013 at 8:52am Reply

            • george: I’ve just listened to it and also Frances Farmer will have her revenge on Seattle. Thanks for the reminder; there really is nothing like Nirvana. September 5, 2013 at 5:43am Reply

              • Victoria: I spent an hour this morning listening to various Nirvana tracks, something I haven’t done in ages. Bittersweet, but yes, I can’t agree with you more, there is nothing like Nirvana. September 5, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

          • george: Maybe your head was conflating the smell of the booklet with the Courtney Love song I am Doll Parts?!- although I think that was released about six months after? Or maybe- Kurt being Courtney influenced- that was indeed an intentional effect? September 5, 2013 at 5:37am Reply

            • Victoria: That’s possible! Doll Parts was the song that played on MTV nonstop the year I came to the US, so that and much of Nirvana really colored those years for me. I went for years not listening to either Hole or Nirvana and then a few days before I was moving to Belgium, I walked into a store and heard Doll Parts playing on the radio. It was such a blast from the past. September 5, 2013 at 8:42am Reply

  • Gerda: Sooooo true!!! One has to learn to appreciate certain scents. and now, I am hooked on Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue.
    Forget the popular light scents, there are so many beautiful scents that are worth discovering! September 4, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I like some popular light scents too like Light Blue, but I’m glad that I don’t have to choose. 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Leah: Hi Victoria! Your LHB story is heart-breaking. I am a strong fan of revisiting fragrances – we humans are fickle creatures and our tastes are ever evolving and expanding! Persistence made Fracas one of my favorites. I still have a bit of trouble with Tabu but I keep it for reference. I find that my taste changes depending on the season, weather and even physical state, so it’s nice to keep different scents around. Friends can also be a great perfume resource for trying new scents without committing to a bottle – though sadly for me my only fragrantly-inclined friend just moved across the country. We would bring each other different scents for sampling – we had very different tastes so it was very fulfilling. September 4, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

    • Victoria: I would still have given it away (it was a friend who loved it). I would just leave at least a small sample for me to revisit. There was also a case of a vintage bottle of Miss Dior that was even more heartbreaking. It was offered to me by a friend who inherited it from her grandmother. I took one sniff and decided that I didn’t like it. I’m afraid that Miss Dior ended up being thrown away. But I can’t be blamed too much; I was only 14 at a time. September 4, 2013 at 1:18pm Reply

  • irem: My first fine fragrance was a gifted bottle of Chanel Cristalle EdT back in the early 90’s. I gave it away after one try because it reeked of cigarette smoke (or so I thought). Today it is one of my favorite fragrances and I always have a bottle in heavy rotation. I sniffed Mitsouko at the age of 20 and immediately wrinkled my nose and thought “why on earth do they make such a vile fragrance?” Ten years later I wrinkled my nose at PdN New York. Guess what I love both today. Though I have to admit that it was mostly positive reviews or cult status that made me revisit these fragrances. But in the end I found genuine love 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s hard not to be swayed by the aura of these great perfumes, but in some ways, it’s like anything else–music, books, films, great art. In the end though, the ones that truly resonate with you stick around. September 4, 2013 at 1:19pm Reply

      • Maggie: Believe it or not, I used to wear Mitsouko to work in the early ’90s! I would sit in my office, smiling quietly to myself as the salesmen wandered up and down the corridor muttering, “What IS that smell?” September 4, 2013 at 9:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: There is a lady in our apartment building who wears Mitsouko and every time I pass by her in the morning, I want to thank her for helping me start my day on such a nice scented note. 🙂 September 5, 2013 at 9:04am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria,
    What right on post. There have been several times that I retried a fragrance I originally disliked and changed my mind, but there have been just as many times that I have still disliked a fragrance after giving it more chances. Also, over a long time period, one can change his/her opinion of something they once disliked–which has also happened to me. However, as you point out in your article, you never know just on the initial smell if you love or dislike a fragrance as so many factors can be involved. Thanks again for yet another thought-provoking and interesting post. September 4, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Phyllis. I’m very happy that you liked it. I taught a fragrance course recently, and it was one of the topics that came up–how many times do you revisit something until you’re sure about it. So, thank you for letting me sharing my musings. 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Lavanya: So true, V. It is amazing how our perceptions can change over time (and with seasons).
    I have a similar Shalimar/Guerlain story. In the beginning Samsara was the only Guerlain I liked/’got’. But often when I’d go to a Nordstrom, I try a dab of one of the (other) Guerlain parfums. Then a couple of years ago something ‘clicked’ and I really liked Shalimar (parfum). I bought a tiny bottle of the parfum and now it is probably in my top ten perfumes. I ended up finding a perfume that I can wear days on end and not get bored. Plus it is such a comforting scent on a winter night. September 4, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: This is a great story, and I’m sure many of us can relate. I had a similar experience with Chamade. When I first tried it, I thought that it smelled “oily.” But I kept thinking about it and now it’s one of my favorites. The part that I used to find oily now smells rich and luscious to me. September 4, 2013 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Aisha: I’ve mentioned this on your bog before, but I used to dislike Angel with a passion. The first time I tried it I couldn’t figure out why something like that would be so popular (and still is). But I did give it a second chance, and a third chance. Now I appreciate its complex character and actually do like it — a lot. I haven’t purchased it for myself, however, because the scent and I don’t “click” emotionally.

    The Cuir de Russie and the Vanille Tonka I tried recently, however, are really calling my name. Each time I wear those scents I picture myself in a certain time and place, either real or imagined. That’s how I know when I’ve found the right fragrance for me. The danger when using that method to select a fragrance is falling so in love with it that it’s heartbreaking when it’s either discontinued or formulas change and you’re forced to “break up” with your beloved bottle. (Lauren and Safari come to mind. 😉 )

    As far as ways to save money while on this perfume journey … I’ve been going to Sephora and asking for samples. My mom also gives me all perfume samples she gets from department stores. I’ve been able to sample quite a few fragrances this way. I also purchase samples online. And you’re right, the cost is usually comparable to purchasing a couple of lattes at a coffee house. I’m willing to forgo a couple of grande caramel macchiatos if it means I get to sample a few gems from Chanel and Parfums de Nicolai. 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, the heartbreak of reformulation or discontinuation… It never ends, especially since perfume is so evanescent. But at least, there is so much choice today that you can explore and not discover it all.

      At the local perfumery, I get asked if I want samples of perfume or skincare (with my purchase). I usually select perfume, and while it means that I have way too many samples of La Petite Robe Noire, I sometimes get to try more unusual lines if that’s what the SAs have on hand. Or even revisit familiar perfumes like Issey Miyake or Pleasures, which is always fun. September 4, 2013 at 3:09pm Reply

      • Aisha: I always get whatever fragrance is being offered as a sample when I place a Sephora order for cosmetics. Sometimes I purchase an item just so I can get the fragrance samples. Yes, this hobby is becoming an obsession of sorts. 😉 September 4, 2013 at 7:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: It has that potential! 🙂 September 5, 2013 at 8:51am Reply

      • Aisha: Forgot to mention earlier … I’m currently reading War and Peace (one of the items that has been on my “bucket list” for years). I loved it from the first page. September 4, 2013 at 7:26pm Reply

  • behemot: Great topic, Victoria!
    I am still trying to learn to love L’Heure Bleue, Chamade , and Mitsouko. I have vintage bottle of Chamade extract, and I love it for the bottle.
    Wearing these three Guerlains is difficult for me, but I hope it will change. Another fragrance in question is Chanel 5… September 4, 2013 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Chanel No 5 is a tough perfume to wear, especially if that starchy-fizzy aldehydic accord is new to you. Plus, many of us have strong associations with it. I remember desperately trying to love it after I saw the gorgeous commercial directed by Luc Besson.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnwHS3wc1B8

      Even now, every time I see it, I want to go and put on No 5. 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 3:12pm Reply

      • behemot: I always loved this commercial. This is the best one for Chanel 5 and one of the best at all. (Plus, the”wolf” looks so similar to may dog, and Estella Warren reminds me of my daughter..
        I will keep trying with No.5, promise 🙂 September 4, 2013 at 4:44pm Reply

  • Kathy: Oh yes, you are so correct. Case in point, I received several samples, sniffed through them and put about half in the ‘doesn’t work’ category and set aside for passing on to someone else. However, this particular group was put into a new box and put in a drawer and then ‘lost’ for at least a year. Upon its being found and my memory only being of them being rejects, I gave each a quick sniff to be sure and was totally stunned to find one of them was heart stoppingly gorgeous, what had I been thinking to reject this one? I think in that year my nose/brain had developed enough to appreciate what made almost no impact before. Within the week I had a large bottle of Rose Poivree in my hands and it has stayed in my top 5. Never say never in fragrance. September 4, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s great that you kept your samples. Sounds like you’re very organized and have a nice system for keeping track of things. And isn’t it fascinating how much our tastes change over time? September 4, 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Frank Masso: When I first experienced chaos by Donna Karan I thought of pencil shavings. I went to the theatre that evening and someone in front of me was wearing it. Well…I can’t remember the name of the play because all I was doing was inhaling what was to become one of my favorite fragrances of all time. It is such a unique blend of rare woods,cinnamon,sage and florals that every time I wear it several people come up to me and ask what I’m wearing. Of course I prefer the old formula to the new but still love it! September 4, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also find that by revisiting the same perfume over a period of time, I notice different nuances, different accents. Chaos is quite complex and has many twists, so it’s enjoyable to untangle it. September 4, 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Elena: Ha! I am wearing Timbuktu today after reading this post and the comments. A perfect example, I strongly disliked it when I first tried it, and am really enjoying it today after I let it calm down for a few minutes (I still find the opening almost headache inducing). When I first smelled Shalimar on a blotter, I immediately looked for a trash can since I thought it smelled like some sort of vile citronella candle horror. I couldn’t find a place to throw it out so I stuck it in my pocket. Hours later found me searching for the source of that intoxicating and fantastic scent… you guessed it, the Shalimar blotter! It lasted forever, too. At least tester vials are so small that being a total packrat only takes up one drawer. September 4, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Emma M: I always find it so exciting when I ‘get’ a perfume at long last; its a nice feeling when personal horizons naturally expand to encompass more things of beauty.

    Anyway, as others have mentioned, Shalimar is the first perfume that comes to mind when I read this post. I found Shalimar musty and strange on first sniff; I kept trying it over the years but it never quite worked. And I wanted to like it so much. It wasn’t until I was given a sample of Shalimar Parfum Initial and liked it well enough but felt there was a bit missing, that I figured out that what I was longing for was the musty strangeness of Shalimar itself. Shortly afterwards I bought a full bottle and I wear it often, sometimes I even find that I crave it. September 4, 2013 at 4:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: How interesting! For me, my love for Shalimar also came through a Shalimar flanker, Shalimar Eau Legere. I liked Eau Legere very much, but what it really did was to give me taste for the original Shalimar. September 4, 2013 at 4:25pm Reply

  • Annikky: I vehemently agree with everything. For me, seeing my taste expand and coming to appreciate previously difficult notes or fragrances is one of the most enjoyable parts of my perfume-love. And I always love the stories of how people came to like Mitsouko or do a u-turn on vanilla or whatever it happens to be – I think most perfumistas have a few and it’s like having a personal mythology. OK, maybe not quite, but you know what I mean :).

    Personally, vetiver, lavender and incense have been acquired tastes and I’m so glad I acquired them. Today, when I let my hair down, I was thinking: “what is this wonderful, classy thing I’m smelling?” Then I remembered that I had sprayed some Sel de Vetiver in my hair earlier. It smelled perfect.

    I’ve never (by ‘never’ I of course mean ‘after I became seriously interested in perfume’) really felt like dismissing anything based on one try and this is definitely because I started my perfume education on NST and Bois de Jasmin. One of the first things I picked up was to give perfume time to reveal itself and not to expect it to happen in five minutes. Or in five years, necessarily. Still grateful for that. September 4, 2013 at 4:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: In my case, some of the dislikes were not real dislikes, but more like preconceived notions (the worst kind really!) Like the patchouli example I mentioned to George. Other dislikes came up because I didn’t think that certain smells would be appropriate as perfume (like Bulgari Black and its smoky, tarry notes). As you case, it’s exciting to see how your palette changes, how your idea of what constitutes “a good smell” evolves. This is probably one of the reasons why I have been studying perfume, collecting it, exploring everything about it for all of these years, and I still feel that there is so much more to discover.

      Sel de Vetiver is a wonderful summer perfume, because it has this beautiful, elegant sillage. I had a similar experience recently with the Olfactive Studio’s Flashback, which is another delicious vetiver. September 4, 2013 at 4:32pm Reply

  • Anka: I too learned to love Shalimar through its flankers and through ELdO’s Fils de Dieu. In one of your reviews you mentioned it is a modern take on Shalimar and therefore I gave Shalimar a second try.
    Your fascinating picture looks like a surrealistic still life and really matches with your topic: At first glance I thought the green things were green pepper… September 4, 2013 at 4:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Anka. They are poppies. 🙂 I got them this spring from a florist next door, and they lasted for all of 2 days. But at least, I managed to take a photo.

      Fils de Dieu is one of the best Shalimar inspired perfumes, along with Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravageur. So glad that you liked both ELdO and Shalimar. September 4, 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

      • Anka: Victoria, do you already know the 6-minute commercial “La Legend de Shalimar?”
        http://thefashioninterview.com/posts/la-legend-de-shalimar/
        It is not what Shalimar represents for me but interesting to watch anyhow… September 5, 2013 at 2:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: I didn’t see the commercial yet, but I spotted plenty of ads in Paris recently. Thank you for posting the link, Anka. September 5, 2013 at 4:45pm Reply

  • Donelle: I think perfume is such an organic substance, it changes on our skin, at different times of the month, let alone seasonally. It seems if at first you don’t like a perfume, try it in a different season. A classic example for me is Montale’s Jasmin Full in warmer months, such as a Spring day like today, it smells like Air Freshener with an overload of insoles, yet on a crisp Winter/Autumn day, all I get is the feeling of my face pressed into a bunch of freshly picked jasmine, it is heavenly. Sometimes spicy perfumes, which you would think would never work in Summer can be blissful. Just can’t think of a particular example right now, but I have experienced this phenomenon a few times. Great topic by the way! September 4, 2013 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Shendel: Dear Victoria;

    Once more your post have inspired me and I decided to try my sample of Après l’Ondée again.

    This time I must confess that instead of “weird” I find it rather interesting! I found this orris note in it that I really like.

    Meanwhile I’m totally obsessed with two other iris fragrances: 28 La Pausa, which I adore and hate at the same time. Do I buy it or not? No, I won’t buy it! It’s ridiculous to pay such a price for something so fleeting! I prefer to order some pure orris butter before… I’ve heard Eden Botanicals have a great one. And of course, I’m dying to try SL Iris Silver Mist. It was already on my wish list, but after you recommended it, I’m mad about it. And my brother just came back from Paris! I’m kicking myself. Like Solanace wrote before, we live in fragrance mordor, and that’s why I gave up the hobby 10 years ago. In fact, I want to get in touch with her, maybe we can work out some splits.

    BTW, talking about savoring again… wool is much better than paper, it keeps the scent a lot longer. That’s how I managed to enjoy every little bit of my 28 La Pausa sample, spraying on my 100% wool sweater. Sometimes I also just spray a bit on a piece of wool yarn and put it in my pocket to sniff every now and then. If you have some 100% wool around, try it! September 4, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Shendel: PS: but be careful with long lasting scents and wool, if I use Coromandel on wool it will stay there and last through several washes! September 4, 2013 at 5:41pm Reply

      • Maren: Shendel, I so agree with you on 28 La Pausa. I love it soooo much, but I also just haven’t felt right about a purchase when it is so fleeting. I’ve gone through a couple of samples now, and I’ve pretty much decided it will go on the “please buy me this gift list,” and if I get it, I will spray away with generous abandon! I do have SL Iris Silver Mist, and I can tell you that it has a much cooler feel, but also beautiful. 28 LP has a kind of bready yeasty warmth about it that I love (is that the orris butter, I don’t know) and SL ISM does not have this feel so much.

        I will try your wool trick! September 4, 2013 at 8:04pm Reply

        • Shendel: I will order a bit of orris butter and dilute it in grain alcohol. My hopes are it will smell similar to La Pausa but last more… it will take a while though, a couple of months. I can write about it after the experiment! September 4, 2013 at 8:18pm Reply

          • Maren: I’ll be very interested to hear how that goes! September 5, 2013 at 12:50am Reply

      • Victoria: Yep! And even through dry cleaning. Ask me how I know! 🙂 September 5, 2013 at 8:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Scents definitely last really well on fabric (and on hair), and some rich perfumes work even better sprayed lightly on fabric than directly on skin. But of course, one has to be careful, since perfume can discolor light or delicate materials.

      I’m glad that you haven’t given up on Apres L’Ondee, especially since you seem to love iris. It’s worth being courted a bit. September 5, 2013 at 8:44am Reply

      • rainboweyes: I love both La Pausa and ISM too. I always spray LP in my hair which improves the longevity and sillage a lot! And yes, you have to be very careful with wool and cashmere, the scent may stay there for a longer time than you want it to last! September 6, 2013 at 6:17am Reply

        • Victoria: True! My cardigan still smells of Opium, and it has already been washed once. Can you imagine the tenacity of this perfume? 🙂 September 6, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

      • rainboweyes: Dear Victoria, I know your mother has purchased a bottle of Iris Silver Mist recently. Do you know if it has been reformulated or is it just rumours?
        I bought my last bottle in 2009… September 6, 2013 at 6:22am Reply

        • Victoria: I haven’t compared them side by side, but when my mom wore, it still smells like ISM I know. September 6, 2013 at 11:21am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for another enlightening article, Victoria. It’s especially helpful for a newbie like me. 🙂 At the moment, I’m just trying to smell different kinds of fragrance rather than trying to find the perfect one for me. It’s great that I don’t necessarily have to own a bottle to enjoy perfume. As someone who love JCE-style perfumes, many classical perfumes smell strange for me in the beginning, especially if the concentration is high (they usually smell like insect repellents to me!). That was also the case for Shalimar and Mitsouko. I brought the blotters home anyway and left them on a shelf. An amazing thing happened on the next day. I was very surprised by the beautiful, powdery drydown of Shalimar and I was so excited to be able to pick out peach note in Mitsouko that everyone was talking about. I couldn’t stop smelling them! Since then, I hold onto blotters for over a week. I observe how they evolve over time and I enjoy the drydown that linger. September 4, 2013 at 6:26pm Reply

    • Elena: I think you and I had just the same reaction to Shalimar on the blotter, right down to it smelling like insect repellent (as I mentioned above). We must be scent cousins if not twins, as I also worship at the altar of JCE. I wonder what it is that is reminding us of the insect repellent? I have yet to come to love Mitsouko, but I’ve put my sample away for well over a year. Maybe it’s time again? September 4, 2013 at 10:50pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Hello Elena, I’m glad to have found a scent cousin (or twin). 🙂 Yes, maybe it’s time for you to try Mitsouko again and I hope that you’ll have a new discovery. September 5, 2013 at 5:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: The search for one perfect perfume is always somewhat frustrating, because we change, our moods change, and it’s hard for a single perfume to fit it all. But as I just explore and discover new scents, I find the process itself more enjoyable than the final act of acquire a bottle of perfume. Of course, you don’t need to buy full bottles to enjoy this hobby. September 5, 2013 at 8:50am Reply

  • Maren: Oh I love this post Victoria. It comes at such a great time for me, because now that I’m about 10 months into this journey of exploring fragrances I’m starting to learn how to temper my responses after some “mistakes.” I first tried Mitsouko last fall, both vintage and new. It seemed to turn sour on me. Tired it again this summer, and liked it, and was very excited that my local perfume boutique had it on sale. Well, of course I had to get it. They also had Serge Lutens La Fille du Berlin on sale, which I briefly tested and bought. Who can resist a sale, right? Well…I should have given it more time, because I do have buyers rem’ orse over that one. It just doesn’t quite do it for me after wearing it several times now. Now I’m figuring maybe I can do trades with that one. But it did teach me a lesson, and just yesterday when I smelled Killian Love and Tears I had a hard time restraining myself from whipping out the credit card; I loved the clean crisp jasmine so much, it was visceral. But instead I will buy a very generous sample first and really live with it for awhile, and who knows, that may be all I need in the end. September 4, 2013 at 7:48pm Reply

    • Shendel: Maren, I did that a couple of weeks ago… I was going to buy just one bottle of Cristalle and I ended up with two (the sa said it was going to be discontinued and I panicked). I didn’t need 2!! Plus, I didn’t find any info on the internet about its discontinuation. Total buyer’s remorse! September 4, 2013 at 8:25pm Reply

      • Maren: That’s funny, I had heard that about 28 La Pausa being discontinued and was ready to go and buy, but then I called a Chanel store to find out if it was true, and they said not true. So I’m still debating. I wonder how these rumors get started? Ah well, the Cristalle is a great choice anyway, a classic that you will have forever apparently! September 5, 2013 at 12:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I have done those spontaneous purchased too, Maren! And then a few months (or weeks) later I would discover that it was not love but just infatuation. These days I go for a sample or a decant first, even if I love the perfume instantly. Interesting that most of my top favorites were not my initial top choices. September 5, 2013 at 8:58am Reply

  • maja: True love often means obstacles 🙂 I have learned to love Shalimar through a flanker, too. And every time I put it now I find new layers, a different feeling which is what makes it a classic, I guess. I am still learning to love Heure Bleue though – my edt bottle doesn’t help that much as it is rather sharp and with no proper drydown. (But I can’ t tell my husband who bought it for me that I need the edp version at least 🙂 ) Recently I experimented and tried to cheer Heure B. up by mixing it with a tiny spritz of Insolence edp. It is heavier on violets but I like it.
    Cedar note for example is something I find hard to like but I will try it as many times as needed. I learned to love and eat cantaloupes and beets so everything else is possible!

    What worries me more are those perfumes one suddenly gets bored by and how to deal with half used bottles. Will you love them again or should you start looking for a new home for them? September 4, 2013 at 8:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: “I learned to love and eat cantaloupes and beets so everything else is possible!”

      Love it! As a Russian/Ukrainian, it still baffles me that beets can be so controversial, since they are used so much in our cuisine. But I suppose that the earthy taste and vivid color might be odd.

      Anyway, back to perfume, as I mentioned to Maren, most of my top favorites requires me to be patient with them. But at the same time, even if I didn’t like them immediately, there was something intriguing and memorable about it. So, it was interesting to revisit them. September 5, 2013 at 9:02am Reply

  • Loredana: What a wonderful article. I love everything you’ve said. I have had both strong positive and strong negative reactions to perfumes I have tried…and perhaps even indifferent feelings towards some that feel too familiar. And you’re right that often those instant infatuations with a certain perfume can result in them falling just as quickly out of favour. I have been guilty of both impulsively buying a new perfume on first whiff and impulsively dismissing a perfume I didn’t initially like or thought to be average. But of course a perfume is more than just its top notes. It takes a certain amount of time for it to unveil its full character and you have to have some patience to be able to get to know it. September 4, 2013 at 9:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Loredana. I can’t agree more with you when you say that a perfume is more than just its top notes. The SAs often rush us into purchase and rush us into deciding, but by slowing down we can make a better choice. Or discover that a perfume just doesn’t work at all. September 5, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

  • Annunziata: This is such an interesting phenomenon, these turnarounds in perception and taste. The most dramatic one, for me, was with Ormonde Jayne Woman. When I first sampled it, I was repelled. A couple of years later, I tried it again and was completely bewitched, so that it is now one of my very favorite scents. It does seem to be like reading certain books — it’s not good to try to force it before you are ready. September 4, 2013 at 9:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a great analogy. I still wonder at my school program in Ukraine that made us read novels by Dostoevsky when we were something like 12 and giving us very little time to read. At one point, I recall having to cram a whole volume of Crime and Punishment into one day of reading. At the end of it, I thought I was going mad myself. When years later I re-read it, I couldn’t believe that it was the same book! I found a completely new appreciation for it. September 5, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

      • Andy: It’s funny, I had the very same experience with Crime and Punishment, in that I read the book all at once (starting one night and reading into the next morning). Needless to say, I hated it (and also had those same feelings of possibly going as insane as Raskolnikov)! But I probably need to give the book another chance. Considering the circumstances, it’s no wonder I didn’t like it! September 5, 2013 at 4:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: I swore off Dostoevsky after that experience, and it was after reading his White Nights that I began to develop new appreciation for his work. Still, I admit that as much as I admire his work, I feel more affinity with other Russian classics like Bunin, Bulgakov, Tolstoy. September 5, 2013 at 4:54pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Speaking of Dostoevsky: his work is hard to read, very gloomy, but worth the effort.
            There is one of his books I tried many times to read, but I am unable to figure out what it is about: ”Der Idiot”. I simply don’t understand it. Could you make me wiser? September 5, 2013 at 5:29pm Reply

            • Victoria: I can’t, because I haven’t read it. I’ve come to appreciate him well after I fell in love with other Russian classics, so I still have a long reading list ahead of me. September 6, 2013 at 11:11am Reply

          • Natalia: Interesting, I am completely opposite. I do admire Tolstoy, Bunin, Turgenev, of course, but I feel like they are from another planet. I can study and appreciate their profound and beautiful works but I never feel I am a part of them.

            Dostoevsky is different. First, I don’t percieve him as depressing or sad, not one bit. Quite the opposite, even as he writes about the worst vices of the human nature, he is intensely inspirational. Second, I feel like he writes about me and for me, I always experience a deep connection with his characters on some basic, primary level. He is undoubtedly me favorite Russian author together with Gogol, Sologub, Platonov and the like. September 6, 2013 at 11:38am Reply

            • Victoria: I also don’t find Dostoevsky depressing or sad (at least, now that I’m not 12 anymore or trying to read the entire Crime and Punishment as fast as I can for my Russian Literature class). As I mentioned to Cornelia, I still have a lot of his work to discover. September 6, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

              • Natalia: I just had a random thought that Angel would be a perfect olfactory representaion of the Dostoevsky’s world 🙂 – beautiful in its ugliness, encompassing a widest spectrum of emotions, frightening yet completely irresistible all the same. September 6, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: To me. all Russian writers are ”from another planet”, so to speak. I don’t have that connection, with none of the Russians (Exception: Gogol’s short stories from st Petersburg). Perhaps that’s why Dostoevsky is gloomy in my experience.
                  Although I am a well trained reader, and can see their masterhood, the Russians are demanding for me.
                  I asked about “Der Idiot” because Fürst Myshkin is such an icon in the world litterature, but I never was able to read this book. I always gave up halfway. But I still have that copy and some day I will finish that book! September 6, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

                • Victoria: Hmm, interesting! I will have to think about it the next time I wear Angel. Or read Dostoevsky. Or do both. 🙂 September 6, 2013 at 12:24pm Reply

  • Karina: I found this post to be quite fitting for me right now as I have been consciously trying to challenge myself with perfumes I don’t immediately like.

    When I first started wearing perfume I very quickly worked out that white florals were my favourite notes and I too could easily have a dresser filled only with perfect tuberose, gardenia, jasmine and orange blossom compositions!

    But I have come to realise that indeed my next great perfume discovery may lie outside of my fragrance comfort zone and therefore I may have to do a little work to find it.

    I don’t think I’ll ever love strong green and fresh fragrances, although I can see their appeal on a sweltering summer’s day.

    I had to learn to love Shalimar but now it impresses me very much when I wear it, funny that! September 5, 2013 at 1:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Green perfumes are tough for many people, and I still find intensely green perfumes challenging (but intriguing). On the other hand, as you say, there are few things better on a hot summer day! For this reason, I’m going to wear Amazingreen by Comme des Garcons today, since it’s going to be sweltering. September 5, 2013 at 9:15am Reply

  • 2046: what an inspiring read! i’ll be honest, apres l’ondee is the only classic guerlain i like, and chanel no. 5 and i will probably never be friends. however, i have not tried the vintage versions of any of these, so perhaps that is what i need to rectify. i do feel a little guilty for not appreciating these perfumes sometimes, since their landmark statuses in the history of perfumery as well as their ability to withstand the test of time attest to how beloved they are by people who are ‘serious’ about fragrance… thus i am left feeling like the only person in the room who doesn’t get the joke. 😉 on the other hand, it means money saved!

    a perfume that grew on me was vintage rochas femme. there is a distinct salty note to my nose, and the heaviness of the oakmoss also put me off. but for some reason, i keep getting my little bottle and applying it again and again! September 5, 2013 at 1:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, but there is no reason why you should feel guilty! It’s not a reflection on your inability to “get” them, but rather that they don’t say anything to you. With scents, our associations play a big role in influencing our preferences. For instance, to my D&G Pour Femme smells like candy (ie, something I would rather eat than wear), but to someone else it might remind them of orange blossom marshmallow their mom bought for them as a treat (so, it’s a pleasant, comforting memory).
      It’s too frustrating and unnecessary to force yourself to like something just because it’s a great perfume or because everyone loves it. I would give anything a fair chance, and beyond that, it’s ok to move on. September 5, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

  • kaori: Thank your for very good tips. I am surprised with your comment “anything with woods”*o*
    Your reviews made me break my perfume boundaries several times. Those attempts are wonderful for me to excite never ending curiosity:) September 5, 2013 at 1:08am Reply

    • Victoria: I know! Given how much I love woods today, I’m still surprised by how much I disliked them (or thought that I did). 🙂 September 5, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

  • martha24: When Coco Mademoiselle was new I tried it because I am addicted to pink and because Chanel is an upscale brand. There was only the EdP then and I really hated it. The drydown smelt like vomit to me! On the next day I noticed a wonderful scent on the sleeve of my sweater – the original Coco which I sprayed on just for comparison. This was my Christmas present in 2001. A year later Coco Mademoiselle EdT was introduced and I grew to love it. The reason must have been the grapefruit in the top notes. In the following years I became addicted to Mademoiselle in every concentration. Nowadays I still love the extrait which is a little deeper than the EdP and the EdT and has a dark twist (iris?). But my signature scent is No.19 for five years now, the EdT. The EdP and the Extrait I like them, but it is the EdT I love. And in the scents I love there is always something to discover which takes weeks and month for me. It has to be a long story. Mademoiselle for example was a long story but now it is over because there is nothing left to discover and because I smell it (and its copycats!) too often in public. But No.19 still keeps my nose and my mind busy… September 5, 2013 at 1:58am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s fascinating to read all of these comments and realize that for many of us true love came through some sort of struggle. But it’s true that most perfumes that can keep your interest for a while are complex. Maybe even so complex that you need some time to figure them out. September 5, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

  • annemariec: Great post and it’s fun reading everyone’s responses. Obviously it’s a topic close to many hearts. Which of us has not bought a clutch of samples online and fallen prey to the desire to test them all on one arm the instant you get home and open the package! It’s inevitable that some are going to get overlooked and dismissed.

    I think I spent at least five years sniffing around the edges of Van Cleef & Arpels First. ‘Too many flowers in the vase, tries too hard to be classy’ I used to say. But it (the EDP version) kept badgering me and in the end it won me over with its joyful, sparkling exuberance. I’ve renamed it ‘Joy’ in my own mind, as the real Joy has never given me much joy. But it is not a fragrance for every day and I’m glad I’ve only ever bought minis, and a decant. September 5, 2013 at 6:05am Reply

    • annemariec: Adding – we could have a discussion on the reverse situation: instant love, full bottle purchase, wear the heck out of it … tired and over it within months. September 5, 2013 at 6:21am Reply

      • Victoria: I’ve touched just a bit on it, but you’re right, it’s another interesting topic! September 5, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I also enjoyed reading everyone’s responses, especially about the perfumes with which they had struggles. I’m with you on First being my “Joy,” much more so than real Joy is. September 5, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

  • ralu: I completely agree with you. It takes time to discover a fragrance and love at first sight doesn’t work out. September 5, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

    • Victoria: As I was replying to these comments, I realized that yes, many of my loves at first sniff turned out to be less interesting in the long run. September 5, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Oh yes, love at first sniff can work out! I loved Poison immediately, in 1985, I remember clearly how thrilled I was smelling this, and I still love it.
        Same experience with Vol de Nuit (now reformulated, alas), and Versace Blonde which was my beloved Fracas in disguise, and others. You can recognize an alltime love (sometimes). September 5, 2013 at 10:40am Reply

        • Victoria: Of course, it can work out. Sometimes you know intuitively that it’s the right choice. September 5, 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

  • maggiecat: As I read this lovely article, and the posts that followed, I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement and murmuring “how true,” which has vexed my co-workers no end. 🙂 I’ve learned to sample and test things slowly – a large number of “Oh I love this” scents morph into “This is really nice, but…” after a few wearings. And some scents need to be worked up to… A good argument for both open-mindedness and sampling! September 5, 2013 at 1:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 As I was responding to comments, I would sometimes laugh out loud or nod my head vigorously in agreement, and my husband kept asking what on earth am I doing. As Anne-Marie rightly observed above, many of us had these experiences, and it’s great to share them. September 5, 2013 at 4:39pm Reply

  • leathermountain: There is one force pulling me in the opposite direction, however, and I believe you’ve alluded to it…. the great fun to be had by giving perfume away. September 5, 2013 at 6:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sharing perfume is another great part of this hobby. September 6, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

  • Natalia: I would say more than half of my collection falls under the category “hate at first sniff”. Now these fragrances are among my most cherished treasures. Here are some of them – Angel, Caleche, Chanel COCO, Chanel 19, Nahema.

    My tip for trying new fragrances is a bit personal but it works for me 100%. What I say is NEVER make a decision on buying a fragrance in a bad or stressful mood. For me, in particualar, it’s a challenge because when I AM in a bad mood, getting a new scent seems like a perfect cure. Unfortunatrly, it only works for one evening. Next day you are going to hate it.

    It goes not just for buying thing but even for trying, too. I noticed that if I like something new when I am in a bad mood, I will probably dislike it upon the next testing, and vise versa. Can’t really explain why that is.

    It’s true, we often often get fed up too quickly with the scents we like immediately. For me, such examples would be Pleasures, Coco Mademoiselle, Chanel Crystalle Eau Verte, j’Adore L’Or.

    Yet, some fragrances, although they were also “love at first sniff” became my favorite ones for life – Aromatics Elixir, Miss Dior, Diorissimo, Crystalle.

    I also liked immedieately (and still am not fed up with) Jour d’Hermes, Shalimar Ode de la Vanille, Rose Ikebana, Chanel Biege.

    Those still in exploration that may eventually end up on my shelf – Cuir de Russe, French Cancan, Unspoken, Bandit, En Passant. September 6, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

    • Victoria: I completely understand what you mean, Natalia! For me, shopping of any kind (except for food) when I’m in a bad mood is not a good idea. I almost invariably have buyer’s remorse. Same with trying scents when I’m feeling upset. The result is just as you describe–a complete turnaround the next day.

      J’Adore L’Or was my own love at first sniff and then quick disillusionment. I still have a large sample, and I’m glad that I resisted the temptation to buy the bottle on the spot. September 6, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

  • rainboweyes: Same here. A lot of scents which are now my favourites were “second sniff loves” (Equistrius, Lumiere Blanche, Bois d’Iris, to name just a few). I didn’t really hate them but wasn’t smitten either.

    Lumiere Blanche was one of the harder cases – I kept sampling it and all I got was a load of spices – no iris, almond milk or sandalwood. Then I took my sample to Spain where I spent my summer holiday and suddenly in the sizziling heat it worked! Now it’s one of my favourite summer scents.

    The same happened to Sel de Vetiver today! I revisited it after a long time, inspired by Anniky mentioning it as the perfect scent for the beaches in Brittany …and immediately fell in love. No acrid celery and lovage notes, just beautiful iris and vetiver… Now it’s on my to buy list for next summer.

    The remaining part of my perfume collection are loves at first sniff – and I love them all, too. No disillusions so far. Maybe because most of them don’t fall into the “crowd pleaser” category… September 7, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Teresa: My “hate at first sniff” was Angel. I can’t remember what it smelt like but I remember thinking “how could anyone like this vile perfume?”

    A few years later, I tried it again in the store. Same reaction and till today I have not felt any desire to try it again. Maybe I should… September 9, 2013 at 11:55am Reply

    • Victoria: If you’re passing by the Mugler counter, why not try it again? No guarantees that you will like it or even tolerate it better, but it will be a memorable sensory experience. 🙂 September 9, 2013 at 1:45pm Reply

    • Aisha: It took me three tries to actually appreciate Angel and its complexity. On the third try I resisted the urge to wash it off and actually let the perfume settle on my skin. I actually found myself liking it.

      The fragrance isn’t “me,” so I haven’t yet bought a bottle. But I do find myself sniffing the sample that I have from time to time. It really is an interesting scent. September 9, 2013 at 3:27pm Reply

  • mysterious_scent: How can I missed this article?! I’ve learned my lessons: (1) Not make decision so fast (2) Give a sample at least 3 tries (3) Stop throwing out samples I dislike initially, come back again in a few months and test again…. February 17, 2014 at 5:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I made all of those mistakes before. I should have added that it pays to keep samples organized, even when has a few of them, because as the quantity grows, it becomes hard to find one tiny vial among dozens of other little bottles and carded samples. Of course, many of us are way more organized than I am. February 17, 2014 at 6:02am Reply

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