In Nose We Trust

What makes one a perfume lover? Having a collection that puts the Saks Fifth Avenue fragrance counter to shame? Knowing the minute details of Serge Lutens’s biography? Speaking of fragrance ingredients with an obsession rivaling that of a Michelin starred chef? Wearing nothing but the most exclusive and expensive brands? No, no, and no. A perfume lover, or a perfumista, is someone who loves scents. Period.

picasso

Like all hobbies, fragrance can be treated in as esoteric and passionate a manner as you wish, but what I have always found special about this pursuit is its endless variety. Our olfactory palettes are shaped by numerous factors, including early childhood memories, idiosyncratic preferences and particularities of our noses. It’s a fact that we all experience scents slightly differently, based on a combination of individual sensitivities and anosmias. Even perfume industry professionals, whose noses are well-honed to distinguish different ingredients, can’t avoid olfactory quirks, whether it means not being able to smell some types of musk or woody ambers. The wealth of individual interpretations of common smells is what gives perfumery its richness and beauty.

When you start out exploring scents, the amount of information–and choice–can seen overwhelming, and with everyone talking Mitsouko and Serge Lutens, when all you’ve tried is a selection from your local department store, you may feel the need to catch up. Every now and then, I spot comments in which newbie perfume lovers apologize for liking certain department store fragrances or not enjoying classics, and my response is the same, “So what!”

Please don’t apologize for your perfume tastes. They’re intricately shaped by your personal experiences, and they’re unique. Keep your mind open to trying different things, because this will make your perfume quests more exciting and rewarding, but have confidence to wear what you love with panache. The idea that the choice of perfume indicates the level of one’s sophistication or intelligence seems ridiculous to me. Liking Chanel No 19 means that you like green, mossy scents. Appreciating the popular Lancôme La Vie est Belle only means that you have a caramel craving.

“There’s no set formula, no certain things you ‘have’ to like, it’s your journey after all,” wrote my reader Sofie recently. “And it’s your wallet too, so you might as well spend the money on things you really enjoy.” These are wise words and a good reminder that price and brand don’t determine anything. Niche brands offer plenty of interesting lines with distinctive visions and exceptional blends, but a large portion of the so-called artisanal perfumery is dull and overpriced, with the distribution venue, rather than the juice, determining the number of zeros on the label. Being an equal opportunity perfume lover not only exposes you to more brands, it helps you discover hidden gems and have more fun.

Finally, at the end of the day, it’s just a perfume. It’s about pleasure and beauty. Let your nose–and not the noses or opinions of others–be the ultimate guide in your scented adventures.

Painting: Woman with straw hat on flowery background (Femme au chapeau de paille sur fond fleuri), Pablo Picasso, 1938. Via wiki-images, some rights reserved.

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331 Comments

  • Therése: Wise words! February 11, 2015 at 7:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Sofie was so spot on! February 11, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

  • Nora Szekely: Very good post, Victoria. I’m seriously into perfumes since 3 years now and went through different phases.
    1. Pre-perfumista: I’ve worn whatecer was given to me as a gift and drugstore scents I could afford as a student (favourites Paris Nights by Celine Dion and Cacharel Noa)
    2. Starting my perfume journey: higher quality scents from the mall, like Idylle by Guerlain and Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel.
    3. Snubbery phase: turning my nose up to offerings of Sephora and the like and hunting down everything niche (Roses musk by Montale, Lyric woman by Amouage)
    4. “Serenity” phase: my present state of mind when I wear whatever I like regardless of price or creator and perfume critics’ verdict (among my favourites you can find Pink sugar by Aquolina, Poeme by Lancome, Coco Edt by Chanel and Mitsouko pure perfume by Guerlain).
    Did anyone else have similar phases? February 11, 2015 at 7:46am Reply

    • Michaela: Oh, yes! Phase 1, checked. Phase 2, checked. Fortunately, at this point I discovered BdJ, started to read, and read, and smell, so luckily skipped phase 3 🙂 I admit I replaced this one with an intermediary phase, that of blind buying, which I hope to keep under control. I reached phase 4, I think. February 11, 2015 at 8:07am Reply

      • Mariann: Oh yes me too, check 1&2 and am now i’m at a sort of stage 3 reading and trying everything obsessively. Luckily, i’m managing to stick to samples for now… February 12, 2015 at 8:18am Reply

    • Michaela: Nora, thank you for mentioning perfume critics’ verdict. As much as I trust all the reviews here, and I do, I know this verdict may be very personal. Think of Serge Lutens L’Orpheline: Victoria rates it 2 stars, while for Andy it’s one of the perfumes he appreciated most last year; they are both very good in evaluating perfumes, but for each one the same scent may speak so differently. It’s normal. And beautiful, at the same time. February 11, 2015 at 8:26am Reply

      • Annette: Yes! And it just proves that one man’s smell is another man’s Poison. I mean poison! February 11, 2015 at 8:42am Reply

      • Victoria: If Andy and I would have tried L’Orpheline at the same time, it would be fun to write a joint review in which one argues a different line. 🙂 February 11, 2015 at 12:16pm Reply

        • Jackie: Oh! That would be very fun!! Would love to read a joint review like that! February 11, 2015 at 1:41pm Reply

        • Andy: So true! That would have been great fun! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 6:16pm Reply

          • Victoria: Ok, we need to compare notes and see if we can find something to joint review. February 13, 2015 at 9:16am Reply

    • Victoria: You’ve outlined the phases of the perfumista really well, Nora. 🙂 I can totally relate to it all. I cringe thinking of my “niche snob” phase, which thankfully didn’t last long. Because it would have been an expensive and boring phase in which to stick, especially today when so much of niche is not even affordable. February 11, 2015 at 11:55am Reply

    • Carol: Comfortably in phase 4 and loving every moment! February 15, 2015 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Lainie: I’m a fan of Lancome Poeme too. May 30, 2016 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Michaela: I think I love your blog especially for articles like this one! And for many people here thinking like Sofie 🙂 I remember I liked very much a similar discussion here, a nice story about somebody who loved Shalimar EDT and didn’t dare to confess it at the store, in front of a determined SA, and somebody else said ‘trust your nose’.
    This blog is also an excellent guide, probably one of the best. I need a guide, because it’s much easier to navigate into the ocean of perfumes. I feel a lot of information is really useful, but, in the end, yes, only the great joy of the scent is what it counts.
    Love the title, too! 🙂 February 11, 2015 at 8:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I feel this way about books. I can’t possible read all books or even read reviews of all books I might be interested in, so I rely on a few publications (New York Review of Books is excellent) and my friends’ advice. I realize that I see my perfume reviews this way too–to highlight something that I found especially interesting, to discuss a popular launch, underrated gem or overhyped offering. Of course, as you read perfume blogs, you also gain a sense of their authors’ tastes, and this can help you make better choices.

      Thank you for your kind words, Michaela. February 11, 2015 at 11:58am Reply

  • Sandra: I went through similar phases Nora.
    When I was young, I remember Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth was what everyone was wearing but I didn’t like it. For some reason I loved the smell of Obsession by CK & Escape.
    When I was almost graduating high school, I took a trip to Italy and took a sample of Gio and fell in love with that smell.
    I find that some low cost scents are just as good and loved as my most expensive- like Anais Anais & Noa
    I was also influenced by what people around me wearing: my grandmother Tresor, my mom Oscar de la Rentas & White linen.
    Today I appreciate both drug store brands, stuff they sell at Sephora and niche houses. I do own some pretty high price tag FBs such as Amouage. February 11, 2015 at 8:05am Reply

    • Elisa: I was obsessed with Escape in junior high. My grandmother bought me Eternity instead. Alas! February 11, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

      • Sandra: I liked Eternity too-but Escape was my favorite.
        I remember when CK1 was a big hit too! February 11, 2015 at 11:19am Reply

      • Victoria: I remember how I wanted Poison, but my mom thought that Tendre Poison would be more appropriate. I never really wore it in the end, but I rhapsodized in my diary about the beautiful bottle. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 2:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I also was influenced by what my mom and my grandmother wore, and this definitely gave me a taste not just for perfume but for particular scents. And now, I influence my mom. She’s staying with us right now, and she’s head over heels with Frederic Malle Une Rose, Le Parfum de Therese and Une Fleur de Cassie. I’m about to make her a bunch of decants. February 11, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

      • Annie O: A perfect circle . . . a whole and tender thing. February 11, 2015 at 1:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: It is! 🙂 I also gave her a bottle of Aerin’s Waterlily Sun, which smells delicious on her. February 12, 2015 at 3:55am Reply

          • Carol: I just ordered a sample of Aerin’s Waterlily Sun, I can’t wait. February 15, 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

            • Victoria: Hope that you like it. It’s not an overly complicated perfume, and it’s pretty. February 16, 2015 at 7:26am Reply

      • Alicia: I was also very influenced by my mother and grandmather. My mother would go once a year to buy perfumes in Paris. With time I smelled all of them, and acquired a taste for chypres (paricularly Femme and Crepe de Chine. Mitsouko took much longer).As a teenager I wore Miss Dior, and at College Scherrer. My grandmother wore very light florals, lavenders and Guerlain Cologne Imperial. Now I have become very eclectic. I love vintage, big houses and niche. Really that is indifferent to me. What I love is the fragrance. There are some brands that I m not very fond of, such as Penhaligon, and other that I practically like everything they produce, Malle and Tauer. There are very few Chanels I don’t like, if any. Carons are not quite the same as my mother’s,but I still wear several of them; Guerlain has several of my loves, L’Heure Bleue, Chamade and Nahema, and many others I enjoy on and off. Still, although I have not changed in years my great favorites, I have added to them. I am an explorer, not so much because of a desire for adventure, but because to discover a lovely new scent is such a joyful experience. Fragrances offer an endless journey of discovery, and that delights me. February 12, 2015 at 1:03pm Reply

        • Victoria: This is an absolutely magical way to become introduced to scent, through the women around you. My grandmother and my mom loved perfume, and since in the Soviet days, perfume was expensive (a bottle of Diorissimo would cost my mom’s monthly student stipend!) and hard to find, it acquired an even more luxury status. If you said, “she’s wearing a real French perfume,” you conveyed someone’s allure, glamour and elegance and more. But I think that I got my love of scents from my great-grandmother who was an avid gardener and my father’s mother, who knew about plants and forest herbs and made medicinal mixtures. I never wore perfume of any kind until I was a teenager, since it was not considered appropriate, but I smelled plenty of wonderful things around me. February 12, 2015 at 1:34pm Reply

  • yellow_cello: I LOVE this! One of my favourite perfume articles ever 🙂 February 11, 2015 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Very happy to hear this. February 11, 2015 at 12:08pm Reply

  • cs: I keep surprising myself. This is what I like about my perfume journey (just begun, and mostly thanks to this blog). I thought I was the type for austere, unisex blends. Nothing too loud, nothing too feminine. I do love my elegant perfumes (Bottega Veneta and Marni were my first), but I also fell in love with Lolita Lempicka, and I crave a fix of Hypnotique Poison now and then. I adore Bois des Iles, but I’m also considering Tocade. I even put JLo Miami Glow on my to-try list this morning! What’s going on with me? February 11, 2015 at 8:24am Reply

    • Katy: You are a fragrance omnivore and realize perfumes to love and wear can be found high and low! February 11, 2015 at 9:28am Reply

      • cs: It is a fun journey of self discovery, isn’t it? I find that I am costantly reflecting of my aesthetic choices, on what I find beautiful and appealing, and on how to put my impressions into words. It’s also easier to experiment with scents than with clothes. No body type to consider! what a trip! February 11, 2015 at 10:09am Reply

        • Jackie: Oh, so true, cs! Recently, my husband and I were going to a party where a lot of stylish people would be, and I said “Oh god, what am I going to wear?” and he said “Never mind that, which perfume are you going to wear?” “Oh!” I said, “that’s the easy part!”

          I may feel like I look all wrong, but I’m confident in my perfume choices!

          On that note, I have been liberated by the idea — gleaned from Victoria’s blog — of creating a perfume “wardrobe,” rather than hunting for that elusive “signature scent.”

          Love the post, V, and the discussion! February 11, 2015 at 12:27pm Reply

          • limegreen: Thank you, Victoria, for such a stimulating post (as always!).
            Jackie — LOL at your comment.
            I always choose my perfume first before I even think about what to wear to work. Once I choose a scent, I know what to wear with it! It’s all about priorities! 🙂 February 11, 2015 at 8:47pm Reply

            • Victoria: I picked my perfume before I picked my wedding outfit. Yes, it all about priorities. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 4:08am Reply

              • Hannah: I am really not a wedding person, but after seeing requests for wedding perfume recommendations, I’ve been keeping my wedding perfume in mind. Even though I am not in a relationship of any kind.
                May I ask what your wedding perfume was? I wanna get married in saffron, but it’s too hard to find a saffron perfume without rose so I’m usually disappointed. Costume National 21 might work. I have a bit of time to think about it, though! February 12, 2015 at 4:26am Reply

                • Victoria: I wore Frederic Malle Carnal Flower. On a warm Indian morning, this big white floral was the right choice, I think.

                  If you want saffron, I suggest looking for a good quality saffron attar. It might already be diluted enough to be worn on skin. Or you can dab it on fabric or a handkerchief. That’s the traditional Middle Eastern way to wear scents, and it does create a great sillage. February 12, 2015 at 4:28am Reply

              • limegreen: I always felt a wedding perfume had to smell especially delectable as one is being hugged. Carnal Flower must have been uber delectable on a warm day, it’s a wonderful olfactory image, Victoria! What a trail of beautiful fragrance you must have left in your wake. 🙂
                On the flip side, i guess no one was going to hug Kate Middleton on her wedding day — I was sent a GWP sample of Illuminum White Gardenia (her wedding perfume) and it was difficult to understand how this was that special outside of the price and exclusivity of a British “guild” — I guess she could not wear anything French, or gasp, American. It smelled nothing like gardenia, or anything white floral, sort of a wan fragrance. To say it was soapy would be taking away from some really lovely soaps! February 12, 2015 at 10:26am Reply

                • Karen: Carnal Flower is soooo gorgeous. Like being wrapped up in a shimmery, incandescent flower. February 12, 2015 at 10:32am Reply

                • Victoria: I heard that the version she wore was different from what Illuminum ended up selling to the public, which is a blatant case of misrepresentation! February 12, 2015 at 1:09pm Reply

                  • limegreen: What a terrible trick, at those prices! Well, I’m relieved that she wore something more special! February 12, 2015 at 11:44pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Isn’t it! I refused to acquire a sample or even review it for that very reason. It’s just deceptive. February 13, 2015 at 9:19am

                • angeldiva: Hi Limegreen,
                  They certainly didn’t invite Americans to their wedding… But, when they wanted to raise funds for their Alma Mater College- guess where they came?
                  To , gasp, America, and grabbed $10,000. per person for the dinner.
                  🙂
                  P. February 13, 2015 at 10:04pm Reply

              • Jackie: That’s amazing, Victoria! And, Carnal Flower: what a stunning choice! I hadn’t discovered perfume when I got married — at least not to this obsessive extent — wish I had. I think I wore Ferragamo pour Femme: nice enough, but y’know….

                limegreen! I’m going to try your trick: maybe putting perfume on first will help me figure out what to wear in the mornings. 😉 February 12, 2015 at 1:16pm Reply

                • Victoria: As limegreen says, it’s definitely a delicious, “hug me tight” perfume. February 12, 2015 at 1:18pm Reply

                • limegreen: Jackie — this is why it’s called a perfume WARDROBE, thanks to Victoria! 🙂 February 13, 2015 at 7:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re following your nose! 🙂 The best way to approach anything is to keep an open-mind and not to have preconceived notions about what you may or may not like. Your tastes will evolve, and as you smell more, you will find more nuances and more aspects to enjoy in your favorite perfumes. This is what I love about this hobby. February 11, 2015 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Annette: Oh, how lovely, Victoria, you made a post of Sofie’s comment!
    There are so many things worth discussing here. Let me concentrate on just a few.
    I would always advocate wearing whatever you like, no matter what Mr Turin or Ms Smellybeautifully say about a particular scent. But, unfortunately, some people are too timid (and it applies to many other spheres of their lives) to trust themselves rather than experts.
    But… Is there something like a canon in the perfume world (like a canon of great works in literarure) that everybody is expected to know and appreciate? Should there be such a canon? And who should decide which perfumes must be included? These are very difficult questions for me to answer. Because although I love and worship Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, can I really claim that every person on this planet should know it and love it in equal measure? (Victoria, I’m looking at you:)) The same with perfume. Should everybody love Chanel No 5?
    But then if not, then what is greatness in the field of human endeavour? Is everything subjective? Are Picasso’s paintings as beautiful as any amateur’s watercolour I happen to like?
    Hmmm… I am forever struggling with such questions. I will be very interested in your opinions, lovely fragrant people. February 11, 2015 at 8:34am Reply

    • Katy: I think it is a constant and human struggle to find perfume, books, art that speaks to our soul. What is the Kafka quote? “A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” I think he would forgive us if we apply this notion to other fields of creative endeavor. We all have been smelling, reading, looking throughout our respective journeys and what we end up loving or discarding is deeply personal and quite complex. I think spending time reading fragrance blogs and contributing to them indicates a seriousness of mind, a dedication to one’s own ideas and a respect for the ideas of others that is the opposite of timid. It is very human to desire consensus when we love something, we are not meant to be alone, we are after all social animals but that being said, I am not afraid to admit I love fragrances other people loath and I loath fragrances other people love. February 11, 2015 at 9:26am Reply

      • Annette: Ha, do you know how protective I can get about my perfumes which are not generally loved? To the point of not wearing them outside! For fear of hearing a negative comment. (“It’s my baby, my helpless baby, and you dare frown at it?!”) So I have a quiet time with them in the privacy of my home:) Sigh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody loved what I love? February 11, 2015 at 10:22am Reply

        • Michaela: Really?! I’m sure you can wear them outside no problem. Most people don’t care anyway.
          I apply less not to bother people around me, but I still wear whatever perfume I’m in a mood for. At home I enjoy them by more and bigger sprays. February 11, 2015 at 10:33am Reply

          • Katy: Annette, go for it! That you love it is enough. You do not have to justify your choice or your pleasure to anyone! February 11, 2015 at 10:59am Reply

            • Annette: Katy and Michaela, you are probably right! Maybe what I call “protectiveness” is in fact timidity? So, dear world, tomorrow you’ll have the pleasure of meeting Sotto la Luna (mushrooms, yummy:)) February 11, 2015 at 11:09am Reply

          • Victoria: Yes, most people don’t notice things like that! February 12, 2015 at 3:22am Reply

            • Annette: Hmm… I don’t know. I ventured outside today drenched – as promised – in Sotto la Luna and have already had two things happen to me. First, my mom told me to my face that my fragrance was bad, and then I went to my favourite cafe for a cup of coffee and there was a patron there with a very friendly dog. The doggy came up to me, sniffed me and… got a regular sneezing fit! I was mortified! Luckily, nobody said a word. And the day is not yet over. February 12, 2015 at 8:34am Reply

              • Karen: Ha! Keep us all posted! Maybe a possible separate column, instead of most complimented perfumes – most critized perfumes! But the question is, is it making you happy? Maybe in an hour or two you will smell like heaven! February 12, 2015 at 10:35am Reply

                • Annette: I smelled like heaven from the very beginning:) Sotto la Luna is fabulous. So no second thoughts in this area! February 12, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

              • Michaela: Sorry to laugh, but the dog was so funny. I got used to it. My dogs turn their noses away in distress if I try to present them perfumes on my hand, but they inhale yuck-y scents with great pleasure. They have very different tastes. Don’t let the dog discourage you, please.
                Maybe your mom is the only person for whom you should consider wearing some other fragrance around her. I still think strangers don’t really care, if they noticed. February 12, 2015 at 10:54am Reply

                • Annette: Michaela, this is actually comforting. Maybe the doggy showed his appreciation in this way. He couldn’t very well have said: “I love your perfume, pretty human animal,” could he?:) February 12, 2015 at 11:19am Reply

              • Victoria: I completely agree with Michaela on this. 🙂 Out of the people you encountered, maybe, only your mom’s opinion is relevant. So, just don’t wear that perfume around her. But Sotto la Luna is beautiful! February 12, 2015 at 1:08pm Reply

                • Annette: Yes, I know I shouldn’t expose my mom to such unorthodox fumes. But… what about the dog? Will I have a herd of stray dogs following me next time?
                  PS So happy you think Sotto la Luna is beautiful:) February 12, 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

                  • Victoria: Fingers crossed that you attracted only one particularly curious dog. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 3:04pm Reply

              • bregje: Haha,that’s so funny! And recognizable;).
                My cat hates Lola by Marc Jacobs.First time i wore it she scratched me and hissed at me.(she’d never done that before;i was shocked)
                But of course the noses of animals are a lot more sensitive than ours and they are pretty strong perfumes…

                I do understand that it’s hard to wear something other people hate.
                But then again it is subjective.
                You just wrote that everybody is supposed to love chanel 5,well let me just step forward and admit:i don’t;)
                I know it’s a sin and i prayed to God many times to please let me like it next time i try it,but it hasn’t worked yet. February 12, 2015 at 8:38pm Reply

                • Annette: Oh, no, no, Bregje, I ASKED if everybody should love No 5. That’s different. And by the way, I am in your camp – not an enthusiast myself! And please, stop repenting for your sin:) Unless you hit someone with a bottle of the said perfume, you have nothing to feel ashamed of!
                  But that dog stopped me in my tracks. I had always tried to be considerate to people. Should I consider animals now when I reach for any perfume?:) February 13, 2015 at 1:13am Reply

                  • Bregje: Sorry, my fault;). I write down my reply too quickly. And NO! You should not consider animals as they generally don’t take us into consideration either. And now that I think about it that also goes for most people so spray away girl!!! February 13, 2015 at 2:11am Reply

                    • bregje: of course i meant ‘wrote down my reply too quickly’ but my i-phone and the internet were not collaborating with me 😉 February 13, 2015 at 4:34pm

    • Michaela: I also feel good to have a guide. Not someone to impose, just a good guide. So I can decide my way.
      I think it’s best to know masterpieces, as possible. The same for any art form: books, paintings, sculptures, music, and perfume. You can’t possibly love them all, and you certainly don’t have to. But nothing, nothing in the world compares to the emotion you feel when you suddenly know one of them is meant for you.
      I also trust life is more than masterpieces. There is beauty in great and small things. so I can worship Picasso but enjoy a beautiful no name watercolor on my wall, I love Crime and Punishment but I read fairy tales on my holidays, and so on. February 11, 2015 at 9:45am Reply

      • Annette: Michaela, yes, this emotion is incomparable! It’s as if someone spoke directly to the core of you (or soul, if you like). And by that someone I mean a perfumer, a writer, a poet, a composer or any other creator. It’s really wonderful! February 11, 2015 at 10:30am Reply

      • Victoria: But of course, one has to admit that it does take some confidence to admit disliking something. It took me a while to admit that I really dislike Crime and Punishment and most of Dostoyevsky. This in part derives from the fact that I find many of his political ideas unpalatable. And his “in this life purgatory” ideas runs completely counter to my thinking. It felt liberating to admit it to oneself at one point and just not force myself to “get” Dostoyevsky.

        But on these pages, I want everyone to feel comfortable to share their thoughts on perfume, regardless of their “perfumista status” or the number of perfumes they have smelled. While you can plow through a book, wearing a perfume just because it’s a “canon” is just not right. Wear No 5 only if you truly love, but if Pink Sugar is what makes you happy, then let your sillage be caramel scented. February 12, 2015 at 3:10am Reply

        • Annette: Victoria, don’t get me wrong! I am no Dostoyevsky preacher here:). I will freely admit that I couldn’t get through his Demons and I skipped long passages of The Brothers Karamazov. There! But Crime and Punishment just spoke to me and I read it at the age of 16 or 17, and not because I had to, but because I found it in my parents’ bookcase and felt curious. May I also add that M. Proust is completely lost on me?:) February 12, 2015 at 8:25am Reply

          • maja: Oh, this is great, I must have read Demons and The Brothers Karamazov at least three times. 🙂 But you must like to delve into the evil side of human soul. February 12, 2015 at 12:40pm Reply

            • Victoria: Maybe, it didn’t help that at the time I studied post-socialist politics and economic development and that fulfilled my quote for dark and brooding. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 12:47pm Reply

            • Annette: Oh, I like delving into evil recesses of human mind! But somehow Raskolnikov’s dark side was more, shall I say, attractive to me:) February 12, 2015 at 2:31pm Reply

          • Victoria: Oh, please preach about Dostoyevsky! In fact, your comments about his work made me ponder something I didn’t for a while, namely, why does he leave me so cold. It’s interesting that out of the Russian writers, two of their greats (Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy) are my least favorites. But I wouldn’t part with my collection of Pushkin, Chekhov or Turgenev stories. February 12, 2015 at 1:07pm Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: I read Russian literature when I was young. i felt in Dostoyesky a deep compassion with ”la condition humaine”, and even with animals (the beaten horse). I loved the short stories of Gogol (“Petersburgse Vertellingen”-Dutch translation) and enjoyed very much Paustovsky.
              Somhow I lost Russian Literature on my way.Must reread it one day. February 12, 2015 at 2:16pm Reply

              • Victoria: Gogol is in a class of his own to me! He was also influenced by a fellow Ukrainian living in Petersburg, Narezhnyi, whose style has a similar down-to- earth humor and satirical elements. Not sure if he was translated in Dutch or English, though. February 12, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: Vasilii Narezhnyi. Could not find a translation.
                  Maybe in the future. February 13, 2015 at 4:03pm Reply

        • Xenia: Bakhtin’s reading of Dostoevsky was incredibly influential and left a great impression on me, reshaping my views of his writing and opening new ways of understanding it. So I would strongly recommend reading it if you have time.
          But going back to the topic of this post, don’t you think that there is something slightly utopian in this idea about freedom of choice. While, it is entirely subjective, it is at the same time very much predetermined (lets say I am thinking here about Kantian rose – everyone likes a flower and it does not need to be explained) and a certain level of refinement and development is on the one hand expected and on the other inevitable. In other words it will happen to you and in order to be able to communicate at the desired level it has to happen. It does not mean that you need to wear everything you do not love, but what you need to be able to do is to differentiate between well done stuff and not so great, even if it will never make the top of your list…. February 16, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

          • Victoria: I don’t think so. All I’m saying is that we should feel comfortable to wear perfumes we like, be open-minded to try something new and be curious enough to venture out of our comfort zone. Kant himself has contended that sensations depend on our imagination. February 16, 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

            • Xenia: Thank you for your reply. Somehow your article stayed with me and I was thinking about it for some time, so I thought I will carry on here just for a little bit longer.
              I, you see, agree with not apologizing for the choices one makes and I am in reality all for the freedom of choice. But as a concept I find it a very contested terrain that tries to please many and covers the interest of only few. I remember my teacher, who I came to respect during years of studying art history once told me what at a time seemed to be unthinkable to me. He said: there is a good and bad art, and how I know it, you ask, well I have seen a lot of art in my life. Now I think he was right, unfortunately. I think there are bad choices and they are bad mostly because they promote bad options, and we end up in a viscous circle which perfume industry depicts better than most. I believe that people should not be content with their choices if only at the beginning of the journey. After all, there always comes a time when you trust yourself and there is always a time when you need advice. Perhaps, I would want to see more negative reviews and if they are debatable it is even better. critical thinking and all… I guess what I am saying is that though ideally I would like to agree with what you are proposing, I believe there are a lot of buts and ifs in this proposition… February 18, 2015 at 6:56am Reply

              • Victoria: That’s not my point, though. I never said that there are no bad perfumes or that one should be content with whatever one likes, not try something totally different, not try to learn more, not try to understand why one likes something or not, whether at the beginning of one’s journey or at any other point. There are after all negative reviews on this blog and the ranking system. As you smell more (which is what I’m encouraging in this article and many other pieces on the blog), you’ll inevitably hone your nose. But as with literature, one can’t read only the Big and Important books all the time, and there is room for lighthearted, easy pieces. Same with perfume. One’s taste isn’t measured by how many chypres or expensive niche perfumes one likes. More important is the openness, curiosity and desire to make new discoveries. If I had to define “good taste” by something, I’d use those concepts. February 18, 2015 at 7:31am Reply

    • Alicia: Annette, your questions go the the fundamentals of eesthetics: are there values in art, whatever the art? Yes, there are. Leonardo’s paintings are superior to Luini’s, Cervantes superior to all the novelists of his time, and so on and so forth. Chanel #5 and Eau Sauvage are works of perfumery incomparably better than whatever is sold in the Paris Hilton brand. I believe that what Victoria is saying is not that there are no masterpieces in perfumery, but that each individual should enjoy freely what gives most pleasure to him or her. That doesn’t mean that all perfumes are of equal aesthetic value, but that tastes differ. Now, taste is also a matter of education. An experienced nose aquires some refinement.In my csse it took me some time to admire and enjoy Mitsouko, and to the persent day I am not a fan of Joy. The same thing can be said about elegance. Rarely a teenager is elegant. There are things that have to be lived, and then become ours.I suspect the same thing happens with fragrances. Or with wines. One acquires a taste for quality, But let’s not blame ourselves for enjoing the house wine. February 11, 2015 at 10:03am Reply

      • Annette: Alicia, I salute you for saying aloud what I was afraid to say, namely, that taste is also acquired, that it needs education, refinement etc. That is not very politically correct:)
        On a lighter note, I remember a heated discussion with a friend of mine who said that drinking real champagne from Champagne had left him cold, and that champagnes from any supermarket were equally good (or bad, I don’t know:)). February 11, 2015 at 10:40am Reply

        • rainboweyes: Taste definitely needs education, I think many of us, perfumistas, learned to appreciate and love some scents only after years of sniffing. Which does not mean that each and every masterpiece has to be loved! I admire many scents which I would never wear (no. 5, for instance, or Shalimar).
          As to the Champagne discussion – there are many sparkling wines in France, and also elsewhere in Europe (e.g. my beloved Crèmant de Bourgogne), that can compete with Champagne wines but are not allowed to use the protected name. I’m not sure if you can buy them at the supermarket, though 😉

          I think that I’ve reached the serenity phase in my perfume journey (finally!). My to-buy list has never been so short! February 11, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

          • Annette: Ha, ha, and you know what? I have never drunk Champagne champagne in my life! So my arguments to my friend were along the lines: What makes you so confident to state that something is superior?
            And I think you might have a point in saying that admiration and true love are sometimes two different things. A painting I admire in a museum might not be something I would want to hang in my home and look at it every single day. February 11, 2015 at 11:59am Reply

            • rainboweyes: This reminds me that good friend of ours had an art print of Edward Munch’s The Scream hanging in their family room. It gave me the creeps every time we visited them…
              I think Haute Couture could be another example of admiration of art vs wearability. February 11, 2015 at 3:46pm Reply

              • Annette: Oh, my goodness! Was it some form of self-imposed punishment for transgressions-that-can’t-be-named? I’d rather hang a proverbial Deer at Bay on my wall. At least it would make me chuckle.
                And your remark about Haute Couture is great! Aren’t there perfumes that we love to sniff or even inhale deeply, but not necessarily wear? February 11, 2015 at 3:59pm Reply

            • Victoria: I also agree with you. It’s possible to admire a fragrance like No 5 without wanting to wear it. For instance, I don’t like Joy, as I mentioned earlier, but I can see what makes it such a legend–the quality of its ingredients, the dramatic personality. February 12, 2015 at 3:46am Reply

          • Victoria: I love Crèmant de Bourgogne! It was an unexpected discovery at our local wine store here in Brussels. February 12, 2015 at 3:43am Reply

            • rainboweyes: Yay, another Crèmant de Bourgogne lover! Have you ever been to Burgundy, Victoria? It’s one of my favourite travel destinations in France. Great wines, great cuisine, great scenery. I remember, on our first trip we stayed at Chateauneuf-en-Auxois. It was like entering another world: http://www.francethisway.com/places/chateauneufenauxois.php February 12, 2015 at 5:36am Reply

              • Victoria: I visited once, and I can’t wait to return. It’s such a beautiful place, and there is really so much to discover there. The scenery is postcard perfect. February 12, 2015 at 6:29am Reply

              • Annette: Now I definitely need to try this wine:) February 12, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

                • bregje: And if you’re ever in France:try Pol Roger champagne!
                  It’s so good,especially the rose one. February 12, 2015 at 8:48pm Reply

                  • Annette: I am writing it down. Thanks for the tip:) February 13, 2015 at 1:44am Reply

        • Victoria: I don’t think there is much controversy to saying that taste for certain things is acquired. After all, if you haven’t grown up smelling waxy-starchy aldehydes on your mom or eating cilantro (also contains those pesky aldehydes), the first exposure to both may be quite a shock. It takes time to develop new, positive associations.

          But does education instantly make one more refined? I guess, that’s the debatable part, and it depends on the type of education. I was thinking about it not long ago when I was visiting the museum of folk art in Kyiv. The embroideries and art works collected there were of extraordinary beauty and polish, and most were done by completely illiterate men and women. Sensitivity to beauty is very much about one’s instincts, about paying attention to beauty around you. And to me, enjoyment of perfume is very much in this vein. All one needs is to use one’s nose, and the rest will all fall into place. February 12, 2015 at 3:36am Reply

          • Michaela: Very good comparison! I like this comment a lot February 12, 2015 at 4:15am Reply

          • Alicia: No, Victoria, not instantly and not always. But education puts you in contact with beauty, and from there you grow in intimacy with the beautiful object, and you may come to love it. Loving something beautiful may be a coup de foudre, but often you need time and longer acquaintance to recognize that beauty. It is rather like love. You feel the original attraction, but true love requires that the lovers know each other. That is what education does: it helps us to know the beloved. February 12, 2015 at 5:55am Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, of course, but as I wrote above, it depends on the type of education. Believe me, having experienced the Soviet education system, I’ve seen how education can produce the very opposite of refinement or sensitivity to beauty. But now we’re talking about in abstract terms and perhaps nothing that’s to do with perfume. My only point is that to enjoy scents, one needs to have an open mind and be curious. The rest will come naturally. February 12, 2015 at 6:21am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: This reminds me of Malevich. He had not much education in his youth, but he saw peasant embroidery and peasant painting. He shared their instinct for art and beauty, and maybe that made him such a visionair.(of course he studied painting later). February 12, 2015 at 8:03am Reply

            • Victoria: If you don’t know her work, please take a look at Kateryna Bilokur’s paintings. She was mostly self-taught, from extremely poor background, and yet she had this incredible sensitivity to beauty and refinement. She mostly found it by spending time around flowers. Perfumer Sophia Grojsman also mentioned that when she was little, they lived in extremely strained circumstances and she had no real toys, so she fashioned them out of flowers and could spend hours smelling and admiring plants. February 12, 2015 at 12:55pm Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you! February 12, 2015 at 2:18pm Reply

        • Alicia: Thank you very much, Annette. My whole life has been devoted to poetry, from ancient to contemporary. Poets don’t care much about political correctness. Only bad poets do. February 12, 2015 at 5:46am Reply

      • SophieC: Oh I think there is definitely such a thing as good taste. I just think that that shouldn’t hinder our ability to allow ourselves to enjoy things that aren’t in that definition. After all I love champagne, but sometimes it goes rather well with a simple meal, and sometimes I crave something as ridiculous as a cherry coke flavour! The wide range of variety creates pleasure, and allows, in some ways, the masterpieces of high art, to stand out all the more. February 11, 2015 at 12:54pm Reply

        • Annette: Yes, I totally agree. I love George Eliot but a girl needs to read a pulp detective story from time to time:) Only… why are such pleasures called “guilty pleasures”? I protest! February 11, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

          • Victoria: I’m with you, Annette. I really don’t like the term “guilty pleasures”. People, especially women, are made to feel guilty enough as it is, without having their pleasures to be tainted with this dreadful feeling. February 12, 2015 at 3:57am Reply

      • Victoria: I’m not a fan of Joy either. 🙂

        One acquires a taste for quality, and that’s what smelling or tasting widely does. To me, perfume is more like food in that our early experiences and memories shape our palates. I’ve acquired a taste for sushi, blue cheeses and bitter greens, but nothing makes me happier than a bowl of my grandmother’s dumplings with chicken. February 12, 2015 at 3:19am Reply

    • Victoria: I loved Sofie’s comment, and her discussion with Katy crystallized something that I have been thinking about for a while. There are definitely objective standards which one can use to judge a perfume, both on technical and artistic merits, and there are certain established Greats. For instance, I tried outline it here: http://boisdejasmin.com/2014/01/fragrances-that-influenced-perfume-history-100-great-perfumes-series-5-10.html
      Of course, depending on whom you ask (American perfumers or French perfumes), this list may be contested, but mostly people agree that Shalimar and Mitsouko and No 5, etc. are among the uncontested iconic perfumes.

      But there is another aspect that makes perfume unique. And it’s your personal history that will influence how you approach scents and what emotions certain smells evoke. For instance, I may find Dolce & Gabbana for Her cloyingly sweet, but you may find that it evokes a delightful childhood memory of eating marshmallows. So, who is to judge that choice? February 11, 2015 at 12:31pm Reply

      • Jackie: Hi Victoria! Seems you and I are typing away at the same time on similar subjects. I love what you say here about the interplay between the uncontested technical and artistic merits, on the one hand, and the subjectivity people bring with them. I was just making comments below on the interplay (and/or tension) between the objective and the subjective! Isn’t this what makes all the arts so interesting! February 11, 2015 at 1:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: I agree with you! You put it much better than I did, and I think we were pretty much saying the same thing. February 12, 2015 at 3:54am Reply

          • Jackie: Ah, thank you, Victoria, but, no, you always put everything so eloquently. February 12, 2015 at 1:18pm Reply

            • Edward: Agree with you, Jackie. That is why I always read her posts. These do not only enlighten me on anything fragrant but, after a very stressful day, her choice of words and the manner she wrote/said it is something that calms me, if you know what I mean. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 2:27pm Reply

              • Victoria: Thank you, Edward! I’m so touched reading this. February 12, 2015 at 3:09pm Reply

              • Jackie: I do know what you mean, Edward. Aside from an obvious intelligence and a refreshing absence of ego, there is a positiveness, an ease, and a lightness of tone in Victoria’s writing that I find both calming and uplifting. It elevates me — makes me feel, at least for the moment, like a better person. She always speaks to our best selves. 🙂 February 13, 2015 at 2:00am Reply

                • Sofie: I wholeheartedly agree with Edward and Jackie. Balm for the soul. February 13, 2015 at 9:57am Reply

                  • Victoria: I’ve been feeling somewhat out of sorts, but really, reading such nice words is a boost. Thank you very much. February 13, 2015 at 3:56pm Reply

    • Jackie: Love your comments, Annette! Are you an English professor by any chance? Haha! I was thinking of analogies to literature and the “canon” when I read this post too! In terms of canon, my thinking is that, as in literature, it is useful to be familiar with the canon and be able to appreciate its works, but not necessarily like them. But also, it is important to be aware of the cultural (never neutral) construction of that canon, which is not objective! As you say, “who decides?” … The English Lit “canon” was constructed through a history of sexist and racist exclusions! The canon wars of the 70’s+ expanded (exploded?) the canon to include women, non-white-Western works, etc, though the largely white-male canon, stubbornly, remains at the centre.

      The history of perfume has been studied by a lot of people, but I wonder if a critical-cultural study has been done, one which looks at the cultural factors that have shaped its “canon.” I know a lot of people have discussed MARKETING as a factor (a huge one), but what about other factors that have constructed it. Hm. I feel a thesis coming on….

      Sorry: verbose! My point is that I think it’s instructive to have a grounding in the “canon” (perfume or lit) not because they are necessarily “the best,” but because they are the basis of the conversation.

      If we are conversant in that language, then we bring to new works (lit, perfumes) a deeper appreciation. I love reading people’s stories on V’s blog of revisiting a perfume they used to dislike and finding their tastes have changed as their perfume knowledge has expanded. February 11, 2015 at 12:57pm Reply

      • Jackie: Didn’t mean to assume above that there are no studies of the cultural history of perfume’s canon formation, just that I don’t know of them. Mind you, I haven’t really researched it yet, but it’s on my mind. Would LOVE to know of any works on this people can point me to. February 11, 2015 at 1:30pm Reply

        • Annette: Jackie, I love your comments! Yes, this “canon” thing is difficult. Yes, it should be revised and discussed, and plenty of articles and books have been written on the subject. But I am afraid that drawing up such a canon is virtually impossible. Because we are products of our traditions and without deep and long studies will never fully understand and appreciate things that are dear or “canonical” in other traditions. Just an example. When I was at University I had a Japanese penfriend, also a student. And once she wrote me that she had never heard the name Shakespeare. To say that I was shocked is an understatement. But… Japanese culture is so much older than our Western world! The refinement they had when we in Europe still built primitive huts, so to speak. And is Shakespeare “canonical” only for the Westerners? And The Tale of Genji only for the Asians? Ha! Is – or should – Mitsouko be canonical for the Asians? And will I ever be able to understand the mystery of perfume in the Middle East? After all they are the creators of perfumes! Shouldn’t we learn from them as Old Masters instead of dismissing their attars as mere curiosities? Yeah, difficult questions!:) February 11, 2015 at 3:12pm Reply

          • Jackie: I couldn’t agree more, Annette. Canons are culturally relative, and while the “Western Canon” likes to think of itself (and its criteria) as universal, as your examples show, it is certainly not! February 11, 2015 at 3:18pm Reply

        • Victoria: I wonder. There are a few books on the subject like The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination by Alain Corbin or Aroma: The Cultural History of Scent by Constance Classen, but I don’t know much about the formation of canons specifically. February 12, 2015 at 3:53am Reply

          • Jackie: Oops, not sure how that happened. This was meant to go as a reply below to your story about your prof, Victoria.

            Here, I meant to write a huge THANK YOU!!! I will be hunting those books down asap! February 12, 2015 at 1:01pm Reply

            • Victoria: Let me know how you like them! I have never finished Russell’s work, although it’s not because it wasn’t good. Mostly, because my attention shifted someplace else. I’m still on Plato. But I have the book on my shelf. February 12, 2015 at 1:25pm Reply

              • Jackie: Sorry, Victoria, that was a misplaced comment. I didn’t mean Russell; I meant the two perfume books (The Foul and the Fragrant and The Cultural History of Scent) you recommended above. Can’t wait to get my hands on these!! Beats boring old Bertrand any day! 😉 Thank you so much. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 1:43pm Reply

                • Victoria: Ah, those books are fascinating, but the style is a bit dry.

                  Russell is a good writer, I have to say, but it’s not a quick, easy read. February 12, 2015 at 3:03pm Reply

                  • Solanace: And not a very good historian of philosophy, if I may say such a thing. But seriously, he is too positivism-oriented. No wonder you didn’t have much patience for him! February 13, 2015 at 2:52am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Do you read Plato? What is your favourite? February 12, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

                • Victoria: Euthyphro is such a great read, and it’s written with such a wonderful wit and sense of humor. I always chuckle reading it. February 12, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

    • solanace: I find these questions very interesting! More than a decade ago, I had this amazing art history professor who changed my life. I used to be such a snob. But now, in hindsight, how silly is it to think that people will be judging you at the movie theater line? Who cares?The greatest art works are never praised in their own times, anyway. I believe we must trust our own guts, our own taste, our own brain, if we are to get any fruition of it all. I remember it was the year when the first American Pie was in the movies. When this professor told us to go watch it, I was horrified, being in my Bunuel-Bergman-Goddard phase, but you know what? It was fun, very fun. Great, even. So now I’m like that, I smell everything, watch everything, read everything. High brow, low brow, it’s the mix that makes life fun. Sometimes I agree with the canon – another Crime and Punishment fan here, that crazy Raskolnikov! But I realize that it’s in the canon because it’s good, and not the other way around. February 12, 2015 at 2:50am Reply

      • Victoria: I might have shared this story, but in grad school, a very famous professor stopped to chat with us students, and he asked what books we had on our night stands. Everyone mentioned all of these Big and Important books (yours truly mentioned Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy). He sighed and said, “You guys are typical grad students. So boring.” 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 4:17am Reply

        • Karen: Wouldn’t it have been great if someone replied Jackie Collins! And wearing Rockin Rio while reading it! After seeing the comment on Rockin Rio I want a bottle simply for the name. February 12, 2015 at 6:17am Reply

          • Victoria: That would have been fun! February 12, 2015 at 6:23am Reply

          • Victoria: If you want a fun, bubbly fruity floral, it will hit the spot. Not sure if it’s still sold, but if it is, it should be available at most department stores. Escada has such a wide distribution. February 12, 2015 at 6:35am Reply

        • Jackie: Haha, love it, Victoria! I can relate! It was not until I was doing a doctorate in English that I discovered the pleasures of the mystery novel — albeit a short-lived phase, but it got me through the dissertation! 🙂

          It was Critical Theory, finally, that drew me to the great exodus from English to Cultural Studies, where those very distinctions between high and low are deconstructed and every cultural “text,” from pop lit, to pop music, to fashion and advertising are objects of study. (and no doubt perfume too: it is indeed a kind of “language.”)

          Back to the perfume analogy, and speaking of Rockin’ Rio, it was a strange, elusive note in the dry-down of Michael Kors Island that flung me down the perfume rabbit hole. I thought: if that note is possible, there must be more out there! ….Then I found BdJ, and a whole world opened! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 12:55pm Reply

          • Victoria: I did my grad work in Political Science, but I really wish I switched to History or Anthropology when I had a chance. Cultural Studies must have been a fascinated area.

            Perfume as a type of language is definitely something that makes sense. It may not give the same instantly understandable cues as clothes, but it conveys a lot about a person, what one likes or what one wishes to present. But what I also like is how you can use perfume purely for your own pleasure, without worrying about what others think. After all, it doesn’t flash its brand name or price as readily as clothes, and it can be the best kind of luxury. February 12, 2015 at 1:25pm Reply

            • Jackie: Aha, yes, so true! It’s a kind of language for sure (one in which some are more fluent than others), but you’re so right that one of its great pleasures is that you can also use it for your own indulgence! No complicated communications (like clothing), just pure pleasure.

              Yes, I know what you mean; I also went back and forth across disciplines, undecided, but what I was really looking for was the kind of interdisciplinariness of Cultural Studies. By the time I got to the PhD level, it was all kind of interdisciplinary anyway, at least in my field: a cross between English, Political Science, Philosophy, etc, etc. Yes, fascinating.

              The kind of thinking you learn to do in Poli Sci really shows in your writing.

              I LOVE this blog where we can have these interesting conversations! February 12, 2015 at 3:59pm Reply

              • Victoria: You can also use perfume to create your own fantasies and help yourself daydream.

                I enjoyed studying Poli Sci, but the more I delved in it, the more disenchanted I become with it. It’s a field that today prioritizes developing clever mathematical models or studying obscure issues that have no relevance to the policymakers. There are no incentives (quite, on the contrary) to develop time to studying topics that would be relevant. A study of why Congress people make “vague statements” had a ridiculous $200,000 price tag of it; yes, funded by the US taxpayer money. In the end, my studies were also quite interdisciplinary, with lots of history and economics classes. February 13, 2015 at 9:10am Reply

                • Jackie: That’s a shame to pursue a passion so wholeheartedly only to become disenchanted. There’s clearly a place for abstract theory, but when it starts costing taxpayers money for obscurities like the one you mention, that just seems a little carried away. It’s wonderful that you found a way to follow another passion to which you obviously bring an intellectual mind. It’s one of the reasons I love your blog. February 13, 2015 at 1:00pm Reply

                  • Victoria: No regrets, though! It was good training. 🙂 February 13, 2015 at 3:48pm Reply

                • Kate: I think, judging by your essays Victoria, you are too much of an artist to have been satisfied with a narrow academic discipline dictated by bean-counters.

                  I am reminded of a comment by the wonderful poet Michael Donaghy, ‘I realised doing a PhD because I loved poetry was like studying vivisection because I loved dogs’. February 14, 2015 at 1:04pm Reply

                  • Cornelia Blimber: Hm. I am perfectly satisfied with the academic discipline of Greek and Latin. Not narrow at all.
                    Altough I have an artistic inclination as well: I have a trained soprano. February 14, 2015 at 2:55pm Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: Although, sorry February 14, 2015 at 2:56pm

                    • Kate: I was replying specifically to Victoria’s post above. February 14, 2015 at 6:16pm

                  • Victoria: I always thought that it was because I’m too practical (or maybe too idealistic), and none of what we were doing had any real practical value. At least, in the history department, professors were encouraged to give talks to the non-academic audiences and write books for people other than their fellow professors and students. But I liked the process of learning, reading, researching, and I liked my university very much. February 16, 2015 at 7:25am Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: I was protesting against ”a narrow academic discipline dictated by bean-counters”. February 16, 2015 at 7:34am

                    • Victoria: Unfortunately, it’s the reality of many academic fields in the US. Grants determine what you study and how you do it. But we were talking specifically about Political Science. I’m sure Kate didn’t mean it as a blanket statement about all Ph.D. programs everywhere. February 16, 2015 at 7:38am

                    • Cornelia Blimber: I studied in the good old time, but in recent years this became reality in the Netherlands as well. Nevertheless, ”narrow” is saying too much. Anyway, it’s ok, maybe it is like that in the U.S. February 16, 2015 at 8:14am

      • Michaela: Beautiful story! February 12, 2015 at 4:19am Reply

      • Annette: Great points, Solance! People tend to forget that classics were once popular fiction. Take Charles Dickens, for example. His novels, written in instalments, were read in homes and cafes, widely discussed and eagerly awaited. The whole nation cried when Little Dorrit died. If that’s not mass hysteria, then I don’t know what is:)
        PS And that crazy Sonia! February 12, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

        • Solanace: They were! And yes, that Sonia gal… Crazy, yet a typical woman, thinking she can fix that nut job. February 13, 2015 at 2:28am Reply

  • Betsy: I was anxiously awaiting a review of Tom Ford’s Velvet Orchid on this site and when Elisa gave it one star I was completely deflated. I second guessed my taste level, sense of smell, my path in life, political choices and any reason to live. Well I exaggerate, but I was shocked! Velvet Orchid is my most recent full bottle purchase and is so out of my realm of fragrance style, but I have been loving every moment wearing it this winter. I love this article confirming that I am okay! Scent is such a pleasure for me in everyday life, a freshly sliced lime is one of my favorite scents of all time…so go ahead and embrace what you love! February 11, 2015 at 9:26am Reply

    • Michaela: I love your story! February 11, 2015 at 9:46am Reply

    • Vishishta: I am wearing Tom Ford’s Black Orchid today and finding it wonderful. Even my husband who is so picky picked up the silage in the living room and said “What is that great smell?”

      It’s nice to please him as well as myself! February 11, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

    • spe: Betsy,
      Years ago, I was training for a long run with a group. One day, one of the women smelled amazing. I told her she did and she volunteered she was wearing TF Black Orchid. This scent had just been released. I was stunned. You see, I find it revolting, can’t wear it, probably I’m anosmic to something in it, etc. But on her? Glorious. Others may not like what they smell for themselves when testing a scent. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an amazing fragrance on you. Both things can be true. February 11, 2015 at 11:44am Reply

      • spe: (I didn’t mean for this comment to be specific to BO, I meant that this scenario can apply to any scent) February 11, 2015 at 11:46am Reply

    • spe: One more thing about reviews – finding someone who had your opposite preference can be as useful as finding someone who shares your preference. A couple of reviewers on this blog are my fragrance opposites (Victoria is not one of them). If they rate a fragrance highly, it’s a fragrance I can probably ignore and vice versa. February 11, 2015 at 11:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, please don’t take the negative reviews personally! So much about perfume is not only your tastes but also the way perfume develops on you. Of course, body chemistry won’t change Mitsouko into Angel, but some subtle differences can read as dramatic. I see it at work time and again.

      Absolutely embrace what you love! February 12, 2015 at 2:44am Reply

  • SophieC: Wonderful article. At this stage I have so many perfumes, many of which I love, and they run across niche to generally available. While I probably have a vague style, my mood, and everything else, changes, and so one day one thing appeals and another day another. In my mind there can be little right and wrong with this provided no one else has a major issue with what you wear, and there is certainly far too much pleasure and self discovery in perfume (as in so many other things – food, wine, art, literature to name a few) for there to be room for snobbery.

    I also complletely agree with what I take Anette and Katy to be saying, that perfume, and the journey it can take us on, can unlock whole hidden aspects, facets and new areas of awareness – and quite frankly who cares if the perfume that triggers that is expensive, cheap or somewhere in between.

    Betsy, I also now try to not really read reviews of something I love for a while, as all that matters is you love it! February 11, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

    • Betsy: I think good advice! February 11, 2015 at 10:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t agree more with you. When people look down on celebrity perfumes, I want to point out that they are made by the same perfumers as the pricey niche stuff (and occasionally, with better quality ingredients or bigger budgets!) Perfume prices don’t match the quality all that well. So much also depends on brand and distribution. February 12, 2015 at 2:46am Reply

      • Gían: I totally agree that “Celebuscents” are nothing more than just a perfume with a novel (well, not so much anymore…) marketing approach. And I never went through that stage someone mentioned above where I was snobbish about the types of perfumes I would wear or appreciate, having always worn whatever I liked from Chanel No 5 & Serge Lutens to Old Spice & Department Store Poison purchased from discounters. But I must confess- I cannot bear the thought of liking (much less buying & wearing!) a fragrance “by” the Kardashians or Brittany Spears! So I guess I *am* a snob? I will say in my defense though I like, have, & wear Cher’s Uninhibited & Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion for Men… So does that offset my snobbishness about the Kardashians & former Teeny Boppers a bit? February 12, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

        • Victoria: The thing about celebuscents is that the celebrity in question is such an integral part of the package. If you don’t like that celebrity, it may be hard to relate to the scent. And no, there is no sense to force oneself to like anything just to prove a point! February 12, 2015 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I love perfume…always have and always will! My collection runs the gamut from niche, to classic, to retro, to start-up perfumers, and even a few department store scents. Each one on certain days is the right SOTD for me. I enjoyed all the posts on this subject! February 11, 2015 at 10:01am Reply

    • Victoria: This is such an enjoyable discussion!

      One needs to have variety of favorites, that’s for sure. February 12, 2015 at 3:11am Reply

  • meganinstmaxime: Perfectly put Victoria. I find that it’s like music for me. I love a range of music across genres, new and old and it’s just the same with perfume. I like to read reviews and write them, but you know everyone has their own peculiarities, which you start to understand but the only person who knows what they like is yourself. And the person who wrote the various perfume stages – I’m definitely at Stage 4. I’m still exploring but I don’t feel that niche is the only field of interest anymore. There’s a L’Occitaine scent that I currently have my eye on.

    Also the prices that are being charged are eye watering and you just know that it’s all about the marketing and positioning. Plus did you notice that the bell jars have increased in price. I went on the site the other day and they were 150 – 160 Euros. Eek. Well I suppose they now have to keep up with the other brands that are now far more expensive. February 11, 2015 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Exactly! Who’s to say that liking Amouage is more sophisticated than liking Gucci Guilty? (If they did, I’d just shake my head.) 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 3:21am Reply

  • Rebecca: Great article, Victoria. As always.
    As I grow older, I have come to understand the role of control and ownership in human relations. People want to tell us where to find beauty/truth and convince us that they hold the key. In rock climbing, my other passion, I hear people explaining that you are a true rock climber only if you climb outdoors, do trad climbing, whatever… it is just an attempt to own the unownable.
    Fragrance (wine, art) is a joy and if other people’s opinion matters it’s because it tells me where to look for new discoveries and enjoyment of the diversity of possible dimensions… enjoying that you love something that smells horrid to me without feeling threatened to the point of telling you that you are wrong. February 11, 2015 at 10:34am Reply

    • Michaela: …own the unownable… love it! February 11, 2015 at 10:38am Reply

    • angeldiva: Rebecca,
      Well said, you!

      P. February 11, 2015 at 8:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: You put it so well, Rebecca! Yes, indeed, it’s about control, possessing “the knowledge,” whereas the only thing one needs to keep in mind about perfume is whether the scent delights. February 12, 2015 at 3:26am Reply

  • terriallen: The comparison between literary appreciation and scent is so useful. I teach English to 12th graders. My students are not ready for Pynchon, but they are ready for Steinbeck. It is unfair to expect them to understand the inspiration that comes from cracking complexity or the heavy beauty of tragedy. They are young! But the books they love mean as much to them, can be as powerful and useful to them, as any of my greats. I try to remember to respect the legitimacy of personal experience. We love what we love, and our artistic experiences are precious to us. February 11, 2015 at 10:51am Reply

    • Jackie: Hi Terriallen! I teach University English, and made comments above about canonicity, but the other literature analogy I am thinking about this morning was twigged by Victoria’s comment that “our olfactory palettes are shaped by numerous factors, including early childhood memories, idiosyncratic preferences and particularities of our noses. It’s a fact that we all experience scents slightly differently.” I note that she says “slightly” differently because of course there are notes in the perfumes that are simply there and others than aren’t, just as there are elements in a poem, and others are not. What’s there circumscribes the reading. Of course, students bring different “memories, idiosyncratic preferences” etc. to their experience of literature, and, as you put so well, we need to respect the legitimacy of personal experience, but also readers can only interact with the elements (or notes) that are actually there!

      One of my students the other day emailed to ask if, for their poetry assignment, I wanted their “subjective opinion” of it or an “objective” interpretation of what it means to me. Perhaps this is a good question in terms of perfume!

      I replied: “This binary opposition between subjective and objective is such a bugaboo…!

      While a poem is often open to a variety of interpretations, its meaning is nevertheless delimited by the words and other elements in it. If this is what you mean by “objective,” then, yes, your own (“subjective”) reading of the poem should be determined and restricted by the objective content and form of the poem.

      A poem can’t really mean something “to you” unless the elements are there (if it reminds you of something, and your mind goes elsewhere, in a direction that has little grounding in the actual poem, then that is just your mind going elsewhere, not an interpretation of the poem itself. OTOH, a complex poem may have some personal, idiosyncratic “meaning” to you, which is fine as long as it stays close to and is supported by what’s actually on the page).

      Also, your interpretation of the poem is not really your “opinion,” but your analysis. To the extent that it is filtered through you and all the complexities that make you you, it is “subjective.” To the extent that it gets to that interpretation through analysis of the elements in the poem, it is “objective.”

      If you think a poem has multiple meanings, then say so. Poems often do operate on more than one level or have different meanings going on, and it is the interplay or tension between these various meanings that can make them so interesting!” February 11, 2015 at 1:19pm Reply

    • Jackie: To reverse the analogy, I’ve been dying to tell Victoria that her blog influenced what turned out to be a spontaneous lecture to my literature class at the beginning of term about “why study literature?”

      I always give this spiel at the beginning of term. Students often bring with them this idea that analyzing things “too much” will “ruin” the experience of enjoying them. I try to dispel this notion for them. For example, I say, studying film theory might “ruin” that innocent, naive way of watching films passively (and you may never want to watch bad movies again), but it definitely ENRICHES your experience of watching everything and expands your own canon. Same with music, art, etc.

      This year, I used my new obsession with “studying” perfume (including the “canon”) as an analogy. LOL! This really perked up their ears! I said that the more I study and learn — and the more I smell! — and break down and understand the different elements, the more I love it!!! February 11, 2015 at 1:27pm Reply

      • Annette: Jackie, John Keats would chastise you for “unweaving the rainbow”, but I agree with you! There’s beauty in understanding, in discovering things, in delving into the intricacies of something. My love and appreciation grow, not diminish, when I learn new things.
        Oh, I remembered something. I have two friends with PhDs in geology. Once, long ago, I asked them if they could look at a pebble and think: “a pebble” without automatically giving it its proper scientific name. And they both said: “No, not anymore.” But here’s the thing: when I look at a pebble and say to myself:”a pebble”, they see thousands upon thousands of years in history or prehistory, they see minerals and geological processes and what not. And I am sure they see such complex beauty that will never be accessible to me (at least where pebbles are concerned:)). February 11, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

        • Jackie: Gosh, Annette, our stars are aligned or something! LOVE your geologists story! Very poetic.

          And speaking of canonized male 😉 writers, in prepping for class this morning (if I can ever get off this perfume thread!), I’ve just been reading Walt Whitman’s “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer.” So apropos!

          When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
          When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
          When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
          When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
          How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
          Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
          In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
          Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

          Sometimes we just need to look up in perfect silence at the stars — or at that pebble — and wonder at it, and there’s nothing wrong with that unanalytical pleasure, but the “dividing and measuring” enhance and deepen that pleasure!

          For me, Victoria is the learn’d astonomer who yet still looks up in perfect silence at the stars. February 11, 2015 at 2:57pm Reply

          • Annette: “Tired and sick”? Oh, Mr Whitman, shame on you! I could pitch a tent in an astronomy lecture hall and listen enchanted to professor after professor without eating or sleeping. Oh, Mr Whitman, do you know that my greatest dream since early childhood was to become an astrophysicist? Alas, no talent for physics. So I gaze at the stars armed with my meagre knowledge of astronomy and piles of SF books and I want to know more. Mr Whitman, wouldn’t you rather smell some leaves of grass?
            And yes, Jackie, you should start preparing for those classes you have!:) February 11, 2015 at 3:29pm Reply

            • Jackie: LOL, Yes, I think he is more a nose-in-the-grass than a gazing-up-at-the-stars type guy!

              Yes, my students will soon grow “tired and sick” of me if I walk in with no prep done!;)

              Thanks for a fun and distracting conversation this morning! February 11, 2015 at 4:48pm Reply

              • Annette: Thank YOU! So much food for thought. And your students love you, I’m sure. February 11, 2015 at 6:35pm Reply

              • solanace: STREPSIADES
                Ah! they’re looking for onions. Do not give yourselves so much trouble; I know where there are some, fine big ones. But what are those fellows doing, bent all double?

                DISCIPLE
                They are sounding the abysses of Tartarus.

                STREPSIADES
                And what are their arses looking at in the heavens?

                DISCIPLE
                They are studying astronomy on their own account. But come in so that the master may not find us here.

                🙂 February 12, 2015 at 3:08am Reply

                • solanace: Aristophanes, Clouds. February 12, 2015 at 3:09am Reply

                  • Annette: Ha, ha, poor Mr Whitman! I can see his… ahem… rear studying the stars:) February 12, 2015 at 8:06am Reply

                    • solanace: I couldn’t resist. Sorry, Mr. Whitman. February 12, 2015 at 8:25am

                • Jackie: LOL! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 1:04pm Reply

          • Victoria: 🙂 I hope so!

            And I also love Annette’s story about the rocks. In perfume industry, you often encounter this idea that by explaining perfume to people, you “kill the magic.” But I really don’t think so. The more you discover how intricate and fascinating the process of perfume composition is, the more extraordinary this journey becomes. February 12, 2015 at 4:00am Reply

            • rainboweyes: No, it definitely doesn’t kill the magic! It’s like looking at a painting at the museum – I love those guided tours when a curator explains the meaning of the single details, things that I otherwise wouldn’t even have noticed… Sometimes, having some background knowledge, allows me to see a painting in a completely different perspective… February 12, 2015 at 5:58am Reply

              • Karen: And understand the symbolism and history, which otherwise would have been lost on me. February 12, 2015 at 6:12am Reply

              • Victoria: Definitely! I was at the Picasso museum in Paris not long ago, and I noticed that they had no information about the paintings and very little to guide the viewer. Apparently, the curator thought that “the art should speak for itself,” but Picasso’s work could have used some explanations. Or at least, just the context. February 12, 2015 at 6:34am Reply

                • terriallen: Have you ever noticed how serious interest in anything is a doorway to everything? It’s like, when we love something, it opens like a flower and leads us deeper and deeper into the knowable world. February 13, 2015 at 12:50pm Reply

                  • Victoria: I love the way you phrased it! It’s such a beautiful image, and it’s so true. Delving more into something opens avenues to other passions and interests. Wearing a perfume based on the attar of roses inspired me to read about the invention of distillation and then about the Moghul empire and then a novel about Delhi and so on. Or it might be the reverse–from Mumbai to jasmine absolute. February 13, 2015 at 3:53pm Reply

      • Michaela: Beautiful story! February 12, 2015 at 5:38am Reply

      • bregje: I agree with you on some points.I myself love to learn new things but sometimes theory can ruin the experience.
        You mentioned music for instance:i love music and as a teenager i was in a band.So i decided to apply to a music school(in Holland it’s called conservatorium).
        And it just knocked all the spontaneity out of me and my fellow students.
        Yes,of course you need some technique to be able to dance,paint or play the piano,write a poem.But you also have to leave some space ‘open’ so magic can come in.
        That’s why a perfectly painted painting(with all the brushstrokes in the right places) isn’t necessarily a great painting.
        And rhyming words does not always create a fantastic poem.

        Wow,as i was reading Victoria’s post yesterday i thought it would invite us to start an existential or philosophical discussion.
        And it totally did!

        Does wearing a certain scent make you superior to other people?Does being more intelligent?Does having great style and elegance?Or how many books you’ve read?

        Even though i am a victim;) of feeling superior(or inferior) from time to time:i don’t think so.
        If all people could just except(and maybe love) the differences in others/tastes in perfume there might never be a war again! February 12, 2015 at 9:22pm Reply

        • bregje: Love the Walt Whitman poem b.t.w. February 12, 2015 at 9:28pm Reply

          • bregje: I once stood in front of a gallery with my best friend and we were looking at the paintings and photographs.
            After a while he stopped at one large painting and said to me:’you know,i would like to buy art,but i never know if it’s good.This one,for example:how do i know if it’s any good?’
            So i asked him:’do you like it?’

            I’ve never seen him looking so stupefied:).
            He needed someone else to tell him to like it. a lot of people are like that.
            And i always feel so sorry for them.

            On the other hand:sometimes it’s great to hear someone tell a background story.

            I guess i prefer to sniff the fumes first and then hear the story behind it,lol February 12, 2015 at 9:53pm Reply

        • Annette: Bregje, you raise some important and relevant points. If not controversial!:)
          I’ll take your analogy to music. I have no talent whatsoever. I sing out of tune all the time, try as I might. No (obligatory) music lessons in school could remedy it. Not even one year of (obligatory) chorus practice. I am a lost cause:)
          So singing well I’ll never be. But could I listen to classical music with more emotions if someone had taught me the theory of music and the intricacies of composing instead of forcing me to sing? I don’t know. But quite possibly yes.
          Otherwise we would have to state that unless you are born with a natural aptness or talent for something, you are doomed. That learning that something will not make you a more refined or educated enthusiast.
          I know there are the impossibles. For example, a friend of mine, anosmic since early childhood. But the others?
          Yes, I know, difficult questions:) February 13, 2015 at 1:38am Reply

          • bregje: Hi Annette!
            So interesting to read your opinion. Once again it shows me that we all experience things differently and that’s really beautiful.
            Personally i don’t think i enjoy(classical or popular) music more when i know which tonesort it is written in.
            Like you already pointed out,it’s about the emotions you feel.And for me thinking and analysing aren’t emotions;).
            However,knowing what inspired an artist or composer can add a dimension.
            For instance,i liked Gloomy Sunday by Reszo Seress immediately when i heard it but when i read the story behind it and how another poet Laszlo Javor changed the original lyrics,it added some beauty to an already wonderful experience of emotions.

            But,like i said,i really enjoy reading your point of view.I was thinking about it all day and i’m going to ask my friends about their ideas and experiences.
            And don’t worry about your musical talents;it does not matter as long as you enjoy listening(or sing out loud!) to whatever you like to listen to:)
            I am,on the other hand,impressed with all your knowledge about books! There’s still so much i haven’t read yet…
            I followed the discussion about the Russians and i’ve only read War and Peace and Anna Karenina in that category.
            Strange how something like that can make me feel small and stupid;) February 13, 2015 at 5:04pm Reply

            • Annette: Hi Bregje, I’ve been thinking about what you wrote above and I must confess I still have no fixed opinion. Just more questions:) But it’s good. I like pondering things:).
              Your music analogy again. I used to hate jazz, since childhood. Then, when I was in my early 20s, a friend who studied and loved music, explained to me some concepts and structure of jazz. And step by step over the years I came to really really enjoy jazz. And now that is the type of music I most often listen to (BTW, perfect background for me when I read books:)).
              Which brings me to my next point, or question. Scientists say that people’s brains are “wired” differently. Maybe some brains need theory (or knowledge) to feel deep emotions? Otherwise some forms of beauty pass them by.
              I wonder if you have asked your friends’ opinions on the subject and if so, what they came up with. Please, let us know.
              Oh, when you wrote about feeling “small and stupid”, I cringed because that is never my intention when I give my opinion here. If I came across as someone too highbrow then I am horribly horribly embarrassed. I read books simply because they give me pleasure, and funnily enough some of those Russian classics just tickle my fancy:) February 16, 2015 at 1:31am Reply

              • bregje: Oh no,you don’t come across as highbrow at all.
                I just tried to explain that i(and i think a lot of people.You,the way you spoke about your lack of talent in music) get intimidated so quickly by other people.(kind of what Victoria’s article is about;feeling the need to apologize for your departmentstore perfume,etc)

                I always considered myself pretty well-read but sometimes i see people here write about books and then i think:oh,i haven’t read that yet and i still have to read Dostojevski too:it’s inspiring and a little humbling. Because luckily there are always books you have not read. And music you haven’t heard yet.etc.
                (I love jazz too,by the way.Although the term jazz is very broad of course;) and i’ve’ learned’ to love it,ha!But not by learning the concepts and structure but by listening and sensing)

                And i did talk to my friends and family this weekend over dinner!
                It was such an interesting subject.
                And the group was divided:there were some people who immediately recognized themselves in my story(my brother was one of them)
                And for instance my father really understood the way you feel about it!He saw a friend once get emotional over a painting in a museum and thought it was because that friend knew so much about the painter and he had read about the artist’s work…which is how it works for my father
                But that friend was also at our dinner and he replied:oh no,i can’t explain but something in that painting just touched me instinctively!

                What did strike me was that the people who recognized themselves in my way of experiencing were musicians or painting themselves.
                But maybe you do too?So i’m not sure if that has anything to do with it.

                Maybe it also has to do something with the way people learn : visually,kinesthetic,aural,verbal,logical
                Which is like you described: brains being wired differently.:)
                I must admit that i really had a great time investigating this theme! With you and my friends;) February 16, 2015 at 9:28pm Reply

                • Annette: Bregje, that’s fascinating! I love your anegdote about your father and his friend. It shows beautifully how much we assume about other people and ascribe to them our own way of thinking or feeling.
                  But listen, I have another “scientific” term which might help reconcile our different modes of perception: SPECTRUM! What do you say? Not two polar opposites but a whole range of things in between. And if I think about it I see that I belong in different places on the spectrum in different spheres of my life. In some things I am more instinct-oriented and in others – more logic-oriented. Probably it’s true about everybody.
                  Oh, and I have a story to tell:) Some years ago I was reading with great pleasure Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. One day a friend who is a history professor called me and I told him happily about my book. And he said: “That old thing? Full of all those outlandish theories?” And I am ashamed to confess that I abandoned the book.
                  So sometimes I wonder if I dismiss a book or film or perfume for their “silliness”, do I spoil somebody’s enjoyment (believing at the same time that I am in fact elevating that person)? You see, I love asking questions:)
                  And now somehow I feel (perversely) inspired to pick up Gibbon again and read to my heart’s content, outlandish theories or not! February 17, 2015 at 9:00am Reply

                  • Cornelia Blimber: Keep on reading Gibbons Decline and Fall. it’s a masterpiece. February 17, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

                    • bregje: You know what? I’m going to read it too;)

                      Annette,you summed it up so well.
                      Thank you for making me understand(my father) better. It’s a blessing.
                      I guess Walt Whitman and the astronomer got a little closer together,lol. February 17, 2015 at 5:26pm

    • Victoria: “I try to remember to respect the legitimacy of personal experience. We love what we love, and our artistic experiences are precious to us.”

      You put it so beautifully, Terri! February 12, 2015 at 3:37am Reply

  • Neo: Hi
    Actually I feel a bit relieved after reading this article. My taste in perfumes have probably been shaped by my older sister and smugglers! In the late 60s, We frequently visited the “imported” goods market in Calcutta, in kidderpore docks. And bought extremely prized bottles of say calandre by paco rabanne I think. Nina ricci, Charlie etc ..reassured not just of the authenticity but popularity of the latest perfume by the smuggler. I had a bottle of Chanel 19 about 20 years ago but don’t remember liking it very much. So I am not sure what I like. Also was a smoker for 30 years so that didn’t help..
    So I’ll stop worrying about liking the right perfume February 11, 2015 at 11:23am Reply

    • Victoria: This is a terrific story, Neo! My mom can relate, because when she was a student, you couldn’t find many perfumes in the Soviet stores. So, they had to go to some lengths to find Diorissimo or Lancome Climat. February 12, 2015 at 3:39am Reply

  • Neo: What’s the interesting edible kind of scent in Si. Someone please explain. February 11, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

    • Danaki: its black currant and vanilla, as well as other woods and flowers. so i would say that the edible note is that sweet tarty combo.. February 11, 2015 at 3:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: It must be the cotton candy note, but I don’t remember Si that well. I recall that it also had lots of fruity notes. February 12, 2015 at 3:39am Reply

  • Neo: Sorry I’m not able to type too well with thumbs on this iPad.. Also want to thank everyone for recommending me perfumes in November when I was just leaving for goa.. I’ve made a list and will keep checking it out and report back. Cheers February 11, 2015 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that it worked out well! I hope that you’ll find something to enjoy from that list. February 12, 2015 at 3:40am Reply

  • Eve: How grateful to read this words, wise ones indeed.
    I agree, perfume is about connecting the senses, the soul, the memories and is very subjective, intuitive, personal.
    Love your blog.
    kisses
    Eve February 11, 2015 at 12:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re completely right. The intuitive part is so essential. For instance, I notice how my mom approaches scents. She definitely doesn’t know the jargon or many notes, and she doesn’t think about it. But she has an intuitive sense for what she might like, and she’s confident about her likes. It definitely helps her enjoy fragrance without worrying about liking “the right thing”. February 12, 2015 at 3:48am Reply

  • Austenfan: Love this article like so many before me.

    I feel comforted that I can enjoy my Rockin’ Rio now, without any shame. 😉

    Seriously my tastes in perfume are really quite random and I’ve sort of given up on trying to make sense of them. Perfume to me is all about relaxation and enjoyment and doing what I like. Even if that boils down to wearing some of my more snobby bottles. February 11, 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s just it. A few weeks ago when we were talking about why we like perfume, many people mentioned that it was a chance to do something for themselves, to take a moment to delight in something. And that’s such a nice sentiment. February 12, 2015 at 3:50am Reply

    • Victoria: P.S. And I also don’t want to imply that liking niche perfumes is snobby! After all, niche often has a specific aesthetic, and that might speak more to some of us. February 12, 2015 at 6:26am Reply

      • Austenfan: No worries, I enjoy being snobby at times 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 6:43am Reply

      • Austenfan: I think that “the specific aesthetic” definitely apllies to me with respect to my love for Goutal (in it’s heyday) and Parfums de Nicolai. And even though I love Divine parfums I think that really it ought not to be a niche brand. They are not quirky enough, in a way. I’m still glad that they exist though. February 12, 2015 at 7:14am Reply

        • Victoria: Divine could easily fit anywhere among the classics at the department store. I’m also glad that they exist, because it’s such a lovely polished line. What did you think of their latest perfume, the rose scented one? February 12, 2015 at 12:40pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I’m afraid it’s love. There is such a gentleness about the whole line that I like so much. February 12, 2015 at 12:47pm Reply

          • Austenfan: Oh about Spirituelle; it reminded me of another rose which one I couldn’t work out at first, but this morning I suddenly realised that it makes me think of Mille et Une Roses by Lancome. February 17, 2015 at 7:10am Reply

            • Victoria: Oh, that one is so pretty! February 17, 2015 at 7:59am Reply

  • JulienFromDijon: Nice paper!

    I’ve caught the flue recently, so I experienced anosmia (and ageusia), to a point where I wonder if my sense of smelling would came back.

    First surprise, it’s quite soothing. It’s really like turning blind for someone like us who can use smelling on command, but it’s like vacation for the brain.
    It’s a lot less information for the brain to compute. Also you’re not annoyed by your own body odor, to the point I also did not feel “greasy” after 4 days without showering. (It’s crazy, cause the sense of touching was not altered)
    Even the trick to think “rose” and to start smelling some buy mental suggestion doesn’t work.
    Remembering all the shades of lavender your crush in your hand gave me a deep pleasure, even without a hint of the smell. If my sense of smelling was over for good, it was nice to think I’d have stashed and mapped fragrance to the fullest.
    The sense of “where I am” was altered, because I could not detect my surrounding before opening my eyes while waking up. Same sense of uncertainty with stale fruits, or using fire for cooking.

    Second surprise, I had more pleasure sexually speaking, as if the body was eager to get back the average dose of endorphine per day I’d normally have by food and fragrances. (While I still consider the “Daredevil” trope as bullshit, not believing losing one sense means the other are sharpened)

    Third surprise, it comes back not gradually. Some piercing scent like eucalyptus are to be perceived. Smells come back as soft flash (rose soap in the sink at a distance from me, vanilla while eating cookies). Also, if I bent over the soap I get back a murmur instead of nothing previously. Scents that give an almost “touch” feeling like scratchy musk of burning pepper comes quite last, paradoxically. Actually as long as your nose inner sky has an inflammation, it’s like the burning sensation is also an olfactory burning information that your brain shut down, turn it off, as it can turn off sound it deems not meaningful. So it’s like you get back your sense of smelling when the inflammation goes down and the “ambiant volume” is amped down, from burning sensation to peppery sensation and the taste of your own blood, to normal. And you’re relieved when things got back to normal because you start to catch the variety of smell of your own mouth.

    The void (and the conscious of the void) precedes the informations you may catch with your mean of perception. We must cherish our mean of perception, our “smelling eyes”.
    And we must stay humble : one smell can elude our mean of perception. Overwhelming smells can also go by totally undetected. February 11, 2015 at 2:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hope that you’re feeling better! I can see how tuning out for a short while can be helpful when you’re ill, although the experience must still be unsettling. February 12, 2015 at 3:56am Reply

  • Elizabeth: I love this post so much. I tried too many times to wear L’Heure Bleue – parfum, vintage, everything – because of the history, name, and critical acclaim. It always smells like beer on me. I did learn to appreciate Mitsouko, though. Today I am wearing Goutal’s Ce Soir ou Jamais. I smell like velvety roses and champagne instead of beer! 🙂 February 11, 2015 at 4:01pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Hi Elizabeth,
      I had the same experience with L’Heure Bleue! Then, I read here about layering it with Iris (in my case Yardley).
      So, now I have ordered the L’HB, and will continue to use this layering method. The combination is enchanting. Like I wrote to Karen, “This must have been what the Garden Of Eden smells like.”

      P. February 11, 2015 at 8:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s good to admit that to oneself and move on. It’s not as if there is a lack of other great perfumes out there. February 12, 2015 at 4:02am Reply

      • ~Kat: Thank you, Victoria! My perfume journey has been short, but I’ve learned so much from your posts. I’ve gone from wearing no fragrance to working my way through your 4 & 5-star rated perfumes and some other “must smell” lists–the process has truly been eye-opening!

        I was incredibly surprised to discover how much I really adored some scents–mainly, because they were triggers from childhood, captured in a bottle, or something that expressed whatever ideas I have of myself…accords that would just sing a beautiful familiarity to me. 🙂

        I was even more surprised that some of the highest-rated, most historically significant or most expensive fragrances were “okay”, but not for me. Others were down-right offensive to my senses and that was confusing, until I realized that some notes and I just aren’t compatible!

        At first, it was difficult to pass these samples on to others–I tried to sort and keep them all for reference. I don’t do that anymore. As you say, too many good treats are still waiting to be discovered and it’s certainly okay to let go of whatever isn’t working and move on to treasure something more pleasurable…without guilt. Thank you, again! February 12, 2015 at 11:54am Reply

        • Victoria: I really enjoy hearing such stories, how it all began, how it evolved, etc. 🙂 It’s such fun. I also found that many of my favorites (violets, lily of the valley, roses, jasmine) have such clear and vivid referents in my childhood scent memories. Smelling Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose which reminds me of my grandmother’s purse and her rose-violet scented lipsticks really makes me melt.

          It’s impossible to keep everything, although I have tried. But even samples turn and go bad, and the space in one’s cabinets is not elastic. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 1:15pm Reply

          • ~Kat: Ah…yes! I discovered that I loved vintage Miss Dior…that it evoked strong feelings of kindness for me. Months later, I realized that it was the signature fragrance of my 1st grade teacher. She happened to be a very gentle and wise nun. Just one example of days long gone, but much more easily remembered with these fragrance triggers. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 2:58pm Reply

            • Victoria: What a precious memory, Kat! And how special that you could find a perfume that triggered it. February 12, 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Susan: I knew I was in the right place when I fell in love with this blog! I’m one of the newbies, and scents hardly ever last on me (Victoria gave me some hints on how to make scent last longer).

    It’s so great to learn about different perfumes and lovely to try samples that I’ve heard about. I want to thank everyone for sharing and Victoria for her expertise and fun approach.

    My latest love is with Balenciaga Paris. February 11, 2015 at 4:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so happy to hear this, Susan.

      Hope that you managed to make those evanescent perfumes stick to your skin. I wore Balenciaga Paris over DHC body cream the other day, and I noticed that it lasts a bit longer. This doesn’t always work (and some lotions change the scent of your perfume), but it’s an easy trick to try. February 12, 2015 at 4:03am Reply

  • lila: Yes, I was a niche snob at first but I believe it was Givenchy Organza Indecence that woke me up to gorgeous and easily attainable frags, both geographically (I live in a small town) and financially. I can’t get enough of Coco Mademoiselle, Guerlain Parfum Initial, Angel (!) and don’t get me started on Cartier Declaration. Just today I was testing Chanel’s Bois des Iles next to Eau Premiere. I don’t claim to have a “nose” so I’m sure that I’m totally missing something here, but they both smell an awful lot alike! I’m completely happy with my bottle of Eau Premiere so that’s at least $60 saved! February 11, 2015 at 5:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Organza Indecence is such a gem!

      I went for tea tasting not long ago, and I was told that while I should taste the best quality, I should first buy the quality I can afford and only then return for the most expensive varieties. It takes time to figure out what you enjoy and how it might fit into your lifestyle, and it really makes no sense to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive perfumes either. All of the fragrances you mentioned can be found at Sephora, but they are among some of the better perfumes out there. February 12, 2015 at 4:07am Reply

  • angeldiva: Hi Victoria- best article -ever! And, Sofie, congrats on the pull quotes.
    My Perfume Stage:
    ” When this bottle arrives- this is the LAST PURCHASE I will buy!”
    “Gosh, this is such a bargain- and, I can layer it. After this arrives, this is the last bottle for a while.”
    “Ooooh, this smells sooo good, I won’t need to buy ANYTHING for a long time.”
    ” Oh my goodness, why can’t I stop LOL.”
    My life is very challenging, and the list of things I need to get done can crush me.
    Perfuming is an escape from these issues at this time. God willing, my life will equalize this year.

    But, I SMELL FABULOUS.
    P. February 11, 2015 at 7:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is so much fun! Thank you, Angeldiva. And yes, you smell fabulous. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 4:07am Reply

    • Karen: Angeldiva I think we are twins! This pretty much sums up my Perfume Stage, too! (she writes while waiting for L’heure Bleue EDP to arrive and plotting her next purchase…..what what what will be the perfect March fragrance….Tocade perhaps? Or maybe Shocking!) February 12, 2015 at 5:24am Reply

      • angeldiva: SHOCKING! That’s my vote, Karen.

        P. February 12, 2015 at 9:50pm Reply

        • Karen: I know, mine too! I feel a sense of honoring you and your mother – on top of Schiaparelli’s designs. February 13, 2015 at 1:51pm Reply

          • angeldiva: Karen,
            Thank-you… I’m deeply touched to hear a reference to her here. I think there is much love for all our Mothers on BdJ :):):)

            P. February 13, 2015 at 6:58pm Reply

    • Michaela: LOL! February 12, 2015 at 5:41am Reply

    • Danaki: Oh my God, angeldiva. This is exactly what I tell myself. I can’t help it…there’s always I feel a weak spot, an Achilles heel. A vintage Chanel No.19 lurking on ebay calls my name. A discounted bottle of Angel (yes, I have crazy varying tastes) that is criminal to ignore comes home with me. February 13, 2015 at 5:45am Reply

      • angeldiva: Dear Danaki,
        Just breathe! Then make sure that you are buying groceries, and keeping your car serviced!
        LOL

        P. February 13, 2015 at 7:05pm Reply

  • sunmisun: This is a great post – and it really applies to so much more than just perfume. I’ve heard really similar things said about wine, and I can imagine it applying to anything really, even ice cream. 🙂 We should all learn to just follow our (nose) heart, instead of the labels. February 11, 2015 at 10:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree. Or chocolate! I went with a friend to the Pierre Marcolini chocolate boutique, and she admitted to the SA that she doesn’t enjoy dark, bitter chocolate. She was a bit shy saying so, because today it seems that everyone looks down on anything unless it’s 70% cocoa. But the lady smiled and then waxed poetic on the beauty of milk chocolate, its luxurious texture and smoothness. February 12, 2015 at 4:13am Reply

      • Karen: Yes! I am not a fan of goat cheese, despite having raised goats and consumed vast quantities of fresh goat’s milk. But I almost always feel a need to apologize as it is so fashionable! However, I should be made the ambassador for the sheep milk cheese industry as I have yet to meet a sheep’s milk cheese that I did not love! And don’t even get me near the sheep milk cream that is sold in little glass jars….. on top of homemade bread with fresh rasberry jam… February 12, 2015 at 5:39am Reply

        • Victoria: I do too! Same goes for bitter dark chocolate. I have always had a taste for bitter things, and years ago when it was hard to find bitter chocolate in the US, I had to beg friends to mail it from France. No such problems today. By the way, black chocolate and goat cheese are a heavenly combination. Sometimes I buy goat milk yogurt and then stir chocolate pieces and candied orange zest into it and eat this decadent thing for breakfast. February 12, 2015 at 6:31am Reply

  • angeldiva: Also, RIP Whitney Houston. Her passing: 2-11-12

    In Honor of the immense joy your music brought to me- here is the information I could find about her taste in scent.

    Bulgaria Pour Femme
    Annick Goutal- various selections
    Olive Oil- she enjoyed pouring this into her bath.

    Peace February 11, 2015 at 10:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a talented artist she was! Thank you for mentioned her perfumes. February 12, 2015 at 4:13am Reply

  • Hannah: Once I was having dinner with friends and we were going through Spotify playlists and I said my favorite is my 2000-2002 list and they asked who was on it and I said Sean Paul. One of my friends said “Get Busy is a great song.” And the others were so offended by this. One said she would not allow for it to be considered a great song. Then the whole night she’d say “now this is a great song” about generic acoustic guitar songs.
    Many people in the perfume community will put a paint by numbers chypre above a stand out fruity floral, just because it is a chypre vs a fruity floral. I don’t see that has having taste at all. It would be better to have “bad” taste, in my opinion. February 12, 2015 at 3:49am Reply

    • Victoria: This is something I don’t understand. It reminds me of comments I occasionally see on perfume reviews or even NYT recipes that seem extremely offended because the author likes or dislikes something. Seriously, why does it matter? I understand being perplexed by some opinions, but offended by someone’s perfume, food or music preferences?

      The hierarchy of chypre vs fruity floral doesn’t make much sense to me. In the 70s there were plenty of awful, dull chypres. We’re lucky that only the best ones survived. The same thing will happen with the modern genre of fruity florals. February 12, 2015 at 4:20am Reply

      • bregje: I totally agree!
        And that’s why this article is so great.And why this blog and frankly you,victoria,are so great.
        For giving value to everyone’s taste and not claiming you know best.
        We all tend to identify with our personal tastes and feel offended when someone does not share ours.Or we’re afraid others don’t think we’re good enough(or our taste isn’t good enough).

        Well maybe there’s no such thing as bad taste. And maybe there’s more than one truth. February 13, 2015 at 5:26pm Reply

        • Victoria: Of course, it’s difficult not to react at all if someone describes your favorite perfume in unflattering terms, but there is such a range of experience with scents, and we really don’t smell the same way. Not because our noses are more or less trained, but because that’s just the highly individual nature of our olfactory system. February 16, 2015 at 7:09am Reply

          • bregje: exactly!
            There are so many memories tied to scents.
            When i read your reply, i remembered how we would spray Love by Chloe in my mom’s room when she was terminal(did i phrase this right? she was dying.)
            This is a fragrance i used to love but now when i smell it,i smell decay and disease. I know conciously that it does not smell rotten but that’s MY experience with it.It makes me feel sad.
            What a terrible example!But i couldn’t come up with a better one.
            Sorry everyone! Next time memories of baby’s and kittens;) February 16, 2015 at 9:48pm Reply

            • Victoria: These difficult memories are also part of our tapestry of associations that form our tastes. What you say is very much in vein of my argument earlier (and Jackie’s), it’s possible to keep the objective/subjective divide when talking about perfume, but because of the way we relate to scents, it may not be the best way to go about it. In the end, I find your personal story of Love Chloe more moving and poignant than a bland description that it smells of rice powder and violets. Thank you for sharing it. February 17, 2015 at 7:52am Reply

              • bregje: thank you for your sweet reaction.

                That story actually led me to this blog.
                Because i was looking for a scent to love as much as i used to love Chloe(which i could not wear anymore.)
                I found Baiser. February 17, 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Courant: I’ve read the comments. The more I know the less I know, and that’s all I know February 12, 2015 at 4:32am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure your nose remembers a lot! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 4:51am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Ha, Socratic wisdom! February 12, 2015 at 7:55am Reply

    • bregje: i know :). I wish i’d stopped there too. February 16, 2015 at 9:50pm Reply

  • Karen: Victoria, This article is another wonderful example of your beautiful and thought provoking writing! And shows why you have been short-listed for FOUR JASMINE AWARDS!!! Congratulations!

    For those not familiar, the Jasmine Awards are the beauty industry’s awards for writing – very prestigious. Victoria is on the short-list for four articles published in Financial Times, How to Spend It. Those articles have been linked to in past posts.

    I think given the wonderful and inspiring articles on BdJ, and the comments by all of us, we can definitely understand why Victoria has been honored!

    Hoping a link is OK,

    http://thejasmineawards.co.uk/the-jasmine-awards-2015-shortlist/#.VNyAaoE8KrU

    CONGTATULATIONS!!! February 12, 2015 at 5:33am Reply

    • Michaela: Karen, thank you!

      Victoria, CONGRATULATIONS! February 12, 2015 at 5:48am Reply

      • Karen: My guess was that Victoria might not let the (BdJ)world know about this honor, and that some readers may not be familiar with the awards. Rereading the articles, it’s easy to understand why she is on the shortlist! February 12, 2015 at 6:08am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you very much, Michaela! February 12, 2015 at 1:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Karen, thank you so much! I’m happy to hear that you liked those pieces. 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 6:28am Reply

      • Annette: Congratulations, dear Victoria! You so deserve it and I hope you win! February 12, 2015 at 8:18am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words, Annette! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 1:00pm Reply

    • Jackie: This doesn’t surprise me in the least. SUCH a good writer! Congratulations on being short-listed Victoria. Well deserved! February 12, 2015 at 1:39pm Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you, Jackie! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 3:00pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Did someone say AWARDS!!! Whoooo- Hoooooo!!! I’m putting my cheerleading outfit on! GOOOOOOOOO V

      P. February 12, 2015 at 9:54pm Reply

    • bregje: Wow!Congratulations(and celebrations, Cliff Richard would say;) ).
      I hope you win!Toi.toi,toi February 13, 2015 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Congratulations, Victoria!

    You are rightly famous for your articles, and this post was extemely thought provoking!
    ”Is everything subjective?” Annette asks. No, Alicia says, there are values in art. And taste (appreciating these values) is also a matter of education. Aha, Victoria says, but education can bring us on the wrong track (Sovjet education!). Beauty, she says, is very much about one’s instincts.
    Wow! So much ink has flowed in the past on this subject. Some people hold extreme opinions, from ”only the best counts” to ”everything is subjective”.
    I guess the ”truth” is, as always, somewhere in the middle.
    I think we all feel that ‘there are values in art”, as Alicia put it (btw het comment is very spot on). And you can acquire taste for them. Bernard Berenson in his wonderful Preface to The Italian Painters of the Renaissance says the same. However he admits that everybody brings in his own personality and looking at paintings or reading about them is useless when your heart keeps silent.
    Yes, true. But if somebody stubbornly maintains that Luini is better than Leonardo, it is very diffcult if not impossible to find arguments for the contrary.
    A ”Canon” may be not really objective. And it is difficult to find a fitting definition for ”quality”. But we cannot deny that some artists are really outstanding. There is a lot to say in advantage of a canon (admitting that it is not universal). For ex.: poor kids in our Dutch schools! the canon is abandoned, and every year another Greek/Latin author… if they have bad luck, they must read Seneca.
    or Plinius. Or leaving school without reading Homer.

    Great fun to read all the comments on this difficult subject! I think Victoria is right saying the best we can do is to have an open mind and be curious. February 12, 2015 at 7:48am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: ”her comment” (not het comment)! February 12, 2015 at 7:51am Reply

    • Victoria: All of the comments were so thought-provoking, and I really appreciate how neatly you’ve summed it all up. See, the evidence of classical education at its best! 🙂

      The other day I was reading a book on the 19th century education in Poltava, and the author presented the study program in the extraordinarily thorough detail. It was curious to see how the sons of merchants and poor nobility were taught Greek, Latin and the mindboggling array of the ancient history topics. When at the end of the 19th century, it was suggested that they learn something, well, a bit more modern, the ministers of education protested vehemently.

      I can’t agree more with you that canon is not entirely objective, and it changes. For instance, when Angel was launched, many perfumers described it as “a smell”, not a real perfume or vulgar or something else equally unflattering. But today, even some of those early detractors agree that it’s a marvel technically and artistically. February 12, 2015 at 12:50pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Hurray for those Ministers of Education! February 12, 2015 at 2:24pm Reply

        • Victoria: Not really a good thing at all those ministers. The quality of education was poor, the subjects badly taught, schools underfunded. So, on the eve of the 20th century the literacy rates in the Russian empire were at the shocking 21%. February 12, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Well, I think it is great to learn Latin, Greek and Ancient History early in life. Nobody can take that treasure away from you.
            But of course there must be good teachers. February 12, 2015 at 5:07pm Reply

            • Solanace: Hey Cornelia. In my country, dictators abolished all classical education from school. No kid, not even the wealthiest, are reading Homer. The consequences, of course, you see on every corner. I think this is a basic step for avoiding individuals to be critical free thinkers who will not believe any nonsense the press says. February 13, 2015 at 2:45am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Solanace! You said it so well. And what a shame, to deprive the kids from such a precious education. Well, your son & daughter have you, for wisdom with Aristoteles (and Plato I hope), poetry with Homer and Virgil, and a good sound laughter with Aristophanes! They are lucky. February 13, 2015 at 4:55am Reply

                • Solanace: Oh, Plato is so much better than Aristotle! We will read some dialogues together, I hope! February 13, 2015 at 12:24pm Reply

                  • Victoria: Which are your favorites? February 13, 2015 at 3:54pm Reply

                  • Cornelia Blimber: I understood you liked Aristoteles better, admitting Plato (”he scares the hell out of me”, you said…) was the better writer… February 13, 2015 at 4:10pm Reply

                    • bregje: Haha,this reminds me of a paper i wrote when i was ten years old called(roughly translated) Plato’s view on Atlantis.
                      I guess i was very ambitious back then;)
                      When i was little my father used to read the Odyssey to me. February 13, 2015 at 6:00pm

                    • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Bregje! Plato’s View on Atlantis…very remarkable choice, very ambitious! How did this occur to you?
                      Anyway, I can only praise you for this daring enterprise at an age of 10! February 14, 2015 at 5:59am

                    • bregje: Well,Cornelia,
                      I had a really great teacher at the time who encouraged us to pick subjects that were a little different or mysterious and then investigate for our papers instead of writing about dogs or guinea pigs and what they ate,haha.
                      And the most wonderful and mysterious story i had ever heard at that time was the story of Atlantis and its disappearance.
                      I got a 10 for it(i think you know what that means because i think you’re from the netherlands as well?) and the comment:Phenomenal!But i didn’t know what that word meant yet and i was really nervous all day that it was something bad;)

                      But thank you for reminding me to pick up the old philosophers’ writings again.
                      They’re such great stories February 16, 2015 at 10:03pm

              • Michaela: …easier to manipulate. More tragical, people can’t even realize, they don’t even know they are missing something. February 13, 2015 at 7:02am Reply

                • Solanace: They think they are missing some boring formulation of something they already know. and so the manipulation begins… February 13, 2015 at 12:26pm Reply

                  • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Bregje! Yes, we are both Dutch. I love your story, and I can imagine how impressed your teacher was! From all the theories (and nonsense) about Atlantis, you choose the source of it, Plato’s Timaeus and Critias! And that at an age of 10! Chapeau.

                    I sometimes read Plato’s Phaedo as an antidote against buying too much perfume . It works. February 17, 2015 at 3:53am Reply

                    • Michaela: Bregje and Cornelia, this talk of yours is DELIGHTFUL! February 17, 2015 at 6:53am

                    • bregje: haha,i must try that sometime!But i love buying clothes and perfume.Ik ben bang dat er geen kruid tegenop gewassen is;)

                      And thank you michaela. February 17, 2015 at 4:27pm

            • Victoria: I don’t remember if I learned Homer or Virgil in school, although we did study ancient history. But at home we had books of Greek myths and poems with black and white photos of famous Greek and Roman artworks, and I devoured them in my spare time. I didn’t read Greek philosophy until I was in college, and I had a wonderful professor, who had a brand new Ph.D., and he was so passionate about his subject. He really helped me discover Plato and Socrates. February 13, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

              • Solanace: These good professors change our lives forever. The bad ones should be ashamed. February 13, 2015 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you for a wonderful article. I think it sums up very well the aesthetics for your blog. Especially, I’ve learned by reading and participating to the scent diary that our sense of smell needs not stop at the world of perfume: food, spices, smells in the streets, the garden, or in the house, there is no hierarchy, they all are scented experiences worth having.

    Congratulations for being shortlisted! (and thank you Karen for highlighting the Jasmine Awards). My favourite is the article on Japanese incense my best discovery of 2014 thanks to you Victoria. February 12, 2015 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s all so interconnected, and it’s such a beautiful aspect of perfume to notice these overlaps. I could never have imagined that fragrance would keep my imagination so fully, but it really did, mostly because there is so much more than just perfume in the bottle.

      Thank you very much! 🙂 February 12, 2015 at 12:59pm Reply

  • solanace: The open minded and free spirited approach is one of the things that I love about BdJ. 🙂

    But now you got me thinking about unpraising perfume reviews. I find these the most fun to read, especially when it’s something very niche and expensive, like a Chanel exclusif or a Kilian. However, after reading the comments, I understand these can be heartbreaking, too. Even as we intellectually understand that a review is just someone’s take on a given perfume, there is the sense of belonging to a group that makes te entire thing more complicated. I think, however, that the remedy is here: a community of non judgemental people, discussing the differences and having fun with them, instead of using them as excuses for creating divisions and factions. February 12, 2015 at 8:24am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, it’s complicated. But being honest about one’s opinions is very important, and negative reviews are as important as the positive ones. And as you say, as long as we don’t judge people wearing a specific type of perfume, then we can have interesting discussions, even if we don’t all agree. February 12, 2015 at 1:05pm Reply

      • Solanace: Yes, not judging people, like always, is the key. And hey, we all have our idiosyncratic preferences. I even keep a half bottle of Giorgio! February 13, 2015 at 2:48am Reply

        • Victoria: Hey, Giorgio is a legend! 🙂 February 13, 2015 at 9:28am Reply

        • angeldiva: Hi Solance!
          Giorgio rocks! I wore it for the first time in 2013. Now, I layer it over L’Occitane Verbena.
          Did you know it was the late Farrah Fawcetts signature scent? I loved watching her acting ability grow.
          What can I tell you? LOL I’m an 80’s girl from Los Angeles.

          P. February 13, 2015 at 7:15pm Reply

  • Aisha: This just put a smile on my face.

    🙂 February 12, 2015 at 6:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: And this makes me happy, in turn. February 13, 2015 at 9:16am Reply

  • Gil: Such a well-written article, and absolutely true. For a long time I felt intimidated by more established perfume lovers and bloggers for their vast knowledge, but I have learnt that the only way I will grow is to do my thing – slowly smelling my way through the drugstore, Sephora, and grabbing niche and indy vials whenever I come across them. I love that you mentioned some people’s inability to smell certain scents – to me all ‘bakery’ smells (particularly in candles) smell the same, and not good, either. February 13, 2015 at 8:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Please don’t be intimidated by anyone, Gil, and carry on smelling and writing about it. No blogger was born with the knowledge of scents or fragrance related minutia. It’s acquired along the way. The most important thing is just to keep your curiosity and passion, and you have plenty of those. February 13, 2015 at 9:08am Reply

      • angeldiva: “KEEP STRONG AND CARRY ON SMELLING.”

        P. February 13, 2015 at 7:18pm Reply

  • Sofie: Fantastic essay again Victoria! Honoured I could provide a small contribution :-). I like the choice of painting as well. It actually links nicely to some of the discussion I think. if I’m not mistaken, Picasso enjoyed a formal training. So, he could probably produce a ‘classic’ picture if he wanted to, but talent and innovation led him to his unique style.
    Learning a canon or certain benchmarks should be more about giving you a reference, or even putting a framework in place on to wich you can place your likes and dislikes, and from wich you can develop your own style.
    Hah, this thread is really invigorating, so many things I agreed on! I love it when these discussions happen, so many ideas to ponder about!

    A big congratulations on your nominations Victoria! February 13, 2015 at 9:50am Reply

    • Victoria: Once again, you and I agree. Canonical perfumes likes Mitsouko or No 5 should be smelled to get a feel for quality, specific forms and artistry. Or to understand either what was the scent of their era. But there should be no expectation that one is to love and wear them. Even if something is well-made, it may not speak to us on an emotional level or speak as well as another perfume without an iconic pedigree. I’m sure you can make similar parallels with music, literature and film.

      Thank you, Sofie! February 13, 2015 at 4:04pm Reply

  • Kelly: I enjoyed reading this article and the discussion it has engendered. I have been dabbling in a perfume hobby for years, but I’ve been limited by budget and time (free sniffing requires trips to the mall at a minimum).

    While I truly enjoy just smelling perfume, I think I like reading about it nearly as much. I started trying to write reviews as notes to myself about how I felt about samples. I discovered I really enjoyed the creative challenge. Trying to put words to smells requires a link from two very different parts of the brain, at least the way I imagine the brain to work.

    As I am starting to write my own reviews, I feel some of the same pressures discussed in your articles. How much should I lean on other, more knowledgable bloggers opinions on what notes I am smelling? I find myself very suggestible, wanting to love a perfume based off its reviews alone, and being shocked when it smells nothing like what I imagined (Hermes Cuir D’Ange is a recent example.) February 13, 2015 at 4:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Just describe what you experience and not try to stick to the listed notes or someone else’s opinion. If you write a review to keep notes of your smelling or to share your experience with someone else, the most important thing is that you convey your impressions. And the more you write, the more you think about scents, the easier it becomes to capture scents in words. February 16, 2015 at 7:04am Reply

  • Raquel: Congratulations Victoria! February 13, 2015 at 4:46pm Reply

  • Michael: Thank you for starting such a fascinating and interesting topic of discussion Victoria, and many congratulations on your Jasmine Award nominations!

    Like many other perfumistas, I stumbled upon this blog a year or so ago, and I have learned so much about fragrances, both from Victoria’s reviews as well as other readers’ comments.

    I may love my Chanel Exclusifs as much as my Frederic Malles, but I have a confession: in the summer, the two fragrances I find myself reaching for are Hollister’s So Cal and Abercrombie’s Fierce colognes. Before reading this article, I was hesitant to mention it, but you know what, I always compliments when I wear them and for some reason or other, they always remind me of the carefree, sun drenched days and balmy nights of summer. I believe there is always a fragrance for every occasion, whether it is something you spritz on before meeting your friends for a drink or BBQ, or a knockout perfume that you want to turn heads with at a function. February 13, 2015 at 7:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Definitely no need to feel guilty about liking these colognes! The world would be too boring of a place if all it contained were Chanel Les Exclusifs and Frederic Malle perfumes. I love those brands, but I’d never give up my bottles of Light Blue, Lolita Lempicka or Casmir. February 16, 2015 at 7:11am Reply

  • angeldiva: GUCCI eau de Parfum 2002 Black Box square bottle with round disk stopper
    1oz. US $70.74

    Hi! A while back a few people were rhapsodizing about this discontinued perfume. I directed them to o.co but, came to learn that that was Gucci by Gucci in a brown box.
    So, I’ve just seen this one, and looked it up online. Hope that it’s the gem that people were missing because you can buy it (2-13-14) at O.co.
    (Overstock.com)

    Peace February 14, 2015 at 2:12am Reply

    • angeldiva: OMG I bought it… With my coupon and O rewards it came to $59. US.
      I hope I like it! The juice looks dark and rich- that’s what I’m in the mood for. Many of you wrote of this in long lost loves, and this looks like the real deal. The discontinued Gucci eau de parfum.

      🙂 February 14, 2015 at 2:27am Reply

      • angeldiva: Regarding the Gucci eau de parfum D
        I just looked on ebay, and they are describing this box as brown. It must be a very dark non-stripped brown. If you miss the one on O.co- there are many on ebay at this time. It’s probably because of Valentines Day.
        So, I guess I needed a Valentines Day present!

        P. February 14, 2015 at 2:40am Reply

        • angeldiva: Hello! It was GENTIANA who wanted this discontinued Gucci eau de parfum original. Does anyone know her? I looked through pages of old articles , and found our exchange. It’s available on O.co.
          My theory of why so many rare perfumes show up on O.co is this:
          The economic challenges of the UAE, and other middle eastern countries may be the source of perfume supplies ( like the duty free shops) that O.co purchased.
          Many of the boxes of perfume that I buy have Arabic writing along with English and French.
          So, before you sweat out a bid on ebay- it’s worth it to look at O.co.
          My recent buys:
          Kenzo -Summer D
          L’occitane – Verbena
          Cacherel – Amour Amour
          Kenzo – Flower
          Guerlain – L’huere Bleue
          Yardley – Iris
          Estee Lauder – Aromatics Elixir
          Gucci -eau de parfum D
          * all of these were purchased at a minimum of 75% off retail
          There are also 5 new L’artisan fragrances – full size and very discounted.
          P. February 14, 2015 at 10:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a very good perfume! February 16, 2015 at 7:14am Reply

      • angeldiva: Thank-you, I’m really looking forward to trying it. Wish Gentiana could, too! She was so excited about the referral to the brown striped box of Gucci by Gucci. But, she patiently explained to me that that was not the perfume she desired.

        p. February 16, 2015 at 5:27pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Hi Victoria,
        You are so right! Gucci eau de parfum r.2002
        is a very good- amazing perfume. Now, I know what heliotrope smells like, and caraway. Then the spices, and dry down is cedar and leather. No wonder many of the BdJ ladies liked this. I’ve never smelled a perfume like it. Light and deeply exotic at the same time. Clean and mysterious? How did the author fit all these effects into one dark juice?
        Also, ordered Donna Karan Gold edp. It was just so inexpensive. I would now like to find the worlds most realistic night blooming jasmine.
        When will we know of your win? And, how will we celebrate? 🙂

        P. February 19, 2015 at 1:57am Reply

        • Victoria: Gold is gorgeous. Enjoy it! February 19, 2015 at 4:17am Reply

  • Tijana: I feel like I will echo the comments and sentiments of most people here…

    I have connected with fragrances emotionally since I first smelled my mom’s Cialenga, and while since the time I was 14 I always had quite a few fragrances in my wardrobe at any given time, I didn’t consider myself a perfumista until about 5-6 years ago when I started reading on this topic – books, blogs, articles, whatever is available and I can get my hands on.

    What I really find interesting is that even before I started reading anything on it, I would pick fragrances that were truly remarkable and are still considered in high regard today. This could be partially due to the fact that there was much bigger scrutiny in terms of what made it to the fragrance counter, but it also speaks to the fact that human beings have an intuitive nose that can lead us to great likes, irrespective of how serious or “educated” we are about this hobby. And like some have mentioned, I too went a full circle, even through a phase where I just had to have a FB of something I liked (not necessarily loved – which was quite a stress for my wallet), whereas these days I am back to being more discriminating again like I was in the days when I only had a very limited budget and fragrances were not so much a hobby but accessory 🙂

    And as much as I am reading on the topic, I try to let my nose guide me on my ultimate selection. If I really love a fragrance but the reviews are not positive, I will still consider buying it. Where I have seen positive influence of reviews is that I will return to fragrances I initially dimissed after reading positive reviews and will give it more testing time (which sometimes produces major loves, and sometimes “still no” decisions :))

    At the end of the day – it’s all about the nose! 🙂 February 14, 2015 at 5:04am Reply

    • Tijana: And Victoria, I forgot to say, thanks for this great article, it’s so nice to see so many replies! February 14, 2015 at 5:06am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you for adding yours too! I really enjoyed reading this thread. February 16, 2015 at 7:17am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, it’s all about the nose and about trusting your instincts. This point can’t be emphasized strongly enough, and your story illustrates it well. February 16, 2015 at 7:17am Reply

  • Laura: Victoria, thank you for a wonderful and spot on article! Several years ago, I told my children that “life is too short not to smell wonderful every day.” My oldest son tweeted my quote, lol. In the end, if you love the way you smell, that’s all that matters! February 14, 2015 at 3:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love that quote! It’s so true. 🙂 February 16, 2015 at 7:26am Reply

  • Amy: I got into vintage perfume after I had a baby and couldn’t fit into vintage clothes. My head and feet have always been too big to wear vintage hats and shoes, and post baby I can only fit into vintage coats. Devastated at having to shop retail for clothes, my craving for all things vintage unabated, I started to research perfume. My first inklings of Caron came through one of my favorite characters, Mame Dennis–in the original Auntie Mame books she wears Nuit de Noel. Since she has been a heroine of mine since childhood, I hunted down Nuit de Noel. At first, it freaked me out–then, slowly, slowly, I began to be able to smell, then wear it. Now I’m hooked on all the old 1920s-40s scents, and I can still indulge my love of vintage without having to feel terrible about baby weight. There’s a long article in this somewhere about body love, scent, glamor, and self acceptance post baby, but I’ll just sketch it here. … I love this blog to bits. February 15, 2015 at 5:45pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Hi Amy,
      You write with such honesty! I just wanted to share my belief that all Women are beautiful.

      Peace February 15, 2015 at 8:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t remember where I read about a study linking someone’s enjoyment of scents and the way people saw that person. Maybe, it was the Economist. Anyway, anything that will give you pleasure makes a big difference in your self-esteem and how people approach you. I’m convinced that a drop of perfume can do lots of good in that respect. 🙂 I also love your approach, taking a plunge into history, another era, another time via perfume. Not only do you smell beautiful, you have a chance to create your own fantasies. This is wonderful. February 16, 2015 at 7:35am Reply

  • David: I admit that one of the main reasons I got into perfume was the back stories, the legends, the mysteries: Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather smells like cocaine, Rozy was inspired by Ana Magnani, James Dean wore Knize Ten. I need drama, glamour, sex. Perfume leads to that. February 15, 2015 at 9:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: The more I got into perfume, the more the stories fascinated me. I agree with you, it adds an another dimension of enjoyment to this pursuit. February 16, 2015 at 7:36am Reply

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