Fragrant Pleasures: 319 posts

Essays on scented pleasures: collecting and enjoying fragrance, building perfume wardrobe, growing aromatic plants and more.

Recommend Me a Perfume : August

Bois de Jasmin will return on Monday. Today we have our “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations. If you’ve asked for a recommendation before, please let us know how your search went and what you’ve discovered.

poppies olives

How does it work:

1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling.

2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Sicily

When Every Buy is Blind Buy

“Being almost completely blind, I have always used my nose as a means to investigate and love my world, so it is no surprise that I became a perfume addict at an early age,” says Shermeen, our guest author today. She shares her experience of using her nose instead of her eyes. “Although I would have loved to have pursued a career in the fragrance industry, I enjoy indulging in it as an obsessive hobby. I studied law and live in Southern Ontario, and when I’m not using my legal background to persuade myself into buying more perfume, I enjoy reading, writing, singing, drinking loose-leaf tea, and travelling when I’m able.”

When people first learn that I’m almost completely blind (which is often instantaneously, since I’m often accompanied by a gigantic yellow dog), one of their first questions is invariably along the lines of “So are your other senses, like, heightened?”


Yes, I can hear, smell, and taste things you probably didn’t even know existed. I know you had garlic bread yesterday morning, that your kid spilled a bowl of cheerios on your pajamas last night, and I bet you can’t even hear that fire engine blasting its way down your street as you read this (how many of you looked out your window to check?)

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Scent Diary : Strange Smells

When people smell civet, natural or synthetic, for the first time, the natural response is to cringe, because this animalic material smells raunchy, dirty and sweet. My husband recoiled from me in horror when I once returned from the lab having spent the day working mostly with animalic notes. These days, on the other hand, nothing fazes me now (except, perhaps, for the material called Pineapple Compound that turns air entering my lungs into fruity, sticky cotton candy.) Scents, like tastes, can be acquired.

These days I even like some odd scents that ordinarily wouldn’t be considered pleasant, like mildew, mild skunk odor, hot metal, musty basements or wet paper. And I love civet in all forms.

Scent Diary is a place where we can share fragrances we encounter, good and bad, perfumes we wear and the scents around us. It’s a way to sharpen our sense of smell, but also just to enjoy the fragrance hobby in a different way. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin; my grandmother is getting ready to prepare varenyky, dumplings stuffed with a variety of offal. It’s an acquired taste, but I absolutely adore this dish and its gamey, musky flavor, and I request it every time I visit.

Cult Perfumes

Elisa on what gives perfume a cult status.

What makes a fragrance a “cult fragrance”? It’s not enough for a perfume to simply be popular; bestsellers like Coco Mademoiselle and Light Blue don’t qualify. A cult fragrance needs obsessively devoted fans, while remaining a little mysterious and under the radar. Thus its fans can form a kind of counterculture – they understand something that the general population does not.


So what enables a perfume to develop a small but intensely devoted following? The following criteria certainly help:

  • The perfume is hard to find – it’s a limited edition, discontinued, only available online or in Europe, etc.
  • The perfume has a love-it-or-hate-it quality; there is something weird or off-putting about it on first sniff, which some people end up finding addictive.

Sometimes only one or the other is true, but when both are true, you have the making of a cult fragrance on your hands.

If you read perfume blogs, you’re bound to hear about these cult fragrances over and over. With some of the below perfumes, the descriptions I read gave me desperate lemmings; they haunted me until I found a sample. With others, just the opposite was true – I actively avoided them, fearing their notoriety would make them hard to love or worse, easy to hate. Here they are in the order I managed to try them.

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A Travel Tip

The Paris Review ran an interesting article called A Travel Tip, in which the columnist Sadie Stein recommends marking each vacation with a new scent. I thought that the idea was charming.


“So I recommended wearing a new perfume when one goes on a trip. I’m not advocating for the purchase of an expensive bottle every time you go to a cousin’s wedding. But for me, the act of dignifying a journey with its own scent can be enough to elevate a humble getaway to vacation status. It’s nice to find something that has a connection to wherever you are, but the actual perfume is secondary. The point is to create a sense memory for the experience that has, for you, no precedent. I’ve worn the same perfume since my twenty-third birthday, when I treated myself to my first bottle of [Frédéric Malle] En Passant, but from the moment I get in the cab to the airport, I like to wear something different, unfamiliar.” To read the rest, please click here.

What perfumes are you going to make for your summer vacation? And if you took a break already, what was your most worn perfume?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Sylvia Long in Scent Map of the World: Also unusual smells ( for me) sort of hang about the air everywhere here… Not bad just noticeably different than my home city… The pervading smell of rice cooking, a… August 23, 2014 at 8:19am

  • Sylvia Long in Scent Map of the World: Estee private collection Tuberose and Gardenia and Stella here this week. The Stella was a bit too much- but the T and G was green garden perfection. I live in… August 23, 2014 at 8:12am

  • Anka in Scent Map of the World: Thank you for the link, Victoria! What an interesting project and company, I particularly liked the Logo Description of Dreamair and am curious about the scent archive. In April I… August 23, 2014 at 2:48am

  • Claire in Scent Map of the World: Thanks for the info, Victoria! I’m lacking the vocab to describe the scent yet this website gives all the options.. I think one thing is lacking and I often smell… August 23, 2014 at 1:29am

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