La Barfumeria : New Niche Perfumery

A new niche perfume boutique is about to come to New York City at the end of 2006. La Barfumeria was originally opened in 2003 in the basement of fashion store La Rosa Que No Muere in Madrid. It carries about 20 different niche lines. Given its target US market, I wonder how much the marketing board had pondered about the name. From cosmeticnews.


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  • Katie: I don’t know either, but La Barfumeria has given me one really good solid laugh with that name. Oh dear. I can’t stop giggling. May 8, 2006 at 2:48am Reply

  • annE: This made tears come to my eyes, I was laughing so hard – glad I was alone while reading this! I would hope that this would turn out to be a case of just a typo somewhere along the way. May 8, 2006 at 8:51am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Hi, everybody! I´m sorry, but I really don´t understand why this name makes you laugh so much! Can anyone please explain it to me? I live in Madrid and I suppose they just named the shop after the one here, but about the double-meaning… May 8, 2006 at 11:37am Reply

  • Mercedes Rey: Something to do with dead people, then? If that´s the case, I must laugh too… May 8, 2006 at 12:05pm Reply

  • Anya: Please, they should have done some idiomatic (sp?) language research first. I must send this to May 8, 2006 at 9:07am Reply

  • carmencanada: Hola Mercedes. In US English, “barf” means womit. So while Bar-fumeria sounds like a great word-play in another language, it is very infelicitous to English speakers. The very antithesis of anything sweet-smelling! May 8, 2006 at 1:56pm Reply

  • Tania: Barfumeria! LMAO! May 8, 2006 at 10:38am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, it was just too funny! I was up till 3am, and then I checked cosmeticnews headlines, and that one jumped at me. I just had to post about it. May 8, 2006 at 2:39pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, I was laughing too. After I’ve been working hard for most of the night, it was a great comic relief. May 8, 2006 at 2:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I think that it is a perfectly legitimate name (bar-fumeria, perfume bar), but in the American English context, perfume is not the first thing one would think about. May 8, 2006 at 2:41pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, it is a classic! May 8, 2006 at 2:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, Carmencanada explained it. 🙂 That is the reason why the name would strike most people here as funny. May 8, 2006 at 2:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Daruma, I bet that they just did not think it through. 🙂 However, another niche perfume boutique would definitely be great to have. May 8, 2006 at 2:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mercedes, have you been to the store in Madrid? I wonder what it is like (I read that it has a number of interesting niche lines, like Escentric Molecules). May 8, 2006 at 2:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, that was definitely not the most fortuitous choice of a name for the US market. May 8, 2006 at 2:51pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helene, I am also not a native English speaker, and given my native language and my current foray into studying Polish, no words are too difficult for me to pronounce. 🙂 I guess I have a sophomoric sense of humour. May 8, 2006 at 2:53pm Reply

  • daruma: That’s about as niche as you can get – in fact that’s the sort of niche that gives niche a bad name May 8, 2006 at 11:38am Reply

  • carmencanada: I’d think it was more about semiotics than “sophomorics”. How anyone could have let these people go ahead with such a name for a store in the USA… It’s beyond me. May 8, 2006 at 5:04pm Reply

  • Helene: Well, I know English and can read Spanish, but I must say the slang word “barf” didn’t jump at me at first when I read the name, although I posted info about it. I instinctively cut the word this way: bar-fumeria, not barf-umeria (which would be difficult to pronounce and wouldn’t mean anything). Funny, it’s probably to do with the fact that I’m not a native speaker of English. May 8, 2006 at 2:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, that was the main reason I was taken by surprise. I suppose that they might just try to change the way it is written. May 8, 2006 at 6:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Helene, Bar-fumeria sounds much better. In fact, I wonder if they may not market it this way, rather than under the name used in Spain. At any rate, the store looks charming based on the photos. For what is worth, if there is anything can make one smile after a sleepless night of work, it is always a good thing. 🙂 May 8, 2006 at 6:45pm Reply

  • Tara: My boyfriend has actually been to the boutique in Madrid and says it is quite nice. But ever since he first spotted it, we have had a good laugh about the name. A most unfortunate and ill-advised choice for the American market. May 8, 2006 at 6:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, yes, a friend of mine who has lived in Madrid just mentioned how nice the store is. Most stories of unfortunate brand names tend to be false, but this one might actually be the true one. All the same, I would love for more niche perfumeries to come to NYC. May 8, 2006 at 7:25pm Reply

  • Helene: The funniest part is that the owner is American.

    They could maybe get away with it if they moved the letters around like this on their sign:


    Or would this still make most people laugh? May 8, 2006 at 6:15pm Reply

  • Helene: Ok, it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to look. I wanted the two words to be a little discrepant, but not on top of each other. May 8, 2006 at 6:16pm Reply

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