Value For Money, Quality and Other Perfume Musings


The question of quality is a complex one, especially with something as intangible as perfume. All of us have our own definitions of quality, and as such, I see this post as a place to share my reflections and hear your thoughts as well. As I mentioned in the previous post, I do not want to conflate the price of raw materials with quality. I do not believe that beer is inferior to wine, and in the same vein, I do not think that Tommy Girl is inferior to Shalimar. I simply do not want to pay the price of a great vintage for a bottle of Budweiser. Perfume is a luxury, and given the current economic climate, I want to make sure my pleasures are never guilty and that my dollar is spent wisely. When looking for a perfume that offers good value for my money, my personal take is as follows:


On Classics

Some perfumers say that despite reformulation, the classics still offer the best value for money. In other words,  these fragrances were created in the days when the perfume houses were willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a formula, in contrast to what is happening today. Even if Chanel tried to cut corners on No 19 or Estee Lauder on Private Collection, there is a limit to how much the formula can be whittled down. I find this to be a thought provoking argument, but I rarely do this kind of rational calculation at the perfume counter. To test this idea, I smelled Guerlain Jardin de Bagatelle (1983) against several new tuberose fragrances. I discovered that it certainly gave any new white floral perfume a run for its money, and tested alongside Idylle (2009),  Jardin de Bagatelle felt particularly rich and opulent.

Classical status does not automatically propel a perfume onto my list of favorites, but it makes me take notice. As I explained in 10 Things I Love About Classical Perfumes, there are numerous reasons why I revisit classics, not least of which is to remind myself how quality was defined in the past.

On Department Stores and Drugstores

Just because the big brands are pressed by their profit margins, does it mean that their fragrances are poor? Far from it! I would never give up Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, Christian Dior J’Adore or Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. If a price tag no longer works as a quality determinant, it is easier to approach things with an open mind. I love the sultry richness of Yves Rocher Rose Absolu, the comforting feeling of Bath & Body Works Cotton Blossom and the retro glamor of Avon Imari. Although Elizabeth Arden Red Door is perhaps too dramatic for my tastes, I enjoy how voluptuously it blooms on skin.

On Small Brands

At one point, it was easy to turn to niche fragrances to find a distinctive and unusual perfume. I still remember the revelation of discovering Annick Goutal with its collection of personal etudes and Serge Lutens with its Arabian Night vignettes. Today, the niche market has exploded dramatically and there is such a wide range of quality that the “niche” label means nothing in particular. The variety makes my quests more interesting though. These days I enjoy indie offerings, from Aftelier to Vero Profumo. I hunt for discontinued or difficult to find favorites from small houses like Chopard (Madness, Casmir!) or quirky European brands like Krizia and Lalique. Before the advent of online stores it was impossible to find them in the States, but today with a mere click of a mouse I can compare prices and even order samples before buying the full bottle.

On Stories and Character

A high-quality fragrance should have a distinctive character. Whatever the fragrance costs and whoever made it is  less relevant. I mainly care that the perfume says something to me. I want it to seduce me, to move me, to remind me of a special moment or to weave a fantasy for me. This is a very subjective criterion, but it is the most essential one for me. The most luxurious aspect of a perfume is its ability to create a story, and if it does that for me, I know that I am about to fall deeply in love. Those tend to be my 5 star perfumes.

On Diffusion

From a technical standpoint, a good quality perfume is one that has decent tenacity and beautiful diffusion. I love fragrances that are delicate and refined, but nothing is more frustrating than a fragrance that vanishes after a few hours. The exception to this is a cologne style fragrance which is designed to refresh and uplift.

For me, the best way to experience a new fragrance is to forget about labels and smell with an open mind. Quality may be subjective, but there is nothing vague about the emotional effect of a truly great perfume. What about you? What is your personal definition of a high-quality perfume?

Image: Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (1848-1926), A Siren Song (A Song of Joy and Sorrow).



  • rosarita: Ok, after this great article my *definitions* are ludicrously simple. It’s easier to define what is low quality to my nose, no matter what the price. My husband and I have coined the word *ting-y* in response to how cheap perfume smells; there’s a sharpness, a *ping* that strikes at the back of the nasal cavity. No matter how well reviewed a scent may be, if I get that feeling it’s a deal breaker. On the other hand, if a scent draws me in, keeps drawing me in throughout it’s development, has decent lasting power and transports me, that is high quality to my nose. Jacomo Silences is an excellent example, for me, of a high quality low cost scent. So is an old bottle of Coty Wild Musk that I have in my collection (and have no recollection of how it got there, but that’s another story.) And yes, my taste tends to run to the classics but also do deeper, darker orientals. They are easier to find at all price points, in my experience. February 24, 2012 at 9:28am Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, that’s not simple at all! It’s a good way to approach a new perfume. I use something like too–anything that smells like it could be a laundry detergent.

    Looking forward to the relaunch of Jacomo Silences, but worried that it may be a pale shadow of the original. February 24, 2012 at 9:35am Reply

  • Suzanna: It seems to me that I associate many modern aromachemicals with smelling cheap, and for example I will give the Escada LE summer editions that seem to be made up of hairspray and synthetic fruits. If I compare that with, let’s say, Mitsouko, then the impression is reinforced. That comparison is extreme, so I will take Light Blue instead and will still feel the same at similar price point.

    A good value for the money for me is something I wear and enjoy on a consistent basis, so that it doesn’t languish on the shelf. February 24, 2012 at 9:44am Reply

  • marlena: Wonderful article, V! I also enjoyed your post on Wednesday. A high-quality perfume for me is something that makes my daughter and DH say “you smell so good”! 🙂 February 24, 2012 at 11:03am Reply

  • marlena: I call it “scratchy.” My DH refers to those perfumes as the “I’m about to sneeze” perfumes. February 24, 2012 at 11:09am Reply

  • Patty: My main criteria for quality are lasting power and development. No matter the price, if it tells its entire story in 15 minutes and then disappears from my skin, it’s not a quality perfume. In addition, if it smells too much like a functional fragrance (laundry detergent or air freshener), or is metallic- or plastic-smelling, it’s not quality to me. February 24, 2012 at 11:32am Reply

  • Victoria: So true, comparing most things to Guerlain classics is bound to show how different perfumery tends to be today! In some cases, it isn’t such a bad thing, because new styles are interesting to explore. Light Blue is certainly not rich and voluptuous like L’Heure Bleue, but it has a bright, luminous quality and an original character. I don’t care for Coco Mademoiselle, but I still admire it. Even Chance is heads and shoulders above most other fragrances of its type. February 24, 2012 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you! That’s a lovely criterion to use. I also like getting compliments from my loved ones on my perfumes. February 24, 2012 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Victoria: Lasting power is an important criterion for me, because nothing is more disappointing than finding out that the fragrance vanishes before it even has a chance to tell its story. Even worse, when as you say, its story is more of a blurb.

    Then there are perfumers like Jean-Claude Ellena who weave the ethereal blends deliberately. I suppose, that they are in the cologne category for me, scents that are meant to be used generously. February 24, 2012 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: That made me smile. I call that effect raspy or high-pitched. Scratchy and tingly is even better. February 24, 2012 at 12:20pm Reply

  • Elisa: It does seem that the farther back you go, the higher-quality everything seemed, even “cheap” drugstore stuff. For that reason I get excited if I find an old bottle of *anything* in someone’s house!

    I will sometimes overlook shortcomings in terms of technical quality if I am attracted enough to the scent. I recently fell completely in love with the “Couture Black” version of Lolita Lempicka — ON PAPER. I made a rare impulse purchase of a full (3.4 oz!) bottle (on discount at least), and discovered it doesn’t work on skin at all, or even on fabric really, where it goes flat and rubbery. But you know what? The bottle is beautiful and I can spray it on paper to my heart’s content! February 24, 2012 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree! Even when I smell Lancome Poeme today, a fragrance that nearly everyone decried as being cheap smelling, etc., I find that it is unexpectedly luxurious. Of course, if I compare it to something like Katy Perry Purr, then it smells even more like a millions bucks. I recently found an old bottle of Poeme in my mom's closet, and maybe it ages nicely, but it smells much richer than the current version. Maybe, it was changed..

    Lolita Lempicka packaging is fantastic, especially in black and gold. February 24, 2012 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Elisa: I’m already starting to think of bottles I bought 2 years ago as vintage! February 24, 2012 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: Ha ha ha! When I wrote about Guerlain Samsara, I found myself calling it vintage. Had to step back and take notice that it was launched only in 1990! February 24, 2012 at 12:53pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I really don’t know how to tell quality in perfume. I only know what I like, kind of. I guess it’s because I don’t really analyse a perfume when I smell it.
    Besides do cheap ingredients always create a bad perfume? ( and high quality stuff a great one?) February 24, 2012 at 1:10pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I guess, when I think about quality, there are two things- one is the quality of the raw materials and two, the quality of the composition…I haven’t mapped what these mean, into words- but I usually see this as picture/colors in my head that indicates whether or not the perfumes has ‘quality’ for me. I will come back with a more coherent explanation of what I mean.

    Ofcourse, I have words like sneezy etc for perfumes- but I am not yet sure if that maps on to lack of quality (Fo e.g some of the OJ fragrances make me feel sneeze-y or sometimes give me a weird feeling in my throat. However, I am not sure if that says something about the ingredients? does it? Again some other perfumes (from other brands) seem to have very ‘sticky’ notes which sometimes makes me wonder if that indicates lack of quality raw materials but again i am not sure if that is true. It is mostly just a feeling.)

    Many niche brands are priced the same, but they don’t seem to be equal in quality both in the quality of the composition and the quality of the raw materials..I appreciate this article because I think it is important to tell the difference between quality and whether or not one likes a perfume. WHat you said is absolutely correct- Beer is not inferior to wine, except when somebody tries to pass off one as the other and it is important to know to tell the difference (or maybe it is not..:))

    For me I judge a perfume based on whether it moves me or not. If I have to call a perfume good/great- at some level it have move past just smelling pretty/good and ‘connect’ with me or say something or be something or have a ‘soul’ so to February 24, 2012 at 1:31pm Reply

  • Emily: “A high-quality fragrance should have a distinctive character. Whatever the fragrance costs and whoever made it is besides the point. I mainly care that the perfume says something to me.”

    For me, that just about sums it up. I’ll add that sometimes I may get tired of hearing what a particular perfume has to say, even if I’d found it interesting for quite a while. And maybe I’ll stop wearing it or pass it along to someone else, but I’ll still acknowledge its quality. I suppose the very best of the best perfumes that I have are the ones that never seen to run out of new nuances for me to discover — the ones that can still surprise me or hold my attention even after I’ve gone through a couple of bottles.

    Terrific article, Victoria. (As usual! I’m a longtime admirer but new commenter.) February 24, 2012 at 1:32pm Reply

  • Victoria: You know, it is such a complex and fascinating topic, and I’m far from being an expert on it. And is it ever possible to be? IMO, knowing what you like is already a big accomplishment, because your taste is the final arbiter. Even though professional perfumery uses some objective quality criteria–performance, diffusion, signature, etc.–I don’t find all of those parameters to be equally useful when I look for a perfume to make me happy.

    And you are absolutely right, a perfume is so much more than the sum of its parts. Expensive ingredients do not make a great perfume. To me, J’Adore is a great example of that. The original formula, from what I’ve read, is not that expensive. The J’Adore L’Or is packed with costly floral absolutes, yet I don’t find it better. February 24, 2012 at 2:00pm Reply

  • dee: Quality for me, too, means richness of character, some unfolding/development, and good lasting power. I like fragrances that don’t meet these criteria (a short lived single tune can be a delight as well!), and I dislike perfumes of inarguably high quality!

    This was such a great article V, and a nice follow up to the Price of Luxury! 🙂 February 24, 2012 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Daly_beauty: Well said. Too often in the perfume world, the word “quality” is affixed to price and status. Drives me crazy. I really like your take, and as always, the way you express it. February 24, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: As complicated as it can be to define quality in objective terms, I think that most perfume lovers once they have smelled enough can figure out what quality means to them. It’s tempting to use labels–iconic, classical, niche, expensive, etc.–as shortcuts, but I find them more misleading than anything else. Sometimes the labels can be used to pass off something second rate under them. The case of reformulated Miss Dior is an example of that. I don’t mean to zero in on Dior today, I actually like many of their fragrances. But the way they rename & reformulate is very confusing. February 24, 2012 at 2:35pm Reply

  • Susan: “From a technical standpoint, a good quality perfume is one that has decent tenacity and beautiful diffusion.”

    Thank you for saying this. I agree!

    Wonderful post. February 24, 2012 at 2:51pm Reply

  • minette: great post! i think i associate a perfume’s quality with both sophistication and the way it makes me feel. my vintage revolon intimate, though technically a drugstore scent, is one i consider to be high quality, because it smells so good and sophisticated and womanly and unique (and yes, because it gets compliments). i realize that i feel more confident and secure when i’m wearing something i believe is interesting, multi-faceted, and unique. and my more expensive scents aren’t always the ones that garner compliments. in fact, my $8 patchouli oil (which feels really right on me) probably gets more compliments than anything else, so i guess it’s more about what a scent does for my mind and my mood than how much it costs. i realize that i don’t like smelling boring or cheap or like everyone else, because i’m a scent snob in a lot of ways, but “boring” and “cheap” and “ubiquitous” can be found in many expensive and niche scents as well as low-end scents, so price clearly isn’t the determining factor for me – whether high or low. i want scent to make me feel special, and if it does that, i am likely to consider it high quality. so you’d probably find my collection pretty crazy and all over the place – and dictated by my personality and emotions as much as anything. February 24, 2012 at 3:31pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Exactly!! It’s the same with books and film – once you’ve seen/read/smelled enough- you *can* identify/pick out ‘quality’ even if it is not always possible to verbalize it..:) February 24, 2012 at 3:37pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Emily, and welcome! 🙂
    Oh, so true! Being able to discover more and more each time you wear a perfume is a mark of something special. Some beautiful (and ostensibly high-quality perfumes) can easily fall short when it comes to keep my interest. February 24, 2012 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Dee! Your short lived single tune made me think of a fragrance that I love despite its poor tenacity–Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan. While it lasts, it is such a comforting and evocative presence of apricots and tea leaves that I’m willing to reapply. February 24, 2012 at 3:41pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you! That irritates me as well. Price and status and other labels can easily be misleading. And they mean nothing at all, as the article I mentioned in the previous post illustrated. February 24, 2012 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Susan! I’m glad that you liked it. February 24, 2012 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Victoria: I think that your collection sounds wonderful and diverse. We have different moods, feel different things and find ourselves in different settings, so it’s great to have a variety of fragrance to choose from. February 24, 2012 at 3:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, it is as if you develop your own baseline, your own standard against which you judge. It’s fun to compare our impressions over time. Blogging has helped me in that regards tremendously, because it forces me to be more analytical about why I like or don’t like something. February 24, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

  • annemariec: Diffusion and tenacity are important to me. I do understand that ethereality can be lovely, and for some perfumes like that I would buy them as a decant that I could carry with me and reapply, or keep them as ‘after shower’ experiences. But as for full bottle purchases, these are often important investments. I work hard to pay for my perfumes and I expect them to work hard for me! February 24, 2012 at 4:08pm Reply

  • moltmanns: I believe a perfume is like a fine wine it is all a matter of preference and individual taste February 24, 2012 at 4:40pm Reply

  • Marian Bendeth: Beautifully articulated and voiced Victoria! February 24, 2012 at 5:01pm Reply

  • unseencenser: What a timely post, Victoria, as I am feeling a mite cranky that one of my recent perfume purchases turned out to be $45 for less than 4 mls. Your post asked me to analyze: what made me cranky about it?

    The word in your title that draws my attention is “value”. If the cost is high, but so is the quality, people are not inclined to squawk, yes? The question is, how do we each individually judge quality.

    I think what irritated me about this current purchase was not that I questioned the quality of the ingredients or the design, but I wasn’t sure that my love for it justified that price point. Something can be very beautiful, using beautiful ingredients executed beautifully, but unless you adore wearing it, unless it brings you joy, you shouldn’t shell out $$ for it. That’s an absolute statement but in reality we all make various levels of tradeoffs. I love it X amount, so I will pay Y for it. When the two are very disconnected, you simply don’t buy it; but when the balance is off, one may still buy it yet feel that it is not a good “value”.

    The more I sniff, the less I enjoy some cheaper fragrances, but I think that’s partly because I can detect differences in quality in ingredients and construction more than I used to be able to do. That doesn’t mean the cheaper fragrances aren’t still a good value; when their cost matches the level of joy they bring when one wears them, they’re still great buys.

    Great topic! I’m still thinking about it… February 24, 2012 at 6:18pm Reply

  • Bryan Ross: Men reap the benefits of high quality fragrances at drugstore prices more frequently than the ladies, and unfairly I might add. We have Clubman and Old Spice at under $10 a bottle. Hard to go wrong there, especially since they both smell like they could be $40 a bottle. February 24, 2012 at 7:31pm Reply

  • Kathleen: Being relatively new to “fragrance land” – i.e. doing more than just spritzing in on…spending considerably time thinking about fragrance, I’m finding this post very lovely and quite affirming.

    I want to liken fragrance to music, the thing that I understand the best.

    I must say – I like Strauss’ “Four Last Songs” just as much as I like Men Without Hat’s “Safety Dance”. Are they VASTLY different pieces of music? YES! But what makes them great to me is that I have a a strong emotional reaction to both “works”. (I find it difficult to call “Safety Dance” a “work”, I giggle, I giggle…”)

    Change the analogy to I like Kilian’s “Liaisons Dangereuses” just as much I like Bath and Body Works’s “White Tea and Ginger”. Yes, there are different shadings to the reasons I like them, but the main reason rings true. I like them both because I have a strong emotional reaction to both.

    Does all music I like make me “happy”, no..not really, but they sure don’t make me “feel” badly. A perfume hasn’t make me weep at it’s utter gorgeousness…it I did…that would be the Grail.

    In the case of “Liaisons Dangereuses”…I would pay anything (w/in reason) for it, due to how it makes me feel, the emotional connectivity that has NOTHING to do with the story that Kilian links to it, and how beautifully it works for my skin.

    And the amazing things about fragrance (as in music) these are my favorite as of now (if I’m just showing opposite ends of the spectrum), but I’m guessing they won’t top my list for the rest of my days; and I’m also guessing that those things that replace them won’t be “brand new” but new to me, or something I wake up one day and suddenly love. That’s the beautiful thing about anything that’s validity is measured through subjectivity! No matter how educated you are about the process or the product, when it comes down to what speaks to you, your soul takes over! February 24, 2012 at 8:15pm Reply

  • Henrique Brito: The only thing i could see Light Blue used is a posh Air Freshener, i thought the citrus aroma in it very awful and chemical the first time i smell it… February 24, 2012 at 9:16pm Reply

  • Henrique Brito: Victoria, but what about 100% natural fragrances? They don’t last so long, but it’s not so fair to say that they don’t have quality February 24, 2012 at 9:17pm Reply

  • dee: I just re-read my comment and realize I sound like a loony, lol, but it sounds like you understood where I was coming from 🙂

    Vetiver Tonka is a great example of a scent that I love, that seems to dissappear terribly fast! February 24, 2012 at 9:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: You certainly don’t sound like a loony! It made perfect sense to me. And I agree on VT and Hermessence perfumes in general–they just vanish far too quickly. But perhaps they wouldn’t have that ethereal, translucent quality were they blended differently. February 25, 2012 at 2:04pm Reply

  • Victoria: >>I work hard to pay for my perfumes and I expect them to work hard for me!

    A great way to put it! I finally gave up on an idea of buying a bottle of L’Artisan Mimosa Pour Moi, it just doesn’t last on me. February 25, 2012 at 2:06pm Reply

  • Victoria: Very true! The individual taste is the ultimate deciding factor. February 25, 2012 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you, Marian! February 25, 2012 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: I hear you! Once the price tips past a certain point, I feel that it’s hard to justify it, even if I really like it. I also feel that if something is far too expensive to be reasonable, it probably is. A lot of times you end up paying not for the fragrance itself, but for other things–packaging, branding name, etc. February 25, 2012 at 2:12pm Reply

  • Victoria: You’re right, Henrique. It’s different, of course, but even 100% natural fragrance can last well. Aftelier Secret Garden, for instance, lasts for the entire day on me, and it is 100% natural. Same for Providence Perfume Co Hindu Honeysuckle, which has a decent lasting power. February 25, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: And Pino Silvestre! Another fragrance that smells more expensive than its low price.
    Even some Bath & Body Works fragrances can smell more expensive than the prestige releases. February 25, 2012 at 2:16pm Reply

  • Victoria: I like your example very much, it makes it very easy to understand how we can enjoy such a wide range of perfumes. One day you can be in a mood for Strauss and another for Men Without Hats. Same with perfume. Some days I feel that I want something simple and pretty like Penhaligons Violetta or BBW Cotton Blossom and at other times Guerlain Shalimar is more suitable. They touch me, but in different ways, and this is one of the reasons why I can’t imagine wearing only one type of perfume.

    >>No matter how educated you are about the process or the product, when it comes down to what speaks to you, your soul takes over!

    So true! It’s probably why fragrance is such a fascinating quest for me. The moment you find something special you feel it on such a deep level. February 25, 2012 at 2:33pm Reply

  • Dl: One of the brands whose high prices seem justified to my nose is amouage: perfumes like the tribute attar(have you smelled it?) or gold are just incomparably decadent, and feel almost alive. Frederic Malle’s perfumes also have this richness and complexity that can only come from beautiful natural materials.
    On the other hand, the cartier exclusives (as much as I find the fougueuse and treizieme marvelous) in spite of their beauty don’t have this almost palpable quality that I expect from something at that price point (though it might just be a matter of style).
    On the other end of the spectrum, Aromatics Elixir though not department store cheap, smells as expensive as any niche perfume. And in the niche market, Nicolai never cease to amaze me with their richness, complexity and utter beauty for such relatively low prices(i.e. for niche perfumes) : they smell more expensive than the whole dior collection privee put together.
    In the end though, I’ll agree that when something moves us (and as long as we can afford it: JAR for instance is out of the question for me, for purely logistic reasons 🙂 even if I were to find them beautiful), the price becomes secondary (case in point: the incredible heure fougueuse.) February 25, 2012 at 2:43pm Reply

  • Dl: I meant drugstore cheap. sorry. February 25, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

  • Henrique Brito: Need to check this Aftelier so, the fragrances of this brand that i tried were lovely but limited in terms of longevity on skin. Providence Perfume for me also last a considerable time on skin, specially her Tuberose & Cococa and her Rose Boheme. February 25, 2012 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Anita Monroe: It’s in some ways it’s a mystery – which fragrances get to you and make your world more beautiful. It’s partly determined by the distinct qualities of your own skin. Some fragrances simply sink in and become a delicious part of your own self, and others reject you as you reject them. The first time I opened a bottle of Shalimar, I was so affected that I could not even properly thank my aunt who had brought me the bottle from her visit to France. Others like Prada’s Infusion d’Iris make me ill and I can’t stand to be around anyone who wears it. I have to sink into a scent and feel its beauty. I don’t have a huge variety of scents, just a dozen or so that I don’t want to live without. Lately I added Lolita Lempicka’s “L”. I can’t really explain it, but that scent makes me relax and feel so peaceful. February 25, 2012 at 10:58pm Reply

  • Rowanhill: Giving a stern look at the direction of Chanel’s La Pausa here as well, yes I am talking to you. Beautiful but minimal lasting power. Such a shame. February 26, 2012 at 5:54am Reply

  • Vanessa: Oh how funny that you mention Poeme, which I recently tried alongside three other new designer scents that I cannot even bring to mind. I had in in the back of my mind that LT slammed Poeme in The Guide, but my nose kept instinctively going back and resmelling the spot on my hand where I had sprayed Poeme and it felt unexpectedly luxurious as you say. And that was the modern incarnation!

    Cheap scents have that chemically / alcohol-y / plasticky / synthetic smell to my nose – often of fruit as Suzanne mentions. I find it hard to describe, but I know it when I sniff it! February 26, 2012 at 10:16am Reply

  • Vanessa: Suzanna with an “a”, sorry! February 26, 2012 at 10:17am Reply

  • Mandy Aftel: Victoria, your very intelligent look at quality & value in perfume is such a great contribution, and started some wonderful discussions, as always!
Mandy February 26, 2012 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: Your mileage may vary, as they say! 🙂 February 26, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mmmm, Tuberose & Cocoa sounds very nice… February 26, 2012 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: Sometimes I think that I’m suffering from a “good old days” syndrome, and then I smell something launched a couple of years ago and compare it to an average contemporary launch… February 26, 2012 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Victoria: I love La Pausa, but I agree, it’s so fleeting that wearing it can be frustrating. February 26, 2012 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree with your take and your examples.
    Lately I have been testing more exclusive collections, which often seem more interesting than the main lines. However, they are priced so luxuriously that I can rarely justify the expense. For this reason, whenever I discover a distinctive, well-made fragrance from a department store, I feel doubly satisfied. February 26, 2012 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Victoria: >> Some fragrances simply sink in and become a delicious part of your own self, and others reject you as you reject them.

    It’s definitely something you feel on an intuitive level. I find that often when my friends complain about not being able to find a perfume they like is because they search within a single area. One friend recently said that she must dislike perfume, because everything she comes across smells alike. Well, she’s smelling only the new launches pushed to her by the sales associates at her local mall. And she’s right that they smell the same. So, we recently had fun smelling perfumes from the same department store, but choosing a selection from different fragrance families. She ended up falling in love with Stella. And I still haven’t introduced her to Annick Goutal and other interesting niche offerings. February 26, 2012 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words! February 26, 2012 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Perception is all…. sometimes a fragrance you like seems a lot less enticing once it is demoted to drug store shelves- consider the fates of the original “Chloe” by Karl Lagerfeld: a rich, lush, heady honeysuckle and tuberose scent with a deep, velvety peach color and Givenchy’s “Organza” a creany vanilla and sandalwood fragrance that once seemed like ivory velvet on your skin. Now that they are $39.99 at CVS or worse, on the clearance shelf at Loeheman’s, they don’t seem quite as chic any more.

    I am sorry Anita Monroe feels that way about Prada’s Infusion d’Iris- I am obsessed with it and have been wearing it a lot and I am probably guilty of wearing a lot of it since I find it so yummy. My apologies.

    Must admit- I get cranky over 200 dollar and up bottles of perfume- how much am I paying for the “name” and percepived “status” of this product, as opposed to genuinely creative perfumery? I have yet to like anything about the By Killian scents except the cool names and pretty bottles. (And on that subject- whatever hapned to “prestige” scents coming in beautiful Bacarrat or Lalique bottles? I feel sorry for new collectors now who are stuck with the “modern” and to my eye, rather plebian bottles like the ones Serge Lutens uses. It wouldbe nice to get a wonderful perfume and a gorgeous “objet d’art” for one’s dressing table.)More and more props to Mandy Aftel, Yosh, Alexis Karl (who hand crafts incredible bottles, too), Sage and other artsan perfumers- at least I knowI am paying for their time as well as the ingredients. February 27, 2012 at 5:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: I also miss the beautiful, luxurious bottles, but when I get it (as in by Kilian), I realize that I’m not ready to spend quite that much. The packaging is so unbelievably expensive these days, and if you are a small brand, you have to be prepared to buy a large quantity of bottles. Now, for most niche brands, it’s not feasible. Imagine if you wanted to make lemonade for a small neighborhood stand and you were asked to buy enough lemons to serve the entire NY state. So, most brands go for simpler bottles from the available stocks. February 27, 2012 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Courant: Ignorance is bliss. I can say that with authority. I am 59. My Mother worked as a housemaid at an International Hotel when I was a pre-teen and teenager. Occasionally bottles of perfume got left behind. I acquired (I could say we owned but my poor Mum always smelt of bleach) Chanels, Weil de Weil and Antilope, Ma Griffe, Shocking, and many others. They formed my perfume education and I didn’t part with a cent. I was never exposed to the advertising that went with these treasures because I grew up in New Zealand. These fragrances simply weren’t mainstream in our egalitarian society. I knew what I liked and that was all. Do I know that vintage was better? Of course I do but there is a pretentious attitude prevailing at present that may stop you enjoying the new Ivoire (just as an example) Victoria is so right. Keep an open mind. July 29, 2013 at 3:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Some vintage (or let’s say, older) perfumes are definitely excellent, but not everything. I wouldn’t want to live on vintage alone (or on niche alone, for that matter), and I’m happy that I don’t have to choose. New Ivoire is very pretty, and it has plenty of elements to be exciting. July 29, 2013 at 7:49am Reply

      • Courant: We discussed Noa once before and you regretted not buying a bottle for a very good price, so I know you must keep it in rotation. Noa is just one of many modern perfumes that meet the need of females in the workplace (and recreation) And if the guys want to wear it too, that’s great! July 29, 2013 at 5:30pm Reply

  • Marvin: I was pleasantly surprised you mentioned Lalique here. Among the Guerlains and Annick Goutals and Hermes and Tom Fords, Lalique is a relative newbie, without a rich perfume history, but it has its set of amazing, intriguing fragrances. I wear Encre Noire and White, and they’re both magical in their own rights. Definitely a brand that’s doing something good, quietly, amidst all the commercial marketing driven chaos in the fragrance industry. August 31, 2013 at 9:35pm Reply

  • Anna: I recently discovered that Jardins de Bagatelle had been reformulated, but have not been able to discover when. I knew the original 1983 version, but haven’t bought one for a good long time. When you compared the Jardins with other florals were you comparing the original version or the newer one?

    And do you have any idea when it was changed? October 21, 2013 at 5:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: There is no one single reformulation when it comes to most Guerlain perfumes. Since regulations are updated year to year (more or less), the formulas are changes to be current. Your best bet is to look for something in the older packaging. October 22, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

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