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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.

boudoir36-catania

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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