Tuesday, August 24, 2010

From The Archives: Three from the Mass Market, at random

I'm taking a couple of weeks off to work on another project. In the meantime, here's another post from Year One. Back with an original, next week!

Today I went to the dentist, where I was told that I'll need several root canals soon, oh, joy. So I decided to go to a nearby Ulta  for some perfume therapy, and to check out the scents of the mass-market world.

I'm no niche snob, at least not yet. I think most perfumes, when you get right down to it, smell pretty good. (I mean, what’s not to like?) But now, I'm a budding perfuminista. I've wondered lately how my own attitudes toward all these focus-grouped, product-managed, M.B.A.-analyzed fragrances might have changed.

So I walked up and down the aisle, picking up bottles, spraying and labeling those handy little strips. (I wanted to collect some samples, too, for skin testing later on. But even though I had the vials with me, the lone SA acted as though I had asked to leave a vial of, oh, anthrax, with her.) So no go on that, missy! ) These scents were tested, as is the modern custom, on paper.

Came home, threw the dozen or so strips like the I Ching (see picture,) closed my eyes and picked up three of them. The lucky winners were:

L’Eau de Issey by Issey Miyake. Nice. Floral. Safe, wouldn’t offend anybody. Hmmm, tuberose and…is that freesia? Or gardenia? Maybe violet?

So off I go to the blogs and discount sites, only to find the most maddening array of sound-alike shelf-space taker-uppers…ever. I mean there’s Summer and L’Eau Bleue d’Issey Eau Fraiche (andpour Homme) and L’Eau de Issey Pour Homme, and, ok, now I’m confused. I guess they do this because, if you like one of them, you’ll simply have to have them all…and also for your spouse or partner or whatever? And there won’t be room on the shelf for anybody else’s product? Yeah, that could be it.

“L'Eau d'Issey for Women has notes of green leaves, rose water, freesia, neroli, blackcurrant, lily of the valley, peony, tuberose, and parma violet.” – Now Smell This. 

White Linen by Estee Lauder. I’ve heard this described as “clean sheets and money.” It’s got that perfume-y Estee Lauder quality, for sure. Certainly, it’s the most challenging of the three. Lots of aldehydes, and I can smell a little rose and some greens and violets, but it reminds me, more than anything else, of a really first-rate laundry detergent. Well-named.

The notes include: Bulgarian rose, jasmine, mugnet, violet, orris, vetiver, and moss.

Voile de Jasmin by Bulgari. By the time I got this home, it was gone. (And we are talking maybe one hour.) I remember a bit of an undertone characteristic of the other Bulgari scents I have. WTF?

Well, I’m pretty sure it had some jasmine in it anyway. Notes (from Now Smell This) include: “living jasmine sambac, bergamot, orange blossom, rosewood, ylang ylang, living mimosa and living rose.” (Italics mine.)

Hunh? What’s this mean, “living” jasmine sambac, rose, mimosa? More marketing? I give up.

Conclusion: all the ranting and raving about the way perfumes are marketed in the U.S. now is perfectly illustrated in this one twenty-minute stop I made. Think I’ll stick with online for now.

And you know what? Yatagan’s not so bad.


Brian said...

Yatagan is awesome. ;)

Olfacta said...

Oh, man. I honestly didn't mean to include all those "you might also like....s!" Will try to do something about it.