This won’t be very well thought-out, because it’s coming to you from Planet Nyquil. I’ve got a bad cold. (I know there are worse things than sore throats, but when you have one, it doesn’t seem as though too many things are worse!) Anyway, I’ve been considering writing about two perfumes for a while, but haven’t, because I haven’t come to firm conclusions about either of them.
Tell me, fellow bloggers and forum posters. When you evaluate a perfume, do you look at what others said about it first? I have to confess that I often do. I have my favorites -- writers who know, without a doubt, more than I do. But sometimes I “poll” -- look at forum posts, blogs and retail review sites -- because I’m still just not sure. I don’t mean Good vs. Bad. I mean, is it one of those which can only be appreciated by the cognoscenti? Is it aimed at the mass market, and is that always bad? Or is it something too sophisticated, too haute, for my evaluative abilities? That kind of thing. In other words, peer pressure.
One of my favorite houses is Parfums de Nicolai, because they make good stuff and price it fairly. I’ve tried quite a few of their offerings. But a few months ago I screwed up while ordering a decant, and wrote “Maharadjah” instead of “Maharadjih,” a nice amber scent which I’d sampled and liked, on the order form. When the decant finally arrived -- well, you know the drill: rip, spray, squirm with deligh...WTF, is that lavender?
A little research revealed that I’d messed up the order, not the decant house, so I was stuck with it. And I couldn’t imagine why a perfumer would plop a big gob of lavender -- although it is a nice, heady lavender -- on top of an amber and spice scent, like pomegranate syrup on chocolate ice cream. Was this simply too advanced a perfume for me? I hit the (virtual) books.
Some loved it; others hated it; all mentioned the dissonance of the lavender. Well, that was a relief. Here’s the thing, though: I still haven’t made up my mind. A little more research reveals that the home fragrance versions of this outsell all Nicolai’s other home scents. I can see that. The personal fragrance? I’ll give it a five out of ten. I’m wearing it right now, and I still don’t know if I like it.
Another one is Nicolai’s “Eau de Turquoise Eau Fraiche.” I bought a partial bottle of this, unsniffed. It truly was one of the strangest fragrances I’d ever smelled. It’s listed as a fruit-based scent, but is so unique that I imagine that label was a best guess. This is to a frooty floral as a peppery, grassy Sauvignon Blanc is to a White Zinfandel. The “notes” mention mango, peach, citrus and sage -- I don’t believe I’ve ever read a stranger “notes” list -- but it works.
This is not to say I loved it. I traded an ounce of it right away. Then, I started getting compliments whenever I wore it. Lots of them. A woman at the gym made me write down the name of the scent and where she could get it, and that’s the only time that has ever happened.
I began to like “Eau de Turquoise Eau Fraiche” better.
Although there may be one or two out there who’d say “Oh, heavens, no. I never take anyone else’s opinion into account when reviewing a perfume. I am a tastemaker, a leader, not one of a herd!” I bet there are others who’d admit to just a little bit of what-does-so-and-so-think investigation. We are, after all, social beings.
Anybody want to a chance to try these? Tell me: how do you make up your mind?
Leave me a comment by midnight, March 14, US Eastern time. I’ll do a random drawing and announce the winner March 15th.
The photo is by Diane Arbus, “Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967.”