Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Three from the Mass Market, at Random

Reminder: Sept 3rd is the deadline for entering the Yatagan/L'air du desert Marocain samples drawing! See the "Yatagan" post for details.

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 3 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 (and pour 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.


ScentScelf said...

That Voile de Jasmin, it's tricky...the first time I tried it, I remember liking it very much--light, hint of green, great for a "quality" but simple smell that would be okay for in the classroom--and then twenty minutes later, it was gone!

I couldn't believe something could really disappear that fast, so I went back a few weeks later, and I smelled...nothing! I actually asked a sales rep to check the bottle and make sure that the liquid really was a perfume. For some reason, they treated me as if I was a bit touched...fortunately, I had become a serious blog reader by then, and discovered others had the same experience.

More attempts. Realization that I can't sample ANYTHING else first, or VdeJ is made mute. Finally, success again. Six tries, I think? I thought I was losing it a bit, myself! WTF, indeed. ;)

Tania said...

I think I'll try this experiment myself, just for fun!

I've never found Voile de Jasmin, but it sounds like even if I did, I'd be wasting my time. How odd...

I've never asked an SA over here (UK) for samples in my own containers. I wouldn't dare... ;-) It's hard enough to get samples at all, they rarely have them out and even if you buy something, you'll probably only get one or two - and only if you ask. Why are stores so reluctant to understand that trying a fragrance for a day or so is important to us?

Kathy Bungard said...

Yea! I was one of those winning the drawing for samples of Yatagan and L'Air de Desert Morocain! Oh what fun it is to get a package of samples, like Christmas morning!

Being new to this wonderful world of fragrance here is my very novice review.

Both my husband and I tried these, especially since they are more masculine scents. He initially liked the L'Air du Desert Morocain very much, but after the drydown left mainly an incense/patchouly type of fragrance he wasn't as keen on it. I'm afraid it had the same effect on me only faster.

The Yatagan we approached with caution after reading some reviews that speak of people recoiling in horror when first sniffing, along with some others like the now famous comment that it smells like 'cat pee' LOL

Well it was neither cat pee nor 'horrifying', but the wormwood/artemisia in the top notes was definitely strong and it seems we're neither of us patchouly fans which this seemed to have a good deal of in its heart.

All in all it was great fun, but neither are keepers for us. I'm grateful for the scent experiences that help us as we continue to try and determine what 'our' fragrances are.

Hope that wasn't too bad for a fragrance newbie :)