The subject of this post came to me this morning as I was happily spraying myself with Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane. This much-maligned fruity-floral by is widely considered a misfire even by die hard fans of Uncle Serge. However, I love it dearly and have been wearing it as one of my summer staples ever since NdC first came out in 2009. This perfume and its cousin, Tom Ford Champaca Absolute, work better for me than the pretty Ormonde Jayne florals that are often hailed as the best of their kind. Don't get me wrong, I like the Ormonde Jayne tropical perfumes very much, I'm just not lusting after them and they're not impressed with my skin chemistry, either.
This line of thinking lead me to look at my perfume collection and wonder what else I love and wear that is generally considered inferior by most. Also, which iconic perfumes are completely beyond my comprehension and affection?
Now, let's skip truly controversial perfumes like Miel de Bois and MKK. Unless someone from the Palais Royal cares to chime in and declare the opposite, I'd go out on a limb and say they were never meant to be crowd pleasers. Besides, both have devoted fans that regard them as Uncle Serge's finest and bravest (myself included). I'm talking more along the lines of the aforementioned Nuit de Cellophane or Five O'Clock au Gingembre, another beautiful and joyful Lutens that often gets trashed. Perhaps even Gris Clair, though this one seems to have slowly grown on many who felt disappointed at first.
Let's leave Uncle Serge now and think about other perfumes. The entire Tom Ford Private Blend range is a good example. People still love to hate it while I've been slowly buying them one by one. Not everything, but still, I find most of the line quite wonderful. Speaking of Tom Ford, I adore Black Orchid as much as I did when it first came out, mushrooms and all.
A few weeks ago I got a rather rude comment on an old review of Mazzolari Lui. Apparently this one is quite controversial. Who knew? Then there's my beloved Ferme tes Yeux (JAR). I call it the Precious, but many claim it smells more like Gollum. At least I will have my scent twin for validation.
What else? Oh, Mechant Loup. It's probably the least popular perfume from L'Artisan. Smells fabulous on the husband (and I borrow it, too).
Guerlain get a lot of deserved flak for just about everything- the heavy-handed reformulation of the classics, assorted pink juices, the level of sugary goodness in some of their more expensive creations. The truth is that as much as I kvetch and krechtz with the best of them, I'd still take a Guerlain perfume over just about everything else you'd find on the shelves at Nordstrom, and I have yet to sniff a Shalimar I don't like.
Another proof that I'm completely backward about some things: I barely get the appeal of Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine-White Moss, but love Amber-Ylang Ylang with all my heart; toothache and all.
Now for the other side of this exercise, if we ignore obvious stuff like Angel that has as many haters as devotees, there's till enough juice I don't get. Popular perfumes such as the original Prada, Paris (pre-reformulation), Tresor (ditto) and L'Instant (the only Guerlain I truly, completely and utterly dislike). I love many (most, actually) of Annick Goutal perfumes, but I could live the rest of my life happily without smelling Petite Cherie ever again.
Then there's the revered Hermessence line. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena was hailed as god over this (and other stuff). Even Vetiver Tonka doesn't save this inflated eau-de-whatever range for my nose. I wish Mr. Ellena would revisit his Van Cleef & Arpels root and give us something with an actual body. No, I'm not surrendering my perfumista badge just yet. Get one step closer and I'll spray you with Miel de Bois.
So, let's talk about it: what do you secretly (or not so secretly) love that would make Luca Turin smack you with a fish? What perfumery milestone you just don't get?
Photo of Barbara Streisand by Richard Avedon, 1965