Patty and Anita from Perfume Posse posted a hilarious list of what they consider the Worst Perfumes Ever Made. This, of course, is a very personal subject. I can clutch my pearls as much as I want, but to Patty's nose Shalimar is an abomination and no one can argue with that. Reading and chuckling ("The official perfume of Mordor") made me ask myself what makes me and others react so badly to certain perfumes.
"Hate" is a strong word. I smell a lot of dreck on a regular basis, and my tolerance and willingness to sniff and resniff have actually increased. There are many perfumes I wouldn't mind not to wear ever again, but I usually stop caring after a good shower. Thus, I wouldn't classify my reluctance to wear them as hatred. The fragrances I do despise, though, make me react in a very different way, bordering on anger. So, what makes one hate a perfume?
It can be an unpleasant association. A painful memory, a person from the past who used to wear a certain perfume. I'm thankful that the worst boss I ever had didn't wear perfume (as a matter of fact, all I remember from this mini-Satan is her sharp B.O.). Now that I think of it, this particular category of hated perfumes is completely empty in my case. Somehow, the truly evil in my life went scentless.
Then there are the perfumes that simply smell bad (to me). It's not anything in particular; they just do. Smelling someone wearing Angel makes me want to throttle her. No, Dear, you don't smell yummy. You stink. The same goes for Giorgio Beverly Hills. Another total stinker is Secretion Magnifique. I never met anyone who wore it and I hope to keep it that way, as blood and dirty laundry water do nothing for my disposition.
Another category is the Evil Note. I have a dear friend who hates patchouli in almost every form. The husband is ultra-sensitive to cumin (hello, Serge Noire and L'Artisan Oud), my sister cringes when I wear anything with lots of oakmoss, and I abhor melon notes and 99.9% of anything aquatic. This includes Hermes Un Jardin Apres la Mousson, Parfums DelRae Emotionelle, L'Eau d'Issey, Calvin Klein Escape, and the majority of the men's counters at Macy's.
And Diorissimo. There, I said it. It's that particular muguet note that gets to me in the worst possible way.
The smell and feel of cheap low-quality materials is another reason I may hate a perfume. I get angry every time I pass by a Victoria's Secret fragrance/body product display. I know the brand is not really responsible to all that's wrong with the American market, at least not singlehandedly, but it's a glaring reminder. Of course, what screams "cheap!" to me is not a universal thing. Some people, my mother included, will tell you that my beloved animalic notes on their dirty facets smell cheap to them. There's a reason Tabu got its reputation (personally I love it with all my heart), and many will probably list it in their "hate" column.
I save a special place in perfume hell to modern thin and generic fragrances that have a pretentious label and/or an utterly undeserving price tag that reflects the cost of advertising, marketing, and over-the-top packaging. Some of By Kilian's most recent offering fall into this category (Asian Tales, Garden of Good and Evil). Just as infuriating to me are major fashion designers who slap their labels on inferior juice. Michael Kors Very Hollywood is just one bad example of many. I'm sure you can all come up with more.
Those were the main reasons that make me deeply dislike a perfume. What are yours?
Photo from Flash Gordon, 1940.