Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Perfume And Compliments


One the most debated and discussed topics in the online perfume community is the compliments one gets (or doesn't get) on his or her scent of the day. I have a feeling that even those of us who feel the strongest about wearing perfume for nothing but personal pleasure enjoy an occasional acknowledgment of our good taste and marvelous sillage. Which is why many find themselves baffled when no one seems to notice them wearing the latest Lutens or Amouage. One theory that kind of makes sense that since people tend to like and respond to the easy and familiar, you are much more likely to get compliments for wearing something like Stella, Daisy, or Acqua di Gio than for your Comme des Garcons. Another popular notion is that if you're a woman, men will find you most attractive if you're wearing something that reminds them of their mother's sugar cookies or pumpkin pie. I have to tell you that other than my husband (whose mother never baked a pie in her life), nobody ever comments when I wear Like This (Etat Libre d'Orange). But vanillas in general and various Shalimars in particular do seem to generate approval.

Here are the seven perfumes from my collection that seem to have garner a substantial number of compliments over the years- many are from strangers or casual acquaintances who crossed my sillage, but also from family members who don't always share my taste. I'm not counting the husband in this case, because he truly enjoys the journey and has a high tolerance for almost anything. He says that his favorite perfumes for me to wear are Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain, Panthere de Cartier, Miel de Bois and MKK. As you see, not exactly the average nose or taste.

I don't think there's much of a theme here, except a leaning towards oriental perfumes. Then again, a substantial part of my collection consists of these sweet fragrances, so it is kind of biased:

L'Occitane- Neroli
Cuir de Lancome
Frederic Malle- Musc Ravageur
Le Labo Santal 33
Guerlain Shalimar Light
Guerlain- Angelique Noire
Serge Lutens- Bois Oriental.

What do you think? Do you have a perfume or ten that get you plenty of praise?

Image: detail from a vintage Revlon ad via myvintagevogue.com.

41 comments:

  1. In Germany people don't compliment much. I think perhaps it has something to do with not invading privacy?! Personally, I feel complimented on my perfume when I don't have my sons asking 'what stinks around here?'
    Times are hard with teens, I have to find my compliments where I can ;)

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    Replies
    1. It really might be a cultural thing (strangers, not teens. Those are the same everywhere...) . Here people are far more open to chat strangers and compliment on shoes and sometimes perfume.

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  2. I tend to get compliments for:
    Stella (funny you should mention it ;) )
    Prada Infusion 'd Iris
    Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance

    No compliments for my beloved Mona Di Orio's, Dries van Noten,Chanel Bel Respiro or 'L eau de Chloe, which I love.
    Yes, my taste in perfume is random ;).

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    Replies
    1. As random as mine ;)
      The day I'll get a compliment on any of my MdO I'll announce it on Facebook or something.

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  3. I don't usually comment, but I have to say that L'Air du Desert always gets me lots of compliments--from both men and women. In the summer, TDC's Vetiver du Sel gets compliments, and recently PP's Moss Gown has received them.

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    Replies
    1. I think I'll wear Moss Gown tonight to a beauty event. We'll see how it goes.

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  4. I love this topic! I live in London, where people tend to stick to themselves and compliments especially do not exactly flow. If you're out an about, unless it's a weekend where pedestrians are (ever so slightly) more chilled, people won't normally make a passing comment to another stranger unless they are drunk (and we won't go there). So sometimes it's frustrating to walk around with a gorgeous, sillage monster on and not get a single compliment. Whereas when I used to live back in Australia, all kinds of strangers would compliment me if I had a nice fume on. Funnily enough, when I do get compliments it tends to be on ones I don't fancy too much: sugary, fruity concoctions. It's a strange world we live in, but I guess it would be boring if we were all the same!

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    1. You know, I actually did get compliments when visiting London; on my hair, not for perfume. Then again, my hair is an entity that takes as much space as a person.

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    2. So true Gaia, curly hair does have it's own personality and space doesn't it?

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  5. That's a mixed list, and suggests that ease of recognition is not the only factor in whether or not a perfume will be complimented. Dune is the only perfume that has ever gained me a compliment from anyone outside the family. Not sure what to make of that.

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    Replies
    1. Skin chemistry, most likely. Dune never worked for me, but I've smelled it on others who wore it beautifully.

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  6. I get compliments for many of my fragrances, but in general, they tend to be the ones that are warm and spicy. Or gourmand (which often translates to warm, vanillic and sometimes spicy). But I've also had compliments on iris and sandalwood based perfumes. I get very few compliments on straight out florals. A few here or there.

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    1. I don't think I ever got a compliment for an iris perfume from anyone other than my husband. I suspect they register as either soapy or weird to many people, which has never stopped me from loving them dearly.

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  7. Hi Gaia. I've been reading your blog for a while and especially the fragrance reviews. I am wholly uneducated in the art of perfumery so I'm trying to learn. Now I'm going to make you roll your eyes.....knowing how you feel about mass market fragrance. The number 1 fragrance I get compliments on is Light Blue. I've worn it for years even though I've branched out quite a bit in the last few years. But I kid you not, every single time I'm wearing it someone will ask me what I'm wearing and tell me how great I smell. I've had people stop me in the mall, grocery stores, and even at Metro platforms in DC. I don't know why this the one that always gets the most compliments; I know it's considered to be a fairly "generic" scent. I have to assume it has to do with its harmony with my particular body/skin chemistry.

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    Replies
    1. No eye-rolling here, I promise! Light Blue may stink on me (to high heavens. It's the apple note, I think), but it sounds like you have the perfect skin chemistry for it. When something works so well it needs to be treasured.

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  8. It's a tricky thing to comment on a woman's perfume. I work in a small clothing store and smell a lot of perfume over the course of a day, and if I like one I will compliment it. I never know how they will react... some are very happy and flattered. Some look at me like I just told them they have something in their teeth... or like they're embarrassed and I need to mind my own business. I'm always thrilled when someone likes my perfume, so the stiff or embarrassed reaction is really odd to me. I guess some women just don't take compliments well.

    The only perfumes I've gotten compliments on in public are Angel (many compliments on that one, back in the day when it was new), What We Do in Paris is Secret, Safran Troublant, and Fiore d'Ambra. My husband's favorite will always be Angel, and I just pat him on the head and smile when he asks me why I don't wear it anymore.

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    Replies
    1. You're probably among the chosen ones who actually smell fantastic in Angel. I've heard it's possible and I'm beyond jealous, as on my own skin it's the smell of a zombie apocalypse.

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    2. Haha, maybe! I once had a woman track me down through a department store to ask me what it was. But then I had to wonder if I really wanted to leave a trail behind me everywhere I went.

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  9. The most frequently complimented perfumes I wear are: Fendi (original), Bandit, Moss Breches, Aromatics Elixir (mostly from men), Iris 39, Niki de st Phalle, Aliage, and Magie Noire.

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    Replies
    1. Liz, you're the Chypre Queen. I get compliments on Bandit, but only from true perfumistas who recognize it immediately.

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  10. Im flattered when someone compliments me on how I smell. The compliments are less frequent with niche perfumes. My most complimented... Dolce and Gabbana Red Cap, Vivian Westwood Boudoir, and Serge Lutens Fleur d'oranger

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  11. Heya Hiya my wonderful wafting Mistress of Fumes! Well, there is one, only one perfume that has Nevah Evah failed to get me a compliment and people, strangers yes, leaning in closer, shamelessly, to smell my neck and ask me What is that?? Of all my glorious elixers, it is the original Donna Karan in the black and gold bottle. Men, women, doesn't matter. It swoons people! And I have plenty left for another fall and winter. Ha! I shall enchant whom I please and exact what I wish!!! ;)

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  12. My most complimented scent is Yohji, others that have been commented favourably include Mauboussin, Etro Magot, Musc Ravageur (my favourite incident happened when I was queueing at ATM and a woman walking by was sniffing the air and wondering aloud "Where does that divine smell come from?" and then exclaiming "But it's YOU!"), Serge Lutens Arabie, DZING!, Voleur de Roses and A*Men (which has received more compliments than Angel).

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  13. I never get compliments on my fragrance, and I wear mostly chypres. The other day I sprayed on some vintage Sikkim and a woman walked past and crinkled her nose. My husband never comments on my perfume either because he claims he can't smell anything.

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    Replies
    1. Ingrid-Sikkim is absolutely beautiful, have you ever tried Halston Couture? Similar vein, bone-dry leather chypre, same shaped bottle as the original Halston but with a silver top and frosted glass body. I think it can be found on flea bay for a song.

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  14. Is it okay to compliment someone on their perfume but not okay to ask what it is? Yesterday I was standing in line at the liquor store when I suddenly smelled this fabulous woodsy-green chypre. I turned around and told the woman who was wearing it that is was absolutely gorgeous - she was quite pleased at the compliment and said it has been her signature fragrance for the past forty (!) years. However, when I asked her what perfume it was, her attitude changed and she said she couldn't remember the name! I've heard that some women won't tell anyone what perfume they're wearing because they want to keep it for themselves (which seems nonsensical to me, because if it's being sold somewhere, it's guaranteed that other women are wearing it too.

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    1. Montréalaise, I'd bet dollars to donuts she was wearing either Aromatics Elixir or Aliage...

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    2. Oh - it was her signature fragrance for 40 years + and suddenly she can't remember the name? What a plonker - she delusionally thinks it is her holy grail and nobody else is entitled to wear it ;)

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  15. Just got a nice compliment the other day as I was paying my bill in a restaurant. The check out lady was a young girl and I was wearing Indochine that day. We had a lovely conversation about perfume and her family tradition of the whole family traipsing to a local mall and each member would find a perfume they liked from what was available at the department store counter and purchase a bottle. I thought that was fantastic! The compliment was nice but what charmed me most was her story.
    Ramona =)

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  16. I've got a tray full of perfumes (and a pretty eclectic mix) but the fragrance that gets the most compliments is always Hermes 24 Faubourg. Strangely, lots of random men. Although at one weekly management meeting, a very straitlaced executive colleague seated next to me suddenly gushed about the scent and then blushed beet red. Can't believe I held back laughter. I also had two girlfriends compliment it over lunch one day, then both apparentlly went off and bought their own bottles. It's heavy, it's a little dated and it lasts about 12 hours but for some reason, it works.

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  17. I always get compliments when I wear Mythique or Bel Respiro, never when I wear a Lutens, even my beloved Iris Silver Mist! I had a decant of Osmanthe Yunnan that often got noticed, and I would have bought a full bottle if the sales people at Hermes had been a little more interested in selling to me, but instead I bought a bottle of 31 rue Cambon that I love, but has never garnered a compliment!

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  18. I'm embarrased to admit that the thing I get complimented most on is when I use Philosophy's Inner Grace shower wash and moisturizer. I'm not supposed to wear perfume to work (my boss is allergic) but I do sometimes anyway. I also get some compliments wearing Marc Jacobs' Ivy or Bleeker St. And the occasional comment on Hermes des Merveilles. Not a peep when I've worn others. Lately it's been Criminelle Tubereuse or Houbigant Oranges et Fleurs, which I think smell delightful on me.

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  19. I once smelled the most beautiful fragrance on a stranger but was too shy to ask her what is was. Later I could have kicked myself in the rump for not asking. I think most women would be flattered.

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    1. Ingrid, I had a similar experience. Three years ago I was on vacation in Sydney, Australia (I live in Canada) and riding the subway when a young woman walked past me, wearing the most fabulous, beautiful perfume. I thought about jumping out of my seat and running after her to ask her what she was wearing, but shyness got the better of me. I've never smelled that fragrance again and I have been kicking myself ever since.

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  20. I have frequently had strangers ask me to write down the name of my perfume when I'm wearing something from Sonoma Scent Studio. They have such great sillage! A guy in a liquor store recently asked me to write down Sacrebleu.

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  21. I'm rarely complimented, but one fantastic day I was sampling Shelley Waddington's Carmel de Poete and literally the first three people (in a row!) I encountered stopped me to ask what I was wearing. Of course when I told them, they looked at me blankly like I was speaking Russian and hurried away!

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  22. About couple of months ago I started wearing (almost daily) Youth Dew. I have never, ever in my life received so many compliments for a fragrance, and that includes men and women. I am work in an international surroundings and although I do agree with one of the previous comments about the cultural peculiarities, I must say that I am still amazed by the amount of compliments I get. I concluded that people will speak their mind when they really, really like the way you smell no matter if they are accustomed or not in giving compliments.

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  23. I have a dear friend of mine who bought a bottle of Creed White Flowers. She obviously likes it enough to shell out hard cash for it and deliberately wants to be noticed of her good taste. Whenever she put a good dose of White Flowers, I always tell her lovingly that she smells like a blooming jasmine tree (the perfume, as delicate as its name, can figuratively fill up the whole room in no time). Occasionally my friend does it right and it transforms her into my secret girl crush.

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  24. I have a question: how do you apply perfume to maximize sillage? I have only ever been complimented on the following and I suspect it's partially because I don't know how to wear my fragrances:

    Bois D'Argent Dior
    Taste of Heaven by Kilian
    L'air Du Desert Marocain

    My husband likes vintage Habanita and also DK Gold. Anything that smells like gingerbread, too, so I may consider getting Like This.

    Thank you in advance for your help!

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  25. I just want to redeem Like This. I had a hip guy in his late twenties follow me around and absolutely swoon over it. He worked in a very hip outlet with a great niche assortment of perfumes - he wasn't a newbie. But still...

    Iris Poudre is a compliment-getter, Carnal Flower, Sarassins, George Sand, Clair de Musc, Bas de Soie, Allure Sensuelle, Ligea La Sirena, Ambre Fetiche, 24 Faubourg, Tonka Imperiale, Cuir Beluga and Mythique Encense. I'm sure I forget some. It's a mixed bag, there isn't a theme: the only one may be that they have enough 'throw' or sillage to be noticed at all!

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  26. I was complimented by a bookseller for "Arabie" by Serge Lutens...My husband likes "Black Oud" by LM and all my perfumes with vanilla...

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