Inside Perfume

Shopping For Perfume or You Can’t Smell Everything In One Day

Posted on: October 29, 2008

Yesterday I was at the Duty Free shop trying fragrances, and it occurred to me that I didn’t know what I was doing at all beyond using scentless papers. So today I got out my new reference book, Perfume: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, just to see what I could find about shopping for perfume. This book is so great, it earns the name “The Guide!” So here are some excerpts that I found most helpful for perfume shopping:

“First, the loved and dreaded shop, with its perky sales assistants (SA) crooning the name of the latest thing and offering unsolicited useless advice while you try to swat them away so you can think. Must you go there? Yes. There’s no satisfactory substitute for smelling things in person…” “You must be both stubborn and open-minded when you arrive at the shop.” “The default setting for any sales assistant is to sell the latest thing, so if you want to bypass the most recent releases… you must come up with a challenge for the SA: ask for the best one. If he gives you some guff about it all being a matter of taste, or comes at you with something he says is the best seller, you can ask for the one that is like nothing else. At least then you’ve got a conversation. Bear in mind that most SA’s are poorly trained… Assume everything you’re told is untrue.” “You can’t smell everything in one day, because eventually your sense of smell suffers fatigue… count on smelling at most between five and ten fragrances on paper, and testing one or two of those on skin… Once you find something on paper that you’d really like to get to know better, you can try it on your skin. Leave the fragrance floor. Go out for lunch. See if it (1) vanishes, (2) bores, (3) annoys, or (4) remains wonderful. Whatever you do, remember that fragrances tend to change drastically after the first twenty minutes, except for a few clever, sneaky compositions…” Finally, my favorite rule for any shopping trip: “When you love something, buy it… The fragrance will be discontinued or reformulated and you’ll find yourself scouring estate sales and eBay auctions, bidding against other fools who didn’t get it while they could.”

For more information, check out this book: Perfume: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez from Viking. It’s definitely a must have for any perfume fanatic.


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