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Posts Tagged ‘too much perfume’

Image from Makeup Files

Many times in the past, I’ve ranted that I hate loud perfume. Hate it, abhor it, despise it… and therefore I never apply perfume such that I can be smelled at farther than a distance of about five feet. My usual preferred wafting distance is about three feet, but every now and then I come across a particularly radiant scent that, however carefully applied, leaves goodly sillage. Of that kind of thing, I just use less than my usual moderate amount.

Not everyone is so thoughtful.

A couple of weeks ago, during a trip to the Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries and a new bike helmet for Gaze, whose head is relatively large for his size, we were olfactorily assaulted by a woman pushing her shopping cart a good 18-20 feet away from us. This lady was completely doused in Youth Dew, a heavy-hitter of the first order.

(Wearers of Youth Dew, fear not, this is not going to turn into a diatribe. At least, I’ll do my best.) I hate Youth Dew. As a child, I smelled it frequently on ladies at church, and at concerts, and out shopping with my mother. I didn’t like it then, and I still don’t like it. Just last month, I rechecked it at the Estee Lauder counter at the mall, just to make absolutely positively sure that my tastes haven’t changed with regards to YD. I put the teeniest spritz I could manage on a tester strip and then swiped the paper across the back of my hand, figuring I could wash it off easily there. But no go, I still hate the stuff. It smells dusty-oily and cloying to me, just horrid.

If I look at the list of fragrances I have found hideous over the years, they’d include these: Youth Dew, Opium, Obsession, Poison, and Angel. What do these have in common? Well, the first three are hefty balsamic orientals, Poison is a hefty floral-oriental, and Angel is… lessee… perhaps we could call it a huge, stonking gourmand fougere. Further, each one of them is radiant beyond all belief, with a nuclear half-life, with as much personality as Ethel Merman or Liberace, and with a similar attention-grabbing persona.

Gah.

My further question is, do I hate these because they are Perfumery’s Big Guns – or do I hate them because so many wearers apply too much? This is still the chicken-or-egg question. I know that frequently people who have a signature scent lose the ability to smell the fragrance at the levels that others can smell it, and accordingly, overapply. Also, I think I have to take the position that people who choose these hefty, radiant, personality-plus fragrances really love to smell them, and assume that everyone else loves those scents as well.

It’s not that I only like quiet, unassuming fragrances myself. I sometimes like a big wafter – for example, L’Arte di Gucci, or Carnal Flower. I mostly liked Portrait of a Lady, which is every bit as radiant as Opium. But I like these on a small scale, a drop or two at a time, not at levels that could choke a moose.

I’m dying to know why I never smell someone from fifteen feet away wearing something I love. Why aren’t these Floating-Clouds-of-Fragrance people wearing, I dunno, Cuir de Lancome? Or Chanel No. 5 parfum? Or Hanae Mori, another wafty one, for that matter? I would adore to bump into someone wearing a little mist of, say, Agent Provocateur or Alahine. (Alahiiiiiine, yum.) I once had a boss that wore something quite lovely, and while you couldn’t smell her down the hall, she did leave a tiny trail of delicious scent behind her. Other than that, I never seem to smell something lovely on the air.

I know it takes all kinds to make a world, and I’m sorry if I’ve stepped on toes today. Anybody want to weigh in on this issue? Have you ever suspected, or been told outright, that you’re wearing too much perfume? Whether you love the Sillage Monsters or hate them, whether you like big sillage or hate it, please share.

See also this blog post on people wearing too much perfume. I disagree with the blogger that church should be a totally fragrance-free zone, but (as I mentioned a few paragraphs up) I’ve certainly been smacked about the nostrils while sitting in a pew, so she does have a point. Mine is just – “Please, don’t give non-perfumistas reason to hate us. Wear something that smells really good, and unless you’re in a spot where you can let loose without bludgeoning people, be discreet.”

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