Usually you only hear about the rare successes among the many perfume samples I smell in a given month. That's just created too much pressure to find something I LOVE to talk about. But just like in getting out to hear some music (which I finally did with a dear friend from out of town recently) the fun is just getting out there. If you don't hear the bestest thing ever, well, you shrug and critique/make fun of/learn what not to do with the band you've got in front of you. Y'all may have noticed I'm just a teensy bit on the cerebral side, so squinting geekily and critiquing is almost (I said almost!) as much fun as the joy of surrendering to the transcendent when that rare beauty does comes along.
In that spirit, here are some of my recent, somewhat frustrating experiences with perfume samples. Keep in mind these are just first impressions--quickie glibness--so I hope nobody gets put out with me if I dis your new favorite!
Heeley - Cuir Pleine Fleur: This is wonderously medicinal leather, like the love child of Chanel's Cuir de Russie and vintage Guerlain L'Heure Bleue. Well, okay, maybe not *that* amazing--the world would probably implode with it's greatness if it truly were their love child. How about a cousin of Cuir de Russie plus the raspy but soft saffron of the new Cuir de Lancome? Pretty damn good, and even though I have all three of those other perfumes and it doesn't break any new ground, so I need this like a hole in my head, I may need to keep the sample around for a while.
Ego Facto - Me Myself & I: Well, I was so looking forward to the supposedly intriguing tuberose-vetiver combo here. And honestly, on paper it did smell a balance of those two notes, and it wasn't bad. But on my skin? Holy hell, what a scrubber. Cheap-smelling, cloying, and thoroughly unpleasant.
Les Nez - Manoumalia: Appealingly raspy tropical white flowers with a slightly menacing vetiver overtone. I can imagine these flowers would be the flesh-eating kind.
Annick Goutal - Eau de Camille: Similar to vintage Vent Vert but without the devil-may-care attitude. More prim.
Frederick Malle - Parfum de Therese: I'm so sad not to love this one. I just get pale, stale flower vase water with some decayed blooms still swimming in the bottom. I'm hoping my nose changes its mind.
Ava Luxe - Madame X: Yummy and tremblingly naughty, but when I go for naughty, this would always have to take a back seat to my vintage Bal a Versailles. I think. Well, I better make up my mind soon, 'cause the talented Ava Luxe isn't selling this lovely stuff anymore.
Le Labo - Oud 27: Cold, but still smoking, cedarwood firepit on a chilly autumn morning. It's a beautiful and unusual scent, but I get tired of smelling like a cedarwood firepit. Very linear, to my nose.
Dior - Bois d'Argent: Strange, doll's-head-plastic scent that morphs into a sweet, woody iris.
Hermes - Osmanthe Yunnan: I get orange, then some more orange, then a bit of sharpish tea leaf with some more...orange. I usually love orange, but this is a fail for me. And I love tea, so I always think I will love tea scents. But I don't. Too...tannic.
Perfumerie Generale - Psychotrope: Aquatic, salty violet. Very weird, and intriguing on a sporadic basis, but then does that boring plasticky thing that all PG scents do for me.
Guerlain - Nahema edp: A mandarin-rose blast with the half-life of plutonium and for some reason reminds me of the color palette in Disney's "The Sorceror's Apprentice." You know, with the trippily animated mops and pails going berserk? Kinda like that.
Etro - Vetiver: Nose-hair-searing smoky vetiver. My vetiver touchstone is Guerlain's, which I love for it's perfect weight and subtle tobacco that took me a while to get, but this scent is for those truly committed to the heights (depths?) of vetiver barbarism.
Dior - Jules: Although coming from someone who bought a bottle of Yatagan, and loves it btw, this will sound weird, but it's too mucho mucho manly for even little ol' moi. The pepper/galbanum combo is about as subtle as getting run over by a Mack truck.
Divine - Divine: Gosh, as this dries down, I get the butteriness peeps talk about! This is named appropriately, I must say. For the first hour it's too tastefully peachy-tuberose to excite me, but then the creamy drydown as the florals start to melt into some kind of vanilla-moss goodness in the base almost enough to make me want a bottle. Just not really me--the combo of tuberose and vanilla is not my style, unfortunately.
I got the photo from an article entitled "64 Things Every Geek Should Know." It doesn't include any tips on perfume appreciation, sadly.