Flowers You Never Smelled in the Spring

There is such a thing as the completely synthetic floral.  Some companies admit this, most do not.  Many perfume houses put the money, i.e. the naturals, up front and from there on out it is a matter of synthetics used to extend the scent, often pulling out the whole olfactory contraption as if it were taffy instead of perfume.  Thin and stretched is the frequent effect, rather like a hobbit who has held on to a magic ring for far too long.

I think the synthetic floral is probably an improvement over this state of affairs.  At least you know what you are getting. Estee Lauder seems to specialize in this kind of perfume.  As far back as 1998, I remember them coming out with Dazzling Gold and Dazzling Silver (now discontinued) in those odd stoppered bottles that looked like a Wagnerian tenor’s helmet.

Here’s the thing.  They really weren’t bad at all.  I liked the Gold better than the Silver because the silver actually did have a metallic smell which was interesting but questionably wearable.  I wonder how they did with the public?  They were surprising because you could tell that Lauder had pushed the edge with those two fragrances trying to see what the market would take to in scent, how far they could inject the purely synthetic into fine perfumery?  The answer must have been pretty far because Beyond Paradise came out only a few years later and you could smell the similarity to Dazzling Gold, as I think Luca Turin pointed out in The Guide, as well as its completely synthetic makeup.

What I sometimes wonder though, is how far the synthetics will be able to go in the future?  Some synthetics frankly are over used, and it must pain women to smell something that is in a purchased bottle obviously being used in dryer sheets as well. (I’ve actually had this painful experience, and it usually involves some kind of musk. It furthermore involves some rapid self interrogation on exactly how much I paid for that bottle….) Also, as natural perfumers improve, the obvious luxury of what they produce makes the synthetic stuff smell…well, synthetic, and a kind of fragrance class distinction can be smelt wafting uneasily into the atmosphere of the XXIst century.

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2 Responses to Flowers You Never Smelled in the Spring

  1. Olfacta says:

    You got that right. Since the mass market went to the Dark Side I’ve been sniffing mostly niche, vintage and absolutes. This has trained my nose well. It turns up when encountering the dept. store stuff now — most of it anyway. The problem then becomes financial; luckily, swaps and decants go far to fill that void.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Makes you wish that more things were released that were at once mass and class, so to speak. I mean, they don’t have to be different, do they? Bottega Veneto was surprisingly good, but my better1/2 vetoed that one. Anyway, I treasure the few occasions when something inexpensive actually smells good. And most of the time I, too, tend towards extracts. Have to do it, really

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