Most of the bottles of scent I own do nothing for my husband. I don’t think he minds my perfume – except for some of the chypres and white florals – but then again, he doesn’t really think too much of them either. So it’s a rare event when I come home from NYC or Saks waving about samples of something he actually likes.
It happened the other day though, and what was I wearing you may ask? Well, it wasn’t a Chanel (although he’s alright with Chanels in general, finds Bois des Isles a bit overstated, but they’re “okay”) nor was it Guerlain (Guerlain’s never really appealed to him either, except for Attrape Coeur) and it wasn’t a Caron (although he’s made peace with the fact that I will always have Carons in the house no matter what, and hey, Poivre is not bad in his book). It was… Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend.
Are your perfumista toes curled yet? Mine were, slightly. I like to think of myself as open minded and not in the least prejudiced in favor of the outré and the highly priced, and Boyfriend, which you can buy at Home Shopping Network, or Sephora for about $US 35.00 an ounce, isn’t either.* But Guts liked the Boyfriend right away and kept on liking it all day long, which must be some sort of record for him. So I have to hand it to Kate Walsh, this time, she has gotten one rather difficult thing down cold: how to appeal to my husband, and he’s picky.**
The irony is that Ms. Walsh apparently wanted a perfume that would sell first and foremost to women, and at least as far as I am concerned, she succeeded there as well. I smelled the sample, and came back to Sephora to spray on skin. That’s practically unprecedented. I’ve learned to be very careful about what I get on – or let onto – my skin. And I had another hard lesson in this matter at Saks that same afternoon, where I was spritzed with an expensive fragrance of such epic foulness that literally five scrubs with soap and detergent and four applications of make-up remover were needed to evict the stuff from my skin. I’m not, like Warren Zevon, naming names, but I don’t want to talk about it.
So this is an example, once again, of price not equaling quality in a fragrance. In the topsy turvy perfume world, the old ”you get what you pay for” equation doesn’t necessarily compute. On the other hand you will certainly pay for what you get, and it behooves you- and your wallet- to smell around before you hand any currency over. This is particularly true now when IFRA restrictions have ruled out many of the most luxurious materials from mass market fragrances. Where most things are synthetic, and most formulas are bare-bones, the democratization of perfume is nearly a done deal. If you want absolute quality you’re going to have to go with bespoke or tiny production runs, and you’re going to pay for it. Through the nose.
For the rest of us though, it means that we have to go by a strictly case by case basis. Just because something’s fashionable (Byredo, Illuminum, A Lab on Fire) or expensive (Clive Christian) doesn’t mean much, and after how many decades of smelling stuff, I ought to know this right? You have to smell it. It has to work on you. Well, I did smell, and although I avoided purchasing an over priced fetid bottle, that spritz at Saks was as bad an experience for me as the one your not too clever dog has when he just won’t leave a skunk alone. Boyfriend, on the other hand was fine, it passed the wear-ability test. And the other one – let’s just call it Frightful Odor – retailed in the near neighborhood of $US 200.00 for 50 mls. Maybe I should get my husband to pick all my perfume. He’d be guaranteed to like it and he cares nothing for packaging, image, or status, and – think of all the money I’d save.
*For the record, I have no affiliation with these or any other perfume related commercial enterprises. I just smell the stuff.
**(In the past, he has liked the old Cabochard and Expression. He has absolutely no idea who Kate Walsh is.)