Location, Location, Location

Are there regional preferences in perfume in the US?  The thought occurred to me just the other day because a fellow blogger, Olenska at Parfumieren, has started a blog about perfume and all things fragrant in New Jersey.

It got me thinking – do we have different fragrance sale patterns in different States?

There certainly are differences in what is considered fashionable clothing.  My observations here (by the way) come courtesy my memory of my sister-in-law’s time at Saks, where management stressed the point that Saks buyers stock very diversely depending on which city a Saks branch is in.  They recognize that what is fashion in Florida is puzzling to shoppers in Seattle.

The break down roughly (we’re talking maybe ten years ago) was New England: no fashions, just sweaters, jeans and classics.  The South liked green and pink, Lily Pulitzer, cotton, headbands and lady-like dresses. The Chicago store stocked few hats. California liked the haute hippie look and the Northwest liked sports clothes (literally) and did not care about fashion per se.  (That being the land of Venture Capitalists, start ups, and Bill Gates, they don’t sweat the small stuff).

As for Jersey, it likes what California likes, only with grommets and preferably in leopard.  We like our leopard. Even my daughter wears it. (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a line-up of chubby little girls  in leopard print dresses singing “Getting to Know You” to an audience of entranced Jersey parents at a school concert.)

I’ve smelled some regional variations myself.  There do seem to be LA perfumes and they appear to be distinct from the ones worn in the rest of the country.  Child perfume, for instance.  That appears to be a cult LA thing.  Child is a white floral, heavy on the jasmine, actually, I’d say heavy on the jasmone,  and the likely inspiration for Jennifer Aniston’s scent.  LA is also the land of Gendarme and of Carriere, neither one of them much mentioned in perfume blogs.  Perfumistas, it would appear, simply don’t wear Child or Carriere, for that matter.

Similarly, I never go south of the Mason Dixon line without smelling Fracas somewhere.  I can more or less count on smelling gardenia scents (as opposed to the real thing, which I always seem to miss) somewhere on the air around me at restaurants, or museums, or cocktail bars.  I’m guessing that private Collection Tuberose Gardenia is popular there too.  Chicago, where I visited last summer, seemed to be full of vanilla scents, Prada Candy had just come out and was being worn- a lot. I suppose that figures too, it gets cold in Chicago.

And here, well, Jersey spritzes the expected amount of Coco Mademoiselle but still goes big time for big fragrances. Alien frequently surrounds you at the Mall, and also Badgely Mischka’s perfume, smelling like someone detonated a huge fruit cocktail somewhere in the vicinity.  I always expect it to start raining maraschino cherries when I smell it.

New Yorkers are sophisticated and I’ve smelled some expensive stuff on the air in the city and on trains.  I once sat behind a very chic young lady who was wafting Peche Cardinal, quite unmistakably, at the hefty price of  $US 250.00 for 60 mls. and there was another wearing Spiritueuse Double Vanille for the same price and I think only 50 mls.  I hope they were just samples, otherwise who could hope to pay off her college loans?

How about other parts of the US?  Does everyone wear Coco Mademoiselle or are there differences?  I’d love to know.

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10 Responses to Location, Location, Location

  1. Meg says:

    Shout out to you, fellow Jerseyan! :) …. I think the word “mall” is the key to our fashion & fragrance identity here. People go to malls with no specific objective in mind; the point is primarily to wander and socialize, and only secondarily to shop. And where shopping is accomplished by the acre, recognizable chains and big name brands are a priority. In the city, however, people hunt for product rather than graze– they head out into the iron jungle with a purpose. Small boutiques with precisely curated products to suit exact needs seem to be more common there. All this is why I will never find an Aedes de Venustas at the Ocean County Mall. :P

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Hi Meg, you’re right about the mall crawl. We do it as a social thing and yes, outside the city I think brands do matter. (Gotta be the reason for the Alien invasion.)In the city folks are being specific, and I think also conspicuously consuming. Those NYC gals were really laying it on, or I’d never have identified what they were wearing. Around here, the scents are even less subtle. It’s a case of “you want perfume? You got it!”

  2. Michael says:

    Not being from the US, I can’t provide any useful commentary, but I did find this post very amusing and well written! Thanks.

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      Hi Michael and thank you, I enjoyed writing this post. You do make me curious what the scented Londoner is wearing these days? Does anyone wear Miller Harris for instance?

      • Michael says:

        It’s probably a generalisation, but Londoners can be quite sophisticated at times, so probably not dissimilar to New Yorkers. I can’t say I’ve noticed any particular British trends, but I was never paying attention before. I shall now! You see a fair bit of Miller Harris around in the shops, but I’m not sure how many people wear it. I think Ormonde Jayne has quite a following and Jo Malone. I think quite a few older gents like a bit of Creed.

        • Blacknall Allen says:

          I guess I’m not surprised at Ormonde Jayne or Jo Malone, but Creed surprises me a little. The brand sells very well in the (very high end) Short Hills Neiman Marcus store, though their sales assistants tell me that New Jersey Creed shoppers favor Virgin Island Water. (I suppose some people think it smells like sun tan oil and Pina Coladas….)

  3. Mals86 says:

    This was fun!

    Never having LIVED anywhere other than the Virginia mountains (a stint in Charlottesville still counts, though it’s far more sophisticated than the Appalachian region where I live now), I suppose I’ve never thought about regional scent preferences.

    I do recall the raised eyebrows at my husband’s cousin’s wedding, twenty years ago; she had been living and working in NYC for several years, and there was a clear distinction between the way local invitees dressed, compared to her friends from New York: the locals were wearing ladylike floral dresses or pastel skirt suits, or dark suits with white dress shirts and conservative ties, while the city folks wore black. Black, black, black – short sheath dresses and strappy spike heels, or black suits and black shirts with no tie. (This was a late-May afternoon wedding in a tiny un-air-conditioned church, followed by an outdoor reception.)

    What I smell most often in this rural area of the South is Estee Lauder scents, or white florals. Youth Dew is extremely popular. So is Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds. I smell Coco Mademoiselle pretty frequently on the students at Virginia Tech (most of whom are not from this area, of course). I smell a fair number of the fruity-musky-floral celebuscents, especially on younger people. Tommy Girl. Beyond Paradise. Happy. That sort of thing. Of course, I admit that our shopping opportunities here are fairly limited.

    (I was surprised to find that my Amouage Memoir Woman – a fragrance I found compellingly “difficult” the first few times I tried it – got numerous compliments from people at Wal-Mart. Of course, it is at heart a white floral, and I think we Southern gals do appreciate our white florals more than most.)

    • Blacknall Allen says:

      What a great description of a nineties wedding. Urban people did wear all black then. It was black on a 24/7 basis. Barney’s opened a new branch on 61st street and guess what color the clothes were? Uh huh, that’s right.

      The black stain was even seen abroad. Guts went to Sao Paolo on business about that time, and I said, “So what were the Brazilian women wearing?” thinking, oh, I don’t know, – chartreuse, shocking pink, violent green, some marabou trim on the bikinis, and what were they wearing?


      As to the perfume around you, that sounds like a pretty fair sampling. At least the VA. girls still like their florals. I have to say that even I hark back to my Virginia roots by liking Gardenia Petale a lot, and even owning it! Not usual for me. But if you’re Southern at all, you do love your flowers.

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