If you asked me this a few years ago I would have agreed but reluctantly that some perfume wearing is just in bad taste. Perfume is something that has only recently ( in historical terms) become discussion worthy. Perfumes The Guide came out ten years ago, and compared to all the preceding years when perfumes were neither discussed nor assessed, that’s a very short time. I remember decades when it was very difficult to find out anything at all about perfume and what little I did discover came from reading: Edmond Roudnitska, Elizabeth Barille, Michael Edwards,even Jean Pierre Coffe, who as I recall Le Bon Vivre, did not think much of Cartier’s Le Panthere.
In the interim there has been an explosion of discussion. The industry itself, despite all the chit chat, remains secretive, and self contradictory in its aims. It’s certainly not clear that all mass perfume makers want to produce consistently high quality. What they want to produce is something highly profitable, and the parameters of what constitutes a reasonable profit seem to expand all the time. It’s now axiomatic that packaging costs far more than content. Should it? This product is largely water anyway.
Some perfume is clearly vulgar. It was designed to be, and in this category you have no
holds barred yelling perfumes like Alien,or Amarige, or Mahora, or M7 or back in the 80’s, Giorgio. They are calculated to be loud and attention grabbing. Whether they are really appropriate for public spaces is an open question. (I’d say no.) Perfume Sin No1) The Loud Perfume.
The line between what is good and what is bad in perfume is also confused by people who are highly idiosyncratic and don’t recognize the fact. Because they hate some component: wood, or roses, or mimosa, or pepper, or incense, they consider a perfume is bad, and because they love the smell of baklava or sesame seeds, another is good. However personal taste is not the same as quality. In fact the one really has nothing to do with the other. Still you may never convince the terminally egocentric that the world does not spin around their highly individual choice which the rest of use may find objectionable. They LOVE the scent of mud or their kid’s hair, doesn’t EVERYBODY? The predictable result, people smell like their dog, or like they’ve been on a three day bender. You hope you don’t sit next to one of them on the subway, or the theater, or a restaurant, or heaven help us, a plane. Here you have sin against good taste no 2) The Bizarre Perfume
Then there are people who think that their perfume should never change. Sometimes it should. There, I’ve said it. I don’t take it back. If it’s 100 degrees Farenheit and intensely humid I don’t want to smell oriental perfumes. Ever. You have perfume sin no 3) The Completely Wrong for the Season Scent. You need to change things slightly. Go find a summer version of your favorite, or else embrace another category. If you like woody florals learn to like greens (they go together) and if you love orientals select a floral (again they go together) you’ll be surprised.
Those are three sins and I’m sure there’s a decalogue in there somewhere, but let me open up the discussion. What do you consider perfume sins?