Friday 20 February 2009

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Wouldn’t it?

There are a select group of perfumes that I try and try again because I love their names but the juice of the scents never lives up to the promise of the words on the bottle. I don’t suggest that means they don’t smell of what they are named to others, or indeed that that means they aren’t interesting fragrances to others- but to me they don’t smell as their beautiful names suggest and I definitely wouldn’t even consider them if it weren’t for their names.

I have been trying not to say which scents I’m thinking of but it all seems a bit too cryptic! So the scents I am particularly thinking of are Jo Malone Red Roses and Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais, although I’m certain there are others.

Recently a re purchase of Apres L’Ondee, a perfume which smells so exactly of what it suggests to me and seeing the posters of Red Roses everywhere for Valentines day has meant I have been thinking a lot about this.

What are we really buying when we choose a scent?

I always tell myself that as true perfume lover I buy fragrances based on what they smell of, not on the marketing hype, not on the bottle and not on the name- although I freely admit to myself if all of those are interesting in addition to the lovely liquid being so it’s all for the better.

I am now re- assessing this.

I am someone for whom words are a constant companion and comfort in life. I am constantly jotting down lovely phrases as I’m reading or watching films and keep a notebook of them. I always take note of strange, unusual words that have a wonderful meaning. I don’t mean to say that I have the widest vocabulary but words of interest to me and I find English particularly endlessly fascinating, it’s strange quirks, the lovely little words only Stephen Fry knows the meaning of and is able to use in conversation without sounding utterly pretentious- so it makes sense that a fragrance with a beautiful name will appeal to me.

I think if I’m honest I woudn’t love L’heure Bleu say, or even a new scent like Un Jardin Sue le Nil if I didn’t like the names so much. No I probably wouldn’t.

I do own a scent with a name I don’t like at all and I rarely wear it, which is a shame really. It’s Dolce and Gabbana’s The One and I bought it when I was outward bound in duty free. I cannot resist duty fee and the scent was newly out, I was looking for a light but interesting holiday scent. Actually who am I kidding I had decided I was going to buy some perfume and it was the best of what was on offer that I didn’t already have. Anyway I did and do like the apricot/ peach and vanilla notes although my inner perfume snob says CSP’s Vanille Abricot does the whole thing better it The One is a lot less intense. I have to say I had a lovely holiday and I was repeatedly asked by men and woman what I was wearing and told I smelled delicious, not my sole reason for wearing fragrance but it’s always nice to hear!

However the inevitable question comes:

Friend/ boy/ random Austrian chemist:.... you smell great... what are you wearing?

Me: .. thanks... er... well it’s new.... I picked up in duty free in London actually... er

Others: well it’s lovely, who is it buy?

Me: Dolce and Gabbana... it’s a new fragrance

Others: what’s it called...

Me: Er... The One... it’s a silly name isn’t it but I liked it... so yeah... um... yeah

Them: slight subdued yes it is a bit of a strange name- but it’s very nice

Both: slightly awkward transition to new topic

So in short I am not sure that a rose by another name would smell as sweet to me after all.

Picture courtesy of


vicki archer said...

Dear Rose - I have given you an award at French Essence, xv.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Lovely post.
I have worn the same Christian Dior scent for years. I always seem to be complimented about it, but alas, it is now so much a part of me that I can no longer even smell it. Except on the occasion when I kiss Edward on his head. He smells like Lily of the Valley.

Rose said...

Hi Vicki, how nice! Thank you

Rose said...

Hi Pamela, I have just had a quick look at your blog- how lovely it looks!
It sounds to me like you wear Diorrissimo which is absolutely delightful in every way, great scent, great box and bottle, lillies were Dior's lucky flower you know- you must have good taste.

(PS it's not unusual to become immune to your signature scent but it is annoying I agree!)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am definitely in in because of the words (names, descriptions...). I am hardly able to pick out any but the most obvious notes and my persistent sinusitis and frequent colds bar me from smelling anything for weeks at a time, anyway. But perfume blogs are generally so well written - I guess its because you cannot just take a picture like you would of an outfit. And the perfume names...another aspect of the same story.

Rose said...

Hi Sabina, thanks for stopping by. I hate having blocked sinuses, it's like there's a whole part of the world I can't access. I suffered from it a lot as a child and I wonder if that's why I'm fascinated by scent now.
The names though yes, when they're good they're so good- when they're bad it's criminal really.

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