The other day, I posted a question to the masses on Facebook:
I was surprised to find that so many people were willing to share with me what makes them smell so good. I had a list of dozens of perfumes. Armed with nothing but my will, some cash, and ironclad nostrils, I set out on a journey to find my next signature fragrance. The following is my experience.
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Scent Search - Day 1
Thursday, May 21, 2015 - Into the Unknown
I set out with coupons and a firm resolve to start the project. I've decided to try drugstore brands first, then move on to others. Arriving at CVS, I am dismayed to find perfumes under lock and key and no testers in a store full of laughing customers and an overly cheery staff. I try to ignore the general sense of mirth so I can get down to my serious business.
I am surprised to see many fancy designer perfumes available at the drugstore. Jōvan White Musk and Alyssa Ashley are there, two of my friend Kirsten's suggestions. I'm put off by the noise volume in the store, as well as a young woman standing in the aisle as if I’m blocking her progress. Immediately I'm annoyed with her indifference to my important mission and her obvious and inane search for cotton candy lip gloss. I want help with the glass case but she is distracting me with her perfunctoriness.
I leave CVS, overcome.
* * *
Driving two miles to the next CVS, I am cheered to find it empty. I stand in front of the locked case and contemplate shaking the door forcibly. Instead I surreptitiously jiggle the handle, and push a red button for service. When the salesgirl arrives, I gratefully ask to try the two musks. I quickly open the box of Jōvan White Musk before she can react and hose down the store with a larger than meant spritz. I am instantly reminded of childhood and someone’s swinging aunt who wore yellow terry cloth short shorts and a rich brown tan. Despite its package being cellophane sealed, I decide also on a bottle of Alyssa Ashley because of the price and my coupons. Also because of this:
|I'm not either of these two things but I can smell like it|
I think that, to sell more units, most products should feature a picture of a gorgeous couple wrestling.
Success! Two bottles of scent for just under $25. I feel ahead of the game, potent.
* * *
Next stop: Walmart, on Jen's suggestion of Ici, a fragrance that will make me smell like cake and other people want to nuzzle my neck, two of my favorite pastimes. I find yet another locked glass case. Surprised to see even more designer fragrances, I see some oldies but goodies that I have worn before. Ici is not in the case.
I spy Perry Ellis 360. Out of cellophane and on the list.
I ask a salesangel if the package can be opened, per Molly who suggested so, and who also warned me not to spray in my eye. Managed to spray salesgirl in her eye instead. Oops.
I decide that although it's a nice scent, PE360 is much too powerful for me. The lingering fragrance is nice, but the initial blast suggests I leave before customers press charges.
I'm pleased to report that Walmart has never smelled better.
* * *
Next I drive to the almost-deserted exurban mall. There is no problem snagging a front row parking space, and I meander through the ladies’ section filled with spring-weight denim-ish Capri pants and bejeweled tops to the cosmetics section. I'm accosted by a gorgeous young woman in a head scarf who I'm alarmed to find has a skin condition on her hands. I realize that she is passing time matching foundations to her skin tone. I tell her about my mission, and she leads me to the Lancôme table and shows off the fragrance array. Trésor is not on list to try, but I fall in love with the Midnight Rose version and know all about La Vie est Belle. I briefly lose myself in the salesgirl’s dark brown eyes and light exotic accent before returning to my quest.
As I circle around the next table in the area, a tall older blond lady jumps out while I freely spray scent in air. “What sort of notes do you like?” she asks dubiously. I cannot recall due to the mild heart attack she just gave me. I mumble something about my project; I am returned with suspicion. Explaining that I am trying all the scents my Facebook friends have suggested, the saleslady frowns and says that is not an ideal way to find a fragrance you love. I say I like warm sandalwood scents, then like all florals she sprays. I tell her I like heavy then love all light scents. I love greens; hate the green she suggests. She gives up, defeated. My trigger hand smells like it was dipped in spicy roses and musk.
Now on my own, I spray a hefty dose of Shalimar, narrowly missing my face just in front of my ear. I am reminded of the opium dens I frequented during my teen years. I will remember Shalimar for when I take a lover, dye my hair black, and wear red lipstick and velvet slippers every day. In a dreamlike trance, I spritz Samsara, which is not on my list. I melt a little. It slinks to the top of the heap.
I like Burberry Body but not Brit. Chanel Coco but not Mademoiselle or Chance.
I'm disappointed. Chance was a crowd favorite, especially loved by my friends who have children named Chance.
I spray Pure White Linen, which was Roxane’s suggestion. She says it is different from Plain White Linen. It smells just like name suggests. Lovely.
Perry Ellis 360 presents itself again, this time in Coral and Purple versions. I did not realize Perry Ellis was a leading fragrance connoisseur; I imagined his wares were confined to the men's sweater vest department. I spray wildly, hoping to redeem Mr. Ellis. I'm over the moon for Purple. I mention to the new silver ponytailed saleslady that I am stinking the place up, but that the Purple is lovely and I laugh while retelling the Walmart episode. She doesn’t smile; grave adult irresponsibility elicits disapproval, and straight PE360 is hardly child’s play.
Scent Search Day 1 ends. I go home and smell the samples as they age on the paper, spritz some Dangerous But Fun in the air and step through it. I'm pleased with its light, warm scent. I'm glad that my husband is away on business so I won’t be tempted to wrestle him.
Here’s how the winners shake out:
Alyssa Ashley Musk – purchased
JōvanWhite Musk – purchased
Guerlain Samsara – top contender
Perry Ellis 360 Purple – top contender
Chanel Coco – contender
Burberry Body – contender
Estée Lauder Pure White Linen – liked
Lancôme La Vie est Belle – liked
Lancôme Trésor Midnight – liked
Guerlain Shalimar – guide for fantasy life