When people I meet discover that I write a perfume blog often their next question is… “What’s a really good perfume? I’ve never been able to find anything that I like.” Years ago I would name the usual suspects… No. 5, Shalimar, Givenchy III. Beginner’s mistake! Later, I would ask a few probing questions… “Well… do you like florals? Lemony scents? Woods?”… but this confused the issue even more because most novices don’t know what they like. And if they know what they like… they don’t need my advice.
So… I’ve recently changed my tactic. Now I send them to 3 perfume counters… Guerlain or Chanel, and if money is an issue, Estée Lauder. If they are really interested, I leave them with one parting thought… Chanel’s eaux de toilette are usually better than their eaux de parfum. The opposite is true for Guerlain.
The wisdom of my new strategy was confirmed recently while reading Dane’s enlightened and brilliant list of masterpieces on his sadly now defunct peredepierre blog. Just glancing the post, one sees that Guerlain and Chanel are over-represented and the truth is… Dane is so right. So why bother even trying to correctly pronounce Serge Lutens or risk being attacked by the J’Adore perfume sniper. Go to the Guerlain and Chanel counters and test. Buy nothing at the first visit (a lesson which I fail at from time to time). If you’re an “off-road” kind of person, by all means venture out to the other counters but if you are just starting and don’t want to make a mistake… Guerlain, Chanel and Estée Lauder are your best bets.
And if you can’t find anything there, I suggest you take up piano lessons instead.