Are you a Perfume Extrovert or Introvert?

When asked about their perfume hobby some people admit that they are open and outgoing about it, others are secretive – not to be ridiculed, get disapproval or just because they are very private. I’m not sure if personality types are directly connected to how we communicate our love of perfume to the world or if it has a more complex correlation but there are definitely Perfume Introverts and Perfume Extroverts. I am the latter.

Rusty "extrovert"

I was sharing my love for perfume long before I discovered Perfumeland or started this blog. I would talk about new [mainstream] releases with friends and co-workers who expressed any interest in perfumes. I would be finding best online deals when somebody was looking for something (that was in pre- and early-Google times). And I would always try to recruit more followers into this not so secret society.

My tally? Not counting minor wins here and there, I have three success stories.

Two friends – one of whom has never worn perfumes before (because they all were too perfume-y) and one who did it very sporadically – under my influence and with my help found perfumes to love and wear. Interestingly, for both of them those were Jo Malone‘s perfumes – Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Vanilla & Anise and Black Vetyver Café for one of them and Wild Fig & Cassis and French Lime Blossom for the other. That’s why I’m persuaded that Jo Malone is a great “starter house.”

My best friend L., who lives half the world away from me, for many years stayed faithful to her signature scent – GF Ferre Lei-Her. After it got discontinued for a while she was able to find another bottle. When she couldn’t find it any longer, she started exploring the current offerings (very-very mainstream), got completely disappointed (who wouldn’t!) and almost swore off perfume. Last year when I visited her I brought with me more than a dozen samples and decants. That was the first time L. realized that there was something beyond pink fruitchulies that invaded the market. After that we went together to the high(er)-end perfume store (the one she was too intimidated to visit on her own before). There L. surprised me: while she did like some of the perfumes I suggested her to try – Prada Infusion d’Iris, Guerlain Champs-Élysées and Cartier Baiser Volé – she absolutely loved Juliette Has A Gun Midnight Oud and a couple of Montale‘s perfumes – not the most obvious choice for a newbie. She keeps exploring and I’m sure she’s on the right track now.

During her recent visit Suzanne (Eiderdown Press) told me one of her success stories. I liked it so much that I asked Suzanne to write it up to share with you. She did:

My friend M is someone I met in a writing group. It wasn’t even a group, there were only three of us, so we got to know each other fairly well in the space of a year—our literary tastes and styles, first and foremost. M wrote both fiction and poetry, and while her fiction was a poignant lens that allowed one to gain insight into the workings of a person’s mind (into the minds of characters who represented the baffling array of human behaviors), her poetry was different: it was more personal and sensual and often seemed to speak of “home”—of the rites of passage that sisters go through together, or the memories of a stepmother who’d been in Europe at the end of World War II, for instance. Given the nature of her writing—its private turning-point moments that hinge on such things as the remembrance of her stepmother giving M her first ‘perm’ (the smell of the hair perming solution, the fitful way she felt about it, and how it became an anchor for stories her stepmother told during this session)—I was rather surprised at the disinterested reaction I got from her when I first started talking about perfume.

By this time, our writing trio had disbanded because our other friend had moved away, and I was taking a break from fiction to start a perfume blog. I remember M’s puzzled look as she questioned how one would go about writing about perfume—and the look of even deeper puzzlement (the slight snicker and firm wave-off of her hand) when I asked if she’d like to sample some perfumes. I forget her reasons for declining my offer, so perhaps it’s unfair of me to surmise, but I got the distinct feeling that she saw perfume as something that would clash with her professional image (as a senior lecturer at the nearby university, teaching women’s studies and writing). Maybe because I was in the early stages of perfume infatuation … well, I’m not sure why I felt this deep conviction, but I did: I felt that anyone who wrote as M did would have to love perfume—would understand its deep connection to memory, to sensuality, to individuality. If she’d been a science fiction writer, I wouldn’t have bothered to try to convert her, but in November 2007, just before Thanksgiving, when the first snowflakes were floating in the air, I decanted some Chanel Coromandel for her, calling it “an early Christmas present” when we met for lunch. She accepted it graciously but skeptically—and I made sure to be nonchalant. I told her she could give it back if it didn’t suit her—that I simply thought it had a beautiful frankincense note that might appeal. In my head, though, I was convinced that it would be airy enough not to frighten her, and at the same time, have a sense of gravity that would appeal to her serious side—and I was right. M fell deeply for Coromandel and within a few days was requesting other perfume samples. Now, six and a half years later, she has a few other favorites (Montale Black Aoud is one) but Coromandel is pretty much her signature scent.

Hajusuuri, a guest writer on my blog, also agreed to share her success story:

Many years ago, more years than I care to remember, my sister and I went to Boston on vacation. For two shopaholics, there was no better place to window-shop than posh Newbury Street where we chanced upon a small perfumery. While we were not into perfumes, we browsed around anyway. If memory serves me right, that shop sold only custom-blended essential oils, which were available only in roll-on bottles. My sister bought several while I left without purchasing anything. Year after year, she would call the store to place an order to replenish. In 2008, she said that the perfumery moved to Colorado but that she was still able to call Dawn to place her order for China Rain blend and French Lily.

I fell down the rabbit hole around 2010-2011 and have grown a too-big collection of mainstream and indie/niche perfumes. In 2011, I somehow managed to convince my sister that she should expand her perfume horizon and consider checking out better mainstream perfumes because her little perfumery probably moved to Colorado due to a business slow-down, that it probably could not afford to stay in Boston and who knows for how much longer it will be open. Since then, she had acquired Elie Saab, Jo Malone Black Vetyver Café, Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede and Cartier Baiser Vole Essence – a pretty decent collection, don’t you think?

But wait! There’s more!

When Undina first suggested a Success Stories post, I immediately thought of my sister as my success story. Curious as to whether or not I could figure out the name of the perfumery that moved to Colorado, I googled “Newbury Perfume Colorado”. The first entry from that search yielded “Essence Studio – Boulder Colorado”. Clicking through to the entry and then the Visit Website link, I was shocked to be redirected to DSH Perfumes. The “Dawn” my sister spoke with to place her orders turned out to be none other than American perfumer extraordinaire, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz!

Now excuse me while I go sit in the timeout corner…

Rusty "introvert"

Are you a Perfume Extrovert or a Perfume Introvert? Have you converted anybody?

Share your success stories in comments (or give a link to your posts on the topic).

 

Images: my own

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40 thoughts on “Are you a Perfume Extrovert or Introvert?

  1. That is a great post and a great idea for a discussion. Many thanks to Suzanne and Hajusuuri for sharing their optimistic perfume stories.

    Speaking of me, I think I’m somewhere in between the introvert and an extrovert perfumista. When people don’t know about my hobby and don’t ask about it – I just don’t tell them that I’m this much into perfume.
    However when someone asks me about it, I’m not afraid to admit that I love perfume, how many bottles and samples I have. I sometimes mention about the blog as well but I never give the blog address to my real-life friends and acquaintances, I just don’t want them to read my thoughts…

    I didn’t convert anyone from not-liking or being indifferent to perfume to someone who would like fragrances. But I did convert 2 readers of my blog into iris lovers, while they were too afraid of the note earlier.

  2. Wow, that twist at the end of the DSH story was fantastic. I also loved the purposefully nonchalant way Suzanne handed over the Coromandel – with great success. As for your own, I agree Jo Malone is a great starter house.

    I will always try with friends and colleagues because I love match-making people with perfumes but no real success stories, sadly. My mother and sister now have nice little collections thanks to me but no great loves I’d say. My friend fell for the Diptyque Ofresia I gave her a sample of but wouldn’t pay the cost of the bottle and ended up with D&G Light Blue instead, so I’ve given up there. Another likes the perfumes I’ve gifted her but again, no great loves. Oh well.

    Love Rusty’s introvert pic!

    • I should say that I felt very proud once I came up with the idea of using these two pictures of Rusty to illustrate two character traits.

      As to your friends, I think you gave them a nudge into the right direction and who knows but once day it might prove fruitful.

  3. Maybe it’s because I live in a place where perfume and fragrance are such an integral part of the culture but, I’m definitely a perfume extrovert, always trying to convert people I know. My own success story is when I gave a good friend of mine (who is Emirati) a sample of Amouage’s Al Mas attar and when he smelled it he immediately said it reminded him of something his mother used to wear, and I could almost see a tear in his eye (she had recently passed). I immediately went and bought him a bottle and now that all the Attars have been discontinued I am even more glad I did. He told me that people often ask what he is wearing and he will just say that it is something personally selected for him. Even if he doesn’t start buying a ton of perfumes I am happy I could bring him a little joy through scent.

  4. Haha – fun post and perfect photo illustrations! I loved the stories of Suzanne giving her writer friend Coromandel and Hajusuuri’s sister’s casual telephone encounter with DSH. My SIL actually got into Montale herself pretty soon after she started exploring new scents, so that is interesting about your newbie friend’s similar liking. I had sent my brother some 40 samples of men’s frags to try, and that seemed to kick off a curiosity about niche perfumes in both of them.

    Yes, rampant evangelist here – ever since I had my own ‘rose to Damascus experience’ in 2008. I even started a series of posts called ‘perfumista protege progress reports’, where friends I have introduced to new scents would write up their own ‘before’ and ‘after’ stories – you have prompted me to carry on with that. Most recently, I helped my friend N find perfumes beyond her signature scent of L’Eau d’Issey – at her own request. ;) She was very taken with IUNX Eau Frappee, Carven Le Parfum and Jasper Conran Woman, which are all rather different from the Issey Miyake.

    • Thank you, Vanessa. I loved Suzanne’s and hajusuuri’s stories too.

      I tried searching your blog for those reports – and didn’t succeed (though I remember reading something along the line before).

  5. Well, this is a very good question…thinks about it…personally introverted but big time into converting people in print. I’m not surprised that Dawn had been Hajusuuri’s sister’s perfumer of choice because so many DSH perfumes are like chocolate (very hard to stop indulging in).

    Right now I’m wheedling people to try Neil Morris (another Boston area perfumer) for no particular reason, I just think he’s under-appreciated. When I love something I want to share, besides he does floral aldehydes and you can’t hardly find new versions of those anymore!

    Love Rusty’s house btw.

    • I realized that I haven’t tried yet any of Neil Moris’ perfumes.

      I’m the same way: when I love something I want others to experience that too.

  6. I’m going to claim I’ve earned my perfumista badge, because as soon as Hasjusuuri described the place in Boston and her sister placing orders with Dawn, I knew it was Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (I remembered reading about it in connection with DSH’s background … and if I’m not mistaken, Sarah Horowitz used to work there too). Great story!

    Interesting how both you and Hajusuuri have had successful conversions via the Jo Malone line. I’m starting to understand why. Never thought the line was for me, but now I have fully fallen for the Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense you introduced me to. (Not to mention Sweet Milk.)

    I’m a perfume extrovert, mostly. I think it’s the only area of my life where I’m extroverted.

    • I was even worse: for my foreign ear “Dawn” is so unusual that the first time I read it I thought of DSH :)

      Interesting! So I was right to doubt the direct link between being extroverted in other areas of life and related to perfume.

      Thank you again for sharing your story!

  7. Introvert. I don’t like to discuss anything about myself typically and it’s even harder to discuss perfume…maybe that’s because I’m a guy. I love those stories, and especially the Dawn Hurwitz one…it just goes to show that the world is a very small place!

  8. Brilliant post Undina. Hmmmm. A mixture of both extrovert and introvert depending on the person/s. I used to excitedly go into great top, middle and bottom note raptures, but the blank stares got to be disconcerting. There have been a couple of exceptions though!! xxx

  9. I laughed and laughed when I saw the pictures of extrovert and introvert Rusty. No treats for him though, in my name, because he needs to continue to fit into his uber-stylish yellow houndstooth hideout box!

    Wow, there is something to be said about Jo Malone being “starter” perfumes – I think they are easy to wear and generally more accessible. Even though I can pretty much go into Macys Herald Square if I wanted to, I only do so when it’s raining and feel like a break from holding my umbrella. In any case, a Jo Malone counter opened up a few months back so I do not have to be stuck with the stuck-up SAs at Saks to get my Jo Malone fix.

    As to Suzanne’s Coromandel story, I personally find the perfume quite comforting and “smart” so it sounded like a perfect perfume for an intellectual. And yes, you and Suzanne get another star in your perfumista badge for recognizing “Dawn” :-)

    • I forgot to answer the question – I will say I am a situational perfume extrovert. I only let a few insiders know the size of my perfume collection but I do find myself animatedly talking about perfumes when it is the topic of conversation. I am working on a project to provide someone with a vanilla and lavender-centric perfume samples.

      • I want a list of lavender-centric perfumes you end up collecting: I like lavender but so far I tried only Brin de Réglisse (I have a travel bottle) and Gris Clair (I have a sample). I smelled Kiki at Jovoy last year but I didn’t have any skin left to test. Other than that somehow I missed all other lavenders – so I’ll be curious to know if there are any that you like (being a perfume twin).

    • Rusty got that box from my friend who bought two of those for her cats at kickstarter but both of her cats refused to use it – so Rusty got the second one (and my vSO and I spent some time assembling it) and he likes it and uses from time to time. I’m glad I managed to take those pictures of him – they just fell into place when I was looking for a picture to illustrate the post.

      Thank you once again for contributing your great story – I really enjoyed it.

  10. Semi-Extrovert, but I feel like I’m preaching to the converted. Most of my friends like their perfume anyway and those who don’t won’t get bothered. I still feel funny when I mention the blog, don’t know why actually, but I hope that will become better eventually.

    • With those of your friends who like perfumes a good tactic would be to offer something that is similar to what they like (but better – though you shouldn’t say that!). “I smelled X and it reminded me of the Y that you like” or “When I smelled Z I thought you might like it since you enjoy Y”. Or “W is like a day [night] version of your Y”.

  11. I’m a half way between. I’ll talk and talk with people who know about my interests in perfumes but I don’t usually bring the topic up in conversation with those who know nothing about my perfume addiction.
    By the way, I really laughed when I saw the photos of Rusty. Really spot on photos! Is Rusty Extrovert or Introvert? :D

    • thinkingmagpie! We’re alike in our perfumista life where a topic of interest brings out our extrovertedness. Bringing it up to others who don’t share the addiction probably brought their fair share of blank stares!

      P.S. I am responding on Undina’s behalf as she will be offline for a while.

  12. I loved reading this post and comments :) I didn’t realize Rusty was in a submarine until I read the comments! I am usually an introvert in all things including perfume, though I did eventually open up to some of my officemates/friends. My line of work is also relatively intellectually rigorous, for what that is worth, so I sometimes think people will not take me as seriously if I were to let loose about my love for perfume (I know that is silly!). My firends and I don’t talk about perfume a whole lot because our tastes are very different (and I like to try more things pretty much constantly, whereas my friends seem content to have one bottle and one bottle only…how do people DO that?? :)). However, it is still fun to pass along a perfume that I think my friends might like!

  13. Nemo! I’m very selective with whom I share my perfume “interest” at work as I don’t think any of them would truly understand this obsession. So as not to attract even very nice co-workers when I want to go sniffing, I joke that I am off to go do some retail therapy and stimulate the economy for the good of the U.S. of A :-)

    P.S. I am responding on Undina’s behalf as she will be offline for a while.

  14. In life, I’m pretty extroverted. I love talking to people and will start up conversations with pretty much everyone.

    However, when it comes to perfume, I tend to keep quiet about it unless I am talking to another perfume obsessed person. I don’t know. It just makes me very uncomfortable to say I am really into perfume, have the other person say they are too and that their favorite fragrance is Burberry Brit, ask me what I wear, and have me mumble “Amouage,” and repeat “Amouage” five times until they ask, “What is that??????”

    I might add that I generally interpret “What is that????” as a rhetorical question.

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