Entertaining Statistics: March 2014

March was great this year – warm and wet. We had several rainy days, which were good though still not enough: we got less than half of the average amount of rain for this month.

Metal Leaf With Rain Drops

Recently something strange has happened to me. I was at my friend’s birthday party. Conversations traveled from the latest concerts at San Francisco Symphony to the situation in Ukraine and back to 3D printer our friends were assembling in their office. Mingling and moving I got to a group of women. The topic turned to perfumes and my friend immediately told to the others: “Julia knows everything about perfumes.” I saw an immediate surge of interest and one of the women asked: “What were the most recent perfumes you liked?” And suddenly I drew a blank.

I couldn’t come up with a single name! Instead I got turmoil of thoughts: “Have I tried recently anything that is available anywhere in San Francisco’s stores?”, “Will it be something I can pronounce?”, “It should be something that I find to be really good”, “Is there a chance they can remember any of the names/brands they’ve never heard about?” Mercifully the conversation drifted away and the only recommendation I’d got to give that evening was for that friend who put me on the spot that evening: I suggested Diptyque‘s Eau Duelle as a nice and affordable vanilla perfume.

Of course, it was Friday after a busy week and I had a couple of drinks by the time I might have missed the opportunity to lure more unsuspecting victims into the world of niche perfumery. But even later, already at home and completely sober, I still couldn’t think of a good answer.

I decided to check my database and put together some numbers.

Stats March 2014

Out of the 98 perfumes I tested in the last three months (32 for the first time), three were launched in 2014, 19 were launched in 2013, 17 – in 2012 and the remaining 59 – in earlier years.

With a closer look to the most recent perfumes I tested (2013/14 releases), I realized why I couldn’t think of anything: out of 16 perfumes that I’ve tried by the time of the conversation I mentioned above, I liked only three – PHI by Tauer Perfumes, Barkhane by Teo Cabanel and Sahara Noir by Tom Ford. And only the latter fits my self-imposed criteria. So one out of ninety-eight isn’t that easy to remember, is it?

Would you be able to recommend to a non-perfumista friend a recently released perfume available where you live?


Images: my own

65 thoughts on “Entertaining Statistics: March 2014

  1. Oooh Undina, that’s a tough one. If last year counts as a recent release I’d be saying Caron – My Ylang. One of those rare fumes that would appeal to full on fumies and newcomers. It’s so unapologeticaly sunny.

    • It’s so interesting how surroundings define our choices: I saw Caron fragrances at a store just once – during my trip to New York – so that brand would be one of the last on my list of recommendations.

  2. It would be exactly the same for me. I don’t even try new department store releases any more if they don’t (sometimes literally) jump out at me. So I would be very much at sea in that situation too. Risking to sound like a broken record, I would suggest that the person look into the Hermès range. The newly re-packaged perfumes of the classic and the colognes, even the Hermessences are always solid recommendations in my opinion. And so much more interesting than mainstream scents.

    • With those great perfume stores you have in Vienna you don’t have to limit your chose by just department stores’ selections. And yes, Hermes is a good choice but I haven’t tried the latest of Hermessences yet and I didn’t love Jour d’Hermes. But if I had thought of Eau de Narcisse Bleu or Eau de Mandarine Ambrée I would have recommended those. But I tested them almost a year ago so I didn’t think of them as of recent releases.

  3. Heya Undina,
    We have a few of the mass market niche available in Sydney but I would probably have sent them to look at the Armani Prive or Bottega Veneta lines. maybe even the Van Cleef & Arpels exclusives which we have here too. I would have asked them to drop into Hermes as well and try their Mandarin and Epice Marine.
    Probably only after a few minutes thought though, on the spot is HARD.
    Portia xx

  4. Hallo, Undina,
    98 perfumes for the three months???!!! You are a ma-chi-na! It probably means that you haven’t worn one perfume twice or longer, doesn’t it? Well, I was a lousy tester over the first third of the year, busy doing statistics about my Ph. D thesis…I am sorry, I know you love your charts, but I find statistics tedious and nerve-wracking, though useful and necessary in my case. Yours is entertaining, indeed.
    I am curious which three scents released in 2014 did you test?

    • 98 perfumes were just testing ; -). Some of those I tested more than once. I usually include the definition into my stats posts but since I wasn’t talking about wearing perfumes in this post, I omitted it this time (take a look at the footnotes here for the explanation of wear vs. test). During the same period of time I also wore 56 perfumes on 84 different occasions. But I wear mostly perfumes from my collection (FB or decants). I wear something from a sample only if I’m thinking about buying that perfume and want to see if I actually like to wear it – not just smell-test.
      Three perfumes from 2014: Jo Malone Silk Blossom (meh), LM Parfums Hard Leather (liked it) and Comptoir Sud Pacifique Voyages en Orient Oudh Sensuel (not sure).

      • That makes you even more amazing perfumista in my eyes! (taking a bow)
        What a dynamic scent turnover you had!
        I guess LM Parfums Hard Leather is everywhere these days – haven’t tried it, but curious enough.

  5. The latest for me would be Valentino’s Uomo… but I can’t keep up with all of the new releases! So you said that your March was warm and wet huh?? Well I guess I know where all our warm air was kept…on the west coast!!! Here’s to more rain for you in April and some warm weather for us!

    • That is exactly what I was going to say. Uomo was not bad and available all over the place. But I am with you, I can never think of something good when people ask for a suggestion. Although I usually just recommend they try Amouage around here….

        • My idea was that I had to be able to “stand by” my recommendation: I wouldn’t care much if others wouldn’t like the perfume as long as I was sure it was great for me. Ok, strike out “great” – let’s say “really good” ;-)

      • I would have recommended Amouage any day in a heartbeat – but the only place where one might be able to try it in San Francisco is a small shop with a very strange owner to where I wouldn’t dare to send somebody just for testing ;-)

    • I don’t think I even look at Valentino’s perfumes any longer. Guilty: I even didn’t read your review of it – so not interested I was in the brand. But since you say you liked it, I’ll try it the next time I see it and will read the review.
      Let’s hope weather doesn’t disappoint both of us :-)

  6. Dear Undina,
    It would be difficult to recommend just ONE perfume! If anything, I would have to find out more about my friend’s tastes and preferences first before recommending my favorite from that genre. At the moment, I am loving What We Do In Paris Is Secret, it gets frequent wearing and I’ve used up 5ml in the past 3 months! (Which for a perfume-lover with too many perfumes is no mean feat!)

    • I haven’t tried WWDIPIS yet but it doesn’t fit the criteria “recent (2013/14) release”. And the general idea wasn’t to choose the best fitting perfume for the person who asks but rather to name something new that you personally liked but with the condition that it should be available for testing in store where you and the “friend” live (so, in case with Paris, London or NY it’ll be “almost any perfume” ;-) ).

      • Ah! I see! Well I tried WWDIPIS last December when I was in Paris so that qualified as ‘recent’ for me (I live on a different planet apparently). But if I had to pick something launched in 2013/2014, then it would probably have to be Frederic Malle’s Dries van Noten. But that’s only because I live in London… In terms of mainstream releases, none has moved me so far…

  7. Hello Undina,
    98 in 3 months!? How can you keep track of all of them! I got into a similar situation at my friend’s party last month and I could only think the ones I didn’t like…
    Raining here today and it’s a mixture of rain & Sahara sand and everywhere’s covered with red-brown spots!

    • One perfume per day is my slowing down. It used to be many more. Not all of them are new for me, I re-visit perfumes to see if I changed my mind, compare to other perfumes or decide if I want to buy more of it. I have a database where I track different aspects of my perfume hobby. If you click on My Stats category on the right you’ll see what type of statistics I’ve done in the last couple of years (I do not suggest reading – just looking through the pictures ;-) ).

  8. Love this set of stats! You are a machine indeed! Gosh, if put on the spot, I would have recommended Atelier Cologne Silver Iris and then recommend going to a Sephora which tends to carry some “nichey” lines and is more generous with samples for perfect strangers than, for example, Macys. The good thing with Sephora is that it carries Hermes which a number of peeps above have recommended. It is also less intimidating than walking into an Hermes boutique, as welcoming as the SAs are, there’s usually an air of snobbishness and exclusivity.

    • Samples? At Macy’s?! You must be kidding! ;-) I can’t remember the last time I was able to get one from there. So I never buy perfumes from them. Nordstrom, on the other hand, is very samples-friendly. So I buy at least one bottle of perfumes from them per year (but usually more, including gifts).

      • I can walk to a Macys from my house and I hardly ever buy perfume from there because they will only give you samples if you buy something. Nordstrom is still the most generous, followed by Sephora, in terms of being able to bring home samples without buying. Do you ever the $5 travel atomizers just to have your SA fill it up with something you like but not enough for a FB?

        • I’ve heard from you on a couple of occasions about that 5 ml atomizers deal but they don’t do it here. Though it’s not a problem for me since my friendly SA will give me any sample I want whenever I want them. Too bad there’s not much I want :-)

          • Perhaps I am SPECIAL ;-)

            …and we need to have a chat about Hard Leather. I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was not seeing things. I haven’t yet formed an opinion on how I feel about it but I am surprised!

            • Will I surprise you even more if I say that I’ve bought a small decant of it after testing? ;) To my defense I should say that I’m not sure if I will be wearing it or if it goes into my vSO’s scent wardrobe.

  9. I would have been stumped too. As you say, there are so many things to take into consideration. I don’t think I like any recent releases, although I am a fussy so-and-so.

    Last Friday Lila asked me which perfumes I really want right now and I couldn’t think of a single one!

    • Et tu?! I would have thought that in London there should be no problems with that question: almost anything is available at one of the well-known stores there (it’s not even MinNY or Osswald about which most New Yorkers who are not into perfumes haven’t ever heard).

      I do not have a single perfume on my immediate “to buy FB” list. There are several that I wouldn’t mind owning a bottle of if it slowly landed on my lap from the sky (e.g. several Amouages, Chanels and others) but for all of them I still have either a big sample or even a decant so I’m not in a hurry.

  10. I haven’t tried anything new in a long time. I would probably say Lovely Day by Monegal, because that is the last new-est release I really liked. Now admittedly I’m really bad at knowing when something is released, and I get ‘new to me’ confused with ‘newly released’! And back to Lovely Day – not sure I would recommend it to anyone new to perfume as it is kind of ‘weird’ but I like weird ;)

  11. Undina, like you and many of your commenters, I would have been at a loss. I rarely ever try any mainstream perfumes, mainly because there isn’t much in the way of perfume shopping where I live.

    I can really sympathize with the question that went through your mind, “Will it be something I can pronounce?” I really need to take a French course, because that’s the thing I’m most embarrassed about when people ask me about perfumes: most of the ones I like have French names that I butcher, even though I had an intro to French course in high school, long long ago.

    Great post topic!..

  12. Even without having tried anywhere near as many perfumes as you have lately(!), I would be floored by this question for sure. I was even caught on the hop recently when someone asked me what were my favourite perfumes *at all* and why – I tried to rack my brain as to what I wrote in a recent post on rationalising my collection, and my mind went blank then. Eventually I started burbling something about ‘cosy, powdery orientals with a twist’ that made no sense at all to the friend in question. ;) Zelda is probably my (fairly) recent standout perfume, thinking about it now, however, it doesn’t pass the ‘readily available’ test…

    • Yeah… Somehow I don’t think any of your non-perfumista friends would appreciate being sent to find Zelda in your neck of the woods ;-)

      I have a firm top N perfumes in my head – probably from periodic update of my Perfume Portrait page.

  13. Glad to hear your March was a good one. Mine was brilliant and not only because of Esxence in Milan. I would find it hard to recommend a new perfume to a non-perfumista friend. I have less and less interest in mainstream. Maybe I would suggest Prada Candy Florale. It’s not on the market yet but it will be launched very soon. I’m hunting to get it for tests and mum wants a bottle

    • “Mainstream” wasn’t a condition – availability was: you can’t expect a non-perfumista friend to hunt for an unknown perfume to try online. So if there is a store where you live that carries any niche perfumes those could be recommended as well. Candy Florale – cute bottle. I’ll try it when it comes to stores.

  14. Dearest U
    I suppose being in London the situation is slightly different, though we still lack the choice of Paris.
    I would probably recommend Hermes Narcisse Bleu, Carven’s re-released Ma Griffe, Inflorescence by Byredo, Aramis Calligraphy Rose and some more niche offerings.
    But yes, slim pickings generally speaking. I find myself turning more and more to the past…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • I wasn’t impressed by Inflorescence (though it is available in Barney’s – so I could have recommended it had I liked it enough), Narcisse Bleu was good, I liked it – just didn’t think of it. As to the rest – I haven’t tried them (Aramis? Do they still produce perfumes? I thought it was a brand from the past)

  15. I can never make a recommendation. My mind is always an instant blank. Even when people ask me about my favorite perfumes, I often struggle and stammer. I think I just don’t like being put on the spot, or I worry that I will bring up a perfume that they hate. I have not tried much in 2014, to be honest, so that would be an additional problem for me, if someone asked.

    • 2013 releases are still new enough! :-)
      We should all practice naming our favorite perfumes from time to time. Quickly. Something like: five most favorite oriental perfumes in 20 seconds.

      • Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Reglisse Noire, Orris Noir, and … Ack! (And I had to look up RN and ON to confirm they were orientals.)

        Your turn!

        • In 20 seconds all I could come up with was OJ Tolu and Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo (and the latter only because I wore it today!). I had a vague feeling about Chamade being oriental (and I was right). But without looking into my database – that’s it :-)

  16. Ha, ha, ha, probably not. :) I mean, if it’s niche, I would be stumped to suggest anything except go there and there and see what you might like. Because most of the things I tried and liked aren’t actually available here. :(
    If it’s mainstream, then the problem is that I have no idea what’s been released so no suggestions there.

  17. Undina you’ve described a situation into which I’ve stumbled a couple of times now. I’d say Carven Le Parfum for mainstream. BUT, if you watch Shark Tank you will have seen Kevin O’Leary (aka the bald one) remark on how much perfume houses pay to be on department store shelves. Anything small or independent faces a huge uphill battle to go mass market.

    So, I’d encourage people to try their local perfumers. I’m writing about the US ones now and wish folks could get more exposure to the people who make perfumes near their own homes. DSH in Colorado, Shelley Waddington and Mandy Aftel in Ca, Neil Morris in Boston, Liz Zorn in the Midwest. They’re good, they’re original, and they all have sample programs!

    • I agree that small(er) houses need our help more than bigger ones. But for somebody to go online and research/buy samples, that person has to be interested in perfumes more that on the level of picking up or getting a gift of one bottle of a perfume per year. So I’m trying to move people around me towards more interest in perfumes in general. Indie perfumes will be the next phase.

      I read about your upcoming series (I’m reading everything even if I don’t have time or thoughts for a comment) and look forward to reading those posts though, unfortunately, most indie perfumes I tried aren’t for me: I clearly tend towards industrially produced perfumes.

  18. Hi, Undina! I’m not sure about “recent,” but when I drag people to the local department stores, I find that anything hermes, and the Prada Infusions (Homme, Iris, etc.), offer good starting points. But truth be told, nothing new has grabbed me lately. For the Indie and niche offerings (few where I live), they have to have dinner at my place and a sampling over digestifs!

    • It’s not a problem to find something to recommend from a department store, the predicament was to name something recent that I liked. But after all the suggestions above I’m prepared.

      • II haven’t found anything new, either (and have missed a ton of releases). But since dept. stores are all I have where I live,I count on Prada and Hermes–both of whom often surprise me with a new release that I like.

  19. I haven’t been very impressed either with most of the recent releases. Several of the ones I’ve tried (I’m mainly thinking of the new L’Artisans now) seem to be more about moods, with more of a room spray feel to them than something I’d like to wear on my skin. Maybe this is a result of perfumers not yet feeling comfortable with the post-EU-2013-approved chemicals available, or maybe this is just how the current trends are?

    But on a completely different, technical, note. At work we’ve just come across this library http://d3js.org/ for visualizing data. I haven’t actually coded anything yet, and I’m not sure if it’s possible to do anything and then easily present it in a blog. But the possibilities for displaying interesting statistics makes me drool ;)

    • That library looks like fun! But even if I were willing to play with JavaScript I don’t have that control over my blog.

      Even if industry stops producing any new perfumes – wearable or not – I’m all set for the next N+ years, so I’m not too upset. I just need to keep up my rule of not paying for samples.

  20. The new place to casually sniff and explore niche perfumes in San Francisco is Antonia Kohl’s Tigerlily Perfumery in the Mission. Lovely. Antonia has Téo Cabanel Paris for your local friends to smell Barkhane, and she also has Andy Tauer’s perfumes – although PHI Une Rose de Kandahar will not return to the market until November – but Tigerlily will have it. Have you visited Antonia yet?

    • I haven’t visited it yet but I plan to do it soon – thank you for the nudge!
      I hope PHI will be coming back: it’s such a beautiful perfume!

  21. Pingback: Entertaining Statistics: 2014 Year Round-up | Undina's Looking Glass

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