Does Good Packaging Make the Perfume?

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence.
Mark Twain

Ukiyo-e, shodō, ikebana, kimono, kabuki… I do not dislike culture of Japan, but I reject the awe some Europeans and Americans have towards it: yes, it is different and has interesting aspects. But by the same token as I do not think that being different means “inferior,” it doesn’t mean “superior” either. It is just different. So, usually I instinctively stay away from anything artificially Japonesque (I must admit, though, that I love California roll sushi that have nothing to do with traditional Japanese food).

Unrelated, I am usually skeptical when brands launch new sub-brands or lines under different names in parallel to their main brand: I see it as a plot to trick consumers into buying more because it’s something new and different.

So, how did it happen that I bought (!) a sample set from Floraiku – an “inspired by Japanese culture, traditions and ceremonies and named after haiku poetry” (©Fragrantica) brand created by the founders of Memo Paris?

In my defense, I can say that I was “vulnerable”: soon after my In the Search for the Perfect Magnolia post, I bought Magnolia Grandiflora Michel by Grandiflora – perfume that I found the most interesting during my magnolia note exploration quest. And, as much as I liked perfume itself, I thought that the bottle was hideous. The paper label looked extremely cheap, and today it seems to be pilling off that not even a year-old bottle. Which reminded me of new design for L’Artisan’s bottles that I saw recently at a department store: the testers were still probably half-full, but those paper labels were already in a dismal state. I have never seen anything like that happening to the original L’Artisan packaging. Greed is ugly.

So, while I was lamenting poor packaging of some nice niche brands, I read Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) review of Floraiku set. I was curious about the line even before, but Cynthia’s praises for the presentation did it for me, and within days I placed my order.

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

My impressions? Floraiku set is very beautiful, with a lot of attention to details. I’m not sure about names: I don’t like “I-s” and “My-s” in perfume names, so five out of 11 names using that form … is a little too personal. And most of the names seem not to have any connection to the notes used to compose them. I See the Clouds Go By featuring black currant leaves, cherry blossom and white musk – really? OK, maybe if I were to lay down in some garden watching the sky… though, when those cherries blossom, I would get cold quickly laying down.

I know that those note pyramids have very vague connection to what actually goes into those 15-20% of a volume of any given perfume. So I’d be fine with a brand not revealing the notes at all or giving just a general impression for the scent. But listing three notes?! Are they paying royalties to creators per an officially published note? At $350 for the set (50 ml full bottle plus 10 ml travel spray) I feel cheated.

I also do not care for pretend haiku. Actually, I’m not a big fan of haiku per se. I assume they sound better in Japanese, but English attempts usually rather perplex me: why to bother? It’s not poetry… But even more I’m annoyed by pseudo-haiku that do not even follow the formal rules of constructing those mini poems. And all that after naming the brand Floraiku!

The owl is watching
twilight
between two trees

Maybe if to think of them as of an abstract mood-setting description for these perfumes, they are not awful.

But what about the most important aspect – perfumes themselves?

You should read mentioned above Cynthia’s post for more detailed review on these perfumes. As for my impressions, Sound of a Ricochet and Cricket Song are my favorites, which isn’t surprising since they are oriental vanilla and floral (magnolia) woody musk respectively – and I usually like those. Three more – Sleeping on the Roof, Moon and I and My Shadow on the Wall I could probably wear. The remaining six – One Umbrella for Two, I Am Coming Home, I See the Clouds Go By, First Dream of the Year, My Love Has Color of the Night and Between Two Trees – are not something that I find interesting (though, none of them is unpleasant).

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

Will any of these join my collection? Not unless I come across them at 70% off. I’m not discussing merits of selling these at $350 for 60 ml, it’s just that for me none of them is even close to be worth that price.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the sample set because it is perfect for testing: it will be interesting to try the line, it’s aesthetically pleasing, none of the perfumes is challenging in any way, and, most likely, with any of them you won’t be tempted to get more than a 10 ml travel spray (which can be bought separately).

Eden Square (no affiliation, but I successfully ordered once from them – not this set though) offers the set for $25 + $5 S&H in the US (and you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter).

 

Rusty and Floraiku Sample Set

Images: my own

46 thoughts on “Does Good Packaging Make the Perfume?

  1. I have to admit I like a good, better quality packaging as long as remains relatively sample. I don’t need caps with swirls or shaped like an eagle. I’m not going to say that packaging doesn’t matter at all (some bottles look much better on Instagram photos than the others) but I don’t like it over the top. There are too many brands that position themselves as high end, their bottles and boxes are very eye-catching but juices inside are mediocre… But the price is ridiculous! I like what Jul et Mad does for example, you can have your perfume in simple packaging which is almost 1/3 of a price of The same bottle with silver/Gold finish, coffret and additional travel spray.

    I have Queen of the Night from Grandiflora and the paper label is also slowly detacching from the glass surface, and it got dirty…

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Over the top” packaging doesn’t appeal to me either (though, I admired MDCI special caps – not enough to pay extra, even if I were to buy any of their perfumes, which I haven’t), but I do like my bottles to be of a high quality. Chanel Eaux bottles are just perfect: well-made and with an exceptional sprayer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear you on the cheap packaging – I dislike the newer Parfum d’Empire bottles, they have ugly caps and paper labels that peel off. Like you, I’m also suspicious of brands that launch multiple lines. I sniffed a few Floraikus in a local shop, found them overpriced and uninspired, plus their « fancy » packaging felt clunky and not all that solid. Most Memo scents are similarly overpriced and uninspired to me too, so no surprise there.

    Yes, nice packaging is important, but it shouldn’t be over the top or inflate the price excessively. I like that after being bought by Estée Lauder, you can now buy just the Kilian bottles without the fancy lacquered box for a lower price. I throw away packaging, so it felt very wasteful and I often bought the refills and decanted them into plain atomizers for that reason.

    The old Grandiflora packaging was so beautiful, I have one of the original green glass bottles but now the new ones are so ugly (and inflated in price, to add insult to injury) I’ve crossed them off the list.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What is it with brands and paper labels?! Not only it looks too cheap, but also it’s absolutely not practical on that type of product – it peels off, easily stains and did I mention it looks cheap?

      In defense of Floraiku’s packaging I must say that those long caps are mostly for the ad shots. In RL they are used as a travel spray holder, and there is a normal cap for the bottle.

      I’m sad I waited until GF changed their packaging: their original bottles looked much better.

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  3. I agree with all of this about aesthetics of names and bottles and I especially agree with the Japonesque comments. Because cooing over Japan is so rife it can come across very cringy, silly and of course much worse. And yet many perfumes have the western perfumer supposedly inspired by exotic smells from a land they have only a tourist’s connection to, including my favourite Dzongkha. Remembering it’s the tourist’s eye (or nose) that is painting the picture is important. I could write a lot more about this but I’ll leave off on that topic.

    As to the new wave of minimalist bottles–I HATE THEM. You can simplify and not have this endless parade of white squares and black print. I remember many years ago thinking this was quite nifty with Byredo but now I hope to never see it again. Grandiflora does look cheap, seeing them on display next to other niche brands they look like they should march to the back of the drug store. So yes, Floraiku of the very dumb name, nice aesthetics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even though there are a couple of Byredo perfumes that I like, I preferred to get decants because those bottles just do not seem appealing enough – though, at least they don’t seem cheap, just simple.

      You know, how they recommend to aspiring authors to write about something they know. I think, it would be a good advise to perfumers as well: if you’ve never been to a seaside, probably it’s not the best idea to compose perfume named Walk on the Beach.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m not sure if you saw my reply to Lucas’s comment, but I think that Chanel bottles are just perfect. Obviously, there are simple bottles and there are simple bottles ;)

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  4. I am growing weary of concept perfumes with stories, exotic locations and names, and self-conscious themes. But to be fair, my curiosity about trying new things is waning generally. Still, I think I would have always found this style of presentation offputting. Always game for a magnolia scent, mind, so Cricket Song might appeal! And I did laugh at the thought of your getting cold lying down watching clouds go by.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You probably forgot to mention invented historical references ;) I can’t stand those!

      I agree about concept perfumes: I don’t want to “work” on my perfumes – I just want them to be beautiful.

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      • I am dying laughing here, the invented historical references! I think “concept” is a fine line and some things that are very cool today are going to be very embarrassing later. Of course though this is perfume and not a haircut. If the perfume itself is wonderful much will be forgiven :)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, yes, yes. Exactly what I wanted to say. 1. Have faux concept, which might to some appear exclusive. 2. Use that concept for airy perfumes full of white musk/ ambroxan/ iso e super and all their brothers and sisters…
      All I hear when people do japonesque perfumes, is; light and cheap. These perfumes can be found anywhere at a fraction of the price from Yves Rocher, Zara or HM, to name a few…
      Rant over!

      Liked by 2 people

      • All those brands that employ these techniques are lucky that there are not that many of us who sees them through :) Clearly, it all works for consumers en masse.

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  5. I do appreciate nice packaging – it makes an okay perfume a little better for me, but can’t rescue a “bad” one. Nomenclature perfumes come in refillable spray bottles with no cap, but still manage to look interesting in the design of a laboratory flask.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought that those Nomenclature bottles were just perfect for the idea of those perfumes – I’m just not that fond of the idea itself: Molecule 01 (Iso E-super) is the only single-component perfume that I accepted (and like wearing).

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      • Nomenclature perfumes are more like the “Escentric” fragrances (as opposed to the “Molecule” fragrances) in that respect—they showcase a particular aromachemical, but aren’t composed of only that ingredient.

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        • After the first few I just stopped following Escentric Molecules’ releases: I don’t like the concept. But since they (and Nomenclature) are open about what they do, I have absolutely nothing against them – I’m just not interested. But I’ll be the last to throw a stone at them.

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  6. I enjoyed your post Undina. $25 for a whole set of perfumes to discover seems like a great deal, but the price of a bottle sounds a little aspirational to me.
    In terms of packaging I seem to run kind of down the middle. I’m put off by over the top crazy packaging because it makes me feel like they might be overcompensating for inferior juice and it is the smell that matters to me for sure. Packaging that seems careless though makes me think they may be a little careless about the perfume too.
    I’m drawn to creativity as a whole I think, and a well thought out package, that’s had care and artfulness in it’s conception and execution makes me think the creators of the scent have put the same care and attention into their ‘creation’ from start to finish. It’s kind of like if a chef chose the freshest ingredients available and put thought into balancing the flavours and cooked the food with the best care possible and then just threw it carelessly in a bowl it would be jarring for me. A careless presentation would make think the execution must have also been careless. But if the chef plated the food and then gilded it with lots of gold leaf and covered it with orchids and had a string quartet playing while 4 tuxedo wearing servers brought the plate to me I’d feel like they must have completely lost touch with the original concept of food as something to be eaten.
    Now I’m sure perfume makers everywhere will be trying to walk the tightrope of balancing not too much and not too little just to make lil ole me happy hahaha

    Liked by 2 people

    • You stated almost verbatim what I keep repeating in my comments on the topic in different places! I don’t expect Lalique bottles from niche brands. I don’t expect even expensive packaging from indie brands that produce inexpensive perfumes. But be that indie or niche brand, if they price their creations at $2.5 per ml and up, they just have to do a decent job with packaging – otherwise I’m questioning where else in the production process they are skimping.

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  7. I was given some of the Floraiku samples to try but have not had the time to play with them yet. The price, for me is prohibitive.

    I did buy a lot of Annick Goutals, primarily because I love the scents, but i would have bought them just for the bottles-the orange of Nuits d’Hadrien, blue for Nuit Etoilee, and the deep dark red of Mon Parfum, Cherie. The purple Maddragore and green Ninfio Mio (after all these years that name doesn’t trip off my tongue).

    I far prefer the original L’artisan bottles. The charm of the scents was reflected in the labels. I just bought a bottle of Dzing, from a discounter, and it showed the newer bottle. When it arrived, it’s the old label with a woman riding a tiger. I was so happy to have the original-it makes me smile every time I look at it. Maybe my favorite bottle ever.

    And I have the GF-Michael, and love it. I have one of the original packages, and I bet they spent a fortune on it-the paper sleeve that fit over the box, and a card on the inside. I don’t think it looks cheap but a drop of the perfume ran over the label, and it marked the label, which somehow irks me. But I really really like the scent, and I actually won it in a contest, so it holds a special place in my heart.

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    • Being a long time L’Artisan fan the bottle change was just hearbreaking to me. They couldn’t keep the coloured labels? My whole family likes L’Artisan and every time the line comes up everyone is grouching about the drab new look. At least they brought in some changes with a few of them with the wallpaper like labels. I have the old DZing too and I would hunt it it down if I ever replaced. I remember buying a back up bottle of Dzongkha and I was very worried it would be a new version as a lot of the time the pics on sites is just a stock photo. When it was the old one I was so happy!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Original Grandiflora bottles were very nice. I’m talking about their latest black bottles.

      Annick Goutal old bottles are my favorites! I have white, blue, black and (empty) green. I’m sad they changed those styles, though I cannot say that their current ones are cheap or bad (still, I’m sure that it’s much cheaper to produce unified transparent bottles for all perfumes than to do colored bottles for each).

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  8. Hi Undina, I guess we all know where I stand on packaging–definitely influenced by it! I thought the sample set was a real bargain considering how well it was put together and the price per ml, compared to the individual bottle. Cricket Song was my favorite and really the only one that has remained with me all this time. I do think the bottles are cool and if one came my way at a great bargain I would consider it. I feel they are intended for people who maybe are gifting someone and want to wow them. I was not put off by the Japanese references as many here seem to be. I love perfumes with stories, even when it is calculated like this. I do agree this brand seems to go for the big bucks. I have not had any interest in the Hermetica brand, or however it is spelled. My biggest take from this is I do appreciate brands who make sampling affordable, even when it means most of us will never go beyond the samples. And it was one of the prettier sets I’ve ever received. No one has ever beaten Parfums de Rosine presentation I got about ten years ago, though. Can I ask a personal question about the Cricket Song, as compared to the Grandiflora you mentioned? I’ve never smelled it, but I do love the magnolia note. How do the two compare. Thanks! And I hope you don’t regret the buy.

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    • I wouldn’t have advertised the set had I regretted it. So, thank you for the nudge (and please notice that I paid brand’s price, I think $35 + S&H – so, $25 is a very good price for 11 perfumes).

      I haven’t compared the Cricket Song with Grandiflora Michele, but once you’re back home, ping me, and I’ll send you a sample. In any case, in my opinion, there are many other magnolia perfumes to consider before spending $350 (not that I would discourage anyone to buy perfume they liked, no matter how expensive it is).

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Undina,
    Your post made me think “yes, I am not alone for sure!”.
    I love Japan and its intimate culture, but also slightly irritated by the use here. However, I must say i really like their presentation. But, that price tag….
    Lately, I was reading so many positive comments on “umbrella for two”. I generally don’t enjoy ordering sample sets but the price range of this brand has pushed me that way… :-p, and I am glad I did get the sample set. Just like you have written, they are nice, not offensive, not challenging … but on top of that, so short-leaved on my skin! I do really feel cheated on. Depressing to see what we fear on over the top presentation is indeed hiding other aspects of the product.
    By the way, “umbrella for two” smells really nice but very similar to Byredo’s “pulp” to my nose. -_-
    Greetings, Fragile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ironically, the topic of packaging goes the second round with your comment: I like Pulp, but because I don’t like Byredo’s bottles, I bought a decant of this perfume instead of getting a bottle. Now, when you mentioned it, I can see what you mean comparing these two perfumes, but for my nose Pulp is a little more “tropical,” while One Umbrella for Two has rather “continental” feel – but it’s just my impression.
      Floraiku presentation is really beautiful, and for, let’s say, $160 for a bottle I’d consider buying one of them.

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  10. Hey Undina,
    I was at the launch of the new Grandiflora packaging and said at the time to Saskia that I thought it was a lessening of the brand. Their original bottles were lovely, simple and perfect. So annoying when something lovely turns to shit. I feel the same about the modern Mona di Orio bottles. How I adore the champagne cork inspired caps and square earlier bottles.
    That Floriaku sample set looks fabulous for $25. Very Ra Cha Cha!
    There is a LOT to love about Japan and Japanese manufacture, there is also a lot to revile. Much like every country.
    In answer to your question. Yes, packaging matters. A well thought out bottle and sensible boxing go a long way towards my enjoying a brand and wanting to spritz more often.
    Portia xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree looks matter, and am I alone in liking a bottle with some heft to it? My Jour de Hermes comes to mind, but I know some brands specialize in the bottles with heavy bottoms.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Honestly Portia the Grandiflora packaging upsets me. Even all this very boring minimalist stuff is at least only boring, not ugly. I can see calligraphy and then a small perfume name working but none of it works. It’s awful. it’s not about going cheaper or simpler, it’s about graphic design.

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    • For me it’s not a question of not liking Japanese culture, manufacture and any other aspect as it relates to Japan. Had it been a Japanese brand, I wouldn’t have minded any of it at all!

      First Grandiflora bottles were much nicer, in my opinion. And I’m sad that they’ve chosen this new approach. With MdO’s bottles the situation is slightly different: while the original bottles were quirkier and had more character, the new ones are just very… proper (?), but at least they do not look cheap.

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  11. Great writing, as always, Undina. I haven’t tried any Floraiku scents, but I have seen the gorgeous bottles on Instagram. Beautiful packaging does matter, but only if the juice is equally appealing (for example, Narciso Rodriguez fragrances get this right).

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    • Narciso Rodriguez… That white cube still stirs something in me every time I see it! :) But I have to finish a couple of samples first – and then I’ll see if I still want more (maybe I should just look for an empty bottle on eBay? :)) )

      Liked by 1 person

  12. For me, the packaging won’t make a meh scent great, but it can make a great scent an even more pleasing experience. My favorite examples are Tiffany & Co. and its flanker Tiffany & Co. Intense, which I’ve reviewed (https://scentsandsensibilities.co/2018/12/09/scent-sample-sunday-tiffany-co-intense/). Every aspect of the design, the scent, the marketing has been carefully considered; and I appreciate their use of models of different races in their 2017 “All You Need Is Love” campaign.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I enjoy the colour of the Tiffany packaging etc.. and it’s a charming scent though not one I would wear. I very much agree with you about their models, something like that can make a perfume smell more attractive to me, it’s true! It’s respect. Respect smells good.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The juice inside the bottle is much more important to me than the packaging, but I don’t like super cheap plastic bottle tops and cheap bottles either since they are easy to break and don’t last well. For example, I like Ellen Tracy Bronze, but the bottle and cap are so cheap I don’t use it often because I’m afraid of breaking the cap or the cheap bottle.
    I have the Floraiku sample set, too. I’m looking forward to trying all the scents in the sample set.

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  14. Pingback: Saturday Question: Do You Like Discovery Sets? – Undina's Looking Glass

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