New Scents for Old Favorites

Ladies, at least "try" a New Fragrance... PLEASE!

Perfume Counter

Yesterday was my BFF's birthday, and to celebrate this milestone we headed to the mall for some much needed Retail Therapy. This was one of those "biggie" birthdays and she was in desparate need of something fun. As The Perfume Girl my gift to her, of course, was a new bottle of perfume (which she insists on referring to as "stinky-peuey").

Now keep in mind, she loves fragrance, we hit the local Bath & Body Works every other week (yes, the employees know us well). She's a candle fanatic! It all started when I gave her some Nag Champa incense, years ago, to combat the "cat box" odor, and it has escalated from there. Hand soap, shower gel, and candles...lots and lots of candles. But when it comes to perfume, she wears the SAME perfume every-single-day!

Let's face it, there are two camps of perfumistas. The "old school" (pun intended...she's older than me...LOL) camp, who have that signature scent for years, and only change their scent at the change of seasons (if we're lucky). Then there is the "new school" camp, that have an assortment of beautiful perfume bottles in our repertiore, so we can select a spritzer depending on our mood that day, or impression we want to make on our surroundings. Yep, you guessed it, that's the camp I'm a dedicated member of.

So, my "plan" was to hit the local Dillard's and try all the new Fall Fragrances, with my BFF in tow, and have her fall in love with some new fragrance so my delicate nose can smell something other than the patchouli-hippie-smelling perfume that bombards my senses every time I hop in the car with her. It's a Friday, so all the reps are on hand to help me persuade her to expand her fragrant horizons. The CK One Shock promotion is going strong, there is a local graffiti-artist with a huge setup at the entrance of the store, fat Sharpies and an oversized marker board which he is going to town on. Teenages and men are grabbing up the CK One Shock for Him bottle like crazy and spraying themselves like its filled with some magic potion. Women are stopping to watch the artist work, and chatting with the reps who are handing out CK One Shock bottle-shaped spray cards and sample vials. My BFF and I do the same, deciding CK One Shock for Her is a little to light and airy for our tastes but take the samples anyway (because, why not it smells great and its free) and plow ahead to the liquid-gold (I mean perfume) display cases...there are about 20 in our Dillard's beauty department.

ck one SHOCK fragrances

Twinkling lights are shining off the glass counters sparkling like a high-end jewelry store, and I feel like I've just entered my own personal heaven-on-earth. A huge smile breaks across my face, all the unpleasantness of the world drops away, burdens lift from my shoulders, and I suddenly get that "this is where I belong" feeling. (You know what I mean...that same look and feel our husband's get when they enter Home Dept...yeah, that one.) I look over and my BFF has a look of skepticism on her face. Oh no, she sees through my plan! She's putting up that wall knowing she not only has me to contend with, but about 30 perfume reps and salespeople as well. I try not to get discouraged, and I drag her to the first display I spot. It's Estee Lauder's new Sensuous Nude, and say "hey, smell this one, it just came out" in the most excited, non-threating voice I can muster. She crinkles her nose, and gives me a "nah, I'll get a headache if I smell too many" - her usually response. Uh-oh, I think, this isn't going to be easy.

Estee Lauder counter

I decide to just enjoy myself for awhile, and sample all the new Fall Fragrances, while chatting up the reps in hopes that my BFF will enventually give-in a little. I'm truly enjoying myself. At my local Dillard's, unlike many other department stores, the sales ladies and reps are not pushy snobs. They truly want you to find something you love. They listen to you, ask excellent questions, and refer you to another rep if they think you would enjoy a fragrance other than those at their counters. I love these ladies! Yes, they work on commissions, but they also love the work they are in, helping us find a scent we love. It's a rarity, right, but I push their store to all I know, because of them. They become personal perfume shoppers for you!

Watching me enjoy speaking to the Dillard's ladies, my BFF starts to join in the hunt for a new fragrance (for me). Twenty minutes later, she finally (I mean FINALLY) admits...gals, this a huge deal for her...that she would like to find a new perfume for herself, something similar to her signature scent, Clinique's Aromatic Elixir, a newer and fresher scent but with that same Patchouli base. Patchouli is one of the four main bases of all perfumes, vanilla, musk, and amber the remaining three, so this shouldn't be difficult. But for the last several years of heavy suggestions (by which I mean badgering, begging and pleading with her), she still hasn't budged on her "Aromatics". My brain starts scrambling for suggestions...think, think! Gucci equals patchouli, but no, she doesn't like any of them, Calvin Klein Euphoria, Coco Mademoiselle, Armani Code, yes those might work. I get her to at least spray those three and let them settle while we continue to find something I love and can't live without...although I already know what I want and this is all just a ploy to get her to branch out...but, oh, the beautiful Fan di Fendi bottle is beckoning me like a siren.

Fan di Fendi Perfume

Clinique Aromatics Elixir 40th Anniversary Parfum Bottle

The birthday girl has already eliminated Coco Mademoiselle after I test the new Fendi perfume, and strongly encourages me further into the store so she can smell her Clinique go-to-fragrance "so she can compare them to the Euphoria and Code test strips"...pah-lease, like she can't remember what it smells like, she wears it everyday...but I smile and agree that she has a wonderful idea. So we arrive at the Clinique counter, and low-and-behold they have their 40th anniversary bottle of Aromatics Elixir on display. She looks me dead in the eye and says she buying a bottle whether I purchase it for her or not because she's about to run out. Okay, okay, if they still were selling the original 1990 bottle of Guess perfume I would have a bottle on hand at all times, so I "get" it. I agree to buy her the SAME perfume, but only if I can buy her the parfum collector bottle, so at least it will commemorate her "biggie" birthday. Done deal.

Clinique counter

My spirits are down a little at this point, the shopping trip is about to end, I failed in my mission to nudge her into trying something new. Now all we need to do is hit the celebrity perfume section so I can grab the new Wonderstuck by Taylor Swift and head out of Dillard's. My BFF is trailing behind ranting and raving about the free Clinique goodie bag she got with our purchase and the fancy parfum bottle, and I'm pretending not to feel like the loser of The Great Perfume War. But then something amazing happens...we pass the Estee Lauder counter again, and I pick up the new Sensuous Nude perfume that's been nagging at the back of my mind the last hour or so, and I give it another whiff. I ask the sales rep to spray it on a card for me before I head over to the celebrity counter. I don't realize it, but my BFF, now with her Aromatics in hand and feeling no pressure, picks up the Senuous Noir bottle and spritzes a scent card. Chatting with the Estee Lauder rep, I hear my friend gasp. I hold my breath and don't dare look at her...I know that gasp, I've made it myself on many occassions, the gasp of smelling something that sends little sparkles up your nose like bubbles of champagne, a scent that awakens something sleeping inside of you, making you sit up and take notice, it enlivens your senses that something wonderful is afoot, a new discovery of perfume heaven. Alas, she found it!

Estee Lauder Sensuous Noir Perfume

I turn slowly to look at her, and I see what I've been longing to see for years. That look of amazement of discovering that some master-perfume-genius has orchestrated a fragrance melody of notes that sings directly to your heart. The astonishment of realizing that someone else in the world, whom you've never met, has created something just for you. It's a personal connection with the fragrance, a feeling of oneness with the universe, all wrapped up in a shining crystal bottle of magic. My friend has discovered a new fragrance she can't live without, a new purchase is made. I feel like planting a flag and shouting "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." I've done it...I converted a non-believer.

Will my BFF move to the new-school camp of perfumistas? Maybe, maybe not...but one things for sure, we will never forget her XXth birthday!

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude Perfume

The moral of the story...not really, just sounded like the thing to say at the time. But seriously... I don't dislike Clinique Aromatic Elixir, in fact I really liked it when we first became friends...that first month anyway...but years and years of that same perfume just put me off, ya know? And which perfumes did we end up with at the end of our Dillard's outing, you ask: Estee Lauder Sensuous Noir and Clinique Aromatic Elixir Perfumer's Reserve 40th Anniversary Blend for my BFF, and Taylor Swift Wonderstuck and Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude for me!

("New Scents for Old Favorites." The Perfume Girl Oct. 2011.)

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