SNARK! Why Did They Even Bother?


Post by Portia


Hello Fragrant Fumies,

Ainslie Walker is off doing amazing stuff so I’m filling in today, she’ll be back in a fortnight.

I thought you all might like a chance to unleash, a place to vent, a moment where you can really let us know what you think about some of the complete shit that has been released under then guise of fragrance. Now you must back up your snark with reasons other than it smells crap. Also if someone trashes your favourite that doesn’t mean your favourite has been invalidated, it means your favourite doesn’t work for someone else. Please don’t get snippy and thin lipped if Andy Tauer, Taylor Swift, Bertrand Duchaufour or DKNY get lampooned. This is a fun vent that we can all have a bit of a laugh about. Extra points go to well crafted snark, brilliant analogies, finely honed butchery and elegant put downs.

SNARK! Why Did They Even Bother?

Right, I’ll get you all started.

Collection Extraordinaire Bois d`Iris Van Cleef & Arpels


Yes, you’ve all seen them. One minute VC&A, Armani, Givenchy, YSL, Oscar de la Renta, Bulgari et al have some fairly limp fruitchoulis on the market shelves next to their one big blockbuster hit from the 60s, 80s or naughties and next moment there are 12 deluxe fragrances in uber simple packaging with one of each frag style included; a musk, an amber, BWF, leather, cologne, aquatic raspberry lotus anise laundry detergent. For F*#ks Sake. Seriously, maybe three in the line are worth sniffing and the rest I wouldn’t use in the bathroom as deodoriser.

These are not the only protagonists in the drama either, it’s becoming more & more common in the niche realm too. Zero scents to 20 in 3 years. PLEASE!!

Surely it also makes no market sense to put all your poorly thought out, boringly designed, committee created dross in one foul swoop. Wouldn’t it make more sense to release two REALLY FREAKING GOOD THINGS and maybe add one every couple of years? Wouldn’t that lend a sense of anticipation, give people something to talk about, make us want and dream and imagine?

Coco Mademoiselle by CHANEL 2001

CocoMademoisell FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Orange, mandarin orange, orange blossom, bergamot
Heart: Mimose, jasmine, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang
Base: Tonka bean, patchouli, opoponax, vanilla, vetiver, white musk


Now for this one I do understand the solid business sense behind it. Of course it’s easier to sell a mediocre scent if you piggyback the fame of your houses blockbuster scent from decades ago. I really like the idea of summer versions of the heavier offerings, even like the idea of a yearly release of something crated to enhance your wearing of the original. You know the original Opium or JPG Le Male were pretty full on in an office mid summer, I get it. Make an annual summer flanker in a fun bottle that can also become a collectable. Heaven!

Please don’t create a whole new scent, nothing to do with the magical original that you have slashed and burned till it is a whisper of its former glory and that no self respecting perfumista would use to light a Bar B Q, and link it to your cash cow. It drives me FREAKING WILD! Just two examples on the one scent are Coco Mademoiselle and Coco Noir, either of these are fine scents on their own and I would definitely have liked them a LOT more if they hadn’t been linked to one of the department stores glittering fragrant jewels Coco. ACK! Why?  Imagine if they’d called it CHANEL Noir or Gabrielle, put it in that killer black bottle and I am 100% sure it would still have sold like hot cakes while not watering down the cache of the gorgeous original.

OK, so what gets your goat? Go crazy.
Please don’t be offensive or take offence on someone else comment, we are here to have a laugh today.
Portia xxx

63 thoughts on “SNARK! Why Did They Even Bother?

  1. What gets my goat is these scents that you pay a paycheck for that last for an hour. Most Ateliers are like that to me. Also Guerlain saddened me with most of the Aqua Allegorias.


  2. Portia, darling – there’s a whole blog post or even two hiding in here somewhere… 😉 But I shall try to contain myself. Just! 😉

    1. Oud. Oud perfumes from companies who wouldn’t know an aquilaria tree if it bit them in the a**, because there’s no ‘there’ there – nor even the tiniest drop of real agarwood. Just a whole truckload of hot air and marketingese. And speaking of hot air…

    2. Chanel Allure and its countless Flankers Who Shall Remain Nameless. Mrs. Polge Sr. and Jr. can do so much better than those. To be fair – they (sometimes) have!

    3. My arguable greatest WTF moment of my perfume writer life: O’Driu’s Peety. I was at the launch in Florence, and although surrounded everywhere by pretentious, snooty people spouting platitudes and clichés who felt they were doling out samples from the real Fountain of Youth/Sex/Beauty to the likes of shabby, so-called ‘bloggers’, Signor Pregoni’s presence took the cake, and so did Peety. I’m no stranger to avantgarde or conceptual perfumes – indeed, my words have inspired a few! – but the whole ‘make it personal!’ angle made me want to hurl all over an Italian (!), which does NOT happen every day.

    4. Storied perfume houses with likewise stellar perfumes (Dior, YSL) hellbent on shattering everything about the very heritage that made them great to begin with. Reformulations can’t be avoided, but they can be done with care. Apparently, that’s asking for too much! 😉

    I could go on! 😉


    • Hello Sheila,
      Your rant calls to mind the morning when my middle son really did “hurl all over an Italian (!)”) during breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tehran. The gentleman (no relation to Pregoni) was wearing a beautiful suit which, I imagine, was never worn again. Thankfully, that was an event that hasn’t happened every day. 🙂
      Azar xx


    • Oh yes, maggiecat! A supremely idiotic version of these beliefs is the SAs who claim that Chanel No.5 is all natural! Umm, aldehydes?! The oh so essential ingredient of Chanel No.5.
      Are they really taught this? Or is this myth used to please customers?


    • I have to say that I didn’t perceive Peety to be conceptual or avantgarde, but instead a delightful piece of performance art, to deride that desire for the exclusive of exclusives — a “bespoke” perfume.


  3. The reformulation and flanking of what was a great perfume. Sacrilege! Christian Dior I am looking at your desecration of Miss Dior. Even Balmain had to mess with Jolie Madame. Classic ‘fumes are not the scent equivalent of next year’s hot young thing.


  4. Intense/Dark/Concentree/Noir scents.
    I’m not talking about legitimate strength variations between EDC/EDT/EDP etc, but rather the supercharged bottles so many houses are putting out (Ormonde Jayne, I am specifically looking at you and your “With up to 50% concentration available, our Made to Measure Parfum offers a deeper and longer-lasting scent”; but there are so many others.

    Just stop watering the originals down to make a few extra dollars; then you won’t have to give us the “Concentrated” versions as a flanker.


  5. Well, I don’t know where to start…ok, let’s start with the prices vs. longevity: In the 80-ies you could buy 30 ml and 50-60 ml of almost every perfume in EdT or EdP. 30 ml prices were very moderate, 60 ml prices were ok, around what today would be 50-70 USD. If you bought an EdP (which smelled JUST LIKE the EdT only stronger. It was NOT a completely different scent!!! Waaaaah!!!! That was going to be my second point…) you could spritz 3 times and happily go to work being sure you’ll smell your perfume even after work. Nowadays you can hardly buy 30 ml bottles. Everybody changed to the “standard ” 100 ml bottle which costs the world and is extremely unpractical to carry around in your bag. Why would you carry it around in your bag? Very simple – becuse it lasts maybe 1 hour and then you have to respritz, of course.
    And there is this one issue with a perfume name that bothers me for years: in 2000 there used to be a perfume called Zen by Shiseido. It was in a white translucent bottle smelling like flowers and rice, just amazing. Soon it was discontinued. Some 6 years later Shiseido makes a completely different perfume in a completely different packaging and calls it again Zen. What’s the point of it except creating confusion among customers?


    • Neva, Zen is a 3-time offfender. The original version from the 60s was a rose chypre in a black bottle. If they didn’t want to lose the name, they could at least have come up with some sort of more creative naming. perhaps, Zen, Zen White, and…I would say Zen Gold, but that actually came our as a flanker of Zen square bottle.
      I am happy that they still (or again) sell the original Zen, now called Zen Classic — blackish bottle, decent re-formulation.

      Another offender is Missoni. They too have given 3 different perfumes the named “Missoni” — one from the 80s, killed to make room for a different one from 2006, killed to make room for one from 2015.

      And don’t even get me started on Dior. What on earth was wrong with Miss Dior Cherie? Was it that — oh horror of horrors — it somehow would lead customers to find out that there was an old, or worse an “old lady scent, shockingly called MISS Dior? And what “old lady” deserves to have a scent called Miss anything? No, no, no.


      • Oh, yeah! I would add D&G (pour femme or just anonymously D&G). If one wants to find the 1992’s version, one should look for a “red cup” as for a secret password in description. Do not mention all this thing with Euroitalia and P&G difference. Why to make completely new scent 2 decades later with the same name?
        And one more thing – discontinuation of perfumes. I could live with reformulation of it is on only choice, limited distribution, only 100ml bottles available for gigantic price, if I love the smell. But don’t discontinue it1!!!


      • Nooooo, I didn’t know about the one from the 60-ies! That makes the whole thing even worse.
        Have you tried all three of them? Which one do you like best? A rose chypre sounds lovely, especially if it’s decently reformulated as you say. Where can I find a sample?
        Btw. I like the last one in the square bottle too (at least the 2007 version which I had) but the 2000 one was so lovely and I really miss it…


    • Hi Neva,
      I think the only way you could sample the Classic is at a Shiseido counter. I actually don’t know if they would have it in stock or if you would have to order on line. I have a feeling that they only stock the square bottle.
      There are some reasonably priced bottles on ebay. If I were choosing I’d go for the spray Perfume Mist.

      From your description I regret never having seen the white bottle one.
      The “gold” one smells very pretty on a friend — a blend of pretty flowers on patchouli.


    • Oh wow, I LOVED that version of Zen! I keep my empty white translucent bottle with the last few drops just so I can sniff it again once in a while. I agree that it is kind of awful that they then issued a new “Zen.” On the other hand, other houses release a completely different fragrance under the same name and DON’T change the packaging, which borders on fraudulent! I do wish Shiseido would bring back OUR Zen.


  6. Limited Editions get up my nose, HA!
    Trying to induce panic amongst the perfumistas and convincing us that it is the most desirable thing on the market. Until they reformulate it and bring it back.
    And Limited Availability, only to be found if you are in some department store in the middle of continental Africa.


  7. Great idea for a post!

    I get irritated by the likes of the Guerlain La Petite Robe range. Firstly, the EDT and EDP are totally different, and secondly, they have so many flankers and editions that it makes the original seem weaker, as if it needs constant improvement. It’s also very confusing for cusotmers. If you confuse us- you lose us!

    The same goes for Givenchy Irrestible. I counted 27 flankers and just gave up. It just weakens it all and makes it look like hundreds of also-rans.

    If I’m going to talk about scrubbers- then Thierry Mugler Womanity- Whoah there Nelly! I actually gagged.

    warmest wishes


  8. Oh Portia, you have pressed a very sore button. I have nothing original to say, since all the other comments express perfectly what I feel almost all the time. Once in awhile, a blogger will expound on a marvelous fragrance and I think I would so love to sniff this and maybe wear that, but then I learn that the only way that will happen is if I win the lottery. Of course, I can sometimes buy a sample ( and even samples of some things are ridiculous), but the cost of some fragrances, oftimes those that get reviewed, is so beyond the reach of the average person (its why RAOKS and Giveaways are such life savers) that getting a full bottle will never happen. I’ve loved reading blogs and reviews about dupes and less costly fragrances, because that’s what possible for me most of the time. The other gripes I have are these perfusions of fruity sweet fragrances that all smell the same or the avant garde fragrances that promise we will smell like dirt or cement, for example. Since when did that become desirable? I have no desire to smell like ripe cheese or urine, even for a second,…ugh. Thanks for the opportunity to vent and thank you for your giveaways.


    • Hey EllenM,
      Yes, the cost of being extravagantly perfumed has become cumbersome.
      As to smelling of cement, I think there might be quiet, reflective joy in it.
      Glad to have loads of giveaways at APJ to help people get a sniff.
      Portia xx


      • I still believe that people are making good stuff out there. Its why I like the end of the year best lists. At least that somewhat eliminates the thousands of perfumes that have little or no originality. Is there a quiet reflective joy in smelling like cement? I must take your word for it. Love you Portia!


  9. Shalimar. Dear, sweet Jesus, if Guerlain slaps that name on one more bottle of whatever-they-think-will-sell I will lose my mind. Do they think no one notices that they are dragging the name of a perfume icon thru the mud all the way to the cash register? This is what bothers me. Some of the flankers stand on their own, and to your point about Chanel’s CM, would they just give them their own identities and names?! I can see them now, huddled in their boardrooms, saying yes,yes, every idiot has heard of Shalimar, so keep it going. It’s damn insulting! Phew! That felt good!


    • Hey Moira,
      Yes, they all seem to be playing the game. Shalimar is an excellent point. You are allowed to be furious.
      Portia xx


  10. I have two huge gripes, one of which is completely opposite everyone else’s. I don’t actually mind fragrances that don’t stick around and get most irritated when something really good doesn’t make it or gets panned in reviews because it only lasts 6 hours. If it’s great, I have no trouble spritzing a second or third time or taking the opportunity to switch scents midday. I will say, there have been a few that didn’t last on my skin for more than an hour and I do have my limits.
    My second gripe is the exclusivity trend. It doesn’t really bug me as much with the lines I’ve never tried and won’t bother seeking out, though I’m still appalled that limiting one’s distribution seems to justify doubling an already atrocious price tag. I’m really pissed at Chanel in particular for tightening their grip on the Exclusifs to the point that I can’t sample them without a ten-hour drive. If they are going to do that, they could at least sell or send samples when requested (and not be snooty jerks on the phone) or make a fortune with a discovery set. Now I hear that they’re going to jack-up the prices and label them as EDPs, which I just can’t understand because all that I have tried are very lightweight. I’m very torn about supporting them but I fear I will regret it if I don’t stock up on my favorites while I can.


    • Hi MikasMinion,
      All valid points.
      Sometimes I like to change frags halfway through the day too. It’s a bummer though when I’m out for the day or night and realise halfway through that I’m scentless.
      Portia xx


  11. Hi Portia and thank you for the opportunity to vent!

    I’m with MikasMinion on the exclusivity trend. I’ve fallen again and again for the whole scarcity ploy, including the limited edition, limited distribution and the never to be smelled again due to reform and discontinuation flim-flam. My hoard of back up bottles bears witness to my consumer naivete. Now whenever I’m tempted to run out and buy another something (before it is gone forever), I go out in the garden and smell whatever is trending out of doors. This spring it was a certain iris that is now long gone. The scent of that iris blossom, exclusive to one spring morning in 2016, has been discontinued and will never be available again. The good news is that there will most likely be something similar, and perhaps even more beautiful, come next spring!

    I have many more fragrant axes to grind! One has to do with new niche houses (who will not be named) that use the big manufacturers’ second rate, if not totally rejected, formulas to create their fragrance lines. Another is the “beyond gourmand” fragrances that seem rely on the smell of flavor additives! These days, if I want to smell like fruit loops, I can put a few in my pocket OR spritz a little 4160 Tuesdays Goddess of Love & Perfume. If, for some perverse reason, I crave the smell of stale booze and cigarettes I can save myself the debauchery with an application of the same house’s Maxed Out! OK! I’ll stop here…

    Azar xx


  12. I am sick and tired of all the garbage that is being released by 4160 Tuesdays. It’s yet another in your face full of Iso0-E-Superdrappy and notes that smell like flowers and cigarettes that should have been thrown in the dust bin long ago!

    Please perfumers take a page out of the Teo Cabanel book, one really good scent per year at most. Same for Panouage Isabey and Puredistance, my fave niche perfumers.


      • rickyrebarco!
        Do you get the sense, like I do, that 4160 Tuesdays is raiding the Flavorist inventories for their raw materials? And NO, I’m not going to taste any of it!!
        Azar xx


    • Het Rickyrebarco,
      Totally agree with the Teo Cabanel, lovely house.
      With 4160 Tuesdays, I think there is a space for what they are doing. Love that it’s your point of vent, that was a big surprise.
      Portia xx


  13. I agree with all of you and add these two peeves of my own:

    1. The horror of “chemicals.” People complain that a certain scent or cosmetic product is “full of chemicals” or brag that it’s “free of chemicals.” People, everything is made up of chemicals. Water is a compound chemical – hydrogen and oxygen. You’re made up of chemicals, I’m made up of chemicals, and if a product is free of chemicals IT DOESN’T EXIST.

    Phew. That felt good. Now for…

    2. The love of all things “natural.” (Do you really want to tick me off? Tell me that something is “all natural” and has “no chemicals.” Aaarrgghh!) Not all “natural” things are good. Cyanide, for example, is found in nature. So is arsenic. Some manufactured scents (aldehydes! musks!) are quite lovely and not at all harmful. When it comes to perfumes and cosmetics, I care if they smell good and if they work. That is all. Natural is nice but effective is better…


    • Hey MaggieCat,
      YAY!! Good ones.
      Though I think “chemical” is an expression we use to generate an idea, not so much the actuality. In future I will personally try to use it less as a descriptor.
      Thanks for dropping in,
      Portia xx


      • I agree that “chemical” can be used as a descriptor in terms of smells – it’s actually a very vivid term, so don’t stop! There’s a difference between “smells/doesn’t smell like a chemistry lab” and “has no/is full of chemicals.” 🙂

        I love APJ; I really need to get over to the other side of the world and come visit. 🙂


    • For my reply to your oh so needed statement look under the comments to Tarleisio.

      Clearly, waking up late and not having coffee affects one’s
      ability to post a reply under correct comment. Sigh


  14. Video reviewers are driving me INSANE!! Seems like you can’t swing a cat without hitting yet another vidoe reviewer these days. Now, there are ones that I watch religiously and are wonderful, but then there are the thundering hoardes mostly guys, who never bother to put on a shirt, shave, or take off a hat. And for god’s sake, buy a lamp will ya’? Lighting is critical. And clean up your background! Production values count and cost nothing to improve! Don’t just grab your GoPro and think you’re going to get 1000 subscribers right off the bat! That’s all.


    • I’ve noticed this phenomenon too, Robert!
      Lately there seem to be more and more scuzzy and sketchy looking dudes (and women) doing reviews of fragrances. Why would I take a review seriously from some guy who, even over You Tube, absolutely LOOKS like he smells BAD?
      Azar xx


      • I know right? And the hat thing! Dude, your lighting is so bad I can’t see your eyes, like THAT’S not skeezy at all. Except for Sebastian who TOTALLY can pull off the hat thing, and is always presentable.


    • Ha Ha Ha Ha!
      Can I add to that any Vlogger that goes over the 7 minute mark, actually my attention span is about 4 minutes.
      Portia xx


  15. Expanding on the theme of pointless exclusivity, Le Labo’s city exclusives is a particularly pernicious example. Once a year they’re available outside of their city and we’re then supposed to pounce on them like it’s feeding time at the zoo. Also, is perfume ad copy getting stupider as the seasons go by? Harumph.


  16. It’s been a while, but I’ve just got to get something off my chest. I do not mean to be a pedant, but I’ve been truly mystified about the use of French in scented products. Portia’s post about a candle on PP today triggered my most recent bout of mystification. I assume the name “Aprés” is meant to be French, but of course the actual French word is “Après” (with the accent going the other way). Do product creators simply not care about accuracy? Do they assume people won’t notice and thus not feel the need to have someone, anyone, spellcheck their products? I’ve seen the same problem with restaurant names (most recently a cafe whose name contained the word “Caffé,” with, of course, the accent going the wrong way to be the Italian word–it’s either “caffè” in Italian or “café” in French). I get that not everyone speaks these foreign languages, but if you’re going to put out a new perfume or candle or something, isn’t it worth your two minutes to Google the name and figure out how to name the damn thing properly?


    • Hey there Koyel,
      Great point. I am forever getting that stuff wrong and it is sheer laziness. TBH I too thought that was the accent till you pointed out it is otherwise. My schoolboy French has long deserted me.
      Portia xx


  17. Serried ranks of identical, bland looking niche bottles with random names and probably also numbers. Makes me just want to walk on by and not even begin to test any, as they all look equally nondescript and forgettable.

    The converse of that ie ludicrously opulent packaging – thinking Roja Dove’s Swarowski crystal studded nonsense for the Arab market.

    Also, very fanciful travel back stories. The spice trade has been done to death, thank you.

    On a side note, because you would expect better mechanics for the prices we are paying – nozzles behaving badly – decant 10ml, lose 5ml in the process, which you then are obliged to wear on top of whatever you thought was your SOTD.

    Perfume purporting to be art or which veer towards the conceptually ridiculous in any way. I had a hard time with those blood ones, for example.

    Steps down from soap box…


    • Hey Vanessa,
      Your soap boxing is well on point.
      Have you noticed Bottega Veneta just released an Exclusive Numbered Line? I’m torn because Insta-Lines but LOVE BV.
      I hope in equal measure that they are amazing and shit.
      Portia xx


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