Saturday Question: How Do You Find New Perfumes?

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Portia

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Hello Fellow Fumies,

At APJ we have a Saturday Question. Everyone gets to chime in with an answer, chat with other responders and it’s a fun event each week. Taking sides never means taking offence and everyone keeps it respectful and light, even though we can sometimes trawl the depths.

The idea is you’ll see it on the weekend or chime in through the week. Hopefully you will come back regularly and see if anyone has responded to your comment and you can reply to them. The aim is to generate real conversation and connection even though we are scattered around the globe.

Saturday Question: How Do You Find New Perfumes?

Our never ending search for new. It can been seen in any 21st century consumer and can dominate our lives. As perfumistas, especially in the first decade or so of our craving, we seem to feel the need to try everything. I’m still happily stuck in this phase of my perfume addiction.

My Answer:

Well, because I live so far away from the mainstream niche markets my preferred way to find new fragrance is sample and decant sites. Obviously my favourite is Surrender To Chance but there are many other good options and the range seems to grow weekly. There I can purchase for about 3x the retail ml worth and fabulous selection from around the world. I’m happy to pay it to get scents unavailable here as quickly as possible.

There is also the split route. It can be wonderful, especially if your host is close to the sources. The only thing is, you must choose a splitter who will do the splitting within a reasonable amount of time. Anything longer than a month and you’ve already missed the newness boat. It’s only a big problem if you’re reviewing or new obsessed.

Lastly I try to travel to Frag Hubs. Paris, London, NYC or LA are my fave drop ins for that but I’ve also travelled to First In Fragrance in Germany (Ah May Zing!) and some other big cities that have wonderful selections.

My Saturday Question to you is:

Saturday Question: How Do You Find New Perfumes?

64 thoughts on “Saturday Question: How Do You Find New Perfumes?

  1. Since I don’t review and I am not newly obsessed the fear of missing out has somewhat subsided. When I fell down the rabbit hole in 1970 there were maybe 70 releases per year…someone left a comment on a blog recently that the current number is 7000…so I have given up trying to sample the newest and latest. I have had the good fortune of some lovely perfumistas sending me stuff that did not work for them or partially used bottles they felt were not getting enough love in their houses. So I guess for me my recent “discoveries” are “old”. I enjoy this because there is no emotional/sentimental attachment to them so I can wear them with reckless abandonment and not worry about finishing a sample, decant or bottle. Just enjoying it while it lasts. The most recent discovery I made which I enjoyed was St. Clair Scents when I won a sample pack on Cafleurebon. So I haven’t really bought decants or samples in a while. I did take that trip into NYC several weeks ago and went crazy sampling in Saks Fifth Avenue. I enjoyed many things that were sampled that day, but was not moved to buy anything. And I will always sample whatever is available in my local Sephora. I guess for me , after almost 50 years, things are coming around full circle because when I started this obsession I only allowed myself 5-7 full bottles in my collection (which was how I operated until discovering perfume blogs) and currently I would be absolutely fine going back to that again (OK, maybe 10 🙂 ). I want to have fragrances that absolutely sing to me and I think a smaller collection is the way to go for me right now. I guess Portia, we are opposite scent collectors 🙂 But it’s all good !!!!

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    • So interesting Brigitte,
      The 1970s and 80s were my discovery decades too. Remember the excitement for each new launch? It was huge. Here in Australia it could be a year or more before things arrived here and anyone travelling would bring back the latest and everyone else would be super jealous.
      Portia x

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      • Oh yes I do remember the excitement!!!! and then walking into a department store and being squirted silly with a new launch (what did you call them ‘squirt bitches’ ? LOL! ) and I remember getting loads and loads of samples for FREE!!!! In the 80s there was a fragrance called Sinan by Jean Marc Sinan…every time I entered Macy’s they gave me a sample. I think I must have collected upwards of 15, enough for me to never need to purchase a full bottle -LOL! Back in the day this was the way we discovered perfume…free samples handed out generously for us to try at home. I think this was how I acquired most of my full bottles back then. Also, smelling it on someone else (that’s how I fell in love with Nocturnes de Caron, Prescriptives Calyx and Niki de Saint Phalle)

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  2. I’m fairly new to this, which means there are so many amazing fragrances I have never tried – so “new to me” is still exciting even if not new to the world! I mostly don’t lemming for any of the latest…. mostly. I do occasionally grab some samples from STC. Most of the time I only smell brand new perfumes if they are available at my Nordstrom or Sephora. I have from time to time jumped on a split (blind) when something really appealed for the notes, with mixed results. More to share via swap, right? Of course I violated my own “ no-buy” while in London and Paris in July so now I’m REALLY putting a stop to trying anything that might make me itch to buy!

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  3. FIRST of all, CONGRATS to you and Jin! I am overjoyed for you!
    NEXT, how do I find perfumes – either new or not so new or vintage? I am very fortunate to live in Los Angeles, home of Scentbar and so many other great perfume shops. So I’m not going to talk about my easy access and my forays with friends there but I will talk about discovery among like minded friends with our meetup group.
    In the last two years after several of us Facebook perfume ho’s decided to meet up for various events or just sniffing about, we started getting together at each other’s places of work or homes, and we all bring some of our latest or favorite perfumes to sniff, swap, and share. Of course, when you add wine or drinks or champagne to the mix, and a pot luck, it gets even better. So we all bring stuff, food, wine, and perfumes and we get to try even more with one another and explore things we may not have otherwise. We also collect orphaned bottles to either give away or take to a woman’s shelter. We pass on bags of samples or bottles to others we think might enjoy them that aren’t getting much use. We try to bring neophytes into the group from time to time, and we have a very interesting cross-section of people who have interesting professions. All of this is cemented by our love of fragrance. I can’t tell you how much richer our lives are for this, how many new things have been explored, and most of all how much we have become close friends. So – throw a party, pick a theme (like rose or smoke) and have a group over for a party. You won’t regret it.

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    • Thanks Barbara,
      These parties sound sensational. I do have some sniffy mates and a while back we used to do Sunday Scent Salons but all that has fallen by the wayside a little since we moved to the Greater Sydney region. Thanks for the reminder.
      Portia xx

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      • I remember them and used to follow you and was so excited to try this! I think it helped influence our parties in my mind. So actually you can take credit for our gatherings! I really can’t say enough great things about having one of these parties – they are so special and when I tell people who aren’t in this orbit about them, they become very fascinated. So, even if you live in a place where you don’t have access to like minded collectors, create an event around scent with people who you think would enjoy exposure. You will be surprised. Every one loves parties, and having a potluck with a scented theme is easy to pull together. Thank you Portia for your influence.

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  4. I buy samples from luckyscent or from decanting sites. I work for an airline part time so I have the luxury of flying to LA, NYC, Paris etc when I have free time and I like to hit all the perfume stores!

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  5. I learn about new releases mostly from Russian perfume bloggers on Instagram and Telegram, here on APJ and sometimes on CaFleureBon or in EMS Facebook community. There aren’t many brands at the local perfume shops, let alone interesting ones but that’s fine by me: I’ll discover the gems at my own pace. For the last couple of years I’ve been buying perfumes from Russian fragheads, and most of them have been kind enough to add a few samples to my purchase. I love that thrill of unpacking a parcel and secretly hoping to be amazed.

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  6. I hear about most new releases from Basenotes, Now Smell This and facebook. I have greatly reduced my sample purchases as my success rate has gotten so low, but when I do buy a bottle most places include free samples, so I get some that way as well.

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    • Agree about purchasing fewer samples. My hit rate is low too, it’s a bit frustrating. But then I remind myself perfume is always fun, and samples that don’t work for me I pass along to friends I meet up with or via the mail.

      I do enjoy ordering a handful of samples when the “best of the year” lists are posted, especially scents that get multiple mentions from the independent noses I know I can trust.

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      • I think partly there’s a lot of dreck out there, partly I’ve smelled so much (and bought so much) that it’s hard to impress me, and my tastes have become more refined/defined.

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          • I have found this to be true as well, the more I explore, the less impressed I get because so many are the same or similar. However, the gem rears its pretty head sometimes in the midst of all of this, and then I am smitten all over again. I have also found that rediscovering things I already have and have put aside is a good way to start over. Or I reach into the past. But I do find too much similarity the more I explore and I am getting a bit jaded.

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  7. I try to get free samples from the perfume counters in the big department stores. A friend of a friend has been downsizing and selling some of her perfumes.That’s how I got Shalimar Souffle. I can’t afford niche perfumes but I will look to see if any of the perfume oil companies sell a dupe.

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  8. I go in splits, read fragrantica and sometimes basenotes, and several blogs, (Denise and Victoria are totally bombproof for me) I bought all the Lutens from the old Perfumed Court, and then hunted down Bell Jars, even going to Paris, if possible will get sample sets sent from overseas ( how I discovered the amazing Sex and the Sea), patronise a few great Aussie decanters on eBay, try to get to Sydney occasionally for a huge sniffathon, but often give into the urge to blind buy….I’ve now got houses that I will buy new releases from without sniffing….SL, Amouage, Tom Ford, Profvmvm Roma, Hermessence, Guerlain, Malle, unfortunately I’m invariably disappointed in the majnstream now …. at present I’m giving in to the urge to buy a few TS and LT high rated from their new book! I still get samples from FIF, for a while Premiere Avenue did decanted samples but now they send massive amounts of carded samples, and now we have LKNW.

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  9. APJ and the perfume blogs are my favorite sources. Google sends me an occasional news story about perfume releases and the industry, also interesting articles about the science of olfaction from time to time. When I’m at the dentist’s office I always check their copies of fashion magazines for perfume scent strips to sniff.

    Other than that I just let things waft my way, I always enjoy reading SotD posts to see what everyone is wearing. Whether old or new, there are so many scents to try. I really don’t want to know about them all. It’s too much to take in.

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  10. NST’s announcements are probably my main source of knowledge about new perfumes. Sometimes APJ, Chemist in the Bottle and one or two other blogs. Other than that, I might realize that something interesting is out there when I hear somebody praising the same perfume for the n-th time on one of those SOTD threads though I recently realized that I do not trust most of the positive opinions if they are based on wearing perfumes from samples. I’m talking not about actual reviews – for those I’m fine with samples, but for just “users” SOTD opinion I’m looking mostly for perfumes that made it to somebody’s perfume wardrobe at least as a paid for decant.
    As to the sampling, I rarely buy from decanters, but I do buy some samples from brands’ sites, participate in splits and swaps and try to get whatever samples I can from B&M shops.

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  11. Great question! I find new scents first by reading a lot, which is how I fell into this hobby in the first place. I read Fragrantica and follow quite a few fragrance blogs on WordPress, and I read many comments, as so many commenters on this and other blogs are really knowledgeable. Once I decide I want to try something, I am fortunate in that 1) I live in a major city with major retailers like Neiman Marcus, which carries many less common fragrances, other departments stores, and Sephora, so I’m able to try many in stores; and 2) my husband travels a lot internationally for work, and either I am able to travel with him and try/buy hard-to-find scents, or he generously brings me gifts of fragrance. Sometimes I ask him to find a specific one, and sometimes he picks one out himself. I have benefited from generous sharing of samples by others, including some commenters here, and have ventured into a couple of swap meets when I feel I have something worth offering. Finally, I have a monthly subscription to a service that decants expensive fragrances into purse-size sprays of several ml each, which I have found is a great way to really experience a fragrance more than is possible with the usual tiny samples. I’ve tried several by Amouage and Montale this way, for instance, and loved one of the Montales so much that I later bought a full bottle.

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  12. Definitely through the meetups with lovely AFN crew! That is the best way! I have exchanged HOARDS of samples with generous friends, and I like to pass on the ones I’ve finished with.

    I have an exhaustive spreadsheet on my computer where I catalogue everything I’ve tried, and then if its a YES in the ‘Full Bottle?’ column, it goes onto the TO BUY sheet. I’m doing my best to buy from that list.

    I have a terrible habit of blind buying too – I can’t help but jump at a bargain! I have been pretty fortunate so far. And if not, I can always again, sell it and move on.

    Also, I’ve been to a couple of fragrance events put on by brands like at Lore or the Mihan Aromatics launch the other day. They have been fun!

    And finally, there is Mecca! I’m always looking for what is coming up and try and get my nose on things we are about to stock. There’s some exciting stuff on the horizon. And if I’m bored I go in to store for a sniff. Or rummage in the VM room in head office to see if they’ve displayed any fragrances for that month’s promo which I can smell.

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  13. Like Undina, it’s the *worn* rather than sampled scents that people write about that usually catch my interest while I’m pottering about the blogs. It’s rarely the new releases, but there is still so much that’s new to me. And this reading usually leads me into a deep link wander from review to review in the more thoughtful writers’ sites, which builds up a mental list of things to try if and when I encounter them.

    Glasgow’s House of Fraser has a pretty good range of mainstream and “big” niche to explore when I’m in a sniffy-discovery mode, while Edinburgh’s Harvey Nichols seems to have lost its perfume mojo a bit. (Though who knows what will happen to HoF now it’s been bought out by Mr Sports Direct for pennies on the pound.) Occasional trips to London tend to have diversions to Bloom or Les Scenteurs tucked in if I can find the time, and I still order the odd sample from these or Roullier White, or even eBay. And I signed up for the decant service at Bloom at the end of last year–which gets me twelve 10ml choices for the ones that graduate from a sample.

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      • It’s been *amazing* for me. A one off charge for either 12 or 24 10ml decants, with a one off postage charge if you can’t collect through the year. Then, as and when you fancy choosing one, you say which until you use up your count. You don’t have to do the one or two a month routine, but there is a max you are allowed in a single month. Pretty much anything in their stock is OK to choose, except the super expensive extraits and oils. I lucked out and signed up when they had a 20% off deal running, too, so it works out at about £20 for each decant.

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  14. NST is where I see most new release news. But as I live in a total perfume wasteland I seldom have any opportunity to try new niche scents. If I’m interested to try then I buy samples or decants. Houses that do discovery sets are particularly handy as you get a good overall impression of their offerings.
    With the amount of new releases it is impossible to keep up, but I don’t really care as I’ve been rediscovering vintage scents from my younger days and I have enough perfume to last me to the end of my days and beyond.

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  15. I read a lot to lower risk of bad blind buy and then blind buy it. I usually go straight for bottles because of economics problem 😦 However, I do lot of homework and also pay a price that I can recover by selling if it turns out to be a bad blind buy.

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  16. Hello Portia and AP Junkies!

    I find new discoveries through my fragrance group on Facebook – Eau My Soul! So many fragrances are posted and discussed I can’t keep up! Usually a gorgeous photo catches my eye and I’m like WHAT IS THIS?? So, I stop to learn more. Other times a “scent twin” will be raving about something and I know the chances are good I will like it also.

    APJ fans are welcome to join us at Eau My Soul anytime! We would love to have you!

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    • Hey, Christi! I agree, a review from a person who shares your taste in perfumes is valuable. I’ve known you since my first days on Instagram and then EMS, it was great to find out that you seem to be my scent twin 🙂

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      • Hey Diana!

        I think a scent twin is the most helpful thing we can have…or the most dangerous because it makes me want everything my twin loves!! 😂

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  17. Hi Portia! It is only when I sit down to prepare my own post that I see what else has been happening. Waaaaay toooo late. (It was much easier when I got an email informing me. Just saying. Sorry, I will take the responsibility upon myself to look!!) I am not really interested in much/any niche stuff anymore. Totally in a more Hermès/Chanel/Malle groove, and have been for quite a log time. I do have access to pretty much everything and I guess that does take the excitement that I used to feel away. But don’t misunderstand me – the kick of buying the Chanel recently was as energizing as ever, and am still überhappy about it. I also hook up with the amazing perfumista that does The Modern Times Magazine, as she only lives a good hour from me. She brings along all the stuff that she gets sent, and yes, that is from Malle to Lutens, JHAG to Chanel, so I get to smell and grab stuff. And as you know, cookies for perfume works just fine in Le Parfum in Vienna. So yeah ….. a thousand bussis. xxxxxxxx

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