Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's not juice; it's pink lemonade

Let's talk about fragrance marketing, shall we? Because I haven't ranted about perfume for a while.

The stuff that comes in the beautiful (or maybe not-so-beautiful bottles, if you're buying a niche fragrance) is referred to by the cognescenti as "the juice." And I am the last by whom the new is noticed, but I got an email touting some valentine's day present ideas and was confronted with this

The best-selling fragrances at Sephora evoke the Pantone colors of the year. They're either pink or blue. And this isn't just the packaging: it's the juice, too.

My dull wits have finally cottoned on to something that perfumistas realized long ago: there are distinct trends in fragrance, and that carries over to packaging and even the color of the product itself. This is why Guerlain's 1925 Shalimar looks like it would be at home in a Maharini's boudoir.

It was created in a decade deep in the grip of Orientalism. When flappers weren't jumping in fountains and generally acting like characters out of The Great Gatsby, they were swooning over Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik and smoking Camels. Of course they wanted to smell like sandalwood, vanilla beans, and all things brown. Brown was exotic, and exotic was modern.

But everywhere I go, fragrances have become pink.

Even when there is no reason for it. For example, on Ulta's website, this is how they describe Lancôme's Miracle:

Miracle begins with top notes of lychee, freesia, and citron. Mid notes of magnolia, ginger, jasmine and pepper rest atop sensual base notes cedar, musk, and woods.

Which I translate into

Miracle begins with top notes of a white fruit, white flowers, and something vaguely citrus smelling. Mid notes of a big-ass white flower you see on wallpaper in Southern dining rooms, a yellow root used in Chinese cooking, a tiny, very strong-smelling white flower, and a tiny black seed rest atop sensual basenotes of brown wood, unmentionable animal secretions, and more brown woods. Because wood is brown.

And yet, this is what it looks like

Not a brown note in sight.

All of this came forcibly to mind this afternoon at lunch. My daughter ordered pink lemonade, and the waitress brought her a glass of regular yellow lemonade. When my daughter said that she had ordered pink lemonade, the waitress said "I can make it pink for you" and took the glass away. I told my daugther "She's just going to put a couple of drops of red coloring in it," and she replied "That's OK; I like pink lemonade better."

Out of the mouth of marketing victims.


  1. I tell ya .... Pink Stinks! LOL

    1. Seriously, I'd be OK with it if the fragrance smelled like roses. Well, maybe I'd be OK with it. Mostly, I'm irritated that fragrances designed for grown women look more and more like outtakes from a Tinkerbell play makeup set.

  2. Mother wore Shalimar for years ad then switched to Chanel No.5...I started out with "In Love"..gradated to "My Sin" and wear a variety of Hermes scents and Mitsouko...not a pink note on my radar.....

    1. I started out with green florals like Fidji and sandalwood-based aldehydic florals like Rive Gauche. I'm still overwhelmingly drawn to aldehydes. I wear Chanel #5 and Chanel #22 when I'm feeling particularly girly.

      I bow to thee for wearing Mitsouko ... I bought a tiny bottle of it once unsniffed, based on its fascinating history, and because I love a chypre. Alas, it was too much for me. Maybe I'll grow into it.

      Maybe I should wear it again and check out the dry-down. That's how I fell in love with Jean Louis Scherrer. I can't even describe the opening. Words fail me. Let me restate that for emphasis: words fail ME. Who apparently never shuts up.

      But the dry-down is the best thing I've ever smelled.

  3. I am VERY fussy with perfume. VERY. No sweet, no pink, no flowers, no strong.

    1. I'm incredibly fussy about perfume, too. I seriously don't understand women who wear a perfume because their boyfriend or husband likes it. I'm marking my territory with my fragrance, and it should smell the way I want it to smell. The end.


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xxx, Poppy.