A perfume boutique owner once told me a story of a customer who wanted to give himself a “surprise” – he asked to be left alone to sit in the corner of the shop so to read all the promotional materials of the perfumes that the shop carried. An hour later, he stood up and made a purchase based on what he had just read.
I wonder if he has got himself a pleasant surprise or a disappointment? Most people on the Internet are against “blind buying” perfumes, and the reasons are obvious. Even by studying the perfume notes breakdown, it is still of little use – you don’t know the proportion of each ingredient in the perfume. When a perfume says it has rose and patchouli, you might get a rose perfume with a hint of patchouli, or a patchouli perfume with a hint of rose.
Last week I played a round of “Wheel of Fortune – Perfumista Blind-Buy Edition.” The stakes were quite high, for I saw a few slices of “Bankrupt” on the wheel.
“Are you sure?” my friend who worked at the boutique worriedly asked.
“Yes. I have asked a friend who has smelled all the Grossmith perfumes and he said this one was the best,” I replied.
“Ok,” and the credit card was swiped, my neck bled a little, and irreversibly the cashier iPad displayed the message, “PAID, sucker.”
You may wonder why didn’t I smell the testers in the shop first? Well, the shop actually didn’t have Grossmith testers. I don’t know if Grossmith simply don’t provide or sell testers or this particular shop didn’t buy testers from Grossmith. Anyway, this purchase was a pure shopping-therapy kind of indulgence.
I tore open the shrink-wrap, and carefully took out the bottle and sprayed some on my wrist, took a sniff, and let her take a sniff too.
“Oh my, this is amazing! It smells very warm.” she exclaimed. (Remember that she had never smelled any Grossmith perfumes before this.)
I believe that was a sincere expression. However, in my head, I thought, “Oh shit, oh shit, this was not what I expected. Where’s the rose? Where’s the rose?”
I had this reaction due to the fact that 1) I expected it to be a rose perfume, 2) I had never smelled a perfume with this much saffron (real or not) in it. Stronger than sniffing a bottle of real saffron before I stingily put just a little in a Spanish paella, it was medicinal, but moist, rich, warm. So much so, as if the valve of the awesome dispenser broke and awesomeness couldn’t stop spewing out like a rainbow – I was a little dumbfounded.
As I was about to reach home, it was half an hour since I had sprayed one spray of Saffron Rose on my wrist, and I sniffed again. Damn, this was Le Labo Rose 31. The dry down of Saffron Rose was actually Rose 31, the whole perfume, but better – spicy, woody, powdery, tobacco-y and of course, with some saffron and rose. C’est la vie.