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It’s been a big week for old ladies

So I did go back to Anthropologie (a different store, as I’m now in a different state) and managed to pick up some of the spray version of Belle du Soir.

In my brief conversation with two lovely salespeople, who were both women about half my age, I mentioned that I was interested that it seemed to be doing so well, as the perfume was a bit old-fashioned. In quick succession the following keywords appeared in the conversation, volunteered by both young women: “old lady”, “rose”, and “grandma”. Bing bing bing bing bing!

If you’re not following the discussion of “old lady” as a pejorative description of perfume over at Perfume Shrine this week, check it out. I believe it’s Elena who’s posting, and the post features (originally unbeknownst to the author, but now knownst, of course) my photo of my precious vintage bottle of Diorissimo with photographs of my great-grandmother and great-great aunt. I couldn’t be more proud than to be illustrating a great post on old lady perfume. Also, several great points have been made.

Do people think “old lady” smelling perfumes aren’t sexy because we think older women aren’t sexy? Or is it because men especially aren’t willing to have sex with people who smell too much like their mothers or grandmothers?

The Anthropologie ladies told me that people were coming in asking for the “Labo” perfumes. They also both said they thought they smelled great – one referred to them as “delicious”. So as I previously posted, what might smell to us like a standard oriental or even chypre might well smell pretty groundbreaking to someone for whom it’s really new!

One of the women (who said I should quote her as “Anthropologie specialist!”) took me over to show me the Happ & Stahnz display, with a sachet that smelled pretty generically of a clean rose and a little fresh musk. She loved the smell! So while “rose” might ping some people as too old-fashioned, for some, it’s just old-fashioned enough.

She also absolutely correctly differentiated these perfumes from something like Tocca, which they also carry, entirely unprompted by me. So these folks can certainly tell a classic chypre from a modern spa scent, even if their store is stocking both! (I do love Tocca, as also previously reported here – ah, Cleopatra – but it certainly is a different category!)

Now Anthropologie, as previously stated, is a store that caters to a certain new old-fashioned market. But whether these are would-be New York hipsters looking for “Labo” perfumes (they can’t ALL be secret perfumistas, can they?) or just people who think these new perfumes smell “delicious”, these Anthropologie editions of Le Labo mixes, these old-fashioned formulations (which in itself is a bit odd for bleeding-edge Le Labo, isn’t it?) are selling well, and I for one applaud it.

The money’s not going into the bottle – one had a stuck sprayer, but I bagged another – and it’s not the most expensive juice in the world either, but damn, it’s good. I sprayed Belle du Soir in my car on the way home and what I mostly smell is galbanum, a great whack of bergamot, a bit of sour rose, and something clean like a bit of lily, it’s very soft. I know it’s supposed to be “gardenia” but I believe the gardenia accord is made up, as such accords often are, with a bit of lily, jasmine, and perhaps even hyacinth. It isn’t a watery flower in this composition, and it is a bit fresh without being too clean. (I’m not really smelling much base note to this; I wish I did, what they list sounds wonderful.) I would call it more “Belle du Matin” than Belle du Soir, but it is extremely beautiful to my nose, and even more so on fabric. It’s the first perfume I’ve wanted to smell more than to wear. But at the reasonable price point of $62 per bottle, I can do whatever I want with it, surely?

If you like green florals, if you like classic chypres, I think you will be sad if you miss smelling this one altogether. I want to put it up against my other greens… It’s far more like a Balmain de Balmain than a DSH Vert pour Madame, but I think any galbanum lover would like this.

These are apparently going fast, so if you want to check them out, try your local Anthropologie. The web site is weird – try your local store, or give them a call.

P.S. I got to smell the solid of Bouquet Blanc; I mostly got a snootful of tuberose. I’ll leave that one to the Candy Perfume Boy!


Image is Golden Purse, Beaded by cobalt123, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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