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Houses

housesWhat are your favorite houses? It seems like every perfumista I meet or see online is a known fan of this or that house – they love L’Artisan, they’re a big Amouage ho (I’m a big Amouage ho), they adore Tauer perfumes or Jo Malone, and then of course there are the classics – Guerlain and Caron, Hermes and Chanel.

Do you like all of a house’s output, or most of it? Are you shocked when a house puts out something that you don’t like? Or do you just like one or two perfumes from this or that house and you don’t find yourself developing any particular brand loyalty?

I never set out to try to love this or that house but I have found over the years that when I absolutely love something from a house I’ve never tried before, I want to try other perfumes in that house. Makes sense; they made one thing I adore, I must find out if they made anything else I adore!

I have, however, stopped blind-buying things just because they’re from a maker that I usually liked, or massively liked even once. It has led to too much meh in the past. I do find that even when I massive-huge-adore one perfume in a line, there’s a strong possibility that I won’t particularly love other things in that line just because they’re by the same creators.

The stronger identity a creator has, the more likely it is that all the scents in a house will be at least interesting. I’ve never found an Andy Tauer perfume I adore (though Lys du Desert, the one he did for the Decennial collection at Luckyscent, is fantastic), but I’m always interested in sniffing them. I’m not expecting to fall in love, but I am interested in what Andy is doing as a designer. Whereas I’ve stopped buying Jo Malones, for instance, because they just aren’t challenging to me any more; once you own Dark Amber and Ginger, Pomegranate Noir, and White Jasmine & Mint, where else is it going to go? Yes, yes, I know Blackberry & Bay is made of awesome; but it doesn’t surprise me.

This year I’ve really been into Roja Dove, as I’ve been writing, and (toward the end of the year) Loree Rodkin; but they’ve been added to the list of houses I admire, which already included:

Guerlain and Caron. Both. These are so classic, I love them in vintage and modern, I will always be interested in their new releases even though their newest releases have not been as interesting as they should have been.

Hermès – I have a soft spot for this house because of L’eau de Merveilles (and its amber cousin), Jardin sur le Nil, and the glorious 24, Faubourg. I’m not interested in all their various essences (isn’t that a little personal, Hermès?) but will always be interested in whatever they do.

Robert Piguet – this is one I came to through the modern scents, not the classic, so my love is based almost entirely on Notes (which no one in the WORLD seems to adore as much as I do) and the well done recent scents like their Bois Noir and Rose Perfection. They just do an interesting job. Their scents strike me as truly unisex and truly well-built no matter what they do.

Slumberhouse is my indie perfume house of choice – perfumer Josh Lobb is like the Pedro Almodovar of perfume houses: rock-solid creativity (if you think that’s an oxymoron, well, there you are), and scents that are never like anything else. I don’t mean they do a jasmine that’s different from everyone else’s jasmine – I mean they do a forest out of forest, or a rock out of candy. I’m very much looking forward to their next releases!

Atelier Colognes – this is one of the lines that when I went nuts for it, I went all the way. There are only one or two of their scents I DON’T have; I own almost all of them, and wear them often. Rose Anonyme, Sous le Toit de Paris, Ambre Nue, Orange Sanguine – they have so many winners, I just added Gold Leather and Silver Iris to my shopping list with a sigh of surrender. (They’re both great, but like so many others I was surprised by how much I like and wear Silver Iris. I’m not much of an iris fan.)

Le Labo – I need to write a whole post on Ridiculous Houses, and this will be at the top of the list. Their price points and their marketing hype define “ridiculous”. But this year I went from disliking everything they did to really, REALLY liking a number of their scents (Gaiac 10 at the top of course, Vanille 44, even Rose 31), and I can’t leave them out even though they should be ashamed of themselves.

Histoires des Parfums – as much as I hate the absolutely unmemorable year numbering system for names (use a year OR an author, guys, don’t confuse me even more!), I love many of their scents. The Austen lawn party that is 1804 (I know, it’s supposed to be George Sand), both 1725 and 1740, the Tubereuse delights, their Vert Pivoine and their Blanc Violette – they never strike a wrong note, their scents are diverse but always wearable, and they come in those delightfully affordable minis, so you can collect ‘em all, like Barbie clothes. I love these things. 1899, Jules Verne, is tops on my “Get to know it better” list right now.

And last but farthest from least, Amouage. I will always sniff anything they do – I’m almost springing for their room sprays unsniffed, and I don’t even have anywhere to spray them. Their work is beautiful, sumptuous, rich, interesting, and I will always love them. Ubar, Dia, Memoir – just three of my all-time favorites. Ah, Amouage. Let’s never break up.


Image is “houses” by Fernando Stankuns, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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8 comments to Houses

  • Last year when I did my post on the topic (“My” brand and “Not my” brand) we established that we both shared love for Amouage. Atelier Cologne was also on “my” brands list. BTW, did you see the statistics I calculated from everybody’s answers to this question? Serge Lutens got the most positive mentionings (in absolute numbers of votes) and Guerlain got the most positive votes percentage-wise.

    • Judith

      I do remember that post! I was thinking more emotional reactions than statistics. But yes, that was very interesting! There are so many options; I’m surprised there isn’t more variety among people’s love of niche houses, though, there are SO many out there.

      • Well, my original post (and people’s responses) was about the emotional reaction – and that was the one where you participated. Statistics came after that, as an afterthought but those who replied didn’t know I was going to calculate their answers into impersonal numbers. I just wasn’t sure if you saw the results.

        There are not that many niche houses with distribution wide enough to get many followers on multiple perfumes. Most of small brands have individual perfumes that people like but not the whole line.

        • Judith

          And I would agree with that – most of the niche houses I like, except the ones I listed here, have done maybe ONE thing I love, but not much else. Most recently: smelled Gypsy Water by Byredo, loved it, got excited about a sample set of the whole line – but then didn’t really find anything else i adored.

  • Great post!

    I read this post a few days ago and decided that I needed to have think first before responding. My brain kept thinking – do I go with the highest % of a house’s output I like enough to own a FB or at least a decent-sized decant or is it simply enough to say I like a house but own only a few or nothing at all…or do I look at the absolute number of perfumes I like from a particular house and say that’s my house…then I got a headache and stopped. I don’t have loyalties to any brand — if I don’t like something from brand I like, I’ll call it out not in a mean way but I wouldn’t hide it. Do I get emo when a house I love puts out something mediocre or vile? Absolutely not…I move on.

    My brands (and my collection proves it): Jo Malone, Hermes, Guerlain, Chanel, Serge Lutens. Atelier Cologne, L’Artisan

    Other houses I feel a great affinity for (and have a small presence in my collection):
    Puredistance (I love 3 out of 5, still unsure about #1 and #5), Tauer Perfumes, Amouage (no FB yet!)

    • Judith

      And I read your reply and had to think about it too!

      I think what it comes down to to me is that there are certain houses I like enough to feel some loyalty to the house. Which only means I’ll always check out whatever they come out with and I may give them a free pass or two if they come out with a crappy or uninteresting scent, because I value their creative outlook and have faith in them.

      So to follow your thought, I might get a bit emo when I house I love puts out three or four mediocre or vile scents – I’d assume they’ve lost something of what I love about them. But I’m far more likely to go sniff the next bottle.

      It’s true I’m far more interested in individual scents than any one house’s viewpoint on scent or back catalog!

      You and I don’t have a ton of overlap, which is interesting. So many perfume houses in your list (Lutens, Chanel, Malone, L’Artisan) that I just don’t follow! It’s not that I don’t own scents from all of them – I just don’t think their output is my main goal in life.

      Which is kind of how I feel about Amouage. :-)

  • Ari

    1804 is an underground great! That pineapple note is spectacular.

    L’Artisan was my house until they lost their damn minds.

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