Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Month: October 2016

Scent subscription services

scent-subscriptions

It’s difficult to sample multiple scents at once and truly experience the separate notes, because our sense of smell suffers from what is called olfactory fatigue. This is why we need to sniff on coffee to clear our nasal passages before inhaling a different delight in the store. To complicate matters, commercial perfumes have become so chemically complex that our noses might end up being overwhelmed. Also, some perfume lovers simply may not have the time or means to get to stores to sample all the available scents out there. It’s no wonder that scent subscription services have sprung up to meet the needs of would-be consumers.

If you are interested in exploring new scents, I feel there are five main reasons you should subscribe, regardless of the company(ies) you end up choosing:

1) to save time and money

Subscription services will likely always be cheaper than if you were to buy each item separately, which is part of their inherent appeal. Suppliers are willing to sell their product to the subscription service provider at reduced fees so that they get their name out to you, the final customer. Savings are usually passed onto you, and often along with rebate coupons to encourage an initial purchase right from their store. The whole process of finding a vendor or retailer that sells stuff you might like can be highly time-consuming, although sometimes fun. If you work 60+ hours per week as I do, however, and would rather do things like nurture a website in the little free time you have, a subscription service takes out all the time-consuming hassle. You know you’re not going to run out of your scent while you were too preoccupied with other matters, too, which is yet another bonus.

2) to enjoy the element of surprise

In several subscription box services, you get to choose exactly what you want, which appeals to many people, but for the most part, subscription box selections are a surprise. There is definitely a level of excitement surrounding the delivery of mystery scent to one’s door every month. Andy Nulman, author of “Pow! Right Between the Eyes,” says that some surprises may anger, disgust, scare or shock people — but that’s a good thing, and people are willing to pay for it. Well, this certainly explains why subscription services (aside from printed media!) are a growth industry. Grown adults are essentially all like kids in Disneyland a lot of the time, and even small surprises delight us. A wee box of I-don’t-know-what’s arriving regularly will send the most staid of us back into kid-at-Christmas-time mode. My monthly mystery scent subscriptions certainly delight me, and have admittedly evoked the clapping of hands, and the embarrassing utterance of the series of words, “goodie goodie goooooodie!!!”

3) to enjoy new knowledge

There is arguably no better way to learn about perfumes that to have a few samples delivered to your home on a regular basis. Many scent services come with brochures, pamphlets or cards explaining the creator (nose), company, ingredients, descriptions, and inspiration behind each fragrance. You will also learn something about yourself in the process – what you like that you always thought you wouldn’t and what you don’t like but had assumed you would. After gaining that “knowledge of self,” you can confidently purchase larger bottles from the original vendor, not having to worry that you’re misspending your fragrance budget. After just a few months you’ll have been exposed to many brands and scents and will know more about perfume and your own preferences than you ever thought you would. You also will not be influenced by the packaging when evaluating new fragrances. They usually come in simple vials, after all!

4) to easily re-gift and share

This may or may not be an obvious reason to get a fragrance subscription, but sharing with spouses, significant others, family, and friends is wonderful! Fragrance samples make for great birthday or seasonal presents or simple “thank you’s.” Come to think of it, whole subscription services themselves make for wonderful gifts. There are unlimited reasons for gifting to the people in your life, and what better way to bring a smile to a fellow fume head than to pass on some liquid delight?

5) to explore scents you might not know or be able to access otherwise

Especially with niche perfumes, it’s not like your small town department store will carry them all. Some subscription services capitalize on this and endeavor to allow you to get your nose on hard-to-find fragrances. Being able to sample scents through a subscription service means that you’ll be able to fully experience pricier fragrances that you’d normally be weary of investing in without trying.

As many of these subscription services are only offering sample sized portions, many of you may have been wondering, “Why would I pay money for samples when companies give out such samples for free?” I sincerely hope that what I wrote above addresses that question for you!

Below I outline a few scent subscription services in alphabetical order that I have discovered, a few to which I have been subscribed, a few to which I am currently subscribed, and others which interest me. Some contain affiliate links.

Mugler Addict

Get deluxe sample sizes, plus free shipping at the Mugler specialist store in the US for an entire year. The whole subscription is 50 USD, and it is delivered quarterly. If you are an Angel-only addict, you can get “Angel Room Service.” I had a subscription with these guys a few years back, and I have to admit that most of the stuff I got was wee trinkets and a few products I never use (like nail polish and creams). Overall, I wouldn’t say it was worth the price, unless you are a huge Mugler fan (I am, actually, but would have preferred to just get the perfumes). One thing I remember enjoying about the subscription was getting a sample set of Mugler’s Les Exceptions, which I very much enjoyed. They only ship to the US, at least when I used the service.

Olfactif

With this Chicago-based company that I plan to join, you get 3 niche, 2.25 ml vials of unique fragrances curated around a theme. If you purchase a full bottle of a scent from the sample selection in the same month, the subscription box price gets credited against the cost of the fragrance. Sadly, as I won’t be getting my scents until months later (Canadian family members will pick up in the US – when they are able – and then send to me in Japan), this won’t work for me, but that’s the way the prune wrinkles! The 18 USD monthly selection is beautifully packaged and what most appeals to me about this service is the brands they have available – lots of high-end niche delights that I am very much looking forward to sampling.

Scent Bird

Each month with Scent Bird you receive an 8 ml purse spray filled with the perfume of your choice, with over 450 designer and niche scents to choose from, but the stress seemingly more on designer fragrances. About the size of a rollerball stick, 8 ml is enough perfume to apply two sprays twice daily for 30 days, though we all know that some perfumes might require (or desire) a few more squirts. Every month after that you get a vial with your refill that slides into the convenient and chic travel spray case that you get when you first sign up (it comes in red or black). Along with the fragrance you receive each month, New York-based Scent Bird, run by Mariya Nurislamova, Sergey Gusev, Andrei Rebrov, and Rachel ten Brink, also includes a card describing the “perfume of the month” for the next month. The great thing about this program is that you not only get to choose what fragrances you would like to try, but also you can choose your lineup. The pricing varies: USD $14.95/monthly, $14.50/month with a 3-month plan, $14/month with a 6 month plan, or $13.50/month with a year plan. Again, shipping is only to the US.

Scent Trunk

We don’t wear the same clothes every day, so why wear the same scent? With Scent Trunk, you get a variety of fragrances, niche and indie choices included. They customize each box to your unique tastes, as you fill out a profile allowing the Scent Trunk team (William Yin, Scott Grant, Richard Smale, and Jolisa Masucol) know what you like, then they find unique fragrances to suit you. They really go out of their way to do this, hand curating every box. Each subscription box contains 3 samples of 1.5 to 3 ml of fragrance, together enough to keep you scented for a month. A men’s box is also available, and they ship free to Canada, too. This company does indeed carry some gorgeous, high-end niche brands (mixed in with some fun cheapies, like Demeter). The subscription is sells for 96 USD for six months, and 180 USD for a year, and they make it easy for you to gift a subscription. I have joined this service , and if you are interested in doing so as well, use code 8306 to get $7.20 of gift credit when you sign up.

Scent Box

Scent box is a subscription service for designer fragrances. It is very similar to Scent Bird in that you get one 8 ml spray perfume (they claim that gets you 4 sprays a day for 31 days) from your choice of fragrances. The packaging concept is also very similar. They have a selection of over 650 designer perfumes and 80 brands from which to choose, at USD $13.95 per month, which slightly cheaper than Scent Bird. However, once you hit the subscribe button on their website, you’ll find that they charge USD $18.95 for the option to select from their higher end inventory in addition to the general one.  The general category is actually 500 perfumes, and the higher end subscription consists of 150 additional ones.  You get a discounted price in a subscription if you order 2 perfumes per month. So, Scent Box or Scent Bird? I would compare what they have on offer to see what perfumes are to your liking. If everything you want is in the cheapest often on Scent Box, that might be the better choice if you want to save a dollar. But if you want more niche variety, I believe Scent Bird wins. Note that this company, too, only ships to the US, though last I checked they wrote that they plan to expand.

Uprising Botanicals

This company has a scent of the month club carrying its own label of perfume, which is made with an organic cane alcohol and a combination of essential oils and organic fragrance oils. Each box contains a perfume spray and a travel size lotion in the same scent. The portion sizes are not precisely quantified on the website, but the bottling sure is pretty. If you sign up for 12 months you get 2 months free (15 USD/ month; 160 USD/ year).

Bloom Perfumery London

This large perfume retailer (under Scentomatic Ltd.) in the UK will allow you to choose from unisex, for her, or for him 12- month subscription packages. The service offers Bloom’s best examples of woody, floral, citrusy, fresh, tasty, classic and modern formulas, as well as special picks for the holidays. You get 5 x 1.6 ml samples a month, 1 x 1.6 ml sample of a recent launch, and subscribers get a unique promocode permitting them 10% OFF full sized bottles corresponding to the current sample selection. The samples come with descriptions and in the mail you’ll also get updates regarding what is new at Bloom. They ship to the UK and EU, but can ship elsewhere for prices starting at £20 via DHL.

Perfumes for a Buck

This is likely your cheapest option if you want to sample mainstream fragrances. With membership you can select ANY 5 samples each month for USD 12.99. New members automatically select 5 more samples for only $1.00 extra, and this company appears to ship internationally. I would imagine for that price that they use samples packaged directly from the company. I did not find any obvious details about how long you have to be subscribed, though I am certain it is in the fine print somewhere.

Cancelled (too bad!):

  • Aromatic Blackbox
  • Bergamot (I was subscribed for 6 months before they folded and enjoyed the service, similar to Scent Trunk.)

As you have noticed, to successfully subscribe to most of the services above, you’ll be better off with a particular mailing address. For many people living outside the United States or UK, the associated costs and inconvenience of setting up a forwarding service or something to that effect may make these subscriptions a lot less attractive.

Have you tried any of these subscriptions? Are there any others you know of that I haven’t listed? Please comment below.

Manifesto by Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)

manifesto

Get a whiff of this:

It’s 2007 and you’re an intelligent but naturally impressionable teenager watching your first large-scale teen beauty pageant on TV, much to your mother’s disgust. You have argued that you are mature enough to make rational decisions about the media and how it can manipulate the minds of youth, and not convinced by the “old enough” claim, but impressed enough by your choice of words in the latter part of your plea, she concedes. Your eyes are glued to the screen and you watch with delight as the these young but very glamorous, sophisticated, all-grown-up and confident-looking beauties parade around the stage, and then it is Q&A time. Miss South Carolina takes the stage.

The question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”
The response: “I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as South Africa and, er, the Iraq everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should… our education over here in the US should help the US, Ira-, or should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future. … I’m sure that all makes sense in context.”

You turn off the TV, and say to your mother. “Sorry mom, that was disappointing. But I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining.”

Well, in defense of Miss South Carolina (see the video here), she was probably extremely nervous (I mean these are kids, after all – that’s a lot of pressure!), and later it was discovered that she did indeed have the ability to answer the question in a more-than-satisfactory manner, but sadly, this is not the case when YSL’s Manifesto is used as an analogy.

The creators of this fragrance wanted to create a Manifesto of Femininity whose fragrance would evoke “an attitude, a burst of laughter, a tone of voice, a presence.” The TV ad for the scent shows a lovely Jessica Chastain showing off the luminosity, charm, grace, power, and audacity attributed to the scent, but sadly the declaration of independence the perfume is supposed to make seems somewhat lacking in the juice itself. An assertion in which one watches what one says so as not to piss off any authorities, supports the status quo, and avoids calling attention to oneself strikes me as a more convincing manifesto for what the scent’s pretty-but-just-from-afar bottle contains. When I used to think of YSL in my younger years, I would think of bold, timeless, renegade perfumes full of character and luxury from different eras, such as Rive Gauche, Opium, and Paris.

This current top seller, however, proves again, after its previous releases of Parisienne and Elle, that YSL is falling prey to mainstream commercialism. Manifesto fails miserably to give its wearer the wow factor it promises. Not to say it’s a poorly-constructed composition. It’s just that it doesn’t bring on anything exciting, sophisticated, original, modern, rebellious, daring, or bold… or even oriental, for that matter, and it’s classified as a floral oriental! And this is exactly what the marketing of the fragrance said it would do, so I have to admit confusion and disappointment at the sales pitch. Perhaps I’d respect Manifesto a lot more had it been named something less misleading.

This is all not to say I dislike it. Manifesto is may not be unique, but I don’t think it’s that predictable. At first spritz in the store, I got a generous, bubbly burst of tart and juicy blackcurrants, stems still attached, which is perhaps why it had me at first sniff and why I ended up with a wee bottle of the stuff in my duty free cart at the airport. I love Crème de Cassis, and this is what the sticky, jammy top notes remind me of, along with some fizzy champagne. Kir Royale anyone? I found out later that once the top notes fade, Manifesto’s loud and friendly laugh turns into a mild whisper as the sheer, musky jasmine and lily of the valley at its heart come out and subtly do their thing. It has a clean patchouli at the base smothered with some creamy vanilla, sugar, and wood, and there is also a slight marzipan kick to it. It’s a sweet gourmand of a perfume, so if Flowerbomb, Jimmy Choo, Prada Candy, or Angel aren’t your thing, this likely won’t be either. As for me, yes, I have a sweet tooth. Umm, you might also compare Manifesto to Dior Addict, Miss Dior Cherie, and Chanel Coco Noir, which are also all nice fragrances, but just slightly uninspired and a tad generic.

Manifesto is an easy-to-wear, non-offensive (unless you drown yourself in it), office-friendly fragrance, and this is probably why I’ve used so much of it compared to other bottles in my collection, despite liking it nowhere near as much as some of the others in its company. Though somewhat run-of-the-mill after the top notes fade, it is a warm and comforting blend with decent lasting power and sillage, so I grab for it a lot, particularly in the fall and winter. As a sweet scent, this fragrance should please a younger crowd of perfumistas. I’m not saying that sweeter fragrances are for younger people, it’s just that consumer statistics apparently sway that way.

However, to reiterate, the marketing campaign for Manifesto again seems amiss in this regard. Jessica simply looks too powerful, mature, romantic, intelligent… and too pale-skinned to be the right face for this scent. Someone conveying a more bubbly and youthful look is required, me thinks. Clearly, like many others, I am not kosher with the contradictory message YSL sent out with this scent, but overall, again, I indeed do think it smells nice, and it grabs compliments. As it’s an appealing-to-the-masses, vanilla ice cream and cupcake concoction, you probably cannot go wrong with this little number should you need to buy someone, or yourself, a gift.

From Fragrantica:

  • OLFACTORY GROUP: oriental floral
  • MAIN ACCORDS: balsamic, vanilla, woody, aromatic, powdery
  • TOP NOTES: black current, bergamot, green notes
  • MIDDLE NOTES: lily of the valley, jasmine
  • BASE NOTES: vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, tonka bean

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