Layering Fragrances: Not For Me.

I'm a firm believer that big talkers should either put up or shut up. If you want to impress me with your message, then be prepared to take me on, or mind your own business. Otherwise your talk isn't interesting to me, or anyone else - it's just drivel. In my opinion, the drivelers of the fragrance world are the perfume brands and their PR reps. We fumeheads are constantly bombarded with commercial innuendos about the sexiness and desirability of new and established fragrances, yet we're often disappointed when we get around to smelling them. I remember Chanel's massive push for Bleu de Chanel. They even enlisted A-List director Martin Scorsese to direct a mini-movie to advertise it. Then I smelled Bleu and thought it was surprisingly dull, which meant Scorsese's spot was really just for Scorsese (surprise, surprise). This happens to me more often than not. Usually the hype, which in fairness is also generated by consumers, does not match the reality.

The interesting thing about scent layering (and those who engage in it) is the implicit rejection of the yimmer-yammer behind individual perfumes. There are no major designer brands that currently endorse layering their products. Chanel, Dior, Fendi, YSL, all seem to feel that each individual perfume is its own country. Each are solitary creations intended to stand on their own. Perfumers formulated these creations for singular use. Their offerings are meant to be interesting and sophisticated enough to satisfy the wearer without any extra "help." Nevertheless, some of the more creative customers out there beg to differ. A perusal of online forums yields countless threads about scent layering, usually by women who feel they've created a "special" fragrance, sort of a personalized custom perfume that they may prefer to anything they can buy.

The idea does not appeal to me at all, but I figured I'd try two iterations of a quick 'n easy "custom" scent. These were more like experiments than serious attempts to pass something off as a "wearable" SOTD, and I ended up scrubbing the results. Last month I wanted to try making a "mossy rose" type of scent, so I layered two spritzes of Grey Flannel with one spritz of Tea Rose by Perfumer's Workshop. The result smelled like an odorific incarnation of Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. My second try was an attempt to create Green Irish Tweed on the cheap, again using Grey Flannel, this time with a spritz of Cool Water. This was marginally more successful - it at least smelled good - but I found the blending of both fragrances to be annoying and pointless. Together they smelled no better than they did on their own.

In my opinion, layering is something that is best done with fragrances that are mutually intended for such a use - like pretty much the entire Creed range. It's also an extremely subjective practice, with those who enjoy doing it swearing that their combinations are amazing (or at least fun and interesting), while others cite total disinterest as their main reason for abstaining. After using three good perfumes in two unsuccessful skin-sample blends, I've come to the realization that layering is an endeavor that is better suited to someone else entirely. The perfume brands may not always be right about the individual greatness of their products, but when they are, I'm happy to accept it and leave it at that.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning Brian,
    it`s six o clock right now here in Germany and I`m just waking up, so ...
    Layering to me is nonsense (as Bleu is). In most cases I don`t like those perfume-wine-comparisons, but it`s a bit like adding a Montepulciano to your Bordeaux. Listening to most of the layering tales makes me think: Hey guys, why taking two good perfumes to create a bad one? What can make sense is adding a soft musk (Jovan etc.) as some kind of booster to weaker scents (performs well with the Hermès-Colognes or my Anthracite) or some drops of oakmoss essential oil to reformulated Paco Rabanne, Kouros and others. Have a nice day!


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