Monday, May 05, 2008

Tommy Girl

I have a confession to make. After a lot of thought, I've decided not to read Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. I realize that many of you may quietly delete me as a daily read for this. How can I be a serious perfume fan if I choose not to read said book? Well, maybe I'm not serious. Maybe I'm just a fan. The truth is, I'm turned off by some of the reviews I've seen that say it's rather snarky, almost to the point where they just seem to be snarking for snark's sake. I've found that happens on some blogs as well, either in posts or in the comments sections, and I generally stop reading those blogs. It isn't that I love everything, or even believe taste is taste and everyone's equal in that sense.

I'm simply bothered by people who take the easy shot. If you know a perfume is sub-par, why even give it air time just to bash it? Leave it on the shelf and move on to something else. I do try to be honest when I dislike a perfume, and I'll go in for laugh now and again, but generally, I do try to keep the spirit positive. Making people feel bad doesn't make me feel good. Call me a pollyanna, but I feel that if someone has taken the time to read my blog and try to join the conversation about perfume, then I must only give credit. How many perfume releases are there a year to wade through? How many people live in places where there is no Barney's or L'Artisan boutique on the corner? How many people have discovered their love of fragrance by trying everything that's at the drugstore because it's all they can afford? Am I going to shut these people out or make them feel stupid? Hopefully not. I would rather open the door and say, "Welcome."

I'm also bothered by the idea that if an expert loves a perfume, we should all gather 'round and praise it. I don't happen to like Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise. I wore it for four straight days, gave it my best shot, and it fell flat for me, so I said as much. What did I get? A comment telling me Luca Turin loves it. Well, then, let me change my opinion! Not. I tried it again, and I still don't like it. So. There.

I see the benefit of working from "must smell" lists, particularly for people new to sniffing. It helps to smell the classics, or to sniff across types, if you will. But I'm bothered by the notion that lists tell us what we should and should not like. I'm not accusing Mr. Turin and Ms. Sanchez of doing this, by any means, but I do think some readers out there are going to start waving that book around like a bible, thumping on it and persecuting the rest of us if we don't toe the fundamentalist perfumista line. It also bothers me that snottiness is held up as discrimination.

All this to say: I don't like Beyond Paradise, and I will never, ever like Chinatown, but I will stand with Mr. Turin on Tommy Girl. Just trust me on this one: close your browser and go to Target and buy a bottle of this perfume. Do it now. I got my little half-ounce bottle for $7.99. With notes of apple tree, blackcurrant, camellia, mandarin, mint, honeysuckle, lily, rose, magnolia, sandal, and cedar, it IS summertime. It's children playing outside as the night sky darkens and the streetlights pop on. It's june bugs banging against a screen door. It's a game of tennis on a dewy summer morning. It's a hot car after a day spent in a cold movie theater. It's hamburgers and milkshakes at a drive-in at dusk. It's the beach, the lake, the golf course, the stoop, the porch swing. Whatever is your most pleasant memory of summer, when you spray this on your wrists, that is what you'll smell.

*image from Imagination Perfumery