Thursday, December 15, 2011
THE GIFT OF PERFUME: YEA OR NAY?
This week on the forums there have been numerous questions asked along the lines of “Which perfume should I buy for my niece/ mother/ grandmother/ husband/ co-worker/ teenage son/ neighbor/ child’s teacher…etc?” Personally, I don’t think the question is “which perfume to buy”, it’s whether or not to buy perfume for someone else in the first place.
Maybe I’m way off base, to say nothing of not doing myself any favors as a perfumer by writing this, but I don’t think perfume is a good default gift. It seems more like the proverbial fruitcake that no one wants, but that nevertheless keeps getting given and given, and finally re-gifted this time of year. I actually like to eat fruitcake, so wouldn’t mind if somebody gave me one. If there’s a fruitcake circulating the neighborhood like the notorious garbage barge that circumnavigated the globe trying to find a country to take its load, I’m the ideal dumping ground. The more nuts and candied fruits and rum, the better. But perfume? I’ve had some bad experiences with blind perfume gifts. Would you really want to receive a 200 ml bottle of Red Door? A big gift set of some cheap box store synthetic lavender fragrance? I’m sure you can name your own unwanted perfume gifts.
Perfume preference is a highly personal matter, as is the preference for whether to wear perfume at all. In the US, an astoundingly large number of people are perfume-phobic, professing to be “allergic” to perfume. They won’t go near it unless it’s in a utilitarian disguise like laundry detergent, air freshener, cleaning products, or shampoo. Why would you give them a bottle of perfume?
For those of us who would fall in the perfumista category, we have our own ideas about what we would like to receive as a gift, and unless the person giving the gift knows that we would like full bottles of Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure, Montale Taj and White Aoud, Neil Morris Gandhara, or Swiss Arabian Kashkha, they’re probably going to give us something we don’t like or already have.
It seems like it would at least be worthwhile to find out if the recipient of perfume likes and wears it, and if so, what some of the items on their wish list are. Otherwise, you might as well give them a fruitcake.
What do you think about perfume as a gift? If you’re reading this, you probably love perfume, so the question is whether you’d appreciate a perfume gift from someone who knew nothing of your collection and tastes. Another related question would be, what are the best and worst blindly chosen perfume gifts you’ve ever received?
[Gift wrapping and Fruitcake photos adapted from Wikimedia; Perfume gifts painting detail by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1564]