1) Mitsouko. La Grande Dame herself, beloved of many (most?) serious perfumistas, who mourn the latest reformulation and who haunt eBay like Dementors, looking for vintage parfum. I've tried edt. Vintage edt. I've tried edp from two different bottles. Thirteen tests. I've dabbed, I've sprayed. Now, I haven't tried the parfum, but that's because it's impossible to find. Also because I don't think it would do any good: Mitsy hates me. Sure, it's tailored and melancholy and autumnal; sure, it would make great armor (if it didn't pinch so much). But here's the thing: I don't think it smells good. Maybe it's that lactonic peach, which I haven't really liked in anything that contains it, or maybe it's the oakmoss, which I tend to find the epitome of standoffish. Aldehydes I don't mind, but Oakmoss = Unfriendly, in my lexicon. The only part of Mitsouko that I like is that warm amberish bit in the drydown, the labdanum, and that's just because it's labdanum and it smells good on its own.
2) POTL Luctor et Emergo. Salty cherry. Play-doh. The smell of preschoolers with sticky fingers. Gah. How do people get “comfort scent” out of this? It just smells like dirty work to me. (I suspect that the concept of “comfort scent” must be highly personal. My own comfort scents include Serge Lutens' La Myrrhe, which smells cold and disjointed to most people, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, which apparently smells like wet dog and powdery rose to some noses, and the J-P Guerlain version of Shalimar Light, the blue version that is widely regarded to be inferior to the Mathilde Laurent original version.)
Insolence edp. Holy Screaming Meemies, Batman! I don't get “swirling bits of L'Heure Bleue,” I get a gang of shrieking parrots the size of Big Bird. Kill.Me.Now. If I'm ever kidnapped and tortured, Insolence would do the job.
4) Joy. Seriously, I don't GET it. It's pretty for five minutes, particularly in the edt, with all those fresh green notes. Then it's well-worn underdrawers, Ho panties, and slut bloomers. I don't smell jasmine and rose, as I do in Chanel No. 5 parfum. No, I have to get postcoital ladyparts. In case I have to explain here, that is not what I wish to smell like. In public. I should make it clear that I have tried edt, vintage edt, edp, and vintage parfum; sadly, all are far too X rated for me to wear. Jasmine does this to me from time to time.
5) Chanel Cuir de Russie. “Leather luxury”? “Fancy leather upholstery”? No. NO. What I got out of that was full-on, 3D realistic, cattle working pens. Dust, iodine, dusty fur, raw cowhide (I live on a cattle farm, remember?) followed by the dustiest, powderiest, siltiest dry-mouth iris ever. Made me thirsty, all three times I tried it. I'm DONE with it.
Frederic Malle Une Rose. Now look here, I love me some Dark Roses, from C&S Dark Rose to the Montale oud-rose combos to Rose de Nuit, with many others in between. But this is a beautiful, voluptuous, velvety rose gone insane: Lucy Westenra in Dracula (the book, obviously), licking blood from her lips, or Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies, beauty corrupted and twisted, poisoned and savaged, love-lies-bleeding.
7) Chergui. Yet another one I thought I'd adore. Narcissus? Spice? Hay? Tobacco? The notes are right up my alley, and like Une Rose, this one just misses. Turns out I don't want sweetish spices in my dusty-sweet hay, and unlike Une Rose, Chergui bored me. Then it annoyed me, because it could have been perfect.
8) 100% Love. Okay, I get the idea: chocolate, strawberries, and roses, Valentine's Day in a bottle. I'll admit it's very interesting to sniff, and I sprayed it several times just to smell it happen in 3D: choco-berry-rose-chouli, whee! But no way do I want this anywhere near my skin.
9) Chanel No. 22. I like many of the classic Chanels, as well as several of the Les Exclusifs, and aldehydes are rarely a problem for me. In fact, it's not the aldehydes that bother me here. It's the unrelenting sugariness. Two hours into it, my teeth start decaying. You could call No. 22 superior to No. 5 all you want, but I'd still say you were wrong.
10) Bois de Paradis. Nine tests: the citrusy opening is always wrong on me; I nearly tore my hair out trying to figure out if it smells more like mint or like turpentine. (Either way, it's not nice.) Then there's that blueberry. And before I can even smell much in the way of woods, I get this very very sweet, caramelly amber. The effect is of eating blueberry pancakes with maple syrup at a wooden table, close to where someone has recently cleaned the floor with Pine-Sol. If you're thinking, “Hey, that sounds pretty good,” then clearly I don't want out of my perfume what you want out of your perfume.
A couple of these I do wonder if I ever might change my mind about. No. 22, Une Rose, Chergui... those have the feel of scents that were close to love. Maybe it's my head that needs to change. Maybe more exposure would help.
At the same time, there are enough fragrances that I do really, really love, to think that I need not bother to force anything. If any of those three fall into my lap at some point in the future, particularly at no cost to me, I'd probably manage to fall in love with them. The rest? It is a relief to officially give up on them. Whew.
Top image is from failblog.org. (This pic was funnier than the "Baby Head Cemetery" one I had up earlier, and gets across the idea of "close but not quite" better, too.) Middle image is Angry Parrot by Dave Womach at flickr. Lower image is Vampire Girl by *favole* at flickr.