Perfumistas: The Next Generation


A quick sweep through the perfume blogosphere is enough to see that most perfume lovers have some sort of perfume heritage. Their interest in perfume was encouraged and/or influenced by a Cristalle-wearing mother, an Eau Savage-wearing father, or the cooler older sister who wore Love’s Baby Soft.

At 20 years old, I am part of a new and rather different generation of perfume lovers: one with no perfume heritage to speak of. Our love of perfume is entirely self-taught, gleaned from perfume blogs, YouTube reviews, or Perfumes: The Guide.

Other than my woefully misguided Axe-wearing little brother, not a single member of my family wears fragrance. My maternal grandmother once wore White Linen and Youth Dew, but stopped many years before I was born. Neither of my parents have ever worn fragrance due to alleged perfume allergies. Even their laundry detergent was unscented!

Such concerns about perfume’s allergenic potential are becoming more and more common, as evidenced by endless IFRA restrictions and workplace perfume bans. More and more of The Next Generation is growing up fragrance-free. Of course I know that my generation has more important issues to deal with (the war, the economy, dubstep), but I do sometimes wish for the kind of rich perfume heritage that so many older perfume lovers have.

What kind of perfume heritage do you have?

11 thoughts on “Perfumistas: The Next Generation

  1. I don’t have much perfume heritage, either. My mom and aunt both dislike perfume and don’t wear it. My father’s mother passed away when she was in high school. My mother’s mother did wear and love perfume – I know her to have owned Shalimar and a numbered Chanel, and I remember thinking her perfume bottles were so adult and mysterious, but we never talked about it…

  2. My mother wore perfume in your younger days- mostly before she had me. The main perfume I remember her wearing is Revlon Jontue. She also remembers wearing White Shoulders, and one more that didn’t come to mind. My best friend (since we were kids) is the person most responsible for sparking my interest in fragrances.

  3. That’s my story too. My paternal grandmother wore fragrance (I was told its name was “Camée“… Does it ring anyone’s bell?) but she died when I was a kid. Nobody else wore any. I was first interested in fragrance through two boyfriends, actually, and now I have a few friends who wear fragrance, two of them are even almost perfumistas themselves. I too sometimes wish I had a fragrance heritage, but I guess the good side of starting from a blank slate is that we have a lot less preconceptions about “old lady” scents and stuff like that…

  4. My mother, my father and both sets of grandparents wore perfumes/colognes as long as I can remember them. And I was interested in perfumes since I was four or five years old.

  5. I had a crazily 1980’s scented family of women. It was wonderful, they all smelled so good to me. Dad was more Tabac, Old Spice and something else that I can’t think of but less glam than Mum. We were given fragrances from our early teens for birthdays and Xmas.
    Good Question Ari, you have brought back some lovely mamories,
    Portia xx

  6. You already know about my grandmother, but my mother also had one perfume that I remember – a bottle of Emeraude in the bathroom medicine cabinet that I thought was the nastiest-ass nasty smelling sh*! on the face of the planet. I specifically bought some vintage Emeraude to see if I would like it better than I remember, especially after learning to like Shalimar. I kind of do. But I don’t much wear it. 🙂

    Any time one starts something one’s family didn’t much do (it was cooking for me), you build your own traditions and heritage, no? Right now my fridge is jam-packed with food and I am so excited.

  7. If you’re Next Gen, I’m TOS. (Seriously. Technically I’m old enough to be yer mama, Miss A.) And I do revel in that perfumed history, that idea that once a week, at least, a young lady dresses nicely for church, with pantyhose and slip under her dress, and part of the dressing up includes her scent. I can’t quite remember who gave me my first grown-up fragrance, which was the old Lagerfeld Chloe, a bosomy sort of perfume for a developing girl, but I know it was either an aunt or my paternal grandmother – my maternal grandmother being sort of stuck on every single Avon perfume ever created. And yet, my daughter wears jeans to church these days and it doesn’t bother me a whit. She’ll be heading out for a date or some sort of event, and I’ll remind her that being dressed to go out means she needs scent, too. (Yeah. Overbearing mom, pushing her kid to indulge in some small sort of enjoyment…)

    Everybody in the perfume-blog world seems to look back on the loud-and-proud 80s with so much affection, but speaking as someone who despite her perfumed history suffered through that age rather than enjoying it – I think we have to see that era of overkill as one of the factors leading to today’s “don’t offend anybody with your smell” norm. Political correctness and the idea of tolerance play into it as well, I’m sure. I mean, I GET IT. I’ve often told the story of not being able to sit through a long-awaited showing of The Empire STrikes Back, due to an extreme overapplication of Opium on the part of a woman sitting next to me in the theater. But I do wish for some kind of middle ground, where there is tolerance of moderately-applied scent on the people around you.

  8. Yeah, I’m over here right beside Mals in the old-enough-to-be-your-mother camp. I mean, Bones just turned 19 last week.

    TNG came out when I was in high school, but as a confirmed fan of TOS, I thought the idea of a new series was laaaaame, so I didn’t seek it out. My first year of university I happened to catch the two-parter when the Borg came to earth and Picard became Locutus – yup, that was my very first intro to TNG, two of the best episodes they ever did. Needles to say, my reaction was “HOLY CRAP! How have I been missing this?”

    I’m reminiscing about Star Trek because that’s far more interesting than my perfume heritage. My mom wore perfume, and I thought she smelled amazing, but it wasn’t an every day thing for her, nor did she wear the classics that we perfumistas drool over now. Mom wore Giorgio, White Shoulders and an 80’s scent derived from Dynasty called Forever Krystle, and I don’t remember either grandma ever wearing scent.

  9. In my case, I would say that I have the age – I’m closer to forty than thirty – without the heritage. My family members never wore perfumes, so there was no sneak sniff at my dad’s cologne as a kid, or no grandma leaving trails of obnoxious white florals behind.
    My interest in perfumes (and also in dubstep, now that you make me think of it…) started as an adult, and it came from my love for writing, rather than from a pre-existing interest in fragrances.
    As a consequence, all this process of having perfumes as part of lived exeperience is starting now for me, but I have to say it’s still powerful.

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