What Makes A Great Perfume Name?


Daisy and I are hitting Twisted Lily today to try the newest Serge Lutens fragrance, L’Orpheline. Yes, you read that right: “The Orphan”. Imagine you’re on a first date with a smoldering-yet-sensitive Chris Pine lookalike. He leans in and whispers, “I must know the name of your perfume, you enchanting creature.” “It’s ‘Orphan’, darling,” you whisper back. He never calls, and you’re forced to settle for a not-remotely-Chris-Pine-lookalike. Or what about that coworker who always asks what you’re wearing? Tell her it’s ‘Orphan’, and the next thing you know you’re being forced into orphan sensitivity seminars. This isn’t Serge’s first naming offense, by the way; remember the Silence Of The Lambs-tastic “Skin Games”?

The magic formula for a perfect perfume name is complex and highly subjective. You need to strike the right balance between catchy, evocative, grammatically correct, and difficult for Americans to mangle. Here are my perfume naming criteria; please feel free to debate and share your own in the comments!

1) Pronounceable for non-native French speakers. Listen, France, I bought the Rosetta Stone. Meet me halfway here.

2) No notes in the name. This one is definitely up for a debate, but I feel like names like “Royal Oud” or “Heaving Tuberose” really reduce a perfume to that one component.

3) No mixing languages. Just say no to “L’Homme For Men” or “Sexy Little Things Noir.”

4) Maximum of one modifier. Acceptable: Femme L’Eau. Unacceptable: Femme L’Eau Fraiche Sheer Florale Absolu Narnia.

5) Have pun with it. My most controversial opinion: I can’t resist a good perfume pun. One of my greatest perfume regrets is letting Smell Bent Gimel A Break slip through my fingers.