Monday Question – What’s In A Name?

How important is a perfume’s name to you?

Are you easily put off or interested in a perfume based on it’s name?

Which perfumes do you think are horribly misnamed?

Which names are brilliant, in your opinon?

My Answers:

Initially I do take note of the name of a perfume. If it is a great one, my interest goes up and if it is a ridiculous one, I might be deterred from trying the scent, since I have so many already, I won’t go out of my way to try something I perceive as silly or provocative, plain stupid or offensive.

I tried and fell for perfumes, the names of which  I didn’t like, I’m looking at you Oesel! And I have been disappointed by great names behind which a nice, but in the end not very exiting perfume hides (Love’s True Bluish Light). And then there are those with an awful name and an awful perfume – and that award goes to Xerjoff again – Shingl (review coning soon) takes the cake here.

In general I don’t like names that are only numbers, like a year, because I remember words better than numbers, but Frapin 1697 proves that the right number can make that problem vanish. I am not fond of Le Labo’s naming as well, since the expectations are slated in a direction that is no necessarily the right one.

The names of Etat Libre d’Orange (the company’s name is great, btw) perfumes make me uneasy. They are either totally over the top, outright offensive or faintly amusing. And I don’t like the fact that EldO does so much to distract their customers from the actual juice. But that is just my point of view.

Some great perfumes have truly great names, my favorites in this category are: Teo Cabanel Alahine – so evocative, it just rolls off the tongue, or Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist – that says it all, I think;
What do you say? What’s in a name?

Picture source: some rights reserved, thank you!

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46 Responses to Monday Question – What’s In A Name?

  1. I like a perfume to have a good name but I would never be put off buying a fragrance that I like just because of the name.

    I agree that the ELD’O names are a bit stupid, at times I don’t wish to tell people that I’m wearing ‘Hotel Whore’, it would be easier if it was called ‘Courtesan’ or something.

    Iris Silver Mist is a beautiful name, I also really like the name ‘Alien’ and think it fits the perfume beautifully.

  2. lady jane grey says:

    Etat LdO has some really off-puting ones, which made me boykott those (yes, yes, it’s you Secretions and Don’t get me wrong baby…), or even the Fat electrician….
    But then again I really liked the name “Like this” from the same company.
    By Kilian’s names are lovely – but after sniffing myself through the range now I know that not even those names help me to like the parfumes.
    In general I always found the parfum names from Uncle Serge appealing.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Like this was totally unlike EldO, I like it a lot, every aspect of it. No Kilian fan, huh? It took me so long to love them, but now I do, not all but a good few. 😉

  3. Sharryn Stormonth says:

    Maybe because I am relatively new to niche, I don’t take too much notice of names, I tend to by trying perfume from reviews by my fav fume heads (yourself included). Although, I did intially do a big spend up on random scents from Lucky Scent. I do find the EldO packaging and branding a little outre and tacky, yet I love the TOF juice. I’ll get back to you on this in six months 🙂

  4. Undina says:

    I will NEVER wear the perfume named Burqa (by SoOud). I find it more than offensive.
    I disagree with ELdO’s esthetic so I will probably spend my money somewhere else (there are a couple of exceptions there but I’m not sure if I like them enough).

    Other than that… I don’t like numbered perfumes for the same reason as you. I do not even read (leave alone speak) French so I have problems pronouncing some perfume names. I might not to seek some of them – just based on the fact that I can’t remember if I read anything about them. But if I try and like them the name itself won’t matter.

    The names I like (and think that they fit perfectly): Bronze Goddess, Carnal Flower, Voyage d’Hermès, Field Notes From Paris and To Dream.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I absolutely agree with you on Burqa.

      I read French in school, so I am fine with the names, but I wish I still spoke the language better…

      To Dream sounds just perfect, although I have not smelled it yet (as you know!) 😉

  5. Sugandaraja says:

    There are a few offensive perfume names that steer me away from the perfume entirely:Undina mentioned Burqa, which is one, but ELDO’s Philippine Houseboy is another ( third-world exploitation is not a selling point ). A number of others just make me laugh, like French Lover, manatee-inspired Womanity, or new-age tripe like The Unicorn Spell ( or almost any BPAL name ). It’s also possible to cheat a great perfume by giving it a dull numerical name, like the beautiful al02.

    Then again, there’s a number of excellent names where, whether I like the fragrance or not, the name and fragrance just don’t match. Carnal Flower couldn’t be more chaste; Vitriol d’Oeillet is far from vitriolic; Love & Tears is as happy as could be. Fortunately I can also think of very apt names, like Tubereuse Criminelle, Carillon Pour Un Ange, Soir de Lune, Cradle Of Light, and so forth.

    My favorite name is a fragrance I’ve yet to try, but hope to soon: JAR’s Ferme Tes Yeux; ”Close Your Eyes”.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Ferme tes Yeux makes me shiver, that IS a really great name. I have not trued any JAR yet either, but will once in NY this fall.

      I agree about the Biehl Parfumkunstwerke, they are shortchanging their perfumes with this overly minimalistic approach. Names are important after all.

  6. Fragrances names are very important to me as I truly believe that they inspire the perfume itself, when I start working on “Autoportrait”, the scent had to be intimate and profound, just for me. On the contrary “Chambre Noire” (Dark Room) evokes a different harmony, more sensual and mysterious. I think one can choose a perfume by its name and should not be disappointed, even if a little surprised. However good names are very hard to find and register nowadays. I wanted to name my next perfume “Clair Obscur” but the name already belongs to Guerlain ! Maybe their next big launch ??!

    • deeHowe says:

      “I think one can choose a perfume by its name and should not be disappointed, even if a little surprised.”

      I completely agree! The name should give you a hint of what’s inside, and many of my favorites do: Silences quiets the world around me and inspires inner strength; Bronze Goddess makes me feel sun-kissed, long legged, and gleamingly beautiful!

      • Olfactoria says:

        I agree as well. If you expect something from reading the name alone, it should not be far off. But what kind of expectations can you raise by naming a perfume for example gs01?

    • Olfactoria says:

      I love the way your perfumes have one complete concept where everything fits and matches, visuals, names and the juice itself. I like Autoportrait the most, btw. 🙂 Curious what Guerlain will do with the beautiful Clair Obscur…

  7. andrea says:

    For me personally I am drawn to names and packaging but it is not what inspires me to buy a perfume. I have recently purchased the Tom Ford Neroli Portofino body Oil as I wanted to be reminded of my holiday that I have just come back from, Portofino does exactly that (If however, I could have got my hands on Bronze Goddess I would have gone for that, damn those limited editions) I think the name Equestrius is possibly the most misleading, I expected something quite leathery and heavy, although I would not go so far as to say it was horribly misnamed and it did not put me off trying it and putting it on my want list.
    I also was not keen on the Library collection, Opus I, II, III, IV & V names, as I thought they would be quite musty and headache inducing, I ended up buying Opus III so the name did not put me off entirely. I prefer the mainline names but I have only found one that I truly love which goes to show its not all in the name.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh, too bad about BG, you would have saved some money as well…

      Equistrius is indeed curiously named, it is a beautiful name, only not fitting the perfume at all.

      Amouage has beautiful, grand names befitting their voluptuous scents: Epic, Lyric, Memoir, Honour – no non-descript fruity floral behind those names…

  8. Alnysie says:

    I agree with Undina and Sugandaraja: Burqa and Philippine Houseboy are horrible names, and I’m really not interested in smelling them. My favorite names have to be Fille en Aiguilles (I usually hate puns, but this one is so clever and combines two or three at once!) and Five O’Clock au Gingembre (I like the code-switching, and here it’s fitting that the first part be in English). I like the name Lann-Ael, too, it’s nice to say and I’m glad a company uses Breton. They probably contributed to my curiosity about them.

    As a native French speaker, I probably underestimate how lucky (in a way) I am that many names are in French. I’d be ok if they were in English, but I tried to imagine if most names were in Spanish or in German, languages I barely speak: it’d be hard for me to keep track and remember names!

    • Olfactoria says:

      With my school French, I’m sure I am not getting half of Uncle Serge’s puns he is famous for. Lostmarc’h is intriguing, the names are unique. I quite like the entire concept of that line.

  9. jedennard says:

    Names can be off-putting to me, especially some of the French names since I haven’t studied it very much, though I want to learn it. (I am much more familiar with Spanish). And, yes, ELD’O names are terrible.

    And here is where my Anglophile colors come out again because I’ve always liked the English names such as Penhaligon’s, Trumpers, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Floris, etc. They roll of my tongue more comfortably and the fragrances tend to be more subtle, which fits my personality.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I have a thing for those old-english brands and names as well. I guess with Penhaligon’s Amaranthine the French influence of B. Duchaufour was extending to the name as well…

  10. I just realize that names are not very important to me. They can add to the test-me appeal of the fragrance (like Sarrasins) but I don’t get easily offended by them. Even the ELdO names which are tongue in cheek somehow are very in tune with the fragrances themselves which usually play with very traditional notes in unconventional combinations.

    The most horribly misnamed perfume IMO is L’ Air de Rien which predisposes for an eau de cologne when in reality it should have been something like “Naufragé sur ton Peau” (Castaway on your skin”. Nothing out there smells closer to the smell of human (not freshly washed) hair. Black Aoud does not smell very black to me but it seems I am in a minority on this. I was also a bit shocked when I smelled Shiseido Zen Man. What’s so Zen about bubblegum?

    Route du Vetiver is a very aptly named fragrance because it smells just that: the root of a freshly plucked plant.

  11. Tara says:

    I agree, with so many choices out there it’s easy to disregard something just because of it’s silly/offensive/confusing name. I’m sure I would have sampled Histoires des Parfums range by now if it weren’t for all those dates.

    I was also thinking of Iris Silver Mist before I got to your answer, surely one of the most evocative and fitting names around. Uncle Serge’s and Guerlain’s (old) perfume names are among the most appealing to me.

    Chanel seem to favour prosaic fragrance names but maybe that’s in line with their understated chic i.e. they don’t have to try too hard?

    French perfume names make it harder for me but don’t put me off, although I’m very grateful to Kilian for naming his line in English!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Ha, it is the same with me and Histoires de Parfums, I just don’t want to get into those dates… 🙂

      Guerlain names are mostly beautiful as well. And fitting… talk about Insolence. 😉

  12. deeHowe says:

    There isn’t a name that would put me off trying a fragrance completely, but an interesting or beautifully named fragrance (whose notes seem in harmony) will certainly take pride of place in my sniff list!

    However, what I wear to please myself, and what I’m comfortable saying aloud to a curious stranger are two separate things. I can never remember the date for the de Sade fragrance, and while I love that scent (LOVE), I realized at some point that I probably won’t buy even a little bottle, because I have no desire to tell people that’s what I’m wearing. And mr. Howe isn’t a fan 😉

    The name and fragrance of Memoir is so perfectly matched in my estimation: whenever I wear it, or smell it on a scarf or sweater, I inhale deeply and think, “this is the kind of woman I am going to be.” So it’s a sort of future memory of myself! lol.

    • Olfactoria says:

      How beautiful what you are saying about Memoir…

      De Sade – that is why Histoires gave us the year as well, just tell people it is 1740 (or something in the proximity). 🙂

  13. Marie says:

    Misnomer? That would be Ralph Lauren Notorious. A run of the mill fruitchouli – nice enough, but certainly not a fragrance that will cause social uprising. It’s like buying a Paris Hilton dog and naming it Caesar or King.

    I’ve tried Etat Libre’s Hotel Slut and I like it, but I’d rather have Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen or Calamity J, eventhough guns are no laughing matter, Citizen Kane certainly wasn’t either. But I suppose that Juliette Took an Empower Class would sell fewer perfumes, although, from what I understand, that was the idea behind the name of the perfume house. I think that Etat Libre would do better making fun of people their own size – for instance Sweaty Overweight Balding Business Man or Higly Strung Mid 30’s Woman With Maxed Out Credit Card. And see how they sell. I received a sample of Fat Electrician today in the mail and eventhough I know that the name refers to a film or a play, I secretly hope that I won’t end up loving the fragrance too much. Oh, vanity!

    There’s vanity, And there’s also the snob factor. I’d hate to love Britney Spears Fantasy and have to reveal the name of my scent. Hilary Duff would be better, because she is much less well known where I live. Even I don’t really know who she is, and I wear With Love happily from time to time during the winter. And my all time walk of shame: Miss Dior Cherie. I’ve gotten frowns on that one. And I did blush a bit, but I still love it.

    Beautiful names are Amaranthine, Cristalle, Ivoire, Fleurs de Bois, and Portrait of a Lady to have one in English, too. I also like the way Aromatics Elixir rolls over my tongue.

    Then there are the more prosaic names like L’eau Ambree – you know what you’re going to get and the ones where someone should have intervened like Pure White Linen Light Breeze. Couldn’t come up with anything longer? Or less sequel-y?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Youth Dew Amber Nude is also a brave contender for longest perfume name. Estee Lauder seem to like to fit as many descriptors as possible in the name. 🙂

      You raise a very good point, Marie: vanity. I do think about what will others say, or I am such a snob that I discount some things purely on the basis of superficiality.

      But as I said before, names ARE important, they set the tone and it is hard to completey disregard them.

      • Marie says:

        Vanity IS a factor, there’s no getting around that – we are, after all, social creatures and so we care what others’ think. And no harm in that in moderation – that particular trait comes in handy in other respects where it makes us able to be aware of how our behavior might affect others – and we can’t have one aspect of that trait without getting the other one, too 🙂

  14. Alice C says:

    I think names can be off-putting or can reel you in to a scent. I wouldn’t be so turned off to a perfume so as not to try it just because of a weird name, but I’m not sure I would often wear a scent I would be embarrassed to speak the name of to someone (a ‘normal person’–not a perfumista) asking what I’m wearing. But, would I wear a perfume more often just because it has a great name? It still has to smell good… 🙂

  15. anotherperfumeblog says:

    Maybe my third try leaving a comment will be the charm! I’ve had such internet problems today, but I think this is a great question. I will echo what others have said that only a really offensive name (and ELdO has a few in my opinion, as well as that Black Dahlia thing that is coming out) will totally put me off, but a good name will definitely attract my attention. I also like names that don’t take themselves to seriously, like Flowerbomb, Aimez Moi. I actually think the stupidest fragrance name ever is Insolence. Which means I would probably love it if I smelled it. 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for persisting! 🙂 I’m almost sure you will be quite safe from Insolence. I always recommend Dee’s hilarious review of it.

      Sent from my iPhone

  16. Tarleisio says:

    Names, names, what’s in a name…A perfume name I think should somehow evoke a sense of the juice. There are a select few perfume houses that truly excel in names…Serge Lutens (of course!) is unusual in that not just the names are sometimes puns, the perfumes in not a few cases are, too! Roja Dove – a line I have yet to try – has some spectacular names, Scandal, Unspoken, Diaghilev…they all just roll off the tongue in such a euphonious fashion, like music. Alien – a great name for a perfume (with intergalactic sillage!), Angel…not so much. Womanity…bad on ALL levels of existence! 😉 Lanvin’s My Sin…yeah, baby! Shocking has to be one of the greatest names ever for a perfume. Guerlain with all their exotic appeal…Nahema, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Sous Le Vent…Caron with N’Aimez Que Moi, Pois de Senteurs…In a sense, though, that’s cheating, since most everything sounds better in French! 😀 Something Parfums Delrae surely picked up on…I mean…Amoureuse? Mythique? Hello? Amouage have naming down to an art form – Gold, Lyric, Epic, Memoir, Honour…short, snappy, memorable and unlike anything else in several dimensions!

    By Kilian’s Love and Tears I always get mixed up with a song that covers the same territory, so to say.

    Flowerbomb – great name, but I can’t stand it, and the same applies to Eau Mega…awesome name, horrible perfume!

    Dior should be shot for dropping the ‘Cherie’ from Miss Dior Cherie, but on the other hand, they’re managing to shoot themselves quite nicely already!

    The very worst name award, though, goes to Victoria’s Secret anything…And Estée Lauder needs to get a grip. Pure White Linen Light Breeze…c’mon. Really, now. And ‘Loud’. Just…no.

    Numbers are a terrible way to go. I know no. 5 and 19, and so far as I’m concerned, that’s all the numbers I need to know, right? 😉

    Martin Margiela ran out of ideas…which is not something you could say about Etat Libre. No one would have the faintest idea of the ELdO reputation, but tell them you’re wearing ‘Fat Electrician’ and at least they might laugh! ‘Like this’ is a great name, but ‘Filipino Houseboy’ is taking things way too far. I sometimes wish they’d just come right out with it and create a real doozie…and call it ‘Sex in a Bottle’.

    The problem is, someone else already did…and called it ‘Ambre Sultan’! 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for your exhaustive answer, Tarleisio.
      Numbers 5 and 19 are sufficient for me as well.
      The more I think about it, the more I find Amouage names to be among the best. Uncle Serge’s names are true insider’s
      jokes, which I love (when I get them!). 🙂

  17. Vanessa says:

    My off the cuff thought would be that names I can’t spell are most annoying, and one that springs to mind is Ego Facto Poopoo Pidou. (See, I can’t even be bothered to look that up, though I may have got that right in one this time!) Stella flanker names are also a huge source of irritation – haven’t we exhausted the Stella seam and isn’t it time to start a series beginning with McCartney? McCartney Nude, McCartney in Peony Three etc.

    I wouldn’t let a silly name stand in the way of my trying the scent, though occasionally it has come close…

    • Natalia says:

      LOL Mccartney Nude 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Names one cannot spell, exactly! The worst are those by Hilde Soliani, who makes a sport out of adding unecessary vowels and consonants at random. Why didn’t think of her earlier? She must not like people googling her perfumes for she is making it impossible.

  18. Natalia says:

    i do know that what’s most important is the perfume itself, but for me the visuals always matter.

    if the bottle is ugly, I’ll pass. if the name is ugly, I’ll also pass. it must be somehting strikingly beautiful to make me purchase the juice badly packaged and/or stupidly named. thankfully though, so far I didn’t have to. i do like to hold a beautiful flacon and I do love a name that makes sense, is easy to remember and associates well with the juice.

    Juliette has a gun and ELDO names are not for me, and I won’t get a bottle of Harajuku lovers (no offense, just not my thing). DKNY apples scare me. by Kilian Ouvre Noire names are very silly – i have trouble remembering which is which. Le Labo numbers? i agree with those who say Chanel is the only math we need to know. Gucci Rush red plastic square bottle…such a pity it holds such a great perfume!

    at the same time, whoever creates the thing can name and package it the way they want – tastes differ and they probably dont regret having me as a customer. there are plenty of companies that do a good job on naming and packaging – L’AP, SL, Tom Ford, Honore des Pres, FM, Dior, etc… etc…..and keep me a happy woman (and with a Maxed Out Credit Card (c) lol)

    • Olfactoria says:

      I agree with you, what comes with a perfume, visuals and names are important. A bottle has impact, for me too. I also prefer bottles to decants, because I feel I don’t get the full experience in a plain bottle. Stupid, I know. 🙂

      • Natalia says:

        well, stupid or not, our name is legion!

        i buy decants like everyone else, because i cannot afford many FBs, but for each and every scent i truly love i always hope to get the full bottle, or partial bottle, in its original packaging.

        if you can enhance your experience – why not 🙂

  19. Amy Bella says:

    A stranger asked what perfume I was wearing recently and she looked at me like I had two heads when I told her it was Le Labo Labdanum 18. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or capture the imagination, huh? I had to write it down for her. At least she would have remembered the name if it was called Hotel Slut or something cheeky! 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hello Amy Bella!
      Lol, that is true, EldO names are quite memorable
      and in that way they certainly fulfill their purpose. Labdanum 18 instantly reveals the “insider” status of the niche lover. 🙂 (But what a great choice, btw, I love Labdanum 18!)

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