Monday Question – Which Perfume Name Do You Find Especially Fitting?

This MQ is inspired by Undina’s post of yesterday, where she recounted her story with Serge Lutens Boxeuses, a perfume that has a name that seems very fitting to the situation she describes.

What perfume name do you think is right on point?

What name inspires you?

Which perfumes are better than their names and would deserve a more fitting one?

Which perfumes do not live up tp their great name?


My Answer:

I think many perfumes would deserve a more creative name than the descriptive one they have, I’m thinking about all the Jasmin Ouds and Santal Roses, Vanille Incenses and Gardenia Tuberoses out there. To add an adjective (noir, blanc, extreme, intense, legère…) does not gather any points on the creativity front either, adding more than one, as is par for the course with the legion of flankers out there, is a quick way into ridiculousness.

What I absolutely hate is names that are numbers. I just cannot retain them, no, that is not  really true, I possibly could, but honestly I just can’t be bothered.

I like perfume names that evoke a whole story by themselves. I love most older Guerlain names (Shalimar, Guet Apens, Mitsouko, Liu…), they give you an idea what the perfume is about and provide a bit of history and context – you can even learn something just by researching your perfume. I also like the names of Aftelier perfumes, Palimpsest (one of my favorite words ever), Tango, Secret Garden – there are stories in these perfumes and their name gives me a first glimpse.

The perfume name I love most of them all is one that never made it on the bottle: Les Ailes du Désir by Frapin. It became a number scent, 1697, after copyright issues that made the poetic name impossible. Ouch. Still, it inspired me so much…

Whether the perfume lives up to the name is a different story altogether, and unfortunately often it doesn’t. But that is not the point today anyway.

Which names do you find evocative? Which names spark your interest? Do you ever pursue a perfume solely for its name?


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49 Responses to Monday Question – Which Perfume Name Do You Find Especially Fitting?

  1. Marjo says:

    I love names that are borrowed from literature, poems, things like that. My favorite is De Profundis, but you are right, the perfumes seldom live up to their name. Don’t get me wrong, I love De Profundis. I think it’s a wonderful perfume, but to me it is not “De Profundis”. The name suggests something darker, more earthy, but that’s just my opinion. Have a nice Monday!

  2. Vanessa says:

    I agree with everything you say and am also a big fan of Palimpsest the name, not having tried the perfume yet! That is a word that definitely should get out more. I find some of the PG names quite dreamy – Brulure de Rose, Bois Naufrage – but I need to think on about this whole topic, as more examples will doubtless spring to mind. Re the ‘perfume by numbers’ gripe, I find Fragrance Republic (exclamation mark not supplied!) and Biehl Kunstwerke particularly problematic.

    Oh, Blask is another sublime name. Is that Humiaecki & Graef (sp?). And there’s a new Byredo I think with a cracker, but it escapes me for the moment.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Yes, it is too bad about Biehl, the scsnts are good, but I believe the names are working to their detriment.
      Not sure why, but Blask always reminds me of Lush Furze, possible the worst name for a perfume if you are a German-speaker. 🙂

  3. Profumina says:

    I think that vintage Amazone (in the “brown” bottle) is a very well named perfume – at least to my nose. On the opposite end, there is nothing angelic about Angel although that smell probably single handedly transformed our idea of what is angelic. I no longer have such nice connotations for angels as I used to as a child…..

  4. annemariec says:

    I’ve always thought ‘Femme’ a great name because of its simplicity and strength. Not ‘girl’ or ‘lady’, but ‘woman’. I’m thinking of Rochas mainly, but I suspect it works just as well for the Ormond Jayne, though I’m not fond of OJ Woman myself.

    Joy is perfect of course, as is White Linen. Like This is good. I thought ‘Pleats Please’ was charming even if I forgot the fragrance after one sniff. 🙂

  5. Farouche says:

    Cadjmere by Parfumerie Generale, the perfume I put on this morning, is well named I think. It is all coziness with vanilla, coconut, and spices surrounding a sandalwood base. I have to be in the right mood for it, but this chilly fall morning made it pop to the forefront in my decant collection.

  6. Tara says:

    After trying Cuir d’Ange today I’d say it’s name if very fitting – definitely angelic leather.
    Like you, I am fond of the older Guerlain perfume names, particularly Vega as it is indeed a bright, shining fragrance.

  7. Sabine says:

    I also like the PG names a lot. Louanges Profane and Felanilla are great names. And then there is of course Etat libre d’Orange. I remember you are not a fan, Birgit, but I think they’re playful and intriguing.

  8. I Particularly like poetic names at perfumes and I hate numbers, too.
    This is the extensive list of names I like and I find to fit the perfumes and to evoke feelings and atmosphere. And, with only a few exceptions, the perfumes I really like:
    – Enlevement Au Serail
    – Maharanih
    – Odalisque
    – Sacrebleu !
    – Vie de Chateau
    – Noir Epices
    – Liaisons Dangereuses
    – Narcotic Venus
    – Bandit
    – Shalimar
    – Portrait Of A Lady
    – Promesse de l’Aube
    – Vepres Siciliennes
    – Le Rivage des Syrtes
    – La Chasse Au Papillons
    – Voleur de Roses
    – Mitsouko
    – Apres L’Ondee
    – L’Heure Bleu
    – Cabochard
    – Jeux de Peau
    – Equistrius
    – Let Me Play The Lion
    – Eau de Merveilles
    – Truth
    – Contradiction
    – Ninfeo Mio
    – Suivez- Moi
    – Billet Doux
    – Adieu Sagesse (this one I didn’t smell, but the name is genial)
    – Pardon
    – L’Air du Desert Marocain

  9. Suzanne says:

    I love both the name and the scent of Un Crime Exotique by Parfumerie Generale. I also think 5 O’clock Au Gingembre by Serge Lutens is perfectly named, because it’s a very cozy and old-world charming kind of perfume. And I think only Chanel should be allowed to use numbers as names. 😀 I love Chanel No. 5, Chanel No. 22 and Chanel No. 19 because they are iconic perfumes, but overall I agree with you about the use of numbers: when L’Artisan started doing those Mon Numero series of scents, it was really annoying and hard to keep track of (not that I tried most of those perfumes, but just reading reviews of them, the names and scents didn’t gel together in my mind). Perfume names are really important, in my opinion, and should be well considered.

  10. Cybele says:

    I think the Chanel numbers are great names for the abstract style of Chanel! I love these names just as much as poetic names such as L’Heure Bleu or Bandit. However I am not a fan of the house /or combined numbers as 31, Rue Cambon or 28, La Pausa. Vol de Nuit sadly doesn’t fully live up to it’s beautiful name in my opinion and I find Fracas, Yatagan, Coromandel to be perfectly fitting!

  11. Undina says:

    Thank you for the link, B.
    Speaking of notes and numbers in the names, Le Labo is an absolute “winner” in this game though somehow their names stick better in memory than others – at least it’s true for those that I liked. Now I’m curious if the new owner keeps that naming convention going forward.

    There are so many great names, but I’ll name just several that speak to me as a combination – a perfume and its name: Vol de Nuit, Unter den Linden, Love & Tears, Portrait of a Lady, Field Notes From Paris, Winter Woods and Fille en Aiguilles.

  12. anitathepianist says:

    Undina mentioned my two favorite names: Vol de Nuit and Field Notes From Paris..I like Calèche too, with its meaning of a small carriage..

  13. Colognissimo says:

    Most fittingly named perfume: That, for me, just HAS to be Paestum Rose by Eau d’Italie. Not only does the name make reference to the historical fact that in Antiquity, the town of Paestum really was one of the most important centres for rose cultivation, so that on an intellectual level, the scent becomes something of a fragrance about the history of fragrance. Additionally it also captures perfectly the character of the place and what it is famous for today, namely the remains of some of the best-preserved temples from graecian times, thus the scent itself reminds me of a place that is rather arid, slightly melancholy yet still somehow radiant with the mediterranean light of a late summer’s evening.

    Most inspiring / intriguing names: LUSH’es The Smell of Weather Turning and, perhaps more conventionally, Andy Tauer’s Carillon pour un Ange

    Perfumes that deserve better: well, probably you ARE all quite right about numbered scents, even if in the case of my two favourite numbered scents I’m actually quite happy with how things are. Comme des Garcons 2 is to me such an abstract scent, that the extreme reduction in the name – it’s not even No. 2, but just 2, after all – seems only fitting. At least I feel that any more concrete name somehow would lead expectations too much in a certain direction and exclude all others. And as far as L’Artisan’s Mon Numéro 3 is concerned: since I managed to get hold of one of the last bottles that were available online, I’ve grown to like the scent to such a degree that I tend to simply forget about the 3 and regard the fragrance as truely “my number”.

    Perfume that doesn’t live up to its name: Passage d’Enfer, also by L’Artisan Parfumeur. Whatever hell might be like, I can’t imagine it’s that bland! So the scent seems to completely miss the point of the name – unless it actually wants to convey the message that the real hell doesn’t so much consist in heat, fire, darkness or any other extreme condition but rather in utter boredom. So maybe in reality this, too, is a scent about the history of scent, i. e. a prophetic commentary on where the fragrance industry would end up in the 2010s.

  14. Michael says:

    I must admit to not being hugely concerned about the names of fragrances. As long as they smell good then I am happy. The only exceptions are those that have generic names, how can these be remembered? 1A-33 by J.F. Schwarzlose for example….

  15. Great Monday question and fantastic responses, comments. The names of perfumes, the descriptions of the differences between the hopes of the designers and the realities of the users provide a rich vocabulary. Thanks to all!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you very much, flahertylandscapes. Names are important in the end, they are the gateway into a perfume and if it is a misfit it does have negative impact, consciously or not.

  16. anon says:

    Orange Sanguine, Jour Ensoilleile, Reglisse Noir, Heaven (all some of my favorites)
    Congrats on your almost four year anniversary and two shy of the 4k mark for subscribers!

  17. Zivile says:

    The most romantic name for a perfume is, in my opinion, Dans Tes Bras by Frederic Malle. If only the perfume were that good as the name is. Or maybe it is just not for me…

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