Puckrik on Perfume

Katie Puckrik ON Apr 02, 2010 AT 9:30 am

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

By Katie Puckrik.

This week Katie Puckrik deals with a more practical reader requests; can you layer perfumes and if so how?!


What gives you the idea to try two fragrances together? Do they have a common note and the rest differs? Or do you just have an idea that they would be compatible? Ever have any that you thought would be great and turned out to be a bad idea?


SoS – I really don’t multi-stack perfumes that often (though when I’m evaluating a bunch at once, that is often an unintentional, and usually horrible, combining exercise). My general feeling is that wearing more than one perfume at a time is like sloshing two wines into the same glass: likely to give you a headache and make you unpopular with your friends.

But when perfume blending does work, it is, as you surmise, a matter of matching a note with one in another perfume. Or matchmaking accords that have a natural affinity with each other, like rose and incense, or saffron and vanilla, or citrus and leather – which you figure out through another great combination: trial and error.

In the case of my wearing Comme des Garçons Avignon and L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia together, it was an adaptation of advice given by a L’Artisan Parfumeur sales assistant advocating the twinning of Vanilia and another incense, Passage d’Enfer. The SA had obviously pegged me as a two-for-one patsy, but whatever, I bought the Vanilia along with the Passage d’Enfer. Then I realized I kind of hated Passage d’Enfer, which caused me to pass through the 5 Stages of Bad Perfume Grief. Let us now review these essential steps for healing:

    The 5 Stages of Bad Perfume Grief

    1. Outraged Anger
    2. Disgusted (at self for buying it) Anger
    3. Disgusted (at whoever made this crap) Anger
    4. Angry Anger
    5. Angry, Angry Acceptance

Angrily accepting, I re-applied the vanilla+incense formula to Avignon, and it worked even better. Avignon has a slight vanilla undercurrent that links it to Vanilia, and Vanilia has an ashiness that compliments Avignon’s eye-smarting frankincense. And Vanilia’s playfulness lightened up the cerebral Avignon.

In the “random brain wave” category, I was once in the thick of enjoying Le Labo Labdanum 18’s powdery-musk-meets-long-distance-zoo, when it occurred to me that L18 might work alongside the flowers’n’barnyard of Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles. A dab or two later, I proved myself correct, though others might protest its ice cream shop-style overkill (like the time I ordered scoops of praline, dolce de leche, and toffee ice cream smothered in caramel sauce, also known as “too much of a good thing”).

I’ve also had the “Hey, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!” experience of enjoying accidental juxtapositions of fumes. I recently hit upon the delight of Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose layered with Miller Harris Fleur Oriental. The former freshens up the later, giving it a bit of lift, emphasizing the “fleur” and putting some jut in its strut.

No “mad scientist” failures so far, but at this rate, there’s bound to be some olfactory car crashes in my future.


For more of Katie’s fragrance rants and rambles, visit KatiePuckrikSmells at: www.katiepuckriksmells.com

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