Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Houbigant Quelques Fleurs

Houbigant Quelques Fleurs

What is it with Sales Assistants who know less about fragrance than I do and yet treat me like a fragrance sheep, as if I'm in your store to buy whatever you tell me smells good (baaah). Honestly, you might be charming and cute (a charming, cute man helps), but I know what I like and I know what works on me, and I also know what does not.

Recently I was in the fragrance department of a large, upscale store with a lot of niche fragrances. I was ogling the Caron display there, since you ALL KNOW I'm dying to own my very own vat of French Cancan. I asked the overly attentive (hovering, really) SA about the Cancan. As it turns out, despite the presence right there on the counter, of a beautiful little bottle labeled "French Cancan," They don't sell the stuff.

If I hadn't been there with two children who want to try every fragrance known to man, I might have discussed with him the idiocy of this, and asked him to remove Cancan from the display since it's obviously not carried there.

If I saw a Balenciaga purse in the window of a store and walked in, only to find that they don't carry Balenciaga purses, I'd be a little miffed.

ANYWAY...then the SA says to me "If you like French Cancan, you'll LOVE Quelques Fleurs." Honestly, as hard as I try, the logic of this completely escapes me, but I say to him "I've tried Quelques Fleurs and it doesn't work on me."

He responds "Oh, but it's a new crop, and it's incredible! It will stay with you ALL DAY!" I tell him I've tried it several times in the past and, while it's great for the first 10 minutes, after that it seriously heads south.

Somehow (aforementioned charm/cute factor) he persuades me to try the new batch, and then sprays it LIBERALLY all up my entire arm. All you fragrance freaks out there know how precious skin real estate can be on a sniffing expedition, so I was annoyed, even though I didn't have much sniffing to do that day. I was also anticipating the turn and didn't want to be stuck with an armful of stink all damn day.

So, as usual, it starts off glorious. Honestly, it's a beautiful fragrance. And for 10 minutes I walk around in a CLOUD (QF is not a fragrance that should ever be sprayed THAT liberally) of beautiful floral.

Then it begins - the turning of the fragrance. Slowly but surely, I can smell it going off right there on my skin. I offer liberally sprayed arm to SA man, saying "See what I mean? It's going off, right on my skin." He says "I think it smells beautiful - and it will last all day. It's wonderful!" Humph. I wander around some more, it goes further off, I make him smell it again - I say "Can you smell it, how it smells off?" "I see what you are saying but it's obviously a beautiful fragrance, still." I go in search of a Bobbi Brown lipstick for my mom, drive the poor lipstick lady nuts trying to find the perfect color, for a woman who only wears makeup that looks like no makeup, and by then I'm fully reeking.

I walk around some more and then I bump into SA again. I say "Here, smell this. Do you see how it smells STALE? Like a 100-year old perfume. It smells like a very very old bottle of parfum that your grandmother used to wear."

He said "Yes, but a grandmother with impeccable taste."

As I walked out the door, past bottles and bottles of Quelques Fleurs, I finally figured out why he'd been trying so hard with this one. Duh. It was the push of the day/week/month. Finally it clicked - why he'd been so patient instead of saying - yeah, that really stinks on you, let's look for something else. Why he compared QF to Cancan. Why he knew QF was a "fresh crop" and didn't know if they even SOLD Cancan, although it was sitting on the counter.

I will say that I am Queen of Rationalization, and I couldn't have done such a good job with a stanky woman shoving her arm in my face all morning.

Is there a point to all this? Nah. It was just a strange encounter of the fragrance kind and I thought I'd share. And please don't let my experience with QF turn you off. This is a rare occurrence, and for some reason this fragrance simply doesn't like me. I do think it's a beautiful fragrance - you don't hang around for almost 100 years in the perfume world if you're not. Anybody who likes florals should give it a shot.

Per Bergdorf Goodman online: One of the most renowned and admired fragrances of all time, Quelques Fleurs L'Original forever changed floral fragrances when it became the first true multi-floral bouquet 90 years ago. A classic that has endured the test of time, the fragrance is wrapped in a theme of sculptured petals in a frosted and clear French glass. The true Quelques Fleurs formula has never been published. An ancient formula still kept in the family archives, this fragrance will never be duplicated. The blend of soft, sensual florals uses over 250 different raw materials and more than 15,000 flowers to create just one ounce of Quelques Fleurs eau de parfum. To this day it is still produced in Grasse, France, where Jean Francois Houbigant first created his perfumes in 1775.


Blogger PFG said...

Arrrrg! That is so annoying! I admire your commitment to prove to this fellow that the smell was not you. I could have done the same. Something happens to me in department stores. I think it is at least mediated by a lack of oxygen rich air, if not entirely caused by it. Best scenario would be me saying something bitchy before running away to wash and rant. Worst case - taking a tester of whatever was stinkiest and spraying him right in the eye with it.

ouoaa: what my 9th grade french teacher said les chiens say

4:52 PM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger PFG said...

Oh, amend second (complete) sentence to say "could NOT have done the same".

4:53 PM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger colombina said...

Was he at least real cute? :-)

10:46 PM, January 11, 2006  
Blogger cjblue said...

pfg: I'm not sure why I was more intent on showing him the bizarre turn it takes on my skin than with lambasting him for trying so hard to push me to a fragrance that I clearly don't want, and displaying but not selling a fragrance I clearly DO want, and for comparing the two. That was rather out of character for me, I'll admit. The only thing I can imagine is that I am completely mystified myself about how this fragrance turns on me and I like clarification so I don't think it's just in my head.

Colombina: He started out pretty cute, but by the time I left, he was considerably less cute, possibly due to his dimness. Dimness is not a quality I appreciate in men.

10:48 AM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Girl, I sympathize. Drives me NUTS when they do that. Quelques Fleurs is horrible on me too, BTW. I've found that I get treated a lot better at perfume counters when I bring in a picture of my collection. They can't know that you're not a naive perfume buyer unless you literally shove it in their faces (which poor you had to do, repeatedly, with your stinky arm). I usually show them my multi-part display with an air of embarrassment (legit: it IS rather embarrassing to have spent so much money on perfume), like, "Yeah, I'm a bit obsessed," but it works beautifully. They take me straight to the newest scents, most of which I've already tried, but still, at least we get to bypass that unfortunate, repeated exchange: "Have you tried..."--"YES, I've tried EVERYTHING IN YOUR STORE except anything you've gotten in stock in THE PAST WEEK."

1:05 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Trina said...

Ruthie, 3 words: five fingered discount. You earned it.

1:09 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger cjblue said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:18 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger cjblue said...

WW: That is a brilliant idea. My collection is not anything like yours, but it should at least let them know that I am not a sheep.


Trina - even for FREE I don't want the stuff. Unless, of course, you mean the little jewel-like bottle of French CanCan which has probably been sitting there son long it's nasty, if it's not just colored water in the first place.

1:20 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger Trina said...

The CanCan, of course!

8:42 AM, January 13, 2006  
Blogger WriterChick said...

The body of an Upscale Fragrance Counter associate was discovered earlier yesterday...the initial cause of death is unknown; when the body was discovered, a bottle of Quelques Fleurs perfume was lodged in the man's throat. He did not appear to have been physically suffocated. It was later discovered by the coroner that the cause of death was a horrible case of impeccable taste.

3:10 PM, January 13, 2006  
Blogger risa said...

what an immense PITA! the moment i got to "liberally sprayed up my arm" i would have given him a scolding that would've made his MOTHER'S ears burn! no class to that SA, so i don't know how you managed to be so patient with him. kudos to you for not blowing your stack.

4:13 PM, January 16, 2006  
Blogger katiedid said...

I don't know how you kept your cool. I would have gotten so pissy about it, and I'm not easily provoked to get pissy usually. Weird sales tactic the guy had - isn't the whole gist of being a good salesman that you try to sell the customer what they want? Maybe I just answered my own question there - bad, bad salesman.

7:33 PM, January 17, 2006  

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