If the thought of shopping for a fragrance makes your head spin like a double shot of Shalimar, you are not alone. Buying scents can be confusing and exasperating for any number of reasons: too many choices, too-similar-smelling products on the market, too expensive, too many notes.
Perfume and cologne is such an individual thing, too. Do we dare buy for others?
If you find the fragrance frontier challenging, help just might blow into town in a floral-scented gust. He is Raymond Matts, nicknamed "the Nose," manager of Clinique's global fragrance group, the man responsible for the company's most successful fragrance introductions, including the new top-selling Simply.
His goal during in-store appearances is to demystify the fragrance-shopping experience.
"We're selling liquid emotion," said Matts, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in cosmetics and fragrance marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology. "I'm talking about the feelings and sensations you get from what you smell. It should take you someplace and remind you of something, a feeling, a sensation."
Being in touch with memories and emotions, whether shopping for yourself or another, is something you should bring to the beauty counter. Use adjectives and emotions to describe what you want in order for the salesperson to steer you in the right direction, he said.
"Are you looking for something cozy and comfortable? Something that's bright like a sunny day? Warm and rich? Are you looking for a fragrance that's classic and elegant?" he said. "It's not easy. But you have to know the person and know their tastes."
When creating the new Simply, Matts said he was inspired by his own baby boy, the pure, comforting smell of babies. "We set out to do a fragrance of comfort. Pure comfort. Easy, warm comfort -- something that envelops the body in warmth and comfort." The result is a fragrance that's a blend of creamy soy milk; Oriental amber, woods and spice; and the lush, dewy velvet of flowers. In short, the very liquid emotion Matts speaks of: "It's these simple things in life that we all walk by and we take for granted for what they are. Isn't it the most simple things in life that make us truly happy?" he said. "That's what this whole concept is about."
Matts tells customers it's not always possible to make a true connection with a fragrance with an instant spritz. It needs time to develop.
Matts encourages fragrance shoppers to be adventurous and try new things on the market. He also believes in signature scents, albeit ones with discernible character.
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