Perfumes That Work For Everyone Else But You – Mood Scent 4

You know what it’s like, you read all these rave reviews for perfumes that seem to be super popular with the cognoscenti or are venerated as classics. You go out of your way to try one with eager anticipation but after lifting your wrist to your nose you think “Nope”.

It’s a feeling of disappointment mixed with a touch of confusion as to why it didn’t work for you.

I don’t have the taste of most hardcore perfumistas so this tends to happen to me a fair bit. I’m not one for typically niche-style scents which are characteristically dark and heavy. I was gutted at the beginning of my perfume career because I wanted to be one of the cool kids and like the edgy stuff. Since then I’ve become fine with it but there are still some perfumes mismatches that stick.

So today, we – the Mood Scent 4 – are sharing those fragrances that feel as if everyone  gets them but us.


Mood scent purple


Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens

I might as well start with the big one. Feminite du Bois with its rich cedar and stewed plum, represents all those Serge Lutens perfumes that I am far too fey to carry-off. They are the ones full of warm fruit and resinous woods that must be wonderful in cooler weather and give the wearer an air of chic with a touch of edge. Sadly that will never be me. I can only wear Uncle Serge’s more transparent and non-woody compositions such as the rooty Iris Silver Mist and the rose-violet veil of La Fille de Berlin. It’s not you FdB, it’s me.

feminite du

Chanel No.5 

It was a ground-breaker when released in 1921 and manages to retain its position as the most famous perfume in the world. No.5 is synonymous with class and effortless elegance. On me it is just too soapy and well, nondescript. I have a vintage parfum from Portia to give our mutual friend, Val the Cookie Queen and I imagine that is another experience entirely. She didn’t always love it so maybe one day it will click with me too. There is always hope. Apart from anything else, who doesn’t want to own that iconic bottle?


no 5



Nahema by Guerlain

On paper this one should be perfect for me. I love Guerlain, I love rose, so why don’t I love Nahema? Each time I’ve tried it I’ve got an acidic green, metallic rose, which is not to my taste at all. I love roses which have a touch of sweetness but this is just plain sour on me. I have heard that it is one of those perfumes that is different on different people so I suspect my skin chemistry is the culprit. Shame.




Avignon by Comme des Garcons

Oh how I wanted to love the ultimate incense perfume by those proto-hipsters at CdG. I sprayed Avignon – probably too generously – on the back of my hand and inhaled. Jeez that thing was powerful. It nearly knocked me sideways. Straight-up, full-force Catholic frankincense clearly wasn’t for me. This led me to discover that I like my incense more subdued and preferably combined with another contrasting accord. The muted, woody incense of Passage d’Enfer with its waxy white lilies was the version that worked for me.




Knize Ten

Released in the 1920s and lauded as one of the best leathers of all time, Knize Ten sounded fantastic. Unfortunately it was oily, tough and scratchy on me. The good thing that came out of this less than positive experience was that once again, I found out what kind of leathers do work for me: those smoky, birch tar based leathers and softer suedes such as my holy grail Cuir de Lancôme.



This is a fun one so hop on over to my blogging partners to see which notable scents missed the mark for Megan In Sainte Maxime, L’Esperessence and I Scent You A Day.

Now it’s over to you. Which perfumes that fell flat did you expect to love because everyone else did? Let me know in the comments.




Filed under Perfume Reviews

30 responses to “Perfumes That Work For Everyone Else But You – Mood Scent 4

  1. Loved reading your choices, Tara. FdB doesn’t work for me either, nor Chanel N5. I do like woodier SL fragrances though. 😘😘 E


  2. I love this topic! 🙂
    Chanel 5 would be on my list as well (Nahema definitely not).
    I can’t understand the love for Ormonde Jayne – I don’t like anything there.


  3. Lady Jane Grey

    Hah, I could make you a mile long list of those…😖 Like there is not one from NVC I would be tempted by, detto by Tauer. And I share your indifference for Chanel No. 5…


    • Hey M,
      It wasn’t difficult to come up with the above, I have to say.
      I have trouble with so many niche brands but weirdly get on better with the indies.


  4. Agree with you on Nahema – it is like licking powdered iron girders. I think I do like FdB, oddly enough, but not Arabie, which Abigail of I Smell Therefore I Am famously described as ‘icky stewed fruit’. I don’t get Knize Ten either, or Daim Blond, or Alaia, which got universal praise on the blogs and from LT/TS. Avignon is also too much for me, as I recall, but you could try a lighter style of incense like mb03 from Biehl Parfumkunstwerke? There are tons more I could mention I am sure!


    • V, thanks for assuring me I’m not the only one who finds Nahema metallic!
      Oh yes, sadly ‘icky stewed fruit’ sums up a lot of that particular Serge Lutens oeuvre for me.
      You know, I’m so happy with Passage d’Enfer I don’t feel the need to seek out any other incenses but appreciate the tip.


  5. Maya

    I can identify with you. Early on, I thought something must be wrong with me since no matter how hard I tried there were perfumes and perfume lines that I didn’t like. Serge Lutens is one, Amouage is another. I later realized that it does not matter. Perfume is about fragrances you love and there are quite a few that I love or really like. I do tend to get very exuberant when I find a love. LOL. I notice that it’s often a perfumer’s style that resonates with me (or not). .


    • That’s really well put, Maya.
      It’s easy in the beginning to wonder why you don’t like, let alone love, something that Is held up as great. But we learn with time and I’m actually thankful that I don’t get on with most perfumes because it means I have a manageable collection and saved a far bit of cash 🙂 Good point about the perfumer’s style too. Often true for me also.


  6. Sandra

    Hi Tara, interesting subject. I unfortunately cannot wear most citrusy perfumes or anything too heavy on cedar. My asthma goes haywire. Funnily enough I love FdB and Chanel No. 5.
    Sandra xo


    • Hi Sandra,
      That is interesting because you might imagine that citrus was the category that everyone gets on with, but the asthma factor makes total sense.


  7. Oh, you reminded me that I need to get Cuir de Lancôme out.
    Many of those you mention are no goes for me too. I was especially sad about not being able to wear Nahema. It was too sour and metallic on me.

    I’m quite sad that no JC Ellena fragrance works for me. Such an amazing person and perfumer, but the cedar compound he uses, is ghastly on me, and his much loved Ambre Narguile turns to fruit stew.

    On the bottom line; still so much remains it’s all fine


    • Hi Asali,
      Yes, once you get over the initial disappointment, it’s all fine.
      I’m waiting for it to get a touch cooler here to bring out Cuir de Lancôme. I love it so much in the depths of autumn. It’s just perfection.


    • Maya

      Hi Asali. Do you and Tara know that Jean Claude Elena has just created a new perfume for Houbigant – Essence Rare. The notes – floral – sound great and no cedar is listed. Sampling time for me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. davina

    I guess perfume can be like men. Good on paper, bad in bed.

    How do you feel about other chanel fragrances? I feel the same about No 5 but love the idea of it xx


  9. Interesting that three of you have selected Chanel No 5. You’ve got some really big ones here, Tara. Pity about CDG Avignon, one of my incense favourites, which works for me. But I can understand why it doesn’t work for you. Great post!


  10. Great topic! I have a long list of perfumes that do not work for me, but the funny part is that my internal question when I came over those these days is not “why doesn’t it work for me?!” but rather “what’s wrong with them??! How can anyone think it smells good?!” – I think it speaks to the differences in our characters 🙂
    I don’t think that about all such perfumes: Chanel No 5, Shalimar or Carnal Flower have earned my respect even though I wouldn’t be able to enjoy wearing them. But FdB (and several more SL perfumes of similar type) doesn’t smell good for me. I understand that our tastes are different, and I don’t feel surprised when someone doesn’t find interesting perfume that I love, or when I think “meh” about perfume somebody/everybody else raves about. But it amazes me when it’s a polar attitude: somebody loves a scent that another person finds repulsive (I wood “look at you, Chipre Mousse,” but I don’t have it any longer 🙂 ).


    • Ha! It does illustrate how differently we see things, Undina. I’m working on being more like you over time 🙂
      You’re right though, it’s hardest when others have an option so extreme from your own. I remember finding Bois de Violette positively ghastly abd wondering what on earth people saw in it but like you, there are others I can admire even they aren’t to my taste. Carnal Flower is a grest example.


  11. Hi Tara. Great list! We are one on Chanel No 5 and with FDB it’s appealing but I don’t wear it often and would like it a lot better with more plum and stewed fruits, although I do understand the importance of it in the perfume cannon. Avignon is not my cup of tea either and I’ve never tried Knize 10 but suspect it will not be for me either.


    • Hi Megan,
      This was a really enlightening one. I think it makes us feel better to know we’re not the only ones that don’t get/can’t wear iconic perfumes.


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