Wednesday 26 June 2019

Adjectival perfumes: the Very Irresistible game of thinking up new (silly!) fragrance names...

The other day I had a much needed haircut, and my hairdresser happened to mention that she had received a bottle of Givenchy's Very Irr├ęsistible (sorry, I prefer it without the accent) from her husband for her birthday. She went on to say that she tries to hoover up any bottles she sees as it is her favourite scent and has been discontinued. I took a look on the Internet just now to confirm that this is in fact the case, and stumbled upon a thread on Basenotes where people were speculating on the reason why the fragrance got the chop. Some wag had written: 'Because it was resistible.' Well, I can't comment on the appeal or otherwise of this particular perfume, as I haven't tried it, but hearing the name again reminded me of an amusing conversation with Andy, the bass player in The Monochrome Set when we were on tour one time. With his deadpan tone belied by a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he remarked that the concept of using adjectives as fragrance names had a lot of untapped potential, instantly illustrating his point with the corker, 'Incorrigible'. He also thought of 'Remorse', the application scenarios for which had my imagination running riot, though 'Remorse' is of course technically a whole other noun naming route...

When I tried thinking of all the other well-known fragrance names based on adjectives, I could only come up with Schiaparelli Shocking and SJP Lovely, though there are many more of them, I know!

So I decided to take up Andy's baton and turned my mind instead to thinking up a few more adjectival names myself, that in some way capture the scent in question, even if they are most unlikely to get through the focus group stage(!).

INELUCTABLE: another name for Very Irresistible if it ever stages a come back.

INDIGENT: for a budget perfume that aspires to punch above its price tag with an obscurely impactful name.

BOMBASTIC: so many big production 'kitchen sink' fragrances deserve this epithet - let's call a spade a spade at last!

ETIOLATED: a descriptor that doesn't get out much and evokes a whole swathe of pale and uninteresting, insipid scents.

AVUNCULAR: for the next one of those 'in the library' pipe smoke and leather-type frags?

REBARBATIVE: one of those Marmite / controversial / Emperor's new clothes perfumes that people admire for their avant-garde smell of photocopier toner or whatever, but which are frankly repellent.

Come to think of it, 'Repellent' might be another contender for a citronella-forward fragrance. ;)

REGURGITATED: perfect for a tiresome flanker? OR for a rich oriental featuring a generous lump of ambergris.

PERVASIVE: similar to the above, but with the added nuance of strong sillage. (Very similar in style to 'INSIDIOUS' and 'TENACIOUS'.)

RISIBLE: a good all-rounder of a name that is perfectly in tune with the olfactory Zeitgeist.

MORDANT: one of those spiky, galbanum-heavy compositions with a bonus Hogwarts vibe.

INVIDIOUS: this one manages to be full of vim, verve, and chutzpah, while actually meaning 'obnoxious'. (Not to be confused with 'INSIDIOUS' above.)

HUBRISTIC: one for the high end 'fur coat and no knicker' niche set (embellished with Swarowski crystals, why don't we?)

EQUANIMOUS: calm, composed, like the urbane metrosexual for whom it is intended.

MIASMIC: not a criticism of J-Lo's Miami Glow, which is quite a nice beachy scent, apparently.

So please now hit me up with reminders of existing adjectival perfumes, or some more suggestions of promising names!


Anonymous said...

You've brightened up my day! I wouldn't mind betting some marketing whizz kid could pick up on some of those, thinking they are the perfect "ironic" name for the latest bland juice.

The first two real perfumes that sprang into my brain are Poison and Happy - opposites in every way?


Tara said...

Fantastic post, V!
I rather like the sound of MORDANT but REGURGITATED for those flankers is inspired.
I do remember being baffled at Sean John/Puff Daddy bringing out a fragrance years ago called Unforgivable. Just weird and indeed, unforgivable.
Oh how about UBIQUITOUS for a candy floss gourmand? Haha

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

You might well care for a Mordant, done well - one of those tart retro chypres springs to mind. Unforgivable - excellent example. I do remember it now, though I haven't smelt it. And that has triggered a recall of Gucci Guilty. ;) I knew there were loads more.

Ubiquitous - nice one. I did consider the word but then couldn't think of what to apply it to, so had to let it go, but 'candy floss gourmand' is perfect, thank you! La Vie est Belle now you have come up with a rationale.

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Haha, I do think the time for irony may be due! could I forget that one. Apparently there is a a YSL scent called 'Young Sexy Lovely' which is a three in one hit.

We'd have to adapt Poison to Poisonous, strictly speaking - ooh, you have just made 'Miasmic' pop into my head!

Vanessa said...

There, I have added Miasmic to the list, thank you. ;)

Tara said...

Guilty! Of course. There must be lots more.
There is something inherently funny about these adjective perfume names. They just sound like they are taking themselves far too seriously, as if they are taking about themselves in the third person. Fun subject.

Vanessa said...

Oh yes, I bet we will think of more by and by. I quite agree that the adjectival route is a bit too earnest and keen to make a statement - veering to Bombastic even, which we have on the list!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, V!

Two more real names spring to mind - Sublime and Sexual (yes, really).

Thinking about Regurgitated ... that would be ideal for a fragrance invented for felines.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and Beautiful .. I had better stop.

Vanessa said...

Very good! I do know both Sublime and Sexual - have / had a sample of the latter. What a surprising name. LOL at Regurgitated for cats...oh boy, how I can relate to that. Beautiful - ha! Any more for any more?, You are on a roll here.

Ingeborg said...

I think I would like a bottle of Mordant, please!Perfume names, they seldom seem to fit the juice these days. But then again, there's so many new releases so I guess the companies can't use as much time as before to decide on name and bottle.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ingeborg,

I am sure you are right there. In the course of writing my latest blog post, I learnt that Lentheric alone had launched 135? perfumes in its history - a lot, anyway - when I thought there were only a handful!

My fancy was particularly caught by Rampant and Ditty Fox. Lots of adjectival scents in there too! And it might be fun to weave a story around Lentheric scent names, with as few extra words as possible!