The Smell Test series from Women’s Wear Daily

The goal is to blind test recent launches and offer anonymous opinions. All ten judges, myself included, receive fragrances in plain lab bottles, marked only by number, smell at their leisure and offer a rating from 1 to 10.As promised, today I’ll give you a brief update on The Smell Test series from Women’s Wear Daily.  WWD is one of the leading and most influential fashion and beauty publications, and it’s commendable that the magazine offers such a feature.


Second, there has been much positive response to the feature. (If any houses have been upset by their product receiving a low score, they’ve kept quiet.) Since WWD is primarily geared toward the beauty industry and its movers, all of this is a good sign. The industry also feels that things can’t continue in the same “let’s drown them in launches” (or “let’s do another Angel/Light Blue/another best seller”) mode, and as s result the attitudes towards criticism are changing.

You can see the results and read our short comments in the links below. I will only make a few observations: First, all statements claiming that perfume is somehow too subjective to be described or reviewed critically don’t stand the test. The exercise blew this tired argument out of the water again and again.  Yes, everyone has his or her own sensitivities and preferences, but by and large, the consistency of responses has been impressive.

Third, blind smelling makes you realize that nothing matters besides the scent. Nice bottles, clever stories, and venerable brand names are only trappings. Find the scent that speaks to you and craft your own story around it.

Aerin Rose de Grasse

Serge Lutens La Religieuse

Acqua di Parma Acqua Nobile Rosa

Hermès Le Jardin de Monsieur Li

Burberry Brit Rhythm Floral for Women (it’s available to subscribers only; wait a couple of weeks for free access)

As I discovered after the results were published, Burberry’s was my favorite perfume out of all we’ve smelled so far. It has an interesting green fruity note and a beautiful floral accord. It doesn’t quite sustain the same excitement in the drydown, but overall, it’s charming and technically polished.