Visiting a perfume store is almost always a fond memory. The vast assortment of colored liquids and fancy bottles simply draw in any fragrance lover to indulge in a taste of heaven. In many countries, having your parents buy your first perfume is a right of passage into adulthood. It’s a special and memorable occasion that reminds us of where we came from.
Let’s explore two different eras today, one from the past and one from the present. As a young lady goes to get her first perfume and crosses into the threshold of womanhood and the stories and feelings that she may feel behind them. This is somewhat symbolic how the perfume industry has changed and evolved, in both good and bads ways, which is based on your personal perspective. First off, we will begin with the bygone era and then move into the present. Just a random note before we begin, both of these stories are purely fictitious and are not meant to be precise.
As I sit in the back of our jet-black car, I have butterflies fluttering in my stomach. I have known about this day for a while, but what if I choose the wrong one? My mother has worn perfume for as long as I have been alive and I want to be like her, but not wear the same perfume. I want to be my own woman and still emulate her example.
We arrive at the store and my heart skips a beat. It is time to face my destiny. The golden adornment of the store makes me feel a warm sensation in my chest. It appears to be cozy and inviting as I feel my hesitancy start to wane. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Yes, I can do this, just as my mother did decades ago.
The inside of the store is even more luxurious than the outside. I feel the warmth of the heat that contrasts with my cool skin that was touched by a chilly autumn breeze. The employee working at the counter greets us with a hearty greeting and we return it to her in kind.
She motions for us to sit in some red velvet chars that look very plush. Now that my nerves have calmed down, I finally notice the walls, which are adorned with countless bottles of perfume. It makes me think of a kaleidoscope, ranging from pale yellow to dark amber and every color in between.
She selects a few of them and comes over to sit with us. We begin to test them, but I don’t feel like any of these speak to me. I want my first perfume to represent who I am. I want my mother to see that I am not the same as her, but I still want to honor her with my choice. I will admit that I am having a great time smelling all of the various perfumes. It’s quite enjoyable to explore the scents of the natural world and be able to represent that as an accessory on your very skin. The realization puts me in a deep pensive though and I forget where I am for a fe minutes, until the sales lady returns with more offerings.
She hands me one with a clear liquid inside. The smirk on her face makes me believe that she believes this is the one. As soon as the mist touches my skin, I am transported back to our garden at home. The smell of fresh flowers and green leaves grace my senses and relax me. This is the one that is calling to me. I look over to my mother and she smiles at me, seeming to be proud of my reaction. I can’t help but smile when I imagine the row of beautiful white flowers and roses. Who know that you could capture this in such a tiny bottle? It’s absolutely gorgeous and it’s touching me to my very soul.
The sales associate nods and we get up to purchase the perfume. My mother stops me and says, “Getting your very first perfume isn’t a test of how womanly you are. It’s a step in discovering yourself and the way you view the world”. I stopped and think for a minute, then I realize what she is saying. I can’t help but don a wide smile on my face as my cheeks flush. I made it out to be a big deal, but it wasn’t.
The most important thing was discovering myself and not the perfume itself. It’s not simply a path to womanhood, it is identifying what you hold dear in this world.
Now, let’s move on to the present and see how the mentality of buying your first perfume differs from the eras of the past. While some brands do still embrace the old ways that I just featured, many of them have moved on to more modern ways to reach customers in a more fast-paced society.
As we ride into the city, I browse perfume on my phone to see what I would like to try. In my head I have already decided on several cute bottles. The ads on TV make the women seem so beautiful and elegant.
Upon arrival at the mall, the store name is plastered on the door and you can hear the trendy pop music playing inside. The songs are cheerful and lift my spirits as we arrive at the fragrance counter.
Many advertisements are featured around the counter, ranging from ladies clothed in pink hoodies and chewing bubblegum to ones wearing cocktail dresses while enjoying champagne with a dark and mysteriously alluring backdrop. The air smells of peach syrup and sweet vanilla fro all of the perfumes that have been sprayed in the vicinity.
As we start using tester strips to smell the perfumes, they seem to all have the same ideology behind them. The majority of them smell like sweet food. One reminds me of marshmallows, while another one reminds me of chocolate chip cookies, and the next one harkens me back to cinnamon rum cake. How am I supposed to choose between all of these amazing smells?
The hundreds of cute pink bottles mix with the classy black and gold ones in my mind and it becomes a swirl of emotions. I decide to go with the one that I think has the bottle that I enjoy the most, since they all smell so good. I am not even sure that I will wear it very much, but it will look amazing on my dresser.
While the older way was more personal, the more modern way was faster with so many choices, possibly even too many. That doesn’t mean either way is wrong. Some people prefer speed and accessibility, while some prefer something more intimate. It’s up to the individual person, but the perfume industry has certainly changed in the last 60 years. It is certainly quite evocative of the culture change over that time as well. The industry has kept up with this, but is it better overall? There really isn’t a concrete way to discern that, but I am sure the ways we purchase perfume will become even more advanced in the future and it’s exhilarating to them about what could be in store.