"Hello," I said as I stood up from my folding metal chair in the church basement. "My name is Angela, and I'm a cranky perfumista." It was the weekly meeting of Cranky Perfumistas Anonymous, and around me sat a dozen or so men and women sharing my predicament: they were recovering perfume snobs. The group leader thanked me and then said, "Is there anything you'd like to share today?"
"Yes," I said, "This has been a really tough week for me. You see, I have to do a review of Lanvin Rumeur 2 Rose, a limited edition Rumeur flanker."
The group started groaning, and Doris, an ex-Chanel sales associate who quit when Chance came out, took a small tester vial from her pocket. "Doris!" the group leader said, "Are you sneaking whiffs of Cuir de Russie parfum again? You know that's not allowed during meetings. Here, we are accepting of all perfumes, even if they aren't niche, vintage, or beloved by Luca Turin." Doris slid the vial back into her pocket but I noticed that she pretended to scratch her nose while she sniffed the residue on her finger.
"Now, Angela, please go on. You were telling us that your perfume acceptance is challenged by reviewing Rumeur 2 Rose."
"Well, I did a review of Lanvin Rumeur a few weeks ago, and I really didn't like it," I said.
"No duh," said Todd, a trucker with a predilection for Hermès.
"The editor at Now Smell This asked me if I wanted to review the new flanker, and — she's really nice!" I said quickly as hisses of "Sadist!" and "Meanie!" rose here and there. "And I said I'd do it, because I need to broaden my mind about perfume and not be such a snob. After all, lots of the vintage perfumes I love today were plain old department store scents in their day."
"That's a very good reminder for all of us," the group leader said. "Why don't you tell us something about Rumeur 2 Rose."
Tracy, who has been going to Cranky Perfumistas Anonymous meetings for years and who has even had enough success to start a modest collection of Avon aftershave bottles shaped like cars, seemed interested in Rumeur 2 Rose, so I looked at her while I talked. "Rumeur 2 Rose is Rumeur's first flanker. The Lanvin public relations machine says that it is a 'crisp, luminous interpretation of the original Rumeur fragrance, tailor-made for glamorous and spontaneous women!'" Here I make an exclamation point with my fingers so everyone gets it. "It also says it's an 'irresistible, sparkling citrus cocktail' and that Rumeur 2 Rose's notes include 'citron, orange, bergamot, green notes, grapefruit, pear, rose, lily of the valley, honeysuckle, musk, and amber'." Me, all I smell is tangerine and nectarine overlaid with a milky, light, clean musk, and ending with a vague rosy note." I've been pretty controlled up until now. "I just can't believe that people would spend good money on such an insubstantial fragrance! It doesn't even last two hours on my skin!" I say in frustration.
"Angela!" the group leader said. "Take a breath. There, that's better. Now tell us what's good about Rumeur 2 Rose. Remember, we're all here for you." She gestured around the room at the group's members, many of whom were rolling their eyes or holding their noses in sympathy with me.
"Well, I like it better than the original Rumeur. It's not offensive. It doesn't give me a migraine," I say.
"It would make a great scent for a shampoo," I reply, wracking my brain trying to think of something positive.
"Anything else?" the group leader asks.
"It probably won't be on the market for long. Maybe six months? And then it will shoot straight to discounters."
The group leader looked disapprovingly at me, but I knew it was all for show. After all, on the floor next to her, her purse gaped open. And there in the bottom, next to her cell phone and a dozen or so tattered scent strips, was a bottle of Lanvin My Sin.
Lanvin Rumeur 2 Rose is available in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum.