You must be both stubborn and open-minded when you arrive at the shop. An air of feckless uncertainty will only invite aggression or condescension. The default setting for any sales assistant is to sell the latest thing. If you want to bypass the most recent releases and get into things that came out prior to last Tuesday, come up with a challenge for them: ask for the best one.
— Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez on how to shop for perfume, in the UK Times Online.
As long as you're in Paris, visit a few exclusive perfume boutiques with a self-described "passionate perfumista." Neela Vermeire's Perfume Paths walking tours visit boutiques such as Guerlain and Hermes; she'll help you pick out a fragrance based on your preferences and personality. "You can't choose a perfume unless you're in the right environment. It's like choosing lingerie," she says.
— From Follow Your Nose to France, a brief article in the Washington Post.
These days the most popular perfume for women is Code, by Armani. Also Juicy Couture, that is a big one. The most expensive ones now are Dolce & Gabbana, and the price has gone up and up and up. Many customers don’t understand why. We have to explain that we aren’t raising the price because we want to, but because we have to.
— From The Semisweet Smell of Success, an article about a vendor in New York City's perfume district, in the New York Times.
That was interesting about the perfume walking tours of Paris, though they were a little pricey. At the end of May I was over there for work and managed to fit in visits to 3 Guerlain stores, 3 Chanels (so I could sneakily spread out my testing…), 7 Sephoras (that was excessive as they were pretty smilar!), the Caron shop (pure serendipity!), a stockist for Mona di Orio (By Terry), and the department stores Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Bon Marche. My approach was pretty random to be truthful and with hindsight I wish I had wandered into fewer Sephoras and sought out L'Artisan, Annick Goutal, Hermes and Les Parfums de Rosine. Could anyone tell me what other perfumery HQs/flagship stores are worth a visit in Paris in case I get the chance to go back? There must be a fair few – Parfumerie Generale for example? Creed?
Neela is wonderful — she used to be a regular on the fragrance board at MakeupAlley.
I'll be no help — haven't been to Paris in ages, and never shopped for perfume there.
Put Frederic Malle on your list.
The first article is spot on. It's true that SA's will show you what's new unless you can be more specific. I do it all the time if the customers don't have any idea on what they're looking for.
Of course – doh!!
My comment above relates to forgetting Frederic Malle!