A few days ago I ordered some samples from First in Fragrance. I have not been in contact with them before so I was curious to both get my hands on some fragrances that I am curious about – and to see how their service works. I also know that some of you are interested in starting to buy samples but a bit unsure on how exactly it works. So let’s use this process of mine as an example.

When you enter the website you search for a fragrance or brand. In my case I was looking for Keiko Mecheri. When you find fragrances that you are interested in you just click the sample box. I recommend using Fragrantica and Basenotes as additional sources for information if you are looking at fragrances that you have not tried in a store. After you have your shopping completed you fill in all the info, pay and wait.

After a few days you get a nice envelope that contains this.

Everything is really carefully and neatly packed and the samples isolated so they don’t affect the paper strips. I think it is really nice that you get a generous amount of these!! My sample kit consists of two Keiko Mecheri fragrances and two Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561. The Keiko Mecheri I have tried in a store (love Musc) and the Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 I have only read about.

So this is basically how it can work. My impression of First of Fragrance is that everything went very fast and smoothly so I feel that I can recommend them to you. If you are interested in sample from only one specific brand I suggest however that you contact them or look at their website as there are often very nice sample kits. 

This has been an interesting week. Las weekend Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter had an article in the Sunday paper about perfume. I am really honored that I was chosen as one of the persons that they interviewed. The appearance has led to e-mails from people in different countries with various great and interesting questions. Some of the topics that I have had the pleasure of discussing via e-mail in these last days are vintage perfumes, samples, where to buy perfume online, should you wear perfume everyday, is it ok to wear perfume in a restaurant, how to support a child’s interest in scents… Well, you get the picture. Amazing topics and I feel privileged to be the person asked for advice. I have kept all these thoughts in an Inspiration File for future articles, posts etc. But I thought I would adress one of the topics here as it might help you accelerate your perfume curiosity.

As followers of this blog know I am a strong opponent to hasty stressful perfume shopping and to shops that sell perfume in such a way. A new perfume is an intimate acquaintance and deserves a more sublime process. It takes a few hours to discover the character of a perfume – even if it indeed IS a perfect match. So, I am pro samples and pro perfume shops that understand when a client comes the third time in a week and wants to try the same perfume. And so on. I think samples are great. Yes, it is not always optimal for every perfume (more about this in a later post!) but generally they are a great tool. A sample allows you to try a perfume for a few days, and it is less of a decision and expense than a full bottle so it becomes easy and fun to try more new fragrances. Perhaps you have identified a note that you love – say vanilla or vetiver. These two come in so many different varieties and are used in completely different ways. Samples allow you to discover the spectra of your favorite note which will teach you more about it – and help you find The Right One For You.

A lot of samples also circulate around me as I sometimes help people find a new perfume. This is one of my favorite things to do, it is so much fun and leads to SUCH great conversations. When I have an idea of what would work and what this specific person is looking for in terms of notes or character and the needs (for example if it is a signature scent or a perfume wardrobe) I will usually give them a couple of samples to try out for a while before making a decision. (Remember – perfumes need skin. Just the perfume is only half the story).

The obvious question then is: where to get samples? One way is to ask at the perfume shop. Sometimes they will have the sample you want and sometimes not. Not all perfume houses provide samples. Some shops are reluctant to hand them out it seems and this is a bit of a sad attitude problem – if that is the case find another shop. However, and this is important: the perfume in a sample that is given for free has been produced with as much care and investment as the perfume in the bottle. So treat your perfume samples with respect. The other way to get samples of fragrances that is becoming increasingly common, is to buy them from the perfume houses through their web shops. Sometimes they offer miniatures of separate scents and sometimes a kit with a selection of scents. This is a great and affordable way to try a new fragrance, or to get to know a perfume house better. The third alternative is to go through one of the companies/websites that are specialized in samples. Examples of these are The Perfumed Court, First in Fragrance and The Posh Peasant. These three are the ones that I have heard most about but if you know of other similar websites please share! It seems to be that there are more options in the US than in Europe so it would be fun to see this develop globally as shipping makes even limited shopping slightly more expensive. I love these websites and I think it is great that small amounts of perfume are becoming accessible as a commodity. The range of brands and products is very impressive which allows you to choose your own little collections of samples around a theme, for example a nose, a note, a brand. It is also a super-smart risk-free way to introduce someone else to a fragrance that you think they might like. Last night I browsed First in Fragrance to find a musc scent that I think a friend of mine would like, and created a little kit of Keiko Mecheri fragrances for myself as I am curious about this brand but have not yet identified my match in their range. This is a great way to end a Friday night for a perfume nerd like me!

Long post this one… But hoping its helpful! 🙂 Happy hunting! 

Despite there being a huge global online perfume community I have seen very few examples of perfume houses that really excel in social media. A few web sites have tests where you can get help in finding your fragrance type, some web sites are extremely well-designed (favorite: Le Labo), some are strikingly generous and informative (for example Mandy Aftel). But social media – general impression is that there is much work to do. The most interesting communication is created by the perfumistas rather than the perfumers, is my impression. If you have examples that contradict this statement – please share!

My favorite right now web-wise is By Kilian as this perfume house creates nice links between information, shop, customer care and exclusivity. Everything is also very well-designed and has a tonality that fits the feeling of the fragrances. By Kilian has a facebook-page that actually does stay active and a part of is it the Kilian Club which gives you access to aming others things – samples delivered straight to your home. A couple of months ago I received a very elegant whole kit of samples and it really felt like getting a treasure.

So today I would really like to compliment By Kilian on their way of staying in touch with fans and also their generosity. Really really nice.

I LOVE this idea.

The Perfumed Court offers samples of more perfumes than you can imagine. Well-known ones, vintage, rare editions… Perfume is taken carefully from the original bottle and put in a smaller sterile glass bottle that you can order. This way you can discover all the notes and fragrances you were curious about without spending a fortune – or making choices before you actually made them.

Love it.