The other day I decided to visit my nearest shop of the biggest cosmetics chain in Greece. I wanted to buy Eternity for Men for a friend who loves it. What followed is a trip to insanity. According to the chain’s latest death wish/policy most testers are kept locked and I have to ask for a SA to give me access to the bottle. This very eager, tall, blond SA came to my assistance, with her look screaming “I sell cosmetics”. She would have been pretty if it weren’t for an uncanny resemblance to ET due to the shape of her head and her pitch black, heavy, smoky eyes makeup accentuating the resemblance. This is the dialogue that followed:
SA: How can I help you?
Me: I would like to spray Eternity for Men on one arm and Eternity for Men Aqua on the other, please.
SA (reproaching look): You want us to perfume you….. We only spray bugs……!
Me (already on the edge of my tolerance threshold and showing it): You can spray whoever you want…….
SA (having caught the message and spraying Eternity for Men): This is very nice, fresh
Me: (Don’t say! After all it’s been around since 1990!!!!)
SA (spraying Eternity for Men Aqua): and this is fresher. You can tell by the colour of the bottle!!!!!
If it wasn’t for the shock of smelling the current reformulation of Eternity there is no telling how I would have reacted to the annoying , stupid, derogatory, ignorant tone of the poor girl’s approach to selling perfume and general lack of etiquette. Although Eternity is often looked upon as a generic, bad taste fragrance for teenagers I love it. It was revolutionary in concept and, more importantly, it managed to revolutionize the tastes of men on perfume. A “masculine” that was sweet, floral, clean but without fearing to make a statement. Fragrantica classifies it as an aromatic fougere and I guess this is what it technically was but it never came through as one. It was less edgy, the lavender note was sweet, the citrus was round and everything smelled like an abstract flower. The current version is undoubtedly a fougere: dry, astringent, abrasive and has that “Oh so familiar” grey, wooly, synthetic musk note apparent right from the topnotes.
Needless to say, I didn’t buy it. I announced my friend the death of an American Classic and gave him my condolences. The way the market is going colour coding of the bottles will be the most useful tool to help make perfume decisions and the Annoying, Ignorant SA will excel at selling characterless perfumes in fast-smell chains to people too hurried to stop and smell the few decent perfumes that are still around, like Loewe 7, L’Agent, Hommage and all the classics that are wilting away in waves of reformulation.
Photo from piesonearth