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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Two Favorite Sample Sets

By Marla

Every once in a while, I love a sample set. When they are well made and presented, they introduce me to a line I knew nothing about. Sometimes I say, “Meh”, and sometimes I’m blown away. Here are my criteria for good sample sets:

1. They have spray samples, not dabbers. I don’t know why, but dabbing just doesn’t work for me. I can smell a perfume much better after a good spray. Is this the same for you? Or am I not giving dabbing its due?

2. A fair number of samples. Three doesn’t cut it. If possible, I’d like the whole line, or at least, an entire series within the line. I really want to know the scope of perfumes available, and the range of the house.

3. An aesthetic presentation. Preferably beautiful, but it has to show the aesthetic values of the house. No plain wrapping and generic labels, please, unless, for some odd reason, that is the aesthetic value of the house.

4. A reasonable price. Once each sample gets about $7 or more, I don’t know why, I just get bored and leave. Exceptions to this are perfumes made from very rare or expensive materials, like natural oud, or rose otto, or fossilized hyrax poop. I’ll pay extra for that!

5. Most of the perfumes have to please me. And a few should knock me over!

So based on my highly scientific and economically sound criteria, my two favorite sample sets are from Ormonde Jayne, and Ineke. Each house does a splendid job of combining good value, good research material, and gorgeous design. Ineke’s Deluxe Sample Collection sells for $25, and that sum can be put toward a full bottle purchase, which is a great plus. The packaging is gorgeous, boxed in smokey grey with black and white lettering. Each spray sample is wrapped in washi paper and has its own little box. And Ineke’s line is very impressive, I haven’t found a dud among them (reviews to follow in 2012).

My other favorite is Ormonde Jayne’s Discovery Set, which is 12 spray samples for 44 pounds sterling. They come in a delightful black puzzle box. For both sample sets, shipping is included. And again, not a dud in the set.

What are the best sample sets you’ve tried? And what are your criteria for a good set?



Anonymous iodine said...

The excellent Parfums d'Empire sample set fulfils all your criteria: thirteen 2 ml spray vials, each elegantly hosted in a box, a good choice of scents(I like most of them and adore two)and a super convenient price: 16 euros, shipping included, in Europe.

3:16 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a must-try, and I do love Wazamba....

3:35 AM EST  
Blogger Michael said...

I can think of a few more:

Sonoma Scent Studio has a good sample set deal and they are great perfumes at a great price. I can't remember how good the packaging is though.

Histoires de Parfums - good presentation and again, good value for money.

Puredistance - only 3 perfumes in the range so far, but presentation is stunning and the quality is great in my opinion.

4:13 AM EST  
Blogger helena said...

Yes, this is an important criterion: free shipping or low cost, or, at least, "proportional" cost, shipping - not 31.50€ for international shipping as at ÉTAT LIBRE D'ORANGE...

5:14 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good picks. I remember trying the Histoires in Europe and it was a very nice presentation, and reasonably priced. Love SSS, but haven't tried the sampler.
Puredistance,those things were so pricey I didn't want to try them and fall in love!

6:31 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$40 for shipping a sample set is WAY over the top!

6:32 AM EST  
Blogger Tara said...

Totally agree with your criteria, Marla. I do buy dab samples because it's cheaper but definitely prefer spray samples, especially if I'm purchasing a set. Somehow you don't get the full effect by dabbing.

It was great when By kilian gave away spray samples of the whole L'Oeuvre Noire line via Facebook not so long ago.

Ormonde Jayne is such a good buy because there's so many wearable fragrances in the line. I don't know Ineke well but what lovely presentation!

I'm now very tempted by the Parfums d'Empire and Histoires de Parfum sample sets...

9:20 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, what is it with the spray vs. the dab? I'd love to know what's going on chemically with that. I do know that if I have a rather overpowering fragrance (aka ANGEL), a little dab will do when a spray is too much. Somehow dabbing tamps down the whole effect a couple of notches. But in sampling, I really want the whole shindig!

10:11 AM EST  
Blogger Julie said...

I agree with your criteria. One of my faves is the Lili Bermuda sampler - no sprays, just dabbers. 7 samples in a flat metal tin. 25$

12:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard nice things about those scents, and there's a shop that sells them near Miami, I'll have to give them a go when I'm down there!

12:46 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to be silly, it's hyrax urine and feces, right? Perfume ingredients are weird. I can't believe I want to smell that stuff, but have since I read about hyraceum. You've taught me so much about raw materials in your posts. Thank you.

Agreed that the OJ sample set is wonderful. The Ineke is lovely, too, but the scents were not great hits for me. I've wanted to try the more commercial TOCCA set, but I belive those are dabbers. . .and now, I want the Parfums d'Empire set. Another lemming inducing post, indeed. Be well.


2:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right, and they're calling it "Africa Stone", hee hee! I've tinctured some, and it's definitely in the "poopy-animalic" category, with a hint of mint.

3:57 PM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Andy Tauer has a lovely discovery set. I think it's 5 samples (sprays) of your choice in a charming little tin for around $30.The international shipping was either included or very reasonable. Keiko Mecheri also has a wonderful sample (sprays) program as well...choose 5 samples for $18, shipping included but only for the US and Canada.

6:07 PM EST  
Blogger janelc said...

I agree with Marla. The presentation is everything, besides the scent of the fragrances. We have a Mini Sampler for sale in our etsy shop and it is our biggest seller. What our customers always mention, besides the perfume and how they get to select which fragrances from our line are in the Sampler, is the way the Mini Sampler comes. Wrapped to prefection; like a gift!

9:09 PM EST  
Blogger eula_w said...

I think I'm gonna like the first set. Those are really excellent perfume to me. :)

women pheromones

10:28 PM EST  
Blogger Undina said...

Those two are my favorite sets as well. And I want to mention one more - Amouage set (for example, here )

1:16 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good suggestions! We're all developing a great list of sampler sets for the holidays here!

6:41 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know about your sample sets, but I do know your presentation style and it is top notch! Gorgeous packaging and a unique look.

6:42 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amouage, yes, one of my favorite houses.

6:43 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ormonde Jayne is my favourite sample kit. I don't think anyone can argue its beauty and value for money.

I would also like to draw everybody's to Divine sample set. Beautiful fragrances, great price. The only problem is you have to look hard in the site to find how to order it.

10:59 AM EST  
Blogger Isa said...

I have Histoires de Parfums sample set and it is my favorite so far. Well, I'd have to buy sample sets from other lines to compare. I have always wanted to try all Ormonde Jayne line.

11:01 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've brought up a good point. There are any number of perfume houses/indies that seem to hide their sample sets, when really, they should be highlighted, as that introduces newbies to the brand.

11:11 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Histoires does have a fun set, and the people are there to answer any questions you may have after you start sampling. I really enjoyed mine. The only reason it didn't make the list is that they were shipped in a plain, translucent plastic box that reminded me of Tupperware. The sample vials themselves very very well done, though.

11:13 AM EST  
Blogger a.k.a. Warum said...

I like your criteria for a good set, especially the first one. I also prefer to spray perfume. If I like it enough to give a full wearing, only spraying will do for me, and if I only want to try a little to see if I hate it, a dab will do but so will a modest spray on a wrist.

However, if the sample set is priced to sell, and the samples are 2 ml and up, I have no problem dabbing them to see which ones I like and then pour the winners in my own atomizer. I am thinking about the set from Histoires de Parfums. Generous dab samples at unbeatable price made me happy to use my own atomizer at the ones I wanted to!

I like the spray set to either include a whole line (or a series within a line). If the line is huge, I like to be given a choice.

Keiko Mecheri fits this bill. Her line is huge but you can get wonderful spray samples of your choice of fragrances.

Histoires de Parfums gives you a choice of fragrances, and the price is unbeatable, the shipping was included, so I did not mind decanting, as I have mentioned above.

Sonoma Scent Studio gives you a choice of fragrances and gives you a choice of a type of sample -- sprayers for the sprayers and dabbers for the dabbers.

I need to try Ormonde Jayne set one day!

12:03 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful comments! I amend my list of criteria to include a possibility of choosing your samples from the line, if the line is too big to include them all in a sample set. That way, you can hone the set down to those which you think would interest you the most. Thanks!

12:42 PM EST  
Anonymous Aparatchick said...

The PdE sample set is wonderful. That house has a really good variety of scents and their scents seem to be carefully thought out - quality over quantity.

The Ineke set is beautifully presented (really excellent presentation); unfortunately for me, I haven't found anything from that house that would compel me to purchase a full bottle.

Definitely sprayers rather than daubers for samples. I find I just can't get the full effect from a dauber.

1:24 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PdE set is now definitely on my list, and yes, their line shows both quality and variety, not a small thing these days!

6:42 PM EST  

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