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5 perfumes: Great Moments in Top Notes

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As a Now Smell This reader, you likely view top notes differently from the average perfume consumer. A perfumista like you has learned to appreciate design in fragrance and to heap scorn on the scent that snares with a few fleeting bits of flash. You are shocked and dismayed when, mere moments after the sales assistant hands over a blotter, a time-crunched husband or brand-loyal shopaholic announces: “Wrap it up!” You would like to warn this impulsive stranger. You know this purchase can only end in heartache, a heartache wreathed in a pale floral laundry musk. You are a specialist, though, and you understand your message is complicated. Perhaps you should draw a fragrance pyramid on the back of this napkin you found in your pocket, or scribble down a quick glossary? Suddenly, you are assailed by the memory of that time a friend mentioned wearing Marc Jacob Daisy — “Is that a good perfume?” — and you forgot yourself somehow and ended up giving a short lecture on strawberry doll-head accords and the volatility of certain esters.1 (“I like the bottle,” your baffled friend replied.) Okay, so you’re probably not going to make much headway here.

The flip side of our suspicion of a great top note is… well, everyone likes a great top note. Many of us fragrance fans carry about atomizers or sample vials, so we can reapply and get that glorious hit of green/citrus/spice/fruit/skank again…

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