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Q&A: The Sniff Test

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Perfumes are like wines: They get described with abstract adjectives; they can be sophisticated or daring; and what you choose to wear can say a lot about your personality.

Cue spoke with Malvika Malhotra, whose parents just opened Perfume Paradise in Short Pump Town Center, to get some fragrance advice.



Cue: When a customer is talking to a perfume specialist, what kind of special vocabulary does it help to be aware of?

Malhotra: Men's cologne is almost always simply eau de toilette (or cologne). However, many men's colognes come in an aftershave, which is less potent and has less alcohol. Not all men use aftershave as, well, aftershave. Some men wear it as cologne because they enjoy the milder version of their desired scent. This is a neat little trick.

As for women's perfumes — they vary ranging from most concentrated (and most expensive) to the least concentrated (and relatively less expensive): parfum, eau de parfum, eau de toilette and sans alcohol.

Fragrances come in families, including floral (the essence of the scent is modeled after one or more flowers); leather (the essence of the scent is modeled after certain woods, honey and tobacco); woody (the essence of the scent is modeled after pleasant wood smells, typically sandalwood or cedar); and citrus (the essence of the scent is modeled after a wide variety of citrus scents).



What new fragrance trends have you noticed recently?

One interesting fragrance trend, marked by the release of Jean Paul Gautier's Gautier 2,

is a return to unisex fragrances. This fragrance is mild, but not feminine. Fragrances with green tea notes are also somewhat popular now.



How should a perfumes be applied to show them off at their best?

The one way that people do go wrong is by applying way too much. You really do not need more than two or three spritzes of a quality fragrance for your entire body. Fragrances are meant to enhance your own scent. People commonly apply perfumes and colognes to their wrists, their neck and behind their earlobes.



What do you wear?

I like relatively simple scents that aren't too bold and are more crisp or airy or sweet. I wear Hanae Mori, Roberto Cavalli, Marc Jacobs, Angel by Thierry Mugler, Omnia by Bvlgari, Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana.

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