“The message was brutally simplistic: Don’t care about the cost,” said Clive Christian at Saks Fifth Avenue this past Saturday afternoon. He was at the department store to celebrate getting into the Guinness World Records book for his fragrance, called No. 1, the world’s most expensive perfume. Back in 1999, when he took over Britain’s Crown Perfumery, the company’s noses instructed him to disregard the sustainability of ingredients and the expense in creating the No. 1 scent. He wound up creating a perfume of Indian jasmine, mandarin, and sandalwood that costs $865 for 10ml and is favored by Katie Holmes, Elton John, the Beckhams, and assorted royalty. We doused ourselves in No. 1 and asked midtown holiday shoppers how classy we smelled.
“You smell very expensive. The right wrist is about a dollar less. Smells powdery to me. It’s probably $100 per ounce. It’s $865? Really? Only? That’s a bargain! You smell great!”
“Ew. It smells like something you would buy at CVS, like cheap deodorant. This costs $800? Perfume this expensive should adapt to your skin. It should recognize the kind of skin you have. I’d rather buy two pairs of shoes at Prada. They’re having a 50-percent-off sale.”
“It’s subtle. You don’t smell too much. It’s not, like, flowery, but, yes, I smell money. Maybe it costs $70? It costs $865? I’d buy a dog. I wouldn’t buy a really expensive dog. I’d buy a lot of dogs. Like mutts. Or a lot of clothes from Forever 21.”
“I hate perfume. You should outlaw it. Have you ever walked on or off an elevator and someone has sprayed on too much? You would never catch me wearing cologne. It’s all about subtlety. Your taste is determined by your olfactory senses. You can’t get to know a person who wears perfume; it masks what your true person is. With $865, I might buy a new coat from Saks on sale, like a Loro Piana cashmere coat.”
“I don’t wear perfume, but if I did, the most I’d spend is $120. I’d haggle the price of perfume to $15 in Chinatown. This smells kind of flowery. I’d spend that money on booze. Spiced rum? Beer?”
“Smells nice, kind of floral-y. Maybe this costs $60 for a bottle? No? Would I spend $865 on this? Absolutely not! I’d spend that on rent and utilities. If not rent, travel to Vietnam. I’d stay on a beach and do some hiking.” —Blythe Sheldon