{Perfume Q & A} with Raffy Dolbakian of Parfums Raffy: Tastes of Summer - 2007 Bestseller Summery Fragrances

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Raffy Dolbakian is the owner of Parfums Raffy, which is both a brick-and-mortar perfume boutique located in Sherman Oaks, California, and a discount online store. His careful selection includes both meaningful design and niche fragrances, including for the latter the full ranges of (discontinued) Crown Perfumery fragrances, Creed, Montale, and Amouage perfumes.

In French, a "parfumeur" can mean both a "nose" and a perfume store owner and in this case Dolbakian happens to be both as he was formally trained in the art of perfumery. He composes fragrances that can be custom-ordered. He is also the perfume expert on the MTV reality show, "My Super Sweet 16". This summer, there was one clear favorite for both women and men, Creed Virgin Island Water, which made the tops of both top-ten lists at Parfums Raffy......

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As we have come to experience the dog days of summer (but maybe not in  your area) what have been so far the bestsellers of this 2007 summer season?

- Since we're located in Southern California our summers can be uncomfortably warm at times. This summer as always our local customers preferred fresher fragrances. Our list of top sellers were:
For Women:
1. Creed Virgin Island Water
2. Amouage Reflection Woman
3. Vertigo by Beauty License Unlimited
4. Montale Chypre Fruite
5. Carriere by Gendarme
6. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue
7. Creed Love in White
8. Amouage Dia Woman
9. Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely
10. Creed Fleurissimo
For Men:
1. Creed Virgin Island Water
2. Gendarme SKY
3. Montale Soleil de Capri
4. Amouage Reflection Man
5. Creed Green Irish Tweed
6. Gendarme (classic)
7. Duc de Vervins
8. Acqua di Selva (older fragrance that still has a large following among our customers)
9. Montale Aromatic Lime
10. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue for men

Any perfumes or products that you regret customers have not paid enough attention to, although they would be great to wear or use now?

- The entire Montale line is the most underrated fragrance line in my opinion. It's one of our top sellers at our retail location in Sherman Oaks because customers can try the fragrances while visiting. But since it is not advertised there are a lot of fragrance aficionados out there who have never been introduced to the line and it's a shame. Montale fragrances are made using the finest perfumery oils in the world by the very talented perfumer Pierre Montale. He's infused Asian and European techniques and fragrance notes quite successfully. This summer Montale's Chypre Fruite was a big hit among women and Soleil de Capri was the most popular among the men's fragrances.

Apart from the fragrances that you sell yourself, any others (such as classics, foreign fragrances, hard-to-find perfumes) that you can recommend for our readers to seek out?

-There are classic fragrances that have been reformulated and reintroduced to the market. The new versions are subdued and lack the complexity and depth of the older formulas. Part of the reason for the change is due to the fragrance industry self regulating it's use of certain aroma chemicals which were widely used in the past but are questioned for safety now. These fragrances include scents from several fragrance families but predominantly the classic amber oriental group. Some may remember the rich sweet oriental ambers of the past which were so rich in depth that they smelled luxurious. The aroma chemicals that gave these fragrances the depth are no longer used. I'm reluctant on naming individual fragrances because the manufacturers would not be pleased and we sell several of the new versions. I'm not recommending using these older fragrances on a regular basis but I wouldn't expect it to cause any harm if applied a few times a year.
Of the discontinued and hard to find fragrances I would recommend Venezia by Laura Biagiotti, a sensual floral oriental that was discontinued a few years ago.

For the non-snobs: what is the cheapest perfume that you could suggest, from your store, that is still great quality and appropriate for the summer (if the conventional seasonal divide makes any sense to you)?

-Incanto by Salvatore Ferragamo. Incanto is a floral and woody fragrance with hints of sun-repined fruit. Top Notes: Velvet Peach, Plum, Jamaican Pepper. Middle Notes: Jasmine, Peony, Ambrette Seeds, Red Lily 'oriental Martagon'. The Base Note: Amber, Sandalwood, White Musk.

The description makes it sound more woody that it really is. It's a fresh somewhat sparkling fragrance.

We're offering the 1.0 oz. spray for $13.95 (Retail $46.00).

For people with exclusive tastes: what is the most expensive perfume that you carry in your store that you recommend as a must for this summer?

-Although summer fragrances are not among the most expensive I would recommend Creed's Virgin Island Water. Every time you take a spritz it will take you away to your own tropical paradise.

Do you have any celebrity tips that you can share with us? Who bought
what this summer? Alternatively, could you share any fragrance tips with us?

I wish I could share this with you as I've learned so much about certain celebrities just based on the fragrances they wear but I must respect their privacy on this issue. So I'll answer your question regarding summer fragrance tips.
The last thing we need in scorching summer sun and humidity is a fragrance that will accentuate the heat and make us nauseous. That's why I would recommend "cooling" fragrances to help balance one's personal environment. Among my favorite summertime fragrances are "blue-green" fragrances such as this summer's new introduction of Gendarme SKY. It's a fresh uplifting fragrance with an energizing "green" note to it. You're at the beach and the golf course at the same time. Although we've listed it as a men's fragrance I would call it a unisex fragrance as half of our customers that have purchased it are women who just love the unique freshness of the scent.
For those who cannot wear any fragrance in the summer I would recommend a lightly fragranced body lotion, cream or powder. Another tip would be to apply fragrance to the back of the knees. Since fragrance rises there will be a soft lingering scent as you walk by but it will not overwhelm you like it would if you applied it on your neck or wrists.

For more shopping ideas and some great bargains, you can visit Parfums Raffy.  

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4 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. VIW is superb. Its light yet with substantial latent depth with the most perfectly integrated and balanced coconut in a fragrance. Creed do wonders with citrus and light notes..perhaps this might convince Scented Salamander to review atleast *one* Creed fragrance (its baffling that a classic house like Creed has no presence or respect at this site ).

  2. Hello,

    I both heartily agree with you - we should fully review at least *one* Creed fragrance and more than one for that matter, but respectfully disagree with you too. The lack of full representation of Creed on this site is not due to a lack of respect for this house, which is one of our very favorite ones, but because the blog is not a systematic endeavor, unlike a book. But perhaps, I should change my mind about that. We have mentioned their perfumes several times on the site.

    Another reader recently commented about this oversight too and said she hoped to hear my opinion about Love in White. I am trying to find that sample:)

    In conclusion, this is starting to sound urgent and I feel someone might set fire to the blog if I don't review a Creed fragrance, say, this week or the next at the latest (if I have to order samples)?

    Which ones are you interested in hearing about?

    Thanks for the reminders!

  3. I enjoyed your interview with Raffy and I've also been curious about the Creed fragrance line. As a serious perfumista, I'm not sure how I've missed out trying any of the Creed scents. I just looked around a bit and did find a European site where you can purchase a sample http://www.themeltco.com/acatalog/melt_sample_service.html
    I've never used them before but it's always nice to find a new place to purchase samples. I'm planning on starting my own petite fragrance blog since I've been writing perfume reviews on QVC's Beauty Boards for over two years now. Unfortunately, I don't have any Creed scents or I'd be happy to send you one!

    I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your site. You've been a real inspiration to me and I'd be happy if I could accomplish a fraction of what you've been able to offer in the way of fragrance education. Thanks so much! Nancy

  4. Dear Nancy,

    Thank you so very much for your kind words, I really appreciate it. Regarding Creed samples, I see that some carded samples are sold on eBay, so that would be another option.


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