Fake Spotting Vera Wang Princess

With the huge popularity of Princess, I’ve been finding more and more fakes of it cropping up on eBay. It wasn’t until a bunch of them kept showing up in my eBay “recommended” section that I finally decided to do a fake spotting for it–more out of annoyance than anything else seeing as I thought Princess was a bit of an uninspired mess. But just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean plenty of other fragrance fans do. So here’s what to look out for if you’re aiming to buy Vera Wang Princess off of eBay.

Please keep in mind I am only focusing on the original Vera Wang Princess. This fragrance has a hoard of flankers, including “Flower Princess” which is largely packaged the same except with a silver cap and the juice appears more pink. So if you see varying styles of Princess, they aren’t necessarily fakes so much as they are official flankers.

First, the authentic bottle and box:

Authentic Princess

Authentic Princess

A few things to pay attention to. Notice the very bottom of the inner chamber of the bottle dips into a deep channel so that the inner chamber closely resembles a heart. The crown should fit nicely over the sprayer nozzle so that you can push the crown down all the way and the sprayer will be barely noticeable. Also take note of the detailing between the gems in the crown and the gems are the same color in the crown as well as the ring that sits under the crown. The upside hearts and the faceted style of the outer glass on the bottle should also be noted. Now, here’s a fake:

Fake Princess 1

Fake Princess 1

Here’s a pretty easy one to start us off. First of all, the branding appears to have been put on by marker (more likely just a very poor quality ink) because several of the letters are smudged. Princess is also printed very poorly and the typeface was so smudged and poorly applied that it looks like someone even used a counterfeit typeface. The facets on the bottle are absent and the crown is completely wrong. For one thing, the detailing I mentioned above between the gems? They’re here on this bottle, but they’re very faint and not at all deeply imprinted as they should be. The clean cut upside down hearts on the authentic bottle are also poorly mimicked here with wobbly hearts.

Fake Princess 2

Fake Princess 2

Here’s an example of a fake Princess box. Notice how the cellophane isn’t as tight around the box as it should be. Also note how dirty it appears to be on the inside and the printing errors on the box itself. The golden lines around “Vera Wang Princess” are thin and appear rubbed off in some places. The words “eau de toilette spray” are set too close to the graphic and the ink looks dull and discolored.

Princess ?

Princess ?

This is either a fake bottle or just VERY poorly photographed. If it is fake, you can tell because the bottle looks squat, as if it was was squished down from its actual height. You can also tell because the text is set way too close to the top of the bottle and appears to be shifted too far to the right. Also the detailing between the gems appears to be off-centered. It is still a really bad photo. In either case, I wouldn’t buy it.


Princess ?

Princess ?

While most of the elements appear to be in the right place, something about the condition of this box and the cellophane wrapping bothers me to no end. Notice that the cellophane appears to be lifted off or otherwise poorly applied. The box is also dirty on the inside. Makes me suspicious that this was opened before and may have been tampered with. Whatever the case, it’s a good idea not to purchase a bottle of perfume unless the seller can provide photographs of the actual bottle. This is why I would never buy “New in Box” perfume. I either see the bottle or no deal. This is because it’s harder to fake a bottle than it is to fake a box.

And there you have it, fake Vera Wang Princess perfume. It’s all over eBay and other auction sites. Be careful out there.

The Story of Fragrances

Here’s a decently-sized video for a Monday morning. It’s a basic guide to fragrance that features some perfumers who talk about how their careers got started and how perfumes approach creating a fragrance. There’s also some mention related to the materials used in perfume, the regulations and restrictions of scent components.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atT51oBrbwg&w=560&h=315]

Love them, hate them, agree with them, disagree with them, or indifferent to them, I personally liked seeing the glimpses into scent labs.

I Missed Your Birthday, Flora

I’ve been seeing a lot of people ask how long their perfume will be good for before they throw it into the trash. Then I see people telling them that the shelf life of perfume is two years and after that, into the bin it should go. It was a little strange to see such a set date and time for the expiration of something like a fragrance, but maybe that’s because I’m sitting on a big pile of perfume samples with some having vintages going back to the 1920s. And believe me, they still smell pretty good.

So I did some digging–okay, I mostly picked up a box of Gucci Flora and turned it over. There it was; 36M or three years. Not the two year mark I was looking for but close enough. Oddly, I apparently picked up the only box I had with an expiration date on it first. Everything else was lacking in that little symbol that conveyed the message that when my bottle hit three years old, I should promptly huck it into the trash with some varying level of fear and disdain.

Gucci Flora Ad

Chances are, I’ll probably still be using it five or more years down the road if it’s still good.

There are quite a few things I absolutely agree should have expiry dates to warn people before their products go bad. And while I can’t say much against all expiry dates, I do feel like calling into question the practicality of expiry dates on perfume.

In the first place, the expiration dates aren’t very reliable. At least, they haven’t been in my experience. I have a collection of perfume–like anyone else obsessed with fragrances would–most of them are anywhere from two to fifty years old and all of them are doing just fine. I can count the amount of times I had to throw out an old bottle on one hand–two fingers to be exact. Now we all know the dangers of anecdotal evidence, but I just can’t see the point of throwing out perfume because a date had passed because I’ve yet to experience a need to.

Some argue that perfume expiration dates are needlessly scaring people into thinking their perfume is only good to a certain amount of time before they have to throw it away and buy another (probably expensive) bottle. Others argue that the expiration dates can’t be verified because no one knows how long the perfume has been sitting on the shelf. Both good points and points I agree with. On the other hand, people are saying that perfume is a cosmetic and using expired product could harm or irritate your skin. And some people have had perfume expire on or before the expiration date on it.

This isn’t an issue that’s going to be decided on a blog calling itself “That Smell”, but it did make me curious. Mostly about figuring out the exact age of my bottles. And what do you know? There is actually a way!

The Cosmetics Calculator is a neat little tool that can usually give you a date of when your product was made. I’m not sure as to how accurate it is, and I use it as a good to know type of thing. I was also just excited that parsing those lot codes could so easy.

Here’s how you use the calculator: Grab your bottle of perfume, it probably has to be a major brand because only a limited number of brands are supported by that particular calculator. The calculator has a list of brands it supports too. Find the lot code, it’s often either on the box, on the bottle, or on both. Look under the bottle and box for the code it’s often in one of those two places. You’re looking for a four to five character code. Once you find your code, plug the code into the calculator, select the brand of your perfume, and you should be good to go.

Thankfully, Gucci was supported. So I put in my lot number and my perfume was apparently manufactured on April 28, 2009. So it’s been more than three years.

Oh well. I just sprayed myself down with some Gucci Flora about three times just now. And it smells great!

Clearly my “ancient” bottle of Flora did not go bad at the magical three year mark. See, perfume is one of those things that’s hard for me to to justify throwing away simply because it’s old. Maybe I just have a hard time of it because I have a collection of “old” perfume from the 90s that smells awesome and that I wear sometimes. Maybe it’s because I’ve associated people or memories to those old perfume bottles and those old scents and I can’t imagine throwing those away. Or maybe it’s because I’ve never had a perfume that was properly kept suddenly go bad on me yet.

Whatever it is that makes me keep these old scents around, I just don’t think it’s worth working myself up into a frenzy about all the old product I have. After all, I’m currently scented by an (apparently) expired bottle of perfume and I smell just fine. In the meantime, that Cosmetics Calculator is really fun to play with. Apparently, two of my perfumes were manufactured on the same day. Who knew!

Get Dad Something Besides Acqua Di Gio

Father’s Day is around the corner and I got a Dillard’s flier telling me to celebrate my dad with some fragrances. And while I wish my father shared the same love of aromas as me, he’d rather be out in the full force of nature hiking, climbing mountains, or camping. I’ve never even seen him even attempt to smell a bottle of perfume as he probably prefers mountain air over anything else. So I don’t think celebrating my dad by buying him a bottle of Acqua Di Gio will go over well for me.

Heart Mountain by Glenlarson

Heart Mountain

But, that’s my father. For some, their dads are at least a little interested in fragrances and while I understand some of the suggested selections in Dillard’s flier I have to add three of my own suggestions that won’t be too hard to find in a pinch.

Guerlain Homme Intense
I love Guerlain Homme, and when the Intense version came out I gave it a try and also liked it for its fresh initial impression and smooth interpretation of floral, woodsy rum. Great longevity and projection with a nice sophisticated masculine style.

Hermes Terre D’Hermes
Beautiful impression of spicy oranges and woods that were beautifully blended. Terre D’Hermes remains one of the nicest fragrances marketed towards men that I’ve smelled.

Chanel Egoiste
Unlike its harsher, younger brother Platinum Egoiste, Egoiste is a warm spicy woodsy fragrance that’s blended nicely to make a strong, masculine scent that will last forever–or at least a really, really long time.

Happy Father’s Day to all present and soon-to-be dads out there.

Photocredit: Heart Mountain by Glenlarson

Fake Spotting Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Here’s something a little fun for today. Let’s analyze a real bottle of Coco Mademoiselle against a fake bottle of Coco Mademoiselle. Keep in mind that we will be working from a limited pool of images and information. The purpose of this post is to get you used to seeing signs of a fake bottle, not to dissect what makes a particular bottle fake.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

These are authentic bottles of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Take the time to look at the details, pay attention to the craftsmanship, and the little elements like the logo, spacing of the characters on the label, the quality of the glass, the types of materials used, the information on the label, and so on. And if you were to go buy an item like this on eBay go out of your way to scrutinize an authentic item first to get yourself used to its details.

Real Bottles of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Real Bottles of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

I know Coco Mademoiselle is an extremely popular fragrance. Its youthful, fruity floral oriental scent has captivated the noses of a great deal of young consumers and the Chanel label only hooks them in further. So naturally, Coco Mademoiselle is prone to a tremendous amount of counterfeiting to the point where people selling old bottles that they believe to be real, aren’t. There are a lot of good dupes out there too, so it’s important that you know what to look out for. Thankfully, most of the fakes are easy to spot. Like the one we’re talking about today.

Fake Number One

Fake Coco Mademoiselle


This one didn’t take long to find. It was on the first page of eBay when I plugged “Coco Mademoiselle” into the search bar. In fact, it was being sold by three “different” sellers. Two of which had zero feedback and joined less than a day apart. The third had six feedback–all positive (feedback is not always 100% accurate, especially if a seller has very little feedback). The seller or sellers claimed one bottle was brand new in box, while the other two were slightly used. While I have said in the past that you are safer buying used than brand new in box, you are not always guaranteed to be safe. This is one instance where the seller is trying to make it look like you’re getting a mostly full bottle for a good price because 5% used of an expensive fragrance like this is nothing to cry over if you’re paying a deep discount.

This is, however, a very bad fake. Here’s where the mess falls apart:

– The first thing I noticed was the shape of the interior of the bottle. Scroll back up and look at the authentic Coco Mademoiselles. Notice how the interior vessel is shaped on the real bottles. The vessel should be a straight and perfect rectangle until it reaches the bottom where the vessel domes up. Everything on the real bottles is symmetrical. Looking at this fake, we notice there’s a clear deformity on the interior vessel, making it wavy and there’s a noticeable lack of a dramatic dome at the bottom. This particular specimen has a domed bottom, but it’s imperfect, crooked, and sloppy. This is actually one of the easiest ways to tell a fake Chanel from a real one as making a perfect replica of the real bottle and having it be perfectly symmetrical is somewhat challenging. Chanel’s interior vessels very often have a symmetrical dome at the bottom. If there is no dome, or the dome is off-centered, lumpy, or set too high then it’s probably fake.

– Second thing I noticed was the label that looks like it’s been damaged in some way. If this were truly a new bottle shipped in box, there wouldn’t be any deformities. Remember my earlier post about companies and their stringent branding practices? Chanel, of all companies, would never let a defective bottle like this see the light of day on the consumer market. Their brand is about quality and luxury. What does it say about them if they shipped a product with a scratched up label like this? They probably wouldn’t.

– The logo on the band that runs along the cap’s neck is too large and appears to be somewhat stretched vertically. On an authentic bottle of Coco Mademoiselle, there is a bit of white space above and below the logo. On the fake bottle, the logo is flushed against the gold bands. This is another easily identified foible. Many counterfeits get the tiny logo on the band wrong. Maybe it’s the inferior printing practices? Whatever it is, an imperfect logo on the band often indicates a fake.

– A minor giveaway would be the bulge in the bottle’s cap. It looks a bit thicker than it should be. Though the one image we were provided doesn’t do us any favors because of its poor lighting and quality. If this had been a less obvious counterfeit, I would ask the seller for more photos.

– The box looks a bit beat up, but it’s difficult to scrutinize it because there’s only one photo of the box and it’s being obscured by the bottle in the foreground. Another dead giveaway of a fake Chanel is the typography used on the packaging. Sometimes counterfeiters get the typography right, but the lines are a little bit too thick or too thin. A lot of times they get the typography wrong, making it obvious to a keen eye that something is amiss. This sort of scrutiny is harder to tell in seller photos, especially if the seller only has one photo of poor quality and the typography is being obscured by lighting, angles or props.

– Finally, I would like to note that this one image was used for all three listings–including the new in box listing. Every time you see one image being used to sell a luxury item–especially when three different sellers are listing the same image, be instantly suspicious.

Probably the scariest part of this was how many bids were put in for these bottles. The “Used” bottles had 7 and 10 bids. The “New” bottle had 5 bids. And this fake was very easy to spot.

If this post proves useful or anyone is interested in more Fake Spotting, I’ll do more of them in the future. In the meantime, Dino 2.0 has a very thorough dissection of a real Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and a fake one.

Know Your Branding

It might seem strange to someone looking to become a fragrance enthusiast to be told that they need to understand branding, how it works, and how branding can help them. After all, isn’t the point of perfume to enjoy the artistry of the scent and not ogle over what Chanel’s doing with their logo?

Guerlain Ad

Guerlain Ad

Well, yes, it is mostly about the juice. It should be mostly about the fragrance and the art and science behind our imperative but often overlooked sense of smell. Where branding and knowing your brands helps is when it comes time to identifying real bottles from fake bottles, and being able to recognize the big players in the field. There are some general rules when it comes to being brand aware. Don’t worry, you don’t need to study hard or spend hours staring at a bottle of perfume in order to tell 90% of the fakes out there from real stock.

Here are some quick and dirty tips to keep in mind as you try to familiarize yourself with how a perfume house might brand its products.

1. No matter mid to high end fragrance houses will always get their logo right. If you got a bottle where any of the logos looks a little too thick/thin, looks out of place, or the type doesn’t look completely legit then you need to go compare your bottle with a known authentic bottle. Perfume houses–as with any brand–are going to be strict about their brand identity and how their logo is displayed. Companies who have logos treat it very seriously. They have design documents that are sometimes hundreds of pageslong that outline what colors their logo can and cannot be, what sizes the logo can and cannot be, and what their logo can and cannot be printed on. With restrictions like those on how to use an image, no brand would (or should) ever let a defective or awkward looking logo adorn one of their authentic products.

2. Misspellings are not always factory errors. Sometimes products go out the door with old information or misspelled information. I’ve seen it sometimes on things like kitchen appliances and lighting fixtures. With more consumer products being made in foreign countries, I’ve seen more than my fair share of misspelled product manuals with barely coherent instructions. The scariest one was a misprinted warning on a plastic bag that informed me that the bag “should” be placed over a child’s head. Heck you sometimes get misprinted money, but a misspelling on a high end product like perfume would make me a bit suspicious. Especially if there’s more than one misspelled word on there. Fragrance houses, due to the perceived luxury of their product, should be keeping close eye on what their product labels say. Once again, if you’ve got a misspelling, that product needs to be checked against a known authentic bottle.

3. A company would never misspell their own name. I know how blatantly obvious this is, but there have been instances where people go on the search of answers when they have a counterfeit bottle of Channel No.5 or Gerlaine Shalimar. I know some of us just aren’t strong spellers, but before you buy something, make sure the company name is at least spelled right. Remember, this stuff can get expensive. You want to drop $100 on a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and not a bottle of Chanel Coco Madamoselle.

4. All design elements are uniform on all bottles of the same production. Yes, flankers exist and bottle redesigns happen often, so you need to do your research before you buy. If you’re buying a brand new bottle of Chanel No.5 you need to go out of your way to make sure you’ve got a really clear picture of the present production line Chanel No.5. That means making sure all of the markings are in place, all of the letters line up, and absolutely nothing is missing. Even something relatively minor like a small missing gold band around the neck of the bottle is a telltale indicator that the bottle is fake. The key here is to make sure you are up-to-date on what the bottle you’re going to buy looks like. A vintage fragrance like No.5 has had numerous updates to its look and packaging over the years, but if there’s a bottle marketed as recent release that doesn’t match any of the other recent releases on the market then be very suspicious.

There’s numerous other topics to be discussed when it comes to knowing your branding. I’d like to discuss some of the nuisances of each fragrance house and some of the (often confusing) bottle redesigns that have happened to some of our favorite fragrances over the years. But for now, keep the above four tips in mind when you’re new to fragrances and want to make sure you’re getting the real stuff.

The Difference Between EDT and EDP

Probably one of the most frequently recurring questions I hear from people not too familiar with perfumes is, “what the difference between Eau de Toilette (EDT), Eau de Parfum (EDP) and Parfum?” The answer itself might seem simple and people are quick to tell you that EDT is the less concentrated/watered down version of an EDP. The actual answer is much more complex.

While in some cases, the only difference with the Eau de Toilette version of a fragrance is that it is less concentrated than the Eau de Parfum version, it is often not the chief difference between the two. And one should never mistaken EDT as being a telltale indicator that it is an inferior version of an EDP.

I can name numerous examples where the concentration of the fragrance has very little to do with quality or concentration. Take, for example, Chanel No.5. People may be shocked to learn that the EDT and EDP versions are formulated differently. So when you smell No.5 EDT, you are getting a different scent than No.5 EDP because the ingredients are slightly changed in the two versions.

In some instances, the EDT and EDP versions of fragrances may smell different but contain the same ingredients because one ingredient was toned down, causing the entire scent to shift. For example, a fragrance that contains the notes of bergamot, rose, and sandalwood has an EDT and EDP version.

The company may choose to reduce the concentration of sandalwood in their EDT version for example. The result would be a less noticeable sandalwood scent so that someone smelling the EDT might notice the marked difference in their fragrance. And this toning down of ingredients isn’t just limited to one ingredient. Imagine a complex fragrance with hundreds of smelly molecules. Imagine if they adjusted the concentration of twenty of those. It could radically change the experience!

All this having been said and done, how are you supposed to know whether to buy an EDT or an EDP? The answer is simple. You need to smell and test them both to see which one you like more. Don’t assume immediately that a fragrance is the same, only less concentrated between the two formulations. And don’t feel like you’re getting a less desirable product because you opted for the EDT over the EDP. It is up to you, because in the end it is about what you like best.

Some Perfume Myths

Marketing frustrates me. In college, I spent a large portion of my time learning how to market a product through visual mediums. I found myself growing steadily more and more frustrated with marketing gimmicks and tactics. Perfume ads, perfume commercials, perfume aesthetics, and most of the perfume industry itself is often steeped in over-the-top gimmicks and outrageous claims. For a lark, let’s take a look at some of the myths of perfume that were somehow perpetuated and continue to exist today.

The notes list on a perfume is the ingredients list.
Probably the most common misconception about perfume is that the notes list is some sort of indicator of what you’re actually getting in a fragrance. It doesn’t help that no one comes out and tells people not to rely on it as a list of ingredients either. The notes list on a fragrance’s ad is just a list of scents that you should smell when you spray the stuff on. The actual ingredients list could be hundreds of components long and most of them might be near impossible to pronounce. Notes lists are notorious for being inaccurate and often incomplete, they list notes that aren’t even there, they use overly flowery language, and sometimes they have made up ingredients that don’t exist. If you want to refer to a notes list, use it as a guide to what you’re smelling, but don’t cite it as an ingredients list because it is not.

Perfumes that last longer are higher quality.
Not necessarily true. Perfumes that stick around forever are often composed of robust fragrant ingredients that allow them to stick around for a long time. A stick of Secret deodorant will usually give off a scent for at least 9 hours. Does that mean the fragrant ingredients in your stick of deodorant is of a higher quality than the ingredients in your Amouage perfume? Not necessarily. It just means the fragrant ingredients in the deodorant are more robust and are made to be resilient. Resilience is not always an indication of quality.

You have to wear perfume on your pulse points in order for it to work properly.
While most people like to wear their fragrances on the pulse points such as the wrists and neck, no one is stopping you from wearing perfume elsewhere and so long as the fragrance is on your skin, it won’t react too differently. Also nothing bad will happen to you if you want to dab some perfume somewhere else on your body. Provided that ‘somewhere else’ is not in your eyes, nose, mouth, or in and around any other orifice. Use your common sense, obviously.

Eau de parfum concentrations will last longer than eau de toilette concentrations.
Concentrations do not necessarily denote the longevity or the quality of the fragrance. Just because you opt for the EDP of a perfume, does not mean you will get better wear from it. EDP and EDT concentrations of a perfume with the same name can often vary in ingredients. Sometimes the fragrance houses vary the amount of certain ingredients as opposed to just using more fragrant oils. So a lot of the time, you may get an EDT that smells completely differently from an EDP of the “same perfume”. If you want higher concentration = longer lasting perfume, you will have to graduate from the EDPs and EDTs to Parfum. Even then, ingredients can vary and scents can be drastically different. The bottom line is, you cannot base a judgement on how long a fragrance will last simply by assuming that EDT will always be weaker than EDP.


Perfume Resellers

With some recent tips I’ve gotten about a certain online fragrance discounter, I decided to strip all mention of them from my blog. Just in interest of anyone reading my blog, FragranceNet at one point was a trusted perfume discounter. I used to be a customer, but have since noted their decline in quality and can no longer recommend them as a fragrance discounter to others.

Thus begins this post, how do you navigate your way through the hundreds of online fragrance discounters out there. Who’s trustworthy and who isn’t? In the case of FragranceNet, a lot of fragrance fans thought and rated them highly a few years ago. There has since been some decline in quality control and hopefully they can pull out of it as I thought their selection was excellent.

This post is more of a general tips sort of deal for buying anything online. The one tip you should always keep in mind and adhere to is to read reviews and research before you do any sort of business. Remember, these people can’t see you, sometimes they’re impossible to track down, and getting a refund isn’t as easy as walking into a store and saying you want your money back. So always, always, always:

  1. Check to make sure the online retailer has been reviewed at a credible reviewing site. I use ResellerRatings, RedFlagDeals (Canadian), and BizRate. Please keep in mind that some people may have mistakenly submitted their review before they realized their product wasn’t of acceptable quality and forgot about their review or simply cannot edit it. That is why it is important you read a healthy mix of negative and positive reviews. If I see a lot of negative reviews telling me the product they got was a fake, I get very suspicious of the vendor.
  2. Ask someone. Get yourself onto a fragrance forum like BaseNotes and ask someone to describe their experiences with the retailer. Also get their opinion of the retailer’s more recent service. A company can start off excellent and decline to unacceptable so it is important to get recent experiences.
  3. Remember that you may be more knowledgeable than some reviewers. I think a great deal of fragrance consumers cannot tell between a fake perfume and a real one. And I also think it is easier for people to accept that they were sold an old bottle than it is for them to accept that they were sold a counterfeit. So it is entirely up to you to educate yourself on what your perfume is supposed to smell like and who you want to buy it from. Perfume isn’t cheap with most fragrances running from $50-$300. I would hate for someone to spend that much money to find out they were scammed, so the best advice is and has always been to educate yourself.
  4. Always protect yourself by ensuring that you can get your money back somehow. Whether the retailer offers refunds (read these terms very carefully as they are sometimes tricky), or if you have some other way to get your money back if you receive something counterfeit. Like I said, perfume is expensive so you will want your money back in case the deal goes sour, whether that’s through the retailer’s refund policy, filing a dispute with Paypal, or getting your credit card company to help you.
  5. If you’re a hobbyist, collector or plan on doing this perfume thing for a while then keep up to date on the goings on. Fragrance forums and blogs are invaluable sources of information and news. I never would have known about what was going on with various retailers and discounters if I hadn’t been keeping up to date.

I’m sure most of you already know how to navigate the world of perfume resellers and discounters, but hopefully these tips refresh the memory or they help someone else out. Or at the very least, all the individuals who end up on this blog while searching for “is [X Company] selling fake perfume?” get an idea of where to start their investigation.