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The New

Secretive Scent

November 13, 1986

'Tis the season to be careful how you enter a department store, lest you get sprayed with yet another new fragrance wielded by determined soldiers of the scent industry.

"And you can get a free sample at the counter!" comes the firm announcement, as you step back, dazed by clouds of Poison, or Poisson, or Obsession, or Neurosis, or whatever the fragrance of the moment happens to be called.

Now this sort of thing works very well, as anyone knows whose nostrils have encountered an elevator full of women all redolent with the same new scent. So when a major company tells stores not to spritz customers with its new fragrance, not to set up elaborate window displays--well, that's really something completely different.

"We're trying to develop a cult following," says Anne Slowey of Prescriptives (a division of Estee Lauder), which introduced a new fragrance called Calyx last week. "We don't think the Prescriptives woman wants her signature fragrance advertised--we want her to feel as if it's exclusively hers."

In contrast to the heavy promotion of fragrances lately, Prescriptives has no plans to advertise Calyx either on TV or in magazines. Instead, the company did a direct mailing to a select 6,000 women--a list compiled by calling fashionable restaurants, night clubs, art galleries and museums across the country.

Calyx costs $45 for a 1.7-oz. eau de parfum spray and is available in the Valley at Bullock's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

What does it smell like?

Well, that's rather new, too. The first thing that hits you is an almost bitter blast of grapefruit, followed by the heady aroma of mango, guava and other tropical fruits, and concluding with a bottom note of white flowers, rose and marigold, moss and wood.

"We're aiming at women who wouldn't wear a romantic, musky fragrance," says Slowey. But she doesn't expect everyone to like Calyx. "The girls who sits next to me says it smells like a fruit salad," Slowey notes. "People either love it or hate it."

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