SoS -- I really don't multi-stack perfumes that often (though when I'm evaluating a bunch at once, that is often an unintentional, and usually horrible, combining exercise). My general feeling is that wearing more than one perfume at a time is like sloshing two wines into the same glass: likely to give you a headache and make you unpopular with your friends.
What gives you the idea to try two fragrances together? Do they have a common note and the rest differs? Or do you just have an idea that they would be compatible? Ever have any that you thought would be great and turned out to be a bad idea?
But when perfume blending does work, it is, as you surmise, a matter of matching a note with one in another perfume. Or matchmaking accords that have a natural affinity with each other, like rose and incense, or saffron and vanilla, or citrus and leather -- which you figure out through another great combination: trial and error.
In the case of my wearing Comme des Garçons Avignon and L'Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia together, it was an adaptation of advice given by a L'Artisan Parfumeur SA advocating the twinning of Vanilia and another incense, Passage d'Enfer. The SA had obviously pegged me as a two-for-one patsy, but whatever, I bought the Vanilia along with the Passage d'Enfer. Then I realized I kind of hated Passage d'Enfer.
I passed through Angi’s 5 Stages of Bad Perfume Grief, first detailed in the comments for the Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis pen pal post. Let’s review these essential steps for healing:
The 5 Stages of Bad Perfume Grief
1. Outraged Anger
2. Disgusted (at self for buying it) Anger
3. Disgusted (at whoever made this crap) Anger
4. Angry Anger
5. Angry, Angry Acceptance
Angrily accepting, I re-applied the vanilla+incense formula to Avignon, and it worked even better. Avignon has a slight vanilla undercurrent that links it to Vanilia, and Vanilia has an ashiness that compliments Avignon’s eye-smarting frankincense. And Vanilia’s playfulness lightened up the cerebral Avignon.
In the “random brain wave” category, I was once in the thick of enjoying Le Labo Labdanum 18’s powdery-musk-meets-long-distance-zoo, when it occurred to me that L18 might work alongside the flowers’n’barnyard of Bal à Versailles. A dab or two later, I proved myself correct, though others might protest its Coldstone Creamery-style overkill (like the time I ordered scoops of praline, crème brûlée, and toffee ice cream, rolled in Heath Bar pieces and smothered in caramel sauce, also known as “too much of a good thing”).
No “mad scientist” failures so far, but fumies, I’d be interested to know if any of you have experienced olfactory car crashes -- along with scent-layering success stories!