Mystique, magic, a message, wondrous, fun . . . all of that and more.
I can understand that a vast swathe of the population might see fragrance as a luxury, an exravagance or even a 'vice'. And I can also see - how can you not? - that for quite a few people it's functional - to attract the opposite sex etc. Fine - whatever.
And of course there's the posturing that comes from any 'hobby site' or place where fans of a particular art form or pastime congregate . . . my one lasts longer than yours so it must be BETTER.
What continues to bring me back to this place is the knowledge that there are still a handful of people who appreciate beauty - in any form - and are open minded enough to share their impressions and enjoy listening to others share theirs - along with insights about the composition, the inspiration and so on. It's a given, of course, that beauty is in the nose of the beholder, but that needn't exclude serious discussion about 'the process' or more technical aspects, prevailing industry trends etc. etc.
And by 'serious' I certainly don't discount a sense of humour or just plain taking the p***. It's perfume after all, not rocket surgery.
This may or may not be some of answer to the original question - I dunno - it reminds my of the story of a government delegation from a Southeast Asian country who were at an Asean meeting and when the various members adjourned for some drinks and a karaoke 'competition' this particular group were struck dumb and just sang 'for he's a jolly good fellow'. The sheer utter horror and embarassment of it all, massive loss of face, of course - made the newspapers at home, and a certain government spokesperson dropped the gem that 'it's time we got serious about this fun thing'. It'll never happen of course - the culture of the place doesn't nurture creativity or spontaneous joyful expression - it's all about following the party line and being one of the boys on the right team.
I feel the same mixture of sadness and a sort of quiet revulsion when I see the posturing and needy validation that seems to infect what could be such a laid back environment thru the same need to be 'right', to take a stand on what brand is 'best' or why X is 'better than' Y and then justify it to death - or at least until there's enough of a gang of consenters on board to 'win'. Some of the brand bashing and this vs. that stuff that goes on here is akin to olfactory soccer hooliganism, when an individual so needs to 'identify' with a bottle of perfume, or a 'position' about a fragrance or a brand, to feel his self-esteem is intact and that he is on the right side.
That, to me, is deadly serious - also incredibly boring and as a friend once commented, a bit 'no lifey'.
Personally, I just like the romance of it all - fragrance is like music, every now and then I chance upon something that has the power to lift me out of myself and remind me that there is beauty in the world. How would you describe 'joy' - is it a serious thing? I suppose the lack of it is . . . so yeah, when there is no joy, just confrontation and fear and the need for validation and groupthink and judgement of what one cannot understand then that is pretty serious, I guess. For whoever is subscribing to it, anyway - poor sods