NEW YORK -- Approaching a fragrance bar with one specific type of scent in mind can be an interesting experience. That was certainly the case when WWD reporters walked into American and European stores in search of a summer fragrance.

From Los Angeles to Milan, no two experiences matched and the definition of what constitutes a summer fragrance varied widely from counter to counter.

In Seattle, it was Jessica McClintock. In Washington, it was Paris by Yves Saint Laurent, a scent which, the beauty adviser asserted, is also perfect for a bride-to-be. In Atlanta, the salespeople struck a chord by suggesting Escada's Summer in Provence and Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers -- two scents the reporter had bought the week before.

The level of service also was uneven. In Los Angeles, the usually self-service-oriented Robinson's-May was surprisingly attentive. Meanwhile, Nordstrom, known for its service, was unusually apathetic. Our reporter thought the two stores had switched personnel for the day.

In Milan, the Italian salespeople managed to live up to their reputation for indifference, and the reporter left empty-handed.

In New Orleans, however, the beauty adviser was thorough, pleasant and persistent. She endured the most naive-sounding question with a smile.

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