COLOGNES ARE to Mother's Day what ties are to Father's Day: the gift of choice.

Children, husbands and lovers scour perfume displays for just the right bottle to delight the woman they love. With nearly 70 fragrances out there, the hunt can be formidable.Some feel pressured by the hoopla surrounding new scents like Romeo Gigli by H. Albert and Co., Echo by Mario Valentino and New West by Aramis. Or they are bewildered by the growing stable of winners in the perfume industry race: Safari by Ralph Lauren, Tiffany by Tiffany Jewelers of New York, Sung by Alfred Sung, Byzance by House of Rochas, or Realities by Liz Claiborne.

To help children and men figure out the perfume game, the Deseret News interviewed some distinctive Utah women about what scents they love and why.

Many women said they stick with classic scents. Utah's first lady, Colleen Bangerter, prefers the classic fragrance Oscar de la Renta. "I receive compliments when I wear it," she said. And the governor likes it. She's worn it for 10 years, occasionally switching to another fragrance but always returning to her signature perfume.

Real estate mogul Rhoda Ramsey made Tuberose her signature scent 25 years ago. Repetition has not robbed her scent of its allure. "She never wears it but someone doesn't say to her, `That's the most magnificent fragrance I have ever smelled,' " said Ramsey's husband, Upton.

Fashion mavens have long advocated the adoption of a signature scent to make a woman truly memorable. They had decried some women's tendency to chase from one debuting fragrance to another as a symptom of insecurity. Utah's confident women have made that edict their own.

Carolyn Schubach, principal of Parkside Elementary School, has. "My favorite perfume is Coco by Chanel." Like Bangerter, Schubach briefly switches when someone gives her a gift of cologne. But she keeps returning to Coco.

Why? "I don't have the right adjectives - you know, those perfume adjectives," she laughed. She settled on "sophisticated but subtle" to describe the fragrance Coco Chanel intended as her own signature scent.

The Deseret News found that some women are drawn to a particular fragrance for unusual reasons. Farah Mahi, public information director for the Utah attorney general's office, favors Coco because it reminds her of her sister, "who is extremely exotic." Mahi doesn't get to see her sister often, so she wears Coco instead.

Rep. Paula F. Julander, D-Salt Lake, wears Galore' mostly because "I'm not allergic to it."

Others select a scent for the most classic of all reasons: romance. D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, vice chairwoman of the Utah Democratic Party, began wearing White Shoulders 10 years ago when the boyfriend she later married gave her a bottle. A self-declared romantic, Pignanelli is enamored with the story behind the perfume. It's about this man who dearly loved this woman, whom he eventually married.

While finding a signature fragrance may be the height of fashion confidence, it's not exactly a task to put on a "to do" list. With scores of fragrances on the market and a dozen new ones coming out each year, a woman may need a year or two to sample the options before settling on a particular fragrance.

Lisa Badger, president of Public Relations Strategy Group, just bought a bottle of Realities - a new Liz Claiborne fragrance. She previously wore Beautiful along with a number of sample scents she picked up during shopping excursions. She's still not convinced that her newest choice in fragrances is the best one.

"After I bought it I wondered if I was a victim of advertising on a subliminal level. My mom got a sample on a pullout card on a magazine and I thought it smelled pretty good," she said.

Author Heidi S. Swinton has been wearing Montana by designer Claude Montana for two years. She fell in love with the fragrance's drama after her mother gave her a bottle as a gift. But when Swinton ran out and went to by her own bottle, she was shocked at the price. "When I found out how expensive it is, I decided I will have to change."

The moral of the story: Keep getting cologne for Mother's Day and you'll never have to know how much your signature scent costs.

Other favorites:

- Sande Storms, Murray firefighter, wears Lady Stetson. "I just like the way I smell wearing it."

- Linda B. Nielson, psychotherapist at Western Institute of Neuropsychiatry, prefers Yendi. "It's very subtle and lasts on my skin. It just has a very floral fragrance, and I get lots of compliments on it."

- Colleen Malouf, director of the Utah affiliate of the National Society to Prevent Blindness, wears Carolina Herrara. "It's a very feminine, summery fragrance."

- Debbie Fields, president, Mrs. Fields Cookies, sticks with Jessica McClintock "because it's feminine."

- Arline Gillen, Murray City councilwoman, wears Red. "I love the smell. It makes me feel like I'm in charge."


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Tips on buying cologne for a woman

- Find out if she has adopted a signature cologne. If she has, stick with that scent. Women who have found a scent that best expresses them are disconcerted by gifts of other scents.

- Even if a woman has a signature cologne, you can still surprise her with talcs, creams, lotions and even shampoos in her signature scent. Many cologne manufacturers offer an entire array of grooming products built around a particular scent.

- If you are buying a new scent for a woman, it ought to be the same type of scent she usually wears. Women who like light, floral scents probably won't enjoy a heavy, dramatic scent. Give a knowledgeable clerk the names of the colognes the woman has recently worn and she can help you find a new cologne of the same type.

- Pay attention to hints. If she has expressed interest in a newly released cologne or raved about a recent cologne she sampled, you can't go wrong with that choice. "A lot of the time women have taken samples home, so some men know what perfume to buy," said Barbara Young, cosmetics manager for Nordstroms in the Crossroads Plaza.

- If you are clueless about what kind of scent to get, stick with popular classics. Don't let eager clerks talk you into a new, untried scent just because it's currently featured in an advertising blitz. Many new scents that arrive on the wings of multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns don't "take" and have few fans six months later. Older colognes that have been popular for several years are surer bets.