If I Could Have Only 10 Perfumes…

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My collection has never been very large (at least by the standards of most perfume lovers) but I still have a lot of trouble playing the ‘pick only ten perfumes’ game- a favorite masochistic mental exercise of the fragrance community.
The game is presented in different forms- 10 perfumes for a deserted island, 10 perfumes to save from your burning house, 10 perfumes to wear exclusively for the rest of your life.

Anyone who collects has an idea why this is so difficult- and it’s really tempting to turn to logical shortcuts to make the list-making easier.  Which of my perfumes are the most expensive? The most irreplaceable? Which ones do I own in rare vintages? Which are discontinued and gone?

I went through my collection a few days ago with the goal of culling the perfumes that no longer *sparked joy* when I held them (Thanks Marie Kondo). And I came out with only a 5 mL decant of Montale’s Patchouli Leaves ready to be let go of (it’s a cruder, more brutish version of Chanel’s Coromandel, which I prefer- but both are excellent chocolate patchoulis, with the Montale feeling more resinous).  Even if I didn’t make significant inroads into diminishing my perfume collection, I reconfirmed for myself my love of and attachment to what I do have. Continue reading “If I Could Have Only 10 Perfumes…”

Perfumes for Grandes Dames

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I’ve been wanting to do a post on my so-conceived ‘parfums des grandes dames’ for a little while now and then I saw this review of Une Fleur de Cassie on Now Smell This and I figured it was time.  Time to create a moment.  The urge may have originally been born out of this post on Perfume Posse, which is frankly from more than a month ago, but it needed time to marinate.

So thinking about fragrances for adult women.  And obviously take this with a grain of salt, given that I’m only recently legally able to drink.    I don’t much think about my preferred fragrances in terms of ages or ‘maturity levels’ so much as feelings and smells that appeal to me. But if I were consciously thinking about it, and what makes a perfume ‘womanly’, well, there are definitely things to be said.

The vast majority of mainstream fragrance releases these days seem to be fruity florals or tooth-achingly sweet gourmands, and those are both genres that I can enjoy, but this obsession with the innocent and saccharine is a bit worrisome.  Perfumes shouldn’t need to be clean or barely there.  And women shouldn’t need to be quiet or youthful to be ‘tolerated’.

In the simplest terms, there is a lot more to the archetypal ‘woman’ than the part of her that is a ‘girl’.  Being a woman is about ambition, power, sex, beauty, motherhood, exploration, and so many more things.
And in that way that people have, that idea also has a scent, in my mind. Or a type of scent with a lot of variation. Because there are many types of women.

The common denominator: All are full, luscious, and complicated.  All of them are somewhat ‘tricky’. They’re dignified even to the point of being standoffish. They’re proud. Just like you should be! 🙂 Continue reading “Perfumes for Grandes Dames”

To Smell Like Chanel

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When I was a wee lass I counted various iterations of Chanel’s Chance to be my signature fragrance.  I don’t know that I ever wore the original Chanel Chance, but I’m pretty sure I wore a bottle of the Eau Fraiche before switching to Eau Tendre when it was released and sticking with it for another bottle or two.
And by wee lass I mean middle school me: me pre-perfume obsession.  At some point, I don’t remember exactly how it happened, I lost interest in the Chances, which felt too easy, too impersonal a choice, and just not reflective of who I was any longer.  And so one by one I started bringing other perfumes into my life, ones that resonated more deeply with me and that I appreciated almost artistically. And some of those were also made by Chanel. 🙂

Fast forward a couple of years: Today I decided I wanted to wear Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon, so I fished out my little sample vial (I consider myself to ‘own’ a lot of scents I only have samples of, simply because when you reach a certain number of fragrances you don’t need a large volume of any one to keep you satisfied.)  Anyway. Imagine my dismay when I pulled it out and saw that it was very much on the edge of empty.  Well, another perfume to go on my small sample/decant wish list.  But for now I’m wearing Guerlain’s Shalimar, which isn’t at all similar but has a nice anti-rain warm and toasty vibration.  Like I have a cozy vanilla-civet aura that evaporates the cold drizzle.

 

But I want to talk about my favorite fragrances from the Chanel line- now that I’m thinking about them and the notes, rather than sniffing an ad that smells as much of magazine paper and scent sample. 😉 Continue reading “To Smell Like Chanel”

A Handful of Spring Perfumes Sneaking Into My Icy Winter Heart

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I’m generally feel most myself in thick and wintery fragrances- scents that wrap you up in a musky blanket or a whirl of fireplace smoke.  But we always miss out when we try to play exactly to type- and most often delightful things come to surprise you from unexpected directions…

That’s probably why my collection of bottles is neither here nor there- it covers a lot of bases, with little overlap in genre or category- no easily articulated cohesion beyond that indefinable something that makes them feel like me and like mine.
And that has a certain logic to it, but when you trust to fragrance love and the vicissitudes of perfume fate your collection comes together a little spuriously.  You end with more of some type of fragrance, a few of another, and none of a third. The classical spring fragrance- the fresh floral- has historically been poorly represented in my cabinet.
(Which is not entirely fair: A bottle of vintage Diorissimo holds the ‘fresh spring floral’ banner; beautiful, proud, and tragically alone. She could use a little company).

But I don’t sample much anymore, even if I do keep up a massive list (classic) of fragrances I’d like to try.  My acquisitive feelings about perfume have subsided and I feel very content with my collection as it is. But I’m lucky enough to have a few friends who look out for me and send things over, and when I travel I do try to stop by local fragrance shops: in sort, samples do somehow find their way to me.

A few of them have sort of caught me unawares, winnowed their way into my affections, particularly during this particularly cold-snappy March, when I’m most in need of a hint of spring.  So maybe I was a bit vulnerable, but isn’t so much of love finding the right thing at the right time?

That was a long-winded way of introducing these four- four underrated and little discussed fragrances this side of quirky and that side of beautiful, and sure to please you whether it’s the snows or cherry blossoms falling. Continue reading “A Handful of Spring Perfumes Sneaking Into My Icy Winter Heart”

Paris Packed Perfumes

Hello hello hello (bonjour)!
I’ve been in Paris the last week so I haven’t posted at all- I haven’t been here ever before and I feel in some ways as if my heart has finally found where it belongs, so I’m completely unapologetic.

…Even if my heart felt exactly the same way in Venice last year.

I’ve made a lot of observations of the city and am hoping I can boil that down (or flesh that out) into one or two (or 10 or so) lists for your perusal.  In the meantime, I’m going to stick with something that takes little mental energy on my part, because my days have been long and my nights short. Continue reading “Paris Packed Perfumes”

FBW

Or my full bottles, and why I cherish them like a dragon cherishes gold. A generous dragon.

For people in and outside the perfume community, the following is a list of the full perfume bottles I own and the feelings they inspire in me.  In perfume community parlance, FBW is an abbreviation for ‘full bottle-worthy’- a perfume that you love enough to invest in 50 mL of at least. No mean feat when you’ve established a healthy collection of beloved scents.  I don’t know that that much of anything is FBW to me anymore- few things are even worthy of 5 mL decants.  Usually I work through my samples and those that I grow attached to become wish list items for future sample or decant purchase. I just don’t see myself needing (or finishing) full bottles now that my collection is so well-rounded and satisfying.  As such, most of the perfumes I have in full bottles are ones that I bought earlier in my perfume career, when the urge to amass was still strong (now I prefer to just rest upon my laurels and an avalanching mountain of samples and decants).  But my bottles and I have long histories (and tender feelings), let me introduce them.

Continue reading “FBW”