Bad week for me. I thought I could manage to jet off a post today, but I’ve been doing training all week, having the flu on top of it, can’t slough this off since we flew these people in from all over to do this class, no one can fill in, and I’ve been trying to think what post I would write today, and all that goes through my mind is one Sunday I went to early morning mass, the 6:30a one, and the readings that day were pretty run-of-the-mill, just hard to come up with anything to say about them, and Father walked in, was putting on his garments, turned to the alter server, shrugged his arms and said, “I got nothing.” The homily that Sunday morning consisted of about two sentences.
That’s how I felt when I sat down to write this post.
So I’ve thought about how I got into perfume and gotten so nutty for them. I’ve always loved perfume since my high school days and my first bottle of Stephen B perfume (I *loved* that perfume and can’t find it anywhere). Couldn’t afford much fragrance in college at all, but once I was a working girl and near a decent-sized store, I found my first grown-up girl fragrances. I picked up Estee Lauder Private Collection because my most favorite aunt wore it. I still love that fragrance. Then I had a series of sometimes quick and sometimes short love affairs with K de Krizia, Cinnabar, Caleche, Calandre, Escada (no rockin’ rio, the classic bottle with the gold cap), but always pretty much one bottle at a time. Mostly because that’s all I could afford, but it just seemed too slutty to be wearing more than one fragrance.
Fast forward to somewhere in my mid to late 30s or so, and I stumbled onto a Usenet group called alt.fashion, and that was such a great group, though a bit cliquey, so I mostly read, and a whole world of makeup and perfume opened up to me. Then I was probably more interested in the makeup, but once you have one shade of gray-green eyeshadow (or four), you probably have enough. I still love makeup with a passion, but I really have stopped some of the more excessive duplicates of color, except for brown. I mean, is 32 shades of brown wrong somehow? They all do different things, honest! And I gave probably 15 of them or more away.
But the perfume nuts on that usenet group captured me. They all were so nice and happy, and they adored their perfumes and just went on and on about them. While I had always loved perfume, I then had the startling realization that I could have more than one perfume at a time. In a fairly short period, I went from one or two bottles to about 30. Lots of Creeds and Goutals and Hermes and CSPs, which I fooled myself into thinking I liked, but that I detested, but didn’t bad-mouth them so the cool kids would like me.
This was somewhere around the time MUA was formed, and I think back then it was called the Lipstick board or something? Maybe not. I just remember there seemed to be a snit a day on both the alt.fashion and the MUA board, which is entertaining for a little bit, and then just gets old, and I felt guilty about spending so much money on perfume and I got incredibly busy with work, and I just stopped dropping in, and my passion subsided, and I had 30 or so bottles to work with, so I was set for years.
Time passed with me buying new things here and there that I liked, mostly the designer stuff from the store because I had been disappointed by much of the niche stuff I had tried before, growing bored with the same crap that came out, with just a new one or two that was interesting, like Gucci in the brown big square bottle. I love that perfume, it was such a radical departure from anything that was being done right then, and I still think it is unique and special Then one day about a year or more ago I stoogled (cross between stumbled and googled) into MUA again, and reading there just fueled my old passion, and it’s all been downhill for my wallet since then, but just a slice of heaven for my nose.
This time it seems to have stuck for good. How did you get into perfumes? Was there one thing or a series of things? Has it been a long time or a short time that you’ve been obsessed?
Dear Patty – Sorry you are feeling poorly – just rest and pamper yourself!
I have always had a very sensitive nose, which is both a blessing and a curse. I could never afford to have more than one bottle of perfume at a time for many years either, but I loved to smell everything I could lay my hands on, from a very young age. My mother wore something called April Violets, which I would smell on her dresser. Of course, it eventually turned, since in my family perfume was only for very special occasions, certainly not every day! I was definitely destined for a different life.
Then almost 20 years ago, something changed my life – a REAL perfume boutique opened up in my city, and I found out what the real classics smelled like. No more just good old Shalimar and White Shoulders from the department store and Babe from the drugstore – these were BETTER! I spent about three hours there on my first trip, and I still go there for most of my perfume “needs”.
Over the years I have tried everything from the classic (Patou & Caron everything) to the obscure (Donna by Fragonard, anyone? Russian limited editions made for the Czars and never recreated again? JAR Golconda, smelled but not bought cuz it was $400? Oh yeah.). I sent away for a few things too, and now I do buy small bottles and testers on the Web, mostly of discontinued items.
My current stable of FBs, goaded by my newfound obsession with perfume blogs, which I only discovered less than 6 months ago I think, is about a dozen or so, with LOTS of samples thrown in. (I know – amateur!) I only buy the very best – life is too short for cheap perfume or bad coffee – so I have to pick and choose carefully on my limited budget.
I was daydreaming recently about what I would do when I get rich (yeah, right) – and where most people would go buy a new house or a flashy car, my first act would be to satisfy my pent-up demand for Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle and MPG, not to mention a dozen other niche houses. Of course, I would also do good with my millions and donate to charity, yadda yadda, but do not get between me and a full bottle of Isabey Gardenia or I may have to hurt you. :d
Patty, I hope that your week gets better! Thank you for this wonderful post. I kept nodding in agreement as I read it. I always remember my mother putting on her Diorissimo before she left for work. It is probably one of my strongest childhood memories, and thinking about it, I have many that revolve around perfume. Such as when a bottle of my mom’s J’ai Ose was discovered to have been tempered with, and I was unfairly blamed. Or when a set of “White Lilac” perfume in beautiful cut crystal bottles was given to me by my grandmother after months of pleading. And then I dropped it and the contents got spilled. Ok, clearly, these are very traumatic memories. 🙂
At any rate, I was always crazy about perfume. Discovering MUA fueled the passion, because suddenly I realized that there are many other women who feel the same way. This was back in the day when MUA consisted of only one board.
BTW, I also love Gucci EDP, which is unique and interesting. I am still sad that it is discountinued.
I always enjoyed perfume when I was younger, but it wasn’t something that I paid much attention to. In highschool my first “real” perfume was a Christmas gift from my parents: Anais Anais. I remember the bottle came in a very cute metal tin, and at the time I loved the packaging and the soft romantic magazine ads for it. I had that bottle for AGES.
The only other perfume I had during high-school was a drugstore cheapie called April Fields by Coty (same makers of Vanilla Fields). It was a soft floral that I was very fond of. You can’t find April Fields anywhere now except online, and I always wonder if it was as pleasant as I remember it being.
As I got older, I sometimes wore inexpensive scents by the GAP, as well as Estee Lauder Pleasures, which I absolutely loved. Then for many years I simply stopped wearing fragrance. I didn’t own a single bottle.
It was cruising around Make-Up Alley that really ignited my interest in perfume. After buying a retail scent (Banana Republic’s W for women) I became fascinated with how a fragrance could uplift you, change your mood, make you feel “dressed up” or notstalgic. I became very interested in reading about the various notes in perfume compositions, and sniffing everything in sight. Which notes did I like and why? I moved from the Dept store brands and began exploring niche lines such as Jo Malone, Annick Goutal, L’Artisan.
I’m interested in how scent reacts with personal chemistry, and how everyone seems strongly drawn to one or two particular families. For me it’s soft florals and citrus scents. I don’t know what perfume preferences say about personality types, but I think its fascinating!
Perfume is all about packaging as well for me: how it looks on a dresser – what it feels like in your hand.
From googling various scents, I began to stumble upon fragrance blogs, and I’m delighted that such a friendly knowledgeable community exists!
I try to justify my habit by saying that some people collect fine wines, cigars, antiques, etc. I collect nice-smeilling fragrances!
P.S. Feel better soon Patty!:)
Correction: 15+, not 25+. Ah, wishful thinking!
Patty, flu? Shucks! Rest up, take plenty of vitamins and spritz yourself with your favourite perfume, that’ll do the trick :). I’ve always been interested in perfume, I think, but it’s because of my cousin Daniela, who came from France in mid 1980’s to live with us, that I really began exploring this universe, I remember her beautiful (then, I’m not sure how I would respond to it now) Paloma Picasso. It had presence. It was different than anything I’d smelled before. From then on it’s pretty much the same story as anyone else’s, but what peaked my interest to actually learn more about perfume were osmoz and basenotes. Now I own 25+ bottles (and muchos samples) and I can’t check myself. And I’m only 28, well 29 in July. There!
Sure thing, March. I cribbed the phrase “wb” from something I read in a John Oakes perfume book. I wish I had made it up myself; it’s perfect, isn’t it. BTW, I misspoke above. It’s Susan Irvine, not Irving. Laws, I always get her name wrong.
Have a great evening, all!
This was so fun, thank you guys!!! See, you all really wound up writing the post for me, what fun stories to read.
It just cheered up my day to finally to get free from work and come home and read such fun things.
I have a theory about why people who share perfume love tend to bond, which I’ll put in a post next week,b ut I find perfume people to be so interesting generally, it’s that heightened sensitivity to the smelling sense so many people treat as just background noise.
Hey, P, I really enjoyed reading all these responses! Everything from the Love’s Fresh Lemon to the Bal a Versailles resonated with me… I also love Pam’s “water babies.” It’s perfect. Hey, Pam, can I borrow it?!
I am so glad and grateful to have this outlet; it really gives me pleasure.:x Thanks for being my perfume pal.
I was born to a mother who told me “we are slaves to our senses.” She sashayed past the perfume counter and got us spritzes at every opportunity. I always loved perfume, here and there, until one day I found MUA and it began to rise to the level of an obsession. I began to educate myself and write about it and stockpile samps and decants and bottles, and then this year with Legerdenez and the art gallery, came to regard our writing on perfume as being akin to art criticism or curation, because we can make associations or relationships when we write about perfume. Love it! Love it! Still obsessed and need to be a lady of leisure to afford this habit.
Patty, I’m so sorry that you’re having a rough week. I hope that you start feeling better soon! And for not knowing what to post about, you posted a great one–I loved reading your journey into perfume addiction. 😉 Like you, I loved fragrance since discovering it as a child, and had probably about five or six bottles in rotation when I was in high school. The first perfume I knew I *had* to have after sniffing it in a magazine was Estee Lauder Pleasures. I don’t have a bottle anymore, but smelling it in a magazine or on someone else always makes me feel nostalgic. It’s my “college scent.” The real downward spiral began in law school when I discovered MUA. Even though the number of bottles is ridiculous, I love the scents I’ve been able to experience thanks to the frag board. I’m trying to be pickier now and pare down the collection. I think in my ideal world I would come full circle and have about 5-6 bottles in rotation, just like in high school!
PS: I am enjoying very much reading these other posts. Patricia R, your writing reads very easily to me. Keep it up.
I’m posting again to qualify what I mean by dept store. I’ve always lived in something of a small town, so when I say “dept store,” I’m not talking about a Nordie’s or a BG or a Saks. I’m talking about a smallish Dillard’s which doesn’t even sell Chanel No 19 or 22 any more. When I say run-of-the-mill dept store stuff, I’m really talking about the stuff that all smells alike. Water babies, is what I call them, because so many of the new ones have a similar watery note. I do occasionally buy my frags at a dept store; I just avoid the water babies. Okay, now I’m really through.
Oh goodness, you reminded me about my obsession with perfumes. I will tell you this when I was somewhere in high school I remember wearing Bal a Versailles (spelling?). I was young then and I remember dancing at a party and a boy nuzzling me and saying “you smell so good”. I think I realized the power of perfume at that point in a very subliminal way. After Bal I don’t remember being too much into perfume but I always had something on my dresser. As time went on, I stumbled onto the MUA site and the fragrance board, that is when I started to seriously look into and try fragrances that were mentioned on that site. I have an awesome colletion now, but I feel that I am overdoing it. I have a very compulsive/obsessive personality as it is and this fragrance obsession has gotten me into some financial trouble. I have a tendency to do something until the wheels fall off, and fragrance seems to be an obsession that has not abated over the years. But I absolute and unequivically love fragrances. I am not that gifted with the written word and cannot explain exactly why fragrances have captured my imagination so, but I am driven to read about perfumes, to find out everything I can about the many aspects of perfumery and on and on. My curiosity has not diminished in 10 years!! There you have it.
Patty, I hope you feel better quickly so that you can enjoy the weekend.
I have always loved perfume. My first “nice” bottle of perfume was L’Air du Temps. I then dabbled in several of the classic Nina Ricci fragrances, which are all so beautiful.
I wore cheap drugstore stuff (remember Chantilly and Love’s Fresh Lemon?) and musk oil in high school, but in college my taste became more refined. Chloe was a real stand out for me, as were Oscar de la Renta and Ruffles in my mid to late 20’s.
When there was a new release, like Opium or Obsession, I would rush to the department store to be one of the first to purchase a brand new bottle.
I joined MUA over three years ago. Since that time I went from a lot of fragrances for the average woman, to a massive amount of fragrances for anybody on this God’s earth! I never really knew what the whole decanting thing was until I joined MUA and started swapping with other MUA friends. It opened up a whole new fragrance world for me.
It seems that lately I have come full-circle in my quest for fine fragrances. Recent fragrance releases have been disappointing, so I find myself looking back at the vintage Nina Riccis, Givenchys, and Guerlains, etc…I like where I am now in my perfume quest, but I know that there will always be that one elusive fragrance somewhere out there, waiting for me to possess and indulge in it.
Much love and hugs!
Hi Patty, I feel for you, I got the late flu too. Have some chicken soup and a Jonny Depp movie. (Ok that’s just me) And, I thought I was alone in thinking almost any brown is good at some point.
My perfume addiction started very recently. I have an over active sense of smell and really avoided anything with any scent at all for years. (major gag reflex action etc.) I can smell individual fruits in the air when I walk in a grocery and follow the scent, like a dog, to the actual fruit. However I became very sick for a long time with an ongoing sinus infection and pretty much lost my sense of smell. One day, after a long and ultimately successful treatment, I smelled a dinner my husband made with wonderful curried spices.
I sniffed and sniffed and then went around the house smelling things, up to my small perfume collection, and mmmmmmmmmm everything smelled wonderful. I could smell the individual notes and I wasn’t gaging. mmmmmmmmm. well, that was 6 months ago and I’m now a perfume monster. I love the subtleties, the variety, the talent in creation. I love the aura and the art of the perfumes when I wear them, and I love the changes they go through during a day.
My only problem now, is that I still can’t stand many of the classics. Guerlain, for instance, still smells so strong to me, even the smallest bits, that I gag. I keep trying, thinking maybe I’ll find one that doesn’t do this.
Your shop, as a matter of fact, has helped to enable me with this new passion and I love the community and all the blogs as well! So, in your flu addled mind, know that you are doing a community service as far as I’m concerned!
Hi Patty…hope you do feel better soon. This is a good topic for someone who’s got nothing. (And March, I did see your message, and wasn’t offended. I have no idea how perfume usually acts. I went back and reread the 3 way on PNegrum. I didn’t love it as much as you and Marina, or hate it as much as Patty…but the stuff faded so fast, it was hard to tell. I’ll try it again. BTW, the single worst thing I’ve smelled (so far) was Star Boutique’s Vanilla Martini)
I’ve never been (until recently) much into perfume. I grew up in a house with a parent who was vehemently opposed to just about any scented product. I dabbled in perfume a bit during college, but found that most stuff turned soapy, powdery or faded very quickly on me. After I passed a certain milestone birthday, it occured to me to wonder why I didn’t have a signature scent, (in the words of fashion mags) let alone a fragrance wardrobe. So…about 4 months ago l started stoogling, and came across all these great blogs, and read them religously until I was induced (possiblities of more samples, yeah!) to come out of the woodwork. I’ve gotten samples from various places, and so far, I own only one full bottle. (I feel so ashamed!) The thing I’m enjoying so far is learning all this stuff, and how available (well, usually) and relatively inexpensive perfume is. Not to mention how nice everyone is, and finally that excellent rush when you smell something good on your arm (for longer than 2 hours!)
I hope you get better too. I myself caught something from my 3 year old this week, but it’s not as bad as a flu.
Loved your post BTW. Hmmmm, I don’t think I can sum up in a few words my perfume bio, but you gave me an idea and I’ll try to squeeze one in on my blog when I find enough inspiration. However, I can tell you about my first distinct fragrance emotion recollection.
It was for a bottle of Lavande edt or cologne by Bourjois and I was nine I think. I had been very much impressed by the atmosphere and the displays, in particular, of beautiful 19th century vanity items in certain period movies and had begged my parents to buy me this bottle, which for me promised to recreate the emotion I had experienced watching these films. It represented refinement and simplicity, as I had caught on the fashion that existed for soliflores at the time and I wanted something simple and intemporal.
I remember literally worshipping my bottle and sniffing with great emotion the delicate scent exhaling from it. So this was the start of it.
Thanks a lot for adding me to your blogroll. I’m working on a new website and will add you to my blogroll when I’m settled there. Will send you the addy when it’s all ready.
Have a great day!
And no, you can’t have too many brown eyeshadows. Nothing like nice brown eyeshadow for blue eyes.
I have always been slightly mad about perfume, but my real downfall started when I discovered MUA. I stoogled too. Was googling for some perfume, found a review (I even remember whose)…and that was the end of the world as I knew it, heh. 8-|
Patty, I hope you get to feeling better soon. You are having a tough week. For an “I got nuttin” post, this is quite good!
My perfume pilgrimage intersects yours in some ways. Like you, I always loved perfume but could only imagine one, maybe two bottles at a time. Even then, though, the dept store run-of-the-mill frags never did much for me. For a time in the ’70s and ’80s I wore Houbigant’s Essence Rare, which has long since been d/c. It was wonderful. At least, I think it was. Always got me compliments.
FF to a couple years ago, and I discovered eBay. Bought a bottle of ER, but it had gone off. The first few micro-secs of a spritz still have the smell that attracted me, but after that it’s pppphhhhhtttt. On a ‘net search for Essence Rare I discovered scentdirect.com (which has notes for ER) and that led me to discover some other frags.
Found Jan Moran’s Fab Frags 2 book, read it, got interested in some of the old line Houses like Guerlain and Caron. Also ran across Chandler Burr’s book about Turin and then Susan Irving’s Perfume Guide. Good for the nose, bad for the pocketbook. Then I stumbled into MUA after doing a search. Yeah, “stoogled” is right.
I don’t know if I should admit to the number of FBs I have. Okay, I’m in safe territory here, but I’m whispering all the same. It’s 80+. And I love most of them dearly. I have about 25-30 bottles in my rotation right now. Crazy, right? :-”
All right, I’m through. Get well, Patty. Take care. Great post! Hope you can rest up this weekend.
Ich besichtige deinen Aufstellungsort wieder bald fur sicheres!