Hard to Swallow

Memories, like the corners of my mind. Misty water-coloured meeeemorrrriiiiiiiies, of the way we were.

Ahem. I’ll begin again.

The act of remembering is less a willed experience, and more a reminder of the deus ex machina nature of our minds. Like an ever-spinning Rolodex whose cards jump out at will, half-formed snapshots leap forward of their own volition, their edges blurred (misty, water-coloured), the details filled in with estimations of the truth.

Some of these might be trivial and are only recalled because of their shock effect at the time or physical reminder in the present – the birthday party runaround where my hand got hooked on a rusting nail on the gate and I needed stitches; the actual photo of our family – so funny – that allows me to believe I remember the sequence of events surrounding it being taken.

Most are more significant because that’s why they’re remembered, and like spectres, move through the rooms of our minds. Organisms we’ve brought to life and no longer control.Cowboys-n-Indians-Posters

That’s why I’m haunted by a film, and more specifically a particular sequence from it. I’ve never seen the film since, and it’s probably laughable now, but on my very young self, it made an intense impression. It’s a western ( a Euro-western?), with Sean Connery. Stop tittering at the back; the thought seems ridiculous too – no more ridiculous than Zardoz though. I think it involves a convoy losing their stagecoaches in Injun country and somehow striving to make it through the badlands alive. One by one, the stock characters are wiped out, and only those with compassion, or ‘true grit’ survive. It’s a death of one of the stocks that has remained with me, and likes to spring up, half-formed in my thoughts, on a regular basis. I could google it to find out the detail and remove those points that lack clarity, but though the memory isn’t particularly pleasant, it’s part of me. I don’t want to, yet.

A woman is part of the party, and she’s obsessed by material goods, distance from the labouring world, and the spotlessness of her appearance. I can’t remember much else about her – she might be gentry or nobility. She wears a string of pearls, and much is made of this. Eventually, when surrounded by the baddies, she is made to swallow the thing she loves, and, in my rewritten memories, this act kills her. I like to think this sequence has imprinted itself on me because my proto-self was already appalled by the explicit misogyny of most 70s film-making; unlikely though. The transparency of the metaphor is probably what got me, at all of 8 or 9 or 10. Her avarice, represented in that luxurious byproduct of true grit, eventually led to her demise. For a poor boy, from a poor family, there was both justice and horror in the outcome.

And so, I went on to have an awkward relationship with luxury, label and the status apparently inferred by both. I’ve never bought designer clothes, at least not first hand. My university days were spent in a pretentious parade of early twentieth century suits (legs rolled up, desert boots) and Edwardian shirts without the button on collar. When less effort in appearance became mandatory, I was resolutely middle-brow. I either wanted to subvert the codes of dress (ha!) or try to skip ’em completely.dia_mens_large_normal

And therefore it’s some puzzle to me why I’m so accepting of the ‘allowable’ luxury of expensive niche perfumery. The last one I bought, and I can’t see myself adding any more for quite some time, was Amouage Dia. I can’t justify spending on it, and yet its quiet beauty, its poise and balance, make luxury have meaning to me. It whispers, which always helps.

It’s a frankincense scent, but done with such subtlety and balance, there is nothing which jars or clashes, and nothing which stands out beyond a quiet thrum of loveliness. It defies description in its blending of spice, dry winds, and a powdery heart. And I thought I hated powder. Wearing this on the stagecoach run would court disaster, I don’t doubt.

Which perfume justifies luxury to you? Makes you gulp on the price but go for it anyway? And which doesn’t?

p.s. Sorry if you checked in earlier. I forgot to post and dashed this one off lickety-split. Please by kind with in accuracies and non-seqituurs. I wrote faaast.

p.p.s. And oh, reading recommendation. Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger is quite marvellous.

p.p.p.s. Winner of the Chamarre draw is Veronica. Please get in touch via the contact us button, V!

  • Flora says:

    Wow, this is thought-provoking. There are so many that I WOULD buy if I could, and a few that I have bought, at full price, when I could afford it, because they were so fabulous. To me a truly great perfume is worth it because you will wear it, and use it up – better that than spend money a little at a time on stuff you don’t love and end up not wearing – that’s no bargain.

    My beloved Caron and Serge Lutens perfumes are worth the splurge, and Amouage as well, though they are pretty much beyond my means at the moment. If this line gets much spendier I will need to start selling body parts.

  • DJ says:

    Saturday I went to Roja Dove (Harrods), and smelled some perfumes that if I had the money, I would own right now. I can’t buy them, but I was able to smell them, and wear them just for a day. It was an amazing gift itself, the beauty of the experience. Time literally stopped for me.

    I haven’t spent much on my perfumes, I am still looking for ‘my one’ although along the way I have made my list of ‘my other ones.’ A luxury would be being able to smell something, love it and buy it.
    (my luxury has been eyeshadow. I have waaaaay too much eyeshadow)

    I love that you all are so passionate about scent. It keeps me going out there, searching and curious.


  • Tess says:

    I just bought a 100ml bottle of Montale (Oud queeen rose), but I haven’t told anyone.:) No one I know would spend so much money on perfume…

  • Sunnyfunny says:

    Each and every perfume I love justifies luxury to me. It’s an affordable luxury, but one that at this point in time requires a special occasion or saving up. My DH is in school right now; our financial forecast will change when he’s done. Maybe somewhere along the line I’ll want to go out and try the JARs and the Amouages and all that. Or maybe I won’t. I’ve found a few that I love, some I own and a few I don’t. I’m liking the balance right now of enjoying what I have and being excited about the few that I don’t have, coupled with the anticipation that soon my perfume collection will be complete. As you said, Lee, satisfaction is good for the soul! 🙂
    My parents never really indulged in much when I was a kid. My dad, youngest son of turn-of-the-century German immigrants, effectively ran the household while my mom stayed home with us kidlets. It’s taken him a long time to enjoy *things*, not so much that he detatched himself for spiritual purposes, but that he denied himself and his family anything that wasn’t practical. It’s been fun, the last decade or so, observing the change (perhaps since becoming empty-nesters) and seeing them enjoy some of the finer things, treating themselves and each other, with the money he’s worked so hard for.

  • erin says:

    I think this is a very worthy subject for a post and well done.

    My formative experience regarding luxury comes from having grown up in a comfortably middle class home but with parents who had (sadly) no interest in or appreciation for the finer things in life. The cheap version was always good enough. So for me, being able to define for myself what constitutes beauty and quality became a matter of principle–a statement about what life’s possibilities can be with a little taste and imagination. My partner and I always say “the aesthetic life is the moral life!”

    But this is a timely post for me because during the week recently when I was thinking about plunking down for the whole jug of Lady Day (my first big girl purchase after having educated myself somewhat on this wonderful site), lay off notices were sent around to a number of my colleagues at the university at which I teach. Tenure has been no protection. People’s heads are rolling just at the moment when their 401Ks have gone down the tank. And while I in my department am safe, it has made me feel that it would be seriously bad karma to indulge while others are really struggling. I guess I can wait a bit on a bottle of perfume until it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing two weeks worth of groceries that somebody is going to need.

    Having said that, man am I hoping the economy starts to cheer up soon. I’m itching to pull the trigger on that bottle!

    • Disteza says:

      OK, this is only my opinion, but if you’ve got the money, go ahead and get the bottle! I curse the day I decided to wait on trying to find some of the Gobin-Daudes; I’m convinced the only way I’ll find another bottle of any of them is when someone dies, and then I’ll have to pry the bottle from their dead hands at the funeral! My point is, if we all wait, the perfumer doesn’t make any money, and goes out of business, and no one is happy. Plus, with all of the reformulations in the wings, now is definitely the time to pull the trigger, if you can.

      • diandra says:

        I second what Disteza said. Somebody, somewhere in the world will always be struggling, so there is very little point in worrying about karma with regards to that, and your spending also helps the economy.

  • Natalie says:

    Oh, lordy… can I blame it all on my parents? Please? They raised me on the finer things in life, but unfortunately they neglected to either give me a hefty trust fund or nag me to learn something useful to make it on my own. So here I am: highly educated, overly refined, and flat broke! Or “genteel poverty,” as they say.

    As for whether luxury is justified, I’ve lived on both sides of the tracks — including in the Third World, with no running water, etc. etc. — and I think that as long as it’s honestly come by and you’re not making others feel bad by dint of it, it’s entirely justified. I would even go so far as to say that poverty imbues luxury with even more meaning; when life is dirt and drudgery, a bit of fabulous frippery can make you feel human again.

    This may sound shallow, but I balk at luxury only when it’s unbearably pretentious. Serge Lutens bugs the crap out of me, as does Kilian and a few others, and I hate the thought of funding that kind of nonsense. This is silly, since I firmly believe that art should be considered separately from the artist, however odious he or she may be, but perfume is such an odd amalgam of the artistic and the commercial that I find it hard to forget the p.r. baloney when I’m sniffing. (In JAR’s defense, I’ve got to say that they were unfailingly gracious when I stopped by recently to smell the fabled snifters in Bergdorfs, so you all have my permission to rush out and buy Bolt of Lightning!)

    • veuve amiot says:

      I’m with you on the pretentious-luxury thing, however inconsistent it may sound to myself, too. Somehow I can’t justify luxury for the sake of luxury – I was brought up too Puritan to wrap my mind around that concept. I can accept the quiet, non-showy type of luxury that’s meant as a private enjoyment, but never the “nouveau riche” [insert self-conscious eye-roll] gaudy, shouty, ostentatious type of luxury. For that reason, I will never sample By Kilian, JAR or Clive Christian.
      And yah, that’s all in my head (Puritan raising will do you a turn) – so please don’t consider this criticism of anyone who does love any of the above.

  • Tara C says:

    Being a lifelong spendthrift, I have no trouble shelling out for luxury. But as I’ve gotten older, my tastes have become more precise and my wants less all-encompassing. My big splurges have been on Doblis, Onda, Rubj and Amouage Dia, Gold and Jubilation 25/XXV. I feel quite satisfied now, and don’t anticipate any large purchases for a good long while.

  • Joe says:

    I’m with you, Lee: resolutely middle-brow… but with a tilt toward a socialist/communist worldview (gasp!). Conspicuous consumerism makes me roll my eyes at best and daydream about class warfare at worst. Sure, everyone’s money is their own to spend however they choose, but some people seem too stupid and self-absorbed to deserve that privilege. Ah well, end of rant. I harbor no dreams of changing the world or anyone else’s perspective.

    As for the paradox of luxury perfumes: To me, the truth is that something cheap can sometimes smell as delicious as something expensive. It’s not the pricetag that elevates its status to me, it’s what my nostrils experience. I *had* to have Jubilation XXV — even if only a decant or that precious 30ml bottle — because it’s one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever smelled. However, not every Amouage is a holy grail. I want to try Dia now, but even though I found Ubar lovely, it wasn’t *that* special and I’m not putting aside $300 for a bottle.

    Sometimes the whole perfume “hobby” seems ridiculously frivolous and “irresponsible.” Why am I not saving this money for my retirement or sending a bit more to charity? Coulda, woulda, shoulda. How can I justify spending $10 for a 1ml vial of smelly stuff? My eighty-seven year-old grandmother would be appalled, but then again she has her collection of “frivolous” porcelain figurines, so maybe she wouldn’t be. When do we cross the line from justifiable “hobby” to the road to financial ruin? I guess only each of us can decide for ourselves. As they say, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else…. I suppose.

    And to answer your question: these may be somewhat “mainstream” in price at this point, but the Editions de Parfums mostly justify their prices to me, even if I’m able only to afford 10ml travel sprays. (However, I must confess I was disappointed in the GeraniumPH, though I will suject it to further testing.)

    • Lee says:

      No gasping from me. We don’t really do politics here on the blog, but let’s just say I have no issues with taxation….

      You’re not alone with the GpM/H doubts. I love it; but it’s either odd or evanescent to others…

      I think many of us question our frivolity. And that’s okay. But we all need a splash of something silly and playful in our lives. All art is useless, said Oscar, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t live for it.

    • Musette says:


      I think there’s a difference between just buying to buy stuff and indulging an interest/hobby. You’re in the latter, with a touch of guilt. I’m there, too, but with a touch of mean. (where’s that skull emoticon, dammit?)

      But conspicuous consumption is weird. My next-to-last Hermes visit, as I was locking in the shops for the Scentsation, I watched a woman drift through Hermes, on her Bluetooth the entire time, just buying at whim; I noticed her first because she had on a 12cwt sapphire that was just gorgeous (I am a noticin’ kind of gal) but the other thing was this vacant expression in her eyes, as she sort of half-listened to the whining on the other end of the Bluetooth and boughtboughtbought at Hermes (in less than 20 minutes she’d bought a scarf, a wallet and a bracelet, not really looking at any of them with any real interest). She then came into Chanel and repeated the whole thing, like a sleepwalker.

      Sapphire and Hermes aside, I found myself mystified and feeling somewhat sorry for her. She would’ve been better off taking that damned Btooth out of her ear and sitting down someplace for a good read! My opinion, of course. Her mileage might’ve varied.

      Anyway, I like buying perfume and I love samps and decants – but I really love sharing them – and there’s nobody more generous than a perfumista, imo. I have more stuff from ‘us’ than I could’ve ever imagined! There’s something about spreading it around that keeps the ever-growing collection from tipping into hoarding. And I enjoy them more when I can gossip about them with my fellow perfumistas.


  • Disteza says:

    In terms of luxury spending, to me it’s all about the ‘actual’ value of the thing. Most couture clothing or shoes are not especially well made anymore, so you’re not really getting that great of a value. Works of art, rare books, antiques tend to have more intrinsic value to me. I’m currently on an antique textiles jag; some of the best weaving and embroidery simply isn’t done any more, making them more enticing to me than say, a new bed-in-a-bag. As for luxury perfumes that I felt were worth it, that list for me includes some of the Amouages and the SIPs, a Vero Kern here and an Ormonde Jayne there, a few Guerlains, and, of course, the herds of SL bell jars. I’d love to someday add a bottle of JAR Bolt of Lightning, but who knows when that’ll happen.

    • Lee says:

      Oh man, I’m on a 50s fabric jag. Lucienne Day. Mary White. British designers whose work just makes me sigh.

      You’re right about what’s worth it.

  • Robin says:

    Wonderful topic!

    I’ve recently become addicted to hunting down lovely classic vintage scents, and the Irish thriftiness in me gets great satisfaction from scoring a read Find for peanuts. My latest two: a full 1.7 oz bottle of Hermes Equipage for $7.99 at a thrift store, and a nearly-full 3 oz bottle of Joy edt from the eighties for $15.45 on eBay from a 78-year-old woman living in a small town in Alberta who felt her “time had passed” for wearing it! It is is perfect condition, and wearing it in her honour is a joy in itself.

    For niche fragrances, I have NO trouble dropping reasonably big bucks on Tauer Perfumes. I’m just about to buy 15mls of the extraordinary Rose Chypree, built like an extrait, and I won’t regret a penny of the $65Cdn it’ll cost me. I love supporting a genius and sweetheart like Andy.

    • Lee says:

      Like Vero Kern, Andy deserves all the accolades he gets – he’s a wonderful bloke.

      Wear that Joy with delight in life!

      • Robin says:

        Thanks, Lee, I certainly shall. And my Equipage went to an older friend of mine who is on a small pension now but has always had great taste and a love of fine things. He was overjoyed to own something so beautifully-done, and because I’d told him I bought it for next to nothing, he didn’t feel awkward accepting it. Now THAT feels good.

        Oh, and another delightful human being I love to support is Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studios. She, like Andy, is a one-nose show, and her fragrances, like Andy’s, are labeled as edps but are technically extrait strength, and beautiful compositions to boot! 🙂

  • Elle says:

    I spent most of my childhood in countries where the rich were the very tiny minority and the poor – desperately so – were the vast majority. To say I’ve been plagued by how to deal w/ the horrendous unfairness in this world all my life would be an extreme understatement. I suspect that my lack of financial ambition has to do w/ my very deep discomfort w/ excessive wealth and I wonder if I’d feel as comfortable w/ my less than minimal perfume collection – which includes more than its fair share of luxury level scents – if I didn’t have to really budget for it and make significant sacrifices in other areas.

    • Lee says:

      I’m with you Elle. I know of someone who, through talent and good fortune, has become exceptionally wealthy in the past few years and the drift away from reality makes me sad. Especially given the source of the fame…

      • Musette says:

        See, that’s bad (I’m talking ’bout your friend, Lee). I think there’s nothing wrong with making money, being rich and enjoying it. But don’t be stupid or arrogant about it and don’t be clueless. On the other hand, don’t feel guilty about it, either. Guilt taints it as much as arrogance/cluelessness, in my opinion. I have a friend who’s all guilted up right now because she is ROLLING in it and I am currently poo-ah. It is SO boring.

        But! it’s equally important to remember that when all is said and done, we’re all on this earth together – and it’s just stuff. AND it can go as quickly as it came. Be courteous, give some back, throw down a hand to help pull another(s) up so they can give some back, etc, leave this world a little better than the way you found it. That goes for everybody, rich or poor!

        Now go spritz some Amouage, grab your Lanvin hobo and enjoy a beautiful afternoon! Me and my Manolos are off to Peoria! Yeeeee-ha!


        • carter says:

          Love you. My husband and I dwell in the nonprofit world, surrounded by extremely wealthy people and always having to ask them to give just one more donation so that those with less, and sometimes less than nothing, can survive. The DH is the Director of Major Gifts for Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a large HIV/AIDS advocacy group, and spends all day every day begging barons and socialites for dough. Some of them are doing it for all the wrong reasons, like guilt or because it makes them feel better about robbing the public in their day jobs, or because they are celebrities whose PR people think it will be good for the old image (we’ll take it anyway) but most of them are giving because they get it, the have it, and they want to give back. They enjoy what they have, and are thankful for it but make no apologies. That’s not who we are — we aren’t poor, but we sure ain’t rich and never will be — but surely it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round and we all have our roles to play, our contributions to make, one way or the other.

        • tammy says:

          I grew up in what most people would think of as very poor circumstances (no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no shoes in the summertime, except for church) and I must say that while y’all’s compassion for those less fortunate than you warms my heart, your guilt makes me sad.

          Your having nice things doesn’t cause anyone else to NOT have things, any more than you being healthy prevents anyone else from being healthy. Enjoy your lovely things, and feel blessed to have them.

          Three of my aunts married in to wealthy families, and I spent some of my summers in very beautiful homes in Charleston, Dallas, and New Orleans. (I discovered Joy on one of my aunt’s dressing tables when I was three years old; legend has it that I refused to let go of the bottle for the entire visit, even as I was being bathed.)

          I was never envious of anything my cousins had, although I do remember thinking it was awfully nice to be able to visit the bathroom without having to worry about snakes, and I would take about five showers a day, cuz it felt SO luxurious to have the water come right down on me like that, and plus I didn’t have to haul it in! And the soap smelled SO good!

          But I also remember a chronic boredom and restlessness among them all…almost as if they had nothing left to dream about. They had everything they could possibly want, but it wasn’t quite enough. I feel sorry for them more than anything.

          I guess my point in all this rambling to to encourage you to enjoy everything you have, without the guilt, and maybe even enjoy what you don’t have, because it means you still have things to look forward to.

          I will buy whatever I feel like buying, provided I have the money to cover it. My most expensive purchase for one bottle so far has been Fleurs de The Rose Bulgare. I didn’t bat an eyelid, ‘though that is a lot of money for me, because I really love it. And if I should come across several extra thousands of dollars any time soon, I promise you I will be hunting down a bottle of Poivre extrait, and some Apres L’Ondee!

          • Musette says:

            You Get It!


            I hope you are always as rich as you are right now, which is rich, indeed!

            And I LOVE the story about the Joy bottle. Priceless!


          • Lee says:

            Not sure I agree that having nice things doesn’t stop others having nice things (head too full of Stanford and others like him, alongside the terrible wages paid elsewhere so that nice things are affordable to us), but like Musette, I love the Joy story.

          • tammy says:

            Lee, I absolutely agree with you on Stanford, Madoff and all that ilk, and wasn’t meaning those persons and companies who indulge in fraudulent activities and/or outright cheating, and dictators who grow fat and filthy rich while their entire population starve and don’t have clean water to drink, etc. Just meant that I wish people were able to allow themselves to enjoy something without feeling guilty.

  • Shelley says:

    And then a voice from another star in the spending constellation, located somewhere to the side of New England frugality, in sight of (but never contacting) spendthriftery, and aware of (but feeling badly for) the miserly.

    Luxury is one of those things, I think, that always lives best in tension between awareness/guilt and blithe wantonness. A pondful of philosophies converging here on this point, where you best understand & appreciate something when you are fully aware of the yin/yang, the opposites…not to mention the layers of meaning, memory, representation…

    Zoiks. All of which is to say, yeah, I feel your pain-pleasure. And I do believe that it is possible to indulge a scented luxury, because it is only “obvious” to those in the know (who therefore obviously totally get all the elements of pleasure it brings you). In other words, you’ve got it, but are only flaunting it to those who immediately forgive. And not taunting anyone else.

    I have all kinds of musings on this topic, and probably always will. I have had to live frugally all her life, yet have always had frequent contact with both those who think nothing of replacing a boring car AND those for whom next week’s meal is in question. I have played with musicians who have two Steinways in living rooms large enough to hold performances “en chambre,” and with musicians who are happy to not be living in their car. I dunno. It’s all out there.

    I was rather gobsmacked by this love for scent at my midlife…totally unpredictable. I think it is incumbent upon me to always be grateful for the ability to appreciate scent…never forget that the ability to indulge is a gift…and go ahead and keep on jumping up and down like a schoolkid with a dreamed of but unexpected gift whenever a fresh vial/decant/bottle comes in the house.

  • carter says:

    Shalako? Does this sound like it?

    In late-19th-century New Mexico, a hunting party of decadent European aristocrats wanders onto the reservation of some angry Apaches, and it’s up to the mysterious wanderer, Shalako (Sean Connery), to save them from getting slaughtered. The group includes Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in GOLDFINGER) as the sexually restless Lady Bagget and Brigette Bardot as the sharp shooting Countess Lazaar, who (of course) falls for Shalako. It’s an unusual blend of wide-open Western action and European character intrigue as the decadent aristocrats sip champagne and flirt with their unwashed, treacherous cowboy guides. Veteran director Edward Dmytryk keeps the flaming arrows flying while Connery and Bardot hold attention in this weird hybrid of American Western and European art film. (Yes, Bardot has a seminude bathing scene.) SHALAKO, based on the novel by Louis L’Amour, was filmed almost entirely outdoors amid the dark gray landscapes of Almeria, Spain, in a style undoubtedly indebted to the Sergio Leone spaghetti Westerns of the time.

    Wow. I’m speechless. I can’t even picture this cast im my head, much less the scenario. Dmytryk was a good director, but just thinking about this flick makes me feel like I must be drunk.

    Oh, and Lee? I ordered The Little Stranger late last night, possibly just as or just after you were writing this piece. Please stop making me channel you. Wait, no, don’t stop, it’s a good thing. I think.

    So, now, on to extravagance. What will I spring for, what does it take? Rarity, quality, beauty, brilliance. Individually, or in any combination. Art or craft that causes me to go weak at the knees or tear up in awe will simultaneously loosen my grip on my wallet. I do not have a large selection of perfumes, but what I have (along with a few blessedly inexpensive, wallpaper, spritz-with-abandon scents) is chosen with extreme care and held most dear. Most are vintage classics because I appreciate the sheer genius of them, and the rest are what I would classify as instant or soon-to-be classics like Iris Silver Mist, Bois de Violette, Carnal Flower and Homage Attar. And with all of these, less is more, making what at first glance might appear to be a damn-the-consequences spluge something rather more like a thoughtful investment. Or so I tell myself. But in fact Homage Attar, for example, being a highly concentrated oil (each small bottle requires an entire field of Ta’if roses, or so they claim) means that a tiny drop will do ya, and that, to me, is brilliant, and the knee-buckling quotient is off the charts as well.

    But of course this is coming from a girl with a shrine to a pair of Valentino shoes in her bedroom, so there’s that 😉

    • Musette says:

      For a hot minute I thought you wrote the review… erm, you didn’t, did you? Well, if you did, I am erecting a shrine to you! That film sounds totally wacktacular!!!

      And I like the idea of expensive scent as investment. I quaffed a NV Vilmart a few nights ago and it triggered that ‘what on earth am I waiting for?” nudge – so I pulled out some really wicked sheets, put on some vintage Femme, drank my Vilmart and painted my toenails.

      I will continue the thread today. We now have a little bit o’ money (what I used to make in a good month, but whatev) and I am going to splurge on lunch and a good 2 hours spent reading (libraries are the New Sex for me!, then off to an art opening (why not?) where I should’ve had a painting in the show but I am a lazy cow, so I will enjoy others’ work instead.

      It’s a beautiful day and I’m going to enjoy it like it’s 1999!


      ps. I’m in queue for The Little Stranger, meself! Can’t wait!

      pps. Carter, can you put up a photo of your shrine on your page? I am dying to see this! Is it anything like the May shrines of old? I spent hours weaving teensy little crowns for the 12″ high Virgin statue and always mourned that I wasn’t chosen May Queen – so I made my own May shrine and did the whole processional (my dogs hated my guts, come May)

      • Lee says:

        Toenails, sheets, Femme. Now, that’s sighworthy.

      • carter says:

        Sweetie, I had to put away the shrine when the Puppymonkey Monster landed (I actually had to have a shoemaker — a freaking genius, if you ask me — reconstruct one-half of a pair of beautiful Pradas after Dash chewed it to smithereens. Nevah agin! NOT the Valentinos! It would be murder-suicide nightmare — curtains for the little angel and I have no intention of taking the rap. I would be happy to put up a pic of the shoes if you’d like, but I don’t think that’s quite what you’re interested in.

        I love libraries (and really good sheets — ain’t they grand?) too. I went to book (ha!) the book online, but the queue is like 300 people long so I broke down and got it on amazon. It kills me to do it, though. I did request Cormac McCarthy’s gorefest quote-unquote masterpiece Blood Meridian though — figured it was time to bear down and bite the pun-intended bullet 😉

        • Lee says:

          Tis an awesome book. We’re ‘remodelling’ our study – less room for all my books which I’m boxing up and charitying. Some – like Blood Meridian – have to stay, however…

          • carter says:

            Did you know that there’s a reader’s guide? Actually, I believe there are a couple, but this is the one that garners raves. It has just been re-released — if you’re interested, you can peruse it here: http://tinyurl.com/l37mmv

        • Musette says:

          ROFL WITH you re the Pradas. Been there with a pair of neon-yellow high-heeled booties (back in the early Prince days) and an Airedale puppy.

          It’s a wonder they live to doghood.


    • Lee says:

      That’s it. My, I never n]knew it had such camp appeal, or that Bardot was in it, or that the pearl swallower (ahem) was Honor Blackman. How odd. I should rewatch it, I think.

      You’ll enjoy the book, no doubt.

      And where it is perfection, money doesn’t (or shouldn’t, or nearly doesn’t or something) matter.

      Off to walk my terriers (kidding, kidding…)

    • Shelley says:

      Carter. ♥.


  • Musette says:

    Lovely post, darling!

    I was a spendthrift of the highest order, buying bespoke linens and cases of vintage champagne without thought for tomorrow…and ogling 11cwt emerald-cut diamonds with an eye to actually BUYING one (where’s the ROFL emoticon when you need him?!!!). I spent way too much time in Graff, way, way too much time hunting through my Kelly or Birkin for my bespoke leathergoods, etc…..

    …and then the Universe giggled, took all my money and plunked me down in a cow pasture, where I can’t even WEAR my worldly goods because who wears Manolos or Jimmys on a forklift?

    So I’ve learned to readjust my thinking.


    I’m way big on sampling now and hunting down vintage or current frags at fleas, antique shops and garage/estate sales. More ‘Evening in Paris’ than we could all shake sticks at but occasionally I score big; just got a leetle bottle of My Sin extrait as well as a tiny,vintage Shalimar that blew the hair off my head.

    And don’t get me started on the Coty Paris PdT that I got for $3. 90% full, with one of those incredibly useful little plastic stoppers. Top notes a little wonky but the drydown is painfully lovely. I’m taking my spendthrift ways into that direction, with a focus on ‘thrift’.

    I did splurge on Drama Nuui (March is so glad I finally got it so I can shut the hell up about it) and a bottle of my summer staple, Bigarade Concentree.

    That’s about as far up the food chain as I can go. It’s still the cows and the forklift for me, baby, for a couple more years.


    • Kim says:

      Vintage Shalimar is amazingly, truly drop-to-your-knees gorgeous, isn’t it?? Makes you want to shout Yowhzah!!
      I keep hoping to try vintage Mitsouko – must be amaaaaaazing. (insert heart-clutching emoticon)

      • Musette says:

        Until I smelled this little vintage bottle I had no idea how truly gorgeous Shalimar can be. My mother wore it but mostly in the EdT and I absolutely hated it (of course, I was in my early teens at the time so I hated everything!) – I remember her having the perfume but it wasn’t to be touched and since I hated the smell of the EdT I doubt it even registered.


        ps. I’m terrified by the very thought of vintage Mitsouko. I love the current iteration too much as it is. What if I were to fall in love with vintages? I could see myself cracking around on eBay, spending what few simoleans I have, trying to score ‘the’ perfect vintage.


        • carter says:

          Lee’s right. Don’t Go There! In that particular case, ignorance truly IS bliss. Dammit.

    • Lee says:

      And whatever you turn your hand to, it seems to work, A. That’s the important stuff. Though day-umm, I bet you look good in those kick-ass shoes.

      Oh, and vintage Mitsy. It’s a drug. Avoid it, or you’re fall hopelessly under its spell.

  • Kim says:

    Guerlain Angelique Noire – love it, almost ready for my second bottle in 14 months. Not spendy compared to JAR or Amouge but still spendy for regular application but worth every penny.

    And I would pay through the nose without hesitation for
    vintage Guerlain: Mitsouko, Djedi, Shalimar
    or vintage Chanel: No 5., Cuir Russie.

    • Lee says:

      Careful with that nose of yours. But when it’s love, it’s love. And you’re totally right.

  • March says:

    You forgot?!?!

    (mouth-breather emoticon)


    My last purchasing luxury was Lady Day, which per ml is in JAR territory, I think. And I don’t care, at least it’s a small bottle!

  • Tiara says:

    I had a memory that I held near and dear. Until an aunt burst my bubble and I realized my childhood filter had clouded what really happened. I felt very sad for a while, almost as if I’d lost part of my childhood.

    Raised without luxury and little money, I am quite the tightwad when it comes to perfume and cosmetics. Makeup is bare essentials only. With most perfumes, I’m usually happy with a sample. Have even balked at paying for the more expensive samples. My husband keeps encouraging me to enjoy what we’ve achieved. I struggle with that but am working on it. Just need to find a pocket big enough to tuck away the guilt.

    Allergies prevent me from sampling often so I can’t try as many as I’d like. I believe that there is a Holy Grail for me so that keeps the spending in check as well. If I’m going to drop big bucks on a perfume, it has to drop me to my knees. Have had a few buckle the knees, but haven’t hit the floor yet.

    • Lee says:

      I entirely understand and thanks for sharing. The memories we think we have often seem – and are- much more important than the truth of what happened.

      But do enjoy. Please! 🙂 And while waiting for the leg-buckler, keep wading through the knee-tremblers!

  • Melissa says:

    We grew up with parents who were Depression-era frugal in some ways, but willing to spend on the those things that they believed were enriching. They still have the dining room and bedroom sets that they bought 52 years ago when they married. But anything that they believed to be educational or culturally enriching was okay, to a point. Theatre, music lessons, good food, interesting vacations and books were in. Expensive clothing, flashy cars, trendy bedroom sets and electronics were out.

    My buying habits are less restricted than theirs, but I tend to follow in their path. The exception is electronics. I love my gadgets! But our furniture is modest and my clothing is certainly not high-end designer. Fragrance, in my opinion, does not fit into the same category as clothing. My fragrance is my father’s French cuisine. And it lasts longer too. So, the occasional bee bottle or (gulp) Amouage purchase makes its way onto my buying list.

  • Olfacta says:

    For me it has to be something they’re not making any more. About a year or so ago I bought a quarter ounce of vintage Mitsouko perfume and 50 mls of Coty Chypre EDT and haven’t regretted it at all. But I did get good prices on both, I have to admit — years of living on a shoestring budget when I was younger made me frugal. Samples and decants are usually enough.

    • Lee says:

      Living on a shoestring in the past has made me have perverse qualities about spending – either desert or flood!

      Enjoy your vintage lovelies.

  • Ann C says:

    Interesting post. I can almost picture the scene you’re talking about–I wonder if I also saw this movie as a kid.

    I’m a New Englander, and we pride ourselves on frugality. While I’m not particularly frugal, I do gulp at the prices of some high end perfumes. I did cave in after I sampled 31 Rue Cambon, which proved to be a case of instant love. I expect that the huge bottle will last for years, so I was able to justify the cost as a good buy. I just hope I don’t tire of it too soon!

  • Louise says:

    Oh, virgin comment territory..

    Darling, your “lickety-split dashings” make one wonder what your artfully crafted work would look like 😉

    I have many childhood memories that may be largely fictitious. One in particular involves my scooting (never learned to crawl apparently) into my parents bedroom, pulling myself on mom’s vanity, and dumping a box of Chanel #5 powder on my head. I included a Mommie Dearest followup in the memory, but would prefer to bury that bit.

    Point being, I grew up with in a comfortable family, with plenty of touches of luxury. Mom had fur (I have the evil little mink head stole to prove it), she was perfumed, travel was frequent. So while I worked from a young age and was held to high expectations of “performance”, and of course had a long granola phase, touches of luxury were always available, largely guilt-free.

    All said, I do have limits on what I will spend on perfumes and other luxuries. JARs are just not going to happen, as are Crowns, or most Amouages. Somethings I refuse to smell, because I just won’t buy it. A big splurge that was completely justified this year was Onda-not only a splendid fragrance, but a cost put in the direction of supporting a wonderful independent artist. That is well-justified luxury.