I’ll be honest – my brand-new decant of Nuit de Tubereuse arrived the same time as the summer heat. It’s 94 and sunny, and I’ve done pretty much nothing but … how did Tom put it? Drench my poitrine with NdT until my socks were wet. I went to a much-anticipated party on Saturday night, with lots of old friends, and they know about my perfume foolishness. You will be unsurprised to hear that I cheerfully invited them all to lean in and sniff an interesting take on a tuberose, just released in the United States!! Reports were favorable. Today I’m wearing it again, and if the heat holds maybe I’ll throw some on tomorrow, that or the Amaranthigh. I’ll try to wear something new by Wednesday – the new thing sitting right here to the left of my computer, actually.
So today let’s visit another topic. I had cause recently to root around through my fairly extensive sample/decant collection, making up my side of a swap package. I have a lot of samples, and while I joke about my ineptitude, the samps are in fact pretty well organized, sorted into sealed plastic tubs alphabetically by house. This means that if someone is interested in experiencing the joys of Serge Lutens, I can find those samples in one place in fairly short order. Things are a bit more complicated with the larger atomizers that don’t fit into the tubs, but I can usually find what I’m looking for.
It seems to me that the concept of sample-swappage as we know and love it has been going on most aggressively during the same time that I developed my perfume habit – that is, over the most recent five or six years. I’m talking about the making, collecting, trading and storing of fragrances in containers other than their original packaging, for swap or for sale, initially aided and abetted by places like MUA, Basenotes, and eBay. Two or three years ago, I discovered that the contents of some of my older plastic atomizers had gone seriously “off” – there was speculation that the plastic itself was a problem, and I think that most of the decanters switched to glass atomizers around that time, although I have no idea if that’s why. Glass breaks and is heavier (?) so the plastic ones made a certain amount of sense, even if they weren’t very elegant. Anyhow, all my good stuff I re-decanted into glass atomizers quite awhile ago, although the spray mechanism itself is plastic. While I’m babbling, let me stress that a) I store them upright when possible and b) a lot of the new, small spray ones don´t come with caps the way they used to.
So color me sad when I realized that the contents of several of my larger (8ml?) glass atomizers, which are capped and upright, seem to have mostly evaporated, along with the contents of several smaller spray atomizers (the capless ones) and even a few of my teeny vials, which are still capped tight. I’d been nursing along a few drops of vintage Chanel 22 parfum which is now completely empty. Presumably all of this took place slowly, over a long-enough time that I didn’t discover anything amiss.
And yes, this is very sad. But once I looked past the sad part, it got me thinking. I’ll spare you the gag-inducing firefly-in-a-jar analogies, but let’s face it: some of this stuff, it ain’t necessarily gonna last forever, particularly if we’ve only got a few ml of it.
I went to the house of Friend X, and was astonished to discover that her custom-designed Decanting Space smelled of nothing. I mean, there was no huge perfume off-gassing. And she laughed and said that if it smelled, there’d be something wrong. It would mean something was incorrectly stored.
Well, hmmm. Most of my vintage perfumes, and much of my perfume in general, is in the empty bedroom on the north side of our house. The room is cool and dark. It also smells quite strongly of vintage perfume, right now with an overlay of Chamade, most likely. But if it weren’t Chamade, it would be something else. I suppose I could run around weeping and tearing my hair out and then go in there and – I don’t know what. Seal all my stoppered flacons inside Saran Wrap and duct tape? Where’s the fun in that? If I can’t walk by my dresser and pop the teensy stoppers off my vintage, better-than-Shalimar Emeraude, or my skanktastic fingernail-sized bottle of Youth Dew Bath Oil, or my recent eBay win, a room-clearing mini of Dune in parfum, well … I don’t see the point of owning them. I can only assume that molecule by molecule, drop by precious drop, some (most?) of those stoppered flacons and minis and carefully, lovingly prepared homemade vials and decants are evaporating, no matter how careful I am about making sure the stoppers are in and the kids aren’t playing with them.
Someone on the blog last week made a comment about hoarding the last precious few drops of a much-loved sample. I think it was Chanel No. 5 parfum, vintage. And several of us chimed in and said, wear it. Go on and wear it. Enjoy it now, just because you can. Unless you live with another perfumista, nobody else in your house is going to appreciate those last couple of drops of Micallef Gaiac, or vintage Norell, as much as you will, right?
I have little stashes of vintage. In their own special boxes. Small vials. Long lost Guerlains, Lelong, Givenchy, some Weil, other things. I think it’s time to start wearing them.
PS Thanks everyone for your feedback on contact lenses — it’s nice to read various perspectives on the daily/weekly/monthly contacts as well as other options. I’m sure the eyedoctor will have a recommendation, but I’m always interested in the opinions of others with experience and no particular agenda regarding sales, etc.