Finding the Best Perfume leads to 5 stages of perfume addiction.
We are in the midst of some long-overdue renovation here at El O World Headquarters. As usual His El O-ness has waited until it’s freezing cold outside to rip the house down to the studs – but whatchagonnado? Well, what I do is reorganize my closet and my perfume samples, since every last inch of the rest of the house is in chaos. Managing the perfume decants and perfume samples helps keep my anxiety in check. If you have been on here awhile you know I have this ‘thing’ about storage – I love organizing stuff, even if I can’t always keep it organized. When I came back to the house looking like it does in the photo above (note: it still looks like that, as I type this) I poured a bottle glass (GLASS! really..) of wine, went into the bedroom, closed the door and started reorganizing my 5ml perfume decants. The 5mls begat a thought about the 1mls and I started wondering how I got to the point where I have ammo box after ammo box of maybe-once worn, largely unexplored stuff…and stuff I hate? Why do I still have it? I still hate it. Or it’s just ‘meh to me, like Poor March and the Iris Ookie’. Whatever. WHY DO I STILL HAVE IT?
I am deep in one of the Stages of Perfumista-ism. I’m curious how I got here, and if any of you have gone through similar stages. Here are mine, in a somewhat lazy format:
1. Pre-P Existence: What you wore before you become a perfumista (for me that was Fracas, some Guerlains, Bal a Versailles and Fresh Lemon Sugar) – I wore the same thing over and over, not paying much attention to it. Vintage? What? It was vintage because it sat on my dresser for the past 10 years. Heh.
2. Toe in the Water. I Blame Google. I was bored, reflecting, wondering what is the best perfume…. had a Proust moment – for me it was Nina Ricci Bigarade. Led me to NST, which linked me to the Posse and blogs beyond. Before that I got into the Jo Malones because I like grapefruit and I liked the idea of having to call London to get it (this was Back Then – WAY back – there was no real Internet yet. I found it in a magazine editorial. In the Actual Magazine. wow. ). Never mind that when I did get it, it turned out to smell like alligator piss. On me. In the bottle it smelled just fine. Dang. It took me awhile to get my bearings. My nervous, early point of view translated to ‘What you think you ‘should’ be interested in’, once you get hooked on the concept of niche/sampling, etc – I clicked on Aedes and Luckyscent links….oooops! Katy, bar the door. I lost my mind, got the most obscure samples, not because they sounded particularly up my alley but because they were obscure. Marketing 101 Victim, right here! LOL! That also includes mass market reverse snobbery just for the snobbery of it. One minute Calyx was Perfectly Fine. The next?
2a. That Emperor is Wearing Some Crazy Clothes (aka ‘if Luca Loves It, It Must Be Good) Never mind that you HATE a particular note (or a particular perfume): The Guide/Posse/NST/X loves it and thinks it is the best perfume for (fillintheblank), suddenly YOU LOVE IT. Sub-division: Perfumer Paen. “X is a Genius! This was his finest creation!” Forgetting that it smells like weasel farts to you, you buy it anyway. Most of us get over this stage pretty quickly and opinions – popular and/or learned become useful tools instead of gospel. You get your mind back and feel way better about the whole thing.
2b (or possibly 1a – who knows?). Collecting every perfume sample on earth. Splits, decants, samples, swaps…if it’s out there, you must get your perfumista paws on it! Then: is Container Store your Holy Shrine or do you just have a big ol’ box where you throw everything in and …..and this is where it starts to get weird – what do you DO with all those perfume samples? are you collecting to sample them all? CAN you sample them all? Or are you just getting for the sake of getting? That Stage scared me silly – I had visions of Hoarders coming to my perfume closet.
The eeeeB. I am not even going to go there. That’s a post (or 12) all by itself. We all know That Drama: the vintage/obscure hunt, the 2am-glassofwine-hit ‘Bid On It” BID ON IT!!! BID ON IT, DAMMIT!!! ohhh, the humanity.. sniping? heck, half the time I couldn’t even remember what I just paid for, let alone bid on! I was Out. Of. Control. and it was fun!!!
3. 57 Channels and Nothing On. This came on just as I was facing 2B square in the face after a sample/decant bender that could’ve sunk a tanker. Instead of delight, the idea of rummaging through 4 ammo boxes filled with 1ml perfume samples fills you with despair. So you reach for Guerlaain Mitsouko and call it a day. This one comes and goes for me – the 7-Day Scent Challenge was actually a welcome relief to trying to figure out what the day called for. Not that I’m anywhere near interested in a full-time, signature scent – as in this is the best perfume – but it did ramp down what sometimes is a challenge – especially for something that should be fun.
4. Looking at scent for its own sake, devoid of marketing (or anti-marketing) hype. This is where true Perfumistaism begins, imo. But I think one has to go through some variations of the Stages to get there, unless you are born into a perfume family or are just blessed with lucky nose-genes.
5. Admitting you’re a Smell Freak and just going with it. Lemons, gasoline, knees, dog’s Frito-feet, wet pavement…a good Dior classic…Coty Sand and Sable…some fog-thing from Sweden…all can coexist in your milieu quite nicely. Exclusivity, vintage, label…none of that matters – it becomes all about the Smell. But you don’t have to keep everything you smell. Sending stuff out becomes as much fun as getting stuff in.
5a. The Cull.
This is where I am now and where the Fun Begins. I’ve gone through Number 3 about 3 times too many – time to thin the herd of the things that are NOT the best perfume so I can enjoy the new stuff that I am so glad comes my way. I’ve got a couple of little 1ml perfume sample bags – nothing fancy and I don’t have the slightest idea what will be in there. Tell me YOUR story – where are you now in The Stages? Do you have a different set of stages altogether? I’ll throw your name in the dog bowl and Bruno will pick a couple of winners. If you are at your own Stage 3, tell your story anyway – just let me know you don’t want any more samples! (yeah, right). I will try to get them to you in time for MMS (March’s Massive Swap) so this particular giveaway will close Midnight, Friday 19 November. If you win and you hate the stuff you get – why, you’ll have that much more to swap!
There are lots of Stages sub-divisions I have not addressed here, like vintage v. contemporary, celebuscents….feel free to whirl away on any of those and more!
photo: my living room/dining room…..le sigh.