Not a perfume review. by Tom

Well, cats and kittens, in addition to being on my home at Perfume Smellin Things, I’m going to be posting here on Tuesdays for a while.  I’m considering it a “special guest star” type of deal, since I’ve secretly always wanted to be Amanda Woodward.  Really I’m thrilled.

For my first review, I’m not going to do a review.  What I’d like to do is get a discussion started about buying perfume.  Personally, I’m at the point where I don’t think I need to buy any more perfume.  That’s right.  Even ones that I’ve tried and absolutely adored I don’t necessarily want to buy.  Why?  I can’t do so without thinking about The Collection.  I think if I actually numbered them for you all some of you would sneer- it’s most likely not even up to the number of my age.  So many of them are sadly neglected, and not because I don’t love them.

Some are just too, well, too much.  For instance, Ambre Sultan. It’s stunning: the penultimate amber, thick, warm, almost glottal in its resiny heat.  It’s also almost unwearable for me outside of my house.  Somehow this tall pasty WASP cannot pull it off.

Some just get lost in the shuffle.  The other day I rediscovered the bottle of French Lover (Bois D’Orage in the States, but I had it shipped from France so I could have the name) and wondered where it had been all my life?  It smells like Clark Kent about to rip off his shirt in a phone booth.

Some are kittens that sometimes develop claws.  I love the bottle of Mandarine Mandarin that my friend brought be back from Paris as a thank you for some task I had done, but once in a while that happy satsuma delight becomes celery tendrils that threaten to strangle me.

Of course some of this could be that I have chosen to write about these scents.  I’m not getting paid in any way to do so mind you, and I would most likely do so even if there weren’t the internets for me to post to, much in the same way that I would continue to try to find the perfect gelato, hair goop or bath salts.  I suppose in my own way I am a sensualist: I cannot afford to indulge myself with trips to glamourous locations or luxury automobiles or designer duds.  There’s also the reality that I hate to fly, don’t care about ostentatious transportation that’s going to be at the tender mercies of supermarket parking lots and could neither afford nor fit into those clothes.

But I can (sort of) afford the sniffage habit.

I think I’ve reached a tipping point.  I’m going to sample endlessly, write perhaps more than you’d like to read.  But I’m not going to buy.  The bottle of Cravache I got last week I don’t count because that was a gift certificate from Bitsy for Christmas.

illus.  pourya’s blog (terrific Iranian music reviews).  some rights reserved

  • Tara C says:

    I am with you Tom… haven’t bought a bottle in 3 months and no plans to buy any soon. Have sniffed a few samples but mostly I just want to wear what I already have. Of course with upwards of 400 bottles that should keep me busy for a while…

  • mary says:

    Tom–yesterday, I brought home a blackberry pie, and swore I would only have one small piece. Resolve can be challenged by circumstances. I’ll see you at Scentbar!;):d

  • blacknarcissus says:

    I have a Japanese friend who has recently discovered true perfume. She sent me a text this morning ( I gave her a sample of Ambre Sultan yesterday) and said she was crying with pleasure at this discovery..

  • violetnoir says:

    Tom! I wish I had your restraint, darling.

    In other words, I should be at the tipping point, and lord knows my cabinet runneth over with bottles, but I can’t stop buying. If I sample and I love it, I have to have it!

    Maybe a twelve-step program is in order???

    Hugs!

    • Tom says:

      I’m thinking “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” on this one. I personally am waaay down on the buying thing.

      Of course that will most likely change in a heartbeat.

  • March says:

    I love “I don’t count that Cravache…” let’s hear some more perfume rationalizations! 😉 Also, you live in a great place to do lotso sniffing in the stores!

  • melanie says:

    can I change the subject slightly? I am planning a trip to Los Angeles in two weeks and would like some recommendations for perfume shopping ( not completely off the subject, actually).
    Any places that any of you would recommend in l.a.?

    • March says:

      Barneys, LuckyScent, Luckyscent, Tom will chime in, LuckyScent, drive out to Venice Beach if you have time and go to Strange Invisible Perfumes.

    • Thalia says:

      In addition to Lucky Scent ;) aka Scent Bar, nearby you’ll find Barneys, Saks, and Santa Maria Novella. Le Pink on Sunset in Silver Lake carries a lot of niche lines, too.

      There are also many, many perfume boutiques all over the L.A. area, depending on where you’ll be staying. I know of four in Glendale alone!

      • tammy says:

        Thalia, do tell! I am further south in Orange County, but I am in Pasadena once a month….

        • Thalia says:

          The four Glendale perfumeries are Elise Perfumes on Wilson, Perfumes of France on Broadway, Arsenio Perfumes on Chevy Chase, and Fragranza in the Glendale Galleria. They all carry the usual small-perfume-store mix of familiar Sephora brands with smaller/more perfume-classic houses like Balmain, Mauboussin, Molinard, and Mariella Burani, and the pricing is better than a department store, but usually not quite as good as the Internet. Elise has GREAT customer service and a fairly random sale table where you can sometimes get very good deals.

          If you want to sniff Madame Jolie, Bal a Versailles, or Rochas Femme in person before commiting to a buy, these are great places for that sort of thing.

    • Tom says:

      These six are all in the same area:

      Blunda 314 S Edinburgh (east of Fairfax, south of 3rd St, Grove adjacent)

      Palmetto 8231 3rd Street (between Flores & Sweetzer)

      Le Labo 8385 3rd Street (East of Orlando Ave and the LA branch of Magnolia Bakery is on the corner)

      Apothis at Fred Segal Melrose at Crescent Heights (has parking)

      Santa Maria Novella Melrose Place between Orlando and Croft (note Melrose PLACE, not ave)

      And of course ScentBar Beverly Blvd between Flores & Sweetzer.

      Parking in the area is difficult, a lot if the side streets are permit only but you can park for less than two hours on some of them. Check for signage.

      There is also of course The Grove, which has a Nordsstrom in it with a pretty good beauty department.

      Saks, Neimans & Barneys are right on Wilshire in Beverly Hills, and all have 2 hour validated parking. There are also 2 hour free city lots on Beverly, Rodeo & Dayton

      If your in Venice SIP is worth stopping into, 1136 Abbot Kinney at San Juan Avenue. There are other shops in the area, but I’m not in that part of town often since I pretty much have the fumes needs covered by the BH/WeHo area.

      • mary says:

        Ooh thanks for this list! I would add Parfum Raffy’s bricks and mortar store,the “Duty Free”shop on Ventura Blvd. in ShermanOaks. They are so sweet and helpful there. Also, they have cool and unusual samples,including little Amouage weekender sample packages with perfume, body creme and shower gel. Just the thing for that anniversary date with your honey. Reasonable prices and occasional steep discounts.:)>-

  • aotearoa says:

    I’ll really look forward to your regualr posts Tom as I very much enjoy your writing.
    I,too, have a ‘use up the decan’t rule before considering a bottle.Even then I’ll search ebay for partly used one and have got some bargins that way. Currently dreaming of a bottle of Bois et Fruits which is currently temptingly- but expensively- on offer in non bell jar form. Hmmmmmm….maybe someone will talk me out of it!

  • (Ms.)Christian says:

    I started “seriously” collecting back in the late 70s, so I have A LOT OF STUFF.

    Like you, Tom, and a lot of the posters here, it is now extremely rare for me to buy a full bottle of anything.

    Over the past 4-5 years, I had to face the fact that a lot of my acquiring was borne of boredom and the desire to treat myself because there were intangible things I was not getting in my life. After dealing with those facts (not nice but necessary), 98% of my buying became the purchase of samples and the rare decant. I’m trying to “treat” myself in ways that are real treats-nice sheets, kitchen sundries that I really need and use, home and garden projects.

    I look forward to seeing you here regularly now, Tom.

  • maggiecat says:

    I’ve finally figured out that I don’t need an FB of every scent that appeals to me, and that often a good sized decant will do until my ADD little self moves on to the next great love. But sometimes you just need to know a beloved scent is… abundantly there. Just for you.

  • Kim says:

    Well, I disagree about Ambre Sultan – it is full bottle worthy for me, especially layered with other Lutens like Chergui or Un Bois Vanille. In the category of ‘spray at will as soon as I get home and my coat is off.’ Be still my beating heart!!

    But I do agree that I may not get through all my bottles in my lifetime. Yet I still buy full bottles… However, after the advice of March the Sage here at the Posse, only after going through a decant. That is my test – if I love it enough to go through at least one decant, than I will spring for the full bottle. Spraying from a wonderful bottle is a part of the experience for me, small but part none the less.

    • Tom says:

      Don’t get me wrong- I love AS and have a full bottle. It’s just a bit much on me to wear out of the house unless it’s really cold out.

      Ive been doing the same thing vis a vis buying a full bottle. I use a 2 decants rule though.

      • jen says:

        I say go against your steryotype (sp) Im the same physical type as you and I go for musky nasty perfumes that you would not think I would like!

  • Kym says:

    I’D LOVE TO READ YOUR PIECE BUT THERE”S AN AD ON TOP OF IT THAT WON’T CLOSE!

    • Tom says:

      Sorry- here’s the text:

      Well, cats and kittens, in addition to being on my home at Perfume Smellin Things, I’m going to be posting here on Tuesdays for a while. I’m considering it a “special guest star” type of deal, since I’ve secretly always wanted to be Amanda Woodward. Really I’m thrilled.

      For my first review, I’m not going to do a review. What I’d like to do is get a discussion started about buying perfume. Personally, I’m at the point where I don’t think I need to buy any more perfume. That’s right. Even ones that I’ve tried and absolutely adored I don’t necessarily want to buy. Why? I can’t do so without thinking about The Collection. I think if I actually numbered them for you all some of you would sneer- it’s most likely not even up to the number of my age. So many of them are sadly neglected, and not because I don’t love them.

      Some are just too, well, too much. For instance, Ambre Sultan. It’s stunning: the penultimate amber, thick, warm, almost glottal in its resiny heat. It’s also almost unwearable for me outside of my house. Somehow this tall pasty WASP cannot pull it off.

      Some just get lost in the shuffle. The other day I rediscovered the bottle of French Lover (Bois D’Orage in the States, but I had it shipped from France so I could have the name) and wondered where it had been all my life? It smells like Clark Kent about to rip off his shirt in a phone booth.

      Some are kittens that sometimes develop claws. I love the bottle of Mandarine Mandarin that my friend brought be back from Paris as a thank you for some task I had done, but once in a while that happy satsuma delight becomes celery tendrils that threaten to strangle me.

      Of course some of this could be that I have chosen to write about these scents. I’m not getting paid in any way to do so mind you, and I would most likely do so even if there weren’t the internets for me to post to, much in the same way that I would continue to try to find the perfect gelato, hair goop or bath salts. I suppose in my own way I am a sensualist: I cannot afford to indulge myself with trips to glamourous locations or luxury automobiles or designer duds. There’s also the reality that I hate to fly, don’t care about ostentatious transportation that’s going to be at the tender mercies of supermarket parking lots and could neither afford nor fit into those clothes.

      But I can (sort of) afford the sniffage habit.

      I think I’ve reached a tipping point. I’m going to sample endlessly, write perhaps more than you’d like to read. But I’m not going to buy. The bottle of Cravache I got last week I don’t count because that was a gift certificate from Bitsy for Christmas.

  • maidenbliss says:

    Looking forward to Tuesdays with Tom! I’m in agreement – I’ve got too much perfume, I take that
    back. There’s no such thing. But I did empty my cart @ TPC recently, told myself I absolutely did Not Need anymore perfume. It was a tough decision. It’s time to start wearing more and accumulating less. Which is very difficult because of blogs like this one.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Love reading your musings… so glad you’re posting here as well.

    I’m right there with you in thinking “I’ve got enough”, and find that I’m not even that interested in sampling any more. I’m quite happy with what I’ve got. Not to say in a year or so I won’t be overcome with an urge to find something new, but until then I’m happily enjoying my modest collection.

  • pam says:

    So glad you’ll be posting regularly! Yeah, I hear you about the Not Buying thing, and I am at least being more careful. But then, I am not exposed to niche fragrances (location, location). And I haven’t gotten into the buying of decants and samples. When I have a yen to sniff beyond what I have, and don’t have the funds, I go on a sniff trip to Ulta, Sephora, or the mall and that usually satisfies that itch. I do enjoy my bottles, though, because they leave me free to spray all I want whenever and not save the drops in a sample vial. Like I’m doing with Chinatown (and I refuse to pay that price right now!)

  • Sara A. says:

    Now I have to stop by Blue Mercury on my way home from work and re-smell Amber Sultan… on paper it just kind of smelled “meh” to me and I came home with the bottle of Sa Majeste la Rose I went there for. I’ve been questing for a more modernized version of my grandma’s favorite rose perfume that was still recognizably rose. (she says as she puts on her Azuree to go)

  • Olfacta says:

    I’m there too. I keep an Excel (well, Numbers) spreadsheet listing bottles and decants I have. Its size is shameful. But with the price of decants going up, I’m doing more bottle splits. It’s been awhile, though, since I’ve been overcome with gotta-have-it. I guess living in a city with lousy perfume shopping helps!

    • Tom says:

      Good for you for keeping track (and being a Mac person!). I’ve told myself I’ll do that but never end up doing so. Too many spreadsheets at work I think.

  • Melissa says:

    I noticed a few months ago that I wasn’t wearing a lot of the fragrances that I owned. So, I went through a big “culling” and sold a bunch of bottles on ebay. It just seemed a shame to have them sitting there neglected.

    So another vote for decants/bottle-splitting. I rarely buy a full bottle. Of a new fragrance that is. But I still collect vintage fragrances when I can find them for prices that don’t suck my wallet dry.

    • Musette says:

      I’m with you, Melissa (and you, too, Tom! 😡 I find it difficult to buy FBs when I can barely get through all the decants and samples (samples that I WANT to try, which makes it all the more difficult). Most of my FBs are vintages now – the occasional FB slips under the radar but even then I’m usually looking to split.

      Actuarially, I have more days behind me than ahead, so it’s unlikely I could do justice to FBs anyway!

      xo >-)

    • Tom says:

      I might want to hit eBay with some of mine as well..

  • sunnlitt says:

    I think that it’s entirely fair to not count that bottle of Cravache.
    After all, isn’t finding ways to ‘not count’ a perfume purchase one of the first skills that a smitten scent addict acquires??
    I do admire you resolve. Good Luck…

  • nozknoz says:

    It is funny how some scents (usually those in a large FB) can turn on one. I’m finding 5 ml decants kind of ideal for lavish spray tests over time. Tom, don’t ever worry about writing too much. Please DO sample endlessly and tell us all about it.

  • tammy says:

    If this ain’t a review, why did I just have to add a sample of Ambre Sultan to my TPC order???

    I’ve been buying less because it has finally dawned on me that I am just not ever going to like woods, citrus, fruity florals, musk, BWFs, gourmands in general and vanilla in particular, aldehydes, or sandalwood…..which has whittled my purchases right down, let me tell ya.

    Looking forward to Tuesdays!

    • tmp00 says:

      Tammy-

      Ha! Thanks!

      I’d said that about so many notes and been proven wrong so many times. I’m not buying because I just have so many. I’m going to de-lemming myself.

      Who am I kidding, I’ll last about 20 minutes before I’m yanking out twenties. One of the new Diors already makes me want to buy..