by No-Nose-Musette


First, I want to thank all of you who offered remedies, doctors, possible reasons, etc for my anosmic, tasteless self.  I am still somewhat taste-free (okay! you in the back row!  stop snickering!)….and smells are limited to what my soft palate can translate.  I’ve mostly given up on chocolate for the time being – it’s just too ridiculous.  I can smell  parts of most perfumes these days, just not in the nuanced fashion I would prefer (for example, L’Heure Fougueuse smells like straight green hay all the way through which, for that price point, is a Total Fail.  So back in the drawer for you, li’l filly! )  Rose is coming through loud and clear – but it’s making me nauseous unless it’s cut with something smoky.  If I weren’t so damn old (and El O so damn snipped) I would suspect pregnancy.  Luckily that is not possible, unless Gabriel came down and left a note that fell off the desk or something….if you see 3 guys on camels heading towards my house, could you ask them to make sure the frankincense and myrrh are perfume-grade?  Thanks!

But enough about my ailin’ self.  Let’s talk about collection.  Since I cannot smell or taste much these days I have been amusing myself with reorganizing my perfume armoire …and reading more of Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife.  In one chapter, she writes of the zookeepers saving the collection of the noted entomologist/collector Szymon Tenenbaum – read this intriguing paragraph:

An insect collection is a silent oasis in the noisy clamor of the world, isolating phenomena so that they can be seen undistractedly.  In that sense, what is being collected are not the bugs themselves but the deep attention of the collector……”collection” is a good word for what happens, because one becomes collected for a spell, gathering up one’s curiosity the way rainwater collects.

I thought that was  just so…lyrical.  And it holds true for any type of beloved collection, I think. though perhaps edible/wearable collections are a bit different.  I see my collection of perfumes as a living thing, mostly to be used.  But it isn’t always thus.  Sometimes I get caught up in the collection itself, rather than the parts.  I ogle the Cartier jewel-tone boxes that house Mme Laurent’s exquisite creations, the matte black boxes from Malle…the variations of elegance that is Dior and Chanel…and it’s time like that that I wonder if I’m in love with perfume or the collecting of perfume.  This isn’t a judgement call, btw – I think there is room for any number of reasons why folks collect.  But reading that paragraph made me wonder about why people collect – and what they do with their collections.  My own perfume collection is modest by some measures, extravagant by others – and the reasons range from love of a certain fragrance or House, spanning eras, to the educational, which I reference-spritz so I can yark about it here but would never wear as mine own.  And sometimes, like an insect collector, well…..sometimes I get an endorphin rush just cataloguing and organizing all the bottles and decants and samples.  Reorganizing haphazardly placed decants and figuring out the best way to catalogue and store little 1ml samples so I can find them easily (each system is carefully thought out  but like any interactive system, is reliant upon the vagaries of human nature.  I am a medfly.  Today’s system has no defense against tomorrow’s ADD)…it’s very calming to lay out a bunch of decants on a towel and, once again, try to figure out the most efficient way to organize them – should they go with their FullBottle brethren or should they repose in the ammo box section……at that point the fragrances themselves are meaningless; it’s all about the collection.

So how do you look at your collection?  It doesn’t have to be a huge one, btw.  If you have 2 bottles and a handful of samples, you have a collection.  But what gives you the endorphin rush or the zen place?  Do you get jazzed about the organization?  Or could you not care less – it’s all about the juice and you don’t care if 31RC is laying up against that bottle of Angel.  Or do you, like me, dance back and forth between those two?  Or someplace entirely different?



excerpt from:  The Zookeeper’s Wife – A War Story, by Diane Ackerman

  • Jayne58 says:

    For me, it is more about the collecting than the keeping. The hunt and the initial thrill of experiencing and experimenting are much more compelling than the hoarding and cataloguing. From a life spent on the move, I have developed rules about clutter and strong convictions about claustrophobia, inconvenience and downright tyranny of having too many possessions. Rule Number One is that anything that hasn’t been used or enjoyed at least once in the last year must go – swap it, gift it, donate it, recycle it. Just before Christmas, I culled my perfume collection of all those bottles that I didn’t love and took them to work for people to try out and take away if they liked. I was was a bit tentative because I worried that some peple might be offended at being offered second-hand bottles, but I shouldn’t have been afraid. Much fun was had by all, the office stank gloriously and everything ended up with a new home.

    • Jayne58 says:

      Honesty compels me to admit that there is one exception to the one year rule – books. I have another continental shift coming up so even here will have to knuckle down and get ruthless. New Year’s Resolution – All paperback comfort reading to go to charity shops and be replaced by eBooks in future.

  • Rednails says:

    Well, I will never be too rich or too thin, but I can and do own too much perfume! Also, I used to get teased as a child for having a big nose, so perfume is my way of putting it to good use…

  • Lisa D says:

    I wouldn’t call my collection organized, as much as divided – stuff I wear a lot on the right, other bottles and sample vials on the left. The mass of both left and right does give me some pleasure, though. As do many who post here, I despair of ever making a real dent in the collection, and I do experience those pangs of conscience that tell me it’s silly/wasteful for one person to own more perfume than she could ever wear (I mean, shouldn’t I be giving to {insert charitable organization here} instead?), but I can’t help feeling a certain amount of maniacal glee when I see all of those bottles……..

  • Winifrieda says:

    Well I never thought I was much of a collector or hoarder….but I now seem to have (a) a collection of horses, all of whom have an excuse for being with me, going to breed those mares, bringing that young one on, simply can’t sell my faithful stockhorse or my daughters’ teenage pony club did everything on boy even though half the district wants him, etc….(b) the kerosene {I think you guys call them ‘oil’} lamps, which started when I went on ebay looking for a chimney because the one for the lamp I’d carted all over Australia from my days growing up on the farm got broken — well I now have an oil lamp collection of several dozen from all over the world, all obsessively restored back to working condition, many rare ones costing way more than a collection of Bell Jars…(I should have probably bought a new car)…
    And of course (c) the perfume.
    I keep it in bottles but blacked out by drapery on a shelf with twelve niches…one for each month of the year, and I have a ball deeply contemplating whether I’ve got them in the right month as the seasons roll on. The decants are in their own mini boxes according to month, its just so much delight poking into a section and finding something that’s new all over again! Samples are all in ziplocks according to House in a lidded hat box.
    BUT JUST THIS MORNING, I got all my Lutens Bell Jars samps and decants out and laid them lovingly on the bed BECAUSE I’M (we) are GOING TO PARIS!!!!!! Squeeeee!!! Have convinced Other Half its because of the art and culture, road trip, skiing etc, but really deeply the thing that got me off my lazy butt to organise it was the pilgrimage to the holy shrine of the Purple Palais!
    I thing that qualifies me as obsessive!

    • Winifrieda says:

      And I blame this blog! Iris Silver Mist and the Criminy..shifted my earth on its axis…

      • Musette says:

        Wooooot! Paris!!!! YAY!!!

        Have a chocolate sable for me at my beloved Pierre Herme.

        Stop by here on the way back, okay? 😉

        xo >-)

  • My collection is spread out all over the house, but based on a vague system: the more precious vintages and extraits live in the refrigerator, with the natural raw materials. The full bottles that have boxes and that I’m vaguely likely to wear (I almost never do because I’m testing) are all over the bedroom. The ones that don’t have boxes, or that I keep for reference, live with the older samples and decants, also kept for reference.
    As for what I haven’t tested yet, it’s all around my computer in different little boxes, staring at me accusingly.

    • Musette says:

      You don’t count! [-(

      I would be terrified to view your collection!!! The vintages alone would probably strike me stone blind!

      xo >-)

  • Austenfan says:

    That story about the camels and archangel Gabriel is sooo funny! It has made me giggle ever since I first read it.

    My full bottles are by house. The Goutals live in the fridge. I collect mostly for wearing but I tend to collect by house as well. I own nearly all of the Nicolaïs and about 80 % of the Goutals. Mind you I do wear most of those.
    Some perfumes are just there for occasional sniffing; Messe de Minuit for instance. My samples, fortunately I don’t have that many, are a mess frankly. They live in a small drawer, in bags, by house mostly.

    • Musette says:

      that sounds pretty organized to me!

      I’m thinking those camel-guys would be stunned, were they to show up here. At this point I could be Jesus’s grandmother!

      xo >-)

  • Julie says:

    Whenever I wonder why someone would collect something that seems ridiculous, I am reminded of a quote from Adaptation – “There are too many ideas and things and people. Too many directions to go. I was starting to believe the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size.”

    Especially now, there is so much stuff to read, watch, learn, etc., you really do have to pick something. If it wasn’t perfume, it would be something else. Sometimes I find that the collecting part of it (testing, reading reviews, commenting on blogs!, deciding to buy, searching online for the best price, the actual purchase) is more important than my actual enjoyment of the perfume once I get it. My collection isn’t really visible – samples are in a plastic shoebox in the vanity and decants and bottles in a baskets/trays on a shelf in the bathroom closet. I have started rotating a few on a tray on the vanity, so I do get to enjoy them more visually now.

    But my organizational genes (both parents librarians and pack rats!) show up in my spreadsheets. I have an Excel file with one sheet for items to buy or sample, one for samples I have with notes after I try them and then if I swapped them (don’t want to buy samples twice because I forgot I already tried it!), and another list with all my full bottles, minis, and decants, all sorted by house.

  • rednails says:

    I organize my bottles that have boxes in trays by spring/summer fall/winter. Bottles without boxes go in a separate tray fitting together like a puzzle. Decants are in a box by themselves, as are samples, organized in bags — handmade, manufacturer, vintage-reference. Minis sit in several cigar boxes — they’re hard to store. All of it is on shelves in a closet. I catalogue my collection online at Basenotes.

    I get enormous pleasure from playing with my collection, just as I did with my doll collection years ago. In fact, I consider my perfume collection the direct successor to my doll collection. What I wear usually is determined by weather/outfit, but often I do “French week,” “Italian week,” “chypre week” or “decant week.”

    Not too OCD, huh?

  • lala says:

    I get way more jazzed up looking at other people’s collections than my own. I about had an orgasm over Sorcery of Scent’s photos of his vintage Guerlain collection that were posted at Basenotes for a short time.

    • Musette says:

      I know what you mean – I don’t get jazzed over most ‘current’ collections but when I see photos of vintage ones…..oh, the drool, the DROOL!


      xo >-)

  • Patty says:

    Like Joanna, my collection is kind-of sort-of organized in my top dresser drawer (purposely put there to limit my acquisitions – if it doesn’t fit, I have to wait till I finish one to get something new). Organization depends on size & shape of bottle, i.e. where it will fit. When I’m making my daily “what-to-wear” decision, I’ll cast my eye over the bottles to seek out something I may not have worn for a while (don’t want any of the ‘fumes to feel left out). Sometimes I gloat, sometimes I feel guilty. As for samples, no organization at all. I dump them all into a shoebox.

    • Musette says:

      Your FB setup sounds very disciplined! Your samples….not so much! ;)) (I think samples is where most folks, myself included, are most challenged. All those little vials!

      xo >-)

  • Sherri M. says:

    Like Hong Kong Mom, I enjoy my collection on many levels–the perfumes themselves, the bottles, the samples. I’m not one to keep them in their boxes; I like looking at them too much. I have a big closet and bought some of those spice tiers so I can see all the bottles. They look very glamourous if I do say so myself, and they’re in the dark for the most part. I’m a visual person and, if I’m not especially fond of a bottle, a decant of something I like from TPC is good enough. If however, I like the bottle, I always seem to buy it–for myself or my daughters (who have a collection of Harajuku Lovers, Katy Perry Purr, Hello Kitty, etc.) I collect lots of things–china, flow blue and linens.

    I also keep some for sentimental and or reference reasons (Shalimar in various iterations, Mitsouko, Joy, etc.) but seldom wear them. Sometimes I just spray them to be transported to another moment in my past, or remember someone dear to me.

    My samples are another story. What a mess right now–gotta get rid of alot! I love to try everything (spend a ton but I get myh money’s worth of enjoyment) and only a small percentage will I ever wear again, so they definitely need a new home.

    I hope whatever this is that is affecting your sense of smell will just go away and leave you alone! Thank you for writing this post, and I hope you are back to your smelling-everything self soon! :-)

    • Musette says:

      I like the idea of spice tiers in a closet! I miss not ‘seeing’ my bottles! :-?…time to reconsider my organizational system…

      hang onto those samples – you might want to do some swapping come the next Swapmania!

      xo >-)

      ps. thanks for the kind wishes, too! I’ll be back to smelling and tasting soon!

    • mals86 says:

      Flow Blue is lovely! And I admit to haunting antiques stores for other people’s grannies’ hand-crocheted or embroidered linens, too.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    So far, I’ve come into this post with 27 full bottles of perfume and 48 decants (just counted). I have no real organization of what I wear on a daily basis. I’m going through a phase of wearing either Chanel no. 5 edp or no. 5 Eau Premiere.

    • Musette says:

      Both are very pretty, those Chanels. I think there are a lot of us who have a nice heft of a collection (as you do) but tend to not wear a whole lot of them on a regular basis. I wonder if others’ reasons dovetail with mine? That it’s actually a lot of work to decide upon a perfume from a large-ish collection (esp when you have a lot of decants)…so we tend to stick with what’s in rotation at that time?

      😕 perhaps a subject for a later post…

      xo >-)

  • KirstenMarie says:

    “I’ve mostly given up on chocolate for the time being – it’s just too ridiculous.” :o :((

    My collection is located right on top of my jewelry armoire, so I can look at the pretty bottles every time I walk by. And it’s tucked in a nook in my room, where the mean ol’ sunshine can’t hurt it.

    • Musette says:

      Don’t cry for me, KMariiiiie! ;))

      My guts can use the break – actually my guts could use a few more sit ups, etc. I can taste milk chocolate pretty well (on the left side of my tongue) but I don’t want to get too involved with it so I tend to avoid it altogether for now. Perhaps by the time it comes back I will have lost some of this gut so I can enjoy it with less guilt!

      My FBs are in drawers in my armoire, which means I can’t appreciate the bottles themselves. I’m thinking I might revamp, so the decants are in the drawers….we’ll see….that’s more than I can contemplate on a Tuesday! :”>

      xo >-)

  • Alison says:

    My organizing system is bare-bones simple. My collection is on a shelf in a closet, and the things I wear most are in the front while the less-used are in the back. I re-arrange and reacquaint when the mood strikes or the season changes.

    It has ever been thus for 39 years.

  • mals86 says:

    I pretend to organize.

    No, I guess I do organize to some degree. My samples are in one of three places: 1)the already-tested in the two craft boxes, organized by house 2)the untested in a basket on my dresser or in a Depression glass bowl on my nightstand 3) the tested I want to wear again in a box on the dresser. The bottles, decants & minis are organized roughly by season – as in, “wear now” or “wear later.” Wear Now bottles/decants are in the hatbox on my dresser. The rest are in the nightstand. Simple, but it works for me.

    That’s a very insightful quote on collections. I don’t seem to have those moments of satisfaction with my perfume collection, unless it’s the occasional hauling out of the minis for a picture, as I did last year. (They’re so… pretty! I have so… many!) Actually, my perfume collection probably gives me more guilt than anything else. (I have so many! I’ll never use them all up! If the house catches fire, these’ll only make it burn faster!)

    The collections that seem to give me the most pleasure are my painted wooden nutcrackers. (Speaking of which, it’s the second week of January, time to put them back in the attic. They’re the first Christmas decorations put up and the last ones down – everything else has been put away since New Year’s Day, but I love these guys and the kids gave them all German names, and they just Make Me Happy.) I do also enjoy the pink Depression glass dishes inherited from my grandmother – and speaking of my grandmother, now THERE was a woman loved her collections! Glass bottles, pretty rocks, pretty shells, books from certain authors, plants, bird figurines, anything with an owl on it (lamps, dishes, salt & pepper shakers, you name it). I have pack rat genes…

    • Musette says:

      Those inherited genes! 😉 Got some of those, meself! My mom chose the strangest things to collect – our house was pristine (except for her room, which was a mess but hey, it was Her Room [-( ) – she was the type of housewife who washed the floor of the laundry room every week and kept hundreds of old, used glass jars (with lids, of course) carefully washed and packed because ‘you just never know’…. Anyhoo, when she died, I had to go through the storage pantry and found, to my chagrin, over 75 Mrs Butterworth syrup bottles. She was convinced they were going to be collector’s items so she saved every one – except she washed off the labels! =))…..imagine, 75+ syrup bottles, each one individually wrapped in plastic, staring at me in mute despair….8-|

      Me? I recycle.

      xo >-)

      • ClaudiaRae says:

        OMG love the visual that evoked!
        I think my family saved the first few Butterworth bottles we emptied, but then the thrill wore off. I tend to save nice bottles (non-perfume), but if I can’t find a purpose for it after awhile, it gets tossed, with regret. One kitchen window is lined with empty blue glass water bottles. When the sun shines thru them it’s so pretty.

      • mals86 says:

        I recycle too… hiLARious story about your mom! Did I tell you the one about the big crock we found in my grandmother’s kitchen closet after she died? (She lived with my parents from the time I was a baby until about six years ago, and she had her own “apartment” in the finished basement.) Bambaw had stored this 40-gallon crock of HOMEMADE LYE SOAP in her closet – and then stored a buncha other stuff in front of it, which probably means that she had forgotten it was there. The worst part of it was that my mother recognized the crock as being a batch of soap her grandmother had made, in about 1960!!

        And yes, it *smelled* like 45-year-old lye soap. Imagine Mr. Yuck emoticon here.

        • Musette says:


          Sur-prize, sur-prize, sur-prize!


          I’m surprised that soap didn’t chew through that crock, given that it had 20+ years to do it…:-?

          did you guys ever use it? what would one use lye soap for these days?

          xo >-)

          • mals86 says:

            No, we didn’t use it! (C’mon, people used lye soap because they couldn’t afford the storebought!! Once you can afford to buy soap not made from pig fat and lye, you never look back!)

            It was a really thick-walled crock. Thank goodness… because can you imagine the floor if it hadn’t been? Prolly woulda eat through the floor, too.

  • Joanna says:

    Ouch! LOL’d @ “….if you see 3 guys on camels heading towards my house, could you ask them to make sure the frankincense and myrrh are perfume-grade? Thanks!” while drinking coffee and ended up with coffee dripping from my nostrils. Thanks!
    My collection is kind of sort of organized in a dresser drawer. It’s not very big. It has been larger in the past but several times a year my old college roommate and I swap perfume and beauty products that don’t get much play in our own collections. That and the funds are low right now so I can’t add new bottle very often, *SOB!* And since my mantra for the new year is take less, give more I’ve been trying to not obsess about bottles I want.
    I have sat and questioned this myself though. I think I do get caught up in the collecting…the collection, at times. I think I have to question my motives when I consider a new bottle from now on…”Do I want this because I love the scent or do I want it to add to the collection?”

    • Musette says:

      As with you, J, being broke has given me a whole new perspective on ‘wanting things’. I’m in the same reflective state you are and find that if I just settle down and wait, I find I don’t want that FB all that much and am happy with a split or decant . Not judging those who have closets full of FBs – I’ll come visit them any day! 😉 But I just no longer have a huge need for it. Of course, vintages are a bit different….:-?

      xo >-)

      ps. a customer/friend is moving up to Mason City for a project. I sent them the info for Nwestern Steak House! Thanks again for that!

      • Joanna says:

        :) My husband just made me promise last night that we can go there this weekend for date night. Let them know to call ahead and get on the wait list. It’s a tiny place with a faithful following.

  • pam says:

    Wow, I am among some very organized people! I enjoy my collection for all the reasons about, but the only organizing I do is occasionally rearranging the boxes that the bottles are in. I love looking over all the boxes and deciding what I want to spritz. The rearranging is good to remind me of things I may be overlooking. Small, short boxes like Ferre.

    I enjoy the bottles themselves, but never leave them exposed to light. And I never allow myself to buy something solely for the bottle.

    • Musette says:

      Oh, I think you’ll find a whole lot more of ‘us’ on here, don’t worry! 😉

      I think collecting (of anything) is an excellent outlet for OCD folks – my ex used his art library thus and it kept him from checking the door locks 10 times (in particular sequence), so I embraced the endless library cataloging, etc….

      I’m a hybrid OCD/ADD, which is just an absurd combo. I’m lucky my head isn’t spinning! Literally!


      xo >-)

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    I have my samples organized by season to some extent. The bottles I always intend to rotate but usually don’t get around to doing. My minis are in a box of ones I don’t want and another of ones I do. (When I buy minis, they are almost always in a group with one or two things I want and a few more I don’t.)

    Every now and then I get that bottle urge, but I beat it back down. I just can’t justify spending on a beautiful bottle if I won’t wear the perfume. I guess you could say I beat back my internal bottle ho.

    As to samples I don’t want, I tend to forward them on. Just because I don’t like something, does not mean someone else won’t like it.

    The only thing I catalog is my full bottle list, as well as my full bottle to be purchased list. I kept that on my phone.

    • Musette says:

      I love splitting/decants for that very reason, Mrs. H. Actuarially, I don’t think I could ever make even a tiny dent in my collection, were they all full bottles – and I don’t need all those full bottles hanging around, not being used – bad juju, imo. Because of the blog I tend to keep at least a little bit of most perfumes, just for reference – but if it’s a FB I don’t like (or a huge decant) it usually finds its way to a loving home pdq!

      xo >-)

  • Delfina says:

    Hi, I am a little bit of an obsessive-compulsive type, and while my perfume cabinet is organized mainly for brands, with some exceptions, and is meant as a collection of fragrances I love to wear (here too with some classics as a reference, which at some moment I thought I would wear) my obsessiveness comes out especially in the recording phase.
    Every evening, since March 23rd, 2008 (about four months after the explosion of my perfumania), I fill in a Word file, writing down date and perfumes worn that day, with a tiny image of the perfumes underneath. Like a visual diary of what I wear, that I start over again with a new name at the beginning of every year.
    Every day I update another file with the names of the perfumes and, beside, the number of times I have worn them. The order, up to down, is from the most to the least worn, and each day some fragrance shifts position according to the use it got. Every three months I save this file with a progressive number and date and leave the former as an outline of my perfume use of that period.
    I then have specific monthly and three-month files in which I count how many times I wore what perfumes and which were the most used in that period.
    Last year my macbook had some problems with its hard disk and I lost some data: some pages of a translation I was working at and about two weeks of my perfume diary. I managed to reconstruct some “olfactive days”, but not all, and I felt really lost.
    Ok, now that I ‘fessed up, I feel better, AA better :-)

    • Musette says:


      I think collectors of any type are a bit OCD – I know I am. Alas, my OCD nature is always trumped by my ADD nature. I make all these wonderful planning/org charts….and then I forget to implement whatever…and it all goes to hell in a handbag. But while I’m organizing, I’m having a whale of a time!

      Yours is an amazing setup! I could manage that for, oh, about .03 seconds. The first spreadsheet would probably lay me out!

      xo >-)

  • hongkongmom says:

    Hope your taste and smell come back soon!
    Perfume is for me all of the above…the juice, the bottles , the boxes, the samples, the organizing…it is endless happiness….there will always be more to smell, see, touch, and organize!!! And last but not least…the sharing and communicating with all you guys

    • Musette says:

      I’m so glad you join us here – reading your comments is always a delight! Your driving forces seem to mirror mine in the collection aspect – they’re all over the place – and they all give such pleasure!

      xo >-)