On Wednesday, the Lovely Lady March led us merrily into the world of simulacra – the best perfumes you’d list as must-sniffs in terms of their representations of the real. And what great work you folks did in suggestions, recommendations and thoughts.
I had this post planned before I knew what March would be writing. Honest. It’s just synchronicity, innit.
I’m 42 next week. And a bell is ringing on my fragrance array, as loudly as the one saying ‘you’re in middle-age, dude’. These markers in life make me respond in what some might say are extreme ways.
A protestant work ethic minimalist at heart (if not in practice), the perfumes in my collection/hoard have long been bothering me. Not all of them, but the majority. You see, I just don’t wear them. A collection is just not necessarily a set of things you wear I guess – it’s more a personal choice of highlights from the plethora of perfumes in existence or dead, as well as a map of the perfume landcape that you’ve shaped for yourself in some way. But… I’m tired of all that land. I love how the hills and valleys and glades look, but perhaps all I need is a small plot to call my own, that suits me best. A picket fence and a neat little house. One or two hills and a shady vale. Perhaps a dark forbidding wood. But not much more. Under a hundred acres, not a continent. I can always visit that continent if I want, but I don’t have to call it mine.
I’m ruthless with clothes. There are those items I keep because I wear them and they’re vintage and wonderful. And there are those more transient garments that wear out from overwear (tautological? Me?), or are just no longer right. They go – the former to the bin or the garden store (dusters, rags, paint drip collectors); the latter to charidee. And I stop wearing some items altogether – denim jeans for example. I’d love to, but I’m farcical in young and funky, and depressed in old and fogey.
The same with perfume. I have samples for those that I need to sniff, but now, if I don’t wear em, they’re gone. Last year I reduced from 120ish to 60ish. This year, I’m going for thirty or under. So, in the Lee-is-brutal rules of perfume ownership, I’m only keeping those that I know I wear regularly, or I know I might not now, but I will again soon. What follows is my Best Perfumes ‘you-are-so-totally-owned’ list. It’s a long way from completist and you might think ‘hey, he needs X or Y to sit alongside those’ . By all means tell me if you think the need is there, and I might respond. I’m just under 30 – I have room for one more. Maybe.
Dior Homme – only 10mls left. I won’t rebuy it. I overwore it and like skinny trousers, it doesn’t really fit now.
Bois d’Argent – a forever love. If nothing else works, I can rely on a trip to the silvery woods (where money grows on trees) to make me smile.
Eau Sauvage – forever crisp white shirt suitable.
Yves Saint Laurent
M7 Fresh – another one that’s running low, and won’t be replaced. But I have affection for it, simply because it’s my man’s favourite.
Rive Gauche pour Homme – the best fougere for me. Barbershop soap and salt. I’m not sure it actually is salty, but it works that way.
Eau de Cartier – high pitched violets and crispness. A summer essential.
Declaration – spicy translucence.
Bulgari pour Homme – another summer no-brainer. Nothing special, for those nothing special happening days. I’m surprised the bottle isn’t nearly empty.
Editions de Parfum
Frederic Malle Geranium pour Monsieur – it makes me want to put creases in my shorts, tuck my shirt in neatly, and buy boat shoes. And I hate boat shoes.
Parfum de Nicolai Eau d’Ete
Parfum de Nicolai Eau Exotique – all three are Nicolai’s cheap and cheerful summer smells, rather than the Guerlainesque richness she’s more rightly known for. You can happily never OD in spraying the final of the three, but a little of the first two goes a long way. Grapefruit richness and fresh musk can easily be overdone. But I only have 30 ml bottles of both – great for my work bag on hot days.
Hermes Terre d’Hermes – in parfum, to replace my empty edt bottle. A necessity for me.
Hermessence Ambre Narguile – when I’m in a scarfed up, brr it’s cold and I need stodge, I’ll probably go for the Nazgul before I go for cake.
Hermessence Poivre Samarkande – anyone who doesn’t get this, and then get it, is crazy. Perfection in pepper.
The Different Company Sel de Vetiver – my favourite summer fragrance.
Coze – the best of outdoors in a bottle.
L’homme de Coeur – spring refinement.
Guerlain Jicky – in parfum de toilette. I did have it in parfum, and will again. Of all the great classics, it’s this I’m most loyal to.
Guerlain Vetiver – see Eau Sauvage.
Guerlain Eau de Guerlain – for when you need the sun to shine.
Timbuktu – my second favourite incense, plus extra oddity.
Poivre 23 – a phenomenal oriental.
Patchouli 24 – I guess Dr Jekyll is renting lab space in the basement of my neat little house. I’m glad of it.
Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande – my favourite incense. My most meditative scent.
Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore – rich sweet spicy.
Serge Lutens Arabie – and again, but different enough to justify both. One is more main course than dessert, but they share plenty of flavours. They are winter favourites.
Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan – the only ‘real’ musk I wear.
Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 – grey suit., white shirt, leather briefcase. Glasses. Serious face. Adds mystery to the mundane. Quixotic to the quotidian. Dash to the drear. Etc.
And there’s one more for Best Perfumes I didn’t mention. A 30ml bottle of Mitsouko parfum. It’s preformulation, oakmossy wonderfulness but I NEVER wear it. Therefore, it breaks my rules. Somehow it feels like I have to keep it. But I’d swap it in an instant for some Jicky parfum.
So, if you had to reduce your collection to just 30 (and don’t worry folks, I’m only in charge of crazy old me, and not the rest of the world…), what would definitely be in, based on MY RULES? And if you have under 30 in your collection, what would you like to add in to round up that there number?