Mini-disaster Monday: Spilled perfume — broken bottles, broken vials

perfume disaster I knew it had to happen sometime, but I really hate it when something breaks in the mail, and especially when it was a little gift for someone else. I had gotten a couple of Bond No. 9 Wall Street samples for a goodie bag for a friend’s son and they arrived just the other day. But I knew I was in trouble and a perfume disaster looming when I opened the padded envelope and the scent hit me with a wallop.

Upon opening, I found one vial had gotten completely cracked in two; the other seemed intact, although its wrapper was ruined, bubbling up, and drenched in scent. It might be OK, albeit unwrapped. But despite the obvious ruined gift, you know what was the worst part? Black ink all over my hands that I’m having a whale of a time getting rid of, that and fingers smelling to high heaven of a scent that’s not really my cup of tea.

When DH gets home tonight, I know he’s going to walk in the door, take one sniff, and give me “the look,” which basically asks, “For the love of Pete, what have you been up to?”

I know, wah, wah, wah, whine, whine whine. It’s a tough life, isn’t it? 🙂

But I’m just counting my blessings it wasn’t something nearly irreplaceable, like Attrape Coeur or Theorema or some other discontinued lovely. Now that would have been cause for inconsolable weeping.

Some might say, oh, it’s just spilled perfume, but we frag lovers would beg to differ, because it is so very, very disappointing. Especially when it’s a rare, impossible-to-find scent that we adore, and then it’s more than a disaster, it’s a real tragedy, out-and-out heartbreaking.

Anyhoo, please share your perfume mishap/disaster/crisis, and we can all commiserate with you.

  • Undina says:

    Several years ago I bought Le Labo Rose 31 in split and got a padded envelope completely soaked with that perfume. The splitter had actually replaced the decant but since the envelope smelled so great I decided to use it in my linen closet as an air freshener – which was nice, my closet smelled great, but almost put me off using Rose 31 as a personal perfume. It took me more than a year to start using it again.

    • Ann says:

      Now that’s a clever idea, Undina — I like your thinking! So glad you can wear the Le Labo again, though; it would’ve been a shame not to be able to enjoy it anymore.

  • Mary K says:

    One time several years back, I purchased a bottle of Nicky Verfaillie Grain de Folie (nice rose perfume from the late seventies/early eighties) on E-Bay and when it arrived, I opened the box and discovered that the screw on spray top was quite loose. However, there is a happy ending here. It must have been screwed on just tight enough so that nothing leaked out.

    • Ann says:

      Whew, Mary, that was close — you dodged a bullet there, thank heavens! I’m glad you mentioned that scent; it’s slightly pinging my memory bank and now I’ve got to investigate, ha!

  • Katie says:

    I just opened my first sample of Serge Lutens: so excited!! Clair de Musc…opening the stopper, scrunching up my sleeve to get my forearm bare in this winter chill…ready to dab…oh, look, half of the sample is now on the countertop. GAHHH! Using my fingers to swipe it up and onto myself, sniffing all the while, I chalk it up to beginner’s nerves. But if you see me obbsessivly sniffing the counters, you know why.

    • Ann says:

      Ha, ha, Katie — you are getting “nosy” with the countertops. 🙂 But I don’t blame you a bit; I bet most of us would be doing the same thing, or rolling our wrists and arms through the puddle of perfume to use it up. Do let us know if you end up liking the CdM enough to get more of it.

  • I had gotten a decant of vintage Arpege.. I think maybe in a swap.. it was a while back. I think I had it mailed to my office for some reason. I didn’t want to spray it right then because I was wearing something else, but I wanted a sniff so I unscrewed the top of the decant bottle (I work for a very small company and was in the office by myself that day). And then I dropped it! It didn’t spill completely out, but it was a mess. It went mostly on the mat under my desk chair, but when I went to get something to clean it up and came back, the office smelled really good. At least I had enough to get a couple of wears out of the decant afterward. And since it had spilled mostly on a plastic mat, the office didn’t smell for a long time.

    Another one was when I ordered a 5ml travel spray of Gardenia from the Perfume & Skincare Co. in Australia. It took a long time to get it because for some reason my address didn’t register and the package got sent back to them. So then I had it mailed to my office instead. Again, I was in the office by myself because that time my boss was out of town. When I got the package out of the mailbox, it *reeked*, which I knew immediately was a bad sign. It had leaked to pretty much nothing. The envelope smelled good, though.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, boy, Jennifer, you have had some perfume adventures in your office! I can just see your boss coming back in later and saying, “Mmmm, what smells so good? The cleaning crew must be using some amazing cleaning products!” And at least you got to wear some of the Arpege though, so all was not lost.

  • Suzanne says:

    Ann, I think I have mentioned to you before how I fell in love with Tabac Blond extrait was when I wore it on a steamy hot day when I was washing down my carport walls, and the heat and the steam sort of swelled and bent the perfume in a way that made me fall in love with it. While that story is true, I didn’t tell you the other part, which was that the decant I originally got had a loose atomizer, and some of it spilled down my dresser. You would think this would have not helped me love it, but it actually did. The scent that impregnated the wood smelled especially good, even when I initially thought that it was a scent that didn’t work for me. And luckily, it also eventually wore off (if it had stayed forever, I probably wouldn’t like it so much). So here’s a case where the spillage actually worked in the perfume’s favor. Go figure! 😀

    • Ann says:

      How cool is that, Suzanne? Who’d have thought that spillage would have such a happy ending? I’m surprised, though, that the perfume didn’t ruin the wood or at least eat through the stain/varnish.

  • dinazad says:

    There was the time when the postman handed me a very soggy envelope with an empty bottle of Balahé – the seller had just thrown the bottle into the envelope with nary a sticky tape to secure the cap (and the cap on Balahé is very decorative but not really tight). According to the postman, his van had never smelled that nice before!

    Then there was a time when a tiny bottle of faux Arpège broke on the carpet of my room – try getting perfume out of a carpet! The room smelled for weeks to come!

    Thankfully, the bottle of Bourjois Stéphanie (why nobody sings its praises is beyond me, it’s a fantastic, spicy oriental) which decided to attack me in my bathroom stayed whole. The sink didn’t. The power of perfume!

    • Ann says:

      Wow, you really have had your share of perfume mishaps! Sorry to hear about the broken bottles, but surprised to hear about the sink — did it crack?

      • Ann says:

        BTW, had not heard of two of those scents you mentioned. I didn’t even realize that Bourjois made fragrance! Thanks!

  • Neva says:

    Why did you have to remind me of that moment??? Why? I got my dearest vintage Armani in a 50 ml bottle that I purchased on ebay and I went straight to the bathroom to apply it generously and to indulge in it for a while…I sprayed it on and just as I was putting the bottle back into the carton (which was old and the lid was probably opened and closed many times) it slipped through the loose bottom straight to the floor where it shattered…! I was paralyzed for a while, but then took a pipette and tried to catch some of the fluid from the floor. Yeah, right! Then I took as many cotton balls as possible and soaked them with the scent.
    I was repeating “I wish I could turn back time” so many times, that my fiance soon found another bottle on ebay which was, of course, more expensive :-/
    But I’ve learned my lesson: you should see me nowadays when I’m applying my Armani. The proceedure involves some “security measures” like kneeling in front of the sofa and slowly opening the box 😀

    • Ann says:

      Neva, so sorry to reopen old wounds, dear. I know just what you mean about those aggravating loose carton bottoms — I’ve had a few things slip through like that (although thankfully, no breakage). I like the sound of your “security measures”; I just might have to borrow them. And I’m so, so happy that your kind fiance got more Armani for you so you wouldn’t be deprived — hooray!

      • Gwenyth says:

        😀 Security Measures!
        The old adage ‘Once bitten; twice shy….’ definitely applies when opening packages, boxes, and decants of perfumes.

        • Neva says:

          That’s for sure Gwenyth 😉 …and every time I’m on my knees, I’m usually fully dressed up and have to listen to silly comments of the others around me. But I don’t care – my perfume is sacred and more important than my stockings, my image…LOL

  • Gwenyth says:

    Years ago, before I found the bounty available on the internet, I had searched and searched for a bit of perfume my grandmother had owned. It was L’Heure Bleue. I managed to find a bitty bottle at an antique store. I purchased the bottle and gleefully brought it home. I had just opened the package when the bottle fell and shattered on the tile floor of my kitchen. Immediately, with no thought of broken glass, I dropped to my knees and sopped up the precious liquid with my fingers, applying bits to my arms and neck — heedless of the broken glass. Not the most intelligent thing I have ever done…… but it was SOooo important to me to have that smell around me.

    I managed to find another vintage bottle of L’Heure Bleue which I treasure. However, I’ll always remember it was worth it so me to salvage what I could amidst the broken glass…

    Sheesh….the lengths to which a crazed Perfumista will go. :-/

    • Ann says:

      Oh, Gwenyth, I’m nodding along (but also cringing) at your tale of spilled perfume woe. So thankful you didn’t get needled with tiny shards of glass. I’m thinking that many of us (me included) might have done the same thing, though — Must Get Some of the Precioussss on our skin 🙂

  • Eloquaint says:

    This is my story by association. A dearly beloved roommate of mine was sort of clumsy, and she wore an iris/light musk perfume that came in one dram bottles with open mouths. One day she had a bit of an accident appling her perfume, and our room wound up smelling very nice, if a bit eye-watering, for the rest of our tenure there.

    To this day those of us from who are still in contact from that time refer to such accicents as “doing a Lesley.”

    • Ann says:

      What a cute story, Eloquaint. I hope and pray that none of us winds up “doing a Lesley” in 2015, ha! BTW, do you happen to remember what scent it was?

  • Sapphire says:

    Last year, was trying to get the cap off a nearly full bottle of Dior Miss Dior le Parfum (the one with the silver grosgrain ribbon on the cap) and the bottle fell out from under the cap onto the bathroom floor. The glass from the bottle was so heavy that instead of shattering, there were literally two broken pieces, total. Anyway, I cleaned it up as best I could, but the fragrance soaked into the tile, the grout, and the wooden cabinet. The house smelled like a French whorehouse (the DH’s term, not mine), though a VERY nice one with lots of patchouli in the drydown. It took SEVERAL rounds of baking soda to calm it down and it hung around for months, though in a much better way once it was toned down. Luckily, it didn’t hinder the sale of the house several months later. I did like it enough to replace it later. Thankfully, it wasn’t something way over-priced or irreplaceable.

    • Ann says:

      Sapphire, despite the trauma of a broken bottle, I’m glad that your story had a somewhat happy ending. And who knows? Maybe that subtle aura of scent actually helped sell the house.

  • einsof says:

    ok, well, if it makes you feel any better, i once almost knocked myself unconscious by spilling a half ounce of wormwood essential oil in my work space. The odor was so strong i thought for sure i would start hallucinating while i cleaned it up.

    but then again, i once was flying to work for an essential oil company at a tradeshow, the one vial of rose otto i had to display leaked in my suitcase. unlike the wormwood, not only did i smell AMAZING but i didn’t even have to display the bottle– everyone could smell me! even the hotel staff said i smelled wonderful! an embarrassed smile and quick “thank you” was all i could muster. luckily, i did well enough at the show to not have to pay for the pricey stuff!

    • Ann says:

      Whew, sounds like you were lucky to come out of that first mishap alive and well. And too funny (but also sad) about the rose otto; yes, thank heavens you didn’t have to pay for it. And your great-smelling self probably helped pull in more customers than usual.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Ann,
    My Mum was given a 16 ounce bottle of JOY EdC by one of the reps at Dad’s jewellery, gift and watch shop. It was her pride and joy (yes, I know, sorry) and the ritual of splashing that stuff became a part of her life. I was playing with about a third left in the bottle and it smashed on the bathroom tiles. I was in trouble.
    I remember that after her shock had abated she grabbed bits of clothing to soak up the scent. Her wardrobe smelled like Joy for ages afterwards and that story became one of the family stories told again and again at dinners and parties.
    Anyway, I met Jean Kerleo at the Osmotheque in 2014 and he told me that Joy had never come in an EdC. Somewhere I have become confused perhaps but I clearly in my memories eye can see the white label with JOY broken and wet with perfume.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Wowza, Portia — I can’t even begin to imagine 16 ounces of anything, much less Joy! I know it must have been heartbreaking for both of you, but your mom was blessed to at least have been able to enjoy most of the bottle. Maybe it was EDT and the script on the label looked like a C?

  • Robert Matthews says:

    A few years ago I bought some vintage fragrances from an online seller whom I’d dealt with before, and her packaging and sealing was generally unimpeachable, but one bottle, an ounce of the fabulous Molyneux Fête, a sixties chypre, had leaked away half its contents. (The screw-on cap was made of two parts, an outer shell and a liner, and they had come detached so the liner wasn’t tightly sealing the bottle even though the outer cap made it seem as if it were.) At least it was only half the bottle that was lost.

    • Ann says:

      Robert, I’m sorry to hear this, but thankfully you were able to salvage some of the wonderful scent. A partial happy ending then, at least. I wish Fete were still around; it sounds lovely.

  • Amy K says:

    Back before the re-issue, I bought a rare, unopened bottle of Laura Biagiotti Venezia extrait from an overseas seller. He shipped it in a padded envelope, and the bottle was 99% empty when it arrived. I was left with the decorative gold flakes in the bottom of the bottle, and an envelope that smelled fabulous. So sad.

    • Ann says:

      Nooooo, Amy! Just reading your post makes me want to bawl like a baby. If something is fairly rare and expensive, why can’t sellers take a little extra time to pack and ship it securely? After all, it wasn’t a common fragrance item that could be easily replaced. After all that, I sure hope you were able to get more of it one day.