Perfume With No Regrets

I want $100 and a chance to go back in time and buy the exact bottles this lady’s got on her dressing table.  Wait, make that $500.

I’ve been stalking the Tom Ford counter at the Saks up the street for a sighting of the new F*cking Fabulous. I’m aware that it’s allegedly an exclusive (Bergdorf in NYC maybe?) but this ain’t my first rodeo, and if the point is to make a quick buck while riding the shock wave, Tom Ford’s our guy, so it could be at my Saks today.

Thus far, however, F*cking Fabulous is not there. You know what is there? So many bottles. Dozens of bottles. Waaaay more bottles of Tom Ford than I will ever keep up with, on massive display right next to Kilian’s huge, impressive display, also with dozens of bottles. Yes, let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge this deeply first-world problem: too much perfume, too fast. When I dove into the fragrance world ten years ago, it was possible to keep up with everything coming at me, both mainstream and niche, without too much effort. Now that trickle has become a thousand-year flood, and the best I can do these days is to hang onto the side of the boat and stick my wrist out and see what lands on it.

So, no joy on the F*cking Fabulous front – which, by the way, I’m not personally expecting to find f*cking fabulous, because I don’t find most of the TF oeuvre fabulous, and the older and crankier I get, the more his blatant sleaze irritates me. I wish he’d stick to lipstick, which he does very well. (My, I am cranky! Even in this beautiful October weather, which felt like it took months to arrive, which… I guess it did, didn’t it? I celebrated by wearing SL Fleurs d’Oranger to the office, since nobody was there to be offended by it)….where was I?

Oh yeah, Saks.

The nice SAs there don’t even trouble me much, as they know I almost never buy all the stuff I spray. I think the last whale I harpooned at that Saks was the Guerlain Incens Mythique, which I sampled one rainy day four years ago, and which fell into my purse as fast as I could hand them $285, and I’ve had not one regret. Now that’s a satisfying perfume story. I don’t take a purchase at that price point lightly, and for all the fragrances I own, I bet I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve blown a bundle on perfume on a whim.  In bygone days, isn’t that exactly the sort of whim we might happily have indulged?

But what fragrance would I leave Saks with now? I wandered around and played a mental game, revising the rules as I thought of them. In this game, I’m invited by grateful store management or the perfume fairies to just take something. It can’t be for resale or my nose will drop off. It can’t be something safe like a backup bottle, and it can’t be something I already know I want. It has to be an impulse, like that long-ago Guerlain…. no, not Encens Mythique, the other Guerlain. My first smell of Jicky, right there at that particular Saks, followed by Mitsouko, when a spell so potent settled over me that I fear the SA thought they’d have to lock me in the store overnight because I would stand there transfixed and never leave. The gentleman at Guerlain did admit later that Mitsouko was not his favorite, although he sniffed it on me and pronounced, with something like satisfaction, “now that is what it is supposed to smell like.” My God, I miss those days, where my burgeoning perfume fixation felt like a first visit to an opium den. I was drugged with scent, and I wanted to be there, in that moment, forever.

Clearly you’re not getting a review today. I smelled a lot of things at Saks but nothing I wanted to write about, except to complain, and that made me sad. So. Tell me about the time you threw caution to the wind and said I’ll take it and have had no regrets. You know, the fragrance you took a risk on (maybe bought unsniffed? or wildly expensive for you at that time?) that would make it into your sleeping pod on Luca Turin’s proverbial spaceship to Mars. Tell me about that scent – why it moved you, why you went for it – in comments. I’ll pick somebody at random for a goody bag.

PS – I just did a search… is it humanly possible that I didn’t review Encens Mythique on here? What. The. Hell. It’s pretty close to a signature scent for me, as much as any perfumista can be said to have one. Well, at least I have something nice for an upcoming review!

  • filomena813 says:

    I must admit I have done this too many times in my life so I will just recount my most recent unsniffed purchase. I read a review on this site and another about the latest Aedes de Venustas fragrance Pelargonium in that stunning red bottle. I have lots of Aedes de Venustas perfumes and I was really coveting this one. However, they are quite expensive (although they are hefty 3.4 oz. bottles) and I was under budget, and then one night when I was in a “blue” mood, on a quick impulse, I clicked on the site and bought the beautiful red bottle and haven’t regretted it for a moment even though I have been struggling to make up the monthly bill money deficit. Besides all of the scents, another thing I really like about Aedes, is that they do not bombard the perfume market with constant launches of new perfumes like some other houses do. They stick to one or two a year at most.

  • greennote2 says:

    We were together. In Italy. Without the kids. In a northern Italian town that was just the right size after having just been in one that was too big, too noisy. Those in between places that you don’t know exist until you get there. In a small perfume shop. With two gorgeous men (and their beloved dog) looking after us. And then there was Simone Andreoli’s Business Man, the greenest, bestest thing I’d ever smelt. My love for it continues unabated three years on.

  • PJ says:

    Once while holiday shopping I went into Sephora to work on my gift list. Didn’t buy any. Gifts. For other people. Instead, I left with the biggest bottle of Violet Blonde they sold. To this day I have no regrets. I am not a very nice person.

  • HeidiC says:

    When I was in high school, before I was really into perfume, my dad had to take a trip to Belgium and asked if I wanted him to get me anything from the duty-free shop. I had recently smelled Coco and loved it, so he bought me a bottle of the EdP — it’s getting low, but god, is it gorgeous! One of those blocky, stoppered bottles from the ’80s.

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s lovely! You got a great perfume out of it, and a special memory of something your father gave you. Love. In fact, this is the perfect weather (and morning!) for Coco.

  • Tara C says:

    Not having very good impulse control, there have been lots of splurges in my past. I do remember a trip to Paris, at the Guerlain on the Champs-Elysees, where I asked for yet another sample of Plus Que Jamais. I told the sales associate that I hoped to buy it someday. Then she announced that it was being discontinued, so I said, I guess that day is today! :-). No regrets.

    • March says:

      Hah! TODAY IS THAT DAY. And that scent is a stunner. I have poor(er) impulse control when traveling. Like a lot of people I use the souvenir excuse. Which reminds me: in Paris when I was there a few years ago with a couple of perfumistas (Louise, and Angie from NST) I spotted this necklace of delicate entertwined silver circles in a left bank boutique. Think of a cluster of bubbles rising. Waaay out of my price range. I went back and visited it every single day were were there. The sales clerk was so over me, lol. Probably Angie and Louise too. So the day before we left I screwed up my courage and bought it. EVERY TIME I wear it (which is relatively frequently — it’s a great statement against a simple top) it makes me happy.

      • rina says:

        I’m going to Paris for the first time in Jan. and that’s what I’m most afraid of… the souvenir excuse!

      • Tara C says:

        But see, this is exactly what we should do – go for the big loves, rather than frittering away $$ here and there on smaller, easier to rationalize things. You buy something that clutches at your heartstrings and you love it forever. It’s hard to remember though, when you’re in that moment.

        • March says:

          I absolutely agree. I’m …. I dunno, I guess a fritterer, although mostly I’m throwing money constantly at the needs/wants/desires of four kids, as a single parent. When I am on vacation solo or with friends, I get to be in that headspace where I’m being “me” and not “mom.” If something memorable presents itself, I will probably buy it. One great souvenir per trip, generally. In Paris, on an earlier trip, there was a pair of fabulous velvet house slippers, which I still have. And on a trip before THAT was a bottle of Mandragore, which I still wear all the time.

  • No story about splurging on a new perfume but when I was a brand new perfumista and had only smelled No.5 once at a dept. store, and had been stunned when I had expected to hate it, that night I found an almost full bottle of an early 1950’s bottle of the Parfum of No. 5 on eBay (yes, had it authenticated later) and bought it without thinking. It remains one of the most gorgeous things I own, it is a religious experience in a bottle and I will never regret.

    • March says:

      Now THAT is another deeply satisfying story. I swear, not too long ago…. burgeoning interest in perfume combined with aging population? I dunno, but there were SO MANY vintage bottles of gorgeous things. They’ve gotten harder/impossible to snag. So I am SO HAPPY for you. My favorite Chanel vintage is Coco (which isn’t even all that vintage) in the stoppered flacon just like I had when I was in my 20s. It smells fantastic.

  • Maya says:

    I’m with Magiecat. I don’t have a story either and while I can tell a real story with *oomph*, I cannot create one. Oh well…….

  • maggiecat says:

    I don’t have a story like anyone’s here, but now I think I have to create one!

  • Austenfan says:

    I hear you! I was much more enthusiastic about perfume when I first started. I remember so well how utterly charmed I was by my first sniff of Un jardin sur le Nil, whereas these days that rarely happens.
    My riskiest purchase was a nearly blind buy of Enlèvement au Sérail. I had sniffed it once at Jovoy a year before. On that occasion I remember liking it, but it was Promesse that blew my socks off. Enlèvement had been discontinued by that time, and I sort of got obsessed about it and ended up buying a bottle from a Polish shop. No regrets at all. One of the best filthy jasmines ever!

    • March says:

      Whoa, that’s a brave purchase! And see, this is the perfect example, why should some of those MDCI stunners get discontinued while Tom Ford releases his 50th frag? Something’s not right

  • Spring-pansy says:

    I loved hearing your thoughts and reading the comments here. Yes, do please review Encens Mythique for us!

    Mine wasn’t spur of the moment as I had a sample first. However, it was a huge splurge when I bought my 10 ml bottle of Shalini from Aedes (plain bottle, but still). I knew I loved it and didn’t want to keep shelling out money for the samples. However, it was a lot of money for me to spend on perfume…and no particular reason that I deserved this special treat, but I have no regrets. It’s just beautiful.

    • March says:

      A 10ml Shalini?!?! UH YEAH THAT’S A SPLURGE. I remember Patty gave me like a half ml when it came out and I thought I’d die it was so beautiful.

  • Scott says:

    March, while this may not have been a review, it was a delightful read that had me smiling on this Tuesday morning, when world events remind me that beauty must be sought out and cherished. Thank you!

    • March says:

      Thank you. Honestly…. I waffled about saying anything in the post. Or putting it up, even. Because it’s not “everything is normal” time right now. But I decided nobody needs that info from me on a perfume blog; they already know how out of kilter things are.

  • My last and final extravagance for a good while…a 2 ounce vintage bottle of Bandit. A full bottle. Parfum. The result of a frenzied ebay bidding war. I HAD to have it! I have hopped off the fragrance train for a little while…I went out and bought a muscle car, so my funds have been diverted elsewhere. At least I will smell good while I am driving it!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I really don’t do impulsive anymore. Spending anything more than $50 on a perfume kind of freaks me out. The last impulse purchase was L’Heure de Nuit. When I found out that it was discontinued, I called Saks and found a bottle of it, in the Dallas Saks. Never have I whipped out my card and dropped $280 on a bottle of perfume so fast. I do wish that there were less releases to keep up with it.

    • March says:

      Wait….. is this the LHB re-do? Yes, the blue one! Dammit. I think I never smelled it — part because I sold off my vintage LHB (too powdery) to a more loving home, and part because it said contemporary. But what do I know? Is it delicious?

      • eldarwen22 says:

        L’heure de Nuit is less powdery and more contemporary than LHB. It probably wasn’t a huge seller because it was almost $300 for a shade over 4 ounces.

  • Tiara says:

    A possible signature scent for you? I’m looking forward to that review! I have yet to throw myself at any perfume with abandon. The only 2 things I have full bottle back ups of are Femme Jolie (long ago d/c from SSS) and Natori which is rather inexpensive. Buyer’s remorse doesn’t sit well with me so I avoid it like the plague.

    • March says:

      Oooh, I haven’t thought about Natori in forever. I remember I liked it…. buyer’s remorse is TERRIBLE, in my opinion. But I’ve had some pretty bad non-buyer’s remorse too, lol.

  • Neva says:

    A while ago a fellow perfumista from the States sent me samples of a few scents I was curious to try and she added some samples extra. One of them was Charenton Macerations Christopher Street. First I thought: WOW, this is so special and I want to have it. Then the search began. No need to tell you that there was no retailer in Europe. Ok, let’s order it in the web shop from the States…but wait, the shipping costs to Europe are almost as high as the perfume itself! So at first I dropped the idea but you know how it is when your mind keeps toying with a beautiful perfume – I remembered a friend living in the States who is coming to Europe once a year to visit her family. Of course she agreed to order it for me and after 6 months I got my perfume…with another sample added…and I think I need a FB of it too!

    • March says:

      Hah! I knew where you were going with your story before you got there….. and not so long ago, before eBay reached its tentacles as far as it has now, we were constantly looking for a relative or friend (or friend of friend) to mule something for us, lol. I think the wait and the trouble adds to the pleasure at the end! ALSO. That’s an early Patty story…. she wanted me to go buy her some stuff on sale at Saks (Armani Prive?) and I didn’t really know her/had never met her, and I remember being a little nervous that I was going to lose the money. How wrong I was!

  • Kathleen Smith says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed your post and the other reviewers comments. Love to hear all of your thoughts. Agreed Jo, Coromandel edt is gorgeous. I do t have a signature, but that’s as close as I get. So cozy! My last impulsive splurge was Roja Dove Creation E. I used up my sample quickly and couldn’t live without it. Ordered a bottle asap!

    • March says:

      I totally approve of a Roja Dove splurge! I visited the Roja Dove salon in Edinburgh, and really enjoyed the experience.

  • Asali says:

    Thank you, I’m with you on all counts: the tom fords, the lack of sophistication in new releases, in feeling old as a consequence etc etc.
    Funnily enough I believe Songe d’un Bois d’ete was my last caution to the wind purchase ? And I seek solace from indie and vintage perfumes.
    Thank you for voicing your thoughts.

    • March says:

      Yeah, it’s hard not to sound like a grump, and yet….. when there’s this much stuff and I’m allegedly a perfumista and perfume reviewer, and so much of the stuff is just not that interesting, it bums me out. But I feel obligated to keep trying, ya know?

  • L’artisan Dzing! I bought it just before I walked away from an abusive marriage. It was more than I should have spent but the scent, the faux bravado on my part, all of it felt very fierce and untamed.

    • March says:

      Awww…. this made me tear up a bit, and get shivers at the same time. I wore Dzing! in sort of the same circumstances, and it’s been consigned to the basement storage…. I’m going to go down and let it out. Thank you for reminding me. What a great fragrance. I miss the glory days of L’Artisan.

  • Jo says:

    My wild and crazy story is about my most beloved perfume, Chanel’s Coromandel (the one and only, the old Exclusif EDT concentration.)

    You see I had just gotten a tiny little decant from a fellow perfume lover. I have no idea why or how because I hated patch (or so I thought). Perhaps that person knew I needed an education and was tired of hearing me talk about how icy and stinky patch was. Who knows. What matters is I sprayed on that perfume, knowing NOTHING, NOTHING and was utterly and completely in love. Immediately.

    It was just as the Exclusif EDT line was being hinted at discontinuation. I hemmed. I hawed. It was after all a fabulous amount of money. So I ordered another decant. (Do you see where this is going?) and wore her OBSESSIVELY. When I realized my decant was almost gone I tentatively went to the Chanel website….

    Sold out.

    SOLD OUT??? Panic. And so began frantic web searches, and finally CALLING Chanel boutiques until I found one in Florida who still had a precious bottle. I gave them my CC number over the phone on the spot. And that’s how Coromandel became my signature and most beloved scent.

    • March says:

      Oh my g-d THIS IS SO ME. Order some decants, wear compulsively, wait until it’s sold out and then go into full panic mode. And I bet most true perfumistas have been on the phone at some point, dialing every Saks or NM or whatever in the country, looking for a bottle of something!

      • Jen says:

        I remember calling all around the country looking for Casaque after it was discontd. Pre-internet!

    • Gwenyth says:

      This could be my story…..except I found my bottle in California.

  • tiffanie says:

    Geisha Vanilla Hinoki made my spine tingle. I was given samples of the edp and the perfume oil and didn’t know what to expect. One sniff and I was head over heels, it made me so happy. As soon as I could I ordered a bottle from Luckyscent, even called them to ask how far it would ship in the summer heat. I’m close to their warehouse so they sent it one day and it arrived the next. I was in heaven when it arrived, and still am when I wear GVH.

  • Rina (USA) says:

    I’m a planner. And a researcher. And someone who NEVER pays retail if I can help it, hence the planning and research. That all went out the window when my NM had the last bottle of MFK Absolue Pour Le Soir in So. Cal. that hadn’t been returned. I asked on a lark, the SA went under the counter and came up with a box. She didn’t know where it came from but I knew where it was going! LOVE this stuff! No regrets!

    • March says:

      HAHA I can sooooo relate (I’m always looking for the best deal) and I’m so happy for you — that is beautiful stuff, I can see why all the rules went out the window.