A popular thread on the forums of Fragrantica and Basenotes is ‘Perfume Collection Show-off’, an intriguing and addictive spot where you can ogle lovingly posed photographs of the collections of your peers. An oppositional and equally intriguing thread also often appears, entitled ‘How much is Enough?’
After viewing photos of Facebook friend Paul’s gargantuan collection (inhabiting a floor to ceiling IKEA style open shelving unit), I began to ponder my own (and much more modest) collection. I would love to be left alone with Paul’s shelving for a greedy olfactory party but if I owned it, it would be a nagging source of worry. I’d fear for all the molecular disintegration and the stress of working out “Erm.. What shall I wear today?!”.
Paul's astounding collection
What I did find pleasing upon perusal of the photo, was the mixture of niche and high street fragrances, suggesting that Paul buys his scents without brand bias. Inevitably, we’ll be repeatedly drawn to houses that use a familiar base across a range, such as Guerlain’s infamous Guerlinade or Ormonde Jayne’s peppery wood, if we feel a desire for the base. However, the true fumie explores everything by everyone, even if costs £20 from Marks and Sparks.
Fragrantica members store their perfumes on a virtual glass shelf, each shelf contains space for ten. I have a personal ‘wobble point’ when I spill over onto shelf four. Somehow, more than thirty FBs (an abbreviation of ‘full bottles’ used by the community to exclude decants and samples) seems overly decadent to me and as Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume suggested, we will probably be outlived by our perfumes. This is amplified further by the fact that bloggers spend a lot of fragrant time wearing samples, hoping that the inner muse will inspire us to write about them. During this time our own bottles patiently wait, craving attention in the cupboard.
Since taking these photographs, a large bottle of Perles De Lalique arrived which further wobbled my shelf number four. As it’s an utterly beautiful keeper, something will have to go!
So I set about analysing my FB wardrobe. I divided it into 3 piles:
The A list: Beloved perfumes that I would feel comfortable wearing all the time, they complement my personality and make me consistently happy.
The B list: (specialists): Perfumes that I don’t wear very regularly but turn to for specific occasions or to create a particular mood. My ‘travelling’ scents appear here, e.g. those that I might wear in bed to take me somewhere in my imagination such as a forest or historical location.
The C list: Those that I don’t truly love but for some reason can’t get rid of, they still have a hold over me.
As you’ll see from my collection, I have wide ranging tastes, from haughty chypres to buxom orientals. Citrus features strongly, as does wood. The only missing genres are ouds and heavy gourmands, both of which I generally struggle to feel the love for. My collection has changed rapidly over recent years but is now slowing down as the abundance of samples I amass sates my thirst for smelling everything.
I apologise for the lack of correct French accents and possible incorrect spellings. As I write I’m recovering from flu, wrapped in a blanket on the sofa and frankly can’t be bothered checking in with Professor Google and his wife Madame Online International Keyboard.
Links have been set up on those that have appeared in reviews, just click on the perfume’s name to be transferred.
The A list (clockwise from the back):
Caron – Eau de Reglisse EDT (my first and my greatest niche purchase)
Dior – Escale Aux Marquises EDT
Ormonde Jayne – Ormonde Woman EDP
Trish McEvoy – Gardenia Musk No.4 EDT
Robert Piguet – Calypso EDP
Penhaligon’s – Lavandula EDP
Yves Rocher - Cedre Bleu EDC (I am going to weep inconsolably when this discontinued exercise is the beauty of woods runs out, amazingly, it cost me £7)
Caron – Les Eaux de Caron Fraiche
Guerlain – Mitsouko EDT
The B list (clockwise from the back):
Yves Rocher – Essence Neroli EDP purse spray (behind the Guerlain mini)
Guerlain – L’ Instant de Guerlain Parfum (ltd edition bottle)
Parfums de Nicolai – L’ Eau Mixte EDT
Robert Piguet – Visa EDP (Miniature roll on)
Guerlain – Vintage Shalimar EDC (yes, it’s true, in perfect nic, wohoo!)
Guerlain – Vol de Nuit EDT (refill bottle)
Guerlain - Mitsouko EDP (I prefer the EDT, hence why this one is on my B list)
Serge Lutens – Fille en Aiguilles EDP (this would be on my A list were it not so perfect for going to bed in a forest
Guerlain – Eau Imperiale EDC
Guerlain – Habit Rouge EDT
Penhaligon’s - Cornubia EDP
Yves Rocher – Vanille Noire EDP
Guerlain – L’ Heure Bleue EDT
Mauboussin – Mauboussin EDP (this should actually be A list!)
Neal’s Yard – Pure Essence Rose No. 2 EDP
The C list (from left to right)
Guerlain – L’ Instant Magic
L’ Occitane – Eau Ravissante
Annick Goutal – Musc Nomade
Donna Karan – Essence Labdanum
Chopard – Casmir (a most peculiar oriental, but look at the bottle, how could anyone get rid of this beautiful gold minaret?)
What I would add to the collection if I could currently afford it: Jovoy – Psychedelique, Jul et Mad – Terrasse a Saint Germain, Caron – My Ylang, Neela Vermeire –Mohur, YSL – In Love Again (I tried with this one but bought a dud vintage, boo..), Cartier – Essence du Bois, Olfactive Studio – Chambre Noir, Chanel – Cristalle Eau Verte, 4160 Tuesdays – Urara’s Tokyo Café.
When I observe my collection in this detached way, I see a haul of fumes that differ wildly from each other. However, there is a distinct link – they are all (perhaps with the exception of the last two on the C list) very easily wearable and do not represent an olfactory challenge. Which is probably why I have only reviewed about a third of them for Odiferess. Imagine trying to review Mitsouko, where would you start? This seamless ‘liquid nice’ is impossible to describe without drawing on history and mythology and turning it into a thesis.
Although ‘wearable beauty’ defines my ownership, the avant-garde and conceptual more frequently stirs my creativity, prompting me to write about scents that I would be highly unlikely to buy a bottle of.
So dear readers, I ask you, is there a defining trait in your collection? Do you have a narrow or vast genre appreciation? Do you possess a haul to rival Paul’s creaking shelves or, alike Jean Lindsay, just one faithful signature scent?
Leaves your comments below or on the facebook page to be entered into a draw to win a sample of my gorgeous newbie – Perles de Lalique (see, I’m already trying to get it used up!). The draw will be UK only due to our daft postal rules, as usual, sorry to my International readers but please do join in, I appreciate you!