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It’s got to be love or nothing

allyouneedisloveThe plain truth is that I would do much better at holding down my perfume acquisition costs if I only bought things I truly loved. How well do you do?

I think one of the challenges is overintellectualizing the whole thing. I convince myself I want an amber or a vetiver. So I go shopping for one. Along the way I find something I think I don’t want – because really, I have enough jasmine white florals or cinnamon gourmands – but I still love it, so I want that. TOO.

What I find happens is that I wear the things I love more often than the things I acquired for some reason. Even if the reason is “is very interesting and nothing like anything else in my collection and I enjoy it.” If I don’t enjoy it ENOUGH, I don’t really wear it.

I thought I was clever smelling the bell jars of Serge Lutens’ perfume here in the states before I would have a chance to buy them, at almost half the price, in Paris.

And I still feel like I was clever, as long as I can survive the embarrassment of my shopping buddy totally revealing my plan to the sales associate, who then regarded me rather like something she would find under a rug.

As long as you can stand embarrassment, this is the method I endorse, because those damn bell jars are too expensive.

For some reason (I suppose insanity), I felt like this was my opportunity to connect with a Serge. I’ve never fallen in love with one (though someday I need the Fleur d’Oranger, I’m obviously living a full life without it) and Serge Lutens is such a big part of The Perfumista Community, I wanted to find one I loved. Not that I have to always find one of a brand that I love. But I just… wanted to.

I smelled all the bell jars, and many of them, interestingly, I actively disliked or didn’t find sufficiently interesting. I love honey notes, and I had heard about Miel du Bois; on me the honey does not get urinous (I may also be, as a cat owner, less sensitive to that smell than some people – ahem) and I love wood. I enjoyed it. I decided on it.

But I also tried on about four other bell jar scents, and the one I couldn’t get out of my mind was Encens et Lavande. I don’t much care about lavender, and I have tons of other types of incense (rose incense, cinnamon incense, incense incense…). But this one I just couldn’t stop thinking about.

I don’t mean I was daydreaming about it all the time, Walter Mitty style. I just mean I kept thinking – oo, that was pretty. I wish I had some of that to put on. I loved its balance between the clean refreshing scent of lavender and the drydown into the incense. It’s like Shalimar in that it does a half gainer and becomes something quite different as it goes along. It wasn’t just interesting, it seemed to be a story my brain – heart? – nose? – enjoyed and wanted to read again and again. It suited the weather and my tastes. I reached for it.

Thinking that perhaps my holiday perfume acquisition budget would stretch to two bell jars, I decided to get both.

When I got them home — you guessed it. I opened the Encens et Lavande first.

And I’ve worn it twice already, while I haven’t worn the Miel du Bois once. I’m still excited to have the Miel du Bois, I definitely will wear it and enjoy it. But it isn’t love.


I’d ask you what your criteria were for acquisition, but I suspect they’re all a lot more rational and sensible than mine!

Image is “Love” by Farrukh, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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6 comments to It’s got to be love or nothing

  • Sense and rationale both go out the window when it comes to me buying perfume. I’m exactly like you – I can count on one hand those that I wear again and again – and again. And I have an enormous collection amassed over 4 decades. See, there’s my reasoning – its a Collection. I don’t have to love it ( gasp – or even like it) but I have to have it, because The C would not be complete if I didnt. Trouble is, it’s never complete. So I keep reading blogs, hearing other opinions, going to more estate sales and – collecting. I go with a friend to The Perfume House (of doom) to buy perfume for her and I have all good intentions of coming out empty handed. Ha. Thank goodness for swaps – I’d need an intervention if they didnt exist…

    • Judith

      Now, this makes PERFECT sense to me. I will admit that I don’t set OUT to buy anything for The Collection unless I want to wear it. But sometimes I DO want something for The Collection for completeness’ sake. (I guess I’ll learn to wear it? It’s happened a couple of times.) It’s all so subjective and at-the-moment.

  • First – congratulations on your new bottles!

    Miel du Bois is absolutely horrendous on me so my sample stays in the “library” wrapped carefully into parafilm with the intent not to ever being opened again.

    Encens et Lavande is a different matter: every time I try it I can’t believe how great a lavender perfume might smell (I love lavender in general but this is one of the best examples of using this note in a complex perfume). Once I’m done with my decant I’m coming to you for a swap or split (if you still have anything left, of course 😉 ).

    BTW, how do you plan to use these perfumes? I decant my De Profundis into one of those nice Nordstrom atomizers.

    Now if you were to ask your question, I’d say that at my current collection’s size any FB purchase is either a perfume that I – if not love but really-really like – or a deeply discounted perfume that I do not plan to wear at all but want to get a bottle itself (I have 5-6 of those on my list and I keep hunting for the cheapest price possible).

    • Judith

      Oh, I’ll have some – I am such a slow user of perfumes. I’ve only emptied a handful of decants in all these years of buying.

      I decanted from the bell jars into some nice high-quality small atomizers, and re-wrapped the bottles in plastic film and put them back in their boxes. I worry about stoppered bottles; I’m hoping to make sure they don’t evaporate.

      I try to get EVERYTHING absolutely as cheaply as possible – it’s very, VERY rare I ever pay retail price for anything. And I PLAN to wear them all – but I haven’t even opened the box of my Amouage Memoir, for instance, because I’m still working on my rollerball decant. It could take a while!

      I can certainly see how Miel du Bois wouldn’t work on you. It’s NOT the kind of thing I think would work on just anyone. Things pull so sweet on me, I suspect it works out sweeter on my skin than on many people. And probably in that format, more appealing.

      I’m glad someone else finds Encens et Lavande bizarrely appealing! I do love lavender but seldom wear it. This one I can’t stop wearing!

  • I feel I am pretty good at keeping my buying to what I “need” (I currently “need” a go-to floral) and what I love, these days. Wasn’t always the case, but for the past year or so, I’ve done well with it. Having a lot already is definitely a deterrent to me acquiring more.

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