At fourteen I swapped my first love, to which I held on for four years, for a new imaginary relationship. I do not mean that the other person didn’t exist: S. was a perfectly real 15-years old boy I met and befriended during the summer break. Our romance started months later, as the result of the frequent letters exchange, real hand-written letters sent over the regular post. Since we lived a 6-hours bus ride apart, in two years that it all lasted we spent together less than three weeks and even that was only because we had smart and understanding parents who would organize carefully supervised his visits to my city or my trips to his. We would write every 3-5 days, talk on the phone once in a while (long distance calls were expensive) and spend together several days during school breaks.
Where I lived back then, being a rare and expensive commodity, perfumes were not just acceptable but rather desirable gifts and not just for romantically involved people or relatives: a bottle of perfume could be gifted by parents to a kindergarten teacher, offered as a “special thank you” to a doctor by a patient or presented to the retiring accountant by colleagues. Personal tastes weren’t taken into the consideration. As today most people wouldn’t think twice before bringing a bottle of wine as a gift, the same way people felt about giving a perfume while knowing nothing about recipients’ preferences.
S. was the first person in my life to whom I gave a perfume as a gift. It was cologne Tête-à-Tête produced by Nouvelle Etoile (Moscow). I remember that I liked the scent but I have almost no recollection about how it smelled. I don’t know if S. liked and wore Tête-à-Tête: it hadn’t come up in our correspondence and six month later he outgrew our love story. I wonder if I would have recognized it today. It’s still in production but I decided not to chase it either in its modern or in the vintage form: since I smelled Tête-à-Tête only from the bottle I have no nostalgic feelings about it.
It’s hard to predict whether I would like a perfume – even though I know my tastes, read notes and other people’s impressions. So with other people it’s almost impossible to guess the right perfume for them. And for many years I steered clear of gifting people with perfumes unless I knew which one they liked. The brand that has changed it for me is INEKE.
On my last trip to Ukraine I brought two travel bottles from Ineke’s Floral Curiosities line – Poet’s Jasmine and Sweet William – as gifts to two of the relatives who do not wear perfumes much but I thought would appreciate them: not revolutionary but pleasant perfumes created by a perfumer from the city where I live (well, if you look from Europe) and with the impossibly cute packaging (I couldn’t resist and bought four “books” for my collection). Both recipients liked their gifts.
With upcoming holidays that involve family gatherings and gift exchanges, I want to suggest a perfect, in my opinion, gift for somebody who isn’t into perfumes, is in the beginning of their fragrant journey or uses mainstream perfumes primarily: Scent Library from Ineke. It’s a set of samples of all five perfumes in the Floral Curiosities line presented in an unbelievably attractive package. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a presentation of samples with more attention to the smallest detail. For $22 (including S&H) you’re almost guaranteed to get a smile from your mom or sister who still remembers old library system with the paper pocket in each book and library cards or a conversation with a younger niece about the changes that happen during the lifetime of any generation, hand-written letters and rotary phones. And if they end up liking any of the perfumes in the set they will be able to redeem the full price of the set against any 75 ml bottle purchase from the site.
Scent Library set was sent to me by the brand (without any conditions). I haven’t decided yet if I should get one for my collection: I love it but I have four perfumes from the set already and the packaging of each fragrance “book” that I bought is almost as cute as the one for the Library. Meanwhile I decided to have a draw for the set I’ve got. It’s new but I sprayed one of the samples twice (Briar Rose) and Rusty “helped” me with the pictures. I will send it anywhere in the world but I won’t be responsible for the package if your postal service decides it’s too cute dangerous and destroys it.
Usually I don’t have any special conditions for entering into my draws but this time I have a requirement. To be entered into the draw answer the question below (I’m gathering data for this month’s statistics post) and tell me the country where you live (this way I’ll know that you want to be in the draw). If you do not want to enter, just answer the question for my stats. I’ll close the draw on Thursday, October 31 PDT, and announce the winner in the October Entertaining Statistics post in the beginning of November.
Have you ever given a perfume as a gift not knowing beforehand that the recipient wanted to get/liked that specific perfume?
Images: Tête-à-Tête from some auction site; all others – my own