I don’t like changes and there have always been many constants in my life. Today, on the third anniversary of Undina’s Looking Glass, I want to write about two things I liked for almost as long as I can remember myself: perfumes and storytelling.
At six, my mother and I had a ritual: she would read me a chapter from Alice in Wonderland before bed time, and the next day I would tell it in front of my group in a kindergarten. I think our teacher just appreciated 10-15 minutes of the calm time while she didn’t have to entertain us but I felt very proud to stand in front of the other 12-15 kids and tell the next part of the story.
Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There I read already on my own when I was nine. I don’t remember if I shared that book with anybody at the time but clearly it imprinted in my mind and many years later transformed into the idea behind the idea of this blog’s name.
It has been long time since I was a kid but I still like telling stories: not fiction but rather something I’ve read, heard or experienced. And since I have the perfect audience (thank you, my friends and readers!), here’s the next chapter of my perfumed story for you.
Even though perfumes were always in my life, until recently I was mostly familiar with the mass market variety. Over the years I’ve approached the proverbial rabbit hole a couple of times without realizing it (several harder to find or niche perfumes made it into my collection without me knowing the significance of that) but every time I would return to the safe ground of mainstream perfumes.
Four years ago, I had a small collection of perfumes, arrogant notion that I knew about most of new releases (my world was limited by local Macy’s, Nordstrom and Sephora) and a firm belief that everything smells like everything else. I still loved and wore perfumes that I owned but I felt apathetic about new releases and didn’t expect to find anything interesting and worth my attention.
In summer 2010, my vSO and I spent four days in London. The trip didn’t start well: due to an oversight we ended up staying in a tiny and extremely hot mansard room. 12 m2 for everything, including a bathroom and the advertised “kitchenette.” It was so tight that the bed was the only place one could spend time on while being inside. So we tried to spend as much time in the city as we could to get back after dark when the temperature inside would become more tolerable.
The idea to visit Harrods came from my vSO: he read about it in the guide book and thought it would be interesting to see the biggest department store in Europe. We were walking there as in a museum for a while before we came across the perfume department – the regular one, I hadn’t even heard about Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie until after we returned from that trip.
I wasn’t looking for a new perfume; I was just leisurely browsing the selection when a new perfume found me. An SA almost forced a scented paper strip on me. I knew nothing about the brand. I had never seen their perfumes before. But it was easier just to take that blotter… The brand was Ormonde Jayne. And the perfume was Ta’if.
I liked it so much that I was seriously considering an on-the-spot purchase but remembering an unpleasant experience described in My First Scrubber I decided that I needed to give it some skin time first. Shall we say, the whole 15-20 minutes? I sprayed my wrist, put the blotter in my purse and we went to the next department – just to wait for Ta’if to develop.
That next department happened to be a Jewelry Department. I was looking for anything in that department even less than for new perfume… You know where the story is heading, right? I found a perfect ring that I just had to have. And the more I smelled my wrist the more I liked that perfume. And the store was closing, so I had to decide quickly what I should get. I knew that once you pass on a jewelry you like, it would be almost impossible to find it again. And with perfumes you should be able to find anything online and even cheaper (yeah, I told you I was a little arrogant). I left Harrods with a ring.
Ta’if had transferred in my purse from the blotter to my phone and stuck to it for days (who knew about that property of gorilla glass?!) haunting me but at the same time making my evenings at that shoebox of a room a little better.
I came home, started looking for Ormonde Jayne, realized it wasn’t available in the U.S., and while at it I discovered The Perfumed Court, perfume blogs and the whole world of niche and indie perfumes.
Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne is my White Rabbit following whom I started my adventures in the Perfumeland. Had I been more spontaneous (which I’m still not), I would have gotten that bottle right then and there and who knows when or even if I would have come to where I am now. But it took me a couple of months to find a decant, a couple of years to get a travel bottle of Ta’if EdP and another year to add a bottle of Ta’if parfum to my collection. It took me three years and 240 posts to write my down-the-rabbit-hole story.
There are many reviews of Ta’if EdP out there, so I won’t even attempt to do a review. But I’ll share the opinion on the difference between the two versions – eau de perfume and parfum. They are very similar; the latter is a little smoother and has a slightly better longevity but all that isn’t worth an almost 2.5 difference in price ($126 vs. $300). Ta’if is gorgeous perfume, and if you like it go for the eau de perfume concentration.
So this is the story of Ta’if, one of my top three all-time favorite perfumes with the other two being Climat by Lancôme, the story of which started this blog three years ago, and Ubar by Amouage, a story of which I’ll probably tell one day.
Images: my own