Which 20 Would Portia Keep?

Hi there Crew,

Recently Undina (What Are Your Top N Perfumes?) and Tara (My Perfume Collection – Top 15) have done their “which would I keep” posts, following on from from Vanessa (‘Be more Undina’). After you’ve read this go have a squiz at theirs too. Who doesn’t love lists, right? So, I’m thinking “Damnit! I want to do this too.” It’s such a mind blowing, freak me right out, dumb assed thing to want to try because invariably my head explodes. Then the next day I instantly start second guessing my choices and that can rattle around my head for a couple of weeks before my brain lets it go. BUT! I also love doing it, just to see what my head and heart come up with this time.

Jin and I have often talked of buying a van and travelling through Europe for a couple of years. As part of that adventure my mind instantly goes to “How many perfumes would I take and which would they be?” So I’m kind of experienced at it now. Problem is some of them change, HA! Impossible, right. Usually I say 25 bottles and a bunch of samples/decants but in all honesty I think it will more likely be 10. So today I’m formalising my ideas for you all and myself. Subject to change at a moments notice.

You might want to grab a cuppa or a boozy bevy. This post is LONG!

Which 20 Would Portia Keep?

Amor Amor by Cacharel

This was a hard choice between Liberté and Amor Amor. They are both super sweet, fun, silly and gorgeous. I do wear Liberté more often but when I wear Amor Amor I’m instantly reminded of one of my dearest girlfriend, Anna Maria, who gave me my first (now dry) bottle. Wrapped up in that memory are all our trips and years of trivia, her family and especially her husband Johnny who besides being the most jovial and adorable of men, also helped us renovate our apartment. There is so much love and life attached to a spritz of Amor Amor, how could I live without it?

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

Another hard choice between Cabochard, Youth Dew, Aramis and Aromatics Elixir. All of them I love so much. They all are beautiful and similar. I chose Aromatics Elixir for its memories. Once Scotty dared me to wear 35 sprays of it and go shopping with him. Challenge accepted. Also, Anna Maria gave me a body cream that smells utterly amazing. Even before these things happened, Aromatics Elixir always seemed to get more wear than the others, in my adult life.


My ultimate thought free grab and go fragrance. It is beautiful, poised, perfectly constructed and hums quietly under the radar for hours. Not what I would ever have imagined myself falling for so deeply. I don’t even know why it works so well for me but it always fits. The main problem with Boy is the 200ml bottle. I think I need to finish it up and get a much more sensible travel sized 75ml.

Caron Pour Un Homme

HA! Lavender lollies done in a no nonsense, clean, wholesome way. Yet still manages to be weird. I love every gust of fragrance that I get all day. Sometimes it utterly mesmerises me, and I have to ask people to repeat themselves.

Divine EdP

I often say that this is the ultimate CHANEL No 5 endgame. Divine EdP is an aldehydic floral done in the old school French way but also utterly modern. If CHANEL No 5 feels too ubiquitous but you love the idea then this super classy floral extravaganza could be the next (and final) frontier for you. Someone sent me a large sample of it many years ago (maybe even you Undina?) and it changed the way I think an aldehydic floral should bloom and grow. HEAVEN!

Eau Absolue by Mona di Orio

As cool and smooth as blue beach glass pebbles tumbled in the waves for decades and found glittering translucently. My ride is nothing like the mentioned notes at all and I constantly have to remind myself I’m not smelling lavender and elemi drizzled over balsams and resins. How that lovely magician Mona di Orio crafted this perfume out of those notes is so mysterious to me. No matter, it is one of my favourite fragrances and if I didn’t have such a ridiculously sized collection it would get oodles more wear.

Equistrius by Parfum d’Empire

Iris but not as you know it. There should be four or five of Marc Antoine Corticchiato’s Parfum d’Empire fragrances mentioned in my 20 but sadly they got overtaken. Equistrius is such a strange bird. I go through a month when I’ll wear it every couple of days, or for 5 consecutive days, and then it gets put away till next time. Violet leaves lead into a rich iris that in turn becomes a woodsy amber base. Beautiful and suave feeling, the wear is calming and reflective.

Gentleman’s Jockey Club by Oriza Legrand

Leather! Old, worn, shiny with the patina of age. Hay, fresh last night but not so fresh this morning, full of nature and the stalls occupants decatering. Sawdust, wood, old metal buckets with cold water, greenery, grass, carrots and the healthy sweat of human endeavour. There is so much of my youth hinted at in this fragrance. All together it smells more and less than you’d expect if all these pieces are functioning and smellable parts. Of all the leather perfumes in my collection this one seems to do the most heavy lifting with the broadest range. Even the sweet smell of make up and fluffy talcum powder floats through the heart. Funny that it should sit alphabetically below Equistrius too.

Granville by DIOR

I talk about Granville so often. The zingy lemon cologne style fragrance that is full of delightful green herbaceousness and lasts all day. It’s a marvel of modern perfumery and suits me down to the ground. When it was announced that Granville was to be DCd, Jin and I were in southern South Korea with his family, so we went immediately to one of the lavish department stores up in Seoul by bullet train and grabbed their last bottle. It was such an adventure. Seriously, it was so surreal to go to such lengths but Jin was so adamant that we should. It’s one of my most reached for fragrances and every time I remember. Fortunately they only had the 250ml, so fingers crossed it will never run dry.

L’Heure Convoiteé II by Cartier

Ahhhhhhhh! Even thinking about L’Heure Convoiteé II brings a smile and sigh. Jin and my first overseas trip together in 2013 was epic. Even though I’ve travelled for many years Prague had remained elusive. To visit it with someone I was/am madly in love with was unbelievably special (yeah, I know. Loads of soppy love stories and memories). Anyway, we had been to the printer next door to Prague Cartier to buy loads of their hand-made-paper cards with Mucha prints done for their store nearly 100 years ago. I knew I wanted L’Heure Convoiteé II so we went in and grabbed it and Jin fell in love with L’Heure Brilliant VI (Maybe because of the Gin note) but they didn’t have a sample for him to wear it properly. Years later I bought him a bottle and he adores it. So my Cartier reminds me of wandering in Prague with the snow whooshing around us and the Alphonse Mucha art everywhere and us being madly in love.

La Participe Passe by Serge Lutens

This could have been any of half a dozen Serge Lutens fragrances but the one I wear most nowadays has been La Participe Passe. The boozy fruit mince, caramel, cumin and leather that smells to me like it has been soaked in immortelle is a complete and utter winner for me. What a sensational fragrance.

Mimosa Love by Amouage

From the very first sniff at the Libertine Parfumerie launch Mimosa Love had me in its grip. I fought it for months but kept wishing I had bought it on the spot. It’s not even particularly me-ish, I am totally unsure why it sparked so much desire and still does every time I wear it.

Miss Dior vintage by DIOR

Vintage Miss Dior very nearly didn’t make the list, even though I adore it and it has been a staple for many years. With Niki de Saint Phalle further down the list I felt it was silly to have two vintage chypres in much the same style. Here’s the thing though, they both hit very different spots for me. I have often travelled with a vintage extract and it’s surprising how well it fits the moods of constant change. The most surprising place that Miss Dior was a perfect fit was the hill stations Gangtok and Shillong in north eastern India in 2017. The very inappropriateness seemed to fit the mood, geography and religious fervour even better, making it transcend from lovely and interesting to sublime.

Mitsouko by Guerlain

Mitsouko is a complete shape shifter, whenever I smell it on someone else I never know what I’m smelling. It wears differently for everyone and molds to them like a personally designed scent. It’s always flamboyant and lavish but its core being seems so intent on pleasing the wearer that it morphs into quite different territories. For me it is a classic fruity chypre, though the rhapsodised peach note is more a dreamy fruit amalgam than peach as such. Those sweeping, soaring top notes are like nothing else I’ve ever come across in perfumery. Vampishly OTT and yet curiously introverted and slightly melancholy through its phases.

Mohur by Neela Vermeire Creations

From the very first sniff Mohur fit like a second skin. It was such a seminal perfume moment for me that I searched out Neela Vermeire because I HAD to know who could have produced such a scent. Roses with the lot, so much in fact that it never wears exactly the same twice. The only constant is that thick, luscious, jammy rose that is heartbreakingly beautiful. Mohur is fragrant perfection.

Niki de Saint Phalle

If I only wore one fragrance for the rest of my life and choose Niki de Saint Phalle there’s definitely enough hoarded here so I could do it. A lovely dry chypre in the old school, 20th century style. Opening citrus, some floral and herbal touches through the heart and a soft mossy pillow to land on in dry down. There are other notes but all of them merely buoy the beauty of these main protagonists. If I had to pick three then this would definitely be in there. My love for Niki de Saint Phalle‘s art is another great tie to the fragrance. Especially Jin and meeting our girlfriend Celia in Hanover, Germany where there are a collection of Nanas, a grotto and a modern art museum full of her work. Also Scott, Anna Maria, Tara and I stayed around the corner from her sculpture pond next to the Centre Pompidou in Paris for a few weeks in 2018. Wandering past, lunching beside and sometimes just standing and drinking it in was wonderful.

Rahele by Neela Vermeire Creations

Considering how little I liked Rahele initially the fact that it is now so indispensable to me is a surprise. It took time to understand the subtle tapestry and story. Many of Neela’s perfume are instantly dazzle dazzle, showbiz style blockbusters and that suits me fine. To suddenly have this quiet, introverted wall flower was shocking. Osmanthus and leather with so many subtle bells and whistles. It has now become synonymous with Jin and my wedding and so many other good times. Perfect in any weather and always just right.

Shalimar by Guerlain

One perfume to rule them all. From earliest childhood on my mum and her mates to now. It and CHANEL No 5 have been the fragrant soundtrack of my life. Shalimar though is the perfect fit. It’s crazy to think that I became a mad keen perfumista when the one that I really love was there all along. That swirl of citrus gelato that ends up being a softly animal leather amber. Cannot even imagine a life without it.

Stash Unspoken by Sarah Jessica Parker

It was a toss up between Stash Unspoken and Burberry Brit Woman. They aren’t the same but they do fill almost the exact same niche in my perfume wardrobe and it would be ridiculous to have them both. Unspoken doesn’t have the almond note, is less sweet, and is about 1/5 the price. There’s no getting around the fact that it smells cheaper but it also smells just slightly less feminine on me. Not that I have a problem with wearing fem frags (obviously) but Unspoken feels much more wearable, and gets at least three times the wear. So it gets the gong.

Tea for Two by L’Artisan

Tea for Two is a bloody masterpiece. I love the smoky tea and extras. It wears slightly differently every time but that smoke is rock solid and takes me ion mental adventures whenever I spritz and wear it purely for enjoyment. It also fulfills the role of so many other fragrances in my collection that have tea, smoke, woods, and honeyed tobacco. Tea for Two hits the spot on so many of my favourite notes all in one scent. I love also that it sticks around for about four hours of fragrant and buzzes along quietly after that completely under the radar unless you go looking. There is something perfectly poised about it that works every time.


Well, if you made it to the bottom then congratulations. that was a freaking LONG HAUL!

What about you? What would you keep?
Portia xx


35 thoughts on “Which 20 Would Portia Keep?

  1. The following is a copy of what I posted on Undina’s post. (I love Boy too Portia. It’s nearly empty and actually my most worn Chanel.)

    28 La Pausa. Chanel.
1957. Chanel.
Misia. Chanel.
Galop. Hermès.
Cuir d’Ange. Hermès.
Musc Pallida and Cardamusc oils. Hermès.
Doblis. Hermès.
Le Parfum de Therese. Malle.
Superstitious. Malle.
Rose et Cuir. Malle.
Rubj EdP. Vero.
Rozy Extrait. Vero.
La Myrrhe. Lutens.
ISM. Lutens.
LFdB. Lutens.
Fallintostars. StrangeloveNYC.
Lustre. Hiram.
Eau Blanche. IUNX.
    Mohair. Neela.


  2. What a great list, Portia! Eau Absolue is such a magnificent creation. I would include Chanel Rue Cambon, Bois des Iles, L’Heure Bleue, Shalimar, NVC Trayee, Ormonde Jayne Nawab of Oudh, Pure Distance Opardu or White, Diorella and Miss Dior to name a few 😉 on my own list. I can imagine Eau Absolue suiting you well 😁 Loving your Miss Dior vintage bottle. XxxEsperanza


    • Hey Esperanza!
      So nice to see you.
      LOVE that we both adore Eau Absolie. It’s so rarely referenced and I think it one of her best.
      We do have some quite similar taste because so much on your list I love. Bois des Iles, L’Heure Bleue, Shalimar, NVC Trayee and Diorella are all faves, just didn’t make the 20.
      One day when you come to Oz we can spend some time sniffing the vintage DIOR box.
      Portia xx


  3. Nice work Portia! I know how tough this would have been for you but you’ve got a great selection. I love how broad and personal it is.
    A number I would have guessed but a fair few surprises too. All very you.
    Now you’re prepared to board that van when the day comes…


  4. Love this list P!!!
    For me Gap Heaven, Nocturnes de Caron, Sarah Horowitz custom blend Brigitte, Reglisse Noire, Tibetan Mountain Temple, Au Coeur du Desert, Fresh White Musk, vintage Shalimar EDC, Chinatown, First Cut, Field Notes from Paris, Midnight Fleur, Cristalle EDT, Lime Basil and Mandarin, Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, Vanille Abricot….more than half on this list are fragrances that I associate with family members.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is hard. I definitely predicted a few on your list, Portia! For me, Ormonde Woman, SJP Stash and Covet, Jungle l’Elephant, Paris-Deauville, Si Lolita, Sacrebleu Intense, Fig-Tea, SSS Equestrian, Alahine, Hiram Green Shangri La, Pacific Lime Blossom. The next tier down for me is pretty crowded, hard to get to 20.


    • Oh MMKinPA, you nailed it. the next tier down is HUGE!
      Alahine was in the list at one point.
      LOVE all of these too. Ormonde Woman, SJP Stash and Covet, Jungle l’Elephant, Paris-Deauville, Si Lolita, Sacrebleu Intense.
      It’s such a THING to try and narrow it down, but fun too.
      Portia xx


  6. Hi Portia!!! I posted my list on Undina’s post. We don’t have any mutual loves listed, but I do love Eau Absolue, she just didn’t make it to the cut.
    I only ‘know’ you via APJ but I think if someone asked ‘What are Portia’s 20 n perfumes’ I would come to a fairly accurate list…

    If ever Jin and yourself will travel by van through Europe, I suggest you plan your trip from perfumista to perfumista so if you miss a perfume that you didn’t bring you can come over for coffee and smell it on location.


  7. Amor Amor was one of a very few perfumes in my pre-perfumista life that was a repeat buy. I don’t think I have any left now, but I enjoyed it a lot.

    Tea for Two, Miss Dior, Equistrius and Mimosa Love are my favorites as well.

    I cannot take credit for Divine: I think, it was the opposite – I tried it only recently because of your scent diaries :)


  8. I’m answering this question a bit differently, giving my most worn top ten this past year in order of numbers of wear. Out of these I would need to bring Iris Nobile, No. 19, Eau des Merveilles, and Equistrius with me if I were limited to a total of twenty. xx

    Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile by Acqua di Parma (5)
    No. 19 by Chanel (4)
    31 rue Cambon by Chanel (4)
    Eau des Merveilles by Hermès (4)
    Equistrius by Parfum d’Empire (4)
    Volutes by Diptyque (3)
    Cristalle Eau de Toilette by Chanel (3)
    Bel Respiro by Chanel (3)
    Brit Rhythm for Her by Burberry (3)
    Cuir Beluga by Guerlain (3)


  9. Most of your choices come as no surprise. But there is one glaring exception: Stash Unspoken😯. Totally out of left field. I have this as well as Stash, but in comparison to its predecessor I find it a bit meh. Nice but unremarkable.


    • Hey Cassieflower,
      I wrote a post about Stash Unspoken recently. Everyone was so excited and enthralled by Stash they should NEVER have released a flanker that bore zero resemblance. It was the worst marketing choice ever, why could it not have been called Unspoken? Please go back, with no expectation of liking it and give it a really good wearing. You may not fall as deeply and madly in love with it as I am but I think you will see merit where before there was only comparison.

      Or maybe you’ll puke and hate it.
      Portia xx


  10. Pingback: Saturday Question: Which Perfume is Your Archenemy? – Undina's Looking Glass

  11. Wow, what a great read to end my weekend.
    Some *real* surprises in that list, I only picked about 6 of them (Miss Dior, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Boy, Mohur)
    That Aromatics Elixir incident was…memorable.
    Great spread of houses/perfumers too.
    I don’t think I could cull to 20 so I won’t even try. You could probably do it for me anyway 🤣


    • Hey Scotty!
      So good to see you here.
      There are SO MANY fragrances I associate with you over our years of mutual collecting. The discoveries, shopping sprees, online madness, international travel, trivia and the making of APJ videos. What stellar memories.
      I’m going to go spritz some Valentino Vendetta in your honour.
      Thanks for all of it.
      Portia xx


  12. Pingback: Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations – Undina's Looking Glass

What's on your mind? (I encourage posting relating links to your posts)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.