Saturday Question: How Many Perfumes Do You Bring to Your Vacations?

The question is inspired by the recent Portia’s post about perfume wardrobe for the South Korea trip.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #157:

How Many Perfumes Do You Bring to Your Vacations?

Do you have some rule or a tradition related to which perfumes you take with you an a vacation? Does it depend on the length of the trip, destination or a mode of transportation? Do you usually bring more or less than you need?

My Answer

As a rule, I take two perfumes for each day of the trip plus one or two extra if it’s a longer trip. And usually, I manage to wear more than half of them. But once I remember I brought 21 perfumes to my 8-day Hawaiian vacation, which was overkill even with multiple swims and showers daily.

Maui 2014 Parfums

Other than tropical vacations, I do not have any special selection of perfumes I take with me: I try to guess what I’ll enjoy wearing based on the location and expected weather there. It doesn’t always work – hence the multiple options I bring. Since I rarely go anywhere with carry-on luggage only, my choice doesn’t depend on whether it’s a flight or a drive to the destination.


How about you?

How Many Perfumes Do You Bring to Your Vacations?


Saturday Question: For Which Brand(s) Do You Have a Week’s Worth of Wearable Perfumes?

I just blinked, and my week ran away from me. Due to various reasons, I didn’t wear perfumes every day. One of the reasons was decision paralysis: I felt too overwhelmed with other stuff and was afraid to make a wrong choice. That got me thinking: would it be simpler if I chose just one brand and went through 7 perfumes from that brand? Do I even have any brand with enough different scents to do that?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #156:

For Which Brand(s) Do You Have a Week’s Worth of Wearable Perfumes?

I’m asking not about just any 7 perfume from a random brand: most of us will probably have a discovery set or 7 random perfume samples for several brands. But do you have 7 perfumes from a brand that you bought (or swapped) because you liked them and planned to wear them? You can count any bottles or decants of 5 ml or larger but not samples.

Bonus question: How often do you wear perfumes from the same brand on multiple consecutive days?

My Answer

I practically never wear the same perfume two or more days in a row. And I rarely wear perfumes from the same brand within a week.

I have several brands for which I counted enough scents to support my imaginary project. But one brand stood out: Jo Malone. Even though in recent years I lost interest in their new creations (as in “getting not more than one or two new mini bottles per year”), throughout my hobby, I accumulated enough perfumes that I like from this brand to wear a different one for at least 3 weeks.

So, starting tomorrow and until the end of March, I will wear one of Jo Malone’s perfumes. Luckily, many of them are not too tenacious, so if I apply one in the morning, I’ll be free to choose any other scent later in the afternoon.

Jo Malone

How about you?


For Which Brand(s) Do You Have a Week’s Worth of Wearable Perfumes?

Saturday Question: Do You Have Any Perfume Hacks?

Somewhere between the last SQ post and this one, we quietly passed a three-year mark since this series moved to Undina’s Looking Glass. I’m glad that you still keep coming back to participate. And especially I’m pleased to see when the conversation goes beyond just exchanging a couple of comments with me, and you find each other’s comments engaging (particularly when I’m late with my replies, as it was in the last couple of weeks, about which I’m sorry but wanted to let you know that even when I don’t reply, I read your comments within several hours after you post them). But I promise I’ll try to be more present.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #155:

Do You Have Any Perfume Hacks?

It doesn’t have to be something significant or unheard of. But if there is something you find helpful for yourself – be that about wearing, storing or buying perfumes, making them last longer (or getting rid of the offensive scrubbers), anything else that some people might not know (or just don’t think of it) – please share.

Bonus question: What perfume are you wearing today?

My Answer

I suddenly had the urge to wear Neela Vermeire Creations Trayee. I think it’s an amazing perfume. And I wonder how much it has changed since its first release in 2012. Has anyone had a chance to smell it from the newer bottle in the last 2-3 years?

Now to hacks.

1. It applies mainly to decants and handmade samples, but I found it to be the case with some full bottles as well: if you haven’t used them for a long while (6 months+), before spraying perfume on yourself, do the “dry run” first – let the first 1-2 sprays to go into the air (away from you) or in a sink: I noticed that for whatever reason a portion of perfume that is left in the tube and the spraying mechanism spoils faster than the rest of the vial. So, if you “clear” the stale or rancid portion, the rest might still be good to wear.

2. This is more like observation and recommendation. If you like a newly released mainstream perfume and are considering buying it, try to do it within the first year of the release. It seems like companies reformulate their fragrances as soon as they become popular. If in the past we could blame IFRA for more and more limitations, these days, I think it’s all corporate greed and desire of the brands’ executives to report to “stakeholders” an extra percent of profit, which comes from cutting corners where possible hoping that nobody notices.

Do You Have Any Perfume Hacks?

Saturday Question: What Are The Strangest Notes In Perfume You Encountered?

I came up with this question a couple of weeks ago when I told you about the gasoline accord in Parfumes Quartana Ierofante. But it was right before Valentine’s Day, so chocolate seemed like a better idea. And then I forgot.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #154:

What Are The Strangest Notes In Perfume You Encountered?

It can be a note in the perfume pyramid you own or tried. Or something you read about. Or a weird note you smelled in perfume even though it wasn’t listed.

My Answer

If I were to sift through my database, I could find more strange notes. But that would have been cheating: most of my readers do not have a database to check. So, I’m going with the note I remembered without looking: Instant film accord in Vogue 125 by Comme des Garcons.

I didn’t read notes before trying it for the first time, so this note surprised me. I didn’t recognize what it was. It reminded me of acetone, and I wondered what it was. But when I read about that note, it fit just perfectly matched what I smelled. And it has the ink note, which also isn’t the most common or expected. I don’t want to wear it, so a small sample is all I have. But it was interesting to smell.


How about you?


What Are The Strangest Notes In Perfume You Encountered?

Saturday Question: Which 3 Perfumes Would You Like To Experience Again?

Please don’t rush to answer (I know some of you who practice TL;DR). This question has a twist. Please bear with me; I’ll explain below.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #153:

Which 3 Perfumes Would You Like To Experience Again?

This is not a question about which perfume you’d like to be “resurrected.” And not about which vintage perfume in an intact condition you’d like to find one day. Perfumes that fall under this mental exercise are perfumes that 1) you previously smelled; 2) they are now either discontinued or reformulated.

So, if you were offered an opportunity to smell (OK, I’ll be generous – and wear, if you want to) again just once any perfume that fits the criteria listed above – which 3 would you have chosen?

My Answer

I thought of this SQ after exchanging comments in the last week’s post. I would love to be able to smell once again Thierry Mugler’s Angel as it was in 1993-94 (that’s when I first smelled it). My bottle is from around 1999-2000, and I’m not 100% sure that even it was the same as it was initially created. Now it’s more than 2 decades old, so it smells somewhat different from how it was when I bought it. And newer versions are definitely reformulated – even though they are still quite recognizable. But my memory of what it was like in the beginning is so vivid (not the scent but my reaction to it) that I would like to experience that Angel again. Though, I’m not sure if I’d want to wear it.

The second perfume of my choice would be my lifelong love Climat by Lancome. I’d like to smell and wear that perfume in its early 80s version. I have at least 5 different versions of it in my collection, and I love, like or appreciate them. But I remember how I thought that Climat was the most beautiful perfume ever (and couldn’t understand how not everyone felt the same about it). So, I would like to compare my memory to the actual scent.

The last wish is more practical, so to speak. Eight years ago, for the blog’s anniversary, I told the story of a perfume that I owned in my adolescent years and could never find since (due to the inconspicuous name “Paris Paris” and an unknown to me brand name). I would like to smell it again to learn if I still like it and, if yes, with my better understanding of perfumes and experience with thousands of them, to try to find something that smells similar.

Rusty and Paris-Paris Bottle

Which 3 Perfumes Would You Like To Experience Again?

Saturday Question: Do You Like A Chocolate Note In Perfume?

With the upcoming Valentine’s Day, and since we’ve previously covered a question about roses, I decided the other ubiquitous element of the celebration might be appropriate for today’s SQ.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #152:

Do You Like A Chocolate Note In Perfume?

Do you own any perfumes with that note? Do you wear them?

A bonus questions: Do you like chocolate? If yes, what is your favorite type?


My Answer

Let’s start with the important part: I love eating chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate with nuts. The best combination for me is dark chocolate (~72-75%) with hazelnuts.

As to perfumes, I was surprised to discover how many perfumes with this note I have and wear. I’ll name just three (and then will join you in comments if you mention any of those that I also like:

1. Mugler Angel Taste of Fragrance: unlike the original Angel, which also has this note, I still wear this one from time to time.

2. Armani Prive La Femme Bleue: I think, this is my #1 favorite chocolate perfume – I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that it also contains the most beautiful iris note?

3. Guerlein Gourmand Coquin: I wish I would have figured out earlier how much I liked this perfume. Now I should persuade myself not to hoard the remaining ml in my dab sample and enjoy wearing it last couple of times.

Rusty and Candies

How about you?

Do You Like A Chocolate Note In Perfume?

The Scent of 2022?

At the end of the last year, I looked at the miserable list of new fragrances that I managed to try and realized that I couldn’t do even the Top 5 – let alone any more significant number of successes.

I think this made me susceptible to “undue influence”: when I got an email from Parfumes Quartana (I used to know that brand as Six Scents Parfums) describing how their new perfume, Ierofante, had been named in three “Top N” lists and offering a sample for $5 (including S&H), my “no-buy” resolution didn’t even raise its head, and the sample was on its way to me.

Before trying it for the first time, I haven’t read a single line about or note of Ierofante. And it was a shock: one just doesn’t expect a whiff of gasoline from their fine fragrance. But there it was.

The complete list of notes for Ierofante (as printed on the sample card; Fragrantica has a slightly different list) includes suede, gasoline accord, nutmeg, smoky leather, styrax pyrogene, golden amber, cashmeran and vetiver. The nose behind this perfume is Luca Maffei.

Even though I immediately knew I would not want to wear that as perfume and was questioning the decision to spend even $5 on this experiment, I decided to go through with the testing. I wanted to fully experience the fragrance that Steven Gavrielatos (Ca Fleure Bon), Lola (@lolascents) and Persolaise (eponymous blog) considered one of the best perfumes of 2022 (which, if to think about it, might not necessarily be a compliment or indicative of how good the perfume is).

As the gasoline accord was burning out, something strangely familiar started radiating through the remaining harsher smell. And suddenly, I realized what it reminded me of: if to substitute gasoline with burning rubber and instead of vetiver throw in the fire, so to speak, sandalwood, you would get… Bvlgari Black.

Bvlgari Black and Ierofante

Created by Annick Menardo in 1998, Black includes notes of smoky black tea (lapsang souchong), bergamot, rose, sandalwood, cedarwood, jasmine, leather, vanilla, amber, musk and oakmoss. It’s hard to believe, but I told my story From Zero to Forty (ml) in less than 15… years: Bvlgari Black almost ten years ago!

As you can see, Ierofante and Black do not have too many notes in common and are far from smelling identical. But that effect of a foreign-to-perfume industrial chemical start that mellows down to a softer ambery base makes them reminiscent of each other.

I like Black better: not only is its opening not as harsh as Ierofante’s, but it also is much smoother in development. Unfortunately, I can’t even recommend buying it instead if you haven’t tried it before: these days its price online is quite steep. Though, it’s still less than the price of Ierofante ($235/50 ml).

Bvlgari Black and Ierofante

One more perfume I tested with Black and Ierofante was Nappa Noire created for the Quartana’s parent company/predecessor, Six Scents Parfums, by Calice Becker. Nappa Noire also has something in common with Ierofante, but since this perfume is much less commonly known and is sold out on the brand’s site, I won’t spend more time on it (but if you want, read my story about it – Every White has its Noir).

I didn’t have a chance to try Ierofante in parallel with L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two, created in 2000 by Olivia Giacobetti, because I didn’t think about it until now. Still, I suspect that with the notes like tea, star anise, bergamot, cinnamon, spices, ginger, gingerbread, tobacco, honey, leather and vanilla, it is bound to have at least some similar development phases. And it is still in production. (And for those few who weren’t around seven years ago, I want to share my story about this perfume – Tu-ti-tu-rum-tu-tu or Musical Perfume. I promise it’s not a review.)

Since I already own three perfumes that remind me of Ierofante, and I prefer them to this new offering, I will pass the remaining sample to someone else before it evaporates. But after spending more time trying, analyzing and comparing it to all my favorites, I feel much more positive about it. And I think that, strangely, it represents the year 2022 well.

Rusty and Bvlgari Black and Ierofante

Images: my own

Saturday Question: Are You Tired Of Winter [Perfumes] Yet?

So, a couple of days ago, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow predicting 6 more weeks of Winter. For us, perfumistas, it also means more time to wear “heavy-heaters” in our collections. How do you feel about that?

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #151:

Are You Tired Of Winter [Perfumes] Yet?

I’m interested in answer to both questions. How is your winter this year? Do you enjoy it? Are you “done” with it and ready for the next season? How about winter perfumes? Did you have enough of them, or do you look forward to more time with them? Which perfumes are in your current rotation?

My Answer

I just have to brag! I love-love-love this winter! I mean, Northern California winters are always quite good. But this year, even though it’s slightly colder than it was in the last couple of years (today it was +8C/+46F at night and +17C/+62F during the day), it is RAINING (!), which is great after years of drought. Of course, now we have the opposite problem in some places, but in general it is really good. And I’m happy with the weather.

Also, since it’s cool, I enjoy wearing my “winter” perfumes that I neglected last year. I can’t say that any of perfumes is “in rotation” since I wear a different one every day. If not to count Papillon Artisan Perfumes Hera: since I have just a small sample, I decided to wear it until it is finished: I know that eventually I will buy a full bottle of it (I’m trying my best not to break my “no-buy” for now), so I don’t want my sample to evaporate while I’m waiting. So, I wear Hera at least once a week, and by my estimate I have  more “wears” left.

Other perfumes I enjoyed recently: Puredistance Rubikona and 12, Teo Cabanel Alahine and Floris Honey Oud. (I do not wear Fleur de Lalita now: the photo below is there for Rusty’s shadow and not perfume.)

Speaking of Rusty, he, on the other hand, doesn’t enjoy winter: he clearly prefers sunny days when he can sunbathe at the window.

Rusty Sees Shadow

How about you?

Are You Tired Of Winter [Perfumes] Yet?

Saturday Question: Have You Tried Anything New Recently?

I’m running a little late with this week’s SQ, but I hope my anniversary post kept you entertained while I was finishing this one.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #150:

Have You Tried Anything New Recently?

It’s almost the end of the first month of 2023. Have you tried anything new this year? It doesn’t have to be something just released – just new for you.

My Answer

I just went to my local Nordstrom to check if they already had new Tom Ford‘s perfumes. They did! Unfortunately, they stopped the sampling program, so I couldn’t make samples myself, and the SA I talked to didn’t have any manufacturer samples. So after I made sure that at least I didn’t hate them on paper, I courageously sprayed two perfumes on two wrists.

I’m not sure why Tom Ford decided that we needed 2 (two!) flankers for Lost Cherry – but here we have them: Cherry Smoke (2022) and Electric Cherry (2023).

On paper, I liked Electric Cherry better (notes: cherry, ginger, jasmine sambac, ambrettolide, pink pepper and musk), but as both perfumes developed, Cherry Smoke became more interesting (notes: sour cherry, saffron, leather, olive, Chinese osmanthus, apricot, woody notes, smoke and cypriol oil).

When I say “more interesting,” I don’t mean interesting enough for me to want to pay $240 for a 30 ml bottle. If you ask me, it’s a ridiculous price for this perfume. But if people pay the price, kudos to TF. Would I want to wear it if I were to get it for free? I don’t think I want more than a sample. But I’ll try to get that sample if I can.


How about you?


Have You Tried Anything New Recently?

Twelve Years But Not Full Circle

Undina’s Looking Glass is twelve. I missed it by a couple of days – not because I forgot, and not even because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, but I wasn’t organized well to do it in advance, and when the day came, there were some less pleasant but more important things to take care of. But since I still love holidays, birthdays and anniversaries, I knew I didn’t want to skip it.

Twelve years is a long term for almost anything in our lives: people get an education, move houses, open and close/sell businesses, change cars, jobs and even partners/spouses, get and lose furry friends and go through many other less significant life events in that period. So, keeping a perfume blog for 12 years is worth celebrating, don’t you think?

When I started this blog in 2011, I didn’t expect to get “free-range” readers. My initial intent was to have it as a sort of a visiting card for when I was commenting on other blogs’ posts – so that those blogs’ owners would know who I was and could return a visit if they felt like it. I love being a part of a community (and belonged to several great ones in my life, both real and virtual), and I thought that having a blog was the justify way of participating in Perfumeland’s community. MUA, Fragrantica or Basenotes felt too large and not personal enough (and the same I felt later about FB groups). But blogs felt just right.

Undina's Looking Glass Blog Header

Back then, a HUGE number of perfume blogs were active. I followed many of them, became virtual friends with some bloggers (and even met with several), and somehow managed to read dozens of posts every week. Many blogs had “blogrolls” as a part of the layout: one of the two prevailing platforms, Blogpost, provided it “out of the box,” listing all other blogs that one followed; and WordPress allowed adding those manually via the Links collection. So, many bloggers were building those cross-reference lists. My approach was slightly different: I put in my “Reading List” only those blogs that I followed and whose posts I always read.

In these 12 years, some blogs have gone silent, many disappeared altogether, and a much smaller number of new blogs appeared.

Only 12 blogs are left on my current “Reading List,” and even those are not all really active (but I still have hope they will stick around for a while longer). I also know of a few other blogs that still publish, but I didn’t find common ground with those, and since we do not communicate, I turned them off in my list.

Out of all the blogs that I used to follow and read, the 12 I miss the most (those that are still online are linked):

When I was thinking about this post a month ago, I planned to put Australian Perfume Junkies as my #1 blog that I miss: even though Portia is now one of the regular guest writers on my blog and Perfume Posse, I miss coming to the APJ for the weekly report on perfumes worn, food eaten and friends met. But I might be putting it back on my Reading List instead! If you missed it, Portia and Old Herbaceous of Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities are running some interesting collaboration that involves both blogs. It makes me happy.

But now to my list of 12.

Olfactoria’s Travels is one of the first blogs I read (the NST doesn’t count because I was reading it before I even knew what blogs were or realized that people commented on those posts). Birgit’s reviews were very elegant and composed. And it was her blog where our Saturday Question (back then, Monday Question) series started.

Olfactoria's Travels Header

A Bottled Rose was created by Tara, who started as a guest writer on the Olfactoria’s Travels blog (and once posted on ULG). Most of you are probably familiar with her soft and thoughtful review style. Her blog became home to Portia (once the APJ went on hiatus) and Val, the Cookie Queen. Tara hasn’t officially announced the blog closure, but it has been getting “quieter” for the last couple of years, so it looks like she’s done (but one can hope, right?).

A Bottled Rose Blog Header

At least for a while, we were friends with Natalie from Another Perfume Blog. She posted not only perfume reviews but also perfume and fashion news and fiction stories. A couple of times, she participated in the blind-test games for my Déjà vu series (Episodes 2 & 4). She moved, moved on, and deleted her blog.

Another Perfume Blog Header

Suzanne’s Perfume Journal was an unusual blog. While Suzanne was highly social and outgoing and had many friends in the Blogosphere, her blog ran on a platform that didn’t support either comments or automated comments subscriptions. She manually added people who wanted to know about new posts to the distribution list. Suzanne wrote wonderful perfume stories and amazingly supportive and thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs. She passed away way too early. Unfortunately, her site isn’t available directly. But you can still get to her stories using the Web Archive’s copy.

Suzanne's Perfume Journal Blog Header

I met Asali, the author of The Sounds of Scent, when she was a guest writer on another wonderful blog, All I Am – a Redhead (it’s still on my Reading List, and Ines is still around, but it’s one of the blogs that isn’t updated as regularly as I’d like it to). Asali’s blog, now moved under the “Private” lock, was unique because it connected her two passions – perfumes and music. She is the author of the picture that I use as my blog’s header. Asali is still present on Instagram, where you can catch from time to time her artistic perfume flatlays and photos of her beautiful black cat Vega.

Lavanya of the Purple Paper Planes is still around, but those who didn’t know her back when she was active on her blog might now be more familiar with her subscription service Boxwalla. I completely understand that running a small business should take up all the creative resources she might have. But I miss her in the perfume Blogosphere.

Purple Paper Planes Blog Header

Beauty on the Outside was another “one of the first” blog that I started commenting on back in the day. Dee was active for a while, and some of her reviews were quite unusual (if you’re curious, read this Amouage Opus VI review. Then she went silent and came back, got silent again, and tried to come back again.

Beauty on the Outside Blog Header

Victoria from EauMG was the one who ran her blog almost as a professional magazine: she published formal reviews, had a beauty series where she recreated makeup looks, and even tried to make some YouTube videos (probably a little earlier than it became “a thing”). She stopped posting on her blog, but you can still find her on Instagram.

EauMG Blog Header

My taste didn’t coincide with the taste of Christos (Memory of Scent), but it was interesting to read his take on perfumes I knew. I stopped following him closely once he started writing for the Fragrance Daily (I’m not sure what happened to that community: now it is just an online perfume shop). And then he stopped writing.

Memory of Scent Blog Header

I felt that with Mals86 of Muse in Wooden Shoes, our background, lifestyle and almost every other aspect of life were very different; we didn’t “click,” but I liked reading stories about life and her kids that she shared in her perfume diaries. And she’s probably the only other perfumista who I know who liked Climat by Lancôme, my first and everlasting perfume love. Her blog is no longer available, but I still see her in NST’s SOTD threads from time to time (though I haven’t followed those for a while).

Muse In Wooden Shoes Blog Header

Gaia, The Non-Blonde, was probably the only blog I kept following (and even commenting on from time to time) despite her disregarding half of all comments readers left on her posts and rarely participating in conversations on others’ blogs. But she was one of the “founding members” of the perfume Blogosphere, so she was an exception to my mental rule not to engage with those who didn’t want to engage with me. Besides, she loved and shared her life with a lot of cats. Her unexpected passing (from an undiagnosed heart condition) made a big impression on me, and I pay more attention to my health than I would have without that awful life lesson.

The Non-Blonde Blog Header

There were many more blogs I read regularly and communicated with, and the last one I want to mention here isn’t the one I miss the most. The Perfumed Dandy blog was an odd duck. I had a feeling that the writer wasn’t a real person but rather a project run by at least one woman (but maybe a group). “He” didn’t sound like a man playing the role but rather like a woman playing the role of a man playing the role. I will probably never know it for a fact, so that blog got an “honorable mention” in this list for the mystery aspect.

The Perfumed Dandy Blog Header

* * *

Back to Undina’s Looking Glass.

I’m not done yet. Since I don’t expect it to go on for another 12 years, I will not consider it a full circle and keep going as long as it naturally goes. I love perfume. I love my blog. I enjoy talking to all of you, no matter how you got here. I notice when you disappear for a while and am glad to see you back. I want you to know that I usually read your comments the same day you post them, even if sometimes it takes me several days to respond. I’m not sure if you still want to read about specific perfumes, but I’ll keep writing about them occasionally (if I have a story to tell or something I want to share). Whether you care about this aspect or not (I did notice that those posts get fewer participants), I plan to continue my Sunday Self-Care series because it amuses me. I hope Portia will keep writing guest posts every couple of weeks, even with other APJ projects going. And once again, I invite any of you, my “free-range” readers, to use my blog as a platform if you have in you a story or two that you’d like to share but don’t feel like starting a blog for it. While his health allows, Rusty will keep being a part of this blog. And as long as you all come back to participate in the Saturday Question posts, I’ll keep coming up with questions for those.

Rusty Sleeping

This week’s Saturday Question is coming, so don’t think that this is it. But I wanted to offer you to guess: Links to how many blogs (both visible and hidden) do you think I collected over the years in my Reading List? Just a reminder: it has never been a list of all existing blogs, just those I read and communicated with.


Images: all blogs’ images are from the corresponding blogs; the rest – my own.