Perfume Roulette

In the post for my blog’s 8th anniversary I asked my readers to name a date from the last 8 years that had some significance for them with the idea of checking my records for perfumes I wore on those dates and wearing those perfumes during February as a personal project.

It was interesting to see which events my readers chose to offer as a significant date in their lives. Birthdays are probably the easiest when it comes to selecting dates (so, just a reminder: do not use them as your passwords or pin numbers!), and it was the most popular reason for selecting a date (6): 3 personal, one mom’s, one son’s and one friend’s birthday (I liked that reason because February is my and my mother’s birthday month). Romantic occasion was the second most popular reason (5): a first date, meeting a boyfriend, two weddings and one wedding anniversary, which also was very fitting for February (Valentine’s Day). Three readers considered meeting with perfumista friend(s) special enough to offer those dates for my list. Two commenters didn’t specify the occasion for their date choice (though, I’m sure those were some special events). And one date was related to the move to a new country (or, maybe, it was returning to that country – it wasn’t clear from the comment).

In total, I got 17 comments with dates, some even with several, so I had a good set to choose from (thank you!).

It was just the fifth time in my life when I planned perfumes to wear for a month ahead. But previously I did it for a specific note: twice I wore amber perfumes for a month of November (Perfume Diary: NovAmber and I did it again: NovAmber 2018 ), once I participated in Lucas’s (Chemist in the Bottle) project of wearing rose perfumes (A Month of Roses) and once for my own project (A Month of Irises). This time I had no rhyme just reason for selecting these perfumes, so it felt a little strange. But I decided to go ahead with the project.

Did I learn anything new from it? I did!

First, even though I do not officially rotate my perfumes and haven’t got (yet?) to adding a seasonal attribute to perfumes in my database, my perfume wearing is seasonal intuitively. So being “forced” to wear in a colder season (and our winter this year is uncharacteristically cold for the area) some of the perfumes that I normally choose to wear in spring or summer, I enjoyed them less. The lesson: I should probably stick to wearing perfumes that feel right for the moment even when choosing them for some project.

Then, I realized that I didn’t like saffron in a leading role. For a while I wasn’t sure and tried to persuade myself that I liked it but the most recent experience with Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense confirmed what I suspected for a while: I get tired of saffron soon after I stop being amused that I recognized the note (as I mentioned before, it doesn’t happen too often with me, so when it does I tend to transfer my feeling good about that occurrence into false positive impressions about perfume itself). So, after coming to that realization, I’m happy that I have just a decant of this perfume and not a bottle.

And finally, I really really like Vol de Nuit in extrait concentration, so I should probably just bite the bullet and buy it. Rusty clearly votes “Yes!”

Rusty and a Test Strip

Images: all but Chanel No 19 (hajusuuri) are my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2018 Year Round-up

Another year is behind us. Once again, it was not that bad for me. Would I want 2019 to be better? I would. But I would settle for it to be not worse than 2018.

Perfume-wise 2018 was a solid year for me. I keep “diversifying”: I wore 196 perfumes (vs. 178 in 2017), from 79 brands (vs. 72) on more occasions (372 vs. 314 in 2017). And if you are wondering how I manage to wear more perfumes than days in a year and also do a lot of testing, just look at the brand I wore the most: with its tenacity I could have worn probably twice as many perfumes if I were to carry extra ones with me to apply later during the work day.

Brands I wore most in 2018

Jo Malone and Chanel keep the first two positions, the next 6 brands changed places but are still on my Top 10 list, and only two brands are new compared to the previous year – Dior and Frederic Malle.

I still rotate perfumes daily, so I do not wear any one of my favorites too often. Perfumes I wore the most often in 2018: Lancôme Climat (10 times), Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (7) and Chanel Bois des Iles (6), which isn’t surprising since the first two are my absolute favorites and the third one was a new bottle purchase this year.

Chanel Bois des Iles

Also, I managed to test more perfumes than I did last year (if to count only perfumes I tested at home): 380 perfumes (vs. 300 in 2017) from 139 brands (vs. 103). Out of these 380 perfumes 145 I tested for the first time.

The only position where I did “worse” than the year before is 2018 releases tested: I managed to try 44 perfumes released last year (vs. 45 in 2017) and liked several of them enough to add to my collection. But I plan to tell their stories in future posts, so for now they shall stay unnamed.

I used 51 pictures of Rusty in posts in 2018 (I didn’t count them before, so I have no comparison point here but you can see all of them if you filter my posts by the “Four legs good” CATegory).

Rusty on the Stairs

How was your 2018 perfume-wise and in general?

 

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: Februiris 2018

I want to start this post with saying “Thank you” to all of you who participated in the Month of Irises project. I had fun but without you it would have felt really strange to keep updating those posts on a daily basis. Special gratitude goes to Lucas for coining a great name for the month and supporting and promoting this project throughout the month, Tara and Ines for hosting two days on their blogs.

Daily updates… It was harder than I expected it to be but it was an interesting experience: I’ve never done it before for that many days in a row. Though I still like the idea, I’m convinced now that publishing the continuous updates to the same post isn’t the right format for WordPress: without a notification delivered through the channels readers used to get their updates, only the most persistent ones remember to come back regularly. I’ll have to think of a better approach next year for the Month of X project. I mean, we are going to do it, aren’t we?

 

Iris

 

455 Comments

I went through all the comments on the posts for the project on my blog and three Day of Iris posts hosted by others (455 comments, if you were curious) and got together some numbers.

22 Perfumistas

During this February 22 people participated in the project: I counted only those who reported on one of the participating blogs; I saw some people reporting only on the NST, and I was glad it went “viral” but I couldn’t possibly include those in these statistics.

100 Perfumes

Among all the participants, we wore 100 different perfumes, collectively on 212 occasions.

28 Days

I and at least three more people wore iris perfumes for all 28 days – hajusuuri, Chocolate Marzipane (though she cheated a little wearing the same iris perfume as her bed scent) and Lucas (if you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at his beautiful calendar).

9 Project’s Favorites

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist and Atelier Cologne Silver Iris are two the most popular perfumes (reported by 6 people each). Infusion d’Iris by Prada takes the third place (5 people). Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle, Chanel 28 La Pausa and No 19 EdT, Hermès Hiris, Prada Purple Rain and Van Cleef & Arpels Bois d’Iris got 4 mentions each.

Undina’s Top 7 Iris Perfumes

Since the idea of this project came  from my blog’s seventh anniversary, I decided to conclude it with the list of my 7 most favorite iris perfumes based on my recent experience with the whole bunch of them (in no particular order):

Chanel No 19 EdT
Le Labo Iris 39
Armani Prive Le Femme Bleue
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise
Frederic Malle Iris Poudre
Prada Purple Rain
Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris

Result of the Month

Interestingly, I did not get tired of iris perfumes and plan to wear at least a couple of them again soon. I got myself a small travel bottle of Atelier Cologne Iris Rebelle. And I think I want to get more of L’Attessa once I’m done with my tiny decant – it grew on me. Oh, and I learned how to make “orrisgami” (© Lucas).

Rusty and Origami

What is your best iris perfume (or three, or seven)?

 

Images: my own

My Blog’s Rainbow Anniversary

Rose, Oakmoss, Ylang Ylang, Galbanum, Bergamot, Iris, Vetiver

How do you like it for a rainbow colors mnemonic perfumista-style?

 

Rainbow Perfumes

 

I came up with it while thinking about my blog’s 7th anniversary and the significance of this number in our culture: there are many things counted in 7 – seven rainbow colors, seven notes to the diatonic scale, seven days of the week, seven letters in the Roman numeral system, Big Dipper/Plough consists of seven bright stars and so on.

So, is the seventh anniversary special in any way for my blog? I thought about it, and I can’t say it is. I mean, it is as special as any other anniversary, but it doesn’t feel any different from the previous one.

I still like this blog. I still enjoy telling my stories to you and every time look forward to seeing your “likes” and comments (and I miss some of you when I do not see you around for a while). I still love perfumes and get thrilled by new perfumes I try (thank you to all of you who participates in friendly swaps). And I still manage to find new perfumes to love and to add to my perfume wardrobe.

 

Speaking of my perfume wardrobe…

In the recent couple of weeks there were discussions in Perfumeland about [not] using or even remembering perfumes from our own collections because there were too many of them. So I got curious: how good/bad am I?

I got a blank piece of paper… I mean, opened a new spreadsheet on my computer and wrote down all the full bottles (including travel sizes) that I could remember. It is a strange exercise provided I have a database with all the perfumes – but how else would I check it?

When I couldn’t think of any more perfumes, I compared results to the list from my database. I won’t divulge any incriminating numbers (as the quarterly spending poll on NST blog says: it’s between me and my credit card) but I’m happy to report that I couldn’t remember less than 5% of perfumes in my collection. The biggest surprise was that I forgot my Vacation in a Bottle perfumeYosh Ginger Ciao, for which I just got a back-up bottle.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

I decided it was a fluke. But, based on my experiment, at least I can say that I do not just buy perfumes and forget.

 

Speaking of not forgetting…

Without scrolling up, how many notes from those that I used in my perfumista-style rainbow mnemonics can you remember? “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information,” one of the most highly cited (according to Wikipedia) papers in psychology, “is often interpreted to argue that the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is 7 ± 2” dependent on the type of the object and the age of the respondent (follow the link above for the more complex explanation).

 

Rose, Oakmoss, Ylang Ylang, Galbanum, Bergamot, Iris, Vetiver.

Serendipitously, one of the perfumes I used in the rainbow illustration above has all of these notes (I didn’t realize that when I was choosing perfumes for that picture). Would you guess which one?

 

Rainbow and Bird of Paradise

 

Speaking of rainbows…

Did you know that in Greek mythology Iris is the Goddess of the Rainbow and a messenger of the Olympian Gods? To celebrate my blog’s seventh anniversary, I’m going to designate February as a Month of Irises. I realize that irises are not as popular as roses for that month’s big holiday but – following Lucas’s lead – I did a Month of Roses last year already. Besides, I love irises – and not only in perfume form, so I think it will fit perfectly. Will you join me for a couple of days in February?

 

Rusty and Iris Necklace

 

And just not to publish an anniversary post without mentioning the most important perfume in my life, I want to state that today I wore Climat by Lancome – and loved it, as always.

 

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2017 Year Round-up

Strictly from the personal prospective, 2017 wasn’t a bad year: it had its share of unpleasantness and hardships but nothing to be really unhappy – so I won’t complain or even mention that. Instead, I would rather remember that year by good things that happened – short and long trips, wonderful time spent with my friends, successful projects at work and wonderful perfumes I got to test and wear in 2017.

As I usually do it in the beginning of the new year, I’m looking back to my perfume records and sharing with you my insights.

 

How I do it

Years ago I created a personal database (using MS Access) to hold information on all the perfumes I own or test. Whenever I get a new sample, I add it to the database – below I give an example of the entry form I use. I do not always get all the information but I add what I can find. Perfume name, launch year and notes are free-text entry; designer (brand), perfumers, notes and some other data points are coming from the pre-defined lists, so there can be no discrepancies.

 

Sample DB Record

 

Whenever I wear or test perfumes, I record it in the Perfume Diary. In the form below, “Purpose” is one of the choices for when/why I wore or tested that perfume, e.g., “office wear” or “weekend day” or “Work from home.” Type of use is either “wore” or “tested”; “Response” is a formalized evaluation of how I reacted to that perfume on that day – e.g., “Enjoyed it a lot” or “Mixed feelings” or “I hated it,” etc. And finally “My notes” contain a short free-form comment, whatever I want to write about that time I wore or tested perfume.

 

DB Diary Entry

 

For those readers who haven’t been around when I was doing this series regularly, I want to explain what I mean when I say “tested” or “wore”: for testing I apply perfume to one area on my arms easily available for the repetitive sniffing. I can test two, sometimes even more perfumes at the same time. I do most of my testing in the evenings or while working from home. When I wear perfume, I apply it to at least three-four points, and usually I plan to spend at least 4-8 hours with the same scent so I’m prepared to re-apply if the original application wears off. After wearing a less tenacious perfume in the morning I might wear another one later. I wear perfumes mostly from bottles and decants; I wear perfumes from samples only when I consider buying a bottle or decant.

So, now when I explained how I collect data, let’s take a look at my 2017 in numbers.

 

178 Perfumes Worn

This year I wore more different perfumes than the year before – 178 (vs. 164 in 2016) from more brands – 72 (vs. 61) but did it less often – on 314 occasions (vs. 333).

Second year in a row Jo Malone was a brand I wore the most. I think it’s because these are my most “office friendly” perfumes. Neela Vermeire Creations made its way back into the Top 10 chart (last time it was here in 2014); while Le Labo fell completely off. The rest of the group just moved around but stayed on the chart, which isn’t surprising since I do not either update or expand my collection significantly any longer and keep wearing my favorites.

 

My Stats Year 2017 Brands

 

I tend to rotate perfumes I wear daily so I usually do not wear the same perfume even twice the same months – that’s how I go through that many different perfumes in a year. But I still managed to wear 67 perfumes more than once during 2017. Five perfumes I wore the most – Chanel No 19 (EdT, EdP and extrait), Lancôme Climat, Ormonde Jayne Ta’if, Krigler Lieber Gustav 14 and Armani La Femme Bleue.

 

Testing: Recording 300 and “carrying over” 1,000

This year was remarkable in regards to testing: in addition to the cursory testing of about 1,000 perfumes during my LondonBarcelonaStockholm trip (those didn’t go into my database – unless I scored a sample to bring back with me), I recorded testing at home 300 perfumes (vs. 275 last year) from 103 (vs. 100) brands. 134 of them were completely new to me (the rest I had tested before). I really liked/loved 24 of them, liked 20, thought that 56 were just not interesting and disliked 34.

Out if the 134 new for me perfumes that I tested, only 45 were released in 2017. Two of the 45 I liked enough to buy – Ineke Idyllwild and Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

Has any of the 2017 releases joined your collection?

 

Images: my own

Bespoke Perfumes, Who Needs Them?

From time to time I start thinking about bespoke perfumes. Not in terms that I consider ordering one for myself but in general, as of the idea itself.

If you were to do a search online for “bespoke perfume,” you’d find dozens of articles about that type of service, as well as offers of the said services. The prices start from $250 for a 50 ml bottle and goes all the way up to “contact for the price” (or 200K pounds mentioned in one of the articles – not sure how figurative was that figure).

Why wouldn’t I want to have perfume made just for me? Let’s look at it step by step. Since it is a theoretical exercise, I’ll assume that anything is possible.

Perfumer

I think it would be strange to have your perfume created by some random perfumer with whose work you are not familiar: while we can keep the discussion going whether perfume is art or not, it is definitely not pure science; and, in my opinion, not everyone can just learn how to mix ingredients and start creating amazing perfumes.

I ran a query in my database and figured out, which five perfumers created the most perfumes that I love.

 

Christine Nagel. Most of my favorites from her are her work for Jo Malone. As much as I like perfumes from that brand, do I really want my bespoke perfume to be of that “easy-wear-office-friendly” type?

Christopher Sheldrake. All Serge Lutens perfumes that I like and wear have been created by Sheldrake. But most of Serge Lutens perfumes that I do not like, were also created by him.

Bertrand Duchaufour. I like and wear many perfumes by this talented perfumer, and now when the daughter of the bloody dictator, for whom he created perfume 5 years ago (if you’ve somehow missed the story, look the Leftovers part of this post) is arrested, I probably wouldn’t mind him to be a creator of my bespoke perfume. But would he even have time? The man authors approximately one perfume per month.

Geza Schoen (presuming he actually is the nose behind all Ormonde Jayne perfumes). Until the brand decided to become a luxury one, they were one of my absolute favorites: I love or at least like 7-8 of their perfumes. But I’m not sure I would be able to pry a vat of Iso E-Super from him, no matter how much I pay.

Jean-Claude Ellena. I just don’t know if he still has any Dia left in him. And everything else is a little too sheer for my current taste: I like wearing many of his perfumes as my day-wear perfumes but none of them would be on a short list for a proverbial signature scent (or bespoke perfume, while we’re on the topic).

Notes

But let’s say I settled on the Perfumer. How do I know what I want to get? Clearly, I should shoot for the most beautiful perfume I do not have in my collection already. So of course I can show the Perfumer my most recent exercise with the Desert Island Perfumes and provide a list of my 13 favorite notes: linden, amber, lavender, iris, black currant, rose, mimosa, lily of the valley, narcissus, galbanum, sandalwood, cedarwood and vetiver. But how do I know that actually these thirteen notes make me like perfume? As my analysis in that post showed, the highest count of those favorite notes (8 of 13) make up my favorite Chanel No 19 – but I already have Chanel No 19, and I don’t need another one. And how do I know that it is not the combination of the other 76 notes, which composed my Top 20, that do the trick?

My Favorite Notes

Process

Assuming the Perfumer got all the information both from the notes I think I like and based on the list of perfumes I know I like, after a while we’ll have the first take – and what? How many times have you tried perfumes that sounded amazing based on what you read about them only to be completely disappointed? It is not easy to write a negative review for perfumes created by the brand or perfumer with whom you have some type of relationship or even just like them without knowing them personally. Also, have you ever experienced personally or witnessed any perfumer’s reaction to somebody criticizing their work?

I’m not sure I would be able to say: “Scratch that, let’s start over.” Instead, most likely, there would be polite going back-and-forth with: “It seems a little too sweet…”, “What if we were to add more floral notes?” or “It reminds me X, which I already love and wear.” How many iterations would I go through before giving up and agreeing to something that is very nice but doesn’t come even close to how I feel about my most beloved perfumes? What if it is not even “very nice”?

Price

For my theoretical experiment I’m going with the assumption that I can pay any price. But what is the price? What the price should be?

ScentTrunk, which keeps searching for the business model for making money from the exploding perfume industry, offers a free test kit that “includes a palette of the 6 fragrance families so our lab can identify the smells you love or hate” (you pay $4.95 for S&H). After that you can get your personalized perfume for just $11.95/month. I think we can all agree that I will skip the discussion of what exactly one might expect to get for the money.

Ok, how about € 220 for 50 ml of all-natural perfume “by Perfumer Composer AbdusSalaam Attar”? You can choose up to 7 (out of 92) essences for your perfume. If you want something “rare,” you’ll need to pay more: extra € 100 for ambergris, € 150 for Mysore sandalwood, € 250 for iris root and € 300 for agarwood. But even if you go “all in,” the most you pay is € 1,020. And you can name it whatever you want! So choose 7 ingredients, mention the most important 3, tell your profession or field of work (“important for olfactory psychology”!), add comments, “give your skype for contact ecc…”, prove that you’re not a bot (because, you know, it’s a huge work to put all those 7 notes into the shopping cart; and if you make a mistake, the whole form refreshes – so you should really be into placing that order) – and … I’m not sure what happens next because I didn’t manage to convince the page I wasn’t a “spammer.” But anyway, how personal can you expect it to be for € 220?

$6,750 can buy you three consultations with the team of perfumers at Floris, which will result in 100 ml bottle of your bespoke perfume (plus 5 future refills).

Even though By Kilian’s site states “Price upon request” on their Bespoke Perfume by Kilian page, from my recent visit to Salon de Parfums in Harrods I can surmise that it won’t be less than £15,000 – because that is how much their “one-of-a-kind” Midnight in London that Tara and I tested there costs.

By Kilian Midnight In London

I heard different numbers for bespoke perfumes by Roja Dove but the closest one to the official price was £25,000, which was mentioned a year ago in the article-interview with Mr. Dove. If you ask me, his semi-bespoke perfumes rumored at £1,000 for 250 ml, is a better deal: you can try it and decide if you like it, if it is unique enough before you commit.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, you can find dozens of brands, perfumers and no-name services that offer customized/custom/bespoke perfumes on the wide range of prices. But, in my opinion, even the highest price I cited here is not enough to pay for real creativity and uniqueness. I just do not believe that any great and talented perfumer would create something really great just for me – one person.

Why would the Perfumer spend enough time and effort to earn even £25,000, if selling it to a brand or launching it under their name would get a much better return? The explanation I could come up with was that it might make sense only if the result is not expected to be anything too special. For example, if it is done for “civilians” – people who have previously used Perfume de Jour from department stores: almost any average-pleasant perfume made from good ingredients by somebody who knows the trade would be a definite step up. It also can work for people who do not love perfumes but want to wear them because it is a part of the accepted routine. In this case, exclusivity and personal service might be much more important than actual perfume. In both cases it shouldn’t require too much time or magic from a skillful Perfumer. And those “bespoke” perfumes do not even have to be that unique from one customer to another – they just have to be different enough from what one can come across at regular perfume counters.

I have it. Now what?

But even if I manage to get the result I really like, what would I do with it? Should this perfume become my signature scent? Probably not: I’m not a one perfume woman. Should I treat it as a special occasion perfume? But then what should I do with my other special occasion perfumes? I’m not sure I have enough special occasions. Do I wear it just like any other perfume in my collection, several times per year? But then why even go through the exercise of creating bespoke perfume?

So even in my imaginary world, in which I can choose any perfumer to work on my scent and am not limited by any financial considerations, going through with that project does not seem appealing.

And then one last thought had occurred to me: I bet I can wear many of the existing perfumes in my current collection, and, almost any way you look at it, those would be not much farther from a bespoke perfume then any created as such might be.

 

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Images: my own

Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 2: Barcelona

“Oh, Barcelona…” or “Barcelona? Why?..” – those were the two most common responses I was getting from people with whom I spoke about our upcoming vacation’s destinations (nobody questioned London though).

I cannot explain why we had chosen Barcelona. I guess, we’d heard it was a beautiful city and thought of visiting it one day. Looking from here, Barcelona seemed really close to London – so we decided it was a good combination.

Since on that trip I didn’t have any fellow-perfumistas to rely upon their account of events, this part shapes to be a longer post.

Gaudi Casa Battlo

Accommodations

I’ve spent disproportional amount of time trying to find a nice place to stay: though it was a couple of months in advance, there were almost no vacancies in the suggested areas; and owners of those several acceptable apartments that I found were not responding in a timely manner (I have to mention that with the London flat everything worked like a clockwork – through the same sites). Finally, I rented something that seemed like a good choice.

We had a late flight in, so to the arranged place of meeting with the owner we got closer to midnight. We got from him keys and instructions to our taxi driver as to where to take us; and that was when we learned that we’d need to walk to the apartment since it was on a pedestrian street.

The taxi dropped us off next to some church in the old town. Night, small groups of people walking around or finishing their drinks is empty street cafés. Narrow dirty streets with graffiti-covered shutter doors. Google Maps app sending us into a different direction every 10 steps we attempt to take. Two of us with two suitcases trying to figure out how to find the address we need…

I don’t know how it is in areas where you, my readers, leave but in both countries, in which I have experience living, a neighborhood that looks like that would not be considered safe by any stretch . So we didn’t feel safe at all.

I think we looked so miserable that a group of young tourists passing by took a pity on us and helped us to locate the building we were looking for.

Once in the apartment that looked exactly as described in the ad and depicted in photos but still felt uninviting and soulless (IKEA at its best and worst): a loud portable A/C on, quick shower, A/C off and out to bed around 1:00 in the morning. A couple of hours of dripping A/C, humming in-unit water heated replenishing hot water and occasional excited tourists walking by… Between 6 and 7 in the morning unmercifully loud metal shutters of the local shops going up just under our windows and across the street…

Around 8, when we gave up the attempts to get any more sleep, my vSO announced: “I want to go home.

After a quick search confirmed that there were no vacant hotel rooms guaranteed to be quieter (and I didn’t even check how expensive it would be to come home a week earlier), we decided to give it a chance…

That was the lowest point in our trip, and from there it went kind of up: we were still sleep-deprived because of the combination of all the above-mentioned factors, plus remains of jet lag, plus a heavily walking neighbor above us, but we were impressed with this city’s architecture (and I’m not talking just about Gaudi), figured out that the area where we lived (El Born) was quite safe, and found things around to enjoy. On the picture below is the nicer end of the street where we lived (it was closed by the gates during the night and on weekends).

Barcelona Street

Perfumes I took with me

I discovered that I didn’t have that many Spanish perfumes in my collection that I wanted to wear or to test on this trip. Carner Barcelona El Born, which I brought also thinking about the possible bottle purchase, smelled better than the namesake area where we stayed, but I’ll need some time to disassociate these two to start enjoying this perfume again. Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris was just perfect, and I enjoyed wearing it but I already have a bottle of it. I’m not sure why I didn’t bring any other samples of Monegal’s perfumes that I have: I’m sure I could have worn Cuirelle or Pure Mariposa but somehow I didn’t think of them. But I compensated not bringing enough perfumes to wear with testing.

Perfumes I tested

Before I came to Barcelona, I didn’t realize how many good perfume shops that city had. I visited three exceptional niche perfumeries, and each of them was worth the time spent. Even if one comes from such place as London!

Perfumeria Regia

Situated in the extremely touristy place (a minute walk from Gaudi’s the Casa Batlló, it feels more like a perfume department in a luxury department store than a true niche place: though it carries a lot of niche lines, SAs are not too personable, and the space looks impassive. But I managed to test many perfumes, including the line I hadn’t had a chance to test before – Memo. I liked at least several “leathers” and plan to buy some samples to get to know those better. One more line, about which I haven’t heard before – Rosendo Mateu Olfactive Expressions. I liked a couple of their perfumes on paper – No 2 Lavender Spicy Chocolate (Fragrantica chose to put commas between all three ingredients in the name, and I wonder what they thought “spicy” meant in this enumeration) and No 3 Neroli Iris White Musk, but didn’t get a chance to try them on skin.

Perfumeria Regina is also a home for the Perfume Museum. There’s not much to tell about it but a lot to show – so I’ll do a separate post to share pictures I took there.

Regia Barcelona

The Perfumery

This small shop in the Gothic area of Barcelona was probably one of the most surprising perfume shops I’ve ever visited: by rough estimate, I didn’t recognize 80% of everything they had to offer. From what I could surmise, they do not present the complete line from the brands they carry but rather handpicked fragrances. All of them are offered to smell from the funnel-shaped glass testers, which was more convenient that sniffing the sprayers. Either my perfume tastes did not coincide with tastes of their collection curator, or I’m just not prepared to discover a diamond in the rough with that number of potential diamonds but while I liked many of perfumes I smelled, especially their masculine part of the collection, I didn’t love any of them enough to put on skin. Two that I tried on my vSOs wrists I liked but not enough to even write down the brands or names properly.

Barcelona The Perfumery

La Basilica Galeria

The gallery claims to have the biggest selection of niche perfumes in the World. I don’t know if anybody questioned that statement but for all I know it might be true, especially if we talk about stand-alone perfume shops.

Once we came there, I dispatched my vSO to the relatively comfortable armchairs where he could wait for me and started methodically sniffing through the collection presented via sprayed crystal bell-formed testers, marked on top red, navy or half-and-half for feminine, masculine and unisex fragrances.

Barcelona Galeria Test Bells

After I’d been through a couple of cases, a very friendly SA asked me if she could help me to find what I was looking for. Hopefully, in the same friendly manner I informed her that I was just going to sniff my way through the collection (I didn’t feel bad because I wasn’t even spraying any of the perfumes, all bells were already pre-sprayed). “Are you going to go through all thousand and <I don’t remember the exact number> perfumes?” – I won’t try to describe the tone, with which she asked that, but you could probably imagine it. I was completely unflappable: “I’ll skip those, with which I’m familiar” – and I returned to my exercise.

I think that La Basilica Galeria has a nice selection of niche perfumes with a good mix of more and less popular brands. But the way they present perfumes isn’t suitable for finding perfumes on your own. As I discovered when I tried to spray one of the perfumes in its bell to refresh the scent and get top notes more prominently, I wasn’t supposed to do that: they spray those perfumes on some schedule, writing it down and checking for how long those lived on the glass. The SA proudly told me that some of the perfumes were sprayed once a week… While I agree that perfume should not be judged only by its top notes – the way that mass market perfume industry would like us to do, 2-3 days old leftovers on glass surface definitely isn’t what any perfume should be judged by either. At that point I realized why most perfumes I tried by then weren’t “my cup”: my favorite floral top notes just do not live that long. After I asked, I was given some paper strips to test those perfumes that I wanted to try fresh but I could test only those, base notes of which survived nicely and were to my liking – which probably also wasn’t the worst criteria for choosing what to test on paper or skin.

Barcelona La Baselica Galeria2

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Though between the three major perfume shops I visited, I sniffed my way through about 650-700 fragrances, there were just several that interested me enough to consider for a catch from my trip to Spain.

I considered buying Gaudi de Codibel perfume for the whole 15 seconds that it took from me spotting it in the gift shop of the Casa Batlló to locate a test strip, spray and smell it. Had at least the bottle been a little more imaginative or better quality, I could have bought it just as a souvenir since we both quite enjoyed this museum. But both the scent and the packaging were beyond the exploitation of the famous name.

Gaudi Perfume

S-Perfume 1499 smelled very pleasant (jasmine sambac, myrrh, labdanum, olibanum, vanilla and amber – what’s not to like, right?) but everything else worked against this perfume: brand being either American (created) or Japanese (located now); the name is as non-descriptive as they come when the brand that isn’t Chanel decides to use numbers; and finally the bottle design just doesn’t suggest the price point, at which they position themselves.

I liked Paul Emilien Premiere Danse but since it’s a French brand, with which I wasn’t familiar before, I decided I’d look for a sample and test it more.

A Bulldog in the Atelier from a Spanish designer Teresa Helbig seemed like a good fit for the purpose of my search. Why didn’t I go for it? I got distracted by the Memo line, perfumes from which I didn’t plan to buy in Barcelona, and didn’t get a chance to test it properly. So with me not being a fan of that breed, it felt like I needed more time with this fragrance before exposing Rusty to it (though I liked the name).

Both my vSO and I liked Ramon Monegal Next to Me but I got confused with the name: judging by the list of notes and packaging, this one isn’t the same as Dubai Next to Me but, other than on Fragrantica, I cannot find any information about this one… And I’m not a huge Monegal fan (Impossible Iris is the only perfume from the brand that I like and wear).

The last two perfumes seriously tempted me despite the wrong country of origin and stupid names: 1831 and 1926. For those of us who is not versed in music history: I’m talking about 1831 Norma and 1926 Turandot by Histoires de Parfums. I tried and was completely enchanted by these two in the parfum extrait version. They both smell to me like classic perfumes. My vSO and I had different preferences for these two (I liked Norma a little more), it is a French brand, and they were more expensive than I felt comfortable spending on the spur-of-the-moment bottle. But only a coupon code, which I hope to get in e-mail soon, stands between me and the Order button on one of the decanter sites for these samples.

HdP 1831 Norma

Barcelona leg of our trip was … trying. On the first morning we were ready to cut the losses and try to find our way back home. On the sixths morning, as we were leaving, we didn’t feel sad. But in between we had some positive experiences, and we both agreed that this city was worth re-visiting one day – provided we can find some more modern and soundproofed lodging. Until then I have perfume to remind me about the good, the bad and the ugly of this vacation. Which one? I’ll tell you soon.

 

Images: my own