Saturday Question: What Was The Last Perfume You Gave As A Gift?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #27:

What Was The Last Perfume You Gave As A Gift?

We all know that it’s hard to buy perfumes for others, and, as much as we all wish sometimes for a perfume faerie or gravitating bottles, in reality unprompted gifts are rarely “hits.” But with our love to perfume we are still trying to spread joy and recruit others into our fragrant circle.

So, do you buy perfumes as gifts? Who to? Do you consult the recipient, or do you do it as a surprise? What was the last perfume you bought for somebody else? Did they like it?

My Answer

I buy perfumes for others left and right – parents, friends, not to mention my vSO. I’m coming from the time and country where giving any perfume (and especially a “French” one) as a gift was genuinely appreciated and welcomed, regardless of the scent. Of course, as time and surroundings changed, I usually stick to either buying something that I know the person likes (a version of perfume they already use or the one they happened to like in the past), or buy it as a variation on a department store’s gift card (include a sample to try and a gift receipt for the bottle with a blessing to exchange it for something else my friend might like more).

It wasn’t the first perfume I bought for my goddaughter: several years ago we went perfume shopping and ended up getting her Armani Prive Pivoine Suzhou. She wears it nicely and still likes it. Last year we wanted to do another shopping trip, but it was a hectic year for both of us, and we kept postponing it. At some point I decided to give her several samples, not necessarily of perfumes that were readily available from the surrounding stores, that she could test at her own pace.

In the process, she found one more new perfume love – JHAG‘s Miss Charming. But we agreed that even a struggling postgraduate student could afford that one from a discounter or subscription site. So, we tried to figure out something more substantial. In the end she told me that she wanted to get… Amouage Dia. It wasn’t one of the samples I prepared for her. Instead, she liked the scent from the Dia soap I gave her once as a Christmas present. So, a year after the birthday for which it was supposed to be a gift, she received from me a set of perfume and body lotion. Not to repeat the exercise, this year her gift wasn’t perfume-related.

I’m wearing my Dia today: it is beautiful. Hopefully, she’ll enjoy wearing it years to come, and I’ll make sure not to wear it to the same occasions – luckily, I have more than enough perfumes not to play “twinsies” (Did you know that was a word?!) or “Who wore it best?” (not that I would expect anyone in our circle to notice it).


Amouage Dia Gift Set


What Was The Last Perfume You Gave As A Gift?


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Long Live Fluffy Towel
And Toothpowder
And Fragrant Soap
And Fine-toothed Comb!
Let’s wash and slosh,
Bathe, dive and tumble
In basins, in bathtubs,
In ocean and river,
Always and everywhere
Hurray for Water!

As an epigraph I used loosely translated closing verses of Moydodyr – the poem for children by Russian poet Korney Chukovsky published in 1923. Moydodyr (Wash’em’clean) is an anthropomorphic washstand, a self-proclaimed commander of other washstands and sponges, who teaches an untidy boy (and the readers) “the virtue of hygiene“.


I doubt that in my childhood there were too many kids who didn’t read that poem or watched the cartoon. As Wikipedia correctly states, “Moydodyr character became a symbol of cleanliness.” But I must say that for the country, several generations of which grew up on this poem, we were quite unwashed masses. I’ll spare you horror stories about hygiene norms and routines from those times: hopefully, many of those are left in the past. But I want to share some of the less detestable but rather peculiar memories. Soaps.

I don’t know how it was in early 20s when the poem was written, but by 80s books were probably the only source of fragrant soap. Soap produced in the USSR was mostly functional but not something that would bring joy to any of your senses: usually it was a rectangular bar of some undefined light color and, if you were lucky, a faint unpleasant scent. I suspect that my dislike of natural/organic/handmade soaps has a root in those childhood memories.

Soviet Fir Soap

In today’s economy whenever I read in a product’s description “Imported”, I immediately assume that it’s a euphemism for “Made in China” so in my mind it’s a disparaging attribute: had it been a “respectable” producer, it would have been named specifically – “Made in Germany/France/Italy/the U.S./etc.” Faceless “imported” usually means “a country where labor is cheap and quality is corresponding.” But when I was growing up that property had the opposite effect: it would immediately raise the status of the item. “Imported X” was universally considered of a better quality and more desirable than locally produced X. “Imported shoes”, “imported furniture” and “imported soap” are just a few examples. Usually it didn’t even matter from where those were imported (unless it was perfume, in which case it had to be French).

If anybody was lucky enough to get them, those fragrant, perfectly molded and beautifully packaged representatives of remote civilizations “imported” soaps would usually lead a life of leisure surrounded by the finest things… in underwear drawers staying there for years – until finally making a guest appearance in the bathroom. I mean, appearance for some special guests – and only after that fulfilling their utilitarian destiny.

The situation with soaps (and other imports) had significantly improved even before I left for the U.S. Camay, Palmolive, Nivea and dozens of other soap bar brands came into our lives and became something mundane and ordinary – just like it should be. And since I haven’t lived there for a long time, I don’t know if the next spiral of craziness (all-natural, artisan and such) has reached them already.

But even now and here it’s hard to get rid of old habits: almost three years have passed from the time Rusty and I demonstrated to you the wonderful linden-scented bar until I let the first drop of water touch it. It still smells nice but I think it dried out a little while waiting for its show time.

Linden Soap And Rusty

Amouage Dia soap ended up in my stash by chance: there was a closeout sale at the online store and I just couldn’t pass on a great deal. For the last couple of years I was trying to decide when the time would be right to start using it: it’s so luxurious that it felt wasteful to open it without a special occasion. Well… It’s still in its original cellophane.

Rusty and Amouage Dia

I wanted to see what Rusty thought of the Dia soap’s scent. I’m not positive but does it look to you like he’s trying to show me the proper way of cleaning myself without a soap?