Thinking outside the Box

Several years ago I read a post on Olfactarama blog about bottles collectors*. The following paragraph made me thinking:

Even as a young girl I hoped to someday have a vanity, on which there would be a mirrored tray, full of fine perfumes in their beautiful bottles. The bottles atop my cabinet now — Agent Provacateur comes to mind, in its pink ceramic egg crowned by a plain metal spray nozzle — aren’t the most appealing ones. Those are stashed safely in the dark interior.

As I was reading that passage, I realized that from an early age my idea of storing perfumes was somewhere in the dark – a cupboard, a dresser or a cabinet. A mirrored tray hadn’t been a part of our culture: usually there was not enough space in the bedroom to have that tray and nothing to put on it. Since perfumes were rare and expensive women tended to store them in the original packaging. Opening a box, getting a bottle out and sparingly applying a perfume – all these were parts of a ritual.

After moving to the U.S., for years, while coming across perfume bottles in my friends’ bathrooms and on their dressers, I would wince. I never offered any unsolicited advice but it felt like a sacrilege to leave unprotected perfume out in the open. But over time I came up with a rationale why it was an acceptable MO: with those 2-3 bottles that my friends owned they were much more likely to run out of perfume than have perfume running out on them (through evaporation or turning bad).

While I think it is fine for “civilians” to store and use their perfumes as they pleased – be it even on a windowsill or in a glove compartment – I still get distressed every time somebody demonstrates pictures of their poorly protected collections in perfume-related FB groups. I do not comment but I feel bad about those bottles. And I do not buy partial bottles without a box any more.

My Perfume Storage

The picture above shows how my collection is stored. In the walk-in closet, away from direct light, covered by a curtain from a blackout fabric (the cat-Christmas-themed towel on top is for decorative purposes only) and in their original boxes. And, as I recently commented on Vanessa’s post on a similar topic (Through the keyhole…a peek at some of my friends’ perfume collections…), in summer for those couple of days when it gets especially hot I turn AC on during the day to keep my perfumes safe. It’s interesting because Rusty doesn’t mind hot weather and it’s much cooler in the room where he spends most of his time while we’re away working.

After this substantial preamble I want to admit that for a while now I’ve been thinking how unfair it was that I get to see those beautiful bottles that I have in my collection so rarely and how great it would be to have some of them out on my dresser. After all, many of the bottles are beautiful and unusual – unlike most boxes, I must say.

As much as I would love to see my collection more often, there is no way I could put perfumes I love “in the harm’s way.” First I decided I would buy several perfumes just to use bottles. I didn’t want to spend too much on this project but I thought of a couple of brands that were perfect candidates: I liked the bottles and didn’t like those perfumes. First I bought Van Cleef & ArpelsFeerie EdT. Feerie EdP (a beautiful dark-blue bottle) was next on my list and I even found it for an extremely good price… It was too good to be true: the seller was confused and sent me the second bottle of EdT, which I returned. Then I was too busy to keep looking for it. The second brand I wanted to use for the purpose of displaying was Salvador Dali. But even though many of their perfumes are sold at discounters online, I don’t remember when I saw any of the bottles last so I was afraid that by now they might look really cheap. So I kept postponing the purchase hoping to come across them one day somewhere. And I had the same problem with a mirrored tray: while there were many online offerings, I just couldn’t buy any of them without actually looking at them: there are so many cheap-looking objects produced nowadays.

Perfume Bottles on my Dresser

In the end I decided – at least for now – to use what I already have:

  • Instead of a tray I put on my dresser a decorative plate “J’adore Parfum – I Love Perfume” that I got as a gift with purchase.
  • Mentioned above bottle of Feerie EdT
  • Two empty bottles: Annick Goutal‘s Petite Cherie (I used up this one but couldn’t throw it because I like these colored AG’s bottles) and Salvador Dali’s Laguna (20 years ago I got it from my friend after she finished it: I liked the bottle but not enough to splurge on the perfume)
  • Two partial bottles (perfume gone bad): Les Parfums de Rosine‘s Roseberry and Yves Rocher‘s Nature (it’s one of my old favorites so I have another bottle with good perfume but I like this leaf design and kept this bottle for no good reason – probably for this project
  • Vintage mini-bottle of Chamade by Guerlain that I bought at a thrift store (perfume is marginally usable but I prefer a modern version).

I like my arrangement. It looks nice on my dresser and I think for now I scratched that itch. But those Dali bottles and Feeri EdP…

Do you buy unboxed bottles? Do you have any bottles on display?

Images: my own

* I cannot give you a link to that post because there’s something funky going on with that blog, it has some strange redirect happening and I suspect malware.


Imaginary Signature Scent: A Conclusion


Last week when I suggested a virtual experiment with a signature scent to my readers, I decided to go further and actually wear Nature by Yves Rocher – the perfume I selected as my Imaginary Signature Scent for a week.

Yves Rocher Nature

When I’m at home, I usually do not have a problem choosing what I want to wear. But whenever I travel and have to take perfumes with me I noticed I would be having some type of anxiety attack: I might have 10+ decants with me and still feel like “I have absolutely nothing to wear!”

Since I was still at home I didn’t feel the pressure: there was nobody else to keep me to my perfume choice and I could end the experiment at any point.

I wore Nature as my main perfume for four days. It was still pleasant and not overbearing but I realized that Nature was too simple to satisfy my current tastes, I would want something more complex and multidimensional if I had to wear it for a while. Day five was my work from home day when I usually do not wear any perfumes but test several instead. So I interrupted the experiment. When I resumed it on the sixth day I enjoyed Nature more than for a couple of days before then. I’m not sure why: either because I felt slightly guilty for interrupting the experiment or just because I gave my senses some rest but it smelled much better. Day seven didn’t bring any more discoveries and I was glad that the experiment came to the end. I haven’t changed my opinion of Nature and will be revisiting it once in a while (not the least to handle that beautiful bottle) but I do not think I’m ready to settle down with any perfume.

What about you? Did you play the game?


Image: my own

Imaginary Signature Scent


Most perfumistas aren’t a “one perfume person.” We get defensive every time we (voluntarily!) participate in creating all sorts of lists – Top N Favorite/Desert Island/Apocalypse/etc. Perfumes – and try to sneak in an extra bottle or three.

But what if you were told that starting tomorrow for a week you’ll have to wear just one perfume from your current collection (FB or a decant big enough to last for a week). It’s not for the rest of your life; before and after the experiment you could wear absolutely anything; you wouldn’t have to get rid of the rest of your perfumes so you do not need to choose the most valuable or your one and true love – just the one that you think you could wear for seven consecutive days in this season.

My choice – Nature by Yves Rocher. Why?

Yves Rocher Nature

For many years I didn’t wear the same perfume for two days in a row let alone for a week so I’m not sure how I would feel about wearing most of my new favorites for that long. Nature and I, on the other hand, have a long history together so I hope that I could still tolerate its company for longer than with most other perfumes. And since Nature has a sentimental value for me, even if after such an experiment I get so tired of it that I don’t want to wear it again for a while, I think our relationship will survive.

What perfume would you choose as your Imaginary Signature Scent for a week and why?

Now the hard part: starting tomorrow… no, I’m not that cruel to suggest you to actually wear the same perfume for the whole week. But every time you apply any other perfumes during the next seven days just think about your ISS: was your choice the right one? Would you still want to wear it that day? Come back in a week and let me know – I’ll start a new post to share the results of my experiment with Nature.


Image: my own


WTD, Episode 2.6: Nature by Yves Rocher

Nature by Yves RocherNature was the first perfume I bought from Yves Rocher. Many years ago I found it in a store and fell in love with it. I liked everything about it – the scent, the bottle and even the name. I didn’t like the price: Yves Rocher was an expensive brand in the country where I lived back then. But I was drawn to that leaflike bottle and after two-three staring matches with it in a showcase I built up the nerve to approach it. I bought  a mini bottle which cost me more than I’ve ever paid afterwards for any full size bottle from Yves Rocher. But that was all I could afford at the time and I felt very happy. The small bottle on the picture is that first bottle of Nature perfume. It’s almost 20 years old.

In a couple of years after moving to the U.S., I discovered Yves Rocher’s website and ordered a full bottle of Nature EdP. It became my favorite spring-summer scent. I went through almost the entire bottle but it was too large and came in a splash version with a stopper. So even though I was very careful with decanting it for a daily use, the remaining 20% of juice went off. By that time the perfume was gone from the U.S. market. I was sad but I didn’t think I could do anything about it (eBay came into my life much later).

Dive in to keep reading…