Monday, October 4, 2010

Perfume: The Blank Spaces On The Map.

The perfume world is very large. The portions of it that I have explored are very small. I have never smelled a vintage Dior. I have smelled only one Caron. I have yet to truly appreciate any Guerlain or Tauer. Vero Profumo? I had to Google to see if that's a perfumer or a perfume house. I've been meaning to try LezNez for at least two years, but they never float to the top of the decant list.

I have a philosophy for vacations. Rather than exploring a country, or even a city, I advocate settling into one small space. Pick a neighborhood and walk out to the bookstore or the bakery or the museum or the gallery - whatever makes the neighborhood what it is. Any vacation that doesn't allow time for sitting for two hours over lunch with a book is a mis-planned vacation.

So I've been spending much of my perfume exploration in specific perfume "neighborhoods". The classic or classically-styled greens. Most everything by Parfumerie Generale and Serge Lutens. Tea scents. The Crazy. (Exemplified by L'Artisan Dzing!, Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle, BPAL The Malignant Dreams of Cthulhu in Love, Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose.)

I enjoy this, and it will always be my main mode of perfume exploration. But I sometimes think that I should try the equivalent of the ten-cities-in-seven-days tour, for at least one Perfumed Court order, and catch up on some of the perfumes and houses that I've ignored.

Any suggestions?

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Love this post and totally agree with your vacation assessment. Get somewhere, be there and enjoy being there. No planned itineraries, please.

    Amouage is the greatly ignored perfume house that rambles around in the back of my mind. I want to try it, I mean to try it, and I will try day.

  2. I'm still filling out my map too. I have yet to explore the classic Carons and Diors, as well as certain niche houses.

    I found this post helpful: I think I still prefer to explore by note or genre rather than by house, though.

    The CEO LOVES to pack everything he possible can, and then some, into a vacation. We tend to differ greatly over certain things, like ice cream (I like "chunks of stuff" in mine, and very cold; he likes it semi-melty and smooth) and vacations (I like to settle in and explore museums and coffee houses and get a feel for what living in a place would be like; he'd rather drive around to see every geological feature available). Sigh.

  3. I like to rest on vacations, not feel like I have to run around and see all the big tourist spots. Getting to really know one neighbourhood sounds like a lovely idea.

    And I've done my perfume sightseeing in small areas as well, ordering all the well-reviewed violets to test, or all the incences. Once, I ordered a batch of Caron's. The Perfumed Court makes that kind of thing easy. Sometimes I try the What's New list at Lucky Scent.

  4. I have had holidays of the "If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium" variety, and the floppy beach holiday and the type you prefer. Mr Bonkers is up for 1 or 3 but never 2. Perfumewise, I have been all over the map with random sample ordering, and I have systematically explored a single line. You would expect nothing less than inconsistency from a Flittersniffer.

    I have more or less tuned out to vintage and parfums and those houses with humungously large lines like BPAL. I often deff out Italian niche houses for no better reason than I get muddled about what they are called.

    I am with you on the Tauer, but surprised you haven't found a Guerlain to love. I'd suggest Plus Que Jamais, which is the closest thing to a HGS I have found (and I do flipflop about this, obviously).

  5. Ah, vacation theory. Mine is that everyone gets at least two vacations a year: one for going to a familiar spot for comfortable reacquaintance, and another one to get to know something entirely new.

    Which does, indeed, apply to how I explore perfume. Sort of. In the end, once I find places I like, I like to return repeatedly, both for reinforcement and for the things that you can discover even in the familiar. Fresh places are fun, but I do feel that I should be able to feel comfortable accepting my groove/zone when I find it.

    In perfume, my grooves can be note-based (iris, for example, which leads to both having favorites and feeling comfortable "branching out" and checking out variations), or perfumer based (if it's Jean-Claude Ellena or Patricia de Nicolai, or PG, for example, I want to know what they've come up with next).

    I feel obligated to point out that I have found profound happiness in some vintage scents...but I acknowledge that my life would be simpler if I hadn't, and I just turned away.

    So, we're in similar zones. I did decide a couple of times to break out of my comfort zone; once, in the case of exploring a bunch of vetivers (a note that had been problematic), I ended up finding a way in that opened up vetiver in general for me. But that was a project.

    However, 8 Vetivers in 2 Weeks was not such a bad project for me. Is there a note that's not been good to you that you want to see if you can access? One thought.

    I'll be curious to hear what, if, you decide to do.

  6. Hey, Josephine! Hmm. I keep thinking about trying Amouage and I never quite do so. Partly, I think, because I fear falling in love with something I can't afford. :)

    Mals! Ooh, that's a very interesting post. Hey, and I qualify as a freak! ("You know you’re a bona fide fragrance freak if you have your own decanting supplies.") It looks like I agree with the CEO on ice cream - I don't like "things" in my ice cream. Or my cookies or cheesecake or bread pudding or scones or most things. Except for pecans in fudge. I approve of those.

    Yo, kj! Yes, I really don't like the running around. I was commenting recently that our garden is centered around Places To Sit. That's my goal for vacation, too.

    Flittersniffer! I fear vintage - I fear falling in love with things that I can never have. It's fairly illogical, because it's not as if I'll ever use up more than a bottle anyway, so once I've got the bottle, why worry? But I suppose I worry about premature bottle death. Yeah, I once liked Mitsouko, but that fell away, and I seem to dislike almost all other Guerlains, which suggests that I dislike "Guerlinade"? Plus Que Jamais, huh? I will add it to The List To Be Sure I Try. I _want_ to have a Guerlain.

    Yo, ScentScelf! Yeah, Himself keeps trying to talk me into the Something Different vacation, and I really should give in more often. On notes... Naz did give me a sort of "gateway oud" when I was at The Perfume Shoppe. But I might do better to pursue amber.