Last weekend, after much nagging from my long-suffering partner, I decided to have a tidy of my perfume collection and samples box. Now, anyone who knows me well will be fully aware that tidying is not really something I do very often, in fact, it is something that I avoid at all costs.
Anyway, during my tidy up, I totalled up the number of perfume bottles in my collection and I was genuinely shocked when I came to the nice round number of 120. “How can I have so much perfume, I never feel like I have enough choice” I thought, “Do I really need so much?” and “Do I feel like I don’t know what to wear because I have too much choice?”
This led me to think in depth about my collection of fragrances, what would I choose if I were to reduce its size considerably?
It can’t be easy being one of the most famous and well respected fragrance houses in the world, trying to find your place in a noisy market place populated by rapid-fire designer releases, countless ‘niche’ offerings and a constant stream of thoughtless celebuscents. It is a challenge to stand out amongst all of that white noise.
Guerlain is one of the most venerable fragrances in the world and they have the difficult task of striking the balance between being modern and staying relevant whilst protecting their heritage. It can’t be an easy balance to achieve, and I admire Guerlain for their modern take on classic themes.
On many occasions Guerlain has been referred to as the pâtissier of the fragrance world, and they have on numerous occasions reinvented the sweet pastry vibe of L’Heure Bleue (see Insolence) and La Petite Robe Noire feels like it may be the latest reinterpretation of the 1912 classic.
The first La Petitie Robe Noire (The Little Black Dress) was released in 2009 and the word on the street is that it has been a big success for Guerlain. This year Guerlain released a flanker called La Petite Robe Noire 2 (obviously Guerlains creative team were off on the day the fragrance was named), and it is rumoured that Guerlain will be a total of 5 fragrances in the La Petite Robe Noire Collection.
I don’t know about you, but when I wear fragrance I wear it for myself and myself alone. Sure, I love to share my passion with others, that is a huge part of my hobby, but when I wear perfume, I wear it because I enjoy it.
And I wear what I like!
Ever since I bought my first proper perfume (Kingdom by Alexander McQueen) I have loved ‘feminine’ fragrances. Looking through my collection it’s obvious that the ratio of feminine and masculine is weighted considerably towards the feminine. To this day I find myself drawn to the feminine releases much more than masculines. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy wearing masculine fragrances but they just don’t wow me the way a lot of the feminines do.
I guess that I’m the King/Queen of fragrant gender bending.
Ahh the 80’s, a time of excess where everything was big; the clothes, the music, the hair and of course the perfume.
The perfume in the 80’s was loud, proud and would announce it’s arrival a long time before you entered a room, and stay a long time after you left. There were big bouquets of aldehydic florals and massive oriental spice bombs. I shouldn’t forget the HUGE jammy roses and the loud syrupy tuberoses either.
These fragrances, affectionately known as ‘Perfumes with Shoulder Pads’ by the #fumechat Tweeters are representative of the era, and whilst they may not be entirely popular today I have a real soft spot for them.
Perfume and fashion go hand in hand in so many ways. The majority of major fashion houses have their own perfume lines and there are a number of scents that are inspired by clothing (No 5 & La Petite Robe Noire etc). One of the big ways fashion and perfume intertwine is through the search for vintage.
Vintage is huge in the fashion industry, fashionistas will search high and low to find that perfect vintage piece from Oscar de la Renta or Chanel. Perfumistas are the same, some will trawl through page after page on eBay trying to find just a few drops of vintage Miss Dior.
Us perfumistas/fumeheads/fragonerds/whatever it is we call ourselves are keen followers of the mantra ‘It’s all about the juice’, meaning that we don’t care about the marketing, the bottle or any of the other stuff that comes with a fragrance. We just care about the smell!
It seems that we may differ from the mainstream consumer.
In the mainstream perfume industry the bottle is seen as the key marketing tool for a fragrance. Those of you who watched the recent BBC4 documentary ‘Perfume’ would have seen that in the case of the latest Tommy Hilfiger fragrances (Loud for Him and Her) the bottle and the marketing were the prime focus of the development team and the juice very much seemed like an afterthought.
So how important is the bottle to a perfumista?
I asked my Twitter followers whether they were swayed by the bottle design when purchasing a fragrance. The general consensus seemed to be that no, the bottle doesn’t matter, however an attractive bottle does help. Some even mentioned that if the fragrance was good and the bottle was bad they would decant the juice into something more aesthetically pleasing. We kept coming back to the same conclusion – it’s all about the juice…
I feel that I may buck the perfumista trend slightly, if I love a perfume I will buy it, regardless of whether it has a nice bottle or not. That said, I do like a nice bottle and have on occasions found myself wanting a fragrance because it’s housed in a nice bottle (Hello Lola by Marc Jacob!) I can’t help that I’m drawn to shiny, pretty objects can I?!
There are some brands out there with some really fabulous bottles and in this post I would like to highlight just a few of my favourites.
It seems fitting that my initial post on this blog should be a review of the latest edition of Shalimar by Guerlain; Shalimar Parfum Initial.
My first thought when seeing the news about Shalimar Parfum Initial was ‘Nooooooooooo, it’s PINK, you can’t pinkify Shalimar!!’ Well, as it turns out you can, and the end result isn’t half bad at all.
Shalimar Parfum Initial was created by Guerlain’s In-House Perfumer Thierry Wasser and was made for his niece after she requested he make a version of Shalimar for her. The idea behind Parfum Initial is very similar to that of Chanel’s Eau Premiere for No 5 – a modern, lighter version of the perfume for younger customers who are not quite ready for the original. Guerlain describe the scent as an ‘Initiation into Shalimar’  but it also serves as an initiation to the brand, for those who are unfamiliar with or intimidated by the classic Guerlains.