Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A reminder: the drawing for the "Breath of God" sample ends Wednesday, May 6th, US midnight EDT. Commenters will be automatically entered, so get your comments in now!

Am I cheap?

Been shopping lately. (Perhaps this should be posed in the form of a question.) Been shopping lately?

Since the whole IFRA thing -- relax, no more rants, we’ve done what we can do -- I’ve been thinking that I really should make sure I have all the old chypres and florals and so on that I’ve meant to buy one of these days, because who knows for how long I’ll be able to get them. So, off to fleabay and the discounters. Last week I bought -- roughly -- five or six full bottles. They were: vintage Woodhue, a drugstore classic my mother wore in the daytime. EL’s Knowing, a floral chypre that I can’t help but love even though I don’t even like most Lauder scents. Halston Couture, on a recommendation from a perfume buddy. It’s vintage by default, as it’s not made anymore. Patou 1000 EDP, also vintage. Madame Rochas (modern) an aldehydic floral, office-appropriate and pleasant. Vintage Intimate, another chypre; I wore this in high school, before I knew what a “chypre” was. A vintage tester of “First,” by Van Cleef & Arpels, Jean-Claude Ellena’s first professional product, as far as I know.The cost of all these added together would still be less -- a lot less -- than one 50 ml bottle of a Lutens or Luxe or, God forbid, Amourage. But Ubar does sound so interesting, doesn’t it?

I’m pretty happy with most of these. The Woodhue, of course, brings up old, old associations and I guess I’ve finally reached the point where I’m happy to have them. And you know what? It’s a nice fragrance! Earthy, vanilla-orange-spice-wood and I can swear I smell some real nitro-style musk in there somewhere. The first spray of the Halston Couture reminded me of nothing so much as opening a bottle of celery seed, but that appears to be gone now; it’s dark and rich, but the jury’s still out on this one. The Intimate is powdery and sweet like I was in high school (hah)! The First is an elegant French perfume with some early Ellena strangeness in there (the DH hated it’s opening, always a promising sign); the Patou is high and dry. And the Knowing will, like all Lauders, last forever. In fact, I’m quite sure that this bottle will outlive me.

Still...except for the First and the Patou, these aren’t exactly scents for the cognoscenti. Which makes me feel a little weird in the company I now keep here in PerfumistaLand.

My household isn’t loaded, but we’re comfortable. It’s not a lack of cash that makes me reluctant to spend seriously on the niche and the high-end, because I can cut other things, like clothes, shoes and food. It’s your basic all-American bourgeois guilt. And, I’m thinking, as are many of you I’m sure: it’s time to put the money where the mouth is, to support the niche and the indie perfumers by getting those full bottles instead of just a decant, especially if it’s something I love. And so many of them are.

But I have put myself on a budget, wise in these times, I think. And my budget would allow maybe one 50 ml niche purchase a month, as long as it’s not an Amourage; in that case, maybe one every two months.

One bottle purchase a month?

I know, I know, bottle splits, swapping, MUA, decants, annoying trips to TJ Maxx. It’s just that sometimes you want that big bottle. Big enough to spray with abandon. Big enough to scent the whole house if that’s what you want to do.

Time to make the inevitable confession: I get off on buying perfume. Don’t you? Don’t you love it when the UPS van stops in front of your house? When that box hits the front porch? When you open the mailbox and there’s a package in there?

Niche, specialty and indie perfumers would do well to consider bottling in smaller sizes, perhaps; 25 mls or even large samples of 10 mls. Because it would help us early-adopters/fragrance fans/let’s-face-it-we’re-addicts feed our, um habits, and we do want to support the brave, the groundbreaking, the little guy giving Goliath the finger.

So am I cheap? I guess that would depend on the difference between “cheap perfume” and perfume that I got cheap but isn’t really, er, cheap perfume, it’s just, well...good stuff and I got it for a bargain price.

In other words, I got it cheap.

Perfumers: This information is hard to find! I hope this is accurate:

Nothing on Woodhue except the name “Elida Gibbs,” an Irish company that had something -- what is not clear -- to do with the 1949 version. Elida Gibbs eventually became part of Lever Faberge and then was gobbled up by other corporations. “Halston Couture” -- none of the perfumers who worked for Halston Fragrances list this one; anybody know? “Madame Rochas” -- the original was done by Guy Robert in 1960, the 1989 reformulator is unclear. “Knowing” -- Elie Rober. “Intimate” -- original by Jean Philippe; reformulated somewhat by Revlon in the 60’s. “First” -- Jean-Claude Ellena. “!000” -- Jean Kerleo, who was the house nose for Patou.

photo of Courtney Love by...I can’t find the photographer’s name but it’s a great picture isn’t it? So sue me.


lady jicky said...

I have a unopened box of Mitsouko EDP in the back of my dark little cupboard and I am using a opened one right now. Mmmmm. I think I should only wear it on important days but then I start to think - what if a bus gets me??? This is what hell must be like. LOL
I am saving up for a trip to Sydney where they now have a little Guerlain boutique there but... will they have what I want?? Money, money. You know how that goes!
I am a person who wants to buy a bottle not a sample. Besides the postage to Australia can me murder - one place charges $40.!!(Luckyscent)
That is robbery.

Rappleyea said...

I wore Woodhue years ago, and loved it! Do they even still make a version? Confession: I just bought a bottle of Vol de Nuit extrait for myself for my birthday....which isn't until July! LOL!! I'm sure I'll have to buy something else when the time comes as well. But I just had to have "that" bottle. And of course I love the scent.

March said...

I love Woodhue. I think the name's supposed to be a jokey play on "would you?" Would you what is I guess a fill-in-the-blank best left unexplored.

My problem is, my interest in a particular scent frequently dies *when* I get the bottle. So I stick to decants, mostly. Weird, but true.

Olfacta said...

Hello ladies -- Didn't know there were other Woodhue fans. It is discontinued. Vermont Country store makes a knockoff, but their scents are supposed to vary in quality, so, caveat emptor. The one I got came from fleabay, in a set with soap (in good shape) and powder (which smells like mildew now -- hey at least I know it's old. It was a boxed set, always good.) My mother had good taste in perfumes.

I also have the bottle-boredom thing; um, kind of reminds me of something...else, when I was younger? The thing is I like to have FB's for generous spraying as sleep-scents. The decants and samples I reserve for other uses.

Thanks for the comments!

Aparatchick said...

The 30 ml sized bottles that both Parfums de Nicolai and Ava Luxe sell are a perfect compromise for me between "I want to spray with abandon" and "will I EVER use this up?" I do wish more companies would sell this size.