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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What We Love Versus What We Wear

By Marla

Ever had insomnia?? Of course you have. And what do you do when you’ve tossed and turned and counted two trillion fuzzy whatevers and it’s no good at all? Well, at 3am yesterday, wracked by insomnia and bored with creeping about the house, I calculated how many millileters of each of my 30+ perfumes I’d used up per month and per year. Confessions of a Perfume Geek, but that’s what I did. I found to my surprise that some of my “great loves” were not on my top 5 usage list. Here’s my Current Top 5:

1. Hanae Mori Magical Moon: 6.7 ml/mo or 80ml/yr

2. Caron Aimez Moi: 6 ml/mo or 72ml/yr

3. YSL Nu: 5ml/mo or 60ml/yr

4. Hermes Eau de Merveilles: 3ml/mo or 36ml/yr

5. L’Artisan Dzongkha: 2.5ml/mo or 30 ml/yr (tied with Niki de St. Phalle and Barbara Bui EdP…)

OK, so incense, spice, anise, iris, and ambergris win hands down. But some of the ones I admire the most, like vintage L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, and Chergui, where are they? Way down the list! I suppose that for the first two, the reason is that I can’t buy any more, their formulations have changed and I don’t particularly like the new ones. As for Chergui, it’s just not suitable most days, though I adore it completely. A more simple composition like Rousse can be worn anytime, though I think Chergui is a more finely realized artistic tour de force. It’s complicated. Kenzo’s Jungles (Tiger and Elephant, I own both) are yummy and just plain weird, but they can be, how can I put it, offensive in tight quarters. And though my DH’s fave is Samsara, I’m only in the mood for it occasionally, because it is intensely floral and has beaucoup sillage. So what does it take to become a Big Usage Monster in my house??

1. Affordability- anything over the price of an SL is just not in my collection except as a decant.
2. Notes I love—if it hasn’t got incense, anise, galbanum, or spice, no way no how….
3. Doesn’t kill the sensitive- this excludes some real masterpieces, but hey, we all work for a living, and it’s usually in close proximity to other humans.
4. It’s not extinct. I’m going to start crying if I go further into this one. If any perfume house honchos ever read this, please don’t mangle a beautiful formula! It’s like spray-painting graffiti on the Mona Lisa and saying, “Hey, it’s more modern this way, isn’t it??” If you must change the formula, at least publish the old one so DIYers like myself can recreate our favorites. And if you must discontinue a beautiful perfume, again, please publish the formula so others can enjoy it. Perfume is an art form.

So for my fellow insomniac perfumistas, I hope my little sojourn into perfume statistics helps you find your way back to Morpheus and sweet dreams!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray, Marla, you have so perfectly phrased how I feel about 'reformulations' of classic scents that were just perfect the first go around. Grafitti on the Mona Lisa indeed!

10:47 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Ones that I really adore, like MKK or to a lesser extent Chergui are not, well, work-friendly might not be the word. Work-neutral?

There's also the expense/hassle portion of the program.

So I tend to have a public face that smells of Hadrien or Chene while at home I'm in MKK or Oud Cuir

12:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the first anonymous poster: reformulation is JUST like graffiti on the Mona Lisa! If you want to sell something "more modern", go ahead and launch a new scent with a new name.
-- Gretchen

12:06 PM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I am so w/ you on the tragedy of reformulations. There should be jail time for those who do this. And next time I have insomnia (tonight) I am going to try to figure out what my own top usage scents have been for the past month (they change too frequently to go for longer than that).

1:10 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the whole "secret reformulation" frenzy of the last 5 years or so is a real scandal, in my opinion. So many people I know have bought a favorite bottle only to find it different from, and usually inferior to, the previous bottle. I'm surprised the practice is legal and widespread. It just seems wrong to me. There should at least be notification on the box, or a "vintage year" marking.

3:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Marla, you really got me thinking. I do have some of the same issues, especially # 3 - offending others and #4, it's something I can't get anymore.

I would wear my Lelong pour Femme every week were it not a true bombshell perfume and too hot to handle in the wrong environment. And I am rationing my Vacances dreading the day it's gone, because there will never be any more. Waah!

(Oh, and #1 - the price of an SL is about my limit too, and these days even that is a pipe dream. Is there a perfume lottery I could win?)

I end up wearing these a lot: Apercu, Max Mara, Ines de la Fressange (1999), Jolie Madame. They are work-friendly (OK, so Jolie Madame maybe not so much, so sue me) and not too strong for close quarters. I wear a lot of samples too. I reserve the wilder stuff for weekends or evenings so I can test-drive them without being trapped at work wearing a sillage monster.

11:31 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samples and decants are definitely the way to go, Flora. I find that more than 95% of perfumes I'm interested in stay at that level of purchase. I rarely buy a full bottle these days.

1:34 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my case it happens because I always want to leave my favourite perfumes for a special occasion...

7:44 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I know what you mean. The particularly unusual or striking ones. And especially the hard-to-find or discontinued gems like my Barbara Bui. I usually content myself with just a quick sniff of the bottle. Some lucky family member will inherit these someday, and go, what the heck am I supposed to do with these?? ;-)

1:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Linda said...

Don't take me on that. I have a rather unnerving tendency to fall in love with discontinued fragrances. I have a bottle of Une Fleur (Chanel people, wake up and make more of that!) and I only lovingly look at it.
And, a good tip for us insomniacs although I usually lie in bed and translate from Latin or something...

3:26 PM EDT  

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