Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Inventory #17: Perfumes

11 full size bottles and then some.  I was under the impression that I was very picky about perfumes, but guess not!  I tried to pick out a "signature scent" in my early/mid 20s and chose Givenchy's "Very Irresistible" (the original) despite its dumb name.  I got suckered in because the super beautiful Liv Tyler was promoting it, and more importantly, I thought it showcased just the right blend of youth and maturity that I was seeking at the time.  I enjoyed it very much for about two years and the 90% finished bottle is still kicking around the house somewhere, but it and I are through now.  I am a terrible perfume philanderer and quite shameless about it.  Forget this signature scent business.  I like scents according to moods, seasons, stage of life... why have just one when you can have a dozen?  This is the one area in which I can't reduce.

I always do three test runs before committing to a full bottle.  There are ways to re-use unwanted makeup, but there's nothing to be done about a smell you can't stand.  I learn this the hard way on the subway every day when someone with a horrible perfume/cologne is standing too close.  Only the protection of your own scent helps.

I'm not very good at describing fragrances, though I love to sniff and spray.  Forgive me the lazy routine this once and please click on the links provided for a full description of fragrances and ingredients.  Here goes!

1.  Tocca "Stella" - Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.  Love the bottle, love the scent.  I dug deep for this one last year and never regretted it.  I like to wear this all year round, and when I run out, I'm going to get another bottle.  Such an elegant mix of fruity and floral.  It's one of those scents that transport you mentally to a different time and place.

2.  Susanne Lang "Cashmere" - As you scroll through the list, you will realize that I tend to pick clean or floral fragrances.  This is as warm and spicy as I will get, but at 50% off the regular price, it couldn't be resisted.  It's also difficult to find Susanne Lang perfumes offline, so I was very lucky to come across the boutique that, unfortunately, was closing up shop and clearing out a whole bunch of items.  I have to admit that I don't wear it too often, but I tried it the other day in anticipation of this post and decided that I need to get more familiar with this before winter ends, as it is most definitely not a warm weather perfume.

3.  Guerlain "Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic" - I was actively on the hunt for something with basil last summer and finally settled on this.  A few years ago, Marc Jacobs had a Basil splash spray which I regretted not getting, but this may be even better.  It's the perfect summer time fragrance due to its lightness in both scent and intensity.  The smell of basil instantaneously cheers me up.  But it's a mix of blood orange and basil, so you don't just smell like the herb.  Genius!

4.   SJP "Covet" - I hated "Lovely" so "Covet" was a nice surprise when it was first released.  I didn't think it was spectacular enough to pay the full price for it, so I scooped this up later when it showed up in a boxed set for only $20 at Winners.  Now I see that it's discontinued.  Weirdly, I started to hate it a little bit the second time I wore it, but after laying it aside for a few months, I decided that I liked it again after the third try.  I don't have an official link for it since it's discontinued, but this blog has a great review and description.

5.  Philosophy "Pure Grace" - I went crazy over this one when I discovered it 4-5 years ago.  I not only bought the perfume but the shower gel, body lotion, body scrub and the travel size perfume as well.  Yup, it is that good.  I wanted something that smelled clean without reminding me of detergents or harsh soap.  You'll note that it's described as a floral but there's something so clean and fresh about this despite its floral properties that I couldn't help but fall in love with it.

 6.  Stella McCartney "Stella" - If you're looking for a rose scent that isn't "old lady", this would be it.  There's something about this scent that reminds me of the word "active."  Maybe it's because I associate Stella McCartney with designing for Adidas, but I always think of this as an "active rose" perfume.  Spraying it on makes me want to go out and get stuff done.

7.  Hanae Mori "Butterfly" - This is one of the most elegant and feminine scents you will ever come across.  It has a very strange description: somehow strawberry and almond come together to produce a very vanilla-like smell.  I didn't read any description of it at first and picked it out based on how it smelled on me, so I was shocked when the ingredients didn't list vanilla.  It's sweet but not overwhelmingly so.  Somehow it's warm and subtle and elegant, for both young and old.  I'd repurchase this also when I run out.

8.  Nanette Lepore "Shanghai Butterfly" - I don't think this one was very popular and is still kicking around at Winners despite its current bargain basement price.  Mostly because people don't recognize the name, I think.  I was a huge fan of the original pink Nanette Lepore perfume as well as Nanette Lepore clothing, so I gave this a try.  It's a great summer fragrance, as it's light and fresh and airy.  It's really difficult to find a proper description of it online, though.  Have a look here.  I like it and the bottle is humongous, but I'm not heartbroken that it's now discontinued.

9.  Anamor "All That Matters" - This is the most unique of my perfumes.  I got into niche perfumes for a while and was reading about all sorts of interesting fragrances that you would not come across in department stores, when I came across a category of perfumes called "skin scents."  The concept behind this is that it's not so much a fragrance as an aura that surrounds you.  I was intrigued enough based upon this description alone to order it straight away without even sampling and testing first.  That is the very site from which I ordered this and that is close to the price that I paid (yup, kind of crazy - it's gone up a little since).  And let me tell you: it's worth every penny and that description is not a lie.  It literally doesn't smell like anything but smells so good at the same time.  It's fascinating how it works.

10.  Stella McCartney "Stella Nude" - Since I was a big fan of the original Stella, I had to try this as soon as it debuted a couple of years ago.  It's very much of a bedroom scent, if you're into florals.  I kind of wish I bought the linen spray and candle, as it makes for a great room fragrance.  I have to be in a very particular mood to wear this as a perfume.  It is a kind of quiet scent but not as subtle as Hanae Mori or All That Matters, which is why I don't wear it as often.

11.  Nanette Lepore "Nanette Lepore" - I'd use the word "whimsical" to describe this particular floral.  This was my second "signature scent" after the Very Irresistible phase, but I tired of it quickly as it seemed a bit too young by the time I entered my late 20s.  I no longer spray it on myself, but once in a while I sniff the bottle and smile to myself as it brings back memories of my more impetuous days.

12-15.  Miniatures:  I bought the Stella solid perfume and travel size Pure Grace because I love them very much and wanted to touch up throughout a long day.  The Covet and Shanghai Butterfly rollerballs came in the boxed sets with the full sizes and hand lotions.

 17-19.  CLEAN (Original, Provence, Simply Soap) - To be honest, I'm not sure what the difference between these three are and whether I actually like them.  They smell way too much like laundry detergent and sharp soap.  At one point I was sure that Provence was my fave between the three but I no longer know or care.  I might give these away.

20-23.  LAVANILA Mini Roller Set (Vanilla Lavender, Pure Vanilla, Vanilla Coconut, Vanilla Grapefruit) - I think you get the idea; it's vanilla paired with every other scent imaginable.  I used to love the smell of vanilla in middle school (Vanilla Fields, anyone?) but found it to be sickly sweet in perfumes.  Until LAVANILA came along.  They're still very much on the sweet side but not at all in that disgusting overwhelming way.  I think my fave between the four of these is Vanilla Coconut.  It reminds me of a long overdue tropical vacay I need to go on.

Refillable atomizers from Sephora filled with Gucci "Envy Me", Hanae Mori "Butterfly", Stella McCartney "Stella", and Guerlain "Mandarine-Basil".  I hate it when my faves don't come in travel size, and I refuse to carry around a gigantic bottle of perfume in my purse.  I've already talked about these except for Envy Me.  That was my second or third "signature scent" but it coincided with the Nanette Lepore.  I believe that was the beginning of my perfume whoring.

I feel content with this collection and actually don't feel guilty for having more perfume than I probably need.  Smell is such a funny thing and has such a powerful impact on how I feel that appeasing it is better than denying.  I'm not running out to buy a new perfume any time soon, but I might not stop myself the next time I come across a fragrance my nose finds appealing.

Do you have a fave/signature scent, or are you a perfume philanderer like me?  What kind of scents are you attracted to?


  1. I have never had a signature scent - I wear different fragrances all the time. I don't have that many full bottles anymore - maybe a dozen or so of commercial perfumes, but I have a ton of decants, samples and miniatures as well as maybe 60 odd bottles of indie perfume oils and another couple of hundred perfume oil samples.

    So yeah... the problem I have is deciding what to wear!

  2. For years, mine was Philosophy Falling in Love (blackberry/vanilla). I've been testing out quite a few lately though. I always tend to go for scents with a vanilla note.

  3. Nice post!! I love collecting perfumes too... Maybe I will do a post like this too..
    Thanks for sharing!


  4. Hi! Huge fan of your blog. You've inspired me to try to get rid of some of my stash and not buy more until I am done. I don't think I can use up perfume though, like you said it changes so much. I am trying to give away a lot of stuff too though. Can't wait for your next post!

  5. @Dee - I once had a stash of niche perfume samples like yours but gave them all away to a friend after I decided it was too much trouble to keep track of!

    @Jeweled - Sounds like you have what you like all figured out. :)

    @Natalie - Let me know if you do! Would love to read it.

    @Anita - Isn't it amazing how much we can accrue? Thanks and glad you like!

  6. Oh dear... If 12 bottles constitutes perfume whoring, then we can't discuss my collection. Ever.
    I love you for having an Aqua Allegoria fragrance! It's probably my favorite line of perfumes. Flora Nymphea is my favorite of them, it's amazing if you love a rich floral.
    I read the description of your Anamor one, and my interest is piqued! Tell me any ingredient is rare, and I immediately want to test it. But woah, price tag. Hopefully I'll come across it one day to give it a sniff.
    Love this whole post! So much olfactory goodness.

  7. Nah, it's whoring for me but not for you/others. I went from trying to work one signature scent to more than a dozen (I gave away a few bottles last year). Now show me your collection! ;D

  8. I was looking everywhere to find your perfume inventory!
    Nice collection :) Susan Lang Cashmere sounds right up my alley. We seem to have different tastes in perfumes :D

    1. Maybe I should move the search bar higher up on the blog page?? That's what I use to track down my old posts.

      And oh, Su - how much can change in a year and a half! I've gotten rid of a few of these and plan on getting rid of the remaining half. Considering your recent post on TF Tobacco Vanille, I think we do have an area of similarity somewhere. But I haven't changed too drastically since this post - still prefer light to musky. :)


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