top of page

The Why


This part of the website is a resurrection of my tumblr, all of the scents.


I've loved scents & perfumes for as long as I can remember. I loved looking at & smelling my mom's perfume bottles as a little girl. As a teen, I had a (mostly abhorrent) collection of perfumes. Byblos & Red Door were the most respectable perfumes I had, one a gift from my mother; the other from my aunt. I mostly wore Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth, & Ex'cla-ma'tion (eeeeeee, does typing that out bring back memories!).


A trip in my mid-teens to Paris took us to a proper French Parfumerie. There was a grand, stark white lofted room with stainless steel drums like small kegs & a sea of small golden metal flagons. Overwhelmed by the possibilities, a small tower of bottles labeled 'Paris" caught my eye. At the time (& for years after), I thought that this particular perfume was the official scent of La Ville Lumièr. In reality, it was Yves Saint Laurent's tribute to Parisienne style & beauty.


What I knew at the time was that I've never smelled anything like it. I was enchanted by the rich yet delicate floral melange. It felt like a scent-image of an elegant world that I barely knew existed. It was my first great perfume love that I picked out myself, for the love of the scent, & not because it was in style or worn by Debbie Gibson. I applied it faithfully for months, near-daily, until I was sick of it.


That perfume kicked off a long-standing tradition of finding a perfume to fall in love with, buying it, wearing the hell out of it, & eventually discarding it as overuse made me sick of the smell. Serial perfume monogamy at its worst. I went through Byblos, Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers and Red Door, Fresh's Lemon Sugar, Chanel Mademoiselle, Demeter's Dirt, Davidoff's Cool Water, Lush's 1000 Kisses Deep, & of course Electric Youth and Ex'cla-ma'tion (it didn't take much to get tired of those last two).


Around ten years ago, once again on the hunt for a new perfume, it abruptly occurred to me that this thing I do, picking out a single perfume & then wearing it until evening a lingering ghost of it makes me want to barf is probably...pretty fucking stupid. Especially considering the number of times that I wanted to wear a scent & grudgingly applied the only scent that I had on hand, even though I was sick of it or not in the mood for that particular composition.


The main issue constraining me to this system was cost. But it wasn't the 80s (or even 90s!) anymore; doing a quick online search for "perfume samples" netted a satisfying selection of results. The two top contenders from ten years ago are still my two go-to sites for a wide catalog of scents: & Lucky Scent deals entirely in mainstream buy-on-their-site commercial fragrance. The Perfumed Court does not sell commercially; only offering hand-decanted samples of fragrances, including an exciting collection of discontinued fragrances. The Perfumed Court is where I obtained my precious, glorious, intoxicating sample of Guerlain's original formulation of Iris Ganache (2007), may it rest for my whole lifetime in my perfume fridge between my rare & near-ritualized applications of it.


In the past few years, I've filled out my perfume hounding by subscribing to a few perfume-related subreddits that deal in decants & splitting orders. In most cases, I have little desire to own the original bottle a fragrance comes in & would rather pay a fraction of the full bottle cost for a far more manageable quantity of perfume.


But back to the past for a moment! Once I was aware of websites that offered ample samples, I got to work ordering a wide range of perfumes to try out. In the headily scented heyday of the early years, sometimes I tested 4-6 per day, carefully swabbing them on widely separated parts of my body & keeping a tin of ground coffee on my desk to sniff between scents. & you know...casually bending over at work to sniff the top of my knee, that being a prime perfume location once the top of my wrists & shoulders were taken (pro tip: if you work at a computer, do not ever, ever, EVER apply perfume to the insides of your wrists. Not unless you want your wrist pad to become a nauseating assemblage of conflicting scents).


It was worth it to try so intensely, since many of those samples turned stinktastic when mingled with my body chemistry. I learned that a few brands had a base ingredient - perhaps a fixative or preservative - that rendered every offering from that house into a rank, unpleasant experience. While having whole lines of perfume turn foul on me is a less frequent experience these days, there are still far more scents that range from fetid to mediocre than sublime.


During those early days, my closest friends noticed upon exchanging welcome hugs that I usually had on some new perfume & inquired about the uptick in variety. I described my methods & at their request, shared the document where I detailed my olfactory adventures. After more encouragement, I created a tumblr to connect with like-minded noses. Though it only received the tiniest of attentions, it was beloved to me & when life became hectic enough that my posting fell by the wayside, I missed it (& the process of vetting new & unknown smells) keenly.


In the past year, my journey into perfumery has resumed. Though I probably have enough already-beloved perfumes to keep me happy for years, the process of sampling new scents calls to me more strongly, especially given our socially-distanced current times. This is one hobby that can be enjoyed fully solo, with only myself & my nose needed to give myself satisfaction.


Since my original perfume journey began ten years ago, I have branched out into the wild world of indie perfumes. Even as my desire to create art has become too deep & pressing to ignore, my desire to support the creation of others has swelled. I will be showcasing many of my old reviews of larger house scents on Tuesdays, but the majority of the aromatic alchemy that I review now is indie made.


I hope you enjoyed reading my odyssey into perfume & will be entertained by the reviews to come.

bottom of page