While riding to work or scrubbing out the bathtub or working in the yard, sometimes I play a game to pass the time. It goes like this: if you could only wear perfume from one house for the rest of your life, which one would it be? Sometimes I include discontinued and vintage fragrances, and sometimes I tell myself I have to stick with whatever the house has on the market now or might introduce later. Sometimes I change the game so I have to pick just one perfumer.
Besides being a fun way to pass the time, thinking about what perfume house's work you'd wear if you could choose only one house is a way to think about who you are, too. Someone resolutely elegant would do well with Chanel or Divine, for instance, while someone who loves a good joke might choose Etat Libre d'Orange. Someone with easy access to the mall and no huge need for the avant garde could do a lot worse than Estée Lauder. Someone infatuated with aoud would have to choose Montale.
For me, Guerlain and Caron come to mind right away. Each house has a fat enough list of product that I'd have plenty to choose from, and each house has perfume with history and a retro feel that I like. Guerlain could be perfect — it has a huge catalog and is releasing new and old work all the time — but it could be a full-time job tracking down anything except Insolence and L'Heure Bleue. (Of course, it would a really enjoyable full-time job.) Caron has Tabac Blond, which I adore, but they're handicapped by the reformulation of many of their classics, and the house doesn't have anything truly fresh and modern.
Serge Lutens is a tempting choice, but I'm not sure there's enough variety in the line. Serge doesn't have an Eau de Cologne, for example. But then again, it's hard to imagine giving up Chêne and Iris Silver Mist. Hermès, with delicious Calèche, Bel Ami, and all its Hermessences, could see me through decades, I'm sure. I'm just not certain that I'm really, at heart, an Hermès girl. Bond No. 9, despite its hearty stocklist, doesn't excite me much, either.
Ormonde Jayne would be a cinch if the line were a little bigger. I do love Ormonde Woman and Champaca so much. It would be hard to lose with Annick Goutal, too, especially with Les Orientalistes in the collection to balance all the dreamy florals. Someone prettier than I am would do well with Goutal. Le Labo might be a good choice, especially for someone interested in racking up frequent flyer miles as he or she jetted around the world to pick up the Le Labo city exclusives. It would be hard to lose with L'Artisan Parfumeur. Although they don't seem as cutting edge as they used to be, the line really does have something for every situation and it has gallons of Bertrand Duchaufour and Olivia Giacobetti's work, a real recommendation. Let's not forget Amouage, either.
I think Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums might be my choice. Just thinking about the fragrances that the line will launch in the future, whatever they might be, is enough to give this line the edge. Carnal Flower, Musc Ravageur, Une Fleur de Cassie, Iris Poudre, L'eau d'Hiver — the list of knockout perfumes goes on and on. Dior is one of my true loves, too, but only if vintage and discontinued fragrances are included. There's no way I'm getting stuck with Miss Dior Chérie in my dotage.