On my refrigerator is a placemat from an outdoor dinner I attended this past Midsummer’s Eve. It says, “A year soon runs its length and never returns the same, and the end seldom seems to belong to the beginning.”1 That’s how I feel about 2013. I can’t say anything earth shattering has happened this year, but life feels subtly different — including how I feel about perfume.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year:
Give certain fragrances a second chance. As I wrote in yesterday’s Best of 2013 post, this includes perfumes you know you like. A good perfume can be like an absorbing painting. It continues to reveal nuance, giving new perspectives the more it’s worn.
Use up your decants! I had one treasured decant go sour and another — vintage Balmain Jolie Madame extrait, no less — vaporize this year. Decants in glass generally survive longer than those in plastic, but they’ve all been exposed to more air, light, and monkeying around than most sealed bottles have. Wear them or give them to someone who will.
You are who you are, and you like what you like. Oh sure, I’ve known this forever, but it’s felt even more true lately. I have a few friends whose style and savoir faire awe me, including with perfume. I have a choice: I can feel intimated, or I can enjoy their taste and accept that, rube or not, I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. Sure, I can savor a multi-course tasting menu at a chichi restaurant as much as the next person, but I also take a lot of pleasure in an evening of macaroni and cheese with a side of trashy mystery novel. Similarly, I have to admit that I have a rough history with Byredo and the newer Amouages, even if chicer people than I love them.
I like perfume nearly as much for the people as for the fragrances themselves. I’ve met wonderful people through perfume and had crazy memorable experiences. All I have to do is think back to my September trip to Paris to be reminded of the smart, aesthetically rich, and fascinating people who like perfume.
I’m a failure at social media. Despite all the interesting perfume people on Twitter and all the hoopla about building a social media platform, I didn’t last there very long. Heck, I don’t even care enough about myself to read my tweets — why should anyone else? Maybe I’ll give it another go this year. Maybe. (Don't even get me started on Facebook.)
For a bottle of perfume to join my collection, it has to either fill an empty niche or be too beautiful not to own. I have way too much perfume. How many intriguing leathers or elegant irises does a girl need, anyway? My perfume buying has tapered off over time. This year I bought a set of travel sprays of Frédéric Malle Dans Tes Bras and bottles of Cartier Baiser Volé parfum (a 30-ml tester for only $75 — couldn’t resist) and Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun. That’s it (I think).
Bonus lessons: These aren’t perfume-related, but I put them here in case they'll help someone else. In 2013, I learned that gardenia bushes need a lot of fertilizer; roasted delicata squash is better than candy; carry your own wine glass to office parties or you’ll end up drinking out of plastic; don’t cut your own hair if you don’t have special training (I already knew this one, but some habits die hard); losing a dog is painful, but the loss is paid for a thousand times over in love; to keep ants out of the cat’s water dish, smear a belt of Vaseline around it; and a dose of P.G. Wodehouse remedies many ills.
What did you learn in 2013, about perfume or life in general?
1. The amazing printmakers and artists at Cumbersome Multiples made the placemats as well as the dinner bowls and cups.