Watching ‘Only God Forgives’ on DVD again tonight – that lurid, oneiric, pungent, light-soaked film starring Ryan Gosling and Kristen Scott Thomas set in Bangkok, I find myself drifting back in my mind’s eye again to the backstreets of Jakarta, last August, where I had forgotten that I had found, quite unexpectedly and to my surprise, a vintage perfume shop, open at midnight, ‘selling’ rare and unwanted perfumes that probably nobody was ever going to buy: dusting and unloved, but proud and upright on shelves, which I tested for authenticity (they definitely weren’t fakes: that was real Monsieur Rochas).



We never found that same street again, but I fortunately did take a couple of photos, much to the older daughter’s consternation, as she barked out information to her older relatives, sitting out of view in the beyond of the shop.



On those shelves, which I suddenly found myself longing to revisit and so checked to see if I still had the pictures, you can spot  bottles of Habit Rouge, of the original Vetiver, in strange cologne shapes that I had never seen before; and look at those old vintage Riccis and Rochas’…



I didn’t have enough cash on me at the time and so didn’t come away with anything (on reflection and on doing some currency conversion they certainly weren’t cheap), but if you had been there, and had had the money on you, what do you think you might have have bought?










Filed under Flowers

52 responses to “JAKARTA GUERLAIN

  1. I had a lot of those at one time. I think I would have bought the two that you mentioned– Mystere and Silences. I loved them both but wonder if I would still feel the same way these many years later.

    • No, they are both still gorgeous: I also have them. Silences is a stunner, and Mystere is a masterpiece I have yet to tackle for some reason. I think it is one of the best perfumes ever made.

  2. Marina

    Definitely the Silences. Did they have Amazone?

  3. carole

    That is a lot of dust! i have Mystere, and I love the scent of it. Just not sure it is me. I would have been tempted by the Vetiver.

    • I wanted it.

      But Duncan was standing there.

      And thus it was forbidden

      (“Can’t you at least wait until the END of the holiday? We don’t know how much money we are going to need! Don’t buy it now!”””)

      …and so on and so forth.

  4. I would surely have purchased some. I do adore Nina Ricci [original] Nina, which they have many of, along with many others I see. I always forget that credit cards are not accepted everywhere, it is what I am always equipped with. The Guerlains look desirable also.

    • I LOVE Nina the original as well! A real nice-hat-to-a-summer-garden-party scent; traditional, but sparkling and full of love. I once bought it for my mother, and she smelled amazing in it.

      The new thing in the red bottle, ‘Nina’, literally makes me feel sick.

  5. Tania

    Probably neither unless the price was great, i already have both. But i would have enjoyed a good rummage to see what else they had. Though the unboxed bottles could have turned.

    • Couldn’t rummage.

      It was all about staring at the locked cases and getting the grim ‘assistant’ to let me smell certain things. I was THRILLED when I saw it though. I love coming across places like this.

  6. OH that is heaven on a shelf! I’m a vintage fiend, but I know what you mean about prices not being very good even after converting for currency. Something to do with import prices and middle men. The further you are from the source, the more expensive it gets!

  7. Renee Stout

    Ralph Lauren’s Tuxedo…that’s nearly impossible to find now, and if you do, it’s EXPENSIVE.

  8. Renee Stout

    Same with Mystere de Rochas.

    • You know, I have the bottle in the picture, as well as a stunning parfum de toilette AND the vintage parfum, which I am sure is very rare. I should review Mystere. I think it is totally unique; that strange, swampy earthiness – it is a real perfume of sex and emotion.

      • carole

        You should review Myetere-I love it, and am not sure it suits me, but I keep coming back to it. Lots of talk about how people love it, but not too many reviews or thoughts about it-other than its now huge price.

        it reminds me of Irisia-did you know that has been discontinued??? I wonder what happened there.

      • I LOVE that perfume! Probably. Anything I like gets discontinued, and crap like Millesime will go on for eternity.

        I haven’t seen it anywhere, and it is gorgeous!

  9. carole

    I bought Irisia as a blind buy, and loved it. Love it i guess-i still have some. Something about it reminded me of the original Fendi, which I would have sold a kidney for when i was 16 and to me it was el-expensivo.

    About 3 years ago i made a visit to my regular perfume store, and they must have had 10 bottles of Mystere. all pristine, all stored perfectly, for $40 each. i smelled it, and discussed it with the lovely SA. We agreed it was nice, and had a sort of 70’s, Paloma Picasso style. The owner of the store had a friend whose signature scent it was. I was again reminded of the original Fendi, and of Irisia, so I bought one bottle. I wonder what that note is that is common to all three scents? Do you think there is a related note?

    They all remind me a bit of roots, and leaves, and dirt, and bark, with spice. The dirt I smell has residual flower notes in it. The Fendi was the spiciest, the Mystere was the dirtiest, and Irisia had the most depth with iris bulbs.

  10. carole

    It’s just as well i had no money to but the Fendi, because when i was 16 i would have sprayed with abandon and suffocated everyone around me.

    And Irisia-i wore it when i wanted to appear more sophsticated, during a meeting with a man from Montreal. He was classic French-a gentleman, heavy drinker, heavy smoker. He kept inhaling deeply and moving closer to me-not in a creepy way. He was just intrigued by the scent. Irisia has great memories for me.

  11. Most of the perfumes I wear none of my friends have ever heard of!

  12. Good Gracious, what a treasury! I cannot choose at all…I am Libra…
    My scanning is poor, but I saw the aforementioned perfumes. Mystere for me, please! Did they have the oldies of Cabochard, Farouche, Femme by Rochas, Fendi Theorema, some Lancomes or Laliques probably? What are the two white bottles left of the row of Anais Anais?
    There was a tiny and dusty scent shop like this in my hometown, but I was in a shortage case like you. And when I finally got the money to buy Venezia – Laura Biagiotti, Organza Indecence – Givenchy and The Mystere, I bitterly found out the owner’s wife had died and he shut down the shop…I have no idea where the whole splendid collection disappeared, but I am running an investigation the following month when I’ll have more time…

  13. Dearest Ginza
    Undoubtedly Mystere. Without selling the family silver that one’s the very devil to get the hands on, or may they had Parure or Guet Apens… look, now you’re just getting me needlessly excited.
    I shall comfort myself with the fact that at least they weren’t your usual steals…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  14. Lilybelle

    Mystere here too. I love looking at those shelves.

    • Me too. It was strange how I had forgotten all about it until I watched this film, where the backstreets of Bangkok were very similar to the ones we were meandering down in Jakarta, and then suddenly – there it was: I had to rush downstairs and look for the photo. I love the idea that possibly every bottle is still there in that shop, just waiting, pointlessly and needlessly unloved.

      • Lilybelle

        Waiting for your return, perhaps. 😉

      • Sometimes in life I like things that HAVEN’T been done, if you know what I mean: they exist, there, like unopened mysteries. I love the idea that it is waiting for my return, or else another person’s discovery.

  15. Like a mirage! I feel that the same thing happens with restaurants: you’re traveling, you are famished, you come across this unexpected treasure of a restaurant where everything is just the right price and perfect, you never find it again.

  16. lim

    do you remember any building or landmark near that shop? I live in jakarta, perhaps, i can help to find that store 🙂


  17. indfood

    Do you remember any building or landmark around the store? I live in jakarta, perhaps I can help to find that store 🙂


  18. Glam dewi

    Whatta treasure. I live in Jakarta, please tell me that you remember any clue of the shop, the street name, shop name or any clue for me to seek and have a look at those treasure..

  19. Yuki

    Now im living in Jakarta and do you know in which area was the store? Such a find!!!

  20. Yuki Aditya Husandy

    There is an old shop in Glodok area which specialized selling only Shiseido. And my friend like last year bought Feminite du Bois, Basala, and many more. I think no one’s buying them since the 80s. Inoui is indeed very beautiful, i dont want to wear it that often, too precious and beautiful. Haahaha.

  21. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    I need to leave the maelstrom of my life and just float about in places like this, or record shops, to leave the brain behind

  22. JD

    Angels trumpets!!!!! Is that a vintage bottle of Nino I see??? My heart rate is pounding like timpani in 2001!!! I never see vintage anywhere…only fakes

    • I know. And these really weren’t. And in case anyone tediously berates me for equating Bangkok with Jakarta, obviously I don’t, but there are vast similarities, for example, in the way that London is similar to Paris (for someone from Japan, say).

      I am just BURNT. THE FUCK. OUT.

      And am very much looking forward to getting back to writing on here properly again. But for now. Old dreams, old dusty dreams, seem utterly perfect. All these bottles! I could spend millions, seriously.

      (And what is Nino, incidentally? I don’t know it. Him.).

  23. Beau de l'Air

    I got excited about that green Monsieur Rochas, what what? a vetiver Monsieur?? No, just an aftershave ha.


    I would have bought Mystere and Silences. I’ve only recently discovered Silences and purchased a vintage sample. Mystere I’ve had just for a few months(vintage),and love them both !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s