old shower gel














The Black Narcissus is so excited by perfume that he will even buy old discarded shower gels and body creams from flea markets, discarded for a dollar by the owners who found no use for them, even when they have been opened and when most people wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. I don’t care. They intrigue me. I need to know how they smell, the voyeuristic curiosity of other people’s bathroom cabinets, when you lock the door behind you, look around, and sample their treats and toiletries at your leisure.




Trésor: Surprisingly deep and woody, cedary, taut, shot through with that pungent, spiced, Lancôme rose – the shampoo of a seductress goddess extraordinaire (she sits next to him, almost coyly, and runs her hands through her hair with one hand,, knowing the effect that this is going to have on him as she holds the stem of her martini glass with the other….), but too strong for me to use that way when I tried it on myself the other night. I could hardly sleep.




















Calandre: How old is this? Why do I risk some decades-old bathroom product on this body of mine? How do I even know it’s even safe for human use?





I don’t.






But it smells sublime. Sublime. And Calandre is a scent I often pick out from the back of the perfume wardrobe when summer comes, usually in August for some unknown reason, as it smells lovely down on the beach by the water, combined, on skin, with all those brain-soothing suncreams, sunlight, and daydreams and you drift in and out of yourself and just don’t care about anything. This is rich, silvery, aldehydic rose/ green lather, gorgeous on hair as well as you rinse it out with water and watch that indulgent, washed away foam go swirling, slowly, down the drain like Janet Leigh. I used it yesterday; a lot, all over, before putting it back in the drawer and heading out for my day feeling clean, Paco Rabanne’d and distanced from the mundane. A subtle, dreamy, 1960’s on the surface of my being. My clandestine pleasure.


Filed under Flowers

29 responses to “old shower gel

  1. Lynley

    I reckon if it still smells ok, it’s ok 🙂
    I LOVE scented body products, and I know some of mine are looking a little worse for wear from their life in a wet shower, but they are still fine.

    • They feel so naughty somehow, so expensive. I very rarely buy anything other than actual perfume, so to try things when they are so cheap is strangely exciting. I just had a bath with the Tresor and really enjoyed it.

      • Lynley

        They are so indulgent aren’t they 🙂 I try not to pay full price for anything (although here is not like the bountiful fragrant place that Japan seems to be for you 😉 ) so feeding my fragrant addictions doesn’t seem quite so extravagant. Hmm. Who am I fooling I’d buy them anyway!
        Annick Goutal and Acqua di Parma make the best!

      • Ooh tell me more. The idea of a Goutal or Parma shower is exquisite.

  2. I am happy for you that you enjoyed your Tresor bath. It was at the very least worth your effort and you smell marvelous I am sure!

  3. I am inspired! I shall check at the thrift store too! I have the free world supply of scented candles in my linen closet and at least 20 bars of back up soap and there is coconut, lavender, vetiver and a divine jasmine and coconut shower gel all within hands reach of the shower!

  4. good lord! you’d have a field day in my parents’ washroom. I see shampoo that I remember from elementary school in the basement, but am reluctant to toss it as its vintage design seems significant.
    ps – nice mold on the calandre!

  5. Ha – I often come home from estate sales with armloads of body products for a few bucks. People look at me as if I’m mad as I head straight for the bathroom (after grabbing the perfume of course) and dig through the bins o’ bottles. The other week I found Chanel No 5 powder, body mousse and lotion for $5 all 3, and 12 tubes of Coty Dark Vanilla lotion and shower gel (6 of each) for 50 cents apiece. The best finds were Diorissimo bath oil and Caron Bellodgia body/bath oil – both a buck.

    • The Caron body products were incredible. I have smelled Tabac Blond bath oil and it is so rich and intense it could practically be a parfum de toilette. Such luxuriance!

      I don’t know much about estate sales….isn’t there something a touch macabre about it all, despite the marvellous bounty?

      • Oh yes – its very odd pawing through people’s things who have passed away. When I first started doing it, I actually used to cry – especially in the kitchen which is the heart of a home. As we were intending to do this as part of our resale business, my husband suggested I might not be – ahem – cut out for it… So the way I deal with it is to quietly touch a wall in the house and (in my head – I appear mad enough as it is at these things without talking to “spirits”) thank the person for letting me into their home. That way I sort of honor them if that makes sense. Of course, for downsizing, moving and divorce sales, I just grab with abandon…

      • Fascinating. I love hearing about all of this!

  6. Go Sally! I shall attempt to emulate you…..

    • I like how the envy tables are being overturned, here. i taunt you with these flea markets and ‘recycle’ shops selling vintage masterpieces, knowing that they don’t exist there, pretty much, and yet…..it is now i who is being thrilled by tales of loot and luxuriant shower gels. an ‘estate sale’ would NEVER happen here.

      • salmack1

        Estate sales are a very different beast to be sure. We’ve been doing them for 3 years – what started as a fun thing to do on the occasional weekend, turned into a fully fledged resale business with going out every weekend. Its amazing the “rules” and etiquette that goes with it all – its quite the subculture of people. You have to be ruthless and aggressive to get what you want when you’re doing it for a business – and quick and focused. And not emotionally attached to items you want (and may lose to your particular nemesis) which is the hardest aspect. I had no idea I was so competitive until I found myself doing little jigs of acquisitive glee when I managed to outwit, outlast and outplay (*that* particular show is a walk in the park compared to 15 minutes at an estate sale!) my competitor. I’ve had some terrific finds – I think the best was a full, sealed bottle of Tabac Blond for 15 bucks and a very rare Vintage Houbigant Le Partum Ideal Baccarat Louis XV Flacon circa 1924-30 – with perfume still in it that smelled amazing. That set me back a whopping $18…

      • OH MY GOD.

        Please torture me about the smell of the Tabac Blond and the Houbigant…..(which I imagine you are keeping for an investment now: what does it smell like?!!)

  7. Lilybelle

    Oooh, you do like to live dangerously! I’ve always felt the old lotions and creams must be turned. How were the shower gels, still fresh? I used to wear Tresor. I still keep a small bottle of the edp. And my mother wore Calandre very well, but it didn’t work as well on my skin.

  8. Hey there buddy,
    I LOVE this post. You certainly grabbed some gems and I am seething with jealousy.
    Recently I opened an original Boucheron Femme body lotion. The fragrance had come separate from the lotion. I was about to cry when I thought, maybe if I shake it? Well, it all went back together and smells fricken DIVINE. One of my favourite scents and the power of the lotion is astounding.
    I never see pre loved stuff at our flea markets but I would grab them in a mo.
    Portia xx

  9. My vintage Youth Dew lotion is not dodgy nor has it separated. God Bless Estée Lauder……

  10. I have super sensitive skin that seems to like fancy perfume just fine, but rebels at the thought of a scented body wash and erupts into a horrible rash with lotions and creams.

    It is so sad.

    Please lather up for me.

    • No, I totally get this. Part of me, the more secretly wants all ingredients to be naturally half, that wonders if I am actually being killed by all the perfume I wear, also is somewhat afraid of then suffocating the pores with more chemicals in the form of lotions and creams and all the rest.

      And yet. Sometimes it can be a bit saucy to be lathering up with such a densely scented thing that I can’t resist.

      There are worse ways to die.

  11. It doesn’t sound like you are drowning in vintage bubbles every single evening, so I think you will live 😉

    Once, I asked my father (he is a cardiologist) how much smoking decreased your life expectancy. He rolled his eyes and told me that just living in New York shortens your life expectancy and smoking on top of it just decreases it by 1 or 2 percent more.

    I still quit 🙂

    • Well we all have a secret hankering for immortality I think. At the same time I just think fuck it, we are going to go anyway so we may as well enjoy ourselves. I can’t possibly be one of those people who think about health the whole time. I am lucky in that I naturally love fruit and vegetables so actually want to eat them rather than tons of meat and stuff, but I just can’t deprive myself of life’s pleasures when we all know how it’s going to end anyway. Bring on the bacon!

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