Some niche houses such as Serge Lutens provide the owners of their illustrious perfumes with the option of dab cap or spray, which as every perfume lover knows, alters the dosage and precise proportion of the perfumed composition as it touches the skin and thus its smell. The difference might be subtle, but the true scent freak learns which format of the fragrance he prefers. A dab can be more intimate, a spray more exciting and decadent. It’s just a matter of choice.
When buying vintage perfume, though, the difference between a vaporisateur and a screw-on bottle can be astronomical. Over my years of bargain vintage collecting I have come to realize that for some reason (and I don’t understand the chemistry behind it), many so called ‘natural sprays’ of vintage classics simply don’t stand the test of time and so I never buy them. I could come across parfums of Calèche, Arpège, Infini, N°I9 or any other such beauties at heart stopping prices, but discovering they are in spray form, leave them coldly on the shelf. There is just no point. I buy them for the perfume, but there is something inside the scent (some kind of preservative?) that turns the smell and makes it unwearable. I can smell the fixative, I can smell the gas inside (for some reason this doesn’t seem to be true of Guerlain, in which case the parfums de toilette of Mitsouko, Chamade and so on are by far the most pristine and beautiful renditions of those perfumes that I own).
In terms of disastrous design, though, nothing beat Monsieur Rochas. Jesus Christ. My first bottle of this scent (a kind of tauter Hermès Equipage, made by the same perfumer) had a spray that well, just kept on spraying. As in, you pressed the nozzle, the metal connecting it got locked down, and you simply could not stop it, as though the scent were throwing some kind of self-destructive tizzy and were determined to not let you use it.
Coming across a dirt cheap, huge full bottle of the same scent the other day on my usual rounds I snapped it up thinking it would make a very refined and elegant scent for my other half. I get home. Press play, and…..WHOAH we are talking tantrum. One bloody press down of the ridiculously delicate vaporisateur and we are talking champagne bottle. I0,9, 8, 7…… lift off.
Fizzing, the nozzle shut down (AGAIN? I couldn’t believe my eyes or nose) as it hissed like a bitch and proceeded to empty out a third of its contents, me on the sidelines helplessly watching and shouting at it and swearing no that’s it: no more of these cruddy old sprays from now on, dear friend, I’m a-dabbin’.