bedside5357 We live in quite an old Japanese house, and in winter it gets really cold. Most of the perfume collection is housed in old antique cabinets in the tatami room (where we sleep with the cat), now shuttered up and covered in wall hangings to keep the warmth in at night and thus dark; catacombs of perfume.

I have decided not to change anything for the time being nor rearrange what is there for these photos. When spring comes and I can let in the sunlight I will clean it all up and present it in its full glory, perhaps.

Here, though, is a glimpse, as it is this morning.

The first photo you see above is a small section of some of my most precious treasures, including the vintage Balmain parfums, as well as a lot of magical Guerlains, like my Vol De Nuits, Chamade, and Shalimar. I reach for these a lot.


On the first shelf of the main armoire we have what you might want to call ‘les noirs’. Though things aren’t really ordered thematically, and what you see is only the perfumes standing at the front ( I often have no idea what is behind and am delighted on rediscovering things), there is a basic taxonomy to the collection. Here are all the fierce oudhs, patchoulis, roses and night perfumes like Eau Du Soir, the Montales, scents I feel like wearing on big nights out. My more masculine side (though the nifty of eye will spy a vintage Diva parfum as well, so so much for that).


On the shelf below we have what you might call ‘Les Rouges’: more sumptuous affairs, things like Samsara, Parfums De Rosines and plenty of other things tucked away for a whim.

The three shelves below that are jam packed with things in disarray and will not be debuted today: they will have to wait until later.


Moving on to the smaller cabinet, with its glass windows and mirror, we have an eclectic section of vintage beauties plus Diptyques, Goutals and the like. When I do this one properly for guests in spring and summer it looks really nice and people always make a beeline for it (imagine how much fun this room is for dinner parties: the PERFECT post dinner entertainment as people ooh and aah and reach out to try different things out).

lesclassiques353Inside this is a treasure chest.     Chanels, Diors, mainly extraits, all kinds of things……      

The space below that is all my classic men’s aftershaves: Kouros, Armani, Krizia etc for when I am in that kind of mood, but it is too much of a mess to be presented right now. For a more gentlemanly angle, instead we will move on to the the smallest cabinet              lutenspenhaligons5351  As with all these pictures you can only see the scents in the front row, but the majority of these are Lutens, Penhaligons and the like, many of which Duncan wears. I like this section a lot actually, as it looks quite compact, classic, and inviting.

I know it all looks a bit dark (this is the only room like this; an insulated cocoon), but at least it’s good or perfume preservation.

Lest you think we live like vampires, though, let me tell you that this is not the case at all. There are perfumes scattered about the house

IMG_5363                 IMG_5362 and for fresher scents, what you might want to call ‘les verts’, there is always the selection of perfumes in the bathroom as well.

Lots of vetivers, and green teas and citruses. Things to spritz on on a summer’s day. I need variation and eclecticism.

So anyway, this presents about half of the collection.

I think that my credentials as a perfume maniac are thus probably now assured.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Georgayne

    Having just recently found your blog and a resurgent interest in all things fragrant I am suffering from perfume envy. 🙂 Thanks for the tour; I look forward to future peeks.

    • Glad to assist in your renaissance. Without scent, life is as dull as dishwater.

      • phunhaus

        So very true and the perfect sentiment to write in my journal. Please reassure me however that the urge to sniff various parts of myself during the day, just to enjoy the fragrance over and over is perfectly normal.

      • I spent the entire day yesterday being delightfully self aware of my Floris Night Scented Jasmine. It was the perfect choice, and REALLY augmented my enjoyment of the day. A buffer. A cocoon. YES YES YES

  2. A day without scent is not only scentless but senseless! Can’t wait to see the rest of your collection. I have a dresser and a bureau–the tops of which are jammed pack with my perfume collection and nothing else. I should buy a cabinet because there is not room for even one more. If I do buy something new, one has to be relegated to moving under the dresser or for use as a house spray.

  3. I love The images where you see a dream city of golden spheres that invites bemused wanderings. And I enjoy The one with the crisp white boxes, a kashba that promises secrets to be revealed. You are indeed blessed beyond all recognition with your promenade of great classics. You live in a truly magnificent oriental garden of delights, Sire Ginzaintherain.
    Does The Cat like Scent? i never use The possesive noun when I speak of them.
    (A friend of mine once met with a cat, who jumped on the back of his bike ; and did stay ever Since).

    • Although it has been a terrible indulgence, I must admit I get huge pleasure from the collection. At the moment, in the dark as you say there is a shadowy opulence. And some of the perfumes are quite rare and precious.

      • Regarding the cat, animal lovers will be outraged, but she does occasionally get perfumed. Just a touch, on the nape of the neck where she can’t lick it.

        She smells MAGNIFICENT in Serge Lutens Louve.

  4. Thank you for following up on that so quickly- I can’t keep up with you at that speed, but it will happen, I promise 🙂
    What a wonderful collection, so very diverse and very classy and classic, I love that. I should like to be a dinner guest too and go sniffing, and pet the cat.
    One question. What’s the bottle between the Montales?

  5. jennyredhen

    I am really pleased you finally mentioned Samsara. Its my favourite Guerlain.. well favourite that I own, Chamade would be my favourite if I could afford it and I like Nahema as well. Most of the perfumes you talk about are unavailable in NZ. I went through Duty free the other day and they had no old Guerlains only the very modern ones.. Whats the world coming to??
    PS they had Gone Girl as a movie on the plane but I was too shattered to watch it.. I have started reading the book.. it was only $1 at a library sale… I will go to the movie at a proper cinema, it will be on here now.. watching movies on planes doesnt always work out.. I find the sound quality can be dodgy and require too much concentration

    • Georgayne

      I am pleased about the Samsara as well. It was my second Guerlain purchase after Shalimar 30 years ago. Sometimes I think Samsara gets very little love.

      • Because it’s just so MUCH.
        I do like the parfum though in vintage: santal at its best.

      • jennyredhen

        Me too I bought Shalimar first and then graduated to Samsara.. plus the perfume buyer for our snootiest department store got some good deal on a whole pile of it and it was for sale for years at about 60% of the price of other Guerlain perfumes!!! I was in heaven!!

    • Don’t even mention Duty Free and its hideousness and all those modern reformulations.

      Yes, Samsara. I should review it though it would be quite mood swingy and ambivalent, a love/ hate affair.

      As for Gone Girl, I look forward to your take on its gender issues.

  6. What a fabulous glimpse into your fragrant passion. I am truly delighted you are sharing some images of your collection.
    I am always curious about Japanese homes in the winter. Is it truly that cold in the tatami room? Wonderful for scent, not so wonderful for being cozy.
    I adore the wall of Chanel, how luscious, simply marvelous .
    Thank you for sharing Neil.

    • My absolute pleasure. I shall show it in sunlight later in the year.

      And yes, if it weren’t for constant heating it would be unbearable in winter.

    • jennyredhen

      More modern homes in Japan all have central heating as in the US. Neil your house must be very old!! Does it have insulation.. insulation in the ceiling makes a huge difference.. about 60% of heat goes out through the roof.. but I am sure you know that already… you can buy many types of insulation now including a wool one which is like a huge blanket, you just unroll it and lay it over the whole ceiling.

  7. Rafael

    My jealous thought:” It’s not a perfume shrine, it’s the sort of thing one finds in a popular Geisha’s dressing room. In your case, Hatsumomo. 🙂

  8. Rafael

    LOL. Allow me to share an anecdote on that note,please. When I worked for Tiffany & Co. I happened to be out on the sales floor one day putting out some new pieces and through the front door comes a delivery man carrying the most outrageous, carnival sized arrangement of flowers. I turned to the Security guard and said clearly and caustically “How horrible. So cheap looking. The kind of thing men send showgirls on opening nights.” I wanted the earth to swallow my withered corpse as the delivery man stood sqaure in the middle of the sales floor and in the most operatic tenor belted out “is there a Rafael here?”

  9. janeykate

    I. Freakin. Love. This! Amazing! It puts my perfume collection to shame…. Jane x

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