dusting the collection













After months of intense industriousness during which time the house fell into a state of semi-squalour,  now the book is finished, D is insisting on a sprucing. Some of the perfume cabinets are in a parlous state of dust- crusted Ms Haversham, and so although my natural tendency in this utterly exhausted aftermath is to just lie about doing nothing except read about the state of the world in the New York Times or immerse myself mindlessly in Netflix (after six months of hardly watching anything, playing the piano or reading a single book), my other half is rightfully demanding we now set about restituting some dignity to my ramshackle collection of bottles, cleaning them one by one, shelf by shelf, over successive weekends.


I am so lazy by nature that I practically have to be dragged towards the perfume choked armoires with the wet cloths, but I must admit that my Vol De Nuit ensemble, which I keep next to my bed ( I found an EXQUISITE new boxed 14ml vintage extrait the other day which, with its ultra-powdered ambery vanilla iris dry down, took my love of this perfume to new heights of adoration ) now is something I can lie on my futon GAZING at, drawing power from its olfactory, visual, and artistic – almost SPIRITUAL – sheer beauty.


The main cabinets are still to be tackled – the ‘men’s section’ so dust-laden there might even be spider’s webs in there for all I know, but next weekend it will be time to de-dust all the Aramis, Azzaro, Givenchy Gentlemen and so on and so forth, the Chanels and Diors; plus the heady, sweet tropicalia of my white floral and coconut shelves.



When it is all done, I think I will be quite pleased to restore some order to it all, to know where certain perfumes ARE, for a start, because you can be sure that, with the dark clouds of fascism and bigoted hatred rising all around the world as we speak ( WHAT is going on?) sometimes you just need to retreat into dreams and sigh into your wrists; OR: embolden yourself with scented, inviolable armour………protections from all the  ugly brutality; gentle, incantations of unvisible artistry that are like sweet scented, sensuous buffers from the shock.








Filed under Flowers

22 responses to “dusting the collection

  1. Filomena

    It looks like a great collection…dust and all (although I cannot decider the dust)!

    • No: these are the dusted bits so far! ( well, actually the Diptyques haven’t been properly done but I just felt like adding them.

      I think most perfumists keep their treasures boxed, as they should.

  2. Your posts make me so happy. Thank you!

  3. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    What a feast for greedy eyes!
    I am sure that even the spiders have arrived at a higher level , wooing their prey with exquisite blasts from the past ..
    Imagine being that tiny fly: mort exquise!

    When I clean and dust I always feel that my inner self gets a whiff and a wipe as well!

    Happy to read and meet you again.

  4. tora

    I too live between the New York Times and Netflix. (Have you seen The Bodyguard?) Anyway, last week I was so overcome with sadness about the state of our nation, and the world, that I spent each day on my hands and knees in the front gardens, pulling every weed, picking up every (or most) fallen acorns, then raking all the fallen leaves, (even under the bushes), until my yard was pristine and 12 contractor bags had been filled with the debris. Those 5 days of labor which really required no thought, helped me cope. Just like cleaning your beautiful perfume collection. Mindless tasks as valium.
    It helps to know that on the other side of the world, you and Duncan are there reeling from the same horrors as I am. It makes the world smaller and much more friendly. Thanks, Neil.

    P.S. Vol de Nuit in extrait is heaven.

    • It really is. And I genuinely think that, though scent is a luxury, it still does provide some kind of much needed protection. The synagogue attack was sickening, and obviously has been given sanction by the toxicity of Trump’s toxicity becoming acceptable in society. It’s so depressing!

  5. David

    That’s a beautiful collection! I love the folding black mirror, too. I’m trying to minimize and find just one singular signature scent (can’t wait for your book). I’m wearing Poivre by Caron today, the day after the election in Brazil. I needed something peppery, but the reformulation is a an abundance of cloves (but I like it). Need to stay strong and alert! And kind to everyone, above all.

    • I have been thinking about you, obviously, and wondering what you and your friends are all feeling about Bolsonaro. After making all those comments, people STILL voted for him? It’s genuinely terrifying.

      • David

        The majority was sick and tired of the corruption and horrible economics from the Worker’s Party. The good news is that the election process was 100% democratic. There’s been no violence, not even at the demonstrations. And Carnival will still go on next March.

      • Yes but when he is threatening to exile or ‘exterminate’ his rivals, how long is that going to last? And all that homophobia. FUCK HIM

  6. Tara C

    I loathe dusting, and I need to see the bottles in order to want to wear them (not to mention space issues) so I don’t keep the boxes. I keep my collection inside a closet, which keeps the dust down but allows me to stand and contemplate my treasures. A good cleaning of anything though does revive the soul and relax the mind.

    • Yes, I haven’t dealt with the perfumes actually in the closets yet (obviously, this is the right way to do it, we all know light is the enemy, although our bedroom is fairly light-proof with the shoji screens etc). And you are right: it’s such a hassle to do it, but I do enjoy the more serene results!

  7. Beau de l'Air

    Hurray for your return! Slim picking on the blogs for vintage aficionados… Been following the blog for a few years though I never commented.
    And of course I can’t wait for the book.
    “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life” says my stepmom’s fridge magnet!

  8. Filomena

    I keep my collection on top of my dresser and bureau and they are all out of their boxes. I dust them half-heartedly every week, but I’ve gotten into the habit of cleaning each bottle after I spray it. Hopefully, after a year or so, they will all have been cleaned once. 🙂

  9. Lady Murasaki

    It’s funny and a little heartwarming how this post resonated with my current spirit. Especially the last part. Feeling like everything is so bleak, and like my very own existence is threatened, to the point Bolsonaro’s election had barely an effect on me, things are going downhill anyway. When I was a teenager, I used to read history books and think how awful it was living in dark times full of atrocities, and now I’m living one too and can’t do anything about it.

    I’m trying to cope through writing stories (thankfully NaNoWriMo was a great motivation) and you know what, taking care of my bottles would be a great idea too. They are in a sad similar Miss Havisham kind of state too, poor things. I think I will use the upcoming national holiday this week to do so.

    Thank you. Your posts are always a breath of fresh air through these oppressive clouds we can’t run away from.

  10. Your collection is a feast for the eyes, and of course the senses. I will admit, I keep all of my fragrances in their boxes, except for the ones I purchased that didn’t have boxes. I keep all of them in a linen closet in the guest bedroom, except for my extraits, which I keep unboxed in 5 drawers in my vanity in my bedroom. I do have a few bottles, in their boxes, that I keep on the floor next to my vanity also. Also, a few other bottles I keep in my dresser drawer. Guess I have a lot of places for them.
    All in all, I don’t really ever need to dust any of the bottles because they are all tucked away.
    Thank goodness for this passion of ours, it is so rejuvenating to medicate with scent. During these dark days that are happening in this world, with fascist leaders being elected left and right (thank heavens for my beautiful France and Macron), we need something to soothe our troubled souls.
    Just viewing your collection helped to boost my spirits and put me in a joyous mood.

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