I had to treat myself





Amid the whirl of discarded samples and sniffing marathons for ‘Perfume’ ( final edits of the manuscript this weekend and then a courier is coming to the house to take it by hand from Tokyo to London ), I haven’t, perhaps understandably, been wearing quite as much scent as I might be in normal circumstances. For work, I have been alternating Roger Et  Gallet’s Tubereuse Hedonie and The Vert – both crisp, fresh colognes with undertones of sophisticate that are unobtrusive enough for me not to worry about offending anyone while sufficiently present for me to feel protected by perfume. Both go well, also, with my iyokan orange Vaseline that I made recently for starbursts of citrus and dust killing moisture when the powder horror of the blackboard chalk phobia strikes; other than that, at weekends it has been mainly Vol De Nuit.



After working my ASS off for months, teaching and writing, I felt I deserved a reward. Something extravagant I would love – a new perfume. Candidates have included Unum’s Rosa Nigra – a dense, rose peach confection I have been intrigued by ( ultimately ruined, after a couple of hours by a deal breaking endocrinic sandalwood note); Etro’s Heliotrope, which I might still get, and Laboratorio Olfattivo’s Kashnoir, an oriental that starts out all lemon and opoponaxy but gradates to a heavenly, tactile skin amber : I might ask for that one for my birthday – it would be gorgeous once the weather starts to properly get cold : right now it is still lingering in a strangely balmy, clement warmth.



One weekend though, I realized to my dismay that I was running out of No 19. This filled me with a certain anguish, as I only wear the vintage, which I used to find all the time here












: thrown away like Coke cans in the trash I have got through so many bottles of the stuff, but those classic years of cheap vintage perfume in Japan have dried up : like fossil fuels, there are only so many flacons of this sublime fluid left and I have given too many of them away over the years ( no more ): wearing a 7ml I knew was there somewhere but couldn’t locate until we re-organized the first part of the collection I realized, when smelling how it lingered on the V-neck of a new woollen sweater, how indefinably sexy, haunting and elegant the final notes can be – an aura that hovers about me, makes me complete.



On a whim one free Monday afternoon I went into Tokyo to a old shop in an arcade I know that I thought might have some, and it did. It wasn’t cheap – but I bought the lot. And then yesterday, in Yokohama, I finally came across the beloved, coveted 28ml – bottles of which are becoming increasingly rare.


Though I should leave them virgo intacto with their waxen wreaths of papery sealage keeping their contents untouched ( I have managed to resist breaking open just one of them – I am like a tomb raider, wrenching apart bottle mouths), I can never resist smelling the contents, as each and every bottle is always quite different, revealing more hyacinth, galbanum, iris, vetiver- more leather – plus I find I don’t actually like the smell of the freshly released perfume : it is as if it is waking up from cryogenic deep sleep and has forgotten where it is, and WHAT it is. Like a good red wine, I find letting the fragrance breathe, coalesce and re-harmonize itself a way to reach a mellower, more cherished orchestration I can apply in the morning, quite liking its florality, but truly LOVING what happens on my skin a few hours later, when it feels like nothing less than an idealized augmentation of my soul.


Filed under Flowers

19 responses to “I had to treat myself

  1. larslatchkey

    I am truly looking forward to your book, which I expect to draw up a map of fragrance characters. For me, too, Vol de Nuit and No. 19 are like the seats of power in a country with a language that I love.

    • How fantastic : we both speak this blissful tongue fluently

      • larslatchkey

        I have no idea though if I exaggerate with the images… English is not my first language. Btw just discovered Institut Très Bien’s delicious Tuberose Absolue, and then there is Guerlain’s Joyeuse Tuberose,… It’s everywhere, isn’t it, this new fresh twist on the white flower? And the Néroli. Tuberose and Néroli.

      • I can imagine it becoming annoying for some, but then I am very tuberosian : I just love it

  2. MrsDalloway

    I have a couple of 14ml vintage no 19 parfums and it is gorgeous. I can’t seem to get the dosage right wearing it on its own; it either overwhelms or disappears too fast. But worn with vintage EDT it is fabulous and gives it extra richness.

    How exciting your book is nearly done – a courier of its own!

  3. Tara C

    How posh, a private hand-carried courier trip for your book! Very exciting and of course you deserved to treat yourself. So glad you were able to get more of the preciousss. I have a decant of Rosa Nigra, need to resmell the Etro Heliotrope (it’s been ages), and will seek out a sample of Kashnoir, which sounds lovely.

  4. Leiann Kaytmaz

    Hi from NYC-
    I am so looking forward to your book launch. Who is your publisher? I have a editor friend at a magazine who is interested in looking at it for possible review.

  5. jennyredhen

    ” an idealised augmentation of my soul” what a line!!!!

  6. Oh how happy I am that you found some more No 19. It truly is a special kind of creature. Not to mention, you so deserved more of it.
    Very exciting about the courier coming for the manuscript. Shows how truly valuable it really is. I can hardly wait until it is published and I posses a copy.
    Now put on some of the preciousss in the morning and enjoy a fabulous Sunday.

    • Thanks. I just went to play piano again with my friend Yoko (TRAGICALLY out of practice, fingers like turnips), but I did wear some of the 28ml, which for some reason smells the best out of all of them. Like a violoncello.

  7. Lady Murasaki

    This last weekend I was watching a movie that immediately reminded me of your posts. This new release, ”Burning” was recommended to me by a friend and it’s also an adaptation of a Murakami short story called ”Barn Burning”. I’m a complete Murakami fangirl so I had to check it out.

    The movie was pretty good (it’s set in South Korea, mostly Gangnam, and some rural areas) but this specific scene caught my attention: The main characters are having this fancy dinner party and then this girl, an unnamed character who works at a high-end boutique, goes on this rant about how tourists are rude and vulgar concerning perfume samples, “demanding” the samples or to try the perfume because they “know” the sales ladies have them, and she says in a tone like it’s the most absurd thing on Earth.

    I first thought – ”Did I read this in a Murakami work?” – but no! It was here. I wonder if the director/screenwriter read your blog. Such an odd and specific detail, almost like if your description of this behavior came to life by itself!

  8. Beau de l'Air

    I just bought a bottle of 19 edc vintage, would you please give me your thoughts on this concentration? Thanks

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s