Tag Archives: Perfume Mania











Addictions are supposed to be at a critical level when they start affecting the essentials: your relationships, your job, your finances; your health.



And I feel that I crossed over some line today, the final day of the pre-entrance examination madness, as found myself committing infringements in the name of vintage perfume and the ridiculously adrenalized thrill it gives me that would make my mothers blush: racing against the clock, risking god knows what as I absconded and went AWOL, on a hunch that I was about to come across a mindboggling windfall, and then finding myself in a total think-on-your-feet meltdown of (it has to be said) rather excellent lessons and feverish, spring-bunny madness.



Today I woke up early and in good mood, way too early considering the hours I have to teach, but unable to go back to sleep. I was all geared up for a leisurely stroll around my Yokohama backstreet haunts, just paid, ready to splurge, (relatively speaking), when I realized that my timetable for this particular day would allow no such thing. I had to go from my school in Fujisawa to my school in Yokohama direct ( although no one is keeping track of me exactly) , and gaijin, or foreigners, can practically get away with murder here if you pull the right face of innocent ignorance (we are, let’s face it, essentially another species to them; aliens, outsiders, weirdos and incomprehensibles and always will be).



So: I know that if I just ‘forget’ to clock in I will get away with it, that if I just….I don’t know, just feign stupid I can definitely get away with it somehow, and find myself running, racing, down my street of luxurious possibilities sweating and panting, darting into one shop then another, constantly keeping an eye on my iphone clock, thinking you f*%@ing fool, why are you doing this to yourself, you know you have to be at the main Yokohama school right now, you haven’t even finished photocopying everything, and yet you are two stations away and running in the opposite direction.













AND WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER PLACE….god that cabinet that keeps getting replenished (two Parfums de Rosines, recently, not dirt cheap but a sixth of their brand new price), what might be in there? And then that other Chanel Dior ‘brand’ shop; remember how excited you were recently to get that old chestnut, that scent you love but would probably never fork out for a full bottle; L’Artisan’s MÛre et Musc Extreme, for virtually nothing……..?













Let me ask you though. I know that although a lot of people who stray onto the Black Narcissus might just chance on here out of curiosity, to read about this perfume or that, but I know that many others of you also are real addicts like me, possessed. Delirious. Now what would you do if rather than the rip-off, overly priced occasional buys at flea markets you were presented with at most metropolitan Sunday afternoon flea markets , a situation where beautiful, vintage and new perfumes arose, where these perfumes were constantly presenting themselves to you, at utterly affordable prices, in these brand emporia and thrift shops: would you honestly be able to resist?





I cannot think of a recent time where my heart and brain were wrenching themselves so much in utterly opposing directions (my behavior today in truth was nothing short of reckless) but, like any madman I was resolute: nothing was going to stop me. I would make up some savage excuse if necessary and wing it in the classroom (when, if I am honest, I always teach best anyway, though the smell of hysterical sweat might rise up more in the chalky, and concentrated Japanese atmosphere and trouble those earnest and overly serious students I am constantly presented with).







In fact today was the day that two of my very sweet students, who I am very fond of, were taking an exam that I had spent a whole year preparing for. I had gone in on weekends, had prepped them, done my pep-talks, wished them luck, and should probably (not probably; definitely) been waiting at the main school to greet them afterwards and look at the paper before heading off to Yokohama, acting adult, and proper, and teacherly.





Instead I was there, in that place I feel so at home (it’s no mystery; with some sleuthing on here you can find exactly where I am talking about if you want to), picking up bargains left right and centre, stuffing them into my workbag unbagged,  then RUSHING back to school in a panic, going through what I was going to do in my mind as my work bag was laden down  with precious, unrepeatable perfumes……god I know you understand.










Today’s haul.






Not for a pittance, as can sometimes be achieved (I have a piece coming to you soon that will make your eyeballs bust out of their sockets…..just you wait; you will not BELIEVE what I found last week in Tokyo, and for the price…..it will go down in history),



but today, for just the price of one decent niche perfume, probably (I4,000 yen, about I40 dollars) I obtained; and possessed;






(ALL VINTAGE, obviously  (need I say that?). Yes, all vintage, a word or concept I would not be remotely hung up on as I am not old fashioned or stuck on the past when it comes to any other art form; neither in music, nor cinema, nor literature, nor the visual arts, were it not for the fact that in the majority of cases THE REMAKES OF ALL THESE PERFUMES JUST SMELL LIKE SHIT, and therefore there is absolutely no point in buying them.








CHANEL N° I9 parfum, I4ml

CHANEL N°I9 parfum 7ml

CHANEL N° 5 parfum 7ml    (all boxed; unopened; sealed)




GUERLAIN MITSOUKO parfum I4ml, sealed, in rare ‘tulip’, frosted glass flacon – definitely an heirloom type thing


WEIL ANTILOPE parfum I4ml (oh my god my new love: I LOVE THIS: an obsession is born.

Grassy, Calandre like aldehydic chypre but with something else going on, something with a real warm kick I will have to review it I am wearing it on my right hand as I write this)


REVILLON CARNET DE BAL parfum I4ml , boxed, sealed (haven’t opened it: I am leaving that one to you: thinking that it won’t be me, that I can sell it instead)


ROCHAS MYSTERE parfum spray 7ml (the HOLINESS; god I love that scent; the peaty unbelievableness: this one is going in my personal stash, though I have heard that it is quite sought after and lord knows I understand why)



BALENCIAGA Fleeting Moment small edt (intriguing; sandalwoody, erotic)



CALANDRE METAL edt, a personal favourite.




Now some of you reading this will be bored; it will be like hearing the football results on a Saturday afternoon, while  others (those who know how gorgeous some of these things are )will be swooning,leering,  or tearing out their own eyebrows, but the point is this:






I have decided that I am, after all, despite what we talked about recently, going to put some of these beauties aside. As a nest egg. As perfumed collateral.




The friends who know me in my actual flesh and blood guise know that I am not a stingy or materialistically greedy person at all (probably more the naïve, and tragically romantic sort), that I have given away tons and tons of perfume in my time and will probably continue to do so (a very lovely Mitsouko extrait was just handed out last weekend in fact to a person I had never met in my life before) but I have decided, nevertheless, that although I could never sell any of these perfumes to people I know, including you, for even a single yen of profit – I just couldn’t – I would simultaneously have no compunction, at some point in the future, in setting up some kind of vintage perfume shop in Europe, whether in physical form or on the internet, where certain choice perfumes will be sold at the going rate. At the maniac, lusted after rate.




Is this bad?




I mean the N°I9 I got today (probably my favourite perfume and one I am still to review) I just had to open, as I always do, as it literally is different in every bottle, from batch to batch, and the I4ml extrait I opened earlier this is literal perfection, a perfume I will enjoy in extremity and treasure, into my dotage and beyond, and anyway looking online I see that it is not that valuable anyway compared to certain other things  (people the vetiver; the iris; the leather, all in MAGNIFICENT proportion; this one is especially vetivery)



No, I don’t regret opening that one at all (as I don’t regret the exquisite Moment Suprême you made me open by Patou: I was in bed last night and suddenly craved it: turned the light on: found it: put it on and it was just so lovely and magical that I slept like a baby surrounded by its lavendered, ethereal beauty and don’t regret in the least that I probably could have made the odd buck from it).




Mitsouko, though………. Diorissimo. Chanel N°5. Joy. L’Air Du Temps. Madame Rochas.Miss Dior……..these are all redoutable monuments of perfumery that I love and respect in great measure but which I have little actual affection or desire for, to wear on the body, myself. I can look at them, and snap them up quite coldly. Every time I see a Mitsouko I just wish it were something else. I think for perfume lovers there is nothing more exciting than Guerlain, and to walk into some crappy old bric-a-brac store and see a vintage Guerlain box on the shelf really does make life living for. I ADORE It (wouldn’t you?), but at the same time, spoilt though I am, I always think but why can’t it for once be something like L’Heure Bleue? Or Parure or Chant D’Aromes parfums  (exquisite, eXQUISITE). Though some of you claw at your eyelids in lust for vintage Mitsouko, for me she is as common as the kitchen table. I know her inside out.




If it were Shalimar………………All Shalimar, naturally, shall be worn by yours truly and he alone : this is my sex perfume, my guaranteed winner in that regard…. I can just stand naked and pour it over my shoulder and let it run right down my body – it lasts no time whatsoever. It smells gorgeous on me. It is me, completely. The same with Bal A Versailles and Vol De Nuit: these are MY perfumes, the ones I adore, the ones I was made for, and I couldn’t try selling them even  if I tried. Something in me always breaks open the seals (I even couldn’t help myself tearing open the N°5 this evening as I have found that it makes a lovely sleep perfume (do you know there were two more of those unopened N°5 parfums in that shop, at I,000 yen, or ten dollars, or seven pounds or whatever it is, just standing there? Should I have got those as well? Is there a market for the vintage? Can somebody tell me? Are there any 5 addicts out there reading this blog who can tell me?)









I realize that in writing this post, which I should probably delete as it makes me look like some kind of manic maniac ( I did have that real rising sap plenitude of excitement you get in springtime today, though : I think I actually was a little bit mad as you can probably tell ; the plum blossoms were out, you could smell it in the air; the cold had been banished for a whole afternoon, I could really feel the spring and summer not so far away, and I just couldn’t help myself with any of this although you realize that in this day and age any parent or student could google me and read this and that I could lose my job, which I need to be able to write the blog and pay back my debts oh lordy ……oh shit this is going to have to be one of those self-destruct, limited edition posts, one of those ones that I will wake up with a pounding heart at 4am thinking oh fuck what have I done; why do you always have to just follow your instincts come what may: why can’t you exert any self-restraint, ever……







Is it Japan? This trussed up country you adore and hate in equal measure that makes you make a fool of yourself in public so?





This beautiful and maddening country that bizarrely, bizarrely; BIZARRELY, keeps turning up such heart-roasting mountains of undesired, tossed aside, yet UTTERLY DESIRED AND THOROUGHLY WANTED, BY ME AND BY YOU, perfume?





Filed under Flowers











Although you are probably used to my perfumed hyperbole by now, I think I may be about to exceed my own limits of slick lusciousness when I recall and recount how I reacted to buying a bottle of Serge Lutens Cèdre.




It was strange. I had had a sample, one of those black Lutens’ mini sample sprays that perfumistas all know so well, and felt, at the time, that Cèdre was perhaps just another sweet, spiced boisé like all the rest . Which I love. I adore Féminité Du Bois, particularly in vintage parfum – it is like being lost in a dark-corridored, plum-teaked labyrinth, and I enjoy the whole ‘Bois’ series in fact – Violette, Musc, Et Fruits – Chergui, Daim Blond, Rousse; all the classic Lutensian perfumes of that style: I enjoy their stylized, urban richness.




Then, one day, though, when told by James Craven of Les Senteurs that I should try it again, that he really loved this perfume, I sat down and properly concentrated on this lesser-loved Lutens and there it was: suddenly there was something in that animalic, Abyssinian tuberose, spices, and sweet, dripping mess of Atlas cedar from Morocco that made me go a bit, suddenly go ga ga.




The combination locked.








The attractive/repulsive, almost cow-pat like richesse (glistening! too sweet! too carnal!): the ambered, cinnamon notes burring like columns of treacle beneath the masculinized African tuberoses and their flicks of clove, almost sublimated and disappeared by the sun-drenched wood sap, yet there, wide-lipped and smouldering underneath…… I knew for sure, at that moment, that I would have to go right out and buy myself a bottle.











There is something about buying a Serge Lutens in Japan. You have to go to Isetan in Shinjuku, the only place he is sold, the most prestigious department store in Tokyo, where your purchase is checked for contents and spray function; packaged up; wrapped, and where the rigorously polite sales assistant will insist on accompanying you to the door, not letting you hold on to your property until she has handed it over to you, graciously, with a stately, appreciative bow.




Somehow, therefore, you feel that you just can’t get the bottle out of the box on the street or the train for a quick sniff and peruse, though of course I have (yes, sacrilegiously, I do love Nuit De Cellphane, and Louve! My god, Louve, my baby – and then Un Bois Vanille and of course, my favourite of them all, Borneo 1834…….all of which have been whipped out on the train and inhaled, furtively and surreptiously)…..For some reason, though, Cèdre, an anti-intuitive purchase for me in some ways, remained in the box emballaged; untapped; until I got her home.




Duncan was in bed. I was in my raspberry-red hospital pyjamas that I had kept as a souvenir after my stay at the Royal Free in London for pneumonia all those years ago ( I lived ! I fully recovered! Against the doctors’ miserable, pessimistic advice (…you will never be the same again….)!!










There. In my hands. Ready. Flowing from side to ambered side against the meniscus. The plenitude of a full bottle of perfume, a plenteousness that can can tip me into a crazed, disinhibiting mania of just wanting to just pour the entire thing over my body, even as the fierce desire to preserve as much as possible of the liquid acts simultaneously as a puritanical, checking brake mechanism.



This tension: sheer, wanton avidity versus measured practicality and pragmatism, the desire to just fling the stuff about in wild abandon even though, or because you know, it is expensive and you should thus be trying to preserve every last, precious, drop to make it last and prolong the pleasure.




I love these contradictory impulses.




And over the years I have almost lost it with certain perfumes, especially sweet, vanillic orientals, and used them up in practically no time at all through my sheer unbrokered excitement. But that night with Cèdre was probably one of the most ridiculous. The initial top accord   ( which the base never quite lives up to in all honesty, becoming merely a pleasant spiced amber note that could probably have done with being amped up a bit, yes but) that initial stage, on that first night, just sent me into a frenzy. Not just spraying on my arm, my neck, my hand, all over, and gnawing, inhaling myself like a prisoner gulping at fresh air on his first day of release, but also dipping the strings of my pyjama trousers right into the bottle, right down to the depths, watching the perfume rising up, absorbing up the tuberosian nectar (it’s the honey; yes the honey in the scent that binds the sweet cedar essential oil with those tenored flowers, and that ambery, lascivious feel-up that malingers underneath it all, that had me splashing the perfume all over the room with my trouser strings, sighing and flapping about consciouslessly with fierce, perfumed pleasure, overheated; lost in some strange, mannish, catnip ecstacy.











And when I came to, after however long it was ( I have no idea), I would say that at least a quarter of the bottle had gone. In one sitting.







And then: nothing. Since that single, fickle orgy I have used the scent only on a number of occasions, always enjoying that beginning, as my synapses have probably been seared with that one mad evening and my smell brain immediately thus rises to the occasion upon smelling it. But on the few times I have worn the perfume out in the daytime or evening somewhere, a few hours into its development, I start to feel almost bored of its tempered, generic amber smell, and it never feels quite right.








No, it is that initial rush I love in Cèdre. The tantalizing foreplay; the sun-drenched, dulcet liquid and its wooden, oozing possibilities.





The blind lust.


Filed under Flowers