Exciter76's Meandering Thoughts and Scribbles
I was bored one September afternoon back in 2017, so I decided to open an Instagram account. I’d shared pictures of my precious bottles here on Parfumo and other perfume communities prior to making this leap. However, I wanted to turn my boredom into something “artful” and find other like-minded folks in the process. My photography skills are hit-or-miss but I find there is a plethora of beautiful bottles and inspirational people behind the pictures to be found on this social media platform.
The first few months were spent putting up pictures of random things: my dinner plates filled with questionable-looking vegetarian food, years-old pictures of my alma mater (hey, it’s a beautiful school), my cats and, of course, perfume bottles. Eventually, I shifted my focus to fragrances and found a community of fellow enthusiasts, not to mention a society of mutual admiration. But there was something else for which I had not accounted—Instagram is also a platform for speaking with our favorite noses.
I first discovered the thrill of direct interaction when I was gushing over my bottle of Youth Dew Amber Nude. I took a simple picture and professed my undying love in the text. Imagine my surprise when Christophe Laudamiel explained his thought process when creating YDAN in the comments! How amazing is that? Recently, Andy Tauer liked one of my posts. I’m still walking among the clouds over that.
Through Instagram I’ve found the barrier between the creator/nose and the admirer/consumer to be eliminated; there is an egalitarian environment present on Instagram that is not as prevalent on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Does this always happen? No, not always, but I love that it happens. I love the live discussions that occur with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Miguel Matos, and others. I love the discussions between YouTube reviewers and subscribers, which is especially astounding since I must confess, I did not watch many YouTube reviews. Now, I consider myself a fan of Glenn Davis (aka @mrcologne76), @2scentsworth, and so many others. I love the free flow of ideas and pictures.
I cannot be the only one lured into this virtual community of beautiful bottles and scented inspiration. Do you have an account? Do you post your scented treasures online or do you keep it strictly personal? I’m a curious person and I’m always looking for new people to follow!
When I first joined I created lists and posted them in my first blog post. I like lists. I'm a Virgo so I can't help myself. Lists are fun! One of those lists included a Top Ten of my favorite scents. I was so sure that list was never going to change. I have to say, for the most part, it didn't change as much as I thought it would. Still, some changes were made. I was curious to see how drastic my choices were.
Here's what I said back in 2015:
♦ My COLLECTION TOP 10 (in no particular order):
→ ✓ Angélique Noire ◊ Guerlain
→ ✓ Fantasia ◊ Fendi
→ ✓ No. 06 - Incense Rosé ◊ Tauer Perfumes
→ ✓ Jour de Fête ◊ L'Artisan Parfumeur
→ ✓ Loretta ◊ Tableau de Parfums
→ ✓ "Ombre Rose L'Original / Ombre Rose (Eau de Parfum)" ◊ Jean Charles Brosseau
→ ✓ Organza Indécence (1999) (Eau de Parfum) ◊ Givenchy
→ ✓ Shalimar Parfum Initial ◊ Guerlain
→ ✓ Stella (Eau de Parfum) ◊ Stella McCartney
→ ✓ Sucre et Fleurs ◊ Perfumes By Terri
Here's what it is as of January 2018:
♦ My COLLECTION TOP 10 (again, in no particular order):
→ ✓ Angélique Noire ◊ Guerlain
→ ✓ Loretta ◊ Tableau de Parfums
→ ✓ Fantasia ◊ Fendi
→ ✓ Cinnabar ◊ Estée Lauder
→ ✓ Tea For Two ◊ L'Artisan Parfumeur
→ ✓ Incense Rosé ◊ Tauer Perfumes
→ ✓ Stella ◊ Stella McCartney
→ ✓ Coco EdT ◊ Chanel
→ ✓ Elixir Des Merveilles ◊ Hermes
→ ✓ China Musk ◊ TerraNova
Now that's not to say I stopped loving anything on the first list. Sucre et Fleurs was my signature scent for over a year and I still love it with every fiber of my being. But what really, truly makes the cut? Two years ago there was a wildfire that was nearing my home and the possibility of evacuation was imminent. Quickly, I threw everything I felt was important into my purse, a backpack, and an overnight bag. Photos, important documents, my laptop and tablet, medications, clothing, shoes and a handful of perfumes.
As precious as my perfumes are to me, they were the last to be loaded up. In reality, they were my least important items to pack. Once my pets were gathered and my necessities were packed I had a few minutes to think about my little liquid morale boosters. In those split seconds I asked myself what could I not afford to lose and what would keep my spirits up when chaos was the order of the day? Ultimately, I grabbed Angelique Noire, Fantasia, Incense Rose, Loretta and an aged bottle of Cinnabar. That's how these five ended up on my list today.
Luckily, the order did not shift from voluntary to mandatory since the fire was kept away from homes. I hated the thought of leaving my other beauties behind. Then again, I hated the thought of my home being consumed by fire. There was much to mentally process in those chaotic days. The ending was a happy one and I was able to go back to making hypothetical lists.
So here's to making lists for the fun of it!
It’s apparent that I like to write about nostalgia as it relates to perfumes. Recalling perfumes worn in high school? Check. Reminiscing about the origins of my perfume obsession? Check. Ruminating about that wildly inappropriate first kiss at a rock concert, all thanks to EL’s Knowing? Check and check! Perfumes and I go way back, so I’d be remiss if I left the perfumes out of my memories or left the memories out of my perfumes.
Oh, what shall I write about now? Well, it’s only fair that I discuss my cravings as of late. In spite of the belabored talk of my nemesis, oakmoss, I find I’m kind of craving that green beastly scent or some facsimile. From where is this coming, you ask?
Thanks to Netflix, I’ve become completely obsessed with two 1980s inspired series: Stranger Things and Glow. (If you haven’t been watching these shows then you haven’t been making the most of your Netflix subscription. You need to get on that, quick!) Both shows are set in the mid-1980s and they really capture the times. Stranger Things follows the sci-fi adventures of a group of adolescents and Glow loosely tells the origin story of the fabled Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The songs, the fashions, the slang—both shows practically have a smell to them. Bring on the Drakkar Noir and the Giorgio Beverly Hills!
Image taken from IMDb
Again, image taken from IMDb
Is it absurd to be inspired by false nostalgia? I’ll grant you, I was a 1980s kid; my recollection of the times might be inferior to someone who was older then. Still, I like to think I was a precocious child who was acutely aware of everything around me. I was a sponge soaking up everything from everywhere. And I was keeping mental tabs on the perfumes I smelled on others*. I could not wait to grow up so I could have my own sophisticated collection. I have the collection and yet I’m still yearning for that missing piece to complete my childhood.
What, exactly, am I looking for? I’m putting that out there for you guys. What’s green and dated from the 1980s? What is it I seek?
I’d be anxious to see what you guys suggest! In the meantime I’ll be enjoying a movie marathon this weekend while wearing a cut-up sweatshirt and hair scrunchie. May I laugh it up with Duckie, Marty McFly, and Inigo Montoya!
* If you care, here’s what I recall others wearing in the 1980s:
- Mrs. Hastings, my second grade teacher, was wearing Gloria Vanderbilt. (How did I know this? She kept that beautiful swan-emblazoned bottle on her desk. I may not have known the name but I never forgot the bottle.)
- Mom, ever the fashion and fragrance chameleon, was wearing Ombre Rose and White Linen to the office.
- My paternal grandma was a lady of yesteryear with a quiet demeanor, so it was fitting that YSL Paris was her signature.
- My maternal grandma was (and still is) a smart and hip extrovert; it was not surprising that she’d be drawn to Giorgio Beverly Hills.
- My aunt was the iconoclast who taught me to love Shalimar. On a side note, my aunt is still introducing me to new perfumes—Robert Piguet’s Gardenia was one of her scents to become my latest love.
Oh goodness. Why didn't the photographer pull me aside and ask me to fix my hair!? No matter. That was decades ago, right?
Once again I felt compelled to write an entry based on an online forum discussion. The question: If you were a teen during the 1980s, what perfume(s) did you wear? Hmm, I barely qualified as a teen of the 1980s. I could not wait to become a teenager because of the proliferation of 1980s teen-centric culture and subsequent products. I loved Sixteen Candles and all other Brat Pack movies; the fact that movies, magazines, television and some music were not inclusive to a half-African-American girl in suburban Southern California did not matter. It irked my mother, but not me. At least, not entirely. I turned 13 in 1989 so I tried to cram as much 1980s teen culture in that one year. Aqua-Net shellacked hair? Check. Parfums de Coeur's Primo body spray? Check. Pink Sony Walkman with a Madonna cassette? Check and check! I made the most of that one teen year in the 1980s.
I entered high school in 1990. The decade shook off the shackles of the 1980s in such rapidity that there wasn't much bleed over from the 1980s to the 1990s. I blinked and Grunge was the movement and culture of the day. Now, over in the aforementioned discussion about 1980s teenagers and their perfume choices, there was plenty of romanticism for the 1980s. However, the 1990s were vilified for their cruel dismemberment and murder of the 1980s. Well, gee, that's a bit harsh, now isn't it? I actually welcomed the 1990s. I was enamored with Goth culture; I may have even fetishized it to some extent. Beetlejuice and its aesthetic changed me. It may have been a quirky, funny movie but it was the antithesis of the over-the-top decadence of the glossy late 1980s. I was ripe for the Grunge cultural movement. There was no way I was the only one ripe for such a movement.
(Grunge/Kinderwhore picture courtesy of Pinterest, not my own)
Kinderwhore. It sounds horrible but I embraced it. It was such a literal appropriation of the Madonna-Whore paradigm. I lived in vintage floral mini-dresses, tights, black 8-eyelet Doc Marten boots, matte blood red lipstick and a black cateye. There was something powerful in the diametrically opposed style; it was at once sexy, innocent, tough and unsettling. Somewhere in between these elements was my ownership of all facets of my femininity. Yes, even in my teens I was self aware enough to see all this. I learned that a woman can embrace the most fragile, "girliest" aspects of herself without being mistaken for being weak. Conversely, I learned that a strong, independent woman was no less fragile or vulnerable. In short, we women are complex human beings capable of being and doing so much. The kinderwhore look was just a physical manifestation of this internal complexity. For this, I actually loved the early- to mid-1990s.
One thing I added to my adaptation of the kinderwhore look/culture was perfume. Tresor, Sunflowers, Escape and other stone fruit and melon-based perfumes were all the rage during this time. Every girl in my high school wore these. I didn't want to smell girly, or what I perceived as girly. I felt perfumes were indulgences for women, not girls, so why not be womanly in my taste? What did my vintage dresses smell of?
- Ralph Lauren Safari
- Estee Lauder Cinnabar
- Estee Lauder Knowing
- Giorgio Red
- Jean-Louis Scherrer's eponymous perfume
- Oscar de la Renta Oscar
- Gucci No. 1
- Elizabeth Arden Red Door
- Parlux The Phantom of the Opera
- Alfred Sung Sung
- Aramis Tuscany Per Donna
The late 1970s and 1980s did not end in my teen years. I may have left my shellacked bangs behind in 1988-1989 but the previous two decades were strong with me when it came to my perfumes. My tastes have changed over the years as I've mentioned ad nauseum in my distaste for most oakmoss. But I still hold a soft spot for those listed above. Some of them have never left my collection, even if I don't wear them with the frequency with which I once did. They still represent the conflicts and contrasts of my femininity, something I hold dear.
I don't miss the awkwardness of my teen years but I do miss the sense (and scents) of discovery. What a fun time I had!
Too many perfumes. First world problems, am I right?
I've loved perfumes my whole life. Okay, I can't speak for 0- to 2-year-old me because I don't remember those years. But I'm sure even then I loved perfume. My earliest memories of my mom are connected to her getting dressed up for a night of disco dancing with her girlfriends and liberally spraying on Cinnabar before she left the apartment. I was probably between the ages of three and five, and I feel nearly confident to say I was about three since disco was at its height in that timeframe. To this day I always keep a bottle of Cinnabar with me to recapture my first inkling of glamour. But I digress, as I always do.
I mention this life-long fascination and love affair with perfume to explain why I unapologetically have a large collection. I received my first perfume when I was nine; it was a teddy bear-shaped flaçon of Avon's Sweet Honesty. I shouldn't speak so broadly but I have a faint suspicion that this was every American girl's first fragrance, from 1973 to present day. I loved that bottle. I placed it on my dresser and built a shrine to it. That one bottle kickstarted a need to acquire more perfumes. Fast forward thirty-one years later and I still have a (large) shrine to my beauties. It happens to contain the two aforementioned scents, non-coincidentally.
Trust me, it didn't happen overnight. And, I must add, it wasn't built solely by me. It was built through the years and with many contributions from cherished friends and loving family members who don't understand my obsession but contribute to it anyway. (Friends who are members here, you know who you are and what you've done--and I'll forever love you for it!) These acts of kindness, in turn, inspired me to help build up friends', family's, and strangers' collections, whether they wanted my surplus or not.
So, I've now defended my large collection. In long-winded fashion. Yay!
Circling back to the issue of too many perfumes (which I don't believe is really a thing, at least in my case), I find it's sometimes hard to give much attention to some perfumes over others. It's not that I love one perfume over another. I have a tendency to focus on what's new or most accessible. These perfumes get the most love because, really, I'm lazy. Strangely, if something was removed I'd know it and have a hissy fit. Go figure. So what's a first-world gal to do?
It was proposed on that other perfume site that interested members set up a perfume tray with ten perfumes and wear only those perfumes. Pictures of said trays were encouraged. I love looking a perfume trays. I signed up for Pinterest just to look at perfume trays. (Okay, that and DIY furniture/interior design ideas. You get the idea, though.) I love a good perfume tray set up! And really, creating a good subset of perfumes to focus on during one month is a brilliant way to get to know what I own.
Since doing this I've been able to cull through what I own. I've sorted through what is a keeper and what is "meh" to my nose. Those perfumes I've grown blasé about are either sold on eBay, swapped, or gifted. So far, I've shed over 10% of my collection. Those unloved scents found homes with people who will love them. Better still, I've rekindled my love for some scents in my collection. For instance, I purchased a partially used bottle of Fleurs des Caraibes blindly off of eBay. I thought the peculiar banana-like floral scent was nice but nothing to boast about. Last month it was one of my focus scents and now I have a new love I can't wait to break out over the next several months.
Has anyone else done this? Would anyone be interested in doing this? If so, would you put up your pictures so I can ogle your trays!?
Thanks for reading this. And if you decide to put up pictures, thank you in advance! ;-)