One of the most common kvetching topics among the perfume-obsessed crowd is the Unobtainables. The stuff you can't just walk into the store/call/order online. It drives us crazy and leads to some creative muling arrangements as well as the endless whining on message boards and blogs I mentioned above. Part of it is the fact the world has become smaller and more accessible. We shop online and buy items from all around the globe. Smart retailers accept PayPal, ship worldwide and provide us with our desired makeup brushes, jewelry, perfume and other pretties.
Except for the ones who don't.
Serge Lutens non-export bell jars and Le Labo city exclusive perfumes are probably the most coveted and frustrating items of this category. Of course, there are other lines that are of very limited availability, but in many cases you can call a boutique and order them by phone, as long as you're willing to fork the money for shipping (Dior La Collection Privee, JAR perfumes, Caron urn perfumes). It makes sense in our age of nearly instant gratification and we've come to expect this kind of service. So why doesn't Uncle Serge allow us to get our fix of Iris Silver Mist?
As a rule, I'm firmly in the camp of "please take my money and let me buy your stuff". But I've noticed something interesting during my Paris vacation. When visiting a foreign city I look to buy items I can't get anywhere else. That's such a big part of the fun, after all, and there is a special magic in finding and obtaining that rare gem. So much so that when visiting Guerlain locations in Paris I was quite disappointed not to see anything I couldn't get 30 minutes away from my house (or by placing a quick phone call to Jason and Marilyn at Bergdorf). I'm not talking about a full line of Unobtainables, more like a single perfume or a flagship-only lipstick shade. Just that one thing that makes you really really want it. This is why I was very happy to shop at the duty-free shop in Paris CDG airport. There were a bunch of travel edition palettes and other items you can only find in such locations. It's just a little more special this way.
It leads me to think again about the Lutens bell jars. How would it feel if our favorite uncle had relented and made all but one of the non-exports available online outside of Europe? Wouldn't we still flock to the Palais Royal to sniff and buy The One? And what about Le Labo? I understand the idea behind the city exclusives a little better, but I maintain that they should have stuck to one or two cities at most, because what are the chances that most of us would visit each of their locations? I can think of at least a couple of Le Labo boutiques I'll probably never see, so why limit my perfume horizons artificially?
How do you feel about the exclusivity issue? Do you think that our small world and easy access have taken away some of the magic and mystery or would you prefer an even easier access to world treasures? Let's talk about it.