Thursday, February 11, 2016

Perfume Backups


The husband gave me a look when he realized that I just bought my third backup bottle of turn-of-the-century Miel de Bois. I shrugged. My current bottle is nearly empty, and as you probably know, Uncle Serge has put  this genie in a bell jar ($300 at Barneys)  and the current version doesn't quite cut it (rumor blames IFRA, but who knows). The new old bottle joined its brethren in the drawer unit I keep in the basement. It's getting very full.

Twenty five years ago I never thought about buying perfume backups. When a bottle I was using got to be about 10% full I'd buy a new one. Or move on. I was young and the world was full of more perfume to explore. I kept doing it as far back as fifteen or twelve years ago, only keeping one or two extra bottles of my top favorites. It was easy and relatively cheap. Why would I need more than one bottle of Panthere de Cartier?

Because stuff got got discontinued at an alarming rate. Good stuff. Precious stuff. New bottles of my old favorite, Lauren, no longer smelled right, and some guy named Luca Turin explained in  his blog that nothing will ever smell the same again and that Guerlain was going to the dogs. Not long after that I realized that I could no longer find Donna Karan's Black Cashmere and YSL Nu on the shelf at Sephora, that L'Occitane has discontinued my beloved Neroli and replaced it with something completely different under the same name, something weird was happening at L'artisan, and where was all the oakmoss going?

To the discounters and to eBay, that's where. And I did, too.

My backup cave includes bottles from various makers and years. A handful still follow the old rule: get one when the old bottle is quickly emptying (Serge Lutens L'Orpheline, PG Ilang Ivohibe, PG Cuir d'Iris, Onda), but most are treasures I'm guarding with my life. From the old classics in vintage and very vintage formulations (Femme de Rochas, Chanel, Guerlain, Coty, Guerlain, Bandit, Guerlain, Caleche, Guerlain, see a theme here? All the vintage Shalimar in the world and every bottle of Shalimar Light that had crossed my path) to various Serge Lutens perfumes that were rebottled and changed too much. There are modern favorites in their original form (Dzing!, various Goutals, several MPG in the old bottles, discontinued modern Guerlains (Iris Ganache, Philtre d'Amour), and discontinued mainstream cheap thrills that I refuse to lose (Silk Way, Cavalli Oro).

A large part of the secret vault is occupied by multiple bottles of perfumes that I could not tolerate their demise. To those mentioned above you can add stuff like Niki de Saint Phalle, Cartier So Pretty, Cuir de Lancome, the original Shiseido Feminite de Bois and Zen in various concentrations, Jil Sander No, 4 and No.2, Organza Indecence, Barbara Bui, Amarige Mimosa... I could go on, but I'm scaring myself (and simultaneously want to go over to eBay and look for just one more bottle. Or ten).

Where do you stand on backups? What are you guarding with your life?

Image:   Arthur Rackham-  Fafner now watches the hoard, from Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods, 1911


67 comments:

  1. I would love to, but I barely have enough money to buy perfume, let alone backups or to take risks on ebay. Sadly. Pre reformulation Jubilation 25 would be good to own. Took me too long to save up for it. It had already changed. Or Fumerie Turque. Or Mitsuoko. Alas too late.

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    Replies
    1. I was too late on most Amouage. I like the versions I have, but my one true vintage, Gold (the masculine in the dagger bottle) is out of this world. And I just can't justify dropping two car payments on more.

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    2. I am working on resigning myself to the new version. It may take awhile. Usually I can... but it is so watered down.

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  2. Surely Ori wasn't terribly surprised. :)

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    Replies
    1. At this point, very little perfume things will surprise him :)

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    2. Perfume won't surprise Ori....but maybe if you brought home another cat. No wait, that won't surprise him either. ;)

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    3. And neither would baby goats in sweaters. I'm not sure if it's a good or a bad thing ;)

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  3. Oh yes, I have backups of scents I can't imagine living without. To name some names: Yohji, DZING!, Nu, Black Cashmere, Dinner by Bobo, Chergui, Un Lys, Fumerie Turque, Chêne, Cuir Mauresque, Encens et Lavande...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Finding a backup of Bobo is nearly impossible these days. I'm thankful for the one bottle I have. I want to raid Serge's Marrakesh palace for his stash of old school Cuir Mauresque.

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  4. This is a timely post for me as I'm becoming a (scary) hoarder. My journey follows a very similar path as yours and it's only been in the last 5 years that I've begun accumulating back-ups (en masse!) because I've realized most things I love either get discontinued or reformulated.

    I am kicking myself for NOT getting back-ups of the following, in their original (pre-reform):
    DK Black Cashmere
    Cartier So Pretty
    YSL Nu edp
    Kenzo UFO (limited edition I didn't have the foresight to buy)
    Tiffany
    Lauren
    Guerlain Iris Ganache (the only iris I've ever liked)
    Gucci Envy (UGH, so upset about not having this)
    Givenchy Amarige (pre-reform)
    SL Fumerie Turque (pre-reform and pre-bell jar expensiveness)
    ~~~
    Back-ups I have:
    About 6 bottles of Love, Chloe
    I just purchased 1 back-up of Canturi edp
    1 back-up of TDC Oriental Lounge
    About 3 bottles of "vintage"(1990s) Balmain Jolie Madame
    About 3 bottles of Teo Cabanel Alahine (just in case of reform!)
    Lucky to recently get a full bottle of Dior Mitzah (which I will guard with my life!)
    1 extra Divine L'Inspiritrice (just in case of reform!)
    I only have 1 bottle (3/4 full) left of Mariella Burani (I had 3 but have used them and the situation is getting dicey)

    There's probably more but this is getting embarrassing....

    Needless to say, the rate at which excellent perfumes are discontinued and/or ruined by reformulation is alarming and hoarding my true loves is the only way to go from now on. If I consider something a beloved, I now buy 2!

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    1. Abigail, you and I have scarily similar tastes. My husband got me the very last bottle of Mitzah from the Vegas boutique. It means the world to me.

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    2. Abigail, as I understand it, Alahine has already been reformulated: the old-style, square bottles are the ones to look for - those which the company put on big sale early last year (or was it even the year before?) because new bottles (and formulations) were coming out.

      As for Mitzah, in October I muled back for someone what was purportedly the last bottle in Paris: it was (so they told me) an exclusive to Le Bon Marché, and they had only the bottle I bought, and were not expecting ever to have more...

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  5. I'm a stockpiler. I admit it. I embrace it. I'm not looking for Stockpilers Anonymous groups. I have what most people would consider to be an astonishing (OK, genuinely shocking) number of backup bottles. But I don't care. Perfume is my therapy - other people drink, go to psychologists, take drugs, whatever. I sniff my way - through some very, very hard times. I've felt the pain of beloved scents disappearing, often not even reappearing on ebay and, if they do, going for exorbitant prices. A girl can't have too many vintage Guerlains, Carons, Piguets, Lanvins, Diors, Vero Kerns, Mona di Orios, pre-reformulation Lutens, L'Artisan's Orchidee Blanche, etc. etc. etc. I check ebay daily for coveted scents. I don't have a ton of money, but I budget carefully to have enough for these purchases and I've taken to buying mostly decants of current releases I love. If I'm really head over heels in love I'll buy a full bottle and backups, but that doesn't happen often (am overwhelmed by the sheer number of releases and also tired of scents that are lovely, but too similar to scents I already own).
    Anna, the unrepentant stockpiler

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    1. I know well the dilemma of having to choose between supporting current emerging and indie brands or spending the money on some vintage Lanvin Scandal (another one I hoard). I wish I had the sense to buy multiples of the original Monas when Bergdorf was purging them. I only got one of each and I worry that they'll perish before I do.

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    2. Dear Anna, the unrepentant stockpiler..... I adore you....we might be twins....

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  6. oh, and PS (just to underscore how nutters I am):
    I am kicking myself for NOT buying back-ups of
    PdN Mimosaique
    The last L'Artisan Harvest Orange Blossom (wish I had a half dozen bottles!)
    SIP Epic Gardenia (at least 1 bottle before the massive price increase, now I will never buy again)

    and I'm tinkering with buying a back-up of Profumi del Forte Roma Imperiale. I have a half bottle remaining, but I live in fear. So much fear!

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    1. My list of regrets is long and depressing. I really should have bought two of... just about everything from the last twenty years.

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  7. After running out of one of my favorite perfumes and realizing it had been discontinued, I started to buy backups. Lately, I realize I have so much perfume I can never use it all in my lifetime. I also realize that while I love wearing perfume, it's not the main driver of happiness in my life. I stopped buying backups a while ago and stopped buying perfume at all just recently. Going through my collection now, to see what I might be able to sell and keeping only those that bring me great joy.

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    1. Yes, the true joy thing. I wish I could adopt a healthy attitude. My brain knows that I have enough perfume for a couple of lifetimes, but the crazy person in me screams that I don't have enough Diorella.

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    2. Ahhh, Diorella - that is one gorgeous scent. I can understand the need for an extra bottle of that!

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  8. M. Micallef Pomelos. I have a bottle of pomelos 21 and it is so not the same.

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    Replies
    1. Is it discontinued? I think I actually prefer 21, but that's just me. The Micallefs vary widely between editions.

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    2. The only place I've found it is on the Micallef website and I'm not sure I love it enough for 150 euros worth . .

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  9. Just bought my backup of Nahema EdP, which joins Goutal Neroli and SIP Fire and Cream-- I was convinced I couldn't afford them at the time, and I have no regrets!

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    1. Oh, Nahema. I have a backup of the PdT and the extrait. Such a treasure!

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    2. And you remind me that getting a Dnas tes Bras backup is a very good idea.

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    3. Has anyone noticed changes in the Malles since Lauder bought them? Maybe a backup of Parfum de Therese is in order...... : /

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    4. The changes in Malle started pre-Lauder. I believe that's one of the reason Uncle Freddie decided to sell. He had enough of the industry. I'm definitely in the market for an older Parfum de Therese bottle. We NEEDS it.

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    5. Just jumping in with a sniff about the reformulated Malles... I waited too late to stock up, now I'm scraping the barrel on a few--including LPdT--and wish wish wish I'd taken action earlier. Interesting to hear that the IFRA/formulation change madness helped drive FM out of the biz. I totally understand. Unless you're an indie who chooses to ignore IFRA, it must be depressing to be part of an industry that's changing so painfully.

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  10. Just the following backups (all vintage, most original formula)
    Kouros
    Poison edt
    Opium edt
    Musc Tonkin extrait
    Mon Parfum Cheri edt (new release in very very good!)
    Onda voile
    If money weren't an issue...!!

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    Replies
    1. I'm hoarding Opium like a true junky. I never thought about backing up Musc Tonkin because I use it sparingly (would rather stay married), but now that you mention it...

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  11. I just realized that my beloved Kenzo FlowerTag is no longer being stocked anywhere and I flipped out. It's the only perfume I love with my body chemistry when it dries down! So I bought two giant bottles off Amazon. My karma must be right this year because Amazon messed up my order and I ended up with two extra bottles! I'm going to use them super sparingly.

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  12. I'm hoarding my two precious bottles of Flora Danica (the original glass bottles with the flowers on them and the pretty flowered box in which it rests). I have a few precious drops in each of these bottles, which I keep practically under lock and key. I decanted a little of it and I spray it on before bed occasionally; there's not enough for me to spray liberally to wear out of the house. I have two bottles of Caron Fleurs de Rocaille -- one small EDP (2 oz I think) and one yoooooge bottle of the EDT. I don't think I'll be running out of this soon, which is good because I love the stuff. I also am hoarding a couple of large bottles of vintage L'Air du Temps, which has become so ruined as to be almost unrecognizable. These really are vintage, probably from the 70s, but smell fresh and delicious with that irresistable teeny tiny hint of incense lurking underneath the carnation, clove and spice. Gosh, I really do love that stuff. There's more, but I am also embarrassing myself!! I hope I live long enough to wear all the juice I'm hoarding!

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    1. When L'Air du Temps was good it was *really* good. It's my mother-in-law's signature and I've gone around and got her several vintage bottles.

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    2. I'm still regretting getting rid of my L'Air du Temps EDP, purchased in the 1970s, because someone told me that perfumes "go bad". Ugh! It was my signature scent for many years.

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    3. Oy. The "perfumes go bad thing"... Nowadays when people try to tell me that I want to let them smell my turn of the 20th century Guerlain and Piver bottles. And then kick them in the shin. Hard.

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  13. Started writing and lost the whole Megillah. But in writing, I realize my logic about backups - I have things in backup that would be difficult for me to get: discontinued or non-export items. But my greater feeling is that the more I get, the less often it will be used, which obviates the need for backups. We can't guess what will be changed or discontinued, nor what will turn in the bottle more quickly. But I know that Nahema extrait is being discontinued, and while I was at it, that I loved Samsara which has weathered reformulations thus far pretty well, so why not get the extrait in that and Vol de Nuit. So backups: Vanilia, Un Lys (2), La Fille de Berlin, Theorema (2), Shalimar Eau Legere, Donna Karan Gold (2), Allegoria Lys Soleia (2), LPRN couture, Terracotta, Kenzo Summer, L'Artisan Jour de Fete and Vanilla Absolument, Paloma Picasso, Ostara, Prada Candy, Serge Douce Amere(2), Tubereuse Criminelle, Rahat Loukoum. This was an interesting exercise, Gaia. And the thought is that when "in extremis" these may all be sellable for their relative rarity. Which is just a thought. I'd probably fill a giant bag with my fragrance and live on a bench.

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    Replies
    1. I think I have backups of all the vintage classic Guerlains, and I keep buying them because each bottle might be the last one. Two years ago I found in Italy an older bottle of Vanilia, still sealed. I bought it faster than you could say "spaghetti".

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  14. There are still wonderful rare perfumes in production, such as Aroma M and Aftelier, introduced at this ever so well-crafted and educational blog. Thus, I decided after a few trips “down the rabbit hole” to conserve my fragrance budget for the best of the new, including mainstream items. I keep an eye peeled for discontinued or vintage for the reference points, like high dose-oak moss, or memories. I hoarded vintage Je Reviens and I doubt I could use up what I have. But I like Anna’s approach, and along those lines, I’ll add that I enjoy changing up my out-of-direct-sunlight-dresser display with all sorts of fantastic bottles, using more than one fragrance per day, and doing house work in a not office-friendly vintage bombshell cloud! I collect some; admire them, but decided to focus on what is good and attainable now! In writing this, I am figuring out that I do still expect to find the once and for all "a-ha" fragrance that fits all my moods, and THEN I can buy a rest of my life supply....

    Thanks for the post and the great comments, all.

    Kathy
    Bloomington, IN

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    Replies
    1. I'm looking at my vintage Je Revien (in its box, of course) as we speak and planning on wearing it tomorrow. Using and enjoying our treasures is such an important part of this hobby. That's why I'm actively spritzing my Miel de Bois (well, knowing that I have three more kind of helps).

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    2. EEK. Full disclosure: the electrons had barely stopped swirling on my comment yet I eyeballed a vintage backup...clicked "confirm bid!" So, um, it was just this once more, right?
      Kathy

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    3. "Just once more" are famous last words ;)

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  15. Cuir de Lancôme, Cuir de Lancôme and Cuir de Lancôme - I discovered this beauty at the start of my perfume journey and almost immediately found out it was being discontinued. Panic set in, so now I have three backup bottles and don't regret a one. Other than that, don't laugh, I stocked up on roller balls of Kate Walsh's Boyfriend from Sephora and a bottle from eBay when it got discontinued because it is my perfect 'going to sleep perfume' (and one that gets a fair few compliments when I wear it out).

    If I had known earlier about the treachery of perfume manufacturers I would also have stocked up on Black Cashmere, and I am considering a backup of the stupidly (no, really, STUPIDLY) expensive Tom Ford Private Blend Shanghai Lily because I am so obsessed with it and I read in someone's blog comments that it could be a candidate for culling from the line.

    Great topic!

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    1. I was lucky to be able to stock up on Cuir de Lancome when the discounters had it for ridiculously low prices. I only have one backup of the original Black Cashmere, but find it comforting that they've rereleased it even if slightly different. I do have a bottle of the original extrait, so that helps, too.

      As for tom Ford, the only backup I have is of Purple Patchouli. I wish I had another Moss Breches, but it goes for crazy prices on eBay, and I refuse to go there.

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  16. Ah, we didn't know how good we had it back in the day (oh vintage Lauren how I miss you). I guess there is no point of shaking a fist at IFRA because it doesn't change anything. I am allergic to a lot of what is in skincare for example lavender and other essential oils and there is no overlord demanding that they take those ingredients out, so why do that to perfume? I really can't be bothered with trying to find vintage perfume. I once bought a bottle online and it must have turned and it smelled foul and that ruined it for me. I just want to be able to go to a store and buy it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Buying vintage online is a gamble. I've had many successes but also enough crushing disappointments. Even estate sales are no longer as good as they used to be, and one has to fight with dealers who know these things get high prices online.

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  17. Ok, I think I will open a rehab for perfume addicts because sooner or later we'll all end up there :-D
    I understand you all so well...when I was young in my teenage years I was very well informed about perfume, then came a time when childern and family occupied me too much to be able to follow all my interests and when I woke up again - many of my favourite perfumes were gone! I was desperate. Until I discovered ebay. Soon I was broke, but happy. I reunited with some of my vintage treasures: Giorgio Armani (2 bottles), Jil Sander III (2 bottles), YSL Nu and Paris, Shiseido Zen and Feminite du Bois, Trussardi Donna and Wrappings by Clinique. Not that I have found everything I wanted but this has become ridiculous. I mean, I need shoes and bags too and there are newer perfumes that are gorgeous and you can't have it all...sigh!

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    1. I would have loved to find a backup of the original Armani. I have it in both edt and edp, so that should be more than enough considering all the other stuff I own, but thinking of it disappearing makes me twitch. Yup, I've earned a place in rehab.

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  18. I have backup bottles of Havana Vanille, Bois Farine, Dzongkha, Mon Parfum Cheri, par Camille, that may be it (I'm currently out of the country). I really should get a backup of Dzing! and probably Tea for Two. I know the current version of Chene smells very different from the export line bottle I have. The bell jars of Miel de Bois don't cut it? I regret that's the only one I have.... (I do love it, though.) I'll have to search for an old bottle.

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    1. I really recommend trying to find some older MdB, even a decant just so you can compare. Though loving the current version is much better for one's mental health.

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    2. UPDATE: I just happened to be talking with a Barneys SA about Mile de Bois, and it turns out she had a bottle of it when it was in the Export Line and absolutely hated it. So, I finagled a trade of her MdB for my black atomizer of Fourreau Noir, which I had received as a giveaway on the Serge Lutens web site (I have a bell jar of it already). What luck! From the batch code on the bottle, it's from August 2006.

      After a preliminary spray, it IS very different from the current version. I'll have to dab it, though, to do a real comparison. I love them both. The current MdB is still the best honey scent out there, in my opinion.

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    3. I'm so happy to hear that, and very interested to hear about your side by side comparison.

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  19. I have collected backup bottle of some of the great mainstream "mens" fragrances from the 80's such as Halston Z-14 a great fragrance, OOh how I love it. I also hoard vintage Fahrenheit, Bel Ami, Obsession for men, Polo, Polo Crest and DKNY Fuel. I also have several bottles of Opium and Shalimar and love to wear them, and just simply love to smell them and relive my life events through there beauty. We don't know what will go and all that I can say is that I am glad to have known soon enough to collect some of these beautiful fragrances that will be no more. I enjoy the new beauties, yes why haven't you written that review of Maii, I am looking forward to it. Thanks for validating my obsession with vintage fragrance hoarding and thank you for all your post.

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    Replies
    1. Good to have a men's voice here John B because you reminded me of the fantastic Z-14. I remember there was also Halston 1-12 but I wouldn't know the difference anymore. I used to wear Trussardi Uomo and emptied at least 2 bottles of it. Givenchy Gentleman, Jazz, Fahrenheit, Kouros and Grey Flannel also come to my mind when I think of the eighties.

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    2. It's kind of funny how most of my backups (and some of my most cherished ones) are of what used to be mainstream designer perfumes that you could get almost anywhere. Those 80s gems are fantastic. I wish I could go back in time and hoard all of the stuff my dad used to wear. I do have an early 90s bottle of Polo, and a DKNY Fuel, as well as Lagerfeld and a couple of others.

      As for Maai, thanks for reminding me :)

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  20. For me I want to buy a back up of Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche and Myrrhe Ardente!!!

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    1. And I could probably use more Musc Nomade.

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  21. I just got a backup bottle of Mitsouko vintage cologne so that I can actually wear it regularly without feeling guilty. That said, I don't have many others; just some regrets that I should have gotten bottles instead of decants of certain things before they were discontinued: Mon Parfum Cheri par Camille edt, Amaranthine, etc. And now that I've smelled vintage L'Air du Temps and Miss Dior I'd like a big bottle of each as well.

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    1. Congrats on the vintage Mitsouko. The eau de cologne is the one concentration I don't have (I'm kicking myself for passing on a glass stopper clock bottle I saw at antique store years ago). Vintage L'Air du Temps and Miss Dior are relatively easier to find at reasonable prices. And at the rate I've been wearing Miss Dior lately I should probably check just how much of that I have.

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  22. This is like one big trigger for me, lol. I gave up buying perfume for lent and only 3 days into it I'm getting nervous about Mitsouko. I'd love a back up bottle of the EDP, I recently got the EDP and have been spraying it lavishly and love it. The new formulation is either excellent or my nose is betraying me. I had the EDP a few years ago and wasn't impressed, so yeah I definitely think Wasser improved the newer formulations. I have a vintage EDT and parfum squirreled away.

    I do have quite a lot of perfumes and somewhat limited space so I can't justify too many back ups. If I find it I will stockpile Mitsy and L'Heure Bleue. Others I kind of use occasionally, when you have many different fumes it takes a while to go full circle. Vintage Miss Dior, Miss Balmain, La Nuit by Pack Rabanne, Tigeress, I broke down and got a bell jar of SL's Borneo 1834, original Missoni, Nuit de Noel, Shocking Schiaparelli, My Sin, Love's Baby Soft, Aromatics Elixir, too many to list, there's a lot. Ask my husband. I even got a large bottle of Shalimar Souffle because although it does not resemble Shalimar, I really like the scent, and God only knows what Guerlain will wind up doing with it in a year or two.

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    1. I think it's smart to get extra of any current Guerlain you love. You know that they'll discontinue it at some point before rereleasing it in a more expensive and limited bottle.

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  23. Scherrer, Jil Sander nr 3 and Black Cashmere, I have three of all three. I also believe Paris Alaia is the one from last year I should buy a couple of bottles of. I love it.

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    1. I'm still trying to make up my mind about Alaia. It wasn't what I expected, but I'll give it another chance.

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    2. It is not that straight forward, but I like the "well put together" feeling it gives me. Like a tailored dress.

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  24. Each time I think I've finally reached the end of stockpiling for what I want, then news comes of another discontinuation (Nahema). Fortunately, I have a few backups of Fendi, a vintage Opium extrait, Magie Noire, a couple bottles of vintage Zen and a highly-treasured Samsara extrait.

    I've recently sold off a few extra bottles and it was a very good feeling to know I have under 100 bottles. Now I just have to stop reading about perfume or I'll go off the wagon. Again. :)

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    1. No chance, Liz ;)
      I also have a couple of Samsara extrait bottles that I cherish. Right along with everything else. I did sell one extra Fendi eau de toilette, but for every thing I sell I probably buy three others. Today I received a(nother) partial of Patou 1000 edt. I just had to.

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