I outed myself. I am a perfume addict.
To be precise, I am a niche perfume addict. Not a hoarder of bottles, mind you. I collect olfactory experiences.
As far as I can remember, I noticed scents around me. I have vivid olfactory memories. Even as a little kid, I smelled intensely the world around me. I remember the scent of my first big plastic doll. The olfactory Madeleine’s of my grandmother baking Christmas cookies. The scent of a field of wildflowers and high grass near a cold creek on a hot summer day in June. Sea and sunshine on my hair and skin during the summer holidays. The scent of snow in the air, before it starts to fall. Wet autumn multicolored leaves on pavements. Little, daily entries in the “scent library“ section of my brain.
Then came perfumes, my mother’s, aunt’s, grandmother’s, grandfather’s, friends, people known and unknown. I explored classics, for many years: Chanel, Dior, Lancome, Este Lauder, Guerlain, all that I could get my hands on. Nose on, to be exact. First thing I do when meeting someone? I sniff them. I remember people and places by scent.
Niche perfumes? I can even pinpoint when it all started. The one that got me down that rabbit hole is the famous Comme Des Garcons and it happened in London, 1995. I will never forget that moment when I held that little vial tightly in my hand after being exposed to it (I had no money to buy that specific bottle of perfume. I never did buy it.). That’s yet another story, kind of happy and sad and I will write about that episode as well, as soon as I gather some courage to do so because it is a very personal story. I realized that nothing ever will be the same again. My hunger for strange and unusual perfumes grew, it became more and more sophisticated and demanding.
I have nurtured my addiction carefully, fed it, yearned for some specific perfumes, cried over the impossibility of online ordering, spent money on it. I have grown comfortable with my addiction over the years, learning how to control the impulse of hoarding, insisting on quality over quantity. Taking it slow, constantly trying to train my nose to do better, to explore ideas and stories behind the product, styles, and handwriting of various perfumers, all that jazz. Art. It is art, you must be aware that it is! Like all art, it elicits emotion, thought, and reaction. And face it: the memory of your scent IS so much stronger than sight or hearing, for instance! I could ramble on and on about the artistry of perfumes, but for now, let’s just come to an agreement that there are masterpieces of art in perfumery. For instance, anyone can learn how to play a musical instrument. You produce notes, right? But to compose music? To perform beyond mastery of reproducing notes? Now, that is what for me niche perfumes are. Art. Furthermore, I do cry over great pieces of art. I cried over some ballet pieces, I cried at the piano and classical music concerts, I shed tears at Ermitage, Louvre, Prado…just to name a few. I stood for half an hour in front of Tutankhamun’s Mask in The Egyptian Museum of Cairo, crying, sobbing – amazed by its beauty. I cry over some perfumes as well…the ones that touch my soul. Ok, so I am an art addict. That sounds better.
Many people consider smell as the lowest sense of them all, a mere animalistic drive. Some even think that perfumes are either a trivial luxury or an utterly unimportant part of their lives. If you ask around which sense people would give up first, it is mostly – the smell. Well, precisely that is one of my greatest phobias: to become anosmic!
The issue with this addiction is that you don’t easily find “soulies”. You shy away from Muggles, appreciate groups and people with whom you can easily share, discuss, debate, argue, learn, grow. I found a group of perfume enthusiasts, on Facebook. It is called Eau My Soul, it is international and a safe place for many of us. There is even a perfume named after this group! Group hug scent, how amazing!
Just recently I asked members of this wonderful and supportive group of people from all around the world what are their greatest phobias. Fifty members wrote about their greatest fears, commented, and shared.
These are our 15 most common perfume addict phobias, more or less in order of importance!
1. Discontinuation. (Perfumes disappearing into the „dead perfume black hole“!)
3. Missing out. (Not buying, holding yourself back, and then the fragrance gets discontinued! Fear of not being at home when a package with samples arrives…and many more that fall under the same umbrella…)
4. Perfumes and decants evaporating (and that you are not wearing them…)
5. An empty bottle. (50% is a warning sign!)
6. Not being able to afford a beloved fragrance. („My fear is always having champagne tastes on a beer budget!“)
7. Not being able to use all of your perfumes before retiring to another world/Universe/parallel reality.
8. A husband/wife finding out that you just bought another one!
9. Never finding the energy or mindset to sell the ones you need to sell, having more perfume than you could ever possibly use in a lifetime.
10. Forgetting your juice at home/office, going „naked“.
11. Becoming allergic to any perfume. Ending wearing nothing but aroma-free shampoo.
12. Inferior reformulations and price hikes.
13. Children/natural disasters/accidents destroying your collection.
14. Hyposmia. (a reduced ability to smell and to detect odors. A related condition is anosmia, in which no odors can be detected at all.)
15. Reading this while ordering online: „Dear Customers, unfortunately, we are only allowed to deliver this fragrance to the European countries of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. If your shipping address lies in another country we will have to cancel this item from your order and refund you.” (It made me cry, I swear.)
And that’s not all: we all do have common idiosyncrasies too.
If you recognize any or all of your own phobias while reading this, bear in mind: You are not alone. You are never alone with your perfume.
Just be aware that addiction is an addiction, no matter how much you deny it. Loving perfumes is beautiful and has nothing to do with compulsive-obsessive hoarding of bottles…
Love you all.
The Plum Girl
Photos: Dreamstime, Fragnatica