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Now Smell This | Manolo for the Big Girl

Now Smell This

Style Spy who has just returned from London and Paris, has a part-time job of systematically turning me on to Expensive Things I Didn’t Know I Needed like niche perfume or, oh, Hermés scarves. Have I always sort of just back-of-the-mind-y wanted an Hermés scarf? Mais bien sur (that’s French for “boy howdy”) but did I know until she returned with two of the sexy beasts that I could not possibly live another red hot second without 35 square inches of incredibly expensive silk wrapped around the place my neck would be if genetics had seen fit to endow me with something other than 2 inches of alabaster tree stump to separate my head from my torso? No friends, I did not.

I asked if, upon her return, she would be kind enough to help me find a new perfume and she –a self-identified “frag hag”– graciously obliged. Saturday night found us on the floor of her apartment drinking sparkling pinot, talking about boys and spraying scents on blotter of at least thirty hand-labeled tiny vials of perfume.

For those of you new to the world of decants –I’m a recent convert myself– it’s a way to inexpensively test pricey or hard-to-find fragrances without shelling out for a whole bottle. A decant is a small glass vial containing between 1/2 and 5 ml of “juice” that has been measured out from a larger bottle using medical-grade equipment. You cannot buy decanted perfume on eBay, but never you fear. The Perfumed Court sells decants of just about every fragrance you can imagine, including many discontinued scents and a special section of perfumes that are not available in the United States, usually for somewhere around $4 a pop.

The Perfumed Court even offers sampler packs, including various introductions to perfume houses like Lutens or Caron, noses (perfume designers) or scent families, so you can decide which flavor works best with your skin.

Oh and they are a positive wealth of scrabble-winning words. Example: “sillage” n., The scent trail a woman leaves as she walks by. Forty seven points on a double word score!

12 Responses to “Now Smell This”

  1. Style Spy November 26, 2007 at 3:50 pm #

    Actually, Punkin’, a *decant* is usually between 5 – 10 ml, which translates to 1/6 to 1/3 of an ounce, and they are usually spray bottles or roll-ons. The tiny little glass vials that you get when, say, a cooperative SA at Nordstrom fills one up for you are *samples*. Those are the items likely to go in the $4 range, the decants are going to set you back a bit more, depending on the perfume. But, considering that some of my favorites cost well over $100 a bottle (plus the cost of an airline ticket in some cases), it’s well worth it.

  2. bonnie-ann black November 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    i have to say, i have never understood the fascination of Hermes scarves… they look like the table cloths my grandmother used to put on her table back in the forties…

  3. OCCaliAKA November 26, 2007 at 9:37 pm #

    I can feel the Hermes love. I got my first couple of Hermes in 2005, one secondhand and one at the boutique. Last Christmas, I got one, Les Pipoines (peonies) at Neiman Marcus. They are babied and brought out for impact.

  4. the unfashionista November 26, 2007 at 10:43 pm #

    I hear that Sephora has sampler packs of purfume that comes with a gift card for a full sized bottle of the scent – might be a good gift for the frangrance seeker in your life.

  5. dangermouse November 26, 2007 at 11:00 pm #

    Is the “cannot” in “you cannot buy decanted perfume on eBay” a “shouldn’t”? Because I’ve bought my beloved Chergui decanted on Ebay – and, although I was extremely skeptical, my purchase turned out to be legit.

    As for the Hermés scarves on Ebay, however, I remain a skeptic.

  6. kalamari November 26, 2007 at 11:48 pm #

    For a moment I thought you were referring to this StyleSpy http://stylespy.instyle.com/stylespy_blog/ hmmm…

  7. Style Spy November 27, 2007 at 12:45 am #

    No, you simply cannot buy decants of perfume on eBay anymore, because eBay, though riddled with counterfeit goods, saw fit to bow to the pressure of a couple of companies who are so bonded to their perfumes that they threw giant hissy fits until eBay removed all the shops run by perfectly legitimate sellers who were doing nothing illegal, unethical, or even distasteful. Believe me, it is not cost-effective to counterfeit 5 mls of perfume.

    I’m with you, dangermouse. Any designer item sold by the truckload on eBay is more than likely fake. And since the prices aren’t any lower than at a boutique, why deprive yourself of the pleasure of Hermes customer service?

    BTW, the tiny vials are actually samples, not decants. A decant will usually be between 5 and 10 mls, which is 1/6 to 1/3 ounce, and is going to set you back more than 4 bucks, how much depending on the ‘fume.

    Are any of the samples you took home still speaking to you, Ms. P?

  8. kimocean November 27, 2007 at 2:44 am #

    Plumcake,
    Love this post (as I do all of yours!) and I have a suggestion for you. If you want to try some amazing and unique fragrances I highly recommend BPAL (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab). Beth Moriarty has an amazing talent for blending perfume oils. They’re comple, all natural and mostly vegan (except for some occasional honey notes) and the site is a treasure trove of gorgeous art, poetry, and lush perfume descriptions. Her scents are complex, incredibly varied and generally gorgeous. You won’t find anyone else smelling like you do and you’ll be sure to garner complements from anyone who gets close enough to smell your sillage.

    There’s also an amazing online forum bpal.org that has reviews, discussion, swaps and a market for sales for decants and bottles that don’t work for you. The community is warm and welcoming and most interestingly in my opinion, it’s a community of over 5,000 women with incredibly diverse opinions and experiences.

    I started looking there to find a signature scent, but I’ve found a whole wardrobe of scents that work on my skin and let me smell sweet, strong, sexy, soft, clean, dirty or some combination thereof! It’s almost as much fun as having a great wardrobe of clothes. And perfume ALWAYS fits!

  9. K November 27, 2007 at 2:10 pm #

    The Perfumed Court has got to be my favorite new website. Thank you so much for introducing us to it! I’ve spent all morning poking around it, something I’m sure my boss won’t appreciate too much, but I’m just enamored! :D

  10. dangermouse November 27, 2007 at 7:26 pm #

    Thanks for the info, Style Spy! What a bummer that Ebay put a stop to *that* (of all the things…) :(

  11. Margo November 27, 2007 at 8:43 pm #

    I would love to hear how you tie an Hermes scarf so tht it looks decent on a thick, short neck. My parents went to Paris and brought one back for me, and everytime I try to wear it I look like I’m trying to conceal a neck brace. Help!