I wanted to start my weekly posts with something that shows how and when (and maybe a little ‘why’) I came to have so many perfumes along with the more personal memories along the way. Next week I will finally be counting how many I have – at the moment!- which I don’t think I’ve done since the number was at about eight!
Some people talk about the perfumes they remember their family members wearing. My mum certainly has a few that I associate with her and both sisters have perfumes now (Catherine has around 60 and has appeared on my Instagram page!) but it isn’t something I discovered because of them or have strong memories of as a young child. Apart from being around eight years old and attempting to make perfume by putting rose petals in water (please let me know if you did this!) my first experience of wanting perfume would have come with the sporty/ designer trends of the 90s. When I was 12 and in my first year of secondary school there were some body sprays I also loved – a So…! one that was lovely and spicy, bought for me by a friend at Christmas, and the much-loved Impulse 02. However the first perfume I remember testing and wanting was Tommy Girl. In those days samples in magazines seemed a bigger deal and I’m pretty sure that’s where my little vial full of the scent had come from. I loved the smell of it and took it into school. Even as I write this, thinking of the smell makes me think of that time! The scent was new out and there was something exciting about it and the fact that lots of people I knew wanted it too! At Christmas when I was 13 it was ck be which I received and loved. I know I had asked for it and it’s one I still love it today and would happily have back in my collection. The memories with this scent and time are so clear; I had a new Nintendo game, a ‘dressy’ outfit and I was crimping my hair while watching Top of the Pops…the Spice Girls got to Christmas number one with “Too Much” – I set a very nineties scene here indeed! The following birthday the sporty scents continued with Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport. I loved the wateriness of this one and love how these scents were kind of similar.
The next phase of my perfume journey was when I was 15 with the launch of Ralph Lauren’s Romance. I really associate this scent with the advertising campaigns, and as with the other scents I suspect that’s how I first heard about it. It’s such a pretty scent with notes of white violet, lotus flower and marigold. I received a bottle for my 15th birthday and it was my signature scent for a few years. Sadly my love for it ended abruptly with a migraine when I was 22. You know when you don’t feel well, you’re too hot, can’t go and have a bath so you’re just in bed in your clothes?! It was like that for me that day and there was no escaping the smell of it.
Early in the year 2000 I had a London day trip with my mum and dad. We went to Selfridges and I was given a ‘sample’ (sprayed card) of Christobal by Balenciaga. I loved it! It’s so not a scent I’d associate with teenage but it was just…beautiful! The notes included fig leaf,patchouli,carnation and sandalwood. It was warm and spicy and the lasting power was amazing. I know that for certain because I took that same card into school and it still smelt so good! Somewhere between this and my 17th birthday I discovered Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood. It was another warm, spicy and perhaps unusual choice but I was so happy that it was one of my presents. My family and I went to Guernsey for a holiday that week and I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw Christobal on sale. In actual fact that was on an island off of Guernsey. I may have persuaded my parents to buy it for me and happily I had two new lovely scents in my collection. I don’t think I’ll ever get over Christobal being discontinued. I know one Insta friend who loved it and Michelle from Liberty X once said she loved it too! A real hidden gem.
I have two key memories of starting university and my perfumes. 1) Glamorous by Ralph Lauren was my ultimate going out scent 2) House mates used to come to my room and remark that I had “so many perfumes!”. Um, I had about eight then! Speaking of Glamorous, another huge loss. It was gorgeous for night time and had a beautiful cashmere note. Fortunately Victoria Secret’s Love Star is similar enough for to give me a little reminder of it…Another scent that I loved then was Baby Rose Jeans by Versace. Hmm,think I’ll move on before mourning the loss of this one too!
In 2004 I discovered Madmoiselle by Chanel. I have such a strong memory of first smelling it. I was reading Marie Claire (where the sample came from), Jennifer Aniston was on the front cover and I had eaten some very yummy Sensations crisps! I can’t help the food reference – I’m such a foody and they were my favourites for ages! I had been travelling on the coach from my university city of Leeds. It wasn’t for a nice reason, sadly, but somehow and weirdly the memory of the smell and surroundings is.
In my third year of university, Curious by Britney Spears was launched. I really pinpoint this one as the start of my collection. From the beautiful and unusual packaging to the range of products, I couldn’t wait to own this one and it sparked my interest for many celebrity scents that followed. I wasn’t very well that year and do wonder if the focus on perfume provided a bit of an escape for me.
A year later and I was feeling a bit better and living in my family home while working. I had a trip to New York arranged with a friend who felt our plan might be a bit expensive for her at that time. It was a kind of “year out” for me so I decided I would go on the holiday on my own while I was working and had the money. So. By this time Britney’s Fantasy was launched and I had plans to buy it in NY. What I didn’t expect was to come home with three other perfumes too! This started the “holiday money on perfume” trend for me and is a key way that my collection built up. The Macy’s staff showed me a lovely Fantasy hand cream. Of course I had to have it. They showed me Curious in Control. Amazing. Then along the way I picked up True Star Gold and Euphoria. I love how scents remind me of that trip! It was so exciting to have four new ones all at once. The year after we had a family trip to Gibraltar and let’s just say it was perfume heaven! My poor dad was dragged from shop to shop and saw the J Lo Glow selection many times over!
Fast forward to September 2007 and I was working full time. I was living in Kent and occasionally I’d swing by a local shopping centre, of course to test perfume! Paris Hilton was a favourite with her newly released Heiress but the one I really wanted was Gwen Stefani’s L. It smelt incredible. Kind of unisex, aquatic and warm and even though I could have thrown it on a credit card I decided to wait it out until my first proper pay day to buy it. I also picked up the amazing Stunning by Katie Price which smells A LOT like Miss Dior, and before I knew it there were so many launches to smell,try and buy. Kate Moss, Christina Aguilera,Kylie…The next thing I knew, the same celebrities would bring out second and third fragrances so the collection grew further. I loved the excitement of each launch and I feel in those days much more of a big deal was made with the advertising of a new scent. Perhaps the market became over saturated…
So I’d call the next phase, 25-28, spending and saving! It’s a good job I don’t mind revealing my age! Well I was at my parents’ house and saving for a deposit. However there’s no denying that this was a time that I also spent money on perfume. If there was something new I’d want to try it and I was queen of the blind buy. One thing that has never changed is that I don’t like paying too much for perfume. I think £25 is the most I feel comfortable spending on a celebrity scent even today and even if it’s a gift my family are buying for me, I’m normally directing them to the cheapest site or shop. In those days I was a fan of eBay and All Beauty. Who doesn’t love a perfume parcel? I loved so many of my new scents but of course I made mistakes along the way. Even worse,sometimes I’d sell or part with a bottle and then go on to regret it! It was a fun time and aswell as my own spending I would ask for perfume as birthday and Christmas presents – probably very tiresome for my family!
So my next phase is an odd one. The perfume passion died down ever so slightly. I had moved into my flat and had some lovely displays of perfume, as Milton demonstrates below, and even rushed in putting up “perfume shelves” in the first week only to find they hindered my furniture options for my bedroom. However a combination of things meant I just didn’t get the usual outlet or enjoyment. I didn’t like shopping in our town centre. I didn’t really like perfume shops because I like to look and think for myself and be in control of the testing, so really new discoveries were limited to holiday purchases or presents which,let’s face it, still saw the collection number rise quite a bit. I’ve always loved Instagram and in 2013 I started a perfume-themed one. It was called “she loves perfume” and I posted a scent a day. The pictures did fairly well but, now this is quite silly, I closed the account when a friend of a friend “discovered” and followed the account. I wouldn’t quite say I was embarrassed, it was more that I couldn’t really pair real life and an online persona as such. Fortunately those feelings were set to change…
In 2017 Sam and I met. I once heard it said that if you are quite extreme in your interests or collect something that it can be off putting to potential partners. What rubbish! Sam never made me feel silly for my collection and in fact he loved scents, loved mine and only encouraged me to pursue it as more than an interest when I stopped enjoying my previous work! He really is the best and doesn’t tire of visiting perfume shops. In fact, I actually enjoy what I call “town browses” now that we are together so I feel very lucky indeed.
All The Perfume. One afternoon two years ago Sam and I sat down to discuss how I could take my passion for perfume further. We noted ideas for an Instagram account and blog and after starting “All the Perfume” I tried hard to post pictures of perfumes I owned regularly. As a full time teacher this was not easy and I went days sometimes without opening the application. What did happen though, is that by chatting to people online and reflecting on my collection, I was able to enjoy perfume more than ever and share new scents that I loved. In April 2019 I made the big decision to become self employed (not something I could have done alone) and this gave me so much more freedom to think of and plan regular content. Sam and I plan so many of the ideas together and I love the opportunities that this has brought. I’ve made some lovely fragrance friends, shared my reviews widely and taken this on as a form of my income. I’m so happy I tried again with the online world and the effect this has had on my enjoyment of perfume from how I store it to what I wear and buy. It’s still true to say that I don’t actually buy that many. I’m lucky enough to receive a few for occasions and scents for reviewing and will always disclose those I’ve actually paid for. If you’ve made it to the end, leave me a comment or your own blog and I’d love to say hello!
Love Sarah xx