Thursday 27 June 2013

Bvlgari Off-Black, Balenciaga Le Dix Blue And DKNY Rectory Red Delicious: Perfume, Farrow & Ball Paint And The Obsessive Gene

My choco-nemesis - Source: Wikimedia Commons via ed g2s
The other night I ate a whole box of Maltesers.  For no good reason at all.  At best it was due to an overdeveloped sense of order - an 'I've started so I'll finish' moment, if you will; at worst my malted meltdown is a sign that I am on the cusp of an eating disorder.  I can hear my mother's voice intoning the familiar refrain: 'You won't be happy till they're all gone!'.  Well, happy doesn't quite cover it.  Bloated and remorseful maybe.  Teeth on edge and body speeding on sugar.  Whatever the cause, doing the whole box is certainly an example of a type of compulsion, which got me thinking about other manifestations of obsessive behaviour in my life.

Well, it took me all of two seconds to think back to the start of my perfume hobby, and how I would stalk eBay, Makeupalley and The Perfumed Court website for hours on end, agonising over which samples to bid on / swap for / buy.  Four or five years ago I was totally consumed by the acquisitive urge, and was forever scouting around for my next 'fix' of samples.  There was that reliably heady rush as I would open a swap package or a little gauze bag from The Perfumed Court, accompanied by the ubiquitous boiled sweet.  It almost didn't matter whether you liked the perfumes or not - it was like buying a Lucky Dip bag as a kid or its adult equivalent of a lottery ticket or scratchcard - so much of the 'reward' is the thrill of the chase and the anticipation of gratification, even if the reality disappoints.

I mentioned in my recent blogging anniversary post that my interest in perfume has peaked, and the fragrant lemmings are mostly slain.  Though it has taken a good five years, eventually the law of diminishing returns - (the one principle I retained from a year of Economics at college albeit it was explained to us in the context of lemon barley water) - kicks in, and the adrenaline high turns to feelings of low level anxiety at the mounting stocks of samples to test and wear.  However, the acquisitive urge itself may not in fact have been quelled, but may simply have regrouped before finding a new outlet, like some kind of 'body hopping' demon.

And as readers who are also Facebook friends will know, my latest obsession appears to be with choosing paint - for rooms I don't even have imminent plans to decorate, for the bathroom really needs doing first.  The last time I mentioned my embryonic tester pot collection was around the time of my move last summer - I think I had about a dozen back then.  Well, we are talking over 40 now, a good 15 of them purchased in the last few days in a series of sudden death raids on Homebase.  It is only a matter of time before I shan't need to go to Homebase to buy paint pots, because the entire colour palette of Farrow & Ball will be based in my own home.  I paint a square on lining paper, then place it strategically near something in the room I am trying to match - a cushion, a headboard, a wardrobe or whatever.  The famous geode has been deployed as a paper weight, ditto the koala.

And I am finding that I get exactly the same surge of excitement as I prise off the lid of a tester pot - (with all paint brands, the actual colour never looks anything like the label, which may be a cunning ruse to get you to buy the thing!).  This thrill lasts during the process of application, through to the drying stage and late into the evening in fact, for you have to keep checking the colour at regular intervals for subtle tonal shifts.  Obviously, if the colour is hopelessly wrong from the word go - the paint equivalent of a perfume 'scrubber', if you will - then my F & B 'fix' is curtailed to a matter of seconds, but the buzz you get even from opening the pot is well worth £3.99 a pop in my view.

Walls: White Tie, woodwork & ceiling: Pointing ;-)

Now with the help of fellow blogger Lucy of Indieperfumes and a couple of other friends, I have whittled the choice for the guest room down to one or three shades (Vert de Terre, Ball Green or Mizzle), and am already starting to eye up my own bedroom.  Lime White is a glaring omission from my stockpile, I note, which will doubtless propel me storewards in the next day or so.  Meanwhile, speaking of piles, I now understand why the Egyptians felt moved to build the pyramids...

And finally, while researching 'body hopping' in Wikipedia, I came upon this intriguing custom amongst the Digo people of Kenya.

'Spirit possession occurs among the women of the Digo people of Kenya.  The Digo refer to the spirits in question as shaitani. These shaitani typically demand luxury items to make the patient well again.'

Luxury items, eh?  I am hanging on these paint pots - you never know when you just might fancy a Cabbage White wall or a cupboard interior in Incarnadine - but I might just have a few samples of perfume going spare... ;-).

So...has anyone else abandoned scent squirrelling in favour of a new 'habit'?  

Do share it with the group - the more obsessive the better!  

NB All of the fictitious perfume names in the title are based around current Farrow & Ball shades.  I might also have mentioned Nandebary Ball Green, Miller Harris Citron or D & G Light Blue.  Hold on - that one is an actual perfume!


Olfactoria's Travels said...

I was wondering about the masses of green squares popping up on FB... :)
You might say I experience a similar shift in obsessive behaviour from perfume to Hermès scarfs. My big problem is that they don't come at 3.99£ a pop... :(

Vanessa said...

Hi B,

I will get a grip - or I might look for a complete career change, you never know. :-)

The comparison to your Hermes scaves habit is a good one, and most reassuring. They would make a fine patchwork quilt style of wallcovering come to think about it!

theperfumeddandy said...

Dear Vanessa
The Dandy is - somewhat unwillingly - moving home soon and now I fear I may have another compulsion to add to perfume (second hand books I have rehabbed with libraries).
Hey ho... Farrow and Ball here I come.
Yours ever
The Perfumed Dandy

Vanessa said...

Hi The Perfumed Dandy,

Thanks for stopping by! Love the library rehab comment - hilarious.

And I envy you the many blank canvases that lie ahead in your new home. The Farrow & Ball rabbit hole is a deep and rewarding one...:-)

Tara said...

Hi V,

I saw today on Twitter that someone is doing a research survey into the personality type of people who have expertise in a certain area. I think it was originally posted by Portia. I'm sure at least a degree of obsessiveness must be involved because how else would you get to know so much about a niche subject unless you were obsessed by it?

I can't bring to mind any other obsessive hobbies but I know that rush all too well. I actually got it learning salsa last night, but at least that's non-acquisitive so I should be safe!

As long as you don't get broke doing it, enjoy the buzz, I say.

Kathy Bungard said...

Who knew the women of the Digo tribe were so smart? That is a great gag, I can only be 'released' by a luxury item? lol clever gals!

I guess five years is kind of the mean average of when the fragrance madness peaks? It has been just about that for me, though of course I can really get going when something appears on the radar that just might be 'it'! Though I am MUCH more selective in what I am tempted to order samples or decants of, some mention of a new shimmering thing still can get the lemming juice flowing.

And like you I do have a new 'thing' that I'm devouring and always on the hunt for, but I'd fall over in a faint if anyone else out there is similarly afflicted. My new LOVE? Sageuks!

So no one will have to go google it, a 'sageuk' is a Korean Historical Drama. Buying a Roku last year and getting channels like dramafever and HuluPlus opened the window on the obsessive fascination that this form of entertainment has overtaken my family. And like most obsessions it has been so much fun to fall down its rabbit hole, may I never emerge from either sageuk or fragrance's mad mad worlds :)

Lavanya said...

I don't think I've ever commented on your blog though but after this post, I just had to.LOL. The obsessiveness sounds all too familiar..I have to research everything I buy and then I get sucked into that topic and end up knowing more than most sane people would ever care to know..
During the course of the last 7 or so years of perfume mania I've also been obsessed with finding out more bout 'green' bath and body products, making them at home, and making natural perfume (though in the interest of time I have abandoned the 'making of' stuff). I am also addicted to second hand bookstores..:)

I also had a baby recently (6 months ago- which is one of the reasons why my blog has been on a hiatus); and ofcourse I became obsessed with cloth diapers, diaper bags and baby carriers especially 100% woven wraps (which are gorgeous by the way).
So yes, I hear ya..:D
I finally deleted my fb account to reduce mental clutter..And I find that perfume remains a true love..:)

good luck with the painting!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I feel reassured to learn that expertise and obsession may be directly correlated! That's all right then... ;-)

I can just picture you doing salsa - how elegant you will look, especially in one of those swishy skirts. Do you have a swishy skirt yet? I remember getting a rush from skiing on the few times I tried it. Though I did keep falling over and hurting myself, and haven't 'rushed' to go back on the slopes since.

Yes, I agree that I mustn't let my tester pot habit break the bank. It has not been too much of an investment so far - certainly not compared to perfume - about the cost of two bottles at the present count!

Vanessa said...

Hi Kathy,

It is a wizard wheeze, isn't it, cutting a deal on the luxury item?!

Interested to hear where you are in your perfume passion trajectory - you sound exactly like me in fact. Takes a lot to get the 'lemming juices' flowing (love that expression!), but it does still happen from time to time.

Kathy, I could be wrong, but I don't think there is any risk of your falling over another Sageuk follower on my blog, or indeed in the blogosphere more generally. In fact I sense you might have to go some distance to bump into one.

But good for you for having an obscure hobby! Are there English subtitles, or has your obsession prompted you to learn Korean? ;-) If so, I feel you deserve a special award for devotion to your hobby.

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

I don't believe you have commented on my blog before, so thanks for stopping by! I do know your 'online presence' very well from other people's blogs. I wasn't aware you had your own though. I just checked it out - what a great title! And a picture of your baby's feet - so cute.

I was interested to read about your other obsessions - I haven't ever been moved to research 'green' products, but a few years back I because a world expert on alternative menopause remedies for a spell!

And you made natural perfume too - I say. As for the second hand bookstores, do take care. My father was partial to those, often buying three copies of the same book because his flat was groaning with so many books he couldn't remember what he already had, and there was no way to check, as you couldn't move for the things. By the time of his death he was almost entombed - they had even encroached into the bathroom. Just saying...! ;-0 ;-)

I am sure a baby is pretty much a full time occupation, even if one wasn't 'obsessed' with the provenance of nappy material etc, so no wonder you have had to take a break from your blog and Facebook. I guess I am a little obsessed with Facebook, which isn't good. 'Mental clutter' is an excellent way to describe the fragmented information overload we seem to be labouring under so much of the time.

Lavanya said...

Hi Vanessa,

Your dad sounds adorable. Actually my dad does that a lot too (buys multiple copies unknowingly). He claims he has given away 250 books recently (which of course gives him the license to buy

I wouldn't say 'made' natural perfumes..more like dabbled with blending for a few months. One blend that I made for my mom was really nice though.

Nice to 'meet' you- I'm sure I'll be frequenting your blog a lot now..:)

Kathy Bungard said...

Vanessa, you'd be surprised, there is a thriving community of sageuk afficianados online. Yes, thankfully there are several venues that show them with English subtitles, though dh and I have picked up quite a few words and phrases that have now become a part of our vocabulary, lol

Though it is rather like learning Shakesperean English, since these dramas are set in often MUCH earlier times and they strive to be authentic in the language used.

So if we were ever to be in Korea and had the opportunity to use one of these phrases it would probably sound very strange to them, methinks!

Undina said...

I had a very short period of obsessive perfume collecting (less than a year). Most likely, because I was interested in perfumes most part of my life and only "niche" part was something completely new. So after a quick surge of interest I plateaued and since then I'm moving at a slow pace.

But in general I'm familiar with the phenomenon... Did you think about layering those samples? ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Kathy,

Well, well, how interesting. I will keep an ear out for fans in the UK now you have brought this niche hobby to my attention!

And that is amusing about your small and archaic vocabulary. I bet that if you ever did go to Korea, the people would be delighted that you made the effort to speak their language, even quaintly. :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

A year is a very respectable period for a perfume acquisition frenzy, and I recognise in you a fellow plateau-er.

Layering the paint samples, you mean? Haha, there's a thought! I think that would just about drive me over the brink...;-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

Haha, that's a good way of your dad's to justify more book buying! I gave away about that number when I moved house, but there is still an overflow in the garage I cannot bring myself to part with, yet for which there is no room indoors. Maybe I will have a second wind of ruthlessness...;-)

I am impressed by your blending prowess, even if you wouldn't quite classify it as 'perfume making' in the strict sense of the term. How nice that your mum has one of your creations - it will be all the more personal to her.

Thanks again for dropping in - I would be delighted to see you around Bonkers in future!

annemariec said...

'Obsession shift'! What a great topic for a post. I've forced myself to dabble in other interests - Spanish cooking, honey appreciation, gardening, cruelty free products, the novels of Georges Simenon. None have become real obsessions but I've had fun and my kids get involved a bit too. Of course, they get to tease Mum over her sillinesses.

Meanwhile I'm just under 5 years of perfume mania and the lemmings are not quite slain but they are under control. My other interests have actually helped, I think, and in truth, I'm not really an obsessional person. I know when to stop, thank heavens.

One thing I cannot deal with is Maltesers! Having made myself sick on them during an action movie when I was ten, I know I loathe them more than any other foodstuff on the planet. I even recoiled when I first opened up your post. Those are not Maltesers are they?? Oh crikey ... :)

Vanessa said...

Hi annemariec,

Sorry to inadvertently scare you with a big image of Maltesers, for those are indeed they!

I was interested to hear about the diversity of your other interests, even if none of them have tipped over into full blown mania. :-)

The novels of George Simenon, eh? That is nearly up there with Kathy's Sageuk films!

I forgot to mention that I was also obsessed with high end lipsticks for a while there, but that has now passed...

'Obsession shift' is a great term for this phenomenon - like seismic shift, or paradigm shift, hehe.

annemariec said...

Sageuks ... Simenon ... it's great to have something to be nerdy about. I tried high end lipsticks too, until I discovered that the lipsticks put out by Natio (a local Australian company) perform just as well and cost about a quarter of the price of a Chanel. Cruelty free brand too. Not that I'm obsessed with cruelty free stuff ... nope ...

Vanessa said...

Hi annemariec,

There is no logical justification for high end lipsticks costing £23(?) or whatever my Burberry cost, which is the only one I paid full price for. But I love the tartan pattern on the actual lipstick (sort of ruggedised), and the magnetic closure. Undina and I both have one - we compared colours in Paris! I do think it is important to keep the more expensive obsessions in check, certainly...;-)

Martha said...

Your description of opening the paint and making a test patch reminds me of a habit that I had somewhere in my twenties or perhaps early thirties: Buying Playmobils. Those plastic toys with the happy faces and endlessly inventive accessories? At lunchtime or after work, I would drive to the San Antonio Hobby Shop and buy a small Playmobil toy or kit. It was usually one of the little ones, one or two people and a couple of small accessories, but sometimes I wanted a bigger "fix". I would open the box, unpack the little bits, snap them together, set everything up in a tiny vignette on a table or shelf...and I'd be done. Toy consumed. I was three-quarters aware of the fact that I'd gotten all the value of the toy in the first fifteen minutes of opening it, but at that time I didn't quite get all the way to realizing that I might as well give it away immediately.

I, too, seem to have passed my perfume fascination peak, though I'm enjoying myself now by inflicting perfume on all my local friends in a semi-formal sample pass scheme. I'm not sure why I have yet to blog about it.

But right now, my new interest is (danger danger DAAAAANGEEEEEER!) clothes. I haven't gotten seriously into the buying, as opposed to the browsing, but, well, danger. I have the excuse that I have never, ever, dressed myself decently and that it's past time to indulge myself if I want to....but that's a dangerous theory

Natalie said...

Painting - I love choosing paint. Have fun! The choosing is, I think, more fun than having chosen. As for other obsessive interests ... sigh. Where to begin? I only seem to have obsessive interests. Right now, I am re-obsessing about yoga (I sometimes return to previous obsessive interests).

Vanessa said...

Hi Martha,

I was amused and interested to hear of your Playmobil phase, particularly at the age you were! The draw of its vignette possibilities must have been compelling, I can see that. I remember the fun I had with Lego and Playplax and the more well-appointed Sindy doll accessory sets - at a younger age, admittedly, but I can still see the appeal even now.

We are similar it seems both in terms of our perfume plateau-ing and proselytising phase - I am a bit of a zealot it must be said in terms of coaxing friends into the faith. ;-)

I don't think you should reproach yourself for your late onset love of clothes, especially since you are also making some of them yourself. If you think how many years of throwaway fashion acquisition you have skipped, you can easily justify this blossoming interest, wherever it may lead...

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

I think you may be right there about the choosing of paint being better than the having chosen - by analogy with the thrill of the chase etc...

I love the idea of your returning to previous obsessions! I should really try to become obsessed with yoga *first time around* - I am sure that would do my body and mind no end of good.

Lucas said...

Gosh, how I love Maltesers! My favourite childhood candy and I go "squeee" everytime I get or buy a pack of it.

Kathy Bungard said...

LOL annemariec, how did you know I'm also a fan of Simenon's Maigret? It must be a gene or something that is for inclining people to love more obscure things.

Vanessa, I'm sure you can find some streaming channels in the UK that show sageuks. If you can find any I'd suggest starting with something like Dae Jang Geum a/k/a Jewel in the Palace or Dong-Yi and you can find gems like Tree with Deep Roots or the sheerly delightful Sungkyunkwan Scandal which is based in the Joseon Dynasty and revolves around the lives of a disguised young woman and her three male friends, who may or may not know her secret. These are available on dvd.

Vanessa said...

Hi Lucas,

They are great, aren't they?

Dangerously so....

Vanessa said...

Hi Kathy,

I must admit I don't seem to find the time to watch much TV - and I have a limited range of channels on my new TV package - but I will certainly keep an eye out now you have planted the seed of Sageuk awareness!

Anonymous said...

I too am at a bit of a plateau with perfume -- however, I DID manage to get to Liberty in London to buy Patchouli 24 and some Fleurs de Sel later in my England trip...AnnieA

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Whoohoo! Good scores - I envy you your Fleurs de Sel in particular. That has been much in my thoughts since Denyse mentioned her recent trip to Brittany for a PR bash.

Unknown said...

Must mention that a friend of mine recommends Malteasers as a way to ward off migraine - it's the B vitamins in the malt.
Hope that makes you feel better! :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi Birdie,

Well, that is interesting. On the day I learnt Diet Coke makes you fat, so it's clearly going to be Maltesers all the way for me!

sunnlitt said...

I seldom comment, but I wanted to thank you for your laugh-out-loud story of obsessive paint collecting!!
I loved the photo of your collection--it does look like you need a few more to complete the set. Thankfully, you know where to go!

I, too, am enthralled by color. In my case, it can be fabric or yarn or lipstick or clothes or flowers. I just want to be surrounded by the wonder of color!!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sunlitt,

Thanks for taking the time to break with your non-commenting habit! I think Bonkers does attract a disproportionately high number of lurkers, so it's always nice when readers pop out of the woodwork.

I have since bought a few more testers from this series, it may not surprise you to learn...Glad to meet another person who is enthralled by colour. I love little scraps of coloured fabric too - you should have seen me choosing my sofa. And don't get me started on the glories of wool!