Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Scent Crimes Series: No 12 - Impregnable perfume miniatures

I had my friend Sharon to stay this weekend.  Readers may remember her as the born again Roja Dove Scandal and Fracas fan featured in a couple of earlier posts here and here - I guess I could consider her as another 'protégé'  - one whose scented explorations I have been documenting as I go along here. Anyway, Sharon is sufficiently keen to continue her perfume j***ney that every time we meet she always asks me to bring some new things for her to try, or - if she comes to my house, as on this occasion - to get my stash out for her to have another delve into.

Today she had a very specific request, namely to sample whatever I could lay my hands on by Bvlgari, a brand recommended to her by a friend.  Bvlgari also happens to be one of my favourite brands in the mainstream/designer sphere, along with Kenzo and Prada.   So I fished out my one bottle (Black), a large and disastrously leaky decant of Rose Essentielle, and samples of Femme, Mon Jasmin Noir and Voile de Jasmin. Unfortunately for my friend, I had already sold my bottle of Omnia Crystalline in last year's yard sale, and given away my bottle of Jasmin Noir to a neighbour who had fallen hard for it at the time (a well-intentioned impulse I now regret).  I was pretty sure I also had a sample of Omnia Coral, but I had found it so insipidly fruitily inconsequential that it - and the rest of my 'bag of hell' - had been banished to the outer darkness (quite literally!) of the garage.  Underbed storage had failed to put enough physical distance between me and the offending items, you see, despite my general success rate in life with the 'spider under the bed' principle...

As it turned out, Mon Jasmin Noir was the only one of my patchy Bvlgari collection that Sharon cared for, when I suddenly I remembered that I also owned a miniature of Omnia Green Jade, and managed to extract this last example of the brand from the not inconsiderable coat chaos of the cupboard under the stairs where my perfumes now reside.

Before I come onto the specifics of the Omnia Jade mini, here is a 'class photo' of my miniature collection, with twins standing next to each other and small ones at the front, as is customary.  Okay, with regard to the Micallefs, one is the younger sibling of the other one, as you may infer from their differential height/size.

Two sets of twins, one other sibling set...;)

Out of all these perfumes, only TWO have a spray mechanism - can you guess which? The rest have tiny holes, and you have to upend the bottle and dab as best as gravity and a pinpoint aperture permit.

In terms of the cap mechanism, my experience with minis is mainly of the 'yank off sharply' variety, with some screw tops in the mix, plus a few obdurate bottles that require the 'combination method' of yanking AND unscrewing.  It can be quite a fiddly exercise, comparable to the difficulty level of unstoppering those tiny plastic wands from the smallest size of glass vial, which readers intermittently write to me to complain about.

And then...then there is Bvlgari Omnia Jade, verily the Rubik's Cube of perfume miniatures.  Well, I use the word 'cube' advisedly, as it is more of a figure of eight really, like two thick silver coins getting it on.

And could Sharon and I figure out how to take the top off?  Could we hell as like!  We alternated at having a go, but no amount of pulling, pressing or prising seemed to do the trick.  Twisting, turning and tugging were equally fruitless.  'Okay', said Sharon calmly, 'let's figure this out from first principles.' (I should point out that my friend is a Project Manager, supervising the complex build of fighter aircraft no less, a logical thinker and 'critical path'-follower to her fingertips.)

'It must HAVE a top, surely?' I volunteered lamely, when suddenly a piece of green plastic trim flirted off and fell on the floor, revealing an impenetrable metal casing within.

'Yes, but where?' replied Sharon, as we both simultaneously experienced flashbacks of that classically pesky 'Where's the end of the Sellotape?' variety.

So we spent a few more minutes scrutinising the housing of the mini, looking for even the slightest hairline crack, that might possibly be suggestive of a demarcation between bottom and top.  Then, her frustration mounting, Sharon took one last enormous - and completely random! - tug to the bottle, when to our surprise not so much 'the top' as 'the most of it' came off!

Then we dabbed a bit of Omnia Jade on - in our all-consuming bid to 'crack the cube', as it were, we had all but forgotten our original interest in sniffing the perfume enclosed within - and pronounced it to be quite pleasant and refreshing, in a limpidly nutty, faintly green kind of a way - though we may have been subliminally influenced by the colour of the box or bottle...  Or the name indeed.  Speaking of the box, as Sharon was casually lifting it up to check the name of the perfume again, she spied a little diagram inside the lid...

'Oh look, this tells you how to open it!'  Typical women, we had just dived straight in there without reading the instructions first. ;-) But there again, who would have thought a perfume bottle would come with instructions about how to take its top off...?

So have you ever seen such a diagram?  And have you experienced problems opening minis in particular, or figuring out how to get tops of full-sized bottles?

I do remember puzzling for ages over the location of the Prada Candy spray nozzle (which of course had been cunningly integrated into its Cadbury smash robot head - or half head, to be anatomically correct about it).


Whole-headed Cadbury Smash robots ~ Source:

Here are the surprisingly eclectic notes of Omnia Green Jade, should anyone be curious:

Notes: spring water, green mandarin, white peony, nasturtium, pear tree flower, jasmine petals, fresh pistachio, white woods, musk

Finally, I must just mention that as I was gathering my minis together for this group shot, I nearly included the one pictured below...which turned out to be the top of my full-sized Cuir de Lancome bottle, which - as any readers who own one will know - is chronically prone to toppling off at the drop of a hat, and looking rather like a miniature when it does.  Somewhere on the Interwebs I am sure I read about a clever fix to make this top fit snugly again, but I can't remember where now...


rosarita said...

I had the same experience with a Bulgari Omnia mini received in a swap years ago. I tore off the plastic strip purposely thinking the opening would surely be under it. Glad to know I'm not alone.

What's your opinion of the original Omnia? It's my favorite of the line, but I'm also a fan of the white & red tea scents, and Black is really in a category all it's own - very niche-y smelling.

Anonymous said...

Can't say I've had too many problems with lids - maybe the only frustrating one being those Tauer bottles secured by the tight rubber rings around the nozzle! Sometimes they are loose and sit nicely on top, others you have to press the lid down with brute force to get it on evenly :| I hate them.
Also a recently ELdO purchase went from the dark grey (bakelite?) lids, to a now more heavyweight metal thing which may be one of the worst fitting lids ever, not loose, super tight - I feel like the bottle will break in half every time I remove it... but I've found a new home for it now so I won't have to bother any more :P

Vanessa said...

Hi rosarita,

I feel similarly reassured knowing you did the exact same thing too with the plastic strip, haha! I quite like the original Omnia, though Black is my favourite - for its very oddity, as you say - followed by one of the Jasmin Noirs - haven't made up my mind which. I also like the tea scents though they are hard to come by these days.

Vanessa said...

Hi Freddie,

That rubber ring problem is part of the issue with the Cuir de Lancome tops, indeed I had it on some feta cheese in oil the other day as well. ;) Very annoying I agree, not that I have owned a Tauer bottle so far. Seems like you were having your own lid problems with that ELDO bottle - you wonder why they changed it to a worse material?

Off-my own-topic, my main gripe with bottles is the ones that leak when they spray. I have got a few that are almost impossible to use without drenching yourself. And it is such a waste of juice and money too!

Sarah Waite said...

I am overjoyed to read the inclusion of the words 'Cadbury Smash robots' in a perfume review. You have indeed upped the game. I shall endeavour to take your Cadbury Smash Robots and raise you something else when my brain engages itself sufficiently. I shall never pass a Candy bottle without tittering again.

annemariec said...

I've been reading perfume blogs daily for years and I have never seen anyone tackle this critical issue - how to get the blasted caps off blasted perfume miniatures! You were certainly sweating the small stuff with that Bvlgari. Hope it was worth it ... ?

About the only perfume house that I know which regularly has sprayers for its minis is Lauder - presumably because it can afford it. I had mini of Dior's Dune once that had a sprayer but the next one I bought (I only every buy minis of Dune) was a dabber. Shalimar minis, or at least the ones I own, have a little dauber built into the inside of the cap and that allows you to dab just the tiniest pin-prick of fragrance if that's all you want. Very considerate of Guerlain to do that.

Let me indulge a new bottle peeve - I bought 30mls of Cacharel Noa the other day. It doesn't have a cap; as with Prada Candy, the sprayer is part of the bottle design so they don't want to cover it up with a cap. (I'm never going to see a Candy bottle the same way now, after your mention of the Cadbury robots.)

Anyway, the trouble with Noa is that the sprayer - a little round thing like a squashed (plastic) pearl - sits so loosely on the nozzle that it is apt to fall off with careless handling. Or any handling. Without the squashed pearl, the perfume can't be sprayed. Naturally I'm prepared to be careful, but why should I have to be? Unless I decant into a proper, plain old spray vial, this problem is going to bother me for YEARS. Curse you Cacharel!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sarah,

Haha - glad you liked it. ;) I used to love those robots as a kid - and happily ate Smash too. I was particularly keen to find ones who toned in sympathetically with the livery of the Candy bottle and this father and daughter duo were at least red.

I'd say you have been doing a sterling job of blogging whilst under the weather - who knows what coruscating imagery you will conjure up when fully recovered!

Vanessa said...

Hi annemariec,

Funny - I think I sweat the small stuff generally on Bonkers. Small stuff is my natural element, the smaller the better... ;) And it was definitely worth it, as Omnia Jade was a rather pretty, office-appropriate scent that will be nice in spring, say.

Oh, your observation about Lauder having sprayer minis is timely, for Amber Ylang Ylang (to the right of my picture) is one of the two bottles in that group shot I was talking about! I must say I have not come across the little dabber built into the inside of the cap before, but then I don't think I have ever owned a Guerlain mini come to that.

I am going to look out for that squashed pearl sprayer on the Noa bottle now - or pictures of it at least - I can just imagine how frustrating that must be. You don't want to decant it into something less pearl-like unless you absolutely have to.

Undina said...

It's not fair! I was trying to figure out which two had sprayers - and you gave away one! Though I have to admit that it wasn't the one I had in mind. Let me try for the second one... The second on the left in the top row, the roundish one that reminds Calyx?

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Hehe, I suppose that was a bit naughty of me, but it wasn't a real competition in that sense, though it still spoils the fun for anyone reading this a bit later. At the same time I wanted to acknowledge Anne-Marie's correct observation. So would you like me to tell you if you are on the right track as regards the remaining one? ;). The game is half revealed as it is!

Anonymous said...

I share your pain: I have a mini of Omnia Crystalline that I picked up at a thrift store. I did figure it out and get it open once (one drop -- serious white musk that lasted forever). I must have used the latex glove method to get a grip on it, because when I tried last night with bare hands it was a no go. I'm willing to use that much effort to sample, but not for regular wear.
As for leaky sprayers, the worst I have is an old Dolce & Gabbana (original red cap one) which dribbles onto the bottle and causes the cap to stick. I keep forgetting that I shouldn't place the cap all the way on.

-- Lindaloo

Tara said...

Love the class photo idea. Very cute.

A mini with a sprayer really would be something. I've never come across one. The screw tops are better than the pull off ones.

My vintage Diorella has a leaky sprayer and it's a case of some getting sprayed and quite a lot getting dribbled.

Also love the similarity of the Candy top and the Smash robot heads. Who else would notice this? No one.

I quite like those integrated sprayers. My Shalimar edp has one also.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I should bring my Amber Ylang Ylang down to show you when we meet - it is miniaturised in every way. ;) I do agree that screw tops are less hit and miss than the pull off variety.

Sorry to hear about your vintage Diorella - that is quite common with vintage bottles I find - something to do with the greater pressure of the atomiser mechanism maybe?

Now I didn't know the Shalimar had an integrated sprayer - I had only come across the Candy one till I wrote this post. Re the robots, my mind does work in mysterious ways all right!

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

Nice to hear from you! Interested to hear of your latex glove approach to opening your Omnia Crystalline mini - that is the mark of a pro! Though as you say, it is rather excessive for regular wear. ;) It seems you are not too struck on Omnia Crystalline, mind, and I know what you mean about musky. I do still like it I think, but wasn't attached to it, so in the yard sale it went.

Leaky sprayers are so darned annoying. I have a good half dozen bottles that are virtually unuseable, but it seems too much trouble to send them back to the shop, if I even kept the receipt after all this time.

Undina said...

Since nobody else is playing... :)

Vanessa said...

I don't think they are...;). And you were absolutely right - it is the pink cylindrical one. Clinique Simply.