Monday, 25 May 2015

Through the keyhole...a peek at some of my friends' perfume collections...

Longtime readers of Bonkers will know that I am very hot on perfume storage. Not so much in terms of their organisational aspects - one look at the various containers in which my own bottles and decants are chaotically housed would disabuse you of that notion. No, I am very hot on perfumes not getting hot - or wet, or exposed to light. In other words, the climate control side of fragrance keeping. I have in fact written extensively on the subject, going right back to the earliest days of the blog! More recently, I have also tutted in bathroom showrooms, where the stylists erroneously thought to suggest all manner of riskily moist locations for your perfume bottles - right by the bath taps, why don't you?

Well, I will rephrase that - I used to be a bit of a storage fiend...then when I had my spare bedroom redecorated the perfume fridges - for which I had achieved a certain notoriety in the blogosphere - were retired to the garage on aesthetic grounds, where they are pressed into service every Christmas for the overflow of festive fare. Today, the most protection I offer my collection in its sundry locations is relative darkness, dryness and coolness, though even the coolness is a moot point in summer, as everywhere in the house is probably a bit warmer than what the Osmotheque techies might consider ideal.

An under bed location for the best bottles

Anyway, I put my hand up and say that my own system is somewhat chequered, climatically speaking, certainly when compared with the earnest zealotry of my former fridge deploying days.

But notwithstanding my own flagging standards in this regard, I have continued to champion correct perfume storage amongst my friends (I will resist the urge to call them my 'civilian friends', to borrow Tara's term - oh dear, I just did!) And so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some candid photos of their collections. I'd like to say 'candid Travalo photos' like on Tripadvisor, but sadly there is nary a Travalo in sight here. I wrote asking for snaps of their bottles in their 'natural habitat', ie not staged or posed in any way. In a couple of cases, I took covert shots myself(!) but as I don't plan to 'out' anyone, other than to mention their gender, I don't suppose it matters.

I will group the pictures according to location. Please assume women's collections unless otherwise goes!

Bedroom (dressing table) 

1) Comment by owner: 'In a placing entirely determined by the cleaner, who shifts them around weekly.'

2) A particularly elegant display (see long shot featured at the top of the post), and one that is worthy of two angles, in case anyone wishes to home in on the bottles. What an impressive set of brushes!

3) I thought I would also include the dressing table of an older lady, though this display was in the spare room where I stayed - I would covertly take photos in people's bathrooms, but am not so brazen as to enter bedrooms, even in the spirit of scientific inquiry.

Bedroom (other!!)

4) This isn't technically a perfume bottle collection so much as one of essential oils with the odd vial thrown in, but it was such a novel location that it merited inclusion on those grounds alone!

Again, two shots seemed warranted. ;)

Next up, bathroom storage, still a popular choice despite my best efforts.

Bathroom storage (not around the bath itself, at least, or in the shower)

5) This friend gets extra points - and is totally redeemed in my eyes - for having a colour coordinating bath of exquisite beauty. Like those Nigella bread bins if anyone remembers them, but a bath.

6) A male take on bathroom storage! Here is his comment on his system - echoes of my training may be detected:

'Here they are...the doors are usually bathroom, no direct sunlight.'

7) And another one! Apparently, some of this chap's bottles mostly live in sponge bags, as he is frequently away on business. I know for a fact that he also owns Chanel pour Monsieur, Dior Homme and Antaeus for starters, so they may be on deployment at the moment.

8) Back to women now...A rare sighting of Gucci Envy in this bathroom! Loving the ceramic knob on the cupboard. ;)

9) And now, a look at bathroom storage, Bavarian-style. In a modern bathroom by the looks of things. Abounding in Grohe brassware I have no doubt. Ooh, I spy JHAG Lady Vengeance, NR for Her and Hugo Bosss Femme up there...

10) Meanwhile, this friend's 18 year old daughter keeps her bottles in her bedroom - a location I would also class as 'Other', as it looks more like shelves than a dressing table to me.

Messy, but in an approved room!

The kitchen!

11) And finally, here is a shot of a friend's perfume collection - in the door of his fridge! My work is done here. Why, it's me who needs a refresher course of compliance training...


Tara said...

I loved this post, V! I am a nosey so and so. Really enjoyed having a peak at your civilians', I mean friends' homes and collections. Very impressed by their quirky and stylish rooms/storage.

Too funny that you took some of these pics covertly. Shades of your past life lurking in the bushes outside competitors' offices with a camera springs to mind :)

My collection is in a bookshelf on the landing so I guess that counts as "Other". No doors but mostly in boxes at least.

Love how your male friends seem to have taken on board your advice best of all.

Unknown said...

Hahahah. Brilliant. Mine is "Other" too, and you have, of course, seen it. No sun light, but not exactly wohltemperiert...

Blacknall Allen said...

Excellent work trying to convince the public to keep their perfumes out of the light and cool.
The fridge is my storage place of choice together with the "wine cellar" in our basement where I lay down the Carons. A good friend was visiting last week and was convulsed at the sight of our fridge full of Guerlains and Jean Patous, luckily there was also plenty of food!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Nice to know another nosey Parker, hehe. Some of these collections do live in gorgeous surroundings - bathroom or no. Well remembered about my photographic missions as an 'industrial spy', as ex-Mr Bonkers used to term me. It did feel a bit like that.

Your collection is indeed 'Other Other' as opposed to 'Bedroom Other', and of course I couldn't have featured you due to your being 'in the army now'.

Very good observation about the higher compliance amongst my male friends - wouldn't have expected that. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

Yes, like Tara your collection is 'Other other', the other in this case being your home office. A fine display it makes for too. I suppose at a pinch it could be aligned with the German friend's daughter's arrangement of 'shelves in a bedroom', which most people might use the room for. We just need to add a bed?

Vanessa said...

Hi Blacknall,

LOL at the notion of laying down the Carons. I wonder if I might like a typical Caron better if had had time to develop its aromas? ;)

Good for you too for persisting with a fridge - I can imagine it startling your friend though. They do say that citrus frags should be kept at 4-5 C and all the rest at 10 C, but I could never be bothered with such niceties when mine was in service. ;)

Sun Fontaine said...

Hehe, I love your covert photography. :) Mine are kept mostly in a drawer in a little shelf on top of my dresser, though most of the samples are in a jewelry box and I admit one bottle is just on top of the dresser, mostly out of sunlight... One day I'll organize...

Ines said...

Ha, ha, I love the fridge photo! :)

Anonymous said...

You have commendably brave friends, Bonks, who allow their perfume pics to be shown to the world - I couldn't do that for love nor money!

In spooky coincidence mode, I just read a quotation attributed to Noel Coward concerning the needful relaxation that can only be achieved with "loving theatre-minded friends - the hospitality of 'civilians', however well intentioned, is too alien and strenuous for hard-working actors." (Phyllida Law's book, "How Many Camels Are There in Holland?".)

Additional coincidence: I just received another "Flo' for decanting perfume. Great idea, which makes decanting from splash bottles and those non-removable sprayer-built-in-to-lid bottles (like "Y") possible and easy too. The 'Flo' uses glass to store the perfume, which should make cleaning and reuse much more straight-forward. Fingers crossed:-)

Anna in Edinburgh

Gil said...

Love this, Vanessa. Seeing other people's improper storage makes me feel not so bad about mine! I keep them on decorative ledges in my bedroom, which I thought doesn't get lots of sunlight due to its positioning but recently found out I was wrong (the sun comes to play while I'm not there). They're prone to dancing away from the wall and veering dangerously close to the jumping off the darn things, so I have to re-position them almost daily. Ah, what we wouldn't do for our perfumes!

odiferess said...

I love how honestly shot these pictures are, though I'm sad to note the absence of embarrassing objects such as pile cream.
I've been considering making a long shelf with elaborate red velvet 'perfume curtains' that you could sweep aside Victorian theatre style when reaching for your bottles. What do you think?

Vanessa said...

Hi Sun Mi,

Well, only three were covert, hehe. Still, that's a sizeable minority. I liked hearing about how you store your collection - sounds pretty secure from the elements. I expect the one bottle that is taking its chances out in the open will be fine too. ;)

Vanessa said...

Isn't it great? He has since caught up with the post and wrote this amusing reply: '...had I been more savvy about the photo when you took it, I might have tried to stuff a better choice of food in the door and at least turned one of the bottles round to face the right way.'

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

Haha, I never thought of them as brave, but maybe they are? They are all cloaked in anonymity at least. ;) Oh wow, it seems Noel Coward invented that term before Tara even! Who knew? I do like Phyllida Law - if I hadn't had such a lovely mother myself, she is the one I would have wanted to annexe. Am intrigued by the book title as well!

Your new 'Flo' sounds like a helpful addition to the Travalo-type stable. Just gone back and clocked the review of it on Undina's blog.

Vanessa said...

Hi Gil,

Haha, bedroom ledges are tricky and I speak from bitter experience, bitter being the operative word, hehe. For when I was struck down by perfume mania, I only owned one bottle of perfume, Estee Lauder's Intuition, which was on the window sill - maybe in more direct sunlight than your ledge. Anyway, it was 6-7 years old at the time and had gone off who knows when? I used it too little to have noticed, but I am sure the position was not great. For a while, until recently in fact, I kept a few bottles on a decorative set of shelves in one bedroom, but the moving sunlight thing worried me and in the end the bottles were stashed under the bed with the rest. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

Haha, it's true on both counts. One of them did have the owner in the mirror taking the selfie, so I picked another 'less honest' photo instead. No pile cream perhaps, but I did spot a deodorant canister, I believe. I love the idea of your 'puppet theatre' curtain idea - shades of Tralala, but for all your bottles. ;)

Undina said...

Love your post! I always pay attention to my friends' perfume collections and the way they are stored. I'm working on the post that touches this topic but I'll tell you that all my perfumes are stored in the walk-in closet on shelves covered from the occasional glimpse of light by an improvised curtain. Our house is cool most time of the year but in summer, when it gets especially hot outside, I turn on an AC - just to keep my perfumes safe.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy seeing pictures other people's perfume collections, and try discern which perfumes they have. My own collection is on two mirrored trays on top of my bedroom dresser, with a scarf on top, ready for a dramatic revelation...AnnieA

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Glad you liked it! I look forward to your post on a related topic. Between the closet and the curtain I expect your perfumes have a fine habitat. Am especially impressed at the use of AC for them in high season. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

Yes, I quite agree that it is fun to peer and see which perfumes you can identify! Some are easier than others in these pictures. I have a headstart though having given certain bottles to the friends in question. ;) Loving the scarf touch on your own collection!

Anonymous said...

My perfumes are rightly tucked away into drawers in my room where they are kept in a dark and dry place. Unfortunately, the average daily temperature in Singapore, whether spring, summer, autumn or winter (we don't actually get seasons) is 30 degrees celsius, so I'm most definitely not keeping them out of the heat at all. I've thought of buying a cooler, but there is just not enough room to store all my fragrances (I shan't give a number; suffice to say they fill many, many drawers), and I don't want my electricity bill to skyrocket. Fingers crossed that they'll still smell good in 10 years!

Vanessa said...

Hi Joshua,

Having seen your fragrance wardrobe on Basenotes, I am not surprised that your collection fills many, many drawers, haha! 30C is a wicked temperature, though. I would be inclined to sell off some of your bottles, and with the funds raised invest in a fan or something. :) ;)