Perfume Decants, Opulence, and More is More

While spending a day reading in bed after too many State Park excursions (see here, here, and here), I discovered a beautifully written perfume blog, Bois de Jasmin, and became engrossed in perfume decants. In doing so, I reacquainted with my past penchant for opulence and former appetite for more is more.

Clad in leggings from a sporting goods store and a Patagonia tee shirt made out of recycled bottles, the slip back into opulence was velvet-lined and diamond-studded, one that landed me back into a world of sensory overload and frenzied desire. Suddenly I wanted to consume every perfume on the market and all at once.

While I’ve mocked my way through the minimalist movement, taking “wellness” breaks to Marie Kondo my apartment and assemble a “capsule wardrobe,” (repeating the words “capsule wardrobe” over and over to my husband’s chagrin), I have done so in earnest.

I don’t want more possessions; I want fewer. Not for any upstanding reason, sadly, but rather because I don’t want a lot of options. I like simplicity. And I don’t like risk. I’ve spent my life avoiding it, driving in the slow lane.

But there I was in a trance. Immersed in gourmands and florals and notes and niche and decants and avant garde scents that smell like diesel fuel and gasoline. Researching how one becomes a perfumer through the IFF in France (it’s a competitive path that requires an undergraduate degree in math or chemistry). Poring over fragrance reviews and delighting in the language used to describe the hundreds of bottles I wanted to consume. Falling in love with the nostalgia and the stories.

Bois de Jasmin led me to two sites that offer perfume decants and samples, Lucky Scent (samples) and Surrender to Chance (both). Sure, sampling fragrance is free in person, but during the pandemic, I don’t want to, and even if I did, you can only try so many perfumes at once before they cancel each other out and render you unpleasant company.

If you don’t know (I didn’t until last weekend), decant perfumes are poured from the original into smaller bottles. They are not knock-offs or diluted if purchased from a legitimate decanter. And what a fantastic idea. Small bottles are affordable and satiate my desire to try them all at once instead of buying one bottle and using it until the end.

I received my samples and decants this week, and I’m feverishly working my way through the contents. Today I wore Tom Ford Lost Cherry for the morning and afternoon. I sniffed at my wrists constantly, observing as my brain went to work searching for its best association to past experiences, scenes, and scents. While the fragrance started out reminiscent of Libby’s cherry pie filling, it morphed into a candle-lit synagogue I visited for a high school friend’s wedding meets the massive pipe organ at St. Peter’s Church on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan mixed with a cathedral I visited in Ukraine. By 4pm, it had fizzled into watery, limp whipped cream at the end of the aerosol can.

Perfume Decants and Samples

What’s small about this post? Well, the perfumes. Most of the samples I received are .5ml and allow for a dousing or two. They hardly take up any space, arrive in a small jewelry box, and are labeled accordingly. For the ones I like, I will purchase the decant, if available. A 3ml bottle of Hermes Hiris is around $10 at Surrender to Chance.

Is it OK to love opulence and simplicity in equal parts? I think so?


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