Monday, January 23, 2012

Too Much Love Will Kill You.

Is there such a thing as “too much of a good thing”?

Sure there is. I myself have eaten that last sushi roll or that last inch of sour patch rope, and thought, “I chose…poorly.” I’ve decided to stay in bed those last few minutes that move you from “barely on time” to “definitely late for work.” I’ve stayed in the shower those extra ten minutes, running the hot water just enough that you run out at the last minute and are freezing and tense instead of relaxed when you cut the water off and get out. I’ve taken on too many good opportunities at once until I didn’t have the time and energy for any of them. I’ve gone for that final third round on Space Mountain that moves your slightly tipsy disco ball delight to oh-lord-why-did-I-have-that-fourth-tequila-shot?

In short, I’ve done excess and known the regret of it. And that is what I think of, every time I see someone posting about “pairing down their collection” or “giving up all but their favorites” or “cleaning out their perfume cabinet.”

Have I got too much perfume? Have I gone too far? Do I really appreciate the perfume I have? Do I really want or need more? FN1. Would some of it be better off in someone else’s hands, someone else’s home, where it might be better appreciated? That is the sentiment that stayed my hand Saturday night when I looked at my bank account, looked at my computer, and then thought, “Okay, let’s go shopping!” As I began looking through my options – limited editions here, sales over there, decants verses bottles, samples verses either, the list of things I thought I wanted, the list of things I’ve got – I was haunted by the thought that maybe I had enough already.

Tonight in the car Rafaela, who has never been subjected to a stroll through Diana’s perfume collection, asked me how many bottles I had. I don’t know, I responded immediately. But you must have some idea, she pressed. You were just telling me that you redid your inventory spreadsheet today.

Truthfully, though, I didn’t know. I hadn’t bothered to look. Hell, I hadn’t even finished updating my excel file. I’d only made it through bottles, not decants or minis, and certainly not through samples, which remains untackled. Somewhere, somehow, I genuinely lost count of my perfume.

So tonight, I counted.

85 bottles. EIGHTY-FIVE. And this is genuine “this is not our sample size, you are buying some larger quantity of this perfume” bottles, which does not even include Demeters. Minis and decants? Another seventy-four. Samples? Back in September it was over 500, and I know that number is a measurable quantity larger now, but my recatalogue is not yet complete. This doesn’t count the two bottles or handful of samples I did finally order Saturday night, or the samples headed my way for review, or the bottle I gave away to LillieMae just because she liked it and I had more than enough. FN2.

Yet, I feel like I’ve only dipped a toe into the wide world of beautiful perfumes out there to smell. For example, I haven’t ever smelled Chanel No. 19. I think I’ve tried maybe three Le Labos, and none of them were the location restricted ones. My familiarity with Creed and Serge Lutens is (in my opinion) wafer thin. For every Caron or Goutal or Worth or Guerlain I have tried, there are four or five I haven’t. I haven’t tried nearly enough from Aftelier Perfumes or Frederic Malle or so many others I can’t think of right now.

But looking at my collection, I couldn’t deny it. I have a ton of perfume, and yet, I feel I owe it to myself to keep trying all the beautiful scents out there to try. But I knew I crossed a certain perfumey line when LillieMae was loving a particular perfume and, without hesitating, I gave her the bottle. I remembered the day Angela from Now Smell This! did the same things for me, handing off a bottle of S-Perfume %100 Love without batting an eyelash. She knew I’d get more out of it, and I did. I have almost finished the bottle. So maybe this is also the beginning of a new phase, a phase where I not only continue to explore perfume, but start to focus my collection, creating something that isn’t just a bunch of random perfume, but a beautiful wardrobe and art collection, so that I better appreciate what I have and some lovely perfume gets a more appreciative home.

So welcome to our season of spring discernment at Feminine Things, both perfume related and more broadly. I feel strangely excited about it. I hope you do, too.

FN1. Okay, I always want more. Instead it’s a question of whether I should buy more and do I already have more than I know what to do with.

FN2. Because I know you people: I bought samples from DSH Perfumes and JoAnne Bassett. I would have bought some from Ayala Moriel Natural Perfumes but the site order system wasn’t cooperating; I bought a bottle of L’Artisan Dzongkha from the sale; and slumberhouse Mur from IndieScents because I am apparently probably their biggest fan, and I bought it in anticipation of warmer days ahead.

Editor's note: I got the loveliest follow-up email from Ayala herself, apologizing about the web difficulties and welcoming me back.  Not only was it the sweetest thing, it also completely underestimated my willingness to walk through fire for perfume as good as hers. :)


Joan said...

Wow, you have more perfume than me.

And I don't know why that's a problem. Some people lead us to believe that deprivation is a virtue; that we will appreciate each thing more if we have fewer variations of it. I say that depends on how much you like and/or need the thing. Is writing better if you do less of it? No. Eating? No. Perfume is not a talent like writing, nor is it a necessity like food, but if a large collection makes you enjoy your life more, it's a good thing.

ChickenFreak said...

I've been estimating my collection at "about fifty" for quite some time. I just counted the full bottles: Nope. Seventy-five. I recently rearranged them, and found several bottles that I'd forgotten I owned. Plus, the collection has broken the one-shelf barrier in my bookshelf; it's now a shelf and a third. And even at that amount of space, the bottles are jammed in together like canned goods, rather than being admired and cherished.

All of those set off the hoarder-gene-detection-alarm, aka the I Will Not Be My Mother alarm. I've been trying to give away the functionally redundant and the just-plain-not-good; I may expand that effort.

Diana said...


See, this is what makes me a little nervous. It's not so much that I think the amount is a problem as much as I worry I'm not giving those beautiful scents the attention they deserve. But I also admit I am unlikely to lose anything I loved enough to buy any time soon...


Diana said...

Hey Chick-adee!

Yes, I'm starting to have a little bit of a hoarder panic as well. As I contemplate our possible move, I think about pairing things down...and then I go through them and think, "Nope. Still in love with alllllll of you." I think I just need to remind myself more often of my embarrassment of perfumey riches.

Lara said...

I nominated you for the versatile blogger award. Follow this link for more info! Love your Blog!!

Ankica said...

Hi Diana,

if I hadn't started with perfume making, I am sure my nubmer would be something like yours...
I managed to restrict myself knowing I don't have money for both.

Samples are the most precious thing to me. Every night, before going to sleep, I have my little evaluation ritual... priceless. Unfortunately, my number of samples is like your - only one zero less. :)

Diana said...

Lara! Thank you so much for the nomination. I really appreciate it; thanks for reading!

Diana said...


Yeah, the bottle count is...a wealth of perfume. A horde. A plethora. :)

As for samples, they accrued in my house with surprising alacrity. Perhaps I have some I can send your way...


Lara said...

You're very welcome! Love your blog!!

Undina said...

85? It's a HUGE number ... for a layman but it's not that impressive for a collector. Don't get me wrong, I admire your collection and do not want to undermine its significance (mine is smaller) but I'm just saying you still have ways to go ;)

Diana said...


Thanks for the reassurance. It's nice to receive...since I ordered more last night. :)