Slow perfume

I have a particular way of applying Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue.

Much as I love this perfume, I don’t own a full bottle. Thanks to dee’s generosity, I have samples of vintage EDT and parfum, but they are not my main supply. For that, I did an odd thing. I bought an empty bottle that had once contained about 75 mls either L’HB or Mitsouko. Its label has been removed. I don’t know why, but label-less Guerlain bottles seem to be quite common on eBay. Of course if they are Baccarat crystal they are very expensive, but mine is just glass, with a plastic stopper.

I washed and dried it, and then poured in two 8 ml decants of L’Heure Bleue EDP. The bottle has an especially wide opening, and so with a couple of gurgles, all the perfume was in.

My method is to gently tip the bottle upside down to moisten the wide stopper. I then – lightly – apply a few dabs to wrists, cleavage and throat. I love the light pressure of the stopper on my skin. I love the way the scent uncurls out of the bottle. This slow ritual gives me time to think how old L’Heure Bleue is.

I think sometimes of the wars, the depressions, the empires that have cracked apart, all while women have cherished bottles of L’Heure Bleue on the their dressing tables. Mostly I wonder about the women themselves. I don’t see L’Heure Bleue women as assertive or highly vocal, more likely a little fragile, needy, given to introspection. But ultimately they are stylish, strong and wise. They may not be young; L’Heure Bleue is probably not the first perfume they have owned. But it could be the last.

Dabbing is an old fashioned way of applying perfume, but L’Heure Bleue, like many of the old Guerlains, rewards concentration. These days we tend to spritz and run, and certainly spray bottles are sensible. My L’HB gets a lot of skin contact so it may deteriorate fast. But I’m okay with that. The same would have been true for the woman who owned the bottle before me. I wonder who she was?

Do you have any perfume rituals? Observances? Superstitions?

16 thoughts on “Slow perfume

  1. I own L’Heure Bleue in parfum form -both vintage and current- and I too enjoy the ritual of dabbing it.
    That’s the way it was meant to be used, isn’t it? Or maybe they didn’t apply fragrance directly to the skin back in those days (preferring to scent one’s handkerchief instead?)

    In any event, I enjoy the whole ritual and I am sure I wouldn’t enjoy my LHB as much if I decanted it into a smaller vial or into an atomizer.

    The vintage parfum is probably the most heavenly and powerful fragrance I own, capable of transporting me to another time and place, cheesy as it may sound.

    1. Not at all cheesy. That’s one of the reasons I wear perfume, anyway. L’HB does seem to be especially evocative of another time.

      I’m very interested in this question you raise – about dabbing and spraying. I think the expectation was that you applied to skin as well as a handkerchief, and so pertfume must have deteriorated more quickly in times past. Bulb atomisers, as we know, can allow perfume to evaporate. So sprays really are a hugely important innovation. But not as romantic, to me!

  2. Anne Marie, whenever I see my bottle of L’Heure Bleue, or even think about it at all, I always think of you. It was this scent that introduced us, and it was your appreciation of it that brought you to BoTO. This fragrance holds a spot in my heart for it’s beauty, and for the association 🙂

    RE: L’HB
    I have the parfum, it’s my vintage EDT that I love to wear—although after reading your original musings on the various formulae, I’m convinced that the EDP is probably the one for me (one day!).

    Re Ritual:
    None! I do like to wear two or three different perfumes each day, I have no method of application preferences. There are some fragrances that I think smell better either spray (Calamity J) or dabbed (Anne Pliska).


    1. Thanks dee, I think of you especially in relation to Puredistance Antonia! That was such a great surprise! A beautiful fragrance to have your name on, for sure.

      Application method does matter, no matter what people say. Do you use body lotion/creme versions of things, by the way?

      1. I am very happy to be associated with Antonia!! 🙂

        Auxiliary products are something that I’m just beginning to explore; my sole perfumed product? Estee Lauder Youth Dew Amber Nude body oil. Do I love it? YES.

        I would really like to try the Amouage bath and body products, but kinda don’t see that happening any time soon…

        1. Ah, now I’m going to try that body oil. (Why have I nott before? Dumb.) It’s oils and moisturising products for me right now, not soaps and gels. Chanel do a very lovely body creme, by the way (of course!). The body cremes of No 5 and Coco are BEAUTIFUL, and make a very nice bath time ritual in the winter. Not cheap tho’.

          1. I tried the Chanel no. 19 lotion at Nordstroms, and the formula was so lovely, and the smell very nice too—but when it comes to lotions, gels, washes, and oils, I don’t want to pay nearly as much as I’m willing to spend on ‘fumes. My YDAN (lol) set me back about $12 on eBay! Worth every penny 😉

  3. Lovely!

    I agree, there are certain fragrances that beg to be dabbed on, particularly parfum, and doing so always brings me back to childhood, watching my mother dab on No. 5 or Jovan Musk, or watching my grandmother apply her Avon fragrances. Dabbing often feels very luxurious to me.

    Granted, there are some that really *should* be sprayed.

    My own bottle of L’Heure Bleue parfum was also from ebay, also missing its label. It is not vintage, but parfum seems to be the only concentration of L’HB I get on with.

    1. There IS something luxurious about dabbing. It usually means that the perfume is expensive and precious to its owner, so she applies very carefully and slowly.

      Was your L’HB identified on the bottom of the bottle, so that you knew it was L’HB? Just curious.

  4. LOVED this post! How interesting to think of the passing of time as you apply your perfume and the other women who wore it. Conscious perfuming! Really enjoy hearing about the little quirky things perfume lovers do. Personally I take 45 minutes to get out of bed in the morning – oh the shame! – and I spend most of that time comtemplating my perfume choice for the day. I listen to the weather report on the radio, think of what I’m doing that day, whether I need some kind of “help”from my perfume and so on.

    Re application I really enjoyed Roja Dove’s views in “Quntessentially Perfume”. If you haven’t read it he says to apply parfum on your wrists, crook of your arms and in the hollow of your collarbone directly below your ear-lobes. Also wipe your stopper with a silk scarf after application. (He warns against spraying your neck and chest as the drying effect of alcohol can wrinkle your skin). I try and follow this advice now.

    1. Those are great tips, thanks. Hollow of collar bones? I never heard of that. I especially love the idea of using a silk scarf to wipe the stopper. That scarf could then be used to scent lingerie and so on. I start thinking about what fragrance I’m going to wear the night before, although I do listen to the weather report the next day, like you.


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