Freedom!

I have just commenced two months paid leave from my job. This is ‘Long Service Leave’, and I’m eligible for it as a permanent member of the Australian Public Service. Yay me!

A lot of people use their LSL to travel, volunteer for an NGO, build an extension on their house, take a pottery course … that sort of thing. I’m not interested in or able to pursue those paths. I’m just gonna do … nuthin’.

Okay, not quite. I have some research and writing projects on the go (as usual), and I will do a bit of gentle gardening. I take a walk each day, and be there when my kids get home from school. I can read all day if I want, (at the moment it’s Raymond Chandler’s The High Window, and the latest novel by Australian author Alex Miller, called Autumn Laing). Sounds pretty good to me.

Of course being alone for a large part of most days means I can have extra fun with perfume. I work in an office so I have to be a light applier, normally. I can now throw that caution to the winds. This is a great chance, for instance, to really get to know some of those very intense Tauer perfumes that normally give me pause. I hardly ever wear his heavy incense and rose perfumes because they just don’t seem right for an average day at the office. And I can give Zeta and Vetiver Dance a good airing to see if I like them or, sadly, not.

I can get out all my Sonoma Scent Studio samples and work through them carefully, hopefully to discover if there is actually something in the base of some of Laurie’s perfumes that does not suit me. I have been suspecting this for a while. Better still, I can re-test a lovely clutch of vintage perfume samples sent me by a vintage perfume penfriend. These need special concentration.

And in a fortnight I will spend a week visiting friends in Melbourne, eating, drinking, going to shows, museums, galleries and – of course – perfumeries! I’ll be able to test stuff that normally I would have to pay to sample. Oh yes, I will probably splurge, but it has to be on something I cannot buy at home, or get cheap online.

High on my list is Klein’s Perfumery in groovy inner-city Fitzroy. They carry a good stock of Penhaligon’s, none of which I have ever tried. Then there is Peony, in genteel Hawthorn. Its range of Parfum d’Empire is all on special because it is about to discontinue the line. And there is always Paint ‘N’ Powder, which has for years had a prominent shop in Melbourne’s famous Royal Arcade. I don’t think they carry many, or any, niche lines, but they tend to carry a few of the more obscure Guerlains and so on.

The two major Australian department stores, David Jones and Myer, have mega-fragrance floors where you can spritz until the cows come home. They stock a few niche lines these days. And the full Jo Malone lineup. This is my chance to find a JM that I like, or abandon the whole lot as a bunch of overpriced nice smells. (Jo Malone prices are much higher in Australia than elsewhere.)

Enough! You get the idea!

Any thoughts on how to make the most of my perfume-cation (Olfactoria’s term) will be most welcome.

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29 thoughts on “Freedom!

  1. Mazal Tov! You are only contributing to my stereotypes of Australia being much better than the U.S. It sounds like you already have a wonderful schedule planned! Personally, I’ve given up on the Jo Malones. Nice scents, stylish bottles, just not worth the price.

    1. Thanks Ari! Yes, sniffing my way through the JMs is really just to satisfy my curiosity, really. The tea scents sound good tho’.

  2. That sounds completely fabulous! I’m so happy for you (and just a bit jealous as well)!!!
    Is there a Hermes boutique is Melbourne? I’d go there and to Chanel and Dior too when you are at it.
    And get some of those reduced Parfum d’Empires, Equistrius is one I think you might love.
    Enjoy, Annemarie!
    Oh how I wish that I would work for Australia’s Public Service! 🙂

    1. Oh the APS. A grand employer. (Actually, the leave and work-life balance provisions are very good.)

      Oh yes, should have mentioned that. Yes, Chanel and Hermes have stand-alone boutiques in Melbourne, both in Collins Street, which for about 120 years has been the prestige shopping precinct. Strangely, Dior has no boutiques at all in Australia but I read somewhere recently that they are about to open one in Sydney. A boutique in Melbourne will surely follow, as the rivalry between those cities never ends.

      Thanks for mentioning Equistrius – I’ll give it a try!

  3. Ooooh many congratulations on your Long Service Leave annemarie! How exciting – whatever you do. Melbourne sounds like such a fabulous city to live in too. I do hope you find an SSS to love and don’t end up like me. I have now concluded that there’s something in there that’s not for me 😦 I don’t really have any advice, just make a list of those perfumes you can try for free while you have the time and enjoy wearing those heavy hitters now you’re out of the office. Oh, maybe try/buy Osmanthus Interdite as well as Equistrius in the Parfum d’Empire sale. Have a great time!

    1. Thanks Tara! Yes, Melbourne is fabulous. Very different from its great rival, Sydney. Sydney has the harbour, of course, and warmer (but quite humid) weather. Melbourne has its beloved ‘brown Yarra’ [river]. I like Melbourne much more, but I know it better because I lived there for a few years.

      I will try OI – thanks. I love the name of that one. I reckon the important thing is to read up as much as possible on the lines or perfumes I am interested in, so that I cannot get confused or pushed about by the SAs.

      You too with the SSSs? I love Femme Jolie and like Champagne de Bois, but they stand a bit alone in the line (and FJ has been d/c). There are a whole lot of others that make me frown. I’m bot sure what it is. I used to like Jour Ensoleille and Cameo, but somehow I don’t wear them much any more.

  4. It sounds so great! Is it a one-time thing or do you get it once every N years? Anyway, it sounds wonderful, I hope you’ll enjoy every day of it.
    I think in excitement you’ve just forgot to mention one more thing on your “to do” list – writing a couple of extra posts for the blog, right? 😉

    I like Jo Malone. My current favorites are: English Pear & Freesia, French Lime Blossom, Wild Fig & Cassis and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily. Nectarine Blossom & Honey is very nice but doesn’t work on my skin (but I love smelling it on others). Unexpectedly I liked Nutmeg & Ginger but I have so many other colognes that I didn’t pursue this one yet. I like Black Vetiver Cafe but I do not need 100ml of it – the only size available.

    I hope you’ll find something interesting on your trip. My advice: try to resist buying something mainstream just because you liked it when you tried it first and it doesn’t cost much… Think of what you could buy for the same price. Maybe just a 10-15 ml decant instead of a 50 ml FB – but still.

    1. You qualify for 3 months LSL after 10 years continuous full time service. I took that in 2002. After that you keep accumulating (slowly) more LSL leave but you don’t have to wait another 10 years to take it. You can take it any time. I think I could have taken another week or two, but I decided to leave it for next time, if I make it, when maybe I WILL want to to some of those wild and crazy things.

      I reckon there will be something I like in the JMs, and I am a bit inclined to go for the darker things. Black Vetiver Cafe will be a must try. But I won’t be buying a FB. I’ll just come home and buy samples off eBay, or something like that. JM tries to hook you in, keep you loyal, and keep you aspiring to the JM lifestyle. But we parfumista/os are a much savvier bunch than that, methinks.

      And you are right – it would be silly to go to scented city and just by stuff (even if it is cheap) that I could get at at my local mall. I have been saving for this splurge, so hopefully I will not feel too guilty! Thanks for your advice!

  5. How lovely to have two whole months sniffing and reading!

    For the perfume-cation, I have to point you to Mecca Cosmetica’s part of the Myer cosmetics floor, which has a good range of hard-to-find perfumes: Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, Le Labo, Comme des Garcons, Diptyque, Kai, Escentric Molecules… The lovely Robert is always willing to help and not at all pushy. There is also a tiny circular ’boutique’ in the middle of the same floor, the ‘Galeries de Parfums’, which stocks Lalique, Keiko Mechieri, Juliette has a Gun, Rance, Etro and Histoires de Parfums. Staff are usually very helpful (Sylvain used to be the guy to talk to but I haven’t seen him there recently).

    It is also easy to miss an awkwardly placed table display in David Jones, just past Jo Malone and Guerlain, which has Robert Piguet and Amouage testers that you can just pick up and spray yourself – such a treat!

    After that, head through the DJ’s men’s store and pick up your nose and body with one of their brilliant siphon coffees on Little Collins St.

    Good luck & happy huffing

    PS – LOVE that parrot

    1. Oh many thanks! You know your Melbourne!

      In January I did briefly visit Myer’s new fit-out, and might even have encountered Sylvain. I concentrated on the Caron display, I recall, but was in too much of a rush to make a decision about a purchase.

      I will certainly look out for the stuff in DJs. I have not been to DJs in Melbourne for yonks.

      There is a Mecca store where I live but I don’t think it carries all Mecca’s offerings, and certainly not Malles! My goodness.

      I love parrots. That one has quite a knowing look, as parrots so often do.

  6. A pleasure! I live near central Melbourne and it is a bit of a pastime to meander through the department stores and spray on a scent to sample for the day.

    I know that Myer’s Mecca does have exclusivity for some of the scents, but exactly which they are I’m not sure. It certainly has a much more extensive range than the ‘flagship’ they recently opened in Melbourne Central, and I haven’t seen the Malles or CdG series anywhere else.

    DJs is funny, they have some great lines and staff are pretty well-versed, although the whole thing feels a little like an afterthought, as though someone realised that they should stock some of these perfumes only after the cosmetics floor had been designed without space for them. The upside is that it doesn’t feel intimidatingly glamorous – a thing I am most certainly not.

    I reckon that if I spent my life flashing my beautiful feathers to the sun and chewing fruit in the treetops I might just have a knowing look too 😉

    1. Odd that with Myer putting all that effort into re-designing its fragrance floor, DJs is lagging behind. Still, if that means that you can spritz contentedly without too many hovering SAs, I’m all for it.

      My Mecca Cosmetica has a very random selection: some CdG, but no Malles. It is okay on Lutens, good on Diptique, and has a few token Rosines. I always feel that they have not quite got themselves sorted on what they are offering.

  7. Oh, how lovely that you can take some time away from work and “grow your soul”!

    Looking forward to hearing about your LSL sniffery and other adventures.

  8. hi Annemarie, sounds like you’re up to great things these days! I just got back from melbourne and got some great advise from @SharrynStormont on perfumeries and fine food :
    Peony in Hawthorn, David Jones and Myer Department stores, Paint N Powder, Kleins.
    Fleurage is a local perfumer with a bricks and mortar store in Toorak, if you’re into naturals definately go!

    and eating;
    Vue de monde, Press Club, Cutler & Co would all be classed as Fine. Huxtable, Newmarket, Mamasita, Gigibaba for less $$$$
    (I especially liked Vue de monde and Newmarket)

    Have a great time following your nose 🙂
    and looking forward to what you will write…
    bye!
    Caroline

    1. Many thanks for your recommendations. Sounds like I am on the right track. I had not heard of Fleurage. Toorak eh? It has been many a long year since I set foot there. (For non-Australians, Toorak is one of Melbourne’s and Australia’s wealthiest suburbs.)

      Man, that coffee smells good already. I can hardly wait! Okay, so good coffee can be had in my own city too, but Melbourne has a great Italian coffee tradition. Melbourne and coffee just go so well together.

  9. Two months’ leave to kick your heels sounds wonderful, especially as you head into your summer. If I ever get the chance to go back to Australia, Melbourne is right at the top of the list, and it was so interesting to read these sniffing guides – I had come across Peony in google and thought her store looked really stylish from the pictures.

    Jo Malone is pretty good value in this country (or used to be when I bought my bottles) and I would recommend Dark Amber & Ginger Lily – there is nothing like it. I am curious about the tea scents and it sounds as though you can have a leisurely trawl through them now!

    Osmanthus Interdite is pretty and I have a full bottle I can’t seem to make a dent in, so my advice would be not to buy that one! I’d gladly cut you in on mine. : – )

    1. Yes, it’s a good time to be on leave. When the weather gets really hot I’ll be glad to be back at work and enjoying the air conditioning.

      Peony looks stylish, but I am a bit worried about it. I think it’s the reference to weddings. That (and the expensive location) makes me wonder if Peony is set up for the very well-heeled – those who believe that the more expensive something is, the better is. Any hard-working perfumista/o knows that is not true!

      Lots of votes for Dark Amber and Ginger Lily! Sounds like a must try. Thanks for the mention of OI.

  10. How fun- enjoy your time off!

    I am kind of over JM . It was one of the first (sort of) niche line I explored,along with Serge Lutens and L’Artisan, so I have a soft corner for it. But haven’t felt like owning anything from the line in a very long while (except for a brief lemming for Dark Amber and Ginger Lily) . Have you tried Lime, Basil, Mandarin?

    1. Only the bath oil, and then only because the LB&M oil comes in a 30 ml bottle, so is vaguely affordable as an unsniffed risk. I like it, and am keen to try the cologne, but I do already have some lovely summer fragrances . (Favourites at the moment: Kenzo’s Eau de Fleur de Magnolia; Cristalle; Hermes Mediterranee; Eau de Givenchy; No 5 Eau Premiere, among others. And when the going gets tough: 4711.) I am looking forward to trying some of the darker, more masculine-sounding JMs. Thanks for your comment!

  11. So glad to hear someone else mention Eau de Fleur de Magnolia – it is a summer staple of mine that seems to be a bit of a sleeper in the Kenzo line.

    1. Is it still on the market? It seems to be getting harder to find, and the prices are certainly higher than I paid for mine. I could never figure out if those Kenzo ‘Fleur’ fragrances were meant to be LEs or not. I’m certain that this is the only Kurkdjian I’ll every be able to afford! I absolutely love it, and will wear it to a function this evening if the weather stays warm.

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