Play it again, Sam

With hundreds, even thousands, of new fragrance launches annually, it’s no small feat when a collective “Wow!” sweeps the perfumed blogosphere. We don’t always agree on what those perfumes are, but no matter how jaded you are, you probably found at least one new thing to love in 2011. I know I did!

Although contentment has settled in, and my collection feels complete, I’m still delighted when I find something new to love, especially when it’s unexpected. These days my perfume wardrobe is growing much more slowly, yet it grows still.

While I was reading M. J. Rose’s new thriller, The Book of Lost Fragrances, there were several quotes that got my hamster wheels spinning, but particularly the following:

There are a thousand niche perfumers not succeeding, consumers aren’t buying any of the new creations twice…”

So says Jac L’Etoile, Rose’s female protagonist, on why her brother’s plan to launch a new line of scents, in the effort to save the family perfume house, are in vain.

I’m guilty of chasing the New, and why not? The era of the Signature Scent, at least among dedicated enthusiasts, is so ten bottles ago. Since perfumania set in, I’ve bought these perfumes at least twice:

  • Guerlain Shalimar
  • Guerlain L’Heure Bleue
  • Chanel no. 5
  • Chanel no. 19


I haven’t yet run out of any of these juices*, just made subsequent purchases in varying concentrations. There are several bottles in my collection that I’m sure I would buy again, but speculation doesn’t keep a fragrance from being discontinued!

Which leads to my question: in a collection of dozens, or even hundreds, of bottles, which ones have you bought more than once?

*I’m not sure if it surprises me that my multiples are tried and true mainstream classics.
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57 thoughts on “Play it again, Sam

  1. Only thing I’ve ever bought a full bottle of more than once is Oscar by Oscar de la Renta which was my ‘signature’ for many years before I fell down the perfume rabbit hole…

        1. Good to hear! I really like it too— Carrie generously gave me a decant, which is now completely gone… I think I may need another 🙂

  2. Interesting post, dee! I’ve mainly re-bought mainstream classics too (Diorella, Shalimar, Mitsouko and soon Vol de Nuit) plus Bois des Iles. What this says about modern and niche perfumery I’m not sure either except maybe the classics have stood the test of time for a reason. Having said that it’s probably also because it’s the classics that you can buy in multiple concentrations. I’m not aware of any niche houses doing that off the top of my head.

    1. I agree, the classics are classics for a reason!

      I do wonder, though, if I would buy multiples of niche scents even if they we available in different concentrations. For example, I really, really love Anne Pliska, and own the EDP. There is an extrait, and it’s even reasonably priced— but I haven’t felt particularly compelled to own it. I can’t really explain why this is…

      Amouage has made extraits of some of their EDPs, and if they offered an extrait of Memoir, I’m not sure if I’d own it. I’d want it, in theory at least, but would I save my pennies up for it? Maybe, maybe.

      Now I’m intrigued even more!

      1. dee, I think you have a point. I don’t think there are any niche bottles I’d replace if they ran out. I can see that repeat purchases are the small perfumer’s bread and butter but we do often buy more than one bottle from the same house even if it’s not the same one so I think it evens out 🙂

        1. It’s true, buying more than one fragrance from the line-up is probably equivalent to purchasing the same scent after it’s been used up! I hadn’t thought of that angle 🙂

  3. Lutens Un Bois Vanille, it will always be on my counter! Long ago, I would adopt a signature scent and yes, would buy over and over. I am no longer doing this. Many fabulous fragrances, and variations of Vanilla. I have a rather large decant of Mona d’Orio’s Vanille, and when it runs out, without a doubt, I will be purchasing a full bottle!

    1. UBV is a good one to keep handy! I greatly enjoy my little stash when I pull it out 🙂

      Decants, from bottle splits, I always categorize in my mind as gigantic samples! (Unless they’re 30 or 50mL, which I know sometimes happens)

      I have bought bottles to replace a decant, but that feels different to me than using up a bottle and replacing it… you know what I mean?

    2. Replying to my own post….tonite I thought of some fragrances I wore some years back, and without a doubt I bought over and over, but before this fragrance nirvana we now have! Jean Charles Brossard Ombre Rose,
      the original Opium (used to drive to Tijuana for it before available in the US,
      Chopard Casmir (LOVED), Chanel No. 5. I am not sure Ombre Rose is still in production, says it is on Basenotes. I would love to sniff that again. Also read Broussard has a new fragrance in 2011 which sounds intriguing Jean Charles Brosseau Ombre Platine, googled it, nowhere to be found, maybe in Europe?
      I would LOVE to get my hands on a sample! So, my ladies, anybody know of the Ombre Platine???? Honestly, I spend so much on sampling (cut back for awhile) that I would love to have four perfect scents that would satisfy me and it may be less $…however, I read a blog, a post and find myself googling and adding to my list, so that won’t be happening!!! As for the Ombre Platine, no going to TJ anymore, waaaay too dangerous! Thank you for this wonderful blog!

      1. Judith, I’m so totally with you on the original Opium— I’d go to Tijuana now to get some if I could!!!!!

        Good luck finding Ombre Platine 🙂

        1. Cannot find the Platine. Maybe someone here in Europe has heard of it??? As for TJ, not a good idea. Times were we would go beyond, past where they filmed Titanic, and toRosarita for drinks and to Puerto Nuovo for Lobster dinners! I would NEVER venture there today. People are being hijacked, threatened and even worse…regular people,tourists, although by far the worst is a result of narcotics, and by the not so straight police! Unfortunately, cross that border and one may as well be in another world. Sad, as we had much fun a few decades back!!!! The glorious Drug stores selling fragrances we could not put our hands on here!!!

    1. Opium! Oh, what I would give for a pre-reformulation bottle of parfum… I constantly bid on them on eBay… And always get THIS close to winning one!

      One day 😉

      1. Only way to win coveted things on ebay is to expect to overpay what you thought to pay, and put in an outrageous high bid at the last minute…the other bidders will try to catch up, but will run out of time…

    2. bloody frida, I don’t know if you only like the vintage but I’ve donated an 8ml Mitsouko parfum spray refill to Ari’s Scents of Self fundraiser.

    3. Frida, I had bottles and bottles of the original Opium, would drive to Tijuana before it was released in the US, had read about it in a fashion magazine.
      I wore it for years…brought back bottles for my friends and every possible variation of it, powder, body lotion, soap, whatever. Once it was gone, and this was decades ago, I never bought it again. I have never snifed Mitsouko, after this blog post by Dee I think I MUST!

        1. Why mess with success? I guess certain ingredients are no longer legal? The Original Opium was amazing, startling, I was stopped everywhere!!!! Around that time I was wearing Ombre Rose, Jean Charles Broussard, today an almost inpossible find, outrageously popular in those days in the US. I used all my Opium, didn’t think in advance or I would have saved one bottle!

  4. Various concentrations and issues of Shalimar (Ode a la Vanille, for instance.) Beth Terry Element of Surprise, because it was being discontinued and is one of my favorites; Donna Karan Gold, ditto. Ava Luxe No. 23 because the bottles are small and I keep them everywhere. Caron Nuit de Noel and Champs-Elysees (different concentrations). Montale Vanilla Extasy. Indult Tihota.

    Truly, I tend to buy multiple bottles of my very favorites, and multiple “flavors” of scents I find interesting but am exploring.

    1. (yay for Shalimar!)

      It warms my heart knowing that there are perfumistas out there using up their bottles! I’m glad that you’ve found so many to truly love 🙂

    2. Sadly, I never got my hands on Ode de Vanille, however a wonderful person is sending me a sample, and has a spare bottle, which I think I will grab as fast as I can!!!!!!!! Without sniffing it, it is so very me…

  5. Great post. Like you, I buy the same fragrance in different concentrations.

    But have often wondered if there is a real issue here for niche houses. I wonder how many repeat purchases they get? People who buy niche tend to be perfume enthusiasts anyway, and that by definition means that they already have many perfumes. I love my bottle of Reverie au Jardin, but I’m unlikely to buy again. (The niche houses that sell in small bottles must get some repeats I guess.)

    And so the niche houses too are always releasing new things, always trying to hook the customer back with something new.

    1. That’s the thing, isn’t it? I really wonder, without the wider audience that, say, Chanel has, how they can be sustainable. Maybe if the operation is small enough, like Tauer, or Sonoma Scent Studio, or DSH (and so on), perfumistas are enough to support the business with their 1-off purchases. Then again, maybe I am waaaaay underestimating how many of us there are! I know NST gets a million hits a month, so even if there are only a hundred or so commenters there, there are probably thousands of regular readers…

      This topic truly fascinates me, but I have no idea how to really research it further! Ideas???

  6. Hmmmm, hasn’t happened yet. (I know, I know, big surprise.) I am considering picking up a second bottle of Silences, so I can have a back-up before reformulation. I do have some decants that are starting to get low and are due for a full bottle purchase, but I don’t think that’s what you meant.

    1. Back-up bottles, decants, multiple concentrations… I have no idea how to really measure! I guess Anne Marie touched on the idea that I want to get at: is our fickleness really a problem for the niche houses, or is it enough that we buy one bottle then move on to the next new thing?

      1. There are two that will definitely be bought again when I eventually run out: Black Cashmere and Ormonde Woman. I can’t imagine ever being without them.

  7. Sorry, I’m late…
    I have thought about it for a while, but so far I didn’t buy anything twice. Chanel and Guerlain are houses where I am contemplating different concentrations of scents, but other than that I am always falling for the lure of the new.

    Oh, wait, I got a new bottle of Puredistance I, but that was a gift, a very welcome one though. And the Puredistances are the ones I will certainly repurchase if I run out too.

  8. Mitsouko, three times so far! And if they were ever availible in Sweden, I would certainly by different concentrations also. When I run out of Bandit, I’m sure I will buy a new bottle of that as well.

  9. I’ve been guilty of buying “backup bottles” of things I love, especially when they are discontinued (e.g., Cuir de Lancome) or reformulated (Emeraude pdt). So far the only second bottle I’ve gotten has been Le Temps d’une Fete – and even that I swapped for, shortly before my 30ml bottle bit the dust. But that’s the one, the ONE bottle that I’ve actually killed since becoming a huge perfume fan.

    I will replace my Mary Greenwell Plum as well, I’m sure.

    1. Backup bottles! That’s a whole ‘nuther category unto itself! It’s true though, many perfumistas do buy backup bottles of their favorite things, though the reason is sad, I think. We can’t depend on the perfume being the same year after year, and the idea of waiting to replace a bottle when it’s empty only to find that it’s either been reformulated or discontinued is horrifying enough to get us to buy multiples while the getting is good.

      My, but that’s a rant; I guess I’m feeling ranty 😉

  10. Since I’ve been “into” perfumes, I’ve only bought backup bottles just in case, but haven’t run out of anything yet. Back in the way back, I went through more 2 or 3 bottles of Clinique Happy, and probably some of the other things I wore in high school/college. When I started getting into perfume, I got one of those Maison Vanilles at Anthropologie. Since I had never seen it before and didn’t know where else to get it, I got a 2nd bottle in case. And I bought a 2nd bottle of MAC Africanimal since that one is discontinued. I doubt I will ever run out of anything other than some of my smaller decants since I am a very light spritzer by nature and don’t wear a lot of perfume at home due to the husband’s migraines. If I did run out a bottle or decants, there are some I may repurchase – Chene is one

    1. Hi Julie!

      That was smart if you to snag that Africanimal while the getting was good! My goodness, if there wasn’t a run on those when they were phased out… (wish that I had been smart enough to stock up on Deja Rose when it was available: LOVE).

      Being a light spritzer will certainly make things last, especially when you have a lot to choose from— but I am so sorry about your poor husband! Migraines are the worst, and anything that aggravates them should certainly be avoided; hopefully you work outside the home somewhere where you can enjoy your fragrances?

      1. Yes, work is where I get to wear my perfumes. And it’s a bright side when he has to go out of town that I can go crazy with sampling and wearing bigger stuff!

        1. I can picture you happily packing him up for a weekend trip away, lol! 😉

          Thank goodness you don’t work in a fragrance-free zone!

  11. What a great question, Dee! 🙂

    Let’s see… I’ll list only those that I’ve actually bought (even though there are bottles I don’t want to be without and I’m sure I’ll buy more once my current ones are gone or I read that a perfume has been discontinued):

    – My all times love Climat by Lancome – I have it in a couple of formulations and a back-up bottle;
    – Diorella by Dior;
    – Petite Cherie by Annick Goutal;
    – №19 EDT, №19 Parfum and №19 Poudre;
    – Tuscany Per Donna by Estee Lauder;
    – Deep Red by Hugo Boss;
    – Sweet Milk by Jo Malone;
    – Angel and Angel Taste of Fragrance;
    – Nature by Yves Rocher.

    Though now I realize that with the number of bottles I have in my collection only a news about of of my favorites being discontinued will prompt me to buy an additional bottle since I doubt I’ll be running out of any one any time soon.

    1. Thank you Undina! The question has been on my mind lately, although I still feel like it’s only partially formulated (and answered). There are so many things I never want to be without, but at the rate I use up anything… I may never need to buy replacement bottles! (though I do keep a careful eye on that dwindling L’Heure Bleue EDT).

      As I read your list, I have to remind myself that you are a long time perfume lover! That’s quite a list of replaced bottles!

      And I tend to agree– don’t think you’ll be running out of anything soon, lol.

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  13. I bought a back up bottle of Bois Naufrage just the other day, on hearing that the London stocks were dangerously low, and it is a LE! That’s about it really, but I am nearly out of Brulure now, so will I buy another bottle before this one is finally gone? – we’ll see..shouldn’t need to as it is a regular line, but I might be in a shopping mood one day when I am in Les Senteurs, you know how it goes..

    1. Limited editions are the worst! But then, in this context it makes sense to me— from the perfumers (or houses) perspective, if the future availability of specific raw ingredients is uncertain, why not just make a series of fantastic LE’s? Not everyone has Chanel’s fields of roses at their disposal…

      Bois Naufrage? I need to try this! And Brulure… Well, I can’t imagine not having that around. That’d be like not keeping sugar in the pantry 🙂

  14. Angel by Thierry Mugler. Been rockin’ that baby off and on since ’92. It’s been a few years and I’ve been mulling over another revisit after noticing that a drugstore near my home has the canister that can refill my crystal bottle!

    1. Tamara, I LOVE that TM does refills! I feel like that gesture alone will keep a perfume lover well-stocked in their favorite scent. I wish more houses offered the option!

      1. I have never bought Angel in any of its variations, but oddly, now after all of these years I just may! Crazy…mulling over the Angel with Cocoa added, I do not have a chocolate touched fragrance….I know there are others….however this one as a LD will probably not have refills. That’s why I like By Kilian, but
        I like by Kilian anyhow! Back to Black, Sweet Remption and Amber Oud. Only Sweet Redemption I bought the bottle, the others I bought the Travel, and love that I can carry then in my bag. Most certainly will buy refills when the time comes, does that count as repeat?

  15. Great question, Dee! My multiple purchases are Shalimar and No. 19. I think those are the only ones. I am guilty of buying back-up bottles of those two as well. I would love it if you are able to research the viability of the long-term niche business model, because I’ve often wondered about it as well. And eyeing the level of juice left in the bottles in my cupboard, I wonder even more! Like almost everyone else who has commented, it’s unlikely I’m going to run out anytime soon.

    1. Mmm… Two of my favorites!

      I have no idea how to go about such a thing, but I sure am intrigued— I may need to enlist the assistance of Undina 😉

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