Perfume Story: 2. Culture of Glass: October 2011 Archives

2. Culture of Glass: October 2011 Archives

Perfume lovers' gathering held in Rouen, France, October, 2010


One beautiful morning, as the overnight rain cooled down the temperature and formed fog over the Seine, I went to a village next to Rouen to participate a perfume lovers' gathering.

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When I arrived, I saw a simple poster which read, "Parfums Passion" at the entrance. As I walked inside of the building, there were about fifty tables set up for the exhibition of the perfume in the large space. It was obvious that they arrived early in the morning to set up for this exhibition. At ten o'clock when the door opened, about waiting 40 perfume lovers outside rushed in. The chairman of the Parfums Passion told me that at this pace, about 50 visitors by noon and 100 visitors in the afternoon could be expected. Since they had had fifteen events like this before, a lot of participants knew each other. Some came from Paris and other places as far as Belgium.

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I interviewed some of the collectors who exhibited their perfume. An older lady who came from Bourgogne with her husband was sitting at the exhibition table. She said with a smile that she did not participate for the past two years since she hurt her back. Her big hobby is to decorate her perfume collections in her window display in her house and to check the scents every once a while. She had been retired for 15 years. Her favorite perfumes were Guerlain and Chanel. She tended to like the stronger scents but preferred to wear the violet scent when she went to sleep. She wore a different scent when going out. She could not imagine life without perfume. The reason she started collecting perfume was she was attracted by its beautiful bottles. The miniature bottles given to her by her friend were really adorable. I also asked her husband some questions. He said that his job was to drive her and manage her budget. Otherwise she would buy perfume endlessly. They looked each other and laughed cheerfully.


At the next table, there was a lady who had been collecting perfumes for 20 years. She said proudly that she had a 3,000 perfume card collection. When she was cleaning her grandmother's belongings after she passed away, she discovered many of them. She had no idea her grand mother was a collector. This caused her to begin collecting perfume cards. Besides cards, she had about 2,500 perfume bottles. Among the perfumes and books on the table she was selling, I was interested in the book titled "Le Guide Du Parefum Rebecca" by Veuillet-Gallot. It was only 5 Euros, so I purchased it for reference.


Next, I interviewed a man who had been collecting perfumes for thirty years. With his beard and moustache, he looked like a real veteran collector. Once he walked into a duty-free perfume shop in the Principality of Andorra, a country surrounded by the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. Beautiful miniature perfume bottles caught his attention, so he started his perfume collection. He had between 3,000 and 4,000 in his collection, including miniature perfumes. He usually purchased perfume at these kinds of events, basing his purchases off information exchanged with his peers. He said, "At today's exhibition, we are sellers as well as buyers. While we sell our collections, we also look around and purchase something we like. This kind of event takes place year round, so we are always busy. Profit is not my interest. I do this out of passion. I used to buy everything but now I like to buy old perfumes. I joined this community two years ago. I got up at 3 in the morning and traveled four hours to get here from Le Mans. I like perfumes myself and always wear them. My favorite is Dior's men's perfume. My wife mostly wears Chanel. " He had the biggest exhibition table in the whole building.


As we were talking, a lady with a check for 150 Euros approached him in order to buy a bell-shaped perfume called "Spring in Paris". This man owned two of that kind, so he could sell one of them at this exhibition. But, 150 Euros for such a tiny perfume bottle? She made a payment and received it with happy smile, which made me smile as well. Her mission was accomplished.

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There was a young couple at the next exhibition table. I asked the husband, sitting next to his wife, whether he was bored. He said not at all. He was enjoying this atmosphere. Looking around, I noticed that many visitors were browsing and chatting, just as the Chairman predicted. It was busy and lively but not noisy. This elegant atmosphere, I thought, was very French. His wife had been collecting perfumes for fifteen years. I said to him that she must have started collecting when she was young. He said yes. He took pictures of all the perfumes they owned and saved them on their computer. Those images were shown on the computer screen at this exhibition. He said that since they lived in a small house, they displayed a few perfumes at a time.

One mustachioed member appeared with files. He told me to look at them. Those were Nina Ricci's. He said he had collected only Nina Ricci's perfumes for four years and he currently carried 5,000 of them. At the beginning, he collected other brands as well, but now he focused on only Nina Ricci and traveled all over France with his wife to collect them. I was impressed by his passion for perfumes.


At noon, the champagne party started. The chairman introduced me as a Japanese visitor to everyone. The party was carried in an elegant fashion, well-suited for this perfume exhibition.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the 2. Culture of Glass category from October 2011.

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