There are probably hundreds of thousands of perfume collectors with massive collections worldwide. By massive I mean anything over 100 bottles of perfume. To collectors with 1,000 bottles that probably seems like a low number to start at but 100 is a nearly unfathomable amount to the average person. Actually, I’d bet having 20 bottles of perfume would feel almost excessive to most people.
Anyway, there are many different types of perfume collections.
Some are terrifying to watch. At least I find them terrifying. Why? Because they’re comprised of new bottle after new bottle of genuinely expensive perfume (as far as perfume goes). $400 once $350 the next time. $700. Repeat. Repeat. Maybe $175 on occasion. I firmly believe that the old Lalique and Baccarat bottles, especially when sealed, are actual investments. They’ve already aged. They’re unassailable classics now. When you spend even $1,000 on one of them (or more) you’re unlikely to lose that money long-term (unless there’s a global collapse unlike anything we’ve seen since the dark ages). They’re proven, easily identifiable, certifiable, quantifiable art. However, while those $500 new bottles are often trendy or coveted they’re also not proven long-term investments. There are possibly classics among them… Some of them anyway. But they can’t all be safe investments. Let’s be honest.
While many of those bottles are showpieces and lust-worthy for some perfume collectors they’re just perfume to everyone else. So…you’ll, in the future, be required to be able to find a hungry group of buyers who are super knowledgeable with a taste for early 21st Century (mostly) niche perfume to just break even (counting inflation and etc.). Henry Dunay Sabi, for example, works to sell years later because of what it is and I wouldn’t call it a classic. But I’m not sure most $500 (or more) new bottles are as timeless and artistically perfect as Sabi. To summarize: there are few exceptions and few classics among the most trendy expensive new bottles. Sorry.
So…what does that mean for those collections? Oh wow… … …They are excessive, risky, wildly opulent, “live in the moment” super indulgences. From any objective vantage point. And for that reason, while I totally respect those collector’s right to buy whatever they wish and display it, those collections scare me even just to watch. Those people are basically throwing tens of thousands of Dollars out the window. …I get it. But…somehow doing that sort of thing with money in protest (for example) feels less scary to me than buying huge amounts of super luxurious perfume. It’s…wild to buy the amount and type of perfume that those people do in tandem. They’re the daredevils of the fragrance community. Thrill seekers in a way.
Then there are the people who buy mostly from one fragrance house to create their collection. Guerlain is a favorite choice in this category of collection. They’ll likely buy most flankers, often get excited about new releases and have at least one or two of every type of collectible bottle or it’s likely what they’re aiming for long term. OR they simply express adoration for that one house (again often it’s Guerlain) even if they don’t primarily collect from that house.
Some collectors identify as wearers. They buy only what they truly think they can “wear”. No matter that they have 300 bottles of “wearable” perfume and they’re therefore highly unlikely to ever finish using their collection in their lifetime. They still have the mindset that they’re being vaguely practical (at least slightly) because their fragrance purchases are about using the perfume and not just about “letting it collect dust” as they might put it. For whatever reason this is the group of collectors who have usually hated me with the most vitriol… Truly, most people who have found the need to attack me with the most passionate hate at some point have indicated that they’re wearers and not just collectors. And of course that’s ironic since I actually feel like I’m in this category of collector myself to some degree…*shrug*
Actually though I’m also in another group (overlap is common). That group being the people who collect vintages. Some of us buy vintages for both reasons of appreciation and investment and others likely buy vintages purely for enjoyment. (Also lots of narcissistic people pretend to be in this category.)
…Then I suppose you could have a separate category of people who will often call themselves “addicts”. Whether they’re flippantly calling themselves that or actually admitting to a perfume addiction is often somewhat difficult to discern. At any rate, these are collectors who feel guilty. Perhaps they do tend to buy foolishly but…either way…they are or want to be perceived as…wild, afflicted, and buying in excess. “I could have paid my rent and bought groceries but instead I bought perfume.” (Subtext of course is: I couldn’t help myself because I’m addicted and unfettered in my passionate pursuit of olfactory pleasure.) Second to the wearers these are the people who have hated me the most.
You know…is it any wonder I figured out years ago that a lot of the hate directed towards me was because of class unrest? And because we’re all adults making choices I decided to share why I found the focus on competition and pettiness irrelevant to enjoying the art? If you’re an addict with no self control then that’s a sickness and I feel bad for you but…if you’re just trying to narcissistically prove yourself or if your addiction is a manifestation of your narcissism why would I see you as an actual victim needing to be coddled in regard to issues of social class? I wouldn’t. I didn’t. My grandfather who was a judge very likely would have agreed with me. Ha! If you’re an adult and you truly are buying hundreds of bottles you can’t genuinely afford and will never even finish using instead of feeding your kids or helping them with their college expenses…and then you tell everyone that online…while passively aggressively attacking me weekly if not daily for years…I’m likely to get angry. Who in their right mind wouldn’t? Right? It’s gross. *smile*
Anyway…not all perfume collectors are addicted. Not all wearers who buy more than they can wear are addicted. Not all “perfume addicts” are really even true addicts. If you’re a perfume community member and you are an addict hopefully…you’re not harming yourself or others with your addiction. At least…no more harm beyond spreading more phthalates into the air around you. Ha!
Hmm… Whatever group you’re in you should aim to collect and wear perfume for reasons of genuine love. Dissecting each note if you fancy to. Writing poems about the way it makes you feel to wear it. Loving the way the bottles feel to hold and spray. Appreciating the sensual artistic genius of good perfume. Analyzing the practical considerations of longevity and projection. Enjoying yourself in a healthy way…