Monday, February 11, 2008

Big Bottles

That nagging question rears its hoary head yet again: Is bigger necessarily better? I don’t know about you folks, but size does make a statement ... even when it’s aw-shucks goofy. Honestly now, given the opportunity to explore the immensities of space, to climb an alpine peak or be dwarfed by the magnificent height of a skyscraper over, say, idling away a day in some Wunderkammer or hunched over a microscope, I’d choose the former. I guess it speaks to my desire for something different, some experience that will rouse me from cyber-myopia or the minutiae of workaday life. I cast my demitasse spoon, gaily, into the volcano’s fiery sublimities.

Over the last week or two, I realize that I’ve been lusting over the larger formats in which one can find some of the best of wine and perfume. Typically, in wine-speak, these are the magnums and the double-magnums; in perfume-speak, they are referred to as “splash” bottles. When it comes to buying wine in larger formats, the concern is generally a lower surface-air ratio. For a very precious cuvée, a larger format grants some insurance of the wine’s development and viability over time. (Hmm.. Shouldn’t that 1928 Romanée Conti be ready about now?) Many bottlers inflate the prices of larger formats because they are harder to come by.

When it comes to perfume, larger formats speak to thrift, the ability to decant into smaller bottlers and, let’s face it, the basic human desire to show off. Yesterday, at Barneys New York, I know I saw the perky thirtysomething’s face light up when she saw the Frederic Malle L’Eau d’Hiver in a 250mL splash. But her look was less about thrift than about a beautiful big bottle sparkling under the halogen minis in her Waterworks master bath. And I don’t blame her. After all, didn’t women of my great-grandmother’s generation use an entire bottle of eau de Cologne for each ablution at Baden Baden or Bad Ragaz. For the valets, it must’ve been like carrying milk bottles to the spa, if not as commonplace.

With the mass-market release of Prada Infusion d’Iris in an unheard-of size – 600mL or thereabouts – there seems to a micro-trend developing for larger bottles of lighter formulations. Chanel caught on to this when they wisely released Les Exclusifs in large, unassuming splash-like bottles. Who knows, maybe Guerlain will release Eau de Shalimar in a sailboat-sized splash. When I was done soaking my guests with it, I could reuse it for pennies or, better yet, goldfish. Perhaps when the chips are down, size is a comfort to us, a means of saving face despite recessionary woes and the morbid morality of penny-pinchers.

My only gripe in all this – bottle designers, hear me out – please include an atomizer!


Anonymous Anonymous said... are wonderful writer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love the way you write!! like scent...........(poem)You do write like scenting around perfume. I don know what to say. Anyhow, I love your writing.

February 11, 2008 at 8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ugh, big bottles are the bane of my existence. Now granted, I don't mind owning a lot of juice, but I frankly - HATE paying for it.

There are so many scents out there that I wouldn't mind owning but to do so requires you purchase a tankard of liquid.

Cologne du 68, Im talking to you.

Metalys used to be on that list but now its in a smaller bottle in the Les Parisiennes collection. Although, the bigger bottle was a hell of a lot nicer. Eh, 6 of one, half dozen of the other I guess...

Guerlain is the main culprit, here. Shame Shame.

February 12, 2008 at 10:40 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

T., Happy you're enjoying the blog and that you enjoyed Fléchier's "Une Rose," and Vetivresse's perfume mania in real-time. Let's go perfume shopping!

February 12, 2008 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Now for MD,

Larger formats are luxury trophies, esp for the better houses. I have more Attrape-Coeur than I know what to do with ... and the little bee ball cap does absolutely "rien" for application. It needs a bulb atomizer or a travel atomizer (viz. Creed).

I think they do it to limit their customer base to, how shall I say it nicely, a narrow gene pool.

As for me, I just like it when my guests knock them over and then cower, shiveringly, before me. ;-)

February 12, 2008 at 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes, and I buy into it. Must confess, Im in the Guerlain gene pool.

My Guerlain bill for Spring Sniffa is going to put me in therapy for months. Guerlain is bad for a Pisces.

Chamade PH
Cruel Gardenia
Rose Barbare
L'Heure Bleue extrait

and possibly the d'Un Heros if it is a more luxurious version of Coriolan, a love of mine for many years, now.

I better frickin' win that gift basket.

February 12, 2008 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

I want to try Rose Barbare so badly and you keep referencing it. I might not last until April Sniffa. Headline reads: Man Run Amok into Bergdorf's Beauty Circle Sounding Rose Barbaric Yawp. I recoil from the obsessional tone of the last sentence.

February 12, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a stash that may or may not last until BG Beauty event. Only time will tell. SOOO Happy that this Sniffa overlaps the Beauty event. 25$ for every 100 spent, be still my heart.

I could add Bois d'Armenie to the list, as well. Been wanting that for months as well.

Just showered and put on some Coriolan b/c its been a while since Ive worn it. I cant really imagine something better than this but Im all aflutter waiting.

Have you tried Coriolan, C?

February 12, 2008 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Are you referring to the discontinued Coriolan or the new edition in the bee bottle? Somehow I thought they were renaming it...

February 12, 2008 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 12, 2008 at 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im referring to the original Coriolan, from 1998, soon after discontinued.

Yes, they are re-releasing it under the Les Parisiennes Collection and are calling it L'Âme d'Un Héros. They could not call it Coriolan anymore b/c they have apparently lost the trademark for the name.

It is unclear yet whether or not they have tweaked the juice - some reports say that they've used more luxurious ingredients for the release like they did to Mahora when it was brought back as Mayotte. Other reports say that it has not been tweaked and is the same as Coriolan.

Part of me hopes the latter is true so I wont need to drop $205 on a bottle and I can continue to use my surplus of Coriolan (I have about 8 bottles stashed away).

But then the thought of an even better Coriolan is just too exciting for me.

February 12, 2008 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Weird. $205 for the new rendition, with new name and new bee flacon? I just walked over the local discount frag bazaar on E. 55th St and snapped up their last bottle (what a quirky design!) at $22 + tax. I will give it a try.

February 12, 2008 at 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great price, C.

Do let me know what you think.

February 12, 2008 at 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

alright CV

Ive been wearing Cologne du 68 since I went to bed last night, constantly reapplying as the day progresses.

*cowers* I think I need this. Oy. There goes my kidneys AND my first-born.

Maybe I can take something off of the list to make room for 68...

...hmm, nope.

Have you tried this?

February 13, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...


I love the name.
I love the idea of ’68.
I love projecting images of myself hurling Molotov cocktails while quoting Debord and Bakunin, even dating Anna Karina (dazed 'n' confused). But when I tried this juice, I just didn't get t. When I hie myself to BG on Friday, maybe I will.

February 13, 2008 at 3:31 PM  
Blogger TamNoir said...

One of my fave scents is Bois Des iles by Chanel and I still have the original size bottle. I'm afraid to use it all because I do not want to fall merciless on my knees to buy the big Les Exclusifs' bottle!!! I do not need a big a$$ bottle!!!!! MD: I think the big bottles are the bane of the existence to those who are not 'loyal' to just one fragrance... I definitely fall into that catergory..

February 25, 2008 at 1:17 PM  

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