Sometimes I really think that half the fun of perfume is- literally-in the bottles. I love so many antique bottles that can’t be produced today. In the past that old dictum of Coty’s, namely that a perfume should appeal as much to the eye as to the nose, was strictly adhered to, nowadays not so much.
There on the left you see one of those bottles that collectors are generally after, and who can blame them? It’s a beautiful presentation and just the sort of thing you might want for your favorite perfume.
What I do is to look for some of these wonderful old bottles and then decant into them. The best way to do this is to clean your bottle thoroughly. So step one, gently clean the outside with detergent liquid in warm water ( this cleaning is by hand in the sink lined first with an old towel so if your hand slips- no breakage!). Then fill the bottle with isopropyl alcohol for twenty four hours. If there is dried perfume around the bottle neck, make a cotton wool collar soaked in alcohol and tie it on. The old residue comes off easily. Very often this first alcohol fill will clean out the last of any perfume from the flagon, but if you think you detect any remaining odor after the bottle dries, repeat the process. (This by the way was how the perfume urns at Caron were cleaned back in the day and is a reliable method.)
Flea markets and estate sales are really good hunting grounds for these old containers, and then there is your own collection. Shop your cabinet. Don’t throw out old bottles. Clean them and they will provide good homes for decants, things bought in ugly flacons, or partial bottles.
I sometimes have a mania for finding limited editions of old perfumes or re-issues and putting them in the original bottle. I’ve tried this with Coty’s Muse, and the results were quite pretty. Most often though it’s simply an impulse to make a commercial product more personal and more attractive. I have to admit to having few qualms about moving some of my old de Nicolais into new glass houses.
Best of all you get to indulge in another passion which is bottle collecting, but the bottles end up being useful. I particularly enjoy the trick of taking something very mass market and putting it into something very high end. Nobody
suspects what you’ve done-Yves Rocher in crystal? Why not? I will even cop to having re- located powder into new powder boxes ( the best come from old vanity sets) and to putting niche perfumes in personal bottles of my own. Take for instance the crystal and silver bottle inherited from my Hub’s family into which I poured one of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s less expensive fragrances for a summer. The bottle looked fabulous, I smelled good, and frankly so did the perfume cabinet since unbeknownst to me that bottle leaked faintly. Needless to say if you are using a VERY old flagon check for stopper soundness! ( fill with colored water and turn upside down for a night in a sink over a rag. You’ll see what is watertight!)
It’s maybe an odd way to expand and house a collection, but consider, using old bottles is green, is personally expressive, and looks great- how can you lose?
Do you ever decant into antique glass?