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I really dislike the word "exclusive". I feel there's a misconception in the world of fragrance that exclusivity is something desirable. When I see it I just think of exclusion, and I don't like that.


Some of the industry's most revered critics will tell you that a perfume called Nombre Noir from Shiseido is the best perfume ever made. The trouble is it was only made for a very brief period. It was launched in the early 1980s and discontinued in the early 1980s (I've read some accounts that say it was only sold for one year). The high cost and complications with the packaging led to it being pulled from the shelves.


Early into my life as a perfume collector, I was lucky enough to meet someone selling an extra bottle they'd acquired at a price that didn't require me to surrender any superfluous organs. It's a nice perfume. It smells quite of its time. A dark, brooding rose in the style of Paloma Picasso. It's certainly beautiful; however, it's not a fragrance I feel the urge to have more of.


Of course we all have different likes and dislikes; however, I did wonder how much of their opinion of Nombre Noir came from a place of demonstrating the fragrances they have access to. "Look what I can smell, and you can't. Oh and it just happens to be the best perfume ever made."


Is it a genuine opinion, or is it a demonstration of hierarchy to reinforce a position of "authority" and "expertise"? 


At some point I'll schedule an event for the vintage Shiseido perfumes, and let everyone smell it to form their own opinions. One thing I'd really like to do with the events I'm planning is create accessibility so more people can enjoy and hopefully gain a deeper appreciation for fragrance.


Pictured above is Balmain's Élysées 64-83. It's the perfume that started the working relationship between Germaine Cellier and Pierre Balmain. Balmain notes in his autobiography My Years and Seasons – that “My friend, Germaine Cellier, had just invented a perfume for me which evoked the best kind of elegance of which I wanted to be the harbinger. I named it Élysées 64-83, my first telephone number.” [source : Cafleurebon]


It's unclear if 64 - 83 was available commercially. It might have been reserved as a gift for Balmain's influential clients. It's considered a bit of a unicorn amongst collectors.


We'll be smelling it at my first event later this month.