Indefensible Amounts Of Beauty – A Response

Editor’s Note: The following post was intended as a comment on my recent Monday Question about the importance of bottles. Since it is rather long and very beautiful (and that is apparently emerging to become our theme this year, people!), I’ve decided to publish it in its entirety here.

Jordan River Private Collection - Photo by Nathan Branch

Jordan River Bottle Collection – Photo Nathan Branch

Dear, dear Olfactoria,

This is Panoramix, a potion specialist. You may know me by my English name Getafix. I have just read your beauty posts and your thoughts on bottles with delight. The Viennese have always known that the outside is part of the inside. Gesamtkunstwerk indeed.

My perfume collection is sheer useless beauty – parfums, flacons, oils, bell jars, colognes, spritzers, eau de toilettes, spray capsules, scent strips, absolutes, dipsticks, worthy full bottles, applicators, extraits, vinaigrettes, quadrilobes, decants, bee bottles, wax samples, more worthy full bottles and an Hermès atomizer lock for my manbag. No roll-ons thanks. I want to look at my perfume library and see

indefensible amounts of beauty. It doesn’t feed anybody, it doesn’t make firewood, it’s not pragmatic. It’s just…

a reinterpretation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s thoughts on flowers. (You can hear her musings on beauty here).

I think that beauty can be a trap and the trap is often beautiful, even extremely beautiful. Well, it would be, wouldn’t it? Beauty can also elevate you to a plane where your surroundings and your soul are entwined. Isn’t this the place where you want to be as often as possible? Edging on this side of a Stendhal moment?
Beauty is also like perfume: perfume is as perfume does.

Everyday I write the list
Of reasons why I still believe they do exist,
A Thousand Beautiful Things

The quote is Annie Lennox’s meditation on beauty. When she encounters beauty she never wants to close her eyes again.

How wonderful to be posting this through The Vienna Portal. What a way to cross the oceans. We’ve been traveling with Olfactoria since 2010 and it is lovely being with you all, fellow travelers, right now. Speaking of now, I am off to find the mirrored tray that I can see in my clear and almost present future.

Shall we write our own list below? A Thousand Fragrant Things.

This guest post was inspired by:
Shameless Beauty
How Important is the Perfume Bottle to you?

Eat Pray Waft,

AKA Jordan River from Australian Perfume Junkies

Jordan River


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
This entry was posted in Beauty and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Indefensible Amounts Of Beauty – A Response

  1. brie says:

    fabulous!!!! and very inspiring! Thank you 🙂

  2. Undina says:

    The thing I got from the post: I have to get a mirrored tray! 😉 (And, of course, YEY to the other nine hundred and ninety nine beautiful and fragrant things!)

  3. Madeleine says:

    Hi Birgit, hi Jordan!

    Wow! What lovely words! Thank you Jordan fir giving them to us and thanks Birgit for sharing. I am a little biased as I’m also from the Australian Perfume Junkies crew, but it was just so lovely to read such beauty and may I say, really nice to take a little break and read about the beauty and joy in perfume without it being a straight perfume review.

    Thank you both for a giving me a little piece of joy and solitude today.


  4. ringthing says:

    Europeans get it, the pursuit of beauty. The American pioneer esthetic seeks beauty but feels guilty about it. Thank you for your beautiful, beautiful words.

    • Jordan River says:

      Well spoken. That may also partially explain American perfume preferences. Clean, functional bordering on sterility.

    • Krickard says:

      I never could express it correctly; but you’re right, as an American I often feel guilty about seeking out beauty… “it’s not practical”, “it’s elitist”. But in the end I always submit to beauty because it gives my soul joy.

  5. poodle says:

    Lovely post, or should I say beautiful post. I agree with ringthing too. People feel guilty about taking time to just enjoy things or to appreciate what they have. Everyone seems so focused on what they don’t have. Then they deprive themselves of things they could have. Life’s too short to deprive yourself of everything. Most people need to open their eyes a bit and really look at the beauty in their everyday lives. I always remember that quote from Auntie Mame, ” Life’s a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

  6. Alexandra says:

    Useless beauty, bell jars and Annie Lennox – what a wonderful combination for a coffee break – my lifted spirit thanks you!

  7. Jordan River says:

    Coffee breaks and perfume blogs are a nice combination. Daily, right? Thank you too Alexandra.

  8. Tara says:

    Jordan, thank-you so much for such an uplifting post. In the beginning I would look at my perfume with joy but now it seems to be mostly guilt. I need start enjoying the beauty of it again.

    Birgit, thanks for reproducing this glorious comment in full.

    • Jordan River says:

      Why Tara, you have nothing to be guilty of. All that thought and energy was time spent making choices, your choices and you may as well enjoy living with them. Now rearrange your bottles of joy and you will see beauty from a different angle.

  9. shylotus says:

    Jordan, spoken as a true Aesthete. Thank you for your lovely thoughts and unabashed love of beauty.

  10. Jordan River says:

    Shylotus, such beauty in a name. Nice to hear your voice.

  11. Nancysg says:

    I really appreciate this “comment” and am glad you decided to post it. I have been thinking about perfume bottles lately and which ones I love and which ones are just right for the fragrance line. The clever mechanical design of the Cartier Basier Vole bottle called to me even before I smelled the lily inside it. And Kerosene has the most beautiful colors of metallic paint on his bottles.

    And then there are bottles like the Frederic Malles. Rather understated and some people feel too restrained for the price point you are paying. But I find that his bottles exude the gravitas of the whole line – the thought and skill behind the fragrances. I do love the Barney’s special sleeves that are available right now. The watercolor art reflects the feel of each fragrance and add to the total experience. Part of the hard choice I made recently about which Malle to buy included the debate of which watercolor sleeve I liked the best.

    • Jordan River says:

      And now to decide whether it’s art or design calling you. Ah, watercolours. I appreciate your comment and those particular bottles too. They are singing Vissi d’arte! You too methinks. Which Malle is now gracing your life experience?

  12. Suzanne says:

    Oh, I like the way you think, Jordan. (And I love your reply to Tara’s comment, as I think anyone who is a collector [of anything] does suffer moments of guilt at times. I know I do.)

    Thanks for sharing your very lovely thoughts on beauty with us — and for the Annie Lennox song.

  13. There’s something in air….I have been living with Théophile Gautier’s Mademoiselle de Maupin on my mind for the last few days. Your post dovetails so nicely with his thoughts on beauty vs. utilitarianism. Thank you for bringing such lovely sillage to an otherwise dreary day.

  14. Jordan River says:

    My room looked upon a little lake…. My window was framed with jasmine, which was shaking its stars in silver rain across the floor. Large foreign flowers were poising their urns beneath my balcony as though to cense me; a sweet undecided odor, formed of a thousand different perfumes, penetrated to my bed, whence I could see the water gleaming and scaling into millions of spangles… Théophile Gautier 1835. How many times have you read that Cheryl? Love the way you spritz your décolletage. Homework for everyone is to read or re-read Mademoiselle de Maupin as well as perfumedletters. The Russian Hohloma style of painting grew out of making everyday objects beautiful. You can see echoes of this in many 21 century advertising campaigns that have borders of tendrils. I had wondered for a long time with this design style came from as it swept through magazines, billboards and all sorts of media.

  15. Dionne says:

    What a wonderful post. And Annie Lennox, well that’s just the cherry on top. One thing I’ve learned and keep re-learning is that you cannot feel guilt and gratitude at the same time. And when your heart is full of gratitude, you just want to pass the beauty along.

    • Jordan River says:

      Dionne have truer words ever been written? Amazing / annoying how often we have to re-learn but I am learning this same lesson too. Hope you are top of the class and me a close second. I love how intense Annie is on the video. Here’s to hearts of gratitude. Wishing you ‘beauty all around you’ because I know you will share it all around you.

  16. Kafkaesque says:

    Lovely, elegant, poetic, and so damn true! “Sheer, useless beauty” that feeds the soul. And the whole thing ends with a photo of a very handsome, dashing man. Good heavens! What a lovely way to wake up. 😀

  17. Jordan River says:

    Hey Zola and Kafkaesque, I may have to change my name to bashfullotus after that comment. Have to dash now.

  18. Pingback: The Doctor who married a Perfumista in Vienna | The Fragrant Man

  19. Pingback: People In Perfumeland – Jordan Thompson Of The Fragrant Man | Olfactoria's Travels

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s