One of the first things many people do when they get a new perfume home, perfectly understandably, is to unwrap it and throw the packaging away. And who can blame them? Perfume boxes are rarely the most exciting things to look at, while a great deal of thought often goes into the bottle, and some bottles are things of beauty in their own right.
The trouble is, this is just about the worst thing you can do, especially if, like a lot of people, you then keep the bottle on your windowsill in bright daylight or in a well-heated bathroom. For perfume is like wine: it degrades surprisingly quickly in strong light or high temperatures, darkening in colour and losing its subtleties of smell.
On the other hand, if you look after it properly, like wine, most perfume will keep for years: I have bottles that I bought ten or fifteen years ago that smell just as good now as they did on the day I first opened them. The key is to keep them dark and cool, and for that purpose the easiest thing to do is to store them in their original packaging. Some people go further still: a pop star I once met keeps hers in a special fridge, which is what perfume companies do as well.
I know it seems a shame to hide a handsome bottle, but then if manufacturers made their boxes more attractive then people would be less likely to discard them. There again maybe that’s the idea, though there are honourable exceptions: take a bow for your boxes, James Heeley, Hermès, Etro and Frédéric Malle.
So, next time you buy a perfume, treat it right. After all you wouldn’t spend £80 on a bottle of wine then keep it in a boiler cupboard, would you?