Me and Jasina - Overdosing with Singapore's darling


30th May, 2006

On December 24th I officially hit rock bottom. I ended up puffing on my asthma inhaler at a small showroom jam-packed with the best and discontinued. I clawed my way through the stacks, ran from wall to wall as Tricia, my trusty companion stood by with a camera to document my fall.I was tipped off by a number of Basenotes members – “If you’re gonna go to Singapore, there’s only one place to score: Jasina, baby.” Weeks before the big hit, I started an email romance with Wahida (Jasina’s email seductress). I pleaded for some Balenciaga pour Homme, a fleeting 90’s wonder-release, short-lived, but miraculous. Trying to ship fragrance out of Singapore is no small feat, and heck, I’ll be honest – one of my main motivations for actually traveling half way around the world to Singapore was simply to get the chance to spend a small fortune at Jasina. Never mind shipping. I’m glad I visited in person - I wasn’t disappointed. Neither was Mastercard.

Immediately upon entering, I got all choked up at the sight of Pierre Cardin’s discontinued and completely under-rated Centaure series. I lunged for a basket and began to scoop up boxes of red, green and white glass bottles topped with plastic horse-heads. I then spotted Lanvin Homme (original), Worth pour Homme (original) and del Pozo’s Duende (now I know what clouds feel like). I imagined no limit on the plastic and quickly moved to a showcase containing - oh lord, give me the strength and power – pure parfum. Nina Ricci’s Farouche beckoned to me as a 24 k gold hand-painted bottle of original Donna Karan won me over. Rabanne’s La Nuit, Diorama, Hermes Amazone (soon to be discontinued) all sang their siren songs until from a dark corner I spotted the triumph of 2005 – Sarah Jessica’s Lovely…2 bottles ended up in the basket, one for me and one for Tricia (who by hour #2 had fallen asleep on a bench outside the shop). I then sauntered up to my bottle of Balenciaga - a tester complete with olfactory pyramid sealed to the back of the bottle before chatting it up with the lovely owner of Jasina and her sexy saleswomen who were a bit confused by the fact that I, the man of the couple, should be so wrapped up in the pursuit of scent while my lovely companion now snored to passers by with a map of Singapore sprawled open on her lap.

Tricia awakes: Enter Tricia – “Marlen, did you know there was a second shop?” SECOND SHOP? What? Could mine ears deceive me? Could it be that a second Elysian Field awaits? I quickly quiz the salesgirl – “Second shop?” She replies, “Mostly non-designer things.” I imagine shelves of Adidas, Coty and Jeanne Arthes and shudder as I dismiss this notion. I make a final tour around the shop, shove my nose into a can of coffee beans, gather up a bunch of paper strips to throw in the trash (well, I try to clean up after myself), hover over the shelves of Adolfo Dominguez (Oh, Azahar, how you enchant me), sidle up to Alyssa Ashley Musk (oh Lorenzo, how could anyone compare?) and finish at the register where I decide I simply must have the entire collection of roll-on essential oils with names like “Hira Musk”, “Jabal Nur” and “Gaharu”. The owner and her attractive daughter get personal as I explain that I’m actually an English professor with a wicked addiction. A small gift gets deposited into my bag and I let them know that I had never before spent 2 hours in such a manner of bliss. They thank me, offer me a business card and I exit to meet Tricia. But an addict never stops at just one hit.

I shoulda known better. I shoulda just stopped there. I shoulda…Tricia tells me, “I think you need to see the other shop.” I remember that 2 hours ago she had wanted to eat lunch, but still hasn’t had a bite. Her blood sugar must be low because she says “We’re here. Let’s check it out.”

Have you ever heard of such compassion, such love, such…enabling? Oh the horror, the pleasure, the torture, the enchantment.

I enter a shop with twice the inventory and immediately notice the Robert Isabell fragrances, wrapped in original aluminum containers with a price tag of $6 US. I nearly choke before spying a bottle of Versailles pour Homme (yes, Bal a Versailles’ male counterpart), gasp as I reach for the last bottle of Delon’s Pharos, and then leap towards a bottle of Donna Karan for Men, knocking a small Indian woman out of the way with an under-the-breath shriek of “move it bitch!” I’m now kneeling on the floor gasping for breath, taking it all in, and yelling for the owner, “A basket! I need a basket!” Another seductress approaches, “Have you tried Caron Rose?” “Caron!?” I exclaim, “you have Caron?” My eyes roll to the back of my head and I safely manage to take a few steps forward. I have 17 boxes in my arms and I’m sure that I can manage one more. Vendetta anyone? Patou pour Homme? Safari Parfum? MORA-friggin-BITO?

I need a BASKET! I need a…I need a…I need to use the toilet. I have 25 scents sprayed across my arms and hands and need desperately to wash them off to make room for another 25. I excuse myself and tell Tricia to stand guard as I head towards a sink. It’s one of those moments like when you’re at a nightclub and you’ve had one more gin and tonic than you really needed and you cross the room towards the toilet hoping that you don’t look drunk but you know that you really are and if only you could just make it to the toilet and manage to look cool while showing off your designer jeans and totally rocking…and…did that woman just grab her nose as she passed me?

I re-enter the second shop. Tricia? Tricia? She’s gone? She’s…she’s…she’s sniffing Chopard Casmir. Good. She’s now as high as I am and we make eye contact and nod towards the back room. I’ve now befriended everyone in the shop and given them as much of an education as I can spare between moments gasping at one discontinued fragrance after the other. Tricia whispers, “Pssst. That’s the back room. Check it out. You can’t go back there. I just saw a guy. He tried to go back there. They told him he couldn’t.” I immediately cut her off, “I (emphasis on the I) can go back there….It’s me, for god-sakes! They wouldn’t tell ME not to go back there.” I pace back and forth at the entrance and call out to Wahida, “Wa-HIDA! Sweetie, can I check out this stock?” “Of course,” she replies. I inch towards a bottle of M de Morabito…here comes the owner. I go into my best “I’ve been a fragrance addict since I was a fetus” routine and stroke him with “your shop is unbelievable and I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’ve already met your wife. We bonded.” A small gift appears and is placed into Tricia’s hands. I smile though I’m really thinking “lucky cow” and then a cabinet is opened to reveal bottles of Mitsouko parfum, Safari Parfum and Christian Lacroix – LACROIX, SWEETIE – C’est La Vie parfum.

I’m not sure my heart can handle it any longer. I’m having palpitations. Where’s my inhaler?

Tricia and I finish up – she’s buying bottles of Kors, Obsession, Casmir, Safari Parfum – and I’m now buying bottles of Oh La La, DK Unleaded, Pharos and I decide against the $12 bottle of Michel Germain Sexual. Again, as we handover the plastic, a small gift is deposited into Tricia’s bag - Bal a Versailles parfum and Limoges pendant – and we do our best “thank you, we love you, we’ll be happy to clean your toilets any time” and exit towards food.

Later that night we empty two bags of fragrance onto our beds and examine the 27 packages. We open them, spread them across the duvets and roll around in them. The camera comes out and my high is regained as I, ever the ham, do my best to create a perfect image.

Conclusion: If you’re gonna go off the deep end and indulge your nasty-ass addict, hop on a plane and head towards incredible service and an eye-popping collection at Jasina in Singapore. Afterwards, walk along the Quay and feed yourself as you open your boxes and disinfect your arms. I did, and my life will never be the same!

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About the author: Marlen Harrison

Dr Marlen Harrison is the perfumer/owner of King’s Palace Perfumery, as well as creator/editor of ThePerfumeCritic.com, founded in 2006. As well as Basenotes, Harrison has contributed to Fragrantica, NowSmellThis, BeautyAddictMag and The Washington Blade.

Website: http://www.marlenharrison.com/

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Comments

    • Alicka61 | 30th May 2006 18:00

      Wonderful article, thanks much Marlen, you always make me laugh and improve my mood /that is high anyway/. I understand it very well, I am such an addict as well and know that speeding heartbeat. Be there more such articles.........hopefully ;)

      Alica

    • DrBubba | 30th May 2006 19:48

      Fabulous article.

      Now I just need to ask my friend in Singapore if she's ever been there. And if not, tell her HOW MUCH SHE NEEDS TO GO AND SHOP FOR ME.

      Edit: DAMN! She's in Malaysia. :(

    • maisonstinky | 31st May 2006 00:43

      That was an absolutely hilarious article Marlen ;D ;D ;D ;D.

      Had I not met you personally, I would have thought that you were making this up for the article :).

      Keep those articles coming :).

      Vijay"Maisonstinky"

    • MikeD | 31st May 2006 01:36

      I'd probably be in the same shape, were it not for the fact that your plastic is bigger than my plastic :D Great article!

    • scenteur7 | 31st May 2006 02:49

      Thanks for the kind words! As always, it's all true...I mean, embellishment has its roots in truth, right?...though I only wish I had taken a picture of Tricia snoring on the bench outside the shop.

      marlen

    • maisonstinky | 31st May 2006 03:46

      [quote=scenteur7]Thanks for the kind words! As always, it's all true...I mean, embellishment has its roots in truth, right?...though I only wish I had taken a picture of Tricia snoring on the bench outside the shop.

      marlen[/quote]

      That picture would have been great. Come to think of it, I had a digital camera, when you came to visit me, and I totally forgot about it. Please remind me next time.

      Vijay"Maisonstinky"

    • k_chandrashekar | 31st May 2006 03:51

      Marlen,

      I immensely enjoyed reading about your visit to Jasina.

      I'm amazed that you found Desprez's classic Versailles pour homme! I had but one chance to try it at a friend's, and I thought it was a classic that deserves to stand with the best.

      I'll be asking a friend in Singapore to pick a bottle up for me.

      Thanks for a hilarious read; keep 'em coming.

      Dixit.

    • moon_fish | 31st May 2006 06:21

      Marlen!

      I`d learn to hate you soon, Lucky Charming Bastard!!! ;D

      You found Versailles pour homme and DK Men... and Bal a Versaille... and other things...

      Lucky you! Super-Lucky You!!!

    • vandair | 31st May 2006 15:34

      Marlen,

      I'm glad that you too had a wonderful time there just like me.... so many frags to choose from and I didn't know where to start!!!!

      Me just went there last weekend and bought myself Eau du Sud at a terrific price and saw many others like you have mentioned...

      Hope you had a great time in our 'Garden City'

    • scenteur7 | 31st May 2006 21:15

      Don't hate me too much Sergey...I know about your little stash, and I'm plenty envious! 8-)

      Vandair - I LOVED Singapore, and definitely wouldn't mind living there!

      marls

    • Xen | 1st June 2006 03:58

      JASINA IS MY FAVOURITE HANGOUT!!! I love the second shop :) And yes, they had quite a few Pierre Cardin Centaures and Versailles pour Homme, and SHEESH, WERE THEY CHEAP OR WHAT?!? Just $20(SGP dollars) per 100ml bottle!!! I would spend hours in the shop sniffin' like a drug addict :D Did you check out Aigner Leather In Man? Not widely available in other places I heard.

      Anyway, I'll most likely be visiting Jasina this Saturday. Hahaha that ought to get ya all jealous ;D

    • ChrisW | 2nd June 2006 17:28

      What an excellent article! Even though I didn't know more than half of the fragrances you mentioned, it seemed like a great adventure!

    • scenteur7 | 2nd June 2006 20:52

      Xen, I'll emil you my shopping list after lunch. Chris - it was like finding buried treasure. Everyone needs to do that at least at once - 4 hours of total olfactory hedony.

      marlen

    • milamber | 6th July 2006 10:51

      I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. Very sorry i couldn't meet you and be there for the experience as well but i've been away from this little isle for awhile. Till next time you drop by... ;)

    • scenteur7 | 17th July 2006 16:22

      Thanks! Of course I owe it all to you! Both troublemaker and saint! LOL!

      marls