Interview with Undina of “Undina’s Looking Glass”!

Most of us perfume bloggers approach our perfume testing in a somewhat haphazard way. Not Undina. Undina makes hardcore, badass graphs to track almost every aspect of her testing habits. But lest you think that Undina is merely a mathematical machine, she also writes some of the most touching, transportive perfume reviews that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It is my honor to introduce Undina, who will tell us today about her gorgeous kitteh’s Opium habit. 

Why do you write about perfume?

I liked perfumes as long as I can remember myself. At some point I realized that most people I knew – friends, relatives, co-workers, did not care about perfumes as much as I did. So I stopped trying to involve them into conversations about perfumes and for a while kept it to myself. And then I discovered Perfumeland. My blog serves two main purposes: finding online friends with whom I share my hobby and practicing not work-related written English. I don’t want to be famous, or be considered a specialist, or have a great following. All I want from this blog is fifteen-twenty people who enjoy reading my stories and talking to me about perfumes, cats and other things important in life.

Your perfume reviews often refer to childhood memories that took place in your birth country, but I have never seen you explicitly identify that country. What is this mystery country???

I was born and grew up in the USSR.

What are your favorite perfume houses? 

Restricting myself to just three names (it wasn’t easy!) – Amouage, Ormonde Jayne and Jo Malone.

What is your favorite place to shop for perfume?

I’m an equal opportunity shopper: I’ll shop a store that carries what I’m looking for. I almost never buy perfumes from discounters after I got several perfumes that were off. If I have a choice I’ll buy a perfume from one of the SAs who were good to me on previous visits. I have such SAs in my local Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Barneys.

Your adorable tabby, Rusty, enjoys perfumes ranging from Opium for Men to Chanel Beige. How closely do his tastes align with your own?

With Opium he’s on his own. When it comes to my other perfumes I still can’t figure out if he really likes those or tries to clean me from those. But he definitely enjoys packaging.

What are some of your other interests outside of perfume?

I enjoy eating dark chocolate (in all possible forms), collecting and drinking Californian wines, taking pictures and dancing. I’m not saying I’m good at any of these (well, maybe at eating chocolate…) but I like doing all that.

What perfumes are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree/Menorah branches this year?

I want to thank you for the idea. Since I kind of celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year I should get three perfumes – one for each holiday. My short-list so far includes Une Rose Vermeille by Tauer Perfumes, Cuir de Russie by Chanel, Vert Pour Madame by DSH, Ambre Fetiche by Annick Goutal, Arabian Wood by Tom Ford and Ginger Ciao by Yosh. Now I need to choose.

You often finish your posts inviting others to publish links to their blogs. Why?

I think that blog posts’ life span is too short. I see how much efforts go into creating them but months later most of them won’t be found and read even if the same topic or perfume is discussed again. I always try to find those reviews I remember reading or come across while researching the topic and link to them but I can’t remember everything I read and not all bloggers are SE savvy (or care about it) so those great stories and reviews wouldn’t get the audience they deserve. I’m not doing it to enrich my blog’s content. I’m trying to make my blogo-friends’ posts a tiny bit more visible.

30 thoughts on “Interview with Undina of “Undina’s Looking Glass”!

  1. Great interview, Ari and Undina. I think it expresses some of the qualities that I think of when I think of Undina: smart, generous, and modest.

    But of course, I have some questions too! 🙂 Undina, you seem to have such good judgment about which perfumes you invite into your closet. Do you have one that is an albatross (to use Vanessa’s apt descriptor)?

    Also, you mentioned an expression once that has stuck in my head. “When someone calls fool, there is no need to turn around” or something like that. Do you have any other favorite expressions?

      1. I’m not as good with samples. I could have bought at least one bottle of Amouage or By Kilian for the price of all those samples I shouldn’t have bought. But I’m trying now to be more selective (and give advices to others 😉 ).

    1. Thank you, Natalie!

      I do not think I have now in my collection a single bottle I don’t want to have, if not to count several mainstream ones from my pre-perfumista period. But even though I wouldn’t have bought them today, since they are almost empty now it means they’ve served their purposes and deserve their shelf space.

      The phrase you remembered was a loose translation so your version is as good as mine – you’ve got the idea right. As to the other favorite expressions, aren’t we all carrying those through the life? But I thought of one I like and use from time to time when somebody is being stubborn against their best interests: Pricking themselves and crying, the mice kept on eating the cactus.

  2. Enjoyed the interview, Undina (and Ari)- I am always fascinated by how organized you are…:)..

    Oh and by the way, I had to tell you I have been thoroughly enjoying Heure Exquise, especially in the cold..I will eventually need to get a bottle (I need to do a side by side comparison with my vintage chanel no. 19 edt). Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Lavanya! I’m not that organized, I just enjoy having a system – it creates an illusion of a control 🙂

      Every time I wear Heure Exquise I’m amazed how much I enjoy it. If you go for a FB, get an EdP version (it’s the one you’re testing now) because Annick Goutal’s EdTs are even very fleeting.

  3. I have always admired Undina’s obsession with numbers and statistics. I have tried myself to make some statistics of my scents but it seems I lack the determination. Great interview Ari and Undina

    1. Thank you, Christos.

      Numbers are fun if not to take them too seriously. I enjoy figuring out every month what other useless aggregation I can make with data I collect.

  4. Something I love and admire about Undina is her straightforward honesty. If twenty people raved about a perfume on a blog and Undina smelled it and didn’t like it, she wouldn’t pussyfoot around saying so.

    And I like her blogging philosophy too–about not wanting to be a specialist or gaining a huge following, but having fifteen or twenty people who enjoy reading her stories and want to discuss perfumes, cats, and life. Undina, I would say you have at least that many people now, and in time, you’ll have many more. Great interview, loved learning more about you!

    1. Suzanne, I’m laughing: here I am thinking that I’m consciously trying hard not to offend somebody and not to do any harm to small brands… I hope I haven’t stepped too hard on your toes favorite perfumes 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words.

  5. I probably discovered Undina’s blog around the same time as this one and Natalie’s and a couple of others, and her facility with numbers, general air of rational calmness and direct manner all appealed to me as being qualities I lack. She also has an insanely photogenic cat. This week last year I was actually in and around Undinaville and didn’t know it, which is a great shame…Would love to meet in person some time, but meanwhile it is great to learn more about her and Rusty!

  6. Many thanks Ari for helping us learn more about the fascinating Undina. It’s great to get some more background on our favourite bloggers.

    1. I completely agree! For me, knowing more about these fantastic perfume bloggers has added a new layer of enjoyment to reading their blog posts.

  7. Great interview again, Ari and Undina! It really is a pleasure getting to know the personality behind the perfume blogger. And Rusty truly is photogenic! I love dogs as well – am still broken-hearted over the loss of my 16 year old dog last year. My cat Sophie has been a lovely addition to our family though. Perfumes and pets! 🙂

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