The scent of success

The scent of success

Raj Sethia’s perfume collection.

What started as a friendly challenge with a friend to see who could collect more perfume bottles soon turned into an undying passion for Raj Sethia. It has been 15 years that he started collecting perfumes from countries across the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

“A friend of mine had quite a good collection and we soon got into a ‘who has got how many’ kind of situation. Though she discontinued after a while, I continued to collect some of the rarest and unique scents I chanced upon. By then it was not only about collecting perfumes for me; it had a greater meaning. I started learning facts about perfumes like when to wear which perfume and how one’s body temperature plays a huge role in how a perfume works,” says Raj. 

One of the most antique pieces in his collection is the bottle of a scent called ‘Evening In Paris’. He picked up this empty bottle from an auction house in
Kolkata for Rs 2,000 eight years ago.

“People started calling me crazy for spending so much money on an empty bottle. Currently, I have more than 1,500 perfumes in my collection and all of them are miniatures. On an average, I have spent anything between Rs 60 to Rs 1,200 to buy a bottle of perfume. ‘Jean Paul Gaultier’ is the most expensive perfume I have brought till now,” he says. 

He says, “I always look out for perfumes whenever I am visiting a new place. The trick is to remember which ones you have and which ones you don’t.”

Interestingly, Raj never uses these perfumes himself and doesn’t allow anyone else to use them either. His motive is to just collect them and treasure them.
When it comes to deciding what to buy, the fragrance and colour of the perfume and the shape of the bottle matters the most.

“One needs to know how a particular perfume smells as well as the colour of it. This will help them to distinguish the original from the duplicates that flood the market,” he points out. 
‘Fahrenheit’ by Christian Dior is Raj’s favourite when it comes to fragrances while he picks ‘Jean Paul Gaultier’ for the shape of the bottle.

“I was initially questioned by my family and friends as to why I was wasting so much money but after they saw my passion, they now do their bit to contribute to my collection. Then there are people who come to my house to look at this collection and their appreciation motivates me a lot,” he adds.

His collection boasts of names like the rare Victoria’s Secret perfume for men, Jaguar, Givenchy, Roberto Cavalli, Azzaro, Versace, Ferrari, Bvlgari, Nina Ricci and Dolce&Gabbana. 

“I look forward to adding 500 more perfumes to my collection and reach a total of 2,000 perfumes in the next two years. I hope to see myself in Limca Book of Records soon,” he adds.

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