See What’s Inside Photographer Shaira Luna’s Perfume Collection

Photo by Shaira Luna

Photo by Shaira Luna

Vogue Philippines takes a peek into the distinct collections of creatives and personalities, including photographer Shaira Luna who gives readers a glimpse into her perfume collection.

Shaira Luna has established herself as one of the prominent photographers in the country—with several brands, artists, and publications on her ever-growing list of clientele. She has been in the industry for over a decade and, coincidentally, this entwines with the length at which she has been growing a collection of her own: perfume.

Photo by Excel Palanque

My collection really only started growing in 2010 or 2011, when I realized I could buy vintage and used perfumes abroad from eBay. At that time, my bottles consisted of very affordable, friendly scents, and I would watch a lot of perfume reviews on YouTube. I just kept wanting to understand their references and the notes they were smelling, so the bottles started to add up.

Most of my original collection is gone because I also declutter regularly. I now have a newer, slightly bigger, and more curated collection of probably a hundred or so—a number of which I luckily received as gifts.

Photo by Shaira Luna

How It Started

I don’t think it was a conscious decision to start collecting perfume, nor was there a specific scent that started it. I do feel like my nose is a little sharper than average. I usually smell things before other people do, or follow people down streets or grocery aisles because I recognize their perfume!

Pleasures by Estée Lauder was one of my first perfumes, one of many given to me by my great-aunt Celia when I was a college freshman. She’s a bit of a rebel and definitely the coolest one in the family. I always received useful *big girl* gifts from her whenever she came back from travels. Every time I smell it, I remember wondering if she thought I was cool back then, too!

Photo by Shaira Luna

The Meaning Behind Collecting Perfume

Like most of the things I purchase or acquire for their stories, the scents quickly become linked to memories because I almost always pick with intention. I consider perfume the finishing touch to my wardrobe, so when I dress for my shoots or whatever I have to do for the day, I go through a list in my head of what would be the perfect fragrance: “Who will I be working with? What vibe do I want to give off? Will I need it to last all day?” This daily thought process is pretty much bottled nostalgia and a scented version of how I go about creating images! I guess scent has always been just a very, very strong memory trigger for me. Even back in high school, I would always receive perfume as a present from family members. 

Photo by Shaira Luna

I also come from a line of over-sprayers; my dad had a cool collection and never left the house without a thick, thick cloud of fragrance, and my great-aunts had a perfume collection encased in a column in the middle of their living room!

A Collector’s Thought Process

I like to be very careful and thorough when it comes to purchasing perfume, since I blind buy most of the time. I research, read/watch reviews, and, if I can, buy decants of fragrances I am interested in. It is just always a treat getting my nose on a new perfume. There’s nothing that excites me more than sniffing something I’ve only read about for so long, and trying to see how many notes I can detect. 

Photo by Shaira Luna

Fragrantica, a kind of review site/encyclopedia/blog about perfume, is my main resource for most things I want to know or learn about fragrance. Say, you like a specific note—for example, praline—it will show you all the perfumes that contain it, and you can read reviews and information about every single one! Many bottles in my collection were discovered this way. I am also subscribed to a number of perfume-centric channels on YouTube, where I hear about smaller brands and houses, and more unconventional compositions and inspirations.

But whether a fragrance is niche or designer, the imagery a scent evokes, its longevity, and sillage are what factor in the decision process.

Collection Staples And Memorable Scents

While I have firm favorites that my collection would never be without, I tend to have three to four newer scents that are rotated heavily throughout the year. 

Photo by Shaira Luna

My decade-old staples include Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline, Guerlain Insolence, and Dior Hypnotic Poison. This year, I see myself using more of Guerlain Angelique Noire, Creed Aventus For Her (so fresh!), Lune Feline by Atelier des Ors, and Tom Ford Ebene Fume. Vogue Philippines’ editor-in-chief Bea Valdes was wearing this during our H.E.R. cover shoot in Cabanatuan province, and I was practically hypnotized by the scent. I remember that once-in-a-lifetime experience every time I wear it!

Photo by Shaira Luna

I have perfumes that were purchased because of people I am very inspired by! I bought Prada Candy, for example, because I saw it on Florence Welch’s dresser when I watched her house tour. I bought L’Air de Rien by Miller Harris, because it was made for iconic singer and actress Jane Birkin. 

Photo by Shaira Luna

And then there are perfumes that were unexpected gifts, such as Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt, which Heart Evangelista plucked out of her tray when she heard I was looking for a scent to wear to London. Sabrina Carpenter also gave me a bottle of her Sweet Tooth fragrance after our Vogue shoot! Nearly cried haha.

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