I had just read an article called French Lessons in Allure magazine. It's not what you think. No, not that either LOL. It details the "scent secrets" of the French, as revealed by a number of French women that were interviewed for the article. It got me to thinking about fragrance and my relationship with perfume. I've said it at least once that I'm not a big perfume person (see my post on Bath and Body Works Sun-Ripened Raspberry Body Splash) but it doesn't mean I don't wear any. On the contrary, I wear one, almost everyday, even to bed. If I like a scent, I would wear it for sure! I'm no connoisseuse but no occasion is too little to wear one.
I was struck by the idea of fragrance as seduction. I looked back at my history and the fragrances I remember wearing and loving for a time. Each and every one I can associate with a time in my life, with a relationship, not necessarily with a person, sometimes even with a job. Typically, when it ends, so does my use of the fragrance. The fragrances that I continue to have a relationship with, are the ones I chose myself, for myself and I do not associate them with any man who had ever crossed my path. Well, except for the one that I associate with my husband, the bottle of Gucci Envy Me that I had bought before I met him and wore on every single date. I still reach for that tall and skinny bottle. I also keep a small atomizer of it, if I need to stow it in my purse.
One of the very first commercials I had ever voiced was for Estee Lauder Pleasures. We had copy faxed in from Paris (why they didn't email, I don't know. Maybe it was that long ago.) and I recorded it on a warm July day. It was a small job, cold copy. The scariest thing I had ever recorded in my life at the time. No score! Just my voice! And the agency sent me a pretty little Pleasures gift box after the project. I wore that fragrance until the bottle was empty. But the scent was so popular that I felt run of the mill. I didn't purchase a replacement.
Every year, Aveda lets me select a new scent from the Pure-fume line and I religiously go through the bottles, sniffing for a different one. I remember each and every scent I've taken home and ironically, I've never worn any of them. I didn't think that any of them were really me.
With almost every makeup order I make online, I get a sample fragrance. Very few ever make it to my wrist. I remember J'Adore, Narciso Rodriguez, Ralph Lauren Romance, Clinique Happy and a couple of Jo Malone scents as some of the few that I actually put on. But each one felt common, that when the baby atomizer reaches its last spritz, I am not compelled to buy myself a bottle.
You know how you smell something and like it but then someone else ruins it for you? There was a girl that worked in my building once, who put on entirely too much Romance that her smell lingered in the elevator and the entire hallway that she walked to their unit. I actually liked the sweetness of the scent. But being reminded of how easily it can be overdone, I walked away.
The only scent that's ever tempted me from a whole new roster of fragrances is Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere. I know I'm going to buy a bottle, just as soon as I finish several baby spritzers of it and a couple of deluxe sample bottles. I dislike the idea of buying the bottle and having it sit on my vanity to disintegrate because I'm not using it. I have a necklace with a similar pendant to the starfish one that Audrey Tautou wears in the ads. When I wear that necklace, I'm reminded to wear the fragrance. It's a shallow association, I know. But I do like the way it smells.
I may browse drugstore aisles and on impusle buy $1.99 eyeshadow or a $5 lipgloss but fragrance is a bit more sacred to me. One of the few bottles that I have ever repurchased in my life was the one of Madame Rochas. It reminds me of my mother, not because she wore it, or perhaps she did at some point very briefly, but I do remember a little bottle of it on display on her vanity. I used to open it and sniff, never daring to apply to any pulse point. To me, it smelled like the lady of sophistication I had hoped to be one day. It was an adult scent.
At age 25, I bought my first bottle of it. I was in a small parfumerie in Holland and I chanced upon it. I finished that bottle so fast that as I was no longer in Holland, I had to ask my brother to get me a replacement on a quick trip to Paris. I still have that bottle. I wear it on special evenings, a dinner date or other, which as soon as I had my first child, quickly stopped happening. (Getting babysitting is a big problem). So on nights that I miss getting gussied up for a dinner date, I wear it to bed. Still makes me feel like a lady of sophistication.
It's funny that in the environment that I revolve in these days, I wonder if I'm an aberration because I'm not a shorts and tank top kind of person. I recently took my daughter to a summer matinee in a lacy blouse with a coordinating pointelle cardi, well-cut khakis and wedges. In full makeup, with toes painted and toting my lady-purse with a light dab of fragrance to complete the outfit, I'm more myself. Maybe I'm overdressed, as every other woman in the theatre was in a t-shirt and flipflops (and carried a diaper bag of sorts). But you know what? I need to feel like a woman when I go out. I may not wear a hat but my fragrance is all the cap that I need.