Saturday, April 14, 2007

Scent and Sensibility

I'm a sucker for certain scents. Flowers, fresh fruit, linen off the clothes line, pine trees after rain, baking bread, sweaty guys. And, naturally, perfume. Anything in the citrus/floral family. On occasion, maybe a well-crafted spicy oriental. But for goodness sake, no patchouli. I'm sorry, but patchouli always makes me think of unwashed hippies trying to get by until their next encounter with running water.

I have had many, many perfumes in my life, starting with my discovery, as a very young girl, of 4711's brisk lemony sting. Lufthansa used to pass out handi-wipes soaked in the stuff on their transatlantic flights. My family made the journey from NYC to Frankfurt every summer for years and I hoarded those packets like a squirrel hoards nuts before winter's first snow. After that, I could count on a bottle tucked in between the marzipan and chocolates sent by my Oma each year at Christmas until her death twelve years ago. Today, I buy my own.

After 4711, there was Jean Nate – even MORE lemony! – and then even MORE of Revlon's classic 1970s drugstore perfumes: Charlie, Enjoli, Jontue – a veritable French whorehouse of scent. Then when I was 16, my boss bought me my first-ever grown up perfume, Ralph Lauren's Lauren. Desperately in love with the man, for one short moment I considered it a token of his similar affections. But, alas. His garden gate swung most decidedly the other way. He was simply helping me develop a sense of fashion. I still have the bottle, though. All I need to do to bring back the memory of those prickly, hot-cheeked years is uncap the bottle and whiff.

My next favorite perfume I also discovered in an airport, in the duty free kiosk at JFK enroute to Europe during my senior year. It was Balenciaga's Michelle, one of the most perfectly gorgeous scents ever and one which, unfortunately, has long been discontinued. I don't know why. None of Balenciaga's perfumes in my opinion even come close. Not even Le Dix, that cunning little homage to - or is it rip off of? - Chanel's No. 5.

After exhausting my last precious bottle of Michelle, I settled into an affable, five year relationship with Chloe. I'm surprised I didn't stick with it, it's so wearable and pretty. But then came the Divorce, and as a newly swinging single, I felt like I needed something more exotic. Something that broad casted "I'm available!", like a big neon sign singed onto my forehead. Only smellier. Enter Givenchy's Amarige. A whopper of a floral, heavily laden with peach, plum, mimosa, and melon, a friend called it, "Sex in a bottle." I quit wearing it after I met S.B.

I've been in a perfume slump ever since, flitting from scent to scent, trying in vain to find something even half as captivating as Michelle or Amarige. I weaned myself off Amarige with another Givenchy, the spicy floral Ysatis and then bounced to the ever-reliable and much-more-my style Eau De Givenchy. L'Eau D'Issey did it for me for a while as well. Then one day, it didn't. I discovered an almost near perfect tuberose scent by makeup artist Sonia Kashuk and wore that for a couple years. Then one day, I spritzed it on and, whoa, it no longer smelled subtle and sweet, just cheap and tarty. At the beginning of the year, I talked a Dillard's sales girl out of a half dozen free samples of Juicy Couture's new perfume. It boasts a watermelon base – pure genius. But on me, not so much.

Right now, I'm holding out hope for Clinique's Happy Heart, a fresh, sunny floral with hints of melon. But in a very un-Juicy-like way.

And the other day, during a visit to the Body Shop, I bought a tub of their new pink grapefruit body butter. Yum. Maybe what I need these days is to smell less exotic and mysterious and more like . . . breakfast.

1 comment:

Doris Rose said...

Now that's a keeper!brought back fond, fond memories of my adventures in scentland.Thoroghly enjoyable, but clearly a sign of the times.I remember other scents as well-Mom, Dad, brother, friends, ahhh.thanks.