"Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will...it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it."
- Patrick Süskind, Perfume
My fascination with scent harkens back, like many women, to childhood and watching my mom get ready for a night out. My parents were (and still are) a very glamorous couple, and had a pretty active social life for parents of a needy only child (i.e. me). On the rare occasions that I wasn't going with them, I would sit on the spiral stairs in the foyer waiting for one of two dramatic things to happen: the babysitter arriving downstairs, and my mom emerging fully dressed and made up from her bedroom upstairs, often needing a bracelet or necklace fastened.
While I hated to see them go, I loved to send them off - Dad looking dashing in Armani, Mom looking regal in Escada. But the most memorable part was Mom's scent, Ralph Lauren Tuxedo. Daytime was CK One, but every night out smelled like Tuxedo. I'd hug her goodbye and inhale, knowing that particular scent meant they were about to have a fabulous evening.
When I became old enough for my own signature scent, at the ripe old age of 14, I looked no further than the second most glamorous woman I knew - Chanel. With one spritz, I was hooked, and thus began a decade-long love affair with fragrance, culminating in a not-too-shabby collection.
|Chance Eau de Parfum by Chanel|
My first love. Chance is a fresh, adventurous fragrance, hence the name. It's a pity I barely notice it after 10 years of continued use, because I think it's amazing (obviously). Top notes of pink pepper and lemon bring the brightness, while the heart notes of jasmine and base notes of patchouli and vetiver ground it and make the scent last all day (and forever on all my scarves). I'm also a fan of Chance's other iterations, Eau Fraîche and Eau Tendre, the former a grassier take and the latter more floral. But the one bottle I buy over and over again will always be the original - too bad there aren't frequent buyer rewards, other than smelling good.
|Colette by Tocca|
A couple of years ago I decided I should branch out of my Chance-only haze and find a good nighttime perfume that isn't Chanel No. 5. I only have the very concentrated version of No. 5, and it can be a little much - despite Ms. Monroe's famously glowing review. Enter Tocca's Colette. Named for and inspired by the French novelist, Colette is firmly a night-out scent. Like Chance, Colette also has top notes in the citrus family and middle notes of pink peppercorns, but the addition of juniper berry, sandalwood, and bergamot give this fragrance the depth and spiciness I was looking for. Wearing this makes me feel as close to a blonde bombshell as I'm going to get.
|Profumo di Limone, Antichi Sapori d'Amalfi|
By now it's fairly obvious I like smelling like citrus fruit. Citrus sits perfectly on my skin, unlike muskier fragrances which sometimes make me feel like they were found in the back of a closet somewhere and sold by mistake. I love the springy now-ness of citrus, especially lemon. Therefore, this fragrance was the perfect gift, brought back straight from the source of all things chic and citrus - the Amalfi coast. It's light, it's fresh, it's long lasting, it's pure lemon bliss. It's an Eau de Toilette, so it's not as heavy as other fragrances. I can wear it any time, day or night. It is particularly perfect for easy summer days spent on the beach, and summer nights on an outdoor patio sipping rosé with a handsome Italian - if you are so lucky.
|Gardénia by Chanel|
I am, by my own admission, a terrible gardener. Everything I plant, I kill. It's a shame because I love gardens, and the one flower I'd most like to grow is gardenias. We had them at my home growing up, but since then I haven't been able to keep one alive for the life of me. I set out to find a good perfume substitute, but here's the thing about gardenia - it's nearly impossible to get a natural essential oil out of it. To be used as a perfume, you have to get either a dry flower extract (difficult), mix other essential oils (room for error) or use synthetic (no). Hence, most gardenia scents are either very powdery and old lady-smelling, don't smell anything like gardenia, or are very, very expensive. I'm sure you can guess where Chanel's Les Exclusifs Gardénia falls, which is why I purchased such a wee bottle. It's not a very long lasting scent, but I love it all the same.
|Gris Montaigne by Dior|
Dear Reader, I am in love again - with yet another very small bottle of perfume that is too expensive to use every day. This one is the newest member of my team, from La Collection Privée by Christian Dior - Gris Montaigne. It is, quite literally, the smell of Dior Grey. Top notes of bergamot, heart notes of Damask rose, and base notes of Macedonian moss, this perfume is "the olfactory signature of the Couture House's legendary location, 30 Avenue Montaigne." This is what fancy ladies smell like, those women who can wear ripped jeans with a slightly worn-in Birkin to lunch at Guy Savoy and not bat an eyelash. So very French, so casually chic. My dream.
Avoir une vie parfumée!
By the way - windowsills make great photography locations, but are terrible for actual everyday storage. Keep perfumes away from heat and light to maintain their original scent and protect their integrity.