Archive for May, 2009

Why perfume?

I’ve been asked that question several times by my husband, usually in a borderline-suspicious tone of voice: “Why are you so interested in perfume all of a sudden?” I’ll have a shot at explaining, because it is a relatively new interest of mine.

A bit of history: I always liked perfume. As a child, I was abetted by my grandmother, who was fascinated with Avon and their quirky fragrance packaging. (At left, Willie the Worm Solid Perfume Compact, ca. 1974. Bambaw bought this one for me. I don’t remember how it smelled.) Growing up, I wore Avon’s Sweet Honesty, which I seem to remember being packaged in a Rapunzel’s Tower roll-on bottle. As a young teenager, I was given bottles of Cachet and Chloe, which I wore but never loved. Later on, I fell in love with Coty’s Emeraude and used up a bottle of eau de cologne. As years passed, I wore Tatiana, Aspen for Women, Navy, Xia Xiang, and The Healing Garden In Bloom. My husband bought me Elizabeth Arden True Love, and when that bottle began to smell spoiled, I bought the bright floral Victoria’s Secret Pink.
My fragrance choices were nearly always drugstore scents – because I believed that perfume should not be expensive. And if it was expensive, I didn’t need it. I laughed at the L’Oreal haircolor commercial that stated, “I’m worth it.” After all, perfume was a luxury item. Totally unnecessary. I could live with the cheap scents. Mom had always made do with her birthday-present Chanel No. 5 eau de cologne, or Anais Anais, or Coty L’Effleur. I didn’t need the designer stuff.
I was slightly envious of my sister’s perfumes: Christian Dior Dune. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Although they didn’t seem like me, they were clearly classier than anything I’d ever worn.
And then came Velvet Tuberose. I was in Bath and Body Works late last summer, picking up some Aromatherapy Lavender and Vanilla lotion for the aforementioned sister’s birthday, and I was wandering around sniffing things. I picked up Chocolate Amber – bleah. I sniffed Black Amethyst – not me. I picked up Velvet Tuberose and sniffed. Sniffed again. And in a daze, I carried that bottle of Velvet Tuberose ($17, on sale) up to the register to buy it, only remembering the Lavender and Vanilla when it was time to pull out my wallet.
I wore it all autumn, and it garnered compliments as well as making me feel wonderful. But I thought, you know, this is not going to be good for summer. There must be more than BBW and drugstore fragrances. There must be something out there that I will just love…
Futzing around on the ‘net, I found perfume review sites like Now Smell This (http://www.nstperfume.com/) and Perfume Smellin’ Things (http://perfumesmellinthings.blogspot.com/) and Perfume Posse (http://perfumeposse.com/). And a whole new world opened up… I wear perfume for myself. I like the way I feel when I wear it. I might occasionally wear something my husband likes, just because he likes it – but mostly it’s all about me.
I like the way perfume changes the way I think: it brings up memories, or suggests new ideas, or invites comparisons to music, to images, to stories and novels and poems. It opens up windows in my head. Wearing it is no longer an automatic “wear pantyhose, put on perfume” act, or an attempt to attract masculine attention (actually, it never was that for me). It’s become a form of art that I appreciate more and more each day.

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