Friday, September 15, 2006


Let's talk for a moment about how smell can act like a time machine - transporting you back into another space. I have written about this before, how I have been known to inhale a strangers aroma in quick, deep breaths, trying to locate its link in the mosaic of my memories.

My first primary smell memory would have to be my parents. In my youth, my mother was Oil of Olay, the light pink cream which may be the reason today her face is line-free. This would be combined with a heavy, sophisticated scent like Clinique's Youth Dew or Chanel No. 5, both of which seemed to conflict with her down to earth attidude. My father has always been an intimidating mixture of chilly mint, aftershave a clean cologne-of-the-moment and vaguely like stiff dry cleaning. Even when jogging, his sweat smelled businesslike and not at all offensive.

I fell in love with fragrance after a torrid affair with Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth perfume. OK, you can laugh. It was hot pink, and smelled like fruit with a spiraling tube down the middle. I debuted it at a bat mitzvah and felt immediately older. I stuck with Debbie for a while, until I had enough money to really indulge my addiction. My high school years became a blur of Body Shop scents - vanilla, mango, white musk. The vanilla was so potent that my friend Israel who sat in front of me in class would half-complain that it made him crave cookies. Along this time, a best friend named Elizabeth wore a Body Shop scent called dewberry, which was an intense and flowery, much like her. I was madly in love with her, in the way that you can be at 16 when friendships are your life, and it did not end well. Still today, I will sniff it in the store to torture myself with the memories of when our friendship was in tact.

My first boyfriend wore Eternity, and it still makes me swoon a bit. A bad boyfriend wore CK One, and I should have known that any guy who wears a unisex scent would have commitment issues.

All the girls at camp would overdose on Anais Anais, which came in a cute porcelain bottle and I will therefore forever associate it with Long Island and how it smells when combined with bug spray. And I know this isn't really a fragrance, but a bunkmate used Agree shampoo and MAN that stuff smells good. Too bad it makes my hair too soft.

My first new friend in college, Jill, wore a powerful combination of Liz Claiborne and Paul Mitchell mousse which smells like coconut. Liz Claiborne may not be top of line but it has a unique scent which I do think drives the boys wild. She sure did.

For my first job, I wore Quelque Fleurs, which is guaranteed to cause a small riot at a time where I really wanted to fly under the radar.

Around the time of my wedding I bought a new perfume to wear then and never again, so that I could forever smell it and remember that day. It was Robert Piguet's Fracas, which I chose based on the name which sounded exciting and chaotic. When my husband came in to see me for the first time as his bride, I smelled him before I saw him and it made my heart race and my knees weak. It was Carolina Herrera. I recently bought him Gaultier and I find myself missing that Herrera scent which is classic A.

Lately, I have been having a hard time finding the right scent for me. Whatever I choose seems to fade too quickly. I am attracted to musky and heady fruit rather than clean and sophisticated (though I use the latter for work-related activities). I might need to return to the staple of my adulthood, Gaultier for women in the sexy bottle. I believe this is the scent that made Abs fall in love with me, but it is also the scent that my friend Denise spilled all over our dorm floor and became slightly nauseating. I want to create a new scent association, now that I have stopped nursing and no longer need to worry that Chloe will smell like a French whore. Something to capture this time when I am often too busy and too tired to care for myself, exhuated from days of endless wonder. The right spritz is one of the few things I have which recalls the time when grooming was a routine.

I'll keep looking.


At 7:42 PM PDT, Anonymous Leigh said...

The junior high boyz in Braintree were all about Adidas and Drakar. I loved Charlie! perfume. Then Bennetton's scent. These days I stick with Kiehl's musk - easy,natural, straightforward. Cousin Tracey says of Kiehl's, "they think they're scientists in their white coats."

I wish I still had my SVH books! I wash my hair every 2 to 3 days. You?

Great blog. :)

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