Lovely, enchanting, divine, feminine, and my very best friend:
I come from a family of women. I mean, women. High maintenance, dressed to the nines, femme to the third power women. I am the youngest (and by far the least) of them, and like every little sister, I spent most of my early years just watching them with rapt attention. As a result, I began to absorb an appreciation for the feminine arts right along with my cartoons and Cocoa Puffs. One of the things I learned early is that a woman without perfume is a woman without a future. Coco Chanel said that (my Mother says).
My Grandmother is a perfume connoisseur and my Mother hunts perfumes from around the world. So I have always, always got at least twenty bottles of something in my house. I’m more of a creature of habit… I could be happy with one or two perfumes for years, and I used to switch scents only when I switched men. But over the years, I found a few I just could not part with.
My two signature scents are Chanel No.5 and Benefit’s Maybe Baby. They say a woman needs a perfume wardrobe, so these would be my little black dress and favorite coat, respectively. No. 5 I will wear all my life. That is a perfume a girl grows into. Apparently, we metabolize scents differently as we age. When I was in my early twenties, it smelled very clean on my skin. Nowadays, it’s very powdery. On my mother, it smells rich and exotic. This is a scent I will have a lifelong relationship with. Maybe Baby is a perfume that is as sexy as I want to be. It smells exactly like the ideal of me that I strive for. It smells like bombshell. It’s uplifting and inspiring, like the feeling you have when your skirt swishes with your walk.
Fleshing out the wardrobe, Opium and Cinnabar (which I keep in a dark corner of my closet) are what I wear when I’m going out to make trouble. Sort of like that dress we all have that displays the cleavage indecently. If I smell like the Far East, bet your bottom dollar I’m drunk and kissing a stranger. I wear Crabtree & Evelyn’s Rosewater for lunch with girlfriends or for lazy weekends at home. It’s light and doesn’t compete with anyone else’s perfume. Like a well worn pashmina. I like Dolce & Gabanna’s Sicily for travel, because it smells like a place I want to be. So that would be my suitcase? Hmm. I like Burt’s Bees Baby Bee solid perfume pot for when I’m feeling sickly. A flannel nightie.
What I notice about perfume on young people today is that the guys either wear so much of it as too nauseate a girl, or none at all, which give you nothing to want to bite when you go in for a hug, etc. And the ladies all smell like slices of fruit. I picked up a bottle or perfume recently that actually meowed at me. When I put it down, I had sticky pink glitter all over my hands.
Now I’m no perfume snob. I have a girlfriend who wears Baby Soft from Walgreens and smells divine. I think it’s about individuality. I think it’s about having the guts to wear Shalimar or try men’s fragrances, etc., until you find the perfumes that make you feel like a million bucks when you put them on. Scent ties in so tightly with memory, and it’s so much a part of the aura we exude. And it is one of those many things about being a woman that is just…so much damn fun.