Thursday, September 06, 2007

What I Smell Like ...

Let's downshift, shall we? No need to get all revved up around icky things like politics. Let's coast along on something much more fluffy: perfume.

Cologne, really. Who the hell can afford perfume when a bottle of the cologne I wear– oh, right, excuse me: not cologne, but eau de toilette – sets me back more than 80 bucks?

Good thing I don't have to buy it very often.

I've never been one of those women with a dresser full of perfume bottles. But I love scent strips. I love rubbing those pieces of paper on my wrist and then waving my arm around in the air to wear the scent a bit and then sniffing myself. And I have a few bottles of perfume in my dresser, but I really only wear one.

Maybe it's because my mom only ever wore one perfume. She still does, mostly. Estee Lauder's Youth Dew is her "winter" fragrance and Estee Lauder's White Linen is her "summer" fragrance. Fall and spring go along for their respective rides, hitching along with winter and summer. So whenever I smell Youth Dew, if I walk into her house after she's recently spritzed, I'm instantly transported back to my childhood, to that time on a Saturday night when she'd be getting ready to go somewhere with my dad. Mom used to sport some pretty spectacular hair back in those days. And I can still see the dangly earrings. The hair and earrings have changed over time.

Her scent, though, has remained the same. Youth Dew is the smell of my mother.

Likewise, Christian Dior's Dune is the smell of me.

I didn't always wear Dune. I've had brief affairs with other fragrances. I remember an especially expensive dalliance with Boucheron. Back when we were together, I spent about $125 a bottle on the stuff. And, of course, I was in no position to be spending $125 on any scent. I'm still not, really.

As with most girls, my first "real" perfume was Love's Baby Soft. Oh, sure, I had the Avon perfumes in the cutesy bottles (I remember one that looked like a cupcake – you screwed off the cherry to get to the goods) or the solid scent in the plastic pins (lifting the gingerbread man's head revealed a shallow pot of waxy gunk), but my first real perfume was Love's.

And I went through a musk phase. And I remember Anais Anais. Emeraude (What was I? 70?). I can see a bottle but can't remember the name of the scent – I guess that one was pretty forgettable. Someone once gave my mom a bottle of Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds. (Clearly, they didn't know my mom very well.) I wore that when I ran out of whatever I was wearing at the time. Paloma Picasso roped me in for a time, maybe a bottle or two. I fell – hard – for Quelques Fleurs one year, only to find out that it was a reissue of a perfume from 1912 and then it was gone. It came back, but I'd moved on. Still, I might find a bottle again someday. It'd be nice to see her again.

Or not. I just Googled it. The list price is $170 a bottle. One of the pages on says it's "recommended for formal use." Yup, it's not a lightweight perfume. Not that I'd buy my perfume through

I never bought into the "impostor fragrances" scene. I guess I figured if I couldn't afford the real deal, I shouldn't wear a knock off. Or maybe the scents just didn't do it for me. I was never bitten by the Giorgio bug.

And then, somewhere, probably in the pages of a magazine, I found Dune. And that was it, love at first sniff.

Yes, there are others. I just padded into my room and grabbed the bottles (so I could be sure to spell the names right) and I have Adrienne Vittadini, which is very nice. If I wore pantsuits, I think that scent would play well with a grey pinstriped suit. I have Mariella Burani, a lovely parting gift from a man I dated years ago. He bought me four gifts for my birthday, including this perfume, and broke up with me a couple weeks later. It's a very pretty bottle. But now that I smell it again, it's too flowery for me. Then again, it's also old. Tom broke up with me, um, nearly 10 years ago? Wow. Really? Yes, I guess so. I guess I can pitch this bottle. But it's pretty ...

I will confess to owning a bottle of Victoria's Secret Dream Angels fragrance: Heavenly. That's the name of it, not my description of it, though I kind of like it, as I sniff it again. It's kind of spicy. The box says, "An ethereal scent; envelops you in a gossamer mist of fragrance." And right underneath that, for an extra layer of sexy: "Caution: Flammable. Keep away from flame or high heat."

And then there's Chance by Chanel. Mom bought it for me for my birthday a few years ago. It's a very grown-up fragrance. I really love it, and I should wear it once in a while. Maybe for special occasions.

But I keep coming back to Dune. I spritzed my wrist before I started writing and I'm sniffing between paragraphs. It just smells like me. And everyone seems to like it. The last time I hugged Dave, he said, "You smell really good." For that matter, his wife once hugged me and said, "You smell so good, I'm just going to hug you and sniff you all night."

She didn't, which is a good thing. Probably would have been awkward for all the other guests at the party. But it's just that kind of scent. The Dior website says Dune is:

A radiant yet subtle fragrance at one with nature.
A glimpse of infinity.
A fragrance landscape where the sky meets the sea.
A harmonious bouquet where amber flowers and sweeping freshness melt into enveloping sensuality.

All righty, then. Who wouldn't want to smell like a glimpse of infinity?

Sadly, the supply does not seem to be infinite. Dune seems to be harder and harder to come by. Dior better not leave me high and dry without my fragrance landscape where the sky meets the sea. I need all the help I can get when it comes to melting into enveloping sensuality.


Blogger Mercurie said...

Speaking as a guy, I always loved the smell of Chanel No. 5.

10:25 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...


The older I get, the less I wear perfume.

We're going out in a few minutes. Maybe I'll put on some perfume before we go.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Dave Tutin said...

Miss Dior and I had many happy years! It's amazing how I associate the ladies of my past with different perfumes. They say smell is powerfully linked to memory. I believe it! For me, White Linen was Africa. But it wasn't your mother. Honest!

And as for "you screwed off the cherry to get to the goods" - I'm not even commenting!!

5:21 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Mercurie: Yep, that's kind of the Oscar of perfume. I've never owned a bottle. I don't think I'll ever be enough of a grown-up to wear that scent.

Alison: For sure wear some perfume when you go out. Makes you feel extra girly.

And Dave: I totally agree about the scent and memory. I dated a guy (one of the many Daves) who wore Lagerfeld and if I smell it, I'm immediately transported back to his couch watching The Princess Bride. And your last comment made me laugh out loud!

5:32 PM  
Anonymous girlanddog said...

Gawd, where do the marketers come up with the descriptions for these perfumes? A glimpse of infinity??? Seriously??

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what's wrong with White Diamonds?

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same anon as above: I'm not a fan of Elizabeth Taylor but love the fragrance. (I had to add that)

11:08 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I didn't saw there was anything wrong with White Diamonds. My comment about not knowing my mother very well is because Mom always wears Youth Dew or White Linen.

I wore it for as long as the bottle lasted but never liked it enough to buy another for myself.

Not to worry: I wasn't slamming La Liz's fragrance. It's just not for me.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Ooh, I shouldn't comment after I've fallen asleep on the couch and am on my way to bed.

"I didn't say ..."

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lagerfeld? Mike "hiya gherkin" Paholik used to wear it. Still can't smell it without thinking of him--sheesh!

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still wearing Lagerfeld> That's how I roll!!

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...AND I'm very flattered you still think of me 20 years later.MP

10:48 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, I'll be damned, Mike! Drop me an e-mail and let me know how the heck you're doing!

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, no way! Still wearing Lagerfeld? You own that scent, dude.

11:00 AM  

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