Please welcome frequent commenter, motorcycle queen, Chicago Scent-sation goddess and today’s guest blogger — Musette!
Jane Russell. Voluptuous, earthy beauty. She was never the delicate princess, never the waif, never rescued by the prince. Jane wasn´t flitting across the moors like a woodsprite, she was rolling around in the hay or punching a guy in the mouth.
I didn´t want to be Jane Russell. I wanted to be Twiggy. Never mind that I´m 5´9″, with a rack you could set a coffee cup on (and put a tea service on the back´) and at the height of my powers could bench 200 lbs without breaking a sweat.
I wanted to be Twiggy, dammit. Or Jane Asher, Paul McCartney´s Beatle-love. Or…well, you get the idea. Winsome, heathery/feathery, all smudged eyeliner, flat chest and bony knees and windswept love on the moors…
… and so it was with perfume. As a young teen I saturated myself in Heaven Sent and Love´s Baby Soft. As a young adult I had a thing for citrus – the more linear, the better (and the quest for citrus continues to this day). Though they are delightful in the scorching heat of summer they tend to sit uncomfortably on my large, formal frame, like a wreath of rosebuds on a robust matron in a tweed suit and sensible shoes.
I kept trying, as my delicate, gauzy friends took to florals and citrus like little fairy-sprites, the b*tches. And even as I honed my warrior prowess I still longed to be the waif, the delicate princess.
But through all the absurd eyeliner, straightened hair and gauzy fantasies and the grapefruit scrubs… there was a dark, weird corner of my perfume psyche that never went away… I didn´t know why I loved these perfumes. I just knew I was never without them (even if I had to resort to petty theft of my mother´s dressing table): Jicky. Mitsouko. Bal a Versailles (parfum). Schiaparelli Shocking.
Can you say it with me? SKANK.
As a little girl I used to sneak into my Tia Cornelia´s elegant dressing room and dab on a bit of Shocking. It would surround me like a warm, flowery, slightly doughy cloud, like wrapping yourself in your mother´s dressing gown right after she disrobed to get into the bath, reveling in the smell of perfume, sweat, powder… the essence of her. My own mother wore Shalimar and cigarettes, which I disliked, but one Christmas my father, who never paid attention to details, got her Mitsouko. That was it for me…….I was in my mid-teens, too young to wear it, but I would pop in and just spray and sniff it, not understanding why I loved it so much.
But now we know: SKANK.
Bal was a happy accident. Remember when Joy was “the costliest perfume in the world?” I loved Joy (still do) but I wanted to be different, so I grabbed Bal, thinking it was 1000 (don´t ask). I was 20, still too young, with no understanding, but somehow the love was mutual. I have never been without Bal since and I´m thinking I would like to be pickled in a jar of it when I shuffle off my mortal coil.
Of course, it wasn´t until I fell in with the Posse that I could even put a name to this weird, dark corner of my perfume life. I mean, it wasn´t lemons! It wasn´t fresh and powdery and waiflike! It wasn´t pretty and floral! It was old´ and funky and weird! I always thought jasmine was merely a pretty, delicate, sweet-smelling flower! Who knew???! But these these mainstays stuck around, bringing me an almost visceral pleasure, even when I didn´t wear them. To use an old-fashioned word, they suited´ me.
Still… something was missing – somewhere there was a scent that would tie it all together and Make Me Understand why these perfumes had such power over me. Then La Belle Enabler March, taking pity on a po´ thang, sent me a little box. And in that box was a sample of Rochas Femme EdP.
And in an instant my heart was yanked out of my chest and I understood.
SKANK. Femme, like Bal, Mitsy and Jicky, contains an almost indecent indolic jasmine along with that faint sweaty-cumin note. It´s the jasmine that truly captures my heart, though the cumin is necessary, in my opinion, to keep it slightly wet and grounded, keeping it from skittering off the planet. But you gotta be in the right frame of mind for Femme. When it´s right it´s like reveling in a sun-drenched, flower-filled bedroom, after a hot and heavy night – your lover has just left the bed and is in the shower, while you laze about, the bed-scents testament to the night´s passions. When it´s wrong it´s like the same wakeup, except it´s 8:50am and you realize you have a 9:30 job interview and said lover is hogging the shower!
Mitsouko. Perfection. I liken it to silken body armor. I wear Mitsouko when I want to take no prisoners. And she gives me props, every time.
I once broke the arm of a man who was misbehaving. I was wearing Jicky at the time.
Now, La Belle Enabler is the Originator of the term “skank” on this blog (the Skankinator, if you will) where she states that indolic/animalic defines skank´ to her. We definitely agree that the indolic jasmine (the poopy parts), along with civet, is most definitely skankalicious. And all of these have that (Shocking doesn´t list jasmine or civet in the notes I have but I´m willing to go to the mat that they are in there). I´m more in La Belle E´s camp, thinking the indolic outweighs the sweaty in skank. Feel free to disagree – and tell me why. But now my shameful secret is out; I´ll never be a gauzy princess and my heart soars at the poopy parts of a finicky flower and cat-butt juice. Me and Jane strap em into our 18-Hours, there´s no rescuing prince, my jasmines smell like effluvia ….and if I´m on a moor nowadays I´m probably in sensible shoes and a warm jacket – and SKANK.
And that´s just fine by me.
What are your scents? The ones that you return to time and again, through all the samples and decants and FB flirtations? Floral/citrus/incense/dirt/whatever…what ties it all together for you?
ps. Any skank recommendations? I´d love to hear them!