I always love to bring up some oldies but goodies, now and again; then I get severely annoyed because they’ve been discontinued. Barbara Bui Le Parfum and Sonia Rykiel Woman (Not for Men) are two scents that bear striking similarities to each other. Barbara Bui cannot be had (as far as I know), and Sonia Rykiel Woman can most likely still be found at one or two online fragrance discounters. I have fond memories of wearing both scents during my tenure as a “mature” student. They were warm, comforting and classroom appropriate. By the time I got to grad school, I was inhaling one or both of these scents on a daily basis; both were great for easing the stress that came with having to decipher the works of John Milton, John Donne, and (please keep the guffawing to a minimum) the Bible. When you study John Milton, it is imperative to have a copy of the King James Bible within close reach. There came a point when I was spraying one or both of these scents on my pillow. No joke.
I was watching a documentary the other night about the coming apocalypse, and for some reason, I started thinking about both these scents. They were very similar: spicy, warm, incensey and a little leathery. I’m guessing that’s what my mind wanted to smell as I was listening to different hypotheses about how the world is going to end. My personal feeling is that the apocalypse will happen later this year when Oprah finally goes off the air. That’s a conversation for another day, but I started to get a bit miffed about all this “end of the world” talk. Silly me, I started thinking: what would I want to smell like if I knew the world was going to end? The answer was, Barbara Bui, or Sonia Rykiel Woman (Not for Men). Ridiculous, right?
Shortly after I wrote my In Memoriam post last November, my dear cousin S., whom I’ve been staying with, rescued a few of my bottles from my “former residence”. He just threw an assortment into a duffel bag, and I’ve been periodically wearing a few. My nose hasn’t been up to much these days, but one of the rare gems he happened to grab, was a still-sealed bottle of Barbara Bui. As I was watching that damn documentary, I remembered that the bottle was in there. I promptly dug it out, removed the cellophane from the box, and spritzed some on my pillow. Despite the coming of the apocalypse, I slept very well that night. Isn’t it wonderful how our sense of smell can yank us back from the abyss, making everything right with the world? I never for a second feared the apocalypse, but I sure as hell needed something comforting.
Sonia Rykiel’s version was a bit edgier, and more in-your-face. I tried valiantly to find the notes for it, but I was unsuccessful. They both smell so similar that I’m willing to accept spices, incense, jasmine, white musk, heliotrope, sandalwood, cedar and amber for both. As I said, Sonia Rykiel may have had a teensy bit of leather in there somewhere. Either way, it’s a shame they’re not around anymore.
I do have some good news to share: I’m moving into my own digs in a few weeks, and I’m hopeful that once I’m settled in, my schnozz will be up for some serious exploration. I’ll be walking distance from a TTC stop, so I’ll be motivated to explore points downtown, finally. I want to get back to some serious sniffing so I can experience what I’ve been missing. In the meantime, my pillow still smells like Barbara Bui Le Parfum, and the memory of Sonia Rykiel’s scent still manages to comfort me. How I wish both weren’t ever discontinued. Great perfume should be revered like great literature: it should be admired and adored for time immemorial.
Your Turn: What discontinued scent memories are in your vault?
Disclosure: Barbara Bui Le Parfum is from my personal collection. Sonia Rykiel Woman (Not for Men) lives on in my memory.