Memories (by Ann)


Walking through the mall a while back, I made my waythrough a crowd of people gathering outside a restaurant.

And as I passed a group of men, a familiar scent waftedto my nose.




It was YSL’s Kouros.


I was immediately reminded of the early ‘80s, when I was incollege and bought it for my then-boyfriend as a birthday gift.


I loved its unusual scent, so different from anything I’d ever smelled before.

And I admired the sleek, coolly marbled white bottle trimmed in silver, almost architectural in its beauty (rather fitting,

actually, since he was an architect).


We traveled abroad for several weeks as I accompanied him onone leg of his fellowship, and he wore Kouros every day of that trip.


Not long after that, we parted.

Ours was an extremely painful breakup, one that left me feeling utterly bereft and even physically sick for a while.

Getting even the slightest whiff of Kouros in the months afterward would upset me.


But time truly is a great healer and eventually I came to realize that these things work out for the best. The hurt has

long since receded and I am now happily married to a wonderful man.


So Kouros, which once would have brought me to tears, now conjures good memories of being madly in love and

experiencing the splendor of Europe.


It has always impressed me as a warm, elegant,almost-European scent.

(It gets some grief from those who find it a bit “dirty,”but I’m very sensitive to civet, cumin and the like and it

never bothered me.)


What fragrance evokes a deep response in you, for better or worse, when you smell it now?

  • Ann says:

    Lovely memories, there Tiffany. Isn’t it amazing the memories that scents can raise?

  • Tiffany says:

    Old Spice makes me think of my first boyfriend– he wore the deodorant, not the cologne, but it smelled absolutely wonderful on him. Sometimes I’ll catch a whiff of it on someone else and my head instinctively snaps around.

    Annick Goutal’s Sables makes me think of the year I spent in Santa Barbara. It combines the warm syrup smell of dry hay and wild herbs growing on the bluffs with a touch of eucalyptus, everything doused in golden sunlight.

  • nozknoz says:

    I have a special feeling for Shalimar. When I was a teenager, I talked my mom into buying it for me after reading about it in a Truman Capote story – but I hated it and then felt terribly guilty about wasting the money. Fast forward to 2008/2009, reading LT’s praise in The Guide and scoring a lovely old partial boule bottle on ebay – one of my earliest vintage purchases. And now I LOVE it – perfume peace and reconciliation! :-)

    • Ann says:

      Hi nozknoz, so glad you were able to reconcile with Shalimar; I’m sure your bottle being vintage helped. Wish I could do the same — most of the Guerlain classics just do not agree with me, Shalimar in particular. But perhaps were I able to try them in extrait, all (or at least some) would be forgiven. :)

  • Ann says:

    Oh, Madea, that’s a little scary. That’s a whole category of scent that you can gladly overlook, then. My Sin and Givenchy — wow! You knew what you wanted and went for it.

  • Madea says:

    Vanilla anything. I am an avid reader of horror, especially Clive Barker and Stephen King. I read the book ‘The Hellbound Heart’ (the novella that Hellraiser is based on).

    The novella mentions explicitly that the Cenobites (horrible demons) reek of vanilla because they douse themselves in vanilla cologne to cover less…salutary…smells. I read that about six years ago and still haven’t been able to shake the association.

    My Sin. I had a vintage bottle as a young teen, doubtless the only fourteen year old girl in the county that smelled like that. Ditto an old bottle of the original Givenchy perfume–they smelled like Grown-Up to me.

  • Suzanne says:

    For me, it will always be Old Spice, the first fragrance I remember my father wearing (and it smelled great on him); and later in his life, when he began wearing a number of other fragrances, Aramis was the one I associated with him most.

    Nice post, Ann. It made me want to smell your former boyfriend’s Kouros.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, sweetie. Old Spice and Aramis were (are) classic, aren’t they? Definitely reminders of a great era.
      I’d like to smell a little Kouros as well myself (not on DH, of course); just to try it on paper and also on my skin for reference, but am worried a bit about reformulation. Maybe we can find a small vintage bottle somewhere …

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Excellent topic, Ann. I have so many scent associations but a few really stand out. The first boy I kissed wore Polo and sniffing it instantly transports me to my parents rec room, listening for footsteps on the stairs! Aviance Night Musk – my mom would wear this a lot in the summer and when I think of childhood barbecues and crickets in the still of a summer night, I smell my mom’s Aviance. Shalimar- I discovered Shalimar on $15 promotion in Jordan Marsh when I was 15 and I fell promptly in love- it smelled like a woman in all the best ways, someone confident, elegant, sexual and adult, all things I was just on the very cusp of being and starting to understand. Chanel Pour Monsieur- the smell of my dad when he would come collect us after my parents divorce- excitement and sadness all rolled into a sophisticated scent.I could go on but this is meant to be a post not an essay!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, M! Thanks for all those wonderful memories (and never worry about writing too much — it’s all good!!). I, too, have fond memories of Polo and the Chanel PM. I remember Aviance and liked it (wish I could sniff it again) but don’t recall ever smelling the Night Musk.
      And talk about Memory Lane — used to love Jordan Marsh, such a classy store, but when I was young couldn’t afford it. It makes me sad to know that nearly all those great old stores are gone.

      • FragrantWitch says:

        I know, I loved JM but very expensive. I used all my babysitting money on that Shalimar! I remember getting to choose 2 outfits in Jordan Marsh for a modelling competition and I was over the moon- they seemed to radiate class. The Basement was the best, you could get some great deals! Macy’s took over JM and now it resembles one of the circles of hell- whenever we are back in the US I avoid it like the plague. Give me Target anytime!

  • Musette says:

    I have so many – but the two that stay with me are both men’s scents. First is Pierre Cardin (aka Raid) – in my youngish adult (pre-30s) life my best hanging out pal wore that stuff – we would travel all over the place in his Datsun Z, with Raid – er, Pierre Cardin – choking the life out of me! Good times!

    The other is Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel. It was the first men’s scent I truly fell in love with – so many men were overwearing the daylights out of Polo (or is it just the nature of Polo to seem so freakin’ STRONG?) – Grey Flannel, by comparison, seemed much less strident, more complex, very Gregory Peck-ish. A whiff of that will take me back to 1980 faster than anything!

    xo >-)

    • Ann says:

      OMG, Musette — rolling down the highway with Raid in a Datsun Z! Nearly spewed my tea again! Should I count myself lucky that I don’t recall ever sniffing the Cardin? :)
      I do remember getting Halston Z-14 for several of my boyfriends (not the Kouros guy, of course) and it smelled great on all of them.
      And must agree with you on the Grey Flannel. So poised and elegant, just like Mr. Peck.

  • Maureen says:

    I just got some samples and tried on Diorissimo first and immediately I thought of my god-mother, Aunt Nettie. I never knew that was what she wore…she was a very elegant woman, a buyer for Gimbels Department store who was thinner and taller than my mom (who was barely 5′, and I am 5’8″). As soon as I smelled my wrist, I got a picture of my aunt in a sheath dress with a large broach on the shoulder and coifed hair, smiling and coming towards me for a hug. It was a great memory. Sadly she had breast cancer when I was a teenager and the drugs they gave her blew her up to over 200lbs. She was still a striking woman, who dressed beautifully, and I miss her to this day. I love Diorissimo, but it seemed to dissappear on me after an hour or two…so sad.

    • Ann says:

      Maureen, so glad you have good memories of your aunt and Diorissimo. It is such an elegant and timeless scent.
      Take comfort in the fact that even though it may have seemed to you that it disappeared, others likely could smell it on you longer.

  • Teri says:

    I’ve always been scent-oriented, I think. My very first memory is of the violet scented handkerchief my grandmother always kept in her apron pocket.

    I think my favorite scent memory involves the collection of aromas wafted by my sorority house in college – Ma Griffe, Blue Grass, Eau de Love, Heaven Scent, Emeraude, and my Tigress. Very much a time capsule in scent of a particular time and a particular age group.

    • Ann says:

      Teri, what a nice memory — scented hankies are so lovely, aren’t they? Love your time capsule reference; those scents do seem to capture a certain era perfectly. I recall them fondly as well.

  • maggiecat says:

    Speaking of Diorissimo – lilies are my spcial scent memory. Every Easter, we would get an Easter lily, and every Easter season, I had to be pulled away from it’s beautiful blossom, inwhich I had firmly planted my nose. The lovely scent, and its once a year appearance gave all lily scents a special association for me, so much so that I wore Diorissimo to my wedding two years ago (and am rocking Cartier’s Baiser Vole today!)

    • Ann says:

      Just beautiful, Maggiecat! I love them, too, and used calla lilies in my wedding many moons ago. So beautiful and elegant.
      And I’m really liking the Baiser Vole as well. I think a lot of us perfumistas are, from what I’m hearing.

  • pam says:

    Great post, Ann!

    Diorissimo always takes me back to my childhood. My mother brought me a sample from her shopping trip to Charlotte when I was quite young. I loved it, and kept it in a special place, and would take it out a sniff it sometimes.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, sweetie, thanks for stopping by. What a lovely scent memory, and with a great fragrance, too!

  • Matt says:

    I have so many!!

    The first scent that comes to mind is the one of a specific chewing gum flavor (something tropical with melons) that two friends and I would always have during a trip to New-York. Even though I didn’t really care about the actual flavor, every time I smell it, it brings vivid memories of that trip, for me as for the girls.

    And, like Jared, my association with my first encounter with niche perfumery is the smell of the first sample set I got from TPC. A mix of Knize 10, Santal de Mysore, Tobacco Vanille and a few others. It’s an interesting mix that puts me back in that very special «first time» feeling.

    Thinking about these associations lately, I came up with the idea of voluntarily linking a certain smell to a certain event in my life. That’s what I’ll try when I go to France next year. I’ll head to Paris to choose a «signature fragrance» in the beginning and I’ll wear it regularly for the two weeks. Now I just need to choose… Malle? Lutens? Dior? Guerlain? Help!!

    Has anyone ever tried doing this?

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Matt. Thanks for sharing. I think it’s a great idea to link a scent to a particular event — instant souvenir, and memories that you carry with you always, no photo album, etc., needed. As for choosing it, that could be part of the fun, spending time with each house and seeing which scent resonates most with you. You couldn’t go wrong with any of those you’ve mentioned. Enjoy!!

    • Sharon C. says:

      I didn’t do this intentionally, but when I transferred to the UK in late 1992, my first stop was a 3-day “indoctrination” meeting in London. [Although I’d been to Canada and Mexico, I considered this my first “real” trip to a foreign country.] Dior’s Dune had just been released, and was very much in the fashion magazine advertising at the time, so I purchased a bottle in Selfridge’s. For me, Dune will always be less about the beach and more about (1) my first trip overseas, (2) London, and (3) shopping in a major non-US department store–all VERY good memories. Even if I don’t wear it very often, I will always have a bottle in my collection.

      Good luck finding your “special memory” scent in France!

      • Ann says:

        Wow, Sharon! You’ve packed a lot of good memories into that one scent. It is wonderful to have a scent that’s so much about a place, a time, that it brings you joy whenever you smell it.

    • Matt says:

      I’m really looking forward to finding the scent, I’m just worried about how much time I’ll need to spend on this… But as you said, Ann, I can’t go wrong! Thanks :)

      • Ann says:

        Matt, perhaps you could do some reconnaisance work before you go, weeding out notes into ones you like and ones you don’t. At least that way you can narrow what you’re searching for somewhat. For instance, I’m not crazy about rose and lavender scents, so I would automatically eliminate fragrances heavy on those. You do have some time before your trip, so that’s good. Most of all, have fun with it!

  • Kurt says:

    When I was a student I used tot travel to the campus by bus, together with a lot of other students… The first time I smelled Muscs Koublai Kahn it brought me back to one of those mornings in a cramped bus ful of sweaty fellow students, still a bit wet from rain and with a musky smell of sweat and damp clothes.

    • Ann says:

      Kurt, I can definitely see that. Do you wear MKK at all? I was scared to try it for a long time but finally got enough courage. It was edgy at first on me, then settled down and got warmer and even a bit cuddly. Not something I’d wear again, but glad I tried it.

      • Kurt says:

        Rarely, I do like the softness of the drydown. But when I wear it, it is mostly indoors ;

  • Debbie R. says:

    Two: one good, the other bad. The good involves Amouage Dia Woman. That was so interesting and beautiful that, when I made the mistake putting it on at bedtime, I kept waking up thru the whole night. “What is that FRAGRANCE? Dia! Oh, man, this is stunning.” Over and over.

    The bad involves Seretions Magnifique. Let’s just say it conjures up something as bad as scenes from Seven.

  • Jared says:

    I kind of laugh a little to myself as I think on this and write, but I have a special place in my heart for those very first samples I bought from The Perfumed Court when I was beginning my perfume journey, about three years ago. I had purchased The Guide and become entranced by it, and naturally I needed to start smelling some of these amazing creations described within. I remember those early samples: Jicky, Timbuktu, Mitsouko, Patchouli 24. Each of those hold, for me, that sense of a breaking dawn, the beginning of a journey full of promise and potential: so far to go! Perfume has become such a passion for me, and it fills me with so much, that smelling any of those brings me back to that time. It brings me back to that idea that, no matter how old you are, golden youth and promise can always bloom in the heart.

    • Debbie R. says:

      Well-written, Jared! That is exactly what the discovery of the perfume world was like fo me too.

      • Ann says:

        Jared, thanks for sharing your lovely intro to fragrance. And you most definitely got off to a good start with all those great fragrances!