Miriam, memories, revelations… and a giveaway

As most of you know, Andy Tauer and Brian Pera collaborated on a film/perfume journey – Brian’s film Woman’s Picture and Andy’s perfumes created to embody the experiences and memories of the women profiled in the film.  I was going to give you a basic review of the perfume but that’s already been done (and very well, I might add) by several of the other blogs involved in the project.  I can’t do it any better than it’s been done so instead, I thought I would share with you some thoughts from me and Andy, over the course of a couple of chatty emails.  This post is a long’un so go grab a cup of tea and settle in..

Me (Musette) to Andy :  ..I am writing my Miriam post and wanted to chat with you a bit.   what I find so intriguing about Miriam is the immediate visceral response I got upon spritzing it.   Given that my response was so …well,’ visceral’ really is the best word to describe it, I wanted to share my response and find out what emotions prompted you to craft this composition 

I did spritz the perfume before watching the DVD.  And , at first spritz, I was immediately transported back to my Tia Cornelia’s drawing room

She was my elegant godmother and I always imagined that she lived this life of utter ease, doted upon by my wealthy godfather, Tio Roy.  There was that 40s glamour in her apartment and herself ( Coty face powder and mink stoles and those fox tippets with the scary heads.  Housekeeper.  Great handbags.  Gloves.  Always gloves. But also a bit of quiet melancholy, their chic, closed-in  flat with the Foo dogs and silk drapes,  a slight smell of hairspray clinging to everything .   I empathized with Miriam’s connection to her mother through her perfume .  Your ‘Miriam’ reconnected me to my Tia – it bridges her 40s glamour with a more modern accessibility – it’s very wearable and lovely, in a heartbreaking way. 

I’m very interested in what emotions caused you to craft it thus (I know I already asked that – but it’s the premier question here).  I watched the Miriam segment on the DVD and it almost stopped my heart!  I could barely breathe, watching Miriam’s nearly uncontained rage, fury, despair, frustration, shame….yes, shame…at finding herself at A Certain Age, with a dead marriage, a shackling career and …..a primal relationship that has loosened its fetters and is floating away on the threads of a disintegrating brain.  Was it that ineffable sense of sadness that prompted you to create a scent that whisks one back to a silken, powdered past, while reminding that those days are dust, time is not static…and every moment is a step forward into the unknown.  Miriam had that same affect on me that the madeleine had on Proust. 

I found Miriam to be an intensely moving fragrance and am glad I smelled it before I watched the clip, because I knew I was experiencing it on its own merits, uninfluenced by Brian’s stunningly painful film..    Obviously, you can tell that I have ‘been there, done that’, alas…:-)


Dear Anita

I worked on a page of text for you. I hope it helps you understanding how emotions and perfume composition come together. I tried…. In a sense, I am a little bit lost whenever I need to think about perfume. Sometimes, I feel that you, Brian, any perfume lover wearing it, will understand a creation better than I do.  I send you fragrant hugs and a little picture of me about 43 years ago…..Enjoy, Andy



(isn’t this photo adorable?)

These are Andy’s thoughts:

I watched the portrait of Miriam –one portrait of three in the film WOMAN’S PICTURE- for the first
time more than a year ago. I remember how I felt very compassionate and concerned. In the Miriam
movie we witness how a life starts to fall apart. I followed how, there, at this particular moment in
her life, so many roads seem to end for Miriam: A partner that is so much more talented than she is
and yet he throws his talents away, a TV job full of lies and a mother disintegrating. Miriam is losing
her mother to dementia. All this in 30 minutes is a sad cocktail, yet there is hope as she moves on
and takes her life in her hands again. That was how I felt.

For me, the most touching scene, was the scene where perfume wakens Miriam’s mother up for a
moment, pulls her out of the dark world of oblivion and brings her back for a fleeting moment.
Perfume can do this.

Miriam connects to her mother and to her own past by perfume. Imagine: Liquid in a glass container
can bring back the past. Perfume can do this. Isn’t this amazing?

I am close to 50 years old now and the older I get the easier I have tears in my eyes. I am convinced
that getting older comes with softness. When watching Miriam the first time, it touched me very
much, because it reminded me in a lot of lines in my own life. There was a time when I was sitting in
a meeting room just like Miriam had to and I too had no way but quitting my job and a good part of
my life. I remembered sitting next to my mother in the hospital and waiting for the monitor showing
me the last heart beat of my mother. I guess we all have these moments in life, where we face
complete failure, where we need to let go.

Thus, Miriam for me is a very emotional and melancholic movie. Is there something like a
melancholic fragrance? Maybe there is: A bitter sweet scent of memories. I wanted to create a
perfume that I could present as a gift to Miriam that evening, when she is home, out of her job, back
from the nursing home, alone. I imaged how this perfume must be. It is a perfume with bitter sweet
memories built in. It is a perfume promising that there is hope. I wanted it to be a perfume that links
her to her mother, that brings back memories of times gone by, but I wanted it to be a perfume that
allows her to move on, with her life.

I tried, together with Brian, to rationalize my construction, my perfume formula. Why violet leaf
absolute? Why roses? Why Sandalwood and why this and not that? I tried to explain Brian Pera and I
tried for myself to find parameters that I used to compose the perfume: Diffusiveness. Uniqueness.
Provocation. Vintage. Feminine. These parameters help to understand the formula. I shared the
composition, most of the ingredients with Brian, but the mystery of a fragrance is hidden behind its
ingredients. It is the magic that a perfume can be more than the sum of its ingredients. Perfumes are
created with intuition and composed with emotions. Perfumes surprise the intellect.


Notes for Miriam from the evelyn avenue website: bergamot, sweet orange, geranium, violet blossom, rose, jasmine, ylang, violet leaf, lavender, vanilla, orris root, sandalwood.)  (the notes from Musette:  a ton of Aldehydes and roses – very vintage l’Aimant, which always evokes a bit of melancholy in me).  You can get purchase info on www.evelynavenue.com and www.luckyscent.com


None of this would’ve happened had Brian Pera not first embarked on his tableaux.  I’m not ashamed to say there are so many aspects of Miriam that resonate with me – it may be that the Miriam character is of a similar age, in some similar straits…perhaps I was just looking for something to rip the lungs out of my body that afternoon…who knows?  But between the film and the scent, it was a truly visceral experience, with both of them seamlessly supporting the other.  Brian shot an interview for each blog – here is the one he did for us: click on this to be directed to the  Interview


I hope this hasn’t bored the toenails off you all.  I really enjoyed chatting with Andy and wanted to share this with you.


Now to the giveaway – we have 8-beautiful-8 gifts to giveaway, courtesy of Andy and Brian.  Each winner will receive a sample of the beautiful, evocative Miriam and a DVD of selected interviews and shorts from the wonderful film “Woman’s Picture”.  To enter….hmmm…let’s talk Emotion, shall we?  What scent triggers the deepest emotions (good or bad) in you?

  • barbara mc says:

    Chanel 5-the smell of my mom(her 50’s tweeds and chiffons) and my grandmother(her hand-picked cobblers and tomatoes)…one auntie brought a factice from Paris for my grandmother…as I played at her dresser,with the explanation that it was for advertising,we opened it for the first time….it was the biggest bottle of#5,to my gasping delight…Emeraude…the longing of a(army brat) traveling teenager,wishing to stay in the canopied autumn trees of the midwest…Habanita-the sensuality of yet another aunt, who unwittingly taught me how to explore the hidden secrets of non-mainstream scent

  • Rednails says:

    I keep a vial of vintage Emeraude because it immediately transports me back to my grandmother’s drawing room, with its heavy 1890s furniture done in burgundy brocade. (She wore that and Chantilly.) She was from Poland and lived with us the last 20n years of her life. I tried wearing a few drops of it recently but it was so overwhelming to me emotionally that I had to scrub it. I can only open the vial, like a tiny genie’s bottle, and smell the wand.

  • samberg says:

    The peppery smell of nasturtium always brings me back to the happiest time of my life, newly in love and living the life of my dreams. The beauty and utility of the eye-catching vine are bonuses.

  • summer says:

    To me the ultimate comfort scent was my mother’s back in a summery evening.

    I was 5 or 6 then– big enough to stay out of the small bed and sleep with her,in between she and papa. i remembered feeling scared and snuggled up to her and smell the warmth of her back, through her newly-washed, well-worn cotton dress. We were quite poor then,– we had no extra to buy fragrance, but she used some local-made herbal mosquito-repellent after shower and the smell –pungent and sharp and cold in the bottle– changed entirely on her skin.In the end i smelt a soft,rich “dairy” sleepiness that feels like a piece of sandalwood smoothed by constant human touch.

    I feel lucky to have exactly the same scent as my mom do — it sure doesn’t produce the same effect on others, as i’ve also tried on papa and friends. We live in different cities now but i always used that repellent every summer evening and i had mom over before the skies turned dark. :) [that herbal repellent can be purchased nationwide now, in our far-away country, for about a dollar a small bottle,– but posh people in our country don’t use them anymore, they are considered low-tech and cheap. sign*.]

    Whoever read this i wish you a lovely, wonderfully strange day.


  • Bellatrix says:

    Japanese musk (TBS) always reminds me of my mom…
    She is wearing it all the time, since I was a kid.
    It brings out happy feelings.

  • Valentine says:

    The scent of black tea IS my childhood. I’d drink this by the cupful–I remember waking up when I was around 3 or 4, and the first thing my grandma asked is whether I’d like a cup of tea.

  • helenviolette says:

    The smell of vintage cosmetics takes me back to rifling through my great grandmother’s dresser drawers. She was such a happy/joyful and loving woman- and lived such a hard-working humble life. Thanks for the draw!

  • CMH says:

    The first time I sniffed SL Iris Silver Mist it reminded me of old book stores and how we used to haunt them back in college. Something about that earthy rooty smells transported me right back there. I am so intrigued with Mirium! Thanks for the draw!

  • Elise says:

    Best and worst…Best: Joy Perfume…my mom’s jewelery box and going through it on hot summer days.
    Worse: White Shoulders…my grandmother doused herself in it at her husband’s funeral. The scent can make me sick…

    Other scents? The smell of horses takes me right back to being 10 years old again and so in love with horses!

  • Susan says:

    Gosh! I guess my emotional scent would probably be, and this is kind of weird, the scent of John Freida Brilliant Brunette shampoo. I used that product line during a really emotional time in my life.

  • Maureen says:

    When I first smelled a sample of Miss Dior, it was my godmother, Aunt Nettie…she must have worn it… I could see her standing there coming towards me with a smile on her face, looking very chic & thin & put together in taupe sheath dress with a gold pin on the shoulder, nude stockings and taupe heels, and that bubble hairdo of the sixties. She was a buyer for Gimbles in Philadelphia, and a very lovely woman and I miss her. She passed away in the eighties from breast cancer, and the drugs, etc., made her blow up in weight, and I knew tht bothered her, but she put on a brave face, was still very lovely and a real sweatheart.

    I would love to try this fragrance. Please enter me and thanks for the draw.

  • Fernando says:

    I’m a cold fish… most fragrances don’t trigger emotions for me. I enjoy them, love them, hate them, think about them. But emotions? No.

  • mariekel says:

    Extraordinary, my dear. Your description of Tia Cornelia rang a chord. My grandmother was of a similar vein: hair always done, hatboxes from Bonwits and Bergdorf lining the top shelves of her walk-in closer, her endless high heels neatly arrayed, the mysterious gloves draw full of pairs I never saw her wear…and the intermingled smells of Shalimar, Bain de Soleil, hairspray and scotch.

    I would love to see and smell Miriam, on a day when the world doesn’t seem quite so personal.

  • NinaraPoll says:

    For me, it’s not just one perfume, but several:
    Shalimar. My great-grandmother wore Shalimar, and smelling it in 2009 (after having not smelled it for decades) brought back what is now my earliest childhood memory: My parents, myself at somewhere around 18 months old or 1 year old, and some of my mom’s relatives visiting my great-grandparents on her side of the family. I recall wearing a white crocheted dress, running around a white room with wooden furniture and curtains and some paintings, very happy, everyone doting on me, and me eventually falling asleep in my great-grandmother’s lap.
    Youth Dew. My grandmother on my mom’s side LOVED perfume. She tended to wear French scents (Chanel no 5, Coco Chanel, some Guerlains, L’Air du Temps) and adored them, but would always ask my mom to bring her Youth Dew when we would visit her at Christmas. My mom’s side of the family is from Mexico, so Christmas is to me inextricably bound with certain scent and taste memories, and smelling Youth Dew brings back not just Christmas memories, but memories of a tiny precious woman who adored me with all her heart, and vice versa. Since her death, melancholy has been added to the memories smelling it evokes, but the overall emotion of one of happiness and love.
    Paco Rabanne, Aramis, and most of the big 80s Chanel colognes remind me of my uncles on my mom’s side and of how much they love me.
    Old Spice, English Leather, English Leather Spiced, and BBW Green Clove and Aloe: My father.
    Sundry perfumes including Tabu, Vanilla Fields, Hypnose, Paloma Picasso, Red Door, Red: My mom.
    The drugstore stalwarts (Emeraude, Chantilly, etc.): My grandmother on my father’s side, especially if you add some cigarette smoke (she was a heavy smoker). It’s been about two decades since she died, so the pain smelling those after her death brought me has lessened, but I still have the occasional pang.
    Lots of the 80s and very early 90s scents (Obsession, Giorgio, Dune, Oscar, Polo, Eternity, White Diamonds, Cool Water, Cristalle, Lagerfeld Photo, Chemistry, Samsara, Ysatis, Tsar, Joop, Opium, Calyx, Jessica McClintock, etc, which I did not wear but it seems like THE ENTIRE WORLD did) as well as L’ Air du Temps remind me of my childhood (I actually wore L’Air in 6th and 7th grade); White Linen reminds me of the summer before I started high school (I wore it); CK One of my sophmore year high school (did not wear, but everyone else did) as well as Chloe Narcisse (loved it, but was never brave enough to wear it until I was a junior or senior in college).

    Can we not tell that I pay way too much attention to scent? ;)

    As to instances where just a scent alone has actually triggered an emotional reaction: There was one specific perfume that, upon smelling it, provoked in me such a sense of melancholy and discontent that I *had* to put down the bottle and dispose of the test strip, but for the life of me I CANNOT recall what it was, and I’ve been too scared to trawl the store where I encountered it to relocate it! I think it was a Guerlain… and oddly enough, smelling some of the recent ELs (Pleasures Bloom, Wild Elixir, the Bronze Goddesses, and the Sensuouses) has sparked such an intense joy in me that I wonder if I’m not going nuts from my chronic Lyme disease ;) I grew up in a very loving and intellectual household that believed firmly in education (ah, I love that my parents are professors), so I tend to analyze and dissect everything, and I also do not generally emotionally react to literature/music/art/tv/movies, so I have always found it interesting that I react so emotionally to scents. (Last time I smelled cilantro I became so homesick for my relatives in Mexico I almost started crying) I’m also a very demonstrative person (my DH would probably say “crazy emotional”), so I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day analyzing me ;)


    P.S. Since earlier today (10/05) when I try to access PP in Opera, Opera’s built in browsing guard is notifying me that PP is a known malware distributor and I may be putting my computer at risk by visiting it… so you might want to investigate, O Moderator Gods and Goddesses.

  • nozknoz says:

    In the first Swapmania, I received a decant of Andrea Maack Sharp, which amazingly smells exactly like taking a bath when I was a child – lots of hot water, Ivory soap bubbles and other scents specific to that room. Such a cozy, cozy time.

    Love your post – both your and Andy’s reflections are just wonderful.

  • Sharon C. says:

    Where to start? White Owl cigars, fireplace smoke, the smell of tomatoes and cucumbers warm and fresh from the vine–these all remind me of my grandparents’ home and garden. Fresh bread and cookies baking–definitely my mother. Vintage Old Spice and the faint scent of road blacktop in summer–my dad (he was a highway construction inspector).

    As for a perfume memory: Neil Morris’ October captures this time of year in northern Pennsylvania where I grew up–the MacIntosh apple tree beside our mailbox, the smell of leaves changing color, that hint of winter chill in the evening air. Much as I love this perfume, I can only wear it in the fall and early winter, because it just doesn’t seem “right” any other time of the year.

    Would love to try Miriam–please enter me in the draw. Thanks!

  • Ann says:

    Musette, thank you for a beautiful, evocative post. You’ve got me jonesing to try some Miriam now.

  • dremybluz says:

    Fantastic post. The smell of Sortilege will always bring back the fond memories of my childhood, Christmas days, and my mother and father. This perfume was my father’s special gift to her each Christmas. This fragrance will always have a very special place in my heart.

  • Meg says:

    Would love to be entered in this, as much for the DVD as the sample. It sounds like a very haunting film and I am definitely going to seek it out.

    Like others, for me the most evocative scents are not perfume based. I think I find the most potent to be the smell of damp, slightly rotting leaves, basically the smell of fall right now. It is so melancholic yet promising and exciting.

    Now, a technical question. One day when I was effing around on the site (never again!) I changed the background design from “arsenic and lace” to… another one… with landscape photos at the top. With this layout, I can’t seem to locate the bar to change it back anymore, and I really really want to as I feel less confident navigating this site w this layout. Help?

  • Holly F. says:

    I cried reading parts of this, about Miriam. Not full blown weeping, but choked up & teary eyed, thinking about scent and its connection with the past, moments of sheer success in life vs. crushing failure, and how to cope. Sigh. I’ve been thinking about Estee Lauder Knowing, my late Mom-Mom’s signature scent, and how I gave her the powder as a gift every year. I’m almost afraid to smell it again. Still working on that one.

  • Lilybug says:

    I’m not even sure if it brings up any memories on particular but I find Chypre Rouge to be very emotive. I’m not even sure whether they are tears of sadness, happiness or what but whatever it is is exhilarating – I feel alive when I smell it. But the intensity of the response is such that I don’t smell it very often.

  • mals86 says:

    Oh, dear. You WOULD have to post this lovely thing on a day I’m so busy I don’t know if I’m coming or going, and not able to really give my attention to it.

    I have been longing to sniff Miriam ever since Brian first let us know it was coming down the pike.

    I’ll be brief: SSS Tabac Aurea knocked me flat, emotionally, the first time I smelled it. It smelled – and still smells, though I’ve worn it often enough now to have obscured some of the scent references – like my high school boyfriend. Sunshine, dry leaves, grass, snickerdoodle cookies, a faint hint of tobacco on his clothes, the warm musk of his skin…. it was a toxic relationship, but he just smelled so *%#@ GOOD. The first time I wore it, I spent the day banging around from nostalgia to guilt to misery to fear to lust to happiness, like this crazy carousel.

    The carousel has finally settled in the “nostalgia-happiness-wee bit of lust” range, and I can wear TA now without the emotional storm. But it was a wild ride, that first time…

  • Austenfan says:

    What a perfectly beautiful post. Thank you Musette, and thank you Andy.

    I don’t have any perfume that has evoked such a powerful response. The perfume I am “closest” to in terms of emotional investment is Paris, YSL ( before they tampered with it). I have worn it since it first came out and still wear it today. When I was still at University I would spray myself with abandon before any exam. I still find it an incredibly joyful fragrance.
    Most fragrances I really love just make me feel really well, some provoke an instant smile, like Vamp à New York did, and still does.
    I would love to be included in the draw, but I don’t know if you include people living outside the US.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing with us, Anita. Perfume is definitely magical when it comes to evocation of past times, people and feeling. Chanel No.5, Arpege (and O de Lancome in summer) are so completely my grammy that they bring tears to my eyes when I smell them and even as I type this. A great sadness for me is that my daughters never knew my grandparents-they would have adored each other.
    KL by Karl Lagerfeld and Opium are my mom along with Aviance Night Musk on summer nights when we would often have cook-outs with friends. All goodness and happiness before my parents divorced. Pour Monsieur is the scent of my dad living a different life to my brother and me. Shalimar is the scent I discovered at 15 and meant ‘woman’ to me- and I adore it still. Many years from now I hope it will be one of the strongest scent associations for my daughters. I could write an essay here but shall be stop now!
    Please enter me into the contest!

  • Lavanya says:

    I absolutely loved this post – both your questions and thoughts and Andy’s reply. Thank you!

    The smell of a rainy day makes me happy , yet nostalgic for rainy days in India (coffee and potato filled puff pastries..hmmm. but not just food. :). the sounds and smells and bustling streets). As far as perfume goes, Mandy Aftel’s Cepes and Tuberose and Fig resonate with me on a very emotional level.

    Please enter me in the draw!

  • LindaB says:

    What a fantastic post!

    Alyssa Ashley Musk takes me back to childhood – my mother wore it during a time that I was experiencing very deep separation anxiety from her. It’s beautiful to me, like she is, but immediately brings me to choking tears most of the time.

  • Nancy says:

    Oh, please enter me in the draw! I’d love the goodies and associations.
    A scent that triggers great emotion is (I know this may sound really crazy) that old ink they used in “mimeographing” onto paper. It smelled so good and usually portended good things on the paper.

  • jirish says:

    What a beautiful post and interview. I really need to both smell this perfume and see this movie. For some reason Chamade brings back strong memories of my grandmother, even though everyone I know swears she never wore it. In general, smells that bring back my childhood are unconnected to perfume. My mother was a teacher, so the smell of mimeograph ink reminds me of both her and my childhood. Also the smell of pencils, crayons, and Vick’s Vapor Rub – the smell of love and care.

  • elizrj says:

    I loved this post!! That’s what drew me to perfume, the depth of the memories that a scent can evoke.

    The first time I tried Vol de Nuit I immediately knew it was the scent my Grandmother always wore. It just brought her right back.

    However, I have to say my strongest scent association is Shalimar. I see my mother, happy and vibrant when I smell it. My mother went through what I recognize now as a deep clinical depression when I was a child. She was rarely around, mostly in her dark bedroom with the door closed and barred. Then it seemed like suddenly she was there, her hair done, makeup on, smiles and vibrant, with Shalimar scented hugs. She slipped back and forth between the two in what I now recognize as manic depression, but all I knew as a child was that my mother was present when she was wearing that. My mother is still alive, and much more stable thanks to counseling and meds. What’s interesting to me is she never wears Shalimar anymore, although she keeps her bottles in her dresser.

    Perfume can be so visceral. Thanks for the article!! I’d love to see the movie and smell the perfume, so thanks for that as well.

  • Gvillecreative says:

    Wow. That was a heavy post. Now I really, really need to see the Miriam DVD. And it got me thinking about my future… my husband and I are trying to conceive. I’ve spent so much of the last 6 months thinking about my near future that I have given NO thought to my distant future and what my life will be like at that stage. Hm.

    Smells that bring emotions:
    * The smell of burning leaves on cold, thin air – brings on nostalgia and a bit of sadness about the end of a stage
    * Obsession – brings on the ewwy yuckness. I used to babysit for a man that wore it, and he made me feel uncomfortable
    * The “make up” note in perfumes – hope, beauty, kindness, and faith– Remember how foundations smelled when you first started wearing makeup and believing in your own possible beauty?

    I love this project, Andy Tauer! This is the most groundbreaking perfume project since I’ve gotten into the hobby. It really has me thinking!

    • mals86 says:

      “Believing in your own possible beauty,” oh, yes. Yes. I remember that.

    • Joanna says:

      Obsession smells like cat pee on me, which I’m sure makes everyone around me uncomfortable. Totally a bad scent connection but not as icky as yours maybe.
      The thought of how foundation smelled when I first started wearing it makes me smile.

  • Joanna says:

    The smell of wet sheets out of the wash, clean and bleached. It reminds me of hanging the laundry out to dry with my grandma. I miss her so much just typing this is making me tear up.

  • dleep says:

    A couple of years ago when I was visiting my family out of state for Thanksgiving I purchased a bottle of Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum from a little shop in an area of town where I used to love to shop. Everytime I wear it I think of shopping there with my sister and niece. Even though I love the perfume it makes me a little sad wishing I was with them.

  • Gwenyth says:

    There is ‘something’ about being a perfume-lover, as is made obvious by all of us who read and post here regularly. There something intrinsic to our collective make-up that makes scent resonate with us in a way that perhaps is alien to others of our fellow creatures.

    All this subjective speculation aside, I DO know that scents are a powerful force in my life.
    There is a particular scent I have been searching for my entire life, and this is what drew me into perfumes in the first place. I don’t know “what” this scent is, exactly, but it is a mixture of a complex floral scent combined with grasses and herbs. I get hints of it here and there when I smell various perfumes, but I’ve NEVER been able to find this scent in it’s entirety in a single perfume. That’s why I keep smelling and searching. The scent in my mind is an abstraction, I think, but it represents a memory from somewhere or sometime. I shrug my shoulders even as I write this because it is difficult for me to describe — but if ANYONE can understand this strange obsession, it would be one of my fellow perfumistas, right?

    I have a strong connection to Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew because it reminds me of my late, dear Mother. I rarely wear it myself, even though I love it, because of the deep emotions it rouses in me.

    I love this post and accompanying comments. Who better to articulate and appreciate the depth of feeling involved with fragrances than the folks here on PerfumePosse?

    Heartfelt thanks to Musette(Anita), Brian Pera, and Andy Tauer!

  • jen says:

    Easy-Ambush-my very first boyfriend and first perfume.

  • ElizabethC says:

    Winter 1972 – the smell was exactly the smell of the end of a snowy day in Denver in my childhood. Not just the smell of snow but the smell of slightly melted, dirty snow and the beginning of evening. Amazing!

  • HemlockSillage says:

    Your beautiful writing, and M. Tauer’s made me cry! I’m at work, and here I am, all misty-eyed. Whew. That is what perfume should do, as art. Touch us, deeply.

    I’m not sure I’m up to tearful perfumes. I want something to make me laugh, or exclaim with joy, like Francesca noted with her favorite fragrances.

    Old Spice will always make me think of my Grandpa Leroy, who would pour it from the white ceramic bottle, then slap his cheeks with it. Such a sunny, dapper, loving man, and I miss him every day. He lived until he was 97, and he was still handsome and so very kind.

  • June-bug says:

    Scent, such a powerful impact it can have on us.
    Tigress reminds me of sneaking a peek in my Mom’s perfume drawer when I was growing up. Wind Song reminds me of my Grandmother.
    Very nice post. Thanks for sharing.

  • maggiecat says:

    I have lots of (mostly happy) scent memories – lilac from our backyard, Jean Nate bath splash, which my mother, sister, and I all wore, selling Avon cosmetics as a teenager and wearing Sweet Honesty (which my mother and sister also wore), the exotic and amazing store-bought boquets of flowers my dad sometimes gave my mom – and later to me… All good stuff, which is making me smile today.

  • Joanne says:

    L’Aimont by Coty. It IS my mother. She wore it nonstop and it evokes such memories now. She passed away 18 months ago, and I still have her nightgown in my dresser drawer. Because, for years, she applied that perfume just before bedtime, the garment retains her scent. Occasionally, unbeknownst to my husband, I will take it out and bury my face in it. It still smells of her–it makes me weep. Oh, how I miss who my mom was before Parkinson’s dementia robbed her of herself in the final years. I hope to someday remember her as she was before the robber took her.

  • pam says:

    Beautiful article and interview! Thank you so much.

    Many fragrances bring emotion to me, but one is a mystery. I thought I had not smelled L’Heure Bleue and went looking for it to try. (This was a couple of years ago.) Found it at Saks and sprayed it on. By the time I got to the car, I was in tears. It is so beautiful and gave me such a viseral response, I knew it was somewhere in my past, in a deep memory. I cannot grasp that memory (who wore it?), but it must have been someone I loved.

  • Tiara says:

    Bored? Far from it! This was a delightful exchange and I’m so pleased you shared it-thank you.

    Youth Dew has become “that scent” for me since my mom died. Have always held that one at arms length anyway, but a whole new set of emotions kick in these days.

  • Elizabeth T. says:

    Wonderful article, thanks for sharing! Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar is the scent that triggers it for me. Worn by my dad. :)

  • Ari says:

    Far from having my toenails bored off, I found this post extremely touching. Thank you, Ann.

    It might sound frivolous, but Demeter Waffle Cone reminds me of one of my dearest friends.

  • Barbara says:

    After my mom, suffering from dementia and other ailments, passed awayI really started to get into perfumes. She was born and raised in Paris so when I explored beyond Chanel No. 5, I found L’Arpege. In hindsight, it was more her signature scent, on the rare occasions when she would wear it. Even when my husband was out of work, I found a way to get a small bottle so I could evoke the sweet memories of my mom. Just opening the package started the tears. I regret that I didn’t ask enough questions about her past when she was still able to share her memories.

  • maurak1203 says:

    Wow…loved your interpretation of Miriam and Andy’s response!! Thank you for sharing!!

    Thinking about scent associations…fresh lilacs transport me to childhood and playing outside until sunset, not a care in the world. I have tried all the lilac fragrances, FM, Miller Harris, Ineke, ect.. but they all lack that “visceral” sensation that the true blossom carries for me.

    What a fantastic giveaway…thank you Andy and Brian for your thoughtfulness and creativity :)

  • Francesca says:

    Wonderful post, Musette! And a beautiful and evocative portrait of your Tia.

    Recently I went to an outdoor flea-market which continued into the school whose playground was its main venue. That school smell! Crayons and disinfectant. I loved school, so this was a treat.

    I also love the smell of what I have been told is burning dust–that smell that permeates the apartment on the first few chilly days when the radiators come on in the fall.

    The combined scent of thawing mud, spicebush, and, believe it or not, skunk-cabbage, portends spring after the usually hard winters on my Kent, CT mountaintop. Always makes me feel as though a big weight is lifting.

    The emotion triggered by my favorite perfumes is one of sheer happiness–“Oh, my God, I LOVE this stuff!”

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    The scent memories that stir a lot of emotions for me are, of course, the perfumes my mother wore: Emeraude and later, Youth Dew. I suppose it is why I collect so many vintage frags–not to wear, but to smell and remember. Happy memories also arise from the smells of Christmas cookies and melted crayons.

  • DinaC says:

    Like others, the scents from my childhood are very evocative. The houses I lived in were transitory since we were a military family, so my grandparents’ house, which was a permanent fixture, became a touchstone. My grandfather was in the leather business, so the smell of leather is particularly memorable for me. Rolls of soft, smooth leather skins in many colors. Also the smell of stacks of old sheet music near the piano. Their big garden outside and all the variety of plants it held. My grandmother wore Jean Nate bath powder.

  • Sherri M. says:

    Creed Fleurissimo reminds me of Jewel Tea (showing my age; does anyone remember them?) children’s shampoo and Saturday night baths with my mother putting my hair in rollers for church the next day. Chanel #5 and Shalimar, my mother and mil and other inlaws. Since these were their “good” perfumes, I associate them with holidays and church. Mitsouko and other chypres, Tigress, my dear aunts. LOTV and L’aimant, my grandmother; Emeraude & Avon Sonnet, other grandmother. Sweet and precious ladies in my life, most of whom are gone now.

  • Gisela says:

    The smell of Herb Robert/Robert Geranium transports me instantly back to my early childhood when we kids used to play in an overgrown patch of the garden with lots of wild Robert Geraniums, and there is also this vague feeling of danger, having been warned of the poisonous plant.

  • meg says:

    my parents had one glass fronted bookshelf where the old, beautiful books were kept; the Big Blue Book of Fairy Tales, the astonishingly outdated encyclopedia, the tiny, tiny copies of Shakespeare. The puff of air against my face when I opened that cabinet is still magical; the slight tang of the leather, the sweetness of warm dust, old paper, and the smell of the old, old oak the cabinet is made of.

  • KHBride says:

    Sunscreen :d It reminds me of being at the beach with my family when I was younger.

    In terms of bottled scents…Cool Water Men. It reminds me of boys I dated in high school. Boys. Plural. And they were definitely not men regardless of what they were wearing.

  • LL grhm says:

    Clinique happy take me right back to the 80’s when my clinically depressed mother wore it.

  • Amy K says:

    I love the idea that there is a story behind the fragrance. No perfume has had such a visceral effect on me yet, but Tabu always transports me back to childhood. It’s like getting a warm hug from my grandmother who always wore it.

  • anotherperfumeblog says:

    I so hope this perfume is something I love, because I have loved the stories and inspirations that have gone into it. In terms of a scent that evokes emotion for me, I would have to say the smell of pages in a Bible, those thin ruffly pages with the metallic edges, is one that takes me immediately back to my childhood and all the emotions associated with being a child in church.

  • (Ms.) Christian says:

    Wow. Heavy stuff.

    I’m in the process of throwing away/giving away/storing my late partner’s possessions after many years of mental illness that finally ended in suicide.

    The scent that keeps coming back to me is not a biggie or even really perfume. It’s Agraria’s Bitter Orange. It’s one we both enjoyed back in the early, innocent days when love and certainly our lives together seemed to be a golden and endless path.

    • Ari says:

      Ms. Christian, I am so sorry for your loss. I have extensive experience with mental illness in loved ones and I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

      • (Ms.) Christian says:

        Thank you, Ari. It’s something that has shaken me to the core and made me question my own sanity and reality.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      I am sorry for your loss. Having personal experience of mental illness, I can imagine how difficult this is for you. Like Ari, I wouldn’t wish the experience of it or the aftermath on anyone. Take care of yourself.

      • (Ms.) Christian says:

        Thank you for your kind thoughts. The mantra is one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other. Breathe. Repeat.

    • Ann says:

      I’m so very sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to you as I had to deal with a very similar situation with my mother. All you can do is what you mentioned, put one foot in front of the other and take it one day at a time, trite as that sounds. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.