Coming To My Senses

By March

I was tooling along to work, dodging the idiot drivers, thinking about how I was going to get the sales pitch done before everyone got on the plane to Orlando.  My mind was bouncing around all over the place.  I had the windows down, taking in the spring air.  I thought: why doesn’t someone bottle that?  I thought, this is the problem with “flower” fragrances, they don’t smell like the actual flower.  I thought of roses, and how a couple of my favorite scents were ruined for me when Luca Turin pointed out their rosy component in The Guide, and after that all I could smell was the rose.  (No, I won’t subject you to that.)  Then I thought: man, what I need right now is my vintage bottle of YSL Paris.

No, seriously.  I spent thirty seconds considering whether I had time to turn my car around, go home, and put on some Paris before I came to my senses.  (Nobody wants to smell that at work.  I’m two-thirds of the way to the office.)  But I wanted Paris like stoned people say, hey, I could really go for a pepperoni pizza right now.

No, Paris doesn’t smell rosy to me, I don’t care what anyone says.  Paris smells like 1983, and all that implies (cigarettes, big shoulder pads, The Talking Heads), and it makes me smile.  More to the point, though:  is perfume-craving the true sign of a fragrance addict?  This is hardly the first time this has happened to me.  I’ll be out somewhere, far so far from home, and I’ll get a sudden, inexplicable hankering for Lutens’ El Attarine, or L’Artisan Mure et Musc, or Goutal Mandragore, or … it doesn’t really matter what.  You think normal people would be baffled by this phenomenon?  It’s an urge I can’t begin to think myself around, like wanting raw steak when I was pregnant and anemic for the first time in my life.

So I’m wearing Paris right now.  It’s 77 degrees and our allergies are killing us so I won’t open any windows, and I just cooked fried rice for dinner and I don’t care, Paris is perfect for all that.   Paris is perfect for just this minute in my life.  It’s probably some sort of allergic reaction to wearing a tasteful office-friendly scent (Chanel No. 19 Poudre) to work for a month.

What about you?  Do you ever get a sudden, inexplicable craving for a particular scent?  Which one(s)?  What do you do then?

PS I’ve been savoring Alyssa Harad’s Coming to My Senses, partly because (full disclosure) the Posse’s in there, along with Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Perfume-Smellin’ Things, and a whole lot more.  It’s always fun to read someone else’s take on you, and I laughed all the way through the confessional part where Alyssa, having secretly fallen in love with fragrance, was worried her fellow learned academics were going to pull her Birkenstock card.  Definitely worth a read.  Update: forgot to note that our own darling Francesca did the book design (small world!) and as she says in comments, it’s not coming out for a few months, I got an advance copy.







  • Elisa says:

    I crave something rosy almost every single day. I don’t necessarily have to wear it, though — I can just take a hit from the bottle, meaning I smell the cap or the nozzle and move on. :))

  • Ann says:

    Hi, sweet March. Fun post! I can’t get behind you on the Paris as an ex-roomie marinated in it and the slightest whiff sends me around the bend to Headacheville. But am very glad you’re enjoying it and getting so much pleasure from it. Like others above have mentioned, if I’m feeling blue, I start craving orange blossom scents ( a vain attempt to return to my Fla. childhood?) and comforting vanillas. Better living through spraying, I say!

  • Joanna says:

    I’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night and spritz on something I was apparently dreaming about. And I have this weird thing with Opium, like if I see it or think about it I have to put some on…which I just did. It’s like some sort of weird affliction.

    • Ann says:

      Joanna, I hear you! The power of suggestion (esp. this blog) has sent me running to the perfume chest of drawers many a time!

  • minette says:

    yes, i’ve had those pinings, longings and yearnings – for a scent that evokes a particular feeling or image or time. femme de rochas is probably the most potent and vivid of those. but farouche, vintage l’air du temps (the new stuff is too pointlessly bland), private collection, and norell all take me to other times and places, and sometimes i just want a hit of that time-traveling drug.

    meantime… i have to ask… why can’t you wear paris to work? i mean, my mother nearly ruined it for me by wearing too much, but now that i have distance i find that it’s wonderful! you’d be giving them a treat!

    • Ann says:

      Oooh, you mentioned Norell! I loved it and wore it in college, and now I’m craving it and there’s none to be found. Anything even remotely close I can try to substitute? :)

  • LindaB says:

    I get fragrance cravings all the time and feel so validated when I give in to them. :-)

    This is why when I go to put perfume on, I just go with my gut instinct without overthinking (unless it’s a VERY special occasion – in that case, I’m overthinking for days prior to the event). Usually my gut is spot on – when it’s not though…blech.

    I heart vintage Paris so, so much!!!

  • sweetlife says:

    Thank you for the sweet shout-out, March!

    I get cravings all the time–it’s the major way I choose my perfume for the day. And also, as Louise mentioned up there, phantoms (I can imagine the smell, or fragment of the smell I’m craving, like a daydream) and actual dreams. Lately I cannot get enough orange blossom. Very tempted to order Noora after reading Musette’s review…

  • Masha says:

    I crave Chergui on really hot days. REALLY hot days. Now that’s just twisted….

  • mals86 says:

    My cravings are rare – and usually for something other than pretty-and-comfortable: Memoir Woman. Silences (I love Silences, but it is so eerily, preternaturally calm).

    And it’s odd that I never remember ANYBODY wearing Paris back in the day… ever. I don’t find it to have huge presence now, either, even when I’ve got four spritzes on. I do six of the Pont d’Amours flanker.

  • Musette says:

    hey, what’s the handbag on the B-52 cover? Looks like a Speedy.

    xo >-)

  • Musette says:

    I wrote about my Paris experience in Patty’s recent @};- post, so I won’t bore y’all with it again. I no longer have any but whenever I catch a whiff of it it brings back such a smile!

    My cravings are all over the place. Vintage Mitsouko and Parure are always in Crave Rotation but…weirdly enough, the bigger craving is for contemporary (pre-reform) Mitsouko! Something about that gasoline punch..:-?

    The ones that are more difficult to define are the irises. I find myself really craving Iris 39 or Xerjoff’s Irissssssss or Mythique. At the oddest times.

    And when I do, nothing will do for it but that I go get some and spritz it. Which is why I always carry a little vial of I39 in my bag, no matter what else I have on.

    Goofy, I know.
    xo >-)

  • Rena says:

    I don’t get cravings so much as I will sometimes need to wash something off 10 min after applying because it is the WRONG thing–this usually happens when I’m sampling something and decide that,no, I prefer something familiar to exploring something new. (After all, there’s a reason I actually bought full bottles of certain perfumes…..) And yes I always have perfume samples in my bag in case of emergency

  • Teri says:

    We’re having a stretch of warm weather and I woke up this morning NEEDING to wear La Haie Fleurie and absolutely nothing else was going to do. I hadn’t gotten out my spring/summer scents yet, so I had to do some serious excavating to find it, but find it I did.

    Now I’m all smug and pleased with myself because I got what I wanted. Now…where is that no-calorie chocolate eclair I’ve been wishing for???

  • Louise says:

    I’m getting not only scent cravings, but scent phantoms and dreams that direct me to a specific fragrance. Sous le Vent a few days ago-I swear I smelled it on awakening, and it’s far off in my home. Yesterday Andrea Maack Craft-I love this chilly incense. Today-some lavender-not sure which-because I dreamt of lavender. A bit creepy, way addict-like.

  • tania says:

    I get the perfume cravings, too. And I’ll frantically go though the drawers and cupboards looking for whatever it is I just have to have. I’ve even been late for work because I won’t give up til I’ve found it…..:d
    Today it was Knowing. Just one spritz, because it’s a monster and the office probably wouldn’t appreciate marinading in it. But I needed that hit of red-lipsticked power today, and I can’t wear red lippie, so….
    That one spritz is still with me 6 hours later, and I’m loving it!

  • dremybluz says:

    I guess I will ride in the elevator alone as today is an ANGEL craving day…Oh, well, what can I say….

  • Sherri M says:

    Hmmm, interesting conversation. I also have scent cravings, both for natural substances (rose, licorice, aldehydes (who knows why; I thought I hated them), lavender, patchouli especially) as well as specific perfumes.

    Cartier L’heure Defendue is almost addictive with me; if I wear it once, I want to wear nothing else for 3-4 days in a row. Then, I snap out of it and am done with it for another couple months. Aldehydes are even stranger: I hate them but cannot resist them once in a while to get, as Sara says that “rush”. After about an hour they get on my nerves and usually end up scrubbing, but then they leave behind this beautiful, blissful smell. So what’s with that?

    Is there some physiological thing our bodies are trying to tell us? Any physicians out there? The body does sometimes do seemingly illogical things when something is out of balance. I tend towards anemia also, but never craved red meat, but rather obsessively wanted to crunch ice (like how’s that supposed to solve the problem?) Weird, but my dentist picked up on it and after a month or so of iron supplements, that completely went away, and I’ve learned since that is actually a fairly common symptom.

    Anyways, March I am glad you got your Paris “fix”. Great post as always and hope you all have a great day (gorgeous Spring Break week here!) :-)

    • FragrantWitch says:

      I suffer from depression and one of the markers that my medication needs adjusting/ changing is that I start seeking out orange-scented everything. Bergamot oil, neroli oil, oranges to scrub my sink, orange flower water for a face mist etc…
      Its has happened like this for years and, looking back prior to diagnosis, I was trying to self-medicate with uplifting citrus.

      • Sherri M says:

        Yes, that does make perfect sense! The body is amazing, and even with all our wonderful modern technology, there is still so much the doctors don’t understand. Our bodies are surely trying to tell us something with our sense of smell (don’t always know what tho!) :-)

      • sweetlife says:

        So interesting! And makes so much sense. In a way, it’s great to have a tip off like that since one of the markers of depression is that it makes you numb to your own changes until you’re in the hole.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Definitely know what you mean, March. I do crave a certain scent sometimes and it is often emotionally prompted. The waft of a summer beach and salt air= the feeling of being young, completely on my own time, Def Leppard on the boombox and the future stretching before me=Sand and Sable (of all things). Post sun/beach shower=Skin Musk or Calyx.
    Or emotional, as in I need armour (Pour Monsieur) or I need to be hugged and told it will all be fine (my Grammy’s vtg Arpege)etc.
    And I always have perfume with me – my handbag, cosmetic bag, car, hubby’s car, gym bag etc. It would be like being naked without it!

  • rosarita says:

    I crave specific music more often than perfume, but I definitely have my scent cravings too. Don’t laugh, but sometimes nothing will do but a hit of Gucci Rush. Or the lavender smokiness of Gris Clair. Or Coco, or Black Orchid, or Nu edp. Of course there are food cravings too (big crunchy salted radish, anyone?) but that’s a whole ‘nuther animal.

  • Austenfan says:

    I am wearing Paris (“vintage”) today. My most treasured fragrance, even though I am fully aware that it’s probably not such a masterpiece as some others. I own around 10 bottles of it ( EDT, EDP and 2 tiny bottles of extrait). Have worn it since the 80’s, and won’t give up till either my stock runs out or I die.
    I just love it that much!

    • March says:

      Oh! Hugs to you! We can get on the elevator together and kill everyone around us. BTW I wound up with a couple extra bottles after I blogged on it and my love for it. Notes in the mail with the bottles said something like, fine, you love this thing, here’s some more. :d

      • Austenfan says:

        That is a great gift! Your reward for keeping us entertained for such a long time.
        I read up a bit on Paris on other blogs today. On the French ones it is pretty much seen as a “Maman” scent. Which is not at all how I see/experience it.
        I also wore the body cream today, with 3 sprays of EDT. I did not get any comments or odd looks, and I just got gorgeous whiffs of Paris, all day long. It was truly wonderful.

  • Amy K says:

    After deciding that L’Air de Rien was one of the worst things I’d ever smelled when it launched, I got a strange craving for it a few months ago. I wanted some sweet, syrupy BARNYARD. Of course, instead of being a sane person and ordering another sample, I bought a whole bottle on a whim. And you know what? I’ve been wearing it all the time. I don’t know what changed, but it’s something I need right now.

    • March says:

      I hate that thing. You know that, right?


      I figure it’s only a matter of time before I end up doing what you did. I want you to go forth and try to explain “sweet, syrupy barnyard” to a non-perfumista, and then report back. Because I know exactly what you’re talking about. Great description.

    • dissed says:

      Years ago, I did the same with Ormonde Woman. It’s still my all-time favorite.

  • Sara says:

    I find that I get a craving for aldehydes, not sure what that’s all about, but I have to spray myself with Chanel No 22 or No 5 just to get that rush.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    With all of the wacky weather changes in Northeastern Ohio, I’ve been craving my Deneuve in parfum form and Lyric for women. Lyric for women is drop dead gorgeous in the summer when tempatures reach the upper 80’s. What scares me, is that I always seem to have at least two decants in my purse. Because there have been times where I’ve had to run out of the house without thinking to put on perfume.

    • March says:

      Oh, I’m willing to bet serious money that this crew keeps minis/samples etc in their purses, car, office or wherever because God forbid we should be out somewhere without our perfume!

      • Tara says:

        I have about 8 mini/samples in my purse (just added a decant of Tabac Blond this morning), one in my work bag (which I always think I am going to crush with work papers, but it hasn’t happened yet) and two in my desk because, as you say, God Forbid I forget to put on perfume or what I put on this morning is gone and I need a dab of something!

  • Francesca says:

    Sometimes I get a craving for vintage Mitsy.

    So glad you’re enjoying Alyssa’ s book. Fellow Posse members: March has an advance copy; books will be available late June. (I work at Viking and had the pleasure of designing Coming to My Senses.) Must-read for perfumistas. No, I don’t get a commission on sales.

    • March says:

      Dammit, I forgot to put that in the post! Sorry. And you’re right, mine has ADVANCE COPY DO NOT SELL OR YOUR NOSE WILL DROP OFF written all over it, you can see how much attention I paid to that.

      • Francesca says:

        I’m sure Viking would be delighted that you are giving it such great advance notice! I just didn’t want anyone running to their local bookstore and being looked at with a big question mark when they asked for it.

  • Patty says:

    Well now that you mention it, La Myrrhe and Iris Silver Mist. I haven’t worn them in months, and they are screaming my name!

  • nozknoz says:

    Most Chanels make me nervous: they’re just to d*mned perfect. Catherine Deneuve is going to appear and take the bottle away from me. A week of Chanel would definitely cause 80s perfume cravings!

    Yes, I do get cravings for a certain perfume or type of perfume – Nikki de Sante Phalle, for example – nothing else will do! If I’m at home, I act on the craving immediately, or try to. If I can’t find it, that’s a disaster – I’m pulling out all my perfume drawers and boxes, rummaging and rerummaging until I find it or give up. But I’ve never turned around when I was on my way to work, either.

    • March says:

      Darling Nikki… now I have that Prince song stuck in my head. Earworm. Showing my age. And laughing, so, you think it’s too much tasteful perfume too? I’m gonna wear something weird to work today.