And now on to the fragrant portion of our program. A wonderfully generous lady was my Perfume Fairy Godmother not too long ago and sent me some vintage Aviance cologne. I had sniffed something recently that reminded me slightly of it, so I wanted to re-try it. (Thanks again, dear!)
And as I told her: In light of the old commercial, one spritz of this and I was definitely having “an Aviance night.” It took me right back to the ‘70s. I pay no mind to the disco haters, as this turned out to be a great decade. And this Prince Matchabelli fragrance was part of the scent soundtrack then for me, just before I went off to college and developed a love of shopping and for fragrance of all stripes. And of course, it helped lead me even further along the path to our beloved perfume rabbit hole.
The Aviance commercials, like several others around that time (Enjoli, Charlie, etc.) focused on women’s changing roles and their increasing freedom and choices. And in a way, that mirrored my own circumstances at that time. My family had imploded, I was 17 and still finishing high school, and was suddenly on my own. There were to be no joyful graduation parties, no last gasps of summer; no big adventure packing up the car with my family moving me into a college dorm that September. But that was OK: I had a pretty good head on my shoulders, I was alive and I was free. My whole life was ahead of me, and it was up to me what to make of it, for better or worse. That independence felt like stepping out in a leap of faith into the unknown. In the end, it turned out to be a blessing that was both exhilarating and sobering.
So when I sprayed Aviance again recently for the first time, it smelled a little daring and risk-taking — challenging, in a beautiful way, like it was my own personal scent of freedom. Not only because of the time in my life in which I wore it, but also because it was so different from the youth-oriented fragrances of the time (Love’s Baby Soft, Lemon, Sweet Honesty, etc.) with which I had grown up.
And as hokey as this might sound, it struck me that Aviance represented a perfume “coming of age” for me.
Now that I’m enjoying it again all these years later, I eagerly delved into finding out what makes it tick — only to find that definitive notes lists for this are nowhere to be found. The site Yesterday’s Perfume says Aviance is classified as an aldehydic floral and mentions rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, musk, tonka bean and cinnamon.
Its blend of those notes, and whatever else, combines to create a scent that even to this day smells fairly original to me. Yes, it has a flowery aspect to it upon opening, bordering on bright floral and green, which might mislead you into thinking of it as a simpler, sporty-green kind of scent. But this fragrance has personality to spare. It soon enters spicier, more complex territory, sliding into a phase with the odd characteristics of being simultaneously fresh and bitter and sharp yet soothing. A little later, a broodingly sexy, dusky, almost-dry woodiness emerges.
What contributes mightily to Aviance’s appeal is something that I can only call “lighter-fluid accord.” Which I know doesn’t sound good, but it adds an unusual twist to the scent. I’m guessing that it’s from the interaction of the tonka, the potent musks they used back then and some of the other unknown notes. Who knows? But whatever it is, I find it highly addictive, and perhaps it’s that very oddness that adds to its allure. I’ve been craving this and wearing it often since I got the bottle, reveling in the scent’s quirky character and yin/yang nature.
An added bonus: I’m not likely to bump into anyone else wearing it. But most of all, I think that any perfume that helps me to remember and appreciate my past is definitely worth celebrating.
What about you? Has any vintage fragrance marked a milestone in your life?