Really, I had the best of intentions. Armed with the knowledge that I needed to put a post up for today, I wandered over to our flagship downtown Macy’s, which I’ve spent very little time in. Now that I work nearby I figured I’d case the joint and (with any luck) find some inspiration.
That Macy’s is weird. It’s nice enough on the ground floor, and big enough, but it has a jumbled, disjointed feel where I wonder if anyone’s coordinating the displays or the sale signs or whatever. It looks like part Sephora – standup displays with mini sample-size skincare and rollerball-size scents – hard up against their luxury section, which is next to their sneakers – but nobody asked me for my opinion on store layouts. Anyhow it was delightfully air conditioned and kind of empty (DC in July!) so I was getting the attention of the makeup-counter SAs. I dawdled at Shiseido, primarily because I don’t often see their wares at the counter. After some pleasantries I took up the offer of the sweet young girl who worked there to find a good foundation match. Ah, yes, the old game of “what color am I?” I don’t imagine that my skin tone is out of the ordinary, and man, is it a struggle. I’m on the pale side with ruddy undertones. Not too beige, not too ochre. She came up with what she believed to be the closest match; I thanked her and made a mental note to remember to wash my face when I got back to the office, lest someone think I’d developed jaundice at lunch.
And so I wandered, sniffing this and eyeballing that. At one point I found myself in front of their cheap-classics line of jewelry (it’s a big market here for conservative faux pearls and CZ studs). They had a bunch of cocktail rings, and without much thought I slipped one on – and then realized why it had caught my eye. It was strikingly similar to my long-ago engagement ring, a quirky, asymmetrical jumble of diamonds I adored, from a man I adored. I stood there staring at the CZ version, thinking it was as authentic as my marriage turned out to be, and that I don’t even know where my engagement ring is. A drawer somewhere, probably.
I moved on again, a bit sad, to the ladies’ fragrance corner holding the scents that aren’t part of a larger cosmetics counter. I was staring at all the flankers, mulling, when the SA appeared and asked if I’d like to try something new. Sure, why not? She spritzed a card with Donna Karan Liquid Cashmere and handed it over.
Standing there amidst the scented sea of overly-sweet and much-too-pink, it got me thinking: maybe I needed that much contrast to appreciate the subtlety of the Cashmere oeuvre. (Liquid Cashmere notes: orange blossom, cyclamen, lily-of-the-valley; sandalwood, ylang-ylang, labdanum, jasmine, benzoin, tonka bean, white amber, suede and musk.)
Liquid Cashmere smelled vaguely familiar, and it is – anyone else remember DK Cashmere Liquid Nude LE, circa 2011ish? Now being flogged by resellers for ridiculous prices? The notes listed are almost identical, a detail DK fans may already have figured out. Liquid Cashmere is awfully pretty. The florals only stick around for a few minutes of fluffy-orange-blossom sweetness and then it’s all about that base – benzoin, tonka, sandalwood, suede, musk. The drydown is warm and polished without (surprisingly) being too much in the heat; underneath is a hint of what made the original Black Cashmere such a stunner. In terms of comparison, Liquid Cashmere bears more of a resemblance to Black Cashmere – the summer version? – than to the original Cashmere Mist.
While I’m on here, I’m ready to admit I’ve had a complete change of heart about Cashmere Mist. It’s a fragrance I often admired on others and never wanted for myself. It seemed too chic and sleek, something for thin blondes in ivory wool suits. You know what? I’m an idiot. How did I never realize how delightful it is? Am I just now (July 2015) becoming aware of its true dimensions?
Cashmere Mist has been around forever (okay, the nineties, I think) and has no doubt seen a couple of tweaks over time. (Here’s a plausible list: lily of the valley, suede notes, bergamot, ylang ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, orris, amber, vanilla, cedarwood, patchouli, musk). It’s most assertive at the top, a flash of green, tart floral. It settles quickly into a skin scent people describe as powdery and which I (a powder-hater) am going to argue with. It’s a slightly woody, barely floral musk. It’s the kind of skin scent that is hard to identify as perfume, while still being non-generic and interesting enough that I’d never confuse it with laundry soap. It’s the kind of scent I want to lean into and breathe; it’s tenacious but not annoying. I imagine someone saying: I don’t know what it was about her, she just always smelled amazing.
Feel free to name a scent you’ve had a total change of heart about and learned to love, and what you think changed to make that happen if you have any theories.