This was published in a slightly different form at Perfume Smellin’ Things years ago; since Mother’s Day is coming this weekend I thought I’d share a few memories of my mom.
Long ago back I was asked to do a “3-way” review of a scent that I was very well acquainted with: Miss Dior. It was one of my mother’s stand-by scents: an important evening party meant Joy, a “date” with my father meant Bandit or Antilope, the rest of the time it was Miss Dior. My mom was what once referred to as a “difficult” woman: by 13 she had reached nearly six feet when most men didn’t get that high. She was the only daughter of the Irish immigrant gardener on one of the large houses in town, and before settling down into a nice safe life with my father (who decided upon first sight of her that she would be his wife); she had a stint in an all-girl band playing the Hawaiian Guitar and as a fashion model. She married up, into a family that while it did not arrive on the Mayflower, pretty much swam in after. However, if anyone was going to think they could shame her with a shanty-Irish background, think again: she didn’t take crap from John Robert Powers; she wasn’t going to from some Aryan from Darien either. I can still remember being partly mortified and yet terribly proud when she slung on her mink and went into my junior high school to give my geography teacher what-for. My mother had a dinner party the night before and didn’t have time to make a cover for my text book. He took the book away and told me one of my parents would have to see him to get it back. It was a short interview that ended with my mother coming out of the building in about ten minutes with the aforementioned tome, a very red-faced teacher, and a school abuzz for days. Would this stand up to memory? Are y’all still awake?
I found a beensy sized bottle of the EdT version at a discounter on Broadway in downtown LA for $7 and hoped for the best. I head read that this had been reformulated (and mind you this was several years ago and it’s been reformulated disastrously since), and that on top of being EdT. I wondered.
I needn’t have. One whiff and I was back in the backseat of that Ninety-Eight: it opens with a sparking-bright whiff of green Aldehydes and that singular sage and gardenia opening. A lot of modern perfumes seem to come in acts: stage one, stage two and stage three. While there are definitely a top, middle and bottom to this fragrance, they are so seamlessly done that the memory of the previous ones are never far off, the hover like the voices in a fugue. The opening is supplanted by jasmine and rose, in turn supplanted by oakmoss and labdanum. This being the EdT, I am feeling that there is something missing, I don’t smell patchouli in the drydown much and I seem to remember a bit of civet in there. The EdT is light enough for a guy to get away with wearing.
Would I try? Nope. It’s intrinsically tied to memories of my mother, and although I do resemble her (and I thank the genetic crapshoot I got her green eyes!) I don’t really need to smell like her. I also know that what is now out there smells nothing like the Miss Dior that my mother wore and nothing like the beensy little bottle I still have a few drops in now. I do know that this apple hasn’t fallen far from that tree- were she alive she would without any compunction whatever poach my MKK.
So for those of you who are still lucky enough to have your mother in your life, even if she might not have been exactly what you wanted or needed, give thanks that she gave you life.
Image: Internets, and because I have a truly shocking lack of good taste.