My next post covers a whole line and goes on approximately forevvveeerrrr so here’s some amuse-bouche, inspired by the “five things” lists on the internet, and also rearranging my fragrance wardrobe for the change to cooler weather. As one does. Here are five fragrances that made an impression, have stuck with me, and why.
Guerlain Mitsouko – Mitsouko was in a Chandler Burr article about weird perfumes, so of course I had to smell it. I went to Saks (I have a post or three on here about that experience) and I smelled it, and I emerged, blinking, into the daylight a changed person. For the record, I don’t think Mitsouko is weird; I think she’s unique, and stunningly beautiful, and a bit of a diva. What I learned: “vintage” perfumes had cojones presence, and you should try “weird” stuff.
Shiseido Feminite du Bois – lesson two: perfume doesn’t have to smell “feminine” or “masculine.” There are certain accords or notes associated with men’s v. women’s fragrances, although once you branch out from mainstream perfumery you’re less likely to find those signifiers. I know! – there was a time in my life when I thought all fragrance smelled like one or the other. Hilarious. FdB smells like the forest spirits took pity on us and our dull lives and gifted us with a fragrance that, in its quiet way, can move a person to tears. It was also the inspiration for this post; I put some on this morning in honor of cooler weather, and cried all over again.
Tauer Lonestar Memories — a lot of fragrance does have some kind gender signifier built in, nothing wrong with that, and folks recognize them even if they can’t name them precisely. Lesson three: feel free to shop across the aisle and ignore those boundaries. An uber-femme floral on a man, or a “masculine” scent on a woman? Unexpected and dead sexy. This Tauer’s a bit of a cheat – it doesn’t smell like aftershave – but I think it can reasonably be described as “masculine” with all that smokey, leathery, cowboy machismo. Andy Tauer himself would tell you a girly girl could wear the hell out of it, and I have.
Annick Goutal Mandragore is on this list as lesson four: there is a house for you. There may in fact be several houses for you, but chances are good there’s at least one house, by which I mean: you try something from a line, and then you try another something from that line, and eventually you come to the conclusion that whatever sorcery those people are doing, it works for you. You may not adore every. single. thing they do, but you’ll love most of them, and your blind buys from the house are likely to be successes.
Vintage Ralph Lauren — Obviously, people have been buying (and gifting) fragrance unsniffed for eons – that bottle sent by parcel post from New York or Paris in the 1950s, etc. But the confluence of online retail and perfume blogs changed the model of: go to Macy’s or the five and dime, sniff the things, buy some Chanel No. 5 or White Shoulders, bam that’s your “signature” scent for decades. Even regular people might now have a “wardrobe” of a few bottles. But perfume nuts are the quings of the unsniffed full bottle, aka a “blind buy” – you read about a fragrance online, maybe on a blog (maybe even this one) and you think, I must have it, and not because you don’t already own ten or fifty other fragrances. I honestly don’t remember my first full-bottle blind buy – early on, they were mostly blind buys if they weren’t in local department stores – but to this day there’s something thrilling about that purchase and the reveal. I’m going to nominate vintage Lauren for this one; I wanted to feel the feels and I couldn’t remember what it smelled like. I didn’t know whether I’d even like it, yet off to eBay I went. Verdict: huge success. Lesson: taking a risk on a blind buy can yield some the greatest pleasures of perfume life.
Anyone read this far? What are some of your favorites, and what did they teach you?