Scent. Memory. Muse.

Hoth-level Cold.  I’m barely opening the door to get the mail, that’s how COLD it is.  So I’m stuck at home, with plenty of time to muse.  And this is how it starts.

This morning, after I put 90 minutes on the mat (this weather is brutal on my cracked sacrum – working it out sounds like a gun range, every time I move my spine.  But needs must and all that)… I took a shower and, on a whim, decided to use Amouage Dia soap, which led to Dia lotion and a hit of the gorgeous EDP.

And with that, Gaia was in my thoughts.

As most of you know Gaia Fischler was the soul of The Non-Blonde. What a lot of you might not know is Gaia was the sole reason I even thought about trying Dia – and I am forever grateful.  Her evocative post pulled no punches but, in doing so, painted a beguiling portrait of a very pretty perfume.  It’s a really cold day, so I needed something ‘pretty’.  Dia it is – and thanks, Gaia!  You are forever missed and your memory is a blessing.

Mitsouko.  Always March.  And always Tigs (because she gave me a really good EDT of it, back during Chicocoa, which resparked my interest).  I use Mitsy as battle armor.  March uses it as a cashmere throw.  And whenever she gives me something fabric, she sprays it with Mitsy, which makes me beyond happy.  I love it forever – just as I love her forever.  Thanks, March and thanks, Erin.  I owe you both, bigly!Mitsouko

Clinique Happy.  Years after my sister’s passing the smell of Clinique Happy still has the power to render me dumbstruck with grief and joy.  A lot of power for a little, light fragrance.  Interestingly, she didn’t really wear Happy – she wore Juicy Couture (to which I introduced her) – but for eternity I will supplant that with Happy, whenever I think of her.  Go figure.  Memory is mutable.

And sometimes it’s a not pleasant (to you) scent that evokes a pleasant memory.  My mother wore both Norell and Shalimar as her signature scents – and I don’t like either of them.  Norman Norell’s eponymous scent has a bit of a screech in it (and on me it smells like I’ve been on a weeklong Scotch bender) and I’ve never really been a fan of Shalimar edt, which is the iteration my mother wore.  Yet.  And Yet.  A sniff of either of those scents brings back such a wave of longing and of love.  Again. Go figure.

Memory of Kindness.  Sweatergawd, is there anyone who can create a scent memory like Christopher Brosius?   Memory of Kindness is every hot late-Summer’s day in the garden, from childhood through to the memory of childhood as we age.  ‘Love, like youth, is wasted on the young’ (The Second Time Around by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen) is Memory of Kindness personified.  After all, we can only hold a memory once we’ve had the experience and MoK is one of those scents that requires a depth of experience to let the memory shine through.   Such evanescent, bittersweet, sunlit beauty.  I can barely wear it, it’s such a gorgeous, emotional pull.  I once put it on in the dead of February and burst into tears.  Because it’s CB, those tears were joyful and grief-filled, intermingled.  I’d say thanks, Christopher, if only you’d stop ripping out my heart.

Well, thanks anyway, you fiend.  I love you.

What are your perfume scent memories?  Do any of these resonate with you?

  • Portia says:

    That was a really good read Musette.
    So many wonderful memories.
    You’ve read so many of mine over the years but Shalimar always reminds me of Mum and some of her friends.
    Portia xx

  • Carlene says:

    This post is why I so militantly oppose reformulations! (I know they are inevitable, but still.)

    I have the bottle of (some former version of) Emeraude that was on my mother’s dresser.

  • Ellen Byrne says:

    Gaia was the first fragrance blogger I ever read. She introduced me to so many fragrances, and to other bloggers. I’m sure many of your other readers loved her as well, maybe even knew her. It is good to see her remembered. Tonight I am wearing shalimar body cream, a gift with purchase from BG on a long ago NY trip. It reminds me of travel and late dinners in elegant restaurants.

  • Kathleen says:

    Your post of scent memory as well as the comments made me so happy. Scent is transportive and the memories so strong. I don’t have any human scent memories, my human loves who passed didn’t wear scent. However, I have a scent memory for all of my fur babies; the perfumes that I associate with them from that time of my life. Hypnotic Poison, Coromandel, Fath de Fath, Bois des Isles, French Lilac, and Bengal Rouge. I agree with you, a sniff of those scents brings back a wave of longing and love. xoxo

  • Tom says:

    Oh Gaia- my scent twin. She and I had too few adventures together (on two coasts.) I miss her keenly..

    I’ve been around 60 years (there I wrote it. Wait, make that 39. 29. 3? 23? {name the flick}) and I have so many memories of scents, bottled and not. I still remember that LA sniffa we all had (that you put a ton of work on) and that dinner at Roscoe’s. I haven’t been back since though I do lust for another heaping helping of smothered chicken served on a waffle. Alas, I live in an earthquake zone, and don’t think the Hollywood Fault could take the weight of me, my BMW, and a Roscoe’s dinner. Hit a pothole on Fountain and BOOM! Off the Richter scale we go..

  • rosarita says:

    Well I’ve tried 3x to comment because your evocative post moved me to tears, Ms A, and I just can’t. Thank you for your wonderful writing and something to really contemplate on a snowy day.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    In the late 70s I traveled to Europe for the first time. Alone. Under-financed. Taking overnight Eur-rail trains to avoid paying for a hostel. Anxious the whole time but managing to have a pretty good time nonetheless. Someone gave me a bottle of Halston, which I kept in my backpack during that trip. I dont own it and I very rarely smell it now, but in those rare instances when I catch a w hiff somewhere I am instantly transported–there are I am, 21 years old and walking on the bridges over the canals in Bruges. Curiously, I didnt visit Bruges until years later but there you go for mutable memories.

  • Dina C. says:

    My dad was the scented parent in my household. Sadly, he passed at age 52 back in 1992. So when I smell men’s after shaves and colognes that he wore, like Grey Flannel, English Leather, Pierre Cardin, I am reminded of him. It may explain why I love galbanum, vetiver and other green notes so much. They were often featured in his scents. Loved reading your scented memories, Anita. I’m sorry for your losses but glad that scent can whisk you back in time like a time machine. It does for me, too.

  • March says:

    What a lovely post. I miss Gaia and her evocative voice and sense of humor. My dad smelled like Old Spice, and Grey Flannel, so both of those are soft spots for me. Jubilation 25 (the men’s version I think) is “my” Amouage. You know Mitsouko will always be my first love; and I am thisclose to digging out a bottle. Even if I can’t smell all of it — even if it smells “distant” like on a long-ago hanky, I bet I could smell SOME of it. And maybe this time of year that’d be good enough for me. Xo

    • Musette says:

      I think you should definitely try – start with the aforementioned hanky, since you seem to be smelling scent more easily on fabric than on skin.

      You and the Jub25 Man. LOL! I love it – but not like the Woman, of which I reek on a regular basis. xoxoxo

  • cinnamon says:

    Gaia’s death was unutterably shocking and sad. I have yet to find an Amouage that is ‘mine’. Perhaps one day. Perfumes … SMN Patchouli marked a very unique period in my life. L’Air du Temps is my mother in a bottle. Hypnotic Poison and Shalimar are both fragrances I resisted trying for ages for stupid reasons and loved immediately— ie, kick yourself perfumes. I hope your weather eases soon.

    • Musette says:

      Those are marvelous memories, Cinnamon – I know persackly how those feel.

      Weather? Easing. Midwest in January. Nah. It’ll be here for awhile. -13F today. yay, me.


    • rosarita says:

      Cinnamon, L’Air du Temps is also my mother’s signature and I mean that literally; she writes in a beautiful long hand cursive that hasn’t existed in decades. Seeing her handwriting is like smelling L’Air, things that will hit me hard when she’s finally gone.

  • Alityke says:

    What a wonderfully evocative piece Musette!
    The six months between meeting my DH & getting married will forever be Nicky Verfaillie Grain de Sable. A light warm fragrance, ripe & the best hot skin scent I have ever come across. Yet it isn’t sun lotion. It’s unique & of course impossible to find. I have a mini that was a RAOK from an anonymous donor that made me sob with joy.

    Quorum is DH himself. He wore it everyday until he retired when he caught a bit of my hobby & now wears Prada or Spicebomb. For me though he’ll always be wearing Quorum.

    Dune & Champs Elysees take me back to the best time in the best job in the world. Just two of us creating something important within a huge institution. I wore Dune. One of the happiest times of my life!

    There are scents that make me unutterably sad but I don’t wish to think of them so I’m sharing the ones that I sniff and can feel my mood soar. They’re like taking a deep breath of joy for my soul.

    • Musette says:

      Alityke – this comment made my own heart soar! Thank you! xoxoxo

      • Alityke says:

        It’s a pleasure ?
        BTW the Arielle Shoshana Saturday you sent has been making me smile a lot recently. It smells like spring may just happen again. In the cold dank weather of the famous UK “Rhubarb Triangle” it smells of hope! Do Thank you straight back atcha xxx

  • Chantillylace says:

    Now I’m crying! I miss Gaia so much! I read her blog forever! I still go back! ? So many fragrances for so many lost loved ones! My first husband of 31 years and my dad, old spice, old spice lime and our wedding scent he wore that I still have a little of, Chanel PM. from 1981. Chantilly for my mom. Love you and this post!?

    • Musette says:

      oh, gosh! These are marvelous memories!! And Gaia was unique, even in this ‘industry’ full of unique individuals. She made a huge impact on so many of us (I still see her makeup swatches in my mind, the ones she always tried on the inside of her arm). xoxoxo

  • Tara C says:

    Wow, thanks for mentioning Gaia, her memory is a blessing. I’m going to spritz some Dia on tonight. She turned me on to it as well, early in my niche frag journey.

    My mom comes to mind when I smell L’Air du Temps and Bal à Versailles. She also had Shalimar but I don’t remember her wearing it. Shiseido Zen as well.

    Then there’s all the scented memories of my own life: Giorgio, Poison, Ysatis, Byzance, Cabotine, Feminité du Bois, Sublime. Those were the days.

    • Musette says:

      Omg! Your comment took me back to the Jurassic Era – I just remembered that I, too, wore Zen for awhile – it’s galbanum-heavy, isn’t it? I can smell it in my mind so I hope I’m not losing said mind… 😉


  • Pam says:

    Wow. What a post. What musings. Wow. I think certain scents bring back certain times or events in my life. The people—not so much. Most of the ones close to me have not been perfume lovers. My mother is the exception. I still have her last bottle of Opium.

    • Musette says:

      I’m so glad you are able to hold onto that – I regret not taking/keeping my mother’s Norell and Shalimar bottles.