One of the hallmarks of a fragrance obsessive is to obsess, right? Which I´ve been doing, weaving several threads together in my mind.
Nancy generously gave me a bottle of the original Estee Lauder Azuree, and I was thrilled. (Aldehydes, bergamot, gardenia, jasmine, cyclamen, ylang, orris, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, leather, musk.) She laughed and pointed out that she´d given it to two people previously, both of whom had given it back in disgust. I can see that. I love Azuree now, but it would have repelled me two years ago. Like learning to love oysters, I´ve worked my way up to that kind of heavily aromatic fragrance bomb. Still Too Much: Clinique Aromatics Elixir, which I admire rather than enjoy. (How did I love Mitsouko from first sniff? I still have no idea, except to say that I think it smells really good on my skin.)
At the other end of the spectrum are fragrances I swooned over at the first sniff which now make me almost physically ill, and (unlike, say, a bad plate of oysters) they´re not associated with some terrible experience or person. Exhibit A: S-Perfumes´ 100% Love. It still has a lot of fans. I still think Sophia Grojsman´s combination of chocolate, labdanum and rose is daring. I still can´t believe I wore this. I wouldn’t last 15 minutes now before scrubbing.
Then there´s the annoying pool of fragrances I can never make my mind up about. Case in point: Yves Saint Laurent´s Cinema EdP, which is wafting at me from my left arm as I type this. Cinema is a floriental created by Jacques Cavallier in 2004 that smells like YSL´s entry into the gourmand marketplace. Notes are: clementine, almond blossom, cyclamen, jasmine, peony, amaryllis, amber, musk, benzoin and vanilla. The opening smells a little fresh and soapy; then we reach a point ten minutes later when I think, yes, creamy, I need this. It´s somewhere between Organza Indecence and Armani Code, and as comforting as a creamsicle. Then I sniff it some more and it seems sour; maybe the musk? On the other hand, isn´t the fact that I´ve worked through three sample atomizers indicative of something besides my inability to make up my mind? I just … don’t know.
I don’t have this kind of shifting relationship with anything else in my life — not with clothing, not with food. Sure, I may get temporarily tired of a favorite food if I eat too much of it, but I don’t get up one day and say, I never want to eat mint chocolate chip ice cream again in my life, what was I thinking?!?!. And while I recognize some of my past fashion decisions as … unfortunate with the benefit of hindsight, I never pull on a beloved shirt one morning and think, ugh, I hate this. This is hideous. Nor do I run into stores and embrace previously despised fashion looks (hammer pants, 5-inch heels, blue eyeliner) as suddenly “me.” Although … actually … my red lipstick obsession feels sort of like my fragrance obsession.
How do our feelings change about fragrance? The only piece that seems obvious and natural to me is developing a tolerance for “difficult” fragrances through repeated exposure. But how to explain the sudden infatuation with, say, vanilla scents that prompted sneers of disgust the previous month? How to understand the sudden discarding of a beloved scent as vile, or merely dull? How to come to terms with an inability to decide how to feel about a particular fragrance?
So. Eliminate, please, from your thoughts all the fragrances that have been tainted by some terrible mental association, or redeemed by some positive connection. Have you changed your mind about some previously loved or loathed scent? And why? Is there any scent you simply can’t decide about, and why do you think that is?
image: www.annetaintor.com, I love her quips