Perfumes of Time or Place

Well!  So Portia is off to Paris.  I am off to Nebraska.  Obviously I am doing something Not Quite Right (jes’ kidding – NE is a fine place).

Reading about her pending travels got me thinking about Perfume Times & Places.  A few years back I wrote a post about CBIHatePerfume’s

7 Billion Hearts

7Bill ROCKS!

and a reply to a commenter (who couldn’t really connect with CBIHP the way she did with Old Schools like L’Heure Bleu, etc) got me to thinking about how perfume transports us – or keeps us grounded in a specific place while being Something Else.

That’s clear as tar, innit!  Here’s my reply to Mals, who was referencing how certain perfumes brought to mind certain Events in her life:

I think CBIHP is like any other House. The right ones speak to you and the wrong ones don’t. Or…it may be that NONE of them will, Mals. And that’s okay, as you know. I can’t love Caron to save my life. And I reread my post, wondering if I gave an incorrect description. What I was trying to say (and probably failed) is that CBIHP does not whisk me or transport me to a place, as do so many ‘perfumes’ – it IS the place. Not all of them work for me, though. March says Memory of Kindness moved her to tears. All it did for me was remind me I still have 5 quarts of tomatoes to process.

Now, I don’t hate MoK – it is supremely well-done but doesn’t have that scent memory for me, except it always makes me think of March because it evokes so many highly emotional memories for her!  So I guess it does have a scent memory for me, once-removed (also, pinching tomato plants (as I’m doing now, in anticipation of planting in the next 2 months) makes me think of March.  Hell, I guess it’s official:  March = tomato plants (but not tomatoes).

But what perfumes are Place and what perfumes evoke a Memory of a time (or a place)?  Sometimes they are not what you expect. Evoking Memories:  Liz Zorn’s Violets & Rainwater evokes a chilly, apres le deluge, NYC sidewalk (there’s a restaurant that I could’ve sworn was called 56 (or 65) Irving Place that V&R always brings to mind – nope.  It’s 71IP.  All Hail Google!).  Agraria Bitter Orange is also a NYC scent, even though it is the essence of 1970s San Francisco perfumery.  Amouage’s Beloved, which  (iirc) debuted in the US at Bergdorf’s,  evokes lunches I used to have at the Allerton Hotel in Chicago, some 20 years prior to Beloved’s inception.

I had a St. John suit this color!

Perfumes as Place: CBIHP’s Black March can only be worn in late March/early April – any other time it renders me null and void.  Because it IS that wet, black, loamy dirt.  vintage Amouage Ubar is late September, as the leaves are turning bronze and flame, yet it’s still warm enough to only wear a light jacket.  Ambre Grisea & Delrae Mythique are both  Right Now.  Preferably with a slate-blue sky and scudding clouds because Brittany in early Spring.

And, of course, there are certain scents that, for me, defy all time and place – they may evoke a memory but even with that are always legit In Their Current Place, in all their glory, much like Godzilla.   You change for them, they don’t change for you.  And you won’t be at all surprised to learn that, much like Godzilla, they are all heavy hitters:

Chanel No5.  C’mon.  Like you could pin that Queen down.  Love her or loathe her, she RULES wherever she is.

Shalimar.  ’nuff said.

Coty L’Origan (the precursor to Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue, which also fits in this category, imo)

Malle’s Carnal Flower (ymmv but I have yet to see Carnal Flower tilt her tiara for anybody!!)

What do y’all think?  Are there perfumes that are firmly lodged in memory?  Time?  Place?   Tell me!  The Girl is still admiring her pawdicure – and best of all?  I’m actually getting stuff out to winners in TIMELY FASHION!  So get in here!  Tell me stuff and I’ll have her pull a couple of winners!

Speaking of winners!  Yoga winners (and thank you all so much for sharing your own stories!):




Gmail your evilauntieanita (AT) and I’ll get some goodies out to you!



  • Kathryn says:

    The balsam poplar in Gobin-Daude Seve Exquis brings me straight back to the grove of Balm of Gilead poplars on my grandparents’ farm in northern Maine. That’s the note that goes straight to my heart. Years ago I was hiking in the Colorado Front Range and came across a balsam poplar. It stopped me right in my tracks. All of a sudden I was back in time, ten years old and trailing after my grandmother as she walked up the road telling me the names of the plants we were seeing. I wish someone would reissue the Gobin-Daudes. I’ll be very sad when I use up my small supply.

  • filomena813 says:

    I would have to say that Hermes Hiris brings Italy to mind. I bought a bottle of it when it first came out and wore it all through my first trip to Italy. Everyone thought I smelled great and although it is from a French house, I always think of Rome, Florence and Venice when I wear it,

  • Tara C says:

    Roger & Gallet Extra Vieille – my first trip to Paris, the tiny little hotel I stayed at had toiletries in that scent, I took a bubble bath in it every night to soak my aching feet after walking for miles through the city. Eau de Givenchy – wore this one during the courtship with my last husband, can never wear it again. Cabotine – reminds me of my early twenties when I first started working after university.

    Scents that are not connected to any place or time, just to my heart and who I am: Rochas Byzance, Feminité du Bois, Amouage Fate.

    • Musette says:

      Wonderful and sad, those are marvelous memories! and just your mention of FdB brings the scent right back to me!

  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    Funny you should mention this. Scott and I have been talking about wearing only one fragrance for our three week jaunt away. Just to see how definite the memories could be.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      Oooh! Do you think you could actually do that? That wouldn’t include scent sampling, though, would it? So it could be doable! Lmk! xoxoxoA

  • RoseMacaroon says:

    Ok, these are both quite literal/less than imaginative, but here goes:
    Ayala Moriel’s beautiful Komoreibi is the air inside the forests of PNW I hikes through as a youngster and I love it obsessively for that. And, Blackberry by Olympic Orchids, another PNW-in-a-bottle scent, is exactly like walking along a blackberry bush lines path in late August when the grasses are all well-toasted and the berries are all dense and perfect. Sigh… nothing similar in the metropolitan area I’ve adopted as home!

    • Musette says:

      ‘Literal’ is what we are going for here – and I cannot imagine why you would find this less than imaginative. I can see/smell ALL of that! xoxoox

  • HeidiC says:

    I’m with you on Black March — it smells just like the trail along the creek behind my parents’ house in North Carolina. Cologne Indelible makes me thing of my grandparents’ house in Florida, near the orange groves. But I will wear Mitsouko anytime, anywhere.

    • Musette says:

      omg. O.M.G! I LEFT MITSOUKO OFF THE LIST! I fear I might awaken tomorrow with a giant Mitsy bottle top in the bed next to me, with perfume spilled all around it! Yikes! xoxoxo