If You Can’t Eat It, Wear It

Welcome back guest blogger Cinnamon!

Like many of us I have a loooooong, complex and perhaps strange relationship with perfume. I can recall the first fragrance I bought for myself (Love’s Fresh Lemon body mist with pocket money at around age 10). I recall a college roommate’s perfume (Ivoire de Balmain) but can’t recall much else about her. I remember absolutely everything about buying what became my first holy grail (HG) exclusively worn fragrance (L’Artisan Mure et Musc from the brand’s Madison Avenue New York shop purchased in the mid-1980s).

Over time, the relationship with perfume endured, though it evolved from long periods of wearing one HG to having a box in the closet with a handful of things. The contents of the box fell within fairly narrow fragrance grouping: mostly classic chypres, amber orientals, and a small number of ‘others’ (eg, Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit, a rose-framed fragrance with a heavy dose of apricot; Dior’s Eau Noire, immortelle and smelling like a wondrous rendering of petrol and molasses). I roamed a fairly narrow perfume road.

And things went along that way for decades.

Until my thyroid went wonky. Then, all change.

I guess having a gland which secretes important hormones decide to stop working very well is going to affect a lot of different things. During the diagnostic process I discovered that a lot of foods I ate in large amounts – and craved in fact – negatively affect the thyroid. Another issue with hypothyroidism is you gain weight very easily no matter how little you eat. To address all this I visited a nutritionist, who provided a fairly narrow eating regime so I was eating both to support my thyroid and to lose weight.

One of the things that the nutritionist said I had to stay away from was sugar, but not only refined sugar – no, no, there are certain fruit that went out the window, along with cake, milk chocolate, etc – all the things you’d expect. I’m not always totally orthodox now with what I eat (I have a pastry every Saturday after early AM yoga). But, in general, I try very hard. Because I feel a whole lot better when I stay away from refined sugar and most fruit bar blueberries and raspberries, and my formerly beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Prior to the thyroid thing, I was not terribly interested in gourmand fragrances. But as the thyroid situation unfolded, I got properly medicated, and I had my back and forth with the nutritionist I found myself drawn to gourmands.

I started talking to perfume friends about Lutens Arabie (which I had sampled years prior and vaguely dismissed, but which popped, unbidden, back into my head). I felt really attracted to the stewed dry fruit, spices and honey. Then, a friend gifted me with a bottle which led to an opening up to all things sweet and foody.

So, off I went, sampling fragrances that in the past I wouldn’t have paid much attention to at all. I discovered Hiram Green’s Slow Dive (a honey fragrance that actually smells like the raw artisan honey you get from people who keep their own bees – syrupy sweet but with a funky, pongy animal base). I mentally revisited the now gone Dior Hypnotic Poison, all vanilla-almond lusciousness. I tried Frederic Malle’s Le Parfum de Therese again (I know, not really a gourmand, but that melon, which I consider a horror note, made adult – sultry and limpid [great word] with jasmine, plum and leather) and bought one of those travel sized things which make Malle vaguely affordable.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love my chypres, etc, but a whole new world opened up.

So, I wonder: did my perfume psyche realign things to accommodate the changes I was experiencing – ie, though I could no longer eat certain things with abandon, I could ‘wear’ them, thereby continuing to experience that particular pleasure?

What about you? Has there been a significant change over time in the perfumes you gravitate towards? Do you like gourmands? Any particular ones?

  • Dina C. says:

    I’ve observed that women seem to gravitate to sweeter scents as they get older, and mentally denied that that would happen to me because I’ve always liked greens and chypres and avoided sweet scents. But ya know what? I’m here post-menopause, and I’m really liking some sweeter scents. Not Pink Sugar, but things that have a sweet note. One of my new very favorites is Mademoiselle Guerlain which has a marshmallow note along with my old best friends galbanum and iris. I adore this scent. I also re-tried Prada Candy after ignoring it when it first came out, and I like it a lot, too. Love that benzoin note that balances out the caramel. So the lesson for me is be open minded.

    • cinnamon says:

      I remember reading about Pink Sugar years ago. What’s it like (beyond having an offputting name)? I do think having the sweet notes offset by others that are darker/dryer/stranger helps keep a gourmand from tipping over into unwearable.

      • March says:

        IMO Pink Sugar was more….. artificial? And so, so sweet, and kinda one-note. And I actually like Prada Candy! I have a little bottle of it I got as a GWP somewhere and I wear it.

  • March says:

    Hmmm…. interesting theory. When I first got into perfumery I was too edgy for comforting gourmands, but now (within reason) I really enjoy them. Hypnotic Poison, yummmmmm. Also thanks for the trip down memory lane w Love’s Baby Soft Lemon, I can smell it perfectly in my mind!

    • cinnamon says:

      i don’t know if it’s the want of comfort so much as there really are a lot of things i can’t eat comfortably (eg, i really feel off if i do dried fruit now). I’ve got Slow Dive on today i think because i was looking at all the baklawa pictures (adore baklawa but it no longer loves me) for this post. So, what happened to HP? was it discontinued and why?

  • Bee says:

    Interesting theory! I feel like I have gone the wrong way round with perfume. My first loves were quite green and if not quite bitter definitely not sweet. The I got into the orientals and ambers but in the last few years I have become much more tolerants of really sweet things. I like the original Lolita Lempicka and Flowerbomb – things i never thought I’d be able to tolerate. Maybe it’s my type 2 diabetes (currently in remission) needing some sugar & sweetness compensation – that would explain a lot!

  • Tara C says:

    I love gourmands and am just now starting to emerge from what has been a prolonged sugar binge. Prior to that, I had a period of about two years at the height of menopause when I could not wear my beloved orientals, everything smelled too strong to me, and I wore light florals. Now everything seems balanced out and I rotate freely among all types of scents.

    • cinnamon says:

      hmmm, that’s interesting what the various hormonal changes do to us. I couldn’t wear patchouli (which I loved) after I had a child and have never been able to return to it.