You know when you go into a place that smells so good, you wish you could bottle up that aroma and take it home with you? Maybe it’s a boutique that sells your favorite candles, or a florist, or the reading room in your library, or the corner bakery, or perhaps the smell inside that church you visited in Italy. Maybe it’s the place where they sell your favorite fragrance.
There’s a store here (pretty sure I mentioned it awhile ago) that sells high-end hand-carved home furnishings – things like massive, asymmetrical $6,000 tables made from tree trunks, and huge carved onyx bowls and light fixtures. I like to go in there and wander around, and they’re super nice about it.
I’ve always loved the way the store smells. I could tell it was some kind of room spray, and every time I went in there I’d ask about it, hoping to find out what it was so I could go buy some. Allegedly the owner concocted it, and maaaaybe they’d sell it someday … apparently I wasn’t the only person who asked. It’s a great scent, kind of warm and cool and spicy all at the same time.
I went in recently for my usual look-around, and – lo and behold – there were bottles of scent spray on the counter! They’d decided to sell a limited amount to see how it would do. It was $40 for one ounce in a cute matte black bottle, manufactured (according to the label) in nearby Tesuque, New Mexico. It’s not a bad price for a parfum d’ambience, and a great price for a perfume.
I admit I was a bit confused at first, because it starts off bigger and sweeter than I expected, since what I smell while wandering around the store is the drydown. The top is somewhere between fruity and floral – “Sexy Papaya” makes sense. It’s got that overripe-fruit thing going on with a hint of a skanky undertone, which I have a high tolerance for, YMMV. It’s allegedly a blend of essential oils in an alcohol base, the only two notes I remember are clove and vetiver. That top settles down after 20 – 30 minutes and it’s the same ambient smell I remember from the store, simultaneously sweet and green and earthy. It’s a big scent even in the drydown, with excellent sillage and longevity, I can smell it on my skin and clothes a day later.
I can’t think of any other fragrance it reminds me of, and I find it entrancing. The closest description I can come up with is: it’s the smell of an old kitchen or workspace, something with a lot of wood, and there’s a wooden bowl with really ripe fruit, like papaya* or mango, sitting there, and the spice drawer is open nearby. I’d describe it as “a good smell” kind of perfumery rather than something wildly exotic, and even though it’s a room spray I’ve been wearing it on my person, and my arm hasn’t dropped off. I was warned that it has a tint and not to spray it on anything light-colored, although I didn’t pour any out to see for myself, I’ll take their word for it.
If you could wave your perfume wand and have a scent of a place, what would it be?
*not gonna lie, I think a split papaya with the seeds looks kind of … freaky. But I didn’t realize until today that some people think they smell terrible, like stinky feet or vomit, due to a chemical called papain, which is (fun fact!) used as a meat tenderizer, among other things. To me, papaya smells like mango’s slightly funkier cousin, and I think it’s delicious.
images via Pexels (and my own bottle photo)