Saturday, 26 March 2016

Why Perfume?

From my earliest memories, everything is associated with smell, and that's true for all of us as, is the fact that fragrance is the most primordial trigger for memory recall but it's about so much more than that.  When I think of a person, I usually, think of what smells I associate to them and it's not a conscious recall - it just happens.  I think of my grandfather and I get an intermingling of fresh pipe tobacco, leather, beans and tomato leaves, geraniums, date loaf and dusty brocade. My grandmother shares some of those and I also get marigolds, fresh dirt, wild mint, lily of the valley and juicy fruit chewing gum.  My other nana smells mostly of chicken soup, rosemary, lavender, lemons and sweet tea, but I also have a very strong scent recall of her garden which was wild and rambling and had many little hidden nooks and crannies and every so often I'll brush past a plant and the fragrance that greets me takes me straight back to her.  Too many people think that something has to be pleasant or sweet to be worthy of being an ingredient in a fragrance but that's simply not true. The fragrance of dolls hands, of an old, musty teddy bear and the smell that greets you as you open the caravan door after a winter's hiatus are all just as worthy and we are blessed that perfumers recognise some of these smells as something that people love.

I can't stand your run of the mill fragrances - those overly sweet floral or fruity explosions that all smell one molecule different to one another. You know the ones, they often have a celebrity name on the box or are sold in your nearest department store.  I guess like anything else that's mass-marketed, it's usually of lesser quality.  As a child I remember my Aunt selling AVON and giving us all these little testers of perfume and our own little bottles.  When my nana gave me my first bottle of Yardley's Lily of the Valley I felt so grown up, I was given April Violets the following year and to this day still adore the fragrance of both violets and lily of the valley or muguet.  My mum had this bottle of AVON Hawaiian White Ginger which I thought was the most amazing thing I'd ever smelled and I used to splash it on after a shower and I have often looked for something redolent of that particular offering. My next fragrance experience was summers down the coast and adoring the smell of coconut and the little bottles of fragrance from the hippie shops - patchouli, night queen, black musk - and strawberry oil. I always adored incense as my parents had burned it throughout my childhood and it has always been a particularly comforting smell for me. Then sometime during my middle teens I temporarily lost my sense of smell, it was a combination of severe allergies and a cold that I couldn't shift.  At nineteen I had surgery to correct it and my olfactory senses came to life with a bang.  I remember those first few days post-op and the smell of freshly mown grass and the scent of the ocean - wow - that's when my perfume passion gripped me and never let me go. I purchased my first bottle of high end fragrance a couple of days after leaving hospital - it was Chanel No. 5.  Looking back I was far too young to wear it well, but I felt mature and I felt luxurious. Shortly after, my boyfriend at the time bought me a bottle of The Perfumers Workshop - Tea Rose and my search for the holy grail of perfume began.  I moved to Melbourne not long after and I purchased a lot of perfumes that still remind me of those crazy days and clubbing six nights a week - Christian Dior - PoisonCacharel - Lou LouThe Perfumer's Workshop - SambaEstee Lauder - White LinenGuerlain - Jardins de Bagatelle and last but definitely not least - Estee Lauder - Private Collection along with some of the Body Shop's finest offerings DewberryStrawberry and Vanilla oils and that pretty much sums up those hedonistic days when I was coming of age.

Don't worry, I'm not about to list all the perfumes I've purchased over the years because there are many, many hundreds.  Have I found my holy grail?  I have a few that I absolutely adore - my signature scent that I have previously written about here and my other current favourite here.  So along with Bond No 9 - Chinatown and Serge Lutens - Fille en Aiguilles I have a number of fragrances that I'll blog about in the coming weeks - so stay tuned!

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