Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Intimate Apparel

       
Perfume, the most intimate of all "apparel". . .
         One of my favorite Coco Chanel quotes is: "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future."

          I quite believe it. Fragrance is such a primal and integral part of our lives. We literally have no control over the emotions it can evoke.

          Romantics believe that a woman's perfume is a cadeau, something she wears purely for pleasure -- hers and those who might be lucky enough to enter into the aura of her scent, even fleetingly on the street.

          In the many interviews for my book, the brilliantly creative perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian, told me that a woman should take great care in choosing a perfume. It's a complex decision, he cautioned.

         We all know how easy it is to fall in love with a fragrance's top note right out of the bottle, but we know too that once it mingles with our skin the essence changes, which may or may not delight us. Therefore he reasoned, never buy a perfume without "testing" it. We should always ask for a sample and wear it for several days to see if it was a fleeting fancy or the beginning of a lasting love affair.  

To this day, the slightest whiff of Arpege by Lanvin makes me think of my mother. I still remember the beautiful  bottle on her dressing table. Her best friend, who was the mother of my best childhood friend (we're still best friends) always gave her a bottle for Christmas.
         Equally important, Kurkdjian said, is to make sure those closest to us also fall in love with our choice. It is quite an unpleasant experience to be subjected to a fragrance we find unpleasant or worse.

        I was reminded of Francis Kurkdjian last week when I spent several hours over two days with a woman who was helping me set up my new laptop computer. Her perfume was so overpowering and cloyingly sweet I thought I was going to be sick.

Speaking of my BFF, she has always worn Joy. It is her signature.
        Even though I am quite loyal to two perfumes, I thought I might try something light and citrusy for the summer -- just a little flirt. But, I intend to try before I commit.

26 comments:

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Scent can evoke memories and transport us back in time...
I remember my grandmother wheneverI smell Noxema cream! She never wore scent per say but used this cream every night before bed.

Mother wore Shalimar when I was young and now wears Chanel No.5.
I have tried many scents over the years. My Sin was one of the first and now I alternate between Voyage d'Hermes and Mitsouko.
I'd love to know what scents you have chosen...
or perhaps you are keeping that a secret!

That's Not My Age said...

I've been wearing a Comme des Garcons scent for years but I bought Mr TNMA a new Le Labo parfum for his birthday (tried & tested several times on myself beforehand). It's delicious and I'm sure I'll be borrowing it soon.

Von said...

Ah yes the first has been a favourite since my late teens! Chanel No 5 of course.

Coco Love said...

Perfume is so important in my life and I wear it every day and even choose one to wear to bed. My mother introduced me to French perfume when very young and bought me my first grownup bottle. Today I have many bottles and they are all usually replaced when empty. I know what I like now but I did surprise myself and have just bought a new fragrance untried before hand. I now have a new favourite to add to my collection. I dont feel dressed unless I am wearing fragrance.

Swan said...

Coco Chanel hit the "flagon de parfum" on it's beautiful square top on her #5. For me when a beautiful scent wafts passed me the personality of that person becomes crystal clear, well almost ! It lifts my spirts and makes me smile. My pet "peeve" in perfumes are those with fruity top notes. Who wants to smell like a fruit salad !?

Swan - Now Living in France

Mary said...

I had to travel on business quite a bit when my daughter was young. Now an adult, she told me that her favorite thing to do when I was away was to go to my scarf drawer, put her face down in the scarves and breathe my scent to help her not miss me so much.

Karena Albert said...

Tish I have worn Chanel #5 forever and also Angel by Thierry Mugler for about 15 years. Perfume makes a woman feel so good, so sexy!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

Madame Là-bas said...

I used to love L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci, then Anäis,Anäis, now it's Coco by Chanel. The last couple of decades scent has become a taboo (no pun intended)
in some workplaces. Our support staff's union had a no-scent in the workplace policy. I understand hospitals having that policy but it is a totally unenforceable one. Now I'm retired, I'll wear what I want!

Anonymous said...

my journey:
my Grandmother and Youth Dew (and Zest soap)
My mother and an array of Avon products. But also some Chanel #5, and Norrell, and Design.
Me in 70's ( I think) with Love's Lemon + Love's Rain, Babe, and Halston, and Liz Claiborne was in there somewhere.
80's: Casaque (my eyes were opened!) Belladogia, and First. Niki de saint phalle, worn not by me but by significant person, Opium, worn not by me but by girlfriend, I swear I got a whiff of it briefly at her memorial service, Palomma Picasso worn by another girlfriend/crush and yes I admit I sampled it in stores to think of her! and sandalwood and patchouli worn by various hippie boyfriends.
Old Spice - my Dad AND my partner, no need to wonder about that.
Have flirted with White Linen and Happy - also loved L'air du temps, and really loved Premier Jour also by Nina Ricci.
My fragrance now (and I am surprised by this, looking at her clothing I would think it would be too too much, but it is perfect on me) Jessica McClintock, of all things. Would never have guessed. yeah this is long. scents take you on a trip! thank you (and belated thanks for your book!)

La Contessa said...

I have always flipped about never have found something that stays with me.I must work on that!Think I will make that my summer project!!

peggybraswell said...

Ok my perfume is 1000 by Patou + my moms was Joy in winter + chanel #5 in summer. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having this post about perfume and I've also enjoyed reading the comments. I too wore Norell which at the time was far more sophisticated than my young and very naive self deserved but oh how I loved that scent best hours after first applying. Like others here my choices have evolved but I've always kept the "empties" to remind myself of what was. Workplace restrictions - oh yes, had GM that forbade scent even requiring everyone to have clothing drycleaned to remove any possible lingering fragrance and demanding the use of unscented shampoo, soap or even antiperspirant and in those days "unscented" was a challenge to find. Ironically, she drenched her own self with something dreadfully cheap - overwhelmingly fakey-floral/bubblegummy, which gave everyone else headaches as you could smell it all over our very large office!

Villette said...

Tish, I've read about Jovoy in the rue de Castiglione, full of wonderful perfume, but I've never been there. I wonder if in the name of 'research' (aka fun) you might call in to see what kind of light and citrusy scent they might have to inspire you. And us.

Anonymous said...

Well, Tish, my first two loves were Paris by YSL and Oscar de la Renta's original scent. Chanel #5 is a staple, but I also love the scent of Coco though I've never worn it. Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist is heavenly, as well as, Tova's Signature scent by Tova Bourgnine.

Anonymous said...

The first incredibly sexy scent I had ever smelled was on a male co-worker. He told me he was wearing Paco Rabanne, the original scent. I bought it for my brother, male friend and my uncle. They have been using it for years. Women always stop them and comment on the scent. Then I saw that Paco Rabanne developed scents for women. I was hooked...whenever I wear one of his women's scents, I am always asked what I'm wearing by both men and women. Smell them at Sephora.....buy them from Amazon.

Jennifer Connolly said...

I've been wearing Bois des Isle for years. It feels a bit heavy in the summer, so the I switch it up to Bulgari Green Tea. I haven't found a modern fragrance I'm fond of yet, but do always like to take samples home to test drive them.

Christi Carlisto said...

First time leaving a comment for you Tish, i so enjoy your blog. Wish I could figure out how to get new posts to me inbox. Made a few tries bur it never seems to work, so I have to remeber to come lokk and see whats new every few days.
Scent/smell has such powerreally over us. It canattract or repel. I sypathize with the plight of working in close proximity to someone whos fragrance makes you feel ill. Worked in an office for years where a young womans mixing of heady fragrances caused migraines for several of us.
When my husband and I were first married my mother in law wore an Estee Lauder perfume, thnk it was called Cinnabar, that made me ill. Thankfully i think they stopped making it!
Menopause has changed mysense of smell and the way fragrances Iv'e worn and loved for years smell! Innow need to wear much lighter scents. Current favorite is the new Tory Burch. Have worn Kelly Caleche, Caleche, Anais Anais, Jo Malone Tilleul......so many different scents over the years. Reading the comments made me feel older than my almost 54 years! Scent and smell are powerful. If you're looking for a lovely book to read, I reccomend "The Perfume Collector" by Kathleen Tessaro. It was my favorite book last summer, well written escapist joy and all about the power of smell!

Anonymous said...

I have worn L'Air du Temps for years, also Bellodgia. My mother wore Arpege and Norell. I loved "The Perfume Collector" too!

D. A. Wolf said...

The "try before you commit" rule is so important. I had a friend who wore a particular scent in college and it was heavenly on her - sultry, sophisticated - it suited her perfectly (she was very mature and worldly, even at 17).

I tried it at 20, again in my mid-twenties, again at 30. As much as I loved it on her, it simply wasn't the same on me!

Fortunately, I found my own signature fragrance that did work, which I have changed only a few times with major life changes. I wore one perfume before my marriage, another throughout, and I spent 3 years after my marriage searching for something "just right" to switch to.

That "just right" was found by a male French friend for me nearly 10 years ago. I tried it, adored it, and it remains perfect for me, even now.

I feel utterly undressed if I go out without "my" perfume. So I never do.

Susan said...


I really enjoy this blog. however, the true author of "A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future" is Paul Valery.

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anotherperfumeblog.com said...

Of course, this post is right up my street, so to speak! :) Completely agree, of course, with the advice to try before you buy. I even find it helpful to try something, leave it alone, and come back to it a few times over the course of a month or so. With the prices of many perfumes these days, it's even more important to be sure. Are you considering a Kurkdjian creation for your summer fragrance?

sisty said...

Paul Valery's original observation was: "A woman who wears perfume badly has no future." Quite different from what Chanel changed it into, clever saleswoman that she was.

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