Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Precious things/5 Perfume

Anyone who has ever read Marcel Proust's inimitable description of the now infamous madelene story knows how important scent is to our perception and how inextricably it is linked to our memory. Scientists have proved that smell is the sense most connected to the part of the brain where memories are stored.

So perfume... I consider perfume as much an accessory as a pair of shoes or a piece of jewellery. But there is something very personal, very intimate about perfume. Selecting a perfect scent can take a considerable amount of time. To me it's like embarking on a journey of self discovery. And I am deeply saddened when I see a mass of perfumed advertised on a weekly basis, particularly the celebrity perfumes "designed" by some actress.

I started wearing perfume relatively late, probably when I was 17 but quickly discovered the importance of quality. Since then I've had no more than 5 different scents and all of them mark a certain period of my life.
I firmly believe in wearing only one scent at a time, if it's light enough I wear it throughout the year if not I have a summer fragrance and a winter one. I love the idea of a signature scent!

My current perfume is The Black orchid by Tom Ford. The story of how I purchased it spreads over a period of 10 months. I got a whiff of the sample in a Vogue magazine I bought one day before a doctor's appointment. And it was love at first smell. I never buy Vogue otherwise, because it's too expensive. At that moment I knew exactly that this was to be my new perfume. I have already been considering replacing my current one because I sensed it was time to move on but I had no idea what to buy.

Here comes the snag: not a single drugs store, department store or any store in Slovenia carries the Tom Ford brand. And I went to many many stores only to have the sales assistant give me a bewildered look: " Tom who-ha? No. But would you care to sample the latest Avril Lavigne, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera fragrance?"
Not in this life time, thank you very much! Or the next one, for that matter.

So I went on-line and discovered I could get one in Graz, Austria or Trieste, Italy. The first opportunity presented as I said some 10 months later when Mr. C and I were wisting some relatives in Austria for New Year's.

Good things come to those who wait.

I'd love to read your thoughts on the matter. How many if any perfumes do you currently use? Do you believe in signature scent?

The purpose of this post series is to show you some of the things that surround me. This isn't about bragging in the sense of: look how many pretty expensive things I have. All of these items are important to me out of various reasons. What they all have in common is that they have come to define me and my life in some significant way. In the end it's all about the story. And I love a good story.


  1. Yes, I definitely believe in having a signature scent.
    A little spritz around the room and it can remind people of you when you're not there!

  2. Hi. I see your comments on Metscan all the time, but never realized you had a blog. So happy to find it.
    And....very timely, as I'm in the midst of trying to find a signature fragrance myself.
    I seem to have a problem in not really knowing what I like! This has proven true ONLY in perfume. Weird. One minute I like the scent, then I don't, then I do again. And how did you know that the Black Orchid would smell good on your skin, as all scents have a different fragrance on different people? Did you try it first? How long did you wear it before you decided it was "yours"?

  3. bead addict: I don't exactly spritz it around the room, too expensive ;-) but my friends tell me they instantly recognize the scent and if they smell it anywhere else it reminds them of me.

    kathy: hi and welcome to my blog! Selecting a perfume can be a daunting task indeed. My transitions from one scent to another were always difficult. However I discovered I loved all Gucci perfumes from the time Tom Ford took over the brand so for me to like his signature scent would be quite natural. I did try the sample I mentioned in the post on my skin and loved it immediately.
    My advice would be to try and break it down which type of scent you prefer: citrus, floral,... and maybe if there's a particular brand that you like then find a really capable and knowledgeable sales assistant to help you narrow the selection. I wish you all the best of luck in finding the perfect scent :-)

  4. My G/mother always wore Chanel 5 and if I catch a whiff of it it brings back so many memories of her,she introduced me to the orginal 'Miss Dior' and that was my signature scent for many,many years sometime in my early 50s my chemistry changed and it smelt really horrid on me sadly it never worked for me again (crying)!!

    I have never bought into the celeb perfume marketing.
    I have been using Chanel Chance during the Winter,about 2yrs ago my husband on one of his business trips abroad brought me Bvlgari 'Rose Essentielle' I do not like anyone to choose scents for me,bless him. Anyhow it is now my favourite Summer scent smells delicate,roseie,& Summery,I love it so now just need to find one for the Winter months.

    Like yourself don't collect smells.Ida

  5. ida:The reason why I change perfume every 2 to 4 years is my body chemistry as well. I began to wonder if that is the amount of time it takes my body to saturate the scent and then inexplicably transform it so it no longer smells genuine? It's still agony for me to catch a whiff of any of my former scents on someone else, it leads to instant and irrational disliking of the person, probably because I feel they're invading my privacy and taking over a piece of my personality. So weird, I know.
    And I too don't like receiving or giving perfumes, way too personal.
    As for Miss Dior no longer working on your skin: it's quite possible they changed the original recipe and substituted the more expensive ingredients with synthetic ones. It's been known to happen, even with high end brands :-(