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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A Life in Perfume

I read the promotional pieces in Vogue and Bazaar about perfumes and started to ponder on my own life in perfume.

So my first perfume memory is of my Dad's Mum wearing a tea dress with a purple, green and white flower print and smelling of violets - like the Parma Violet sweets which I still love now - I picked up my own version of the perfume on a family holiday - Devon Violets - sweet and cloying but probably an improvement over the rose perfume made by gathering dropped petals and steeping them in jam jars to sell from the garden. My sense of smell now more sophisticated but still loving the nostalgia from Balenciaga Paris with it's own heady violet hit.

Diptyque Philosykos a fabulous fig fragrance that I started to wear in my thirties (bought in Covent Garden Space NK) before it became the cult perfume it is now, and that I still spritz liberally when I need uplifting - we have the scented candles too (expensive so used judiciously), and when I wore Diptyque on an extended stay in Chicago, my daughter remarked that I smelled of home! I have bought one other Diptyque perfume, Ofresia which purports to smell of that flower, it is a strong peppery scent and when I wear it I am reminded of the nineties, my new job in sales, our children growing up.

Fracas by Robert Piguet - apparently you are either a Bandit or a Fracas girl, but never both. This was bought as a gift from the Lovely Man whilst he was working in a snowy Chicago and presented at Christmas in a beautiful white faux fur box. We have differing views on Fracas, in my opinion it is a heavy evening fragrance, in his it smells of tulips (do they really have much of a perfume?) and should be worn during the day.

Bvlgari Green Tea - the complimentary toiletries at Hilton Rangali in the Maldives, a delicious day time perfume which instantly transports me back to my beautiful water villa - heaven. I love Clarin's Eaux Dynamisant and Refraichissant for the same fresh daytime smell too, and have just discovered the perfection that is Liz Earle's Botanical Essence Eau de Parfum No. 1 - try it, leave it a while to warm up, you will love it.

A jump back in time and my own Mum wearing Coty L'aimant, a delicious creamy pink liquid applied with a tiny wand, a powdery sweet smell, together with the lovely scent of Yardley lipstick (why doesn't lipstick smell like that anymore - I am sure the gorgeous Joan of Mad Men wears Yardley). Then a few years later and us more affluent, my Mum smelling of Femme or Madame Rochas, and me wearing Shalimar, Mitsouku, Carven Ma Griffe in the distinctive green and white striped box - all these bought in Brown and Muffs which was the posh department store in Bradford at the time.

And then to the teenage years where the men and boys smelled of Old Spice, Burlington, Brut and then Denim, and the girls of Patchouli Oil, White Musk or Charlie.

When I was eighteen we went abroad for the first time (to Benidorm - I wish I could say that it was more sophisticated and less developed then, but no - straw donkeys, sombreros and lumumba cocktails were the order of the day) and could afford the newly launched and duty free Chanel No 19 which together with Diptyque Fig I consider to be "my perfumes".

When we married at Christmas in 1979 I wore my Christmas gift from the Lovely Man - a heady Diorissimo - the soap is still in a lingerie drawer, the perfume has never been replaced.

Of course I have skipped a few fragrances which I had and didn't get on with - like YSL Opium (too heavy, why did it smell like fresh carnations on everyone else but gave me a headache) - I have the same problem now with Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir - I want to wear it but can't. Estee Lauder Youth Dew - never owned but longed to (I was 13 I think it would have drowned me). Thierry Mugler Angel - do I really want to smell of chocolate? Joy by Jean Patou - dropped onto the tiled floor of the bathroom at work (how guilty? the costliest in the world and another gift from the Lovely Man), Penhaligon Bluebell sploshed liberally around our bedroom by my two year old daughter (again a present, and guilty, but how are you going to prevent a child from pulling out that ground glass stopper?)

I'm sure when I post this I will remember more perfumes from my past, how about you - what are your fragrance hits or misses?


  1. In Order:
    Avon Pretty Peach
    Yardley Sea Jade
    Aqua Manda
    Rive Gauche
    Madame Rochas
    Anais Anais
    L'Occitane Verbena Harvest Citrus

  2. Oh Diane you must be the same age as me - I was trying to find a photograph of Avon Pretty Peach, and I had totally forgotten about Aqua Manda, my Nan wore 4711 to keep her cool so that is another blast from the past. Re the Anais Anais and Rive Gauche - they both smelled very similar to me and a bit too flowery on me but nice on others. I also remembered Champagne by YSL - now called something else because they were sued by the champagne houses, I thought it was a deliciously feminine perfume. Anyway thank you for visiting my blog - I have just had a look at Heartshaped and will be visiting more often - do you have your Yorkshire Parkin recipe, I made it this year and was strict about waiting 5 days, but it was still not as gooey as I remember (I am a Yorshire girl living in Wales) x

  3. I remember wearing Rive Gauche years ago but have never been a big perfume fan,probably because my mother has always worn very overpowering Estee Lauder scents which really make me feel woozy and has put me off completely!
    Actually there was a really light Body Shop scent which i quite liked but cant remember its name!

  4. Great blog, really enjoy it!

    Please come by mine...


  5. These all sound so wonderful!


  6. My Mum has just read this post and reminded me (and how could I forget) about Cinnabar by Estee Lauder which she wore in the 70's - very spicy and heavy, then Aromatics Elixir by Clinique - which I think everyone has worn at some time or other - her taste has changed now though and she usually wears Kenzo flowers - bought by me because like me she is poppy mad, and it is a lovely fragrance too x

  7. I love perfume and it can also affect you and your life positively so its better to find the best perfume that will fit on your personality.I am not good for a fragrance descriptions but I wanted to have a perfume collections.