Growing up I was always fascinated by perfume. Some of my fondest memories are of “helping” my mother get ready- the bathroom abuzz with the sound of a hairdryer, various powders and lip colors scattered across the counter, and her Kenzo Perfume d’Ete. I once remarked how distinctive it was, to which she replied that she hadn’t actually smelled it in years. It seemed strange that something I associated so strongly with her was something she herself could no longer smell, almost as if it had become a part of her.
Growing up I desperately wanted my own signature scent. I would smell all of the perfumes in her collection hoping to find the “one.” When I was seven or eight I got my very first perfume- Petit Guerlain which my mother helped me chose while on vacation in France. It was floral, slightly sweet, a little bit powdery, and I loved it. Her advice, that you should “live” with a scent, letting it sit on your skin for at least a few hours before making a decision, has helped guide me ever since.
I have worn many fragrances since that first one, slowly learning which notes I like, and which I don’t, even going so far as to have a few favorite top, middle, and base notes. Every so often I feel the need to switch scents, as they begin to remind me of specific times, events, or places. There’s the one that reminds me of when I first met by current boyfriend, the one I wore at my college graduation, and the one that takes me back to summer I loved in Palm Beach. I’ve always found that my memories linked with scent are my some of my strongest and most vivid.
Scent has always seemed to me like a signature, something tied up with personal identity and expression. So, if you’re searching for “the one,” be patient. It’s bit like dating I suppose- you have to have the small talk- the top notes, learn some personal history- the middle notes, and finally meet the friends and family- the base notes. Think about the smells you respond to, like the smell of rain, or earth, even incense, and go with your gut- if something reminds you of your grandmother its unlikely it will ever stop doing so.
Do you have a signature fragrance? Is there one that reminds you of a person or place? Let me know in the comments.