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Perfume memories, epiphanies and common (they’re not!) garden herbs

I wish some gifted individual would make a perfume out of the scent of fresh-baked bread and Italian red wine.  If they did, I’d surely eat less of the former and possibly a reduced amount of the latter, but that remains to be seen, since to my knowledge, it’s not been done.

There’s a huge amount of snobbery in the true Perfumista world, particularly when it comes to gourmande fragrances and mainline scents.  Who wants, they say, to smell like lemon cheesecake, with a dry down of rum? Hmmmm.  Not sure how to answer that.

There are some perfume blogs I love.  Alas, on one of them, I dared put in my tuppence worth, and got a terse response from a blogger in the style of “No one has ever mentioned JPG before, what  a fascinating comment.”  I could feel the sarcasm dripping acidly and quavered.  Then bolstered myself once more, and thought, well, perhaps they haven’t, but whatever JPG put in his “Classique” fragrance, mainline though it be, had me weeping.

And what for?  Indeed.  For my beloved father, who passed away when I was too young to know him, but smelt of something that I found in that JPG scent.  For the briefest and fleeting glimpses of summers spent with the relatives in Sicily.  The remembrance of suntan lotion, and of white baguettes filled with Italian triangle cheeses, eaten on the sand in the blazing heat of the sun.  I’m not too sure, but I can tell you that these were very early memories.

Oh, but don’t let me make you feel sympathy for my acid put-down on a blog.  Having only recently started my own, I was profoundly shocked to see how many people love perfume, and in a real way, absolute and dedicated and passionately so.  If I say epiphany, you get the idea.

But I’m not of their standard yet, and I don’t imagine I ever will be.  As I ghoulishly collected crabs claws from the beaches as a child, so too, do the perfumistas collect perfume.  Some they hate, some they deride, and occasionally, they fall in love.

My dear friend Thomas of CandyPerfumeBoy fame, is one such.  He has truly understood what it is to love scent.  He ranges far and wide, bends gender, rails against only for women fragrances, embraces the mainstream through deep love of his mother and her chosen signature scent (a mainstream).  Perhaps the most generous of the genre is the wonderful Olfactoria’s Travels.  This woman writes in an English with which  most of my year nine students would  struggle.  It’s not just her turn of phrase, but her depth of knowledge and most of all, the generosity she has, sharing her beloved scents and her comments.  I can’t say better than that.  She gives one the wish and the will to look deeper, to investigate, and to answer the ‘why’ of it all.

In my own dire financial straits, I’m alas selling my perfumes, much loved, lovingly collected.  In my mind, this will give me the space one day to find something new.  A secret corner of my underwear drawer, where a bottle can nestle and sit until I call upon it to service me.  Nowadays when I sniff a scent, I leave it on my neck, I ask it to evolve, I encourage it to become.  And if it doesn’t, it won’t succeed with me.  If I can use such a strong word, I would say that I crave, sometimes, the gift of something scented.  But not just on my skin.  In my home, my bathroom, in the air.  I need to feel refreshed, and I want my house to stand up and welcome me home after a hard day’s work.

At the moment, it’s the hope of holidays I want so much.  I’ll be buying Bronze Goddess yet again, another bottle of Sweet Sun by Dior for my days at the outdoor pool near me, and I’ll be smelling the raw tomato vine, the blue berry tree, I’ll be crushing strawberry leaves between my fingers, and I’ll be using last year’s dried sage for my summer stews.  My thyme loves my little garden, which is the size of a handkerchief, and my rosemary is currently stretching up her legs to reach out to the weak English springtime sun.

My daughter will remember the scent of chicken and rosemary, roast potatoes and thyme, and perhaps one day, she’ll scent something overseas somewhere and get her “aha” moment, and wonder which mountain in Arizona Mother is camping on in her sage and wild broom scented tipi.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for your kind words about me and my blog. I’m so glad you feel inspired by it.
    Don’t let yourself be put off by thoughtless comments of “elite” bloggers, you are perfectly entitled to love what you love. And btw, I’ve worn JPG too many years ago and have fond memories of it. 🙂


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