When I met Jan Evoud Vos, the founder of Puredistance, in Holland last September, I asked him what colognes he had worn before creating his own range of perfumes. I remember being struck by his answer, namely that he had worn Chanel Antaeus for the past 30 years, and currently toggles between that and his own scent, M. 30 years? Antaeus must be impressive stuff to inspire such unswerving loyalty. And 30 years is such a very long time compared to the paltry three years of my own interest in perfume - serious interest I mean, as opposed to my fairly indifferent, casually monogamous relationship with fragrance down the years.
So I decided to write a retrospective post, examining my chequered perfume-wearing past prior to my epiphany in January 2008. I shall look for any patterns in the fragrance styles I was drawn to, or reasons at least for why I wore what I wore. There is certainly no long term perfume love to mention, and I have owned so few bottles between the ages of 18 and 48 that it is possible to call each and every one of them to mind. I will group these scents by "reason for acquisition" rather than listing them in chronological order, though that would have been easy enough.
Unsolicited presents from boyfriends
Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps
Chanel No 5
SA-driven impulse buys at airports
Thierry Mugler Angel
Estée Lauder Intuition
Purchases prompted by a wish to be vaguely in tune with the Zeitgeist
Purchase prompted by a wish to emulate my very cool lodger, Caroline
Purchase prompted by a wish to enhance my pulling powers during a decade of peak opportunity
Lancôme Magie Noire
And that is it!! Magie Noire is probably the only purchase I made without reference to outside influences, and the only scent that truly "spoke to me", and which I wore because it made me feel fantastically alluring. This is doubly curious(!) because of the presence of civet in the composition. Although I have recently come round to animalic notes a bit, it surprises me that I should have liked Magie Noire in my youth - or Ysatis for that matter. I have managed to acquire vintage samples of both scents and the civet note is quite pronounced. They will have of course been reformulated since, however, so maybe it is the more modern synthetic musks that my nose finds disagreeable.
Are there any discernible patterns in my "scent cv"?
I think not, though the position is slightly skewed by three of them having been gifts. That said, my two favourites - Magie Noire and Intuition - were both orientals, my hands-down favourite fragrance category today.
Do I own any full bottles of these today?
Yes, I rebought Intuition at the start of my hobby, the 2001 bottle having long since gone rancid on the bedroom windowsill. I felt that a fresh one should serve as the cornerstone of my new hobby, for this was the only scent I owned when sudden onset perfume mania struck. I should point out, however, that I now count this purchase amongst my early mistakes: I liked Intuition because I had virtually no other reference points in terms of oriental scents, but I find it a bit annoying now, like Stella spoilt with an overdose of grapefruit.
Apart from Intuition, which others do I not like very much anymore?
Probably all but Ysatis and Magie Noire, notwithstanding the presence of civet in both. Trésor and Angel might be all right from a great distance. L'Air du Temps is a "lesser worse" carnation scent, but the note leaves me cold. Loulou is a migraine-inducing abomination, No 5 too aldehydic and sweet, and Halston I have no recollection of at all, though nothing I have read about it in reviews suggests that I would have liked it much, though I was very fond of its donor.
So I am curious to know whether anyone out there has worn a particular scent for 30 years - or since they were a teenager, say, so as not to exclude people on ageist grounds.
And for those of you who only discovered perfume relatively recently - and I know there are a few of us - is there any rhyme or reason to what you used to wear before your conversion to full-blown perfumista?
And finally, I may not have a long term perfume love, but I do have this T-shirt dress - photographed down the ages by three different boyfriends, rather fittingly in Greece on each occasion! I loved it so much that I have been known to wear it all day, go out to dinner in it in the evening, sleep in it, and get up the next day and repeat the procedure. You may be pleased to know that my long term T-shirt dress love is about to be slung...
Top photo - Santorini (1987)
Tilos (1996) - am hoping you can't see the cellulite at this resolution!
Bedtime wear only (2011)
Photo of Halston Woman from yesterdaysperfume.typepad.com, photo of Magie Noire from ebay.co.uk, photo of Intuition from perfumela.com, other photos my own