Sunday, 20 November 2011

Long Term Perfume Loves - Er....No - Just This T-Shirt Dress!

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
Halston Woman
Chanel No 5

SA-driven impulse buys at airports

Lancôme Trésor
Thierry Mugler Angel
Estée Lauder Intuition

Purchases prompted by a wish to be vaguely in tune with the Zeitgeist

Cacherel Loulou
CK Eternity

Purchase prompted by a wish to emulate my very cool lodger, Caroline

Givenchy Ysatis

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)

Nisyros (1992)

Tilos (1996) - am hoping you can't see the cellulite at this resolution!

Bedtime wear only (2011)

Photo of Halston Woman from, photo of Magie Noire from, photo of Intuition from, other photos my own


Ari said...

What a fantastic idea for a post! And I think you look amazing in all three pictures! I have a bad habit of taking new boyfriends to old stomping grounds, too...

Vanessa said...

Hi Ari,

Thanks! I have been meaning to do some sort of a retrospective for a while now, but finding these old snaps was the trigger...

And the Greek islands in question have all been different at least - there are so many of them that it is easy to avoid duplication.... : - )

Anonymous said...

I love this scent retrospective, I was quite surprised to see Angel as one of your pre-perfumista scents.

Re the t-shirt dress, there are just those pieces of clothing that you can't get rid of, they're too faithful!

Anonymous said...

That dress is fantastic. I love stripes.

Since we fell into perfume obsession around the same time, I'm not surprised that my past is similar to yours. I can remember most of the things I bought, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason to them. I enjoyed reading your analysis, though. And, like the CBB, I was surprised to see Angel in the retrospective.

Vanessa said...

Hi Candy Perfume Boy,

I am as surprised as you that I ended up owning Angel - it was due to the efforts of a very persistent SA at Berlin's Tegel airport around the time of the launch. I was on my way home at the end of one of my projects, so was feeling pretty gung-ho and suggestible - in a mood to treat myself etc...(I was doomed, basically).

The SA really sold the chocolate note to me and said how Angel melted into my skin perfectly. I fell for the spiel hook, line and sinker, wore it a couple of times, then thought WTF?? I can tell you that that bottle was jettisoned long before it had a chance to go off.

Vanessa said...

Hi anotherperfumeblog,

You were one of the very people I was thinking of as I wrote this, so am pleased to hear I am not alone in having a pretty random and meaningless perfume past!

The dress was actually bought in our British Home Stores, which is like C & A if you have that chain, but a bit more homely. I am surprised how much wear I got out of such a simple garment, and how attached I became to it. By rights I shouldn't even wear that shade of blue - for I'm an "autumn" in the Color Me Beautiful palette...

: - )

Eva S said...

My perfume-acquisitions prior to my perfumista days followed a very similar pattern, and were all cute florals since that's what a young girl is supposed to like, right? Then by pure chance I happened to try Mitsouko, and wore it almost exclusively for about a decade, the first perfume that felt truly "me". The reformulated EDT is not quite the same but I still own a bottle for sentimental reasons.

Vanessa said...

Hi Eva S,

Thanks for sharing your own perfume-wearing past. Cute florals to Mitsouko is an impressive transition! I can quite understand your need to hang on to a bottle on sentimental grounds - a decade of near exclusive wearing is an important chunk of one's life... : - )

Anonymous said...

I love your categories. :)
I wrote such a post too, almost a year ago. There was no rhyme or reason to my pre-perfumista fragrance choices either. Strange, how sudden-onset perfumania changes a person...

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

You did? Well, I would love to read it in that case - I knew your conversion was pretty recent in the grand scheme of things. Our little brigade continues to grow! When I got into perfume in a big way, I assumed that most diehard fans would have been inducted into the wonders of fragrance at their mother's knee, but not so...

Tania said...

What an interesting post. I've honestly never thought of trying a scent retrospective, even mentally.

Hah! Thet pretty much parallels my Angel-buying experience. Except it was probably Heathrow.

If I wear anything now from my teenage years, it will be a rediscovery. I don't have any scents which have been in my life that long.
I can recall my first 'proper' perfume was Heaven Sent, which an aunt gave me. I wouldn't have chosen it myself, When I could buy my own, I liked Yardley Sea Jade, Coty Complice, and Aqua Manda. Any of which I'd love to smell again.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tania,

Funny that you were also bludgeoned into buying Angel! I did also rather like the bottle, I must admit, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Now I know you say you have never attempted a scent retrospective, even in your mind, but you have just gone and done a pretty good job off the cuff, I'd say. : - )

I must confess that I am not familiar with any of the early perfumes you mention. So much of the fragrance scene went right over my head in those days. In the words of Cher, I wish I could turn back time!

lovethescents said...

Adore this post, wonderful to read. You are as stunning as ever, and unusually tanned and disinhibited for a Brit :-) :-i

Undina said...

Vanessa, I enjoyed reading your memories. Tried to comment from my iPhone but Gods of a wireless connection weren't smiling at me. Hopefully, now it'll work better.

In the very first post on my blog I'm telling the story of my first and eternal perfume love. I still own and wear it from time to time (well, a whatever reformulation was available for purchase). I loved and wore it for... well, not 30 but 25 years for sure.

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

Thanks! I used to be a real sunworshipper, though have hardly seen the sun in recent years, and I would never stick my face in it anymore.

But you are right to say I was pretty disinhibited back then - especially to sleep in that T-shirt dress and wear it all the next day, even out to dinner...

: - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thanks for persisting with the commenting attempts!

I shall take a look at your early post, and you are officially the first reader with a fully qualifying continuously worn long term perfume love! : - )

Am curious to see what it was now...

angie Cox said...

Well Vanessa I admit to falling in love with Jicky, Volde Nuit , Quadrille and Le dix at around 17. I had a "bad" habit of dating guys younger than me and all students so none could afford them. I also had an affectation of smoking pastel coloured Balkan Sobranie cigarettes. So must have smelled smoky with heavy fragrance. The day Paris came out I bought it , same with RiveGauche. i still wear them all but gave up smoking years ago. I have never given up young men as Jeff is 50 tomorrow and I am 56 !!!

Katie Puckrik said...

Typical Brit, holidaying in Greece! (But I suppose it would be typical-er to go for a package deal in Spain.) If Muguet des Bois still smelled the way it did when I wore it at 15, I'd wear it now. And Love's Fresh Lemon, too!

My long term t-shirt love was my Camp Tannadoonah shirt, ineffectively tie-dyed, worn from the age of 9 until a spiteful boyfriend threw it away 20 years later.

Vanessa said...

Hi Angie,

You sound like a 20-something cougar if that is not a contradiction in terms - loving the vision of you smelling of smoke and seriously grown-up perfumes!

Happy Birthday to Jeff for tomorrow. I gather he is good at buying you perfume presents unlike those students you used to date!

Vanessa said...

Hi Katie,

The islands in Greece were not that typical, at least. Wilder and woollier than the normal package destination - the sort of place where you hand over your passport (as surety) to the owner of your accommodation, and on the day you check out, he is nowhere to be found and it doesn't occur to you that your passport may be locked in a drawer in the butcher's shop, to whom he had entrusted it for safekeeping. Well, clearly I figured this out eventually - it is clear from the next photo that the T-shirt dress had another foreign outing in 1996.

And I didn't expect to meet another long term T-shirt wearer - 20 years is a very respectable innings, and I am only sorry that they were cut short by "spiteful boyfriend". Did he have issues, I wonder, with its age and condition (which might have tended towards decrepitude after all that time), or with the memories you associated with the garment to which he was not privy... I had a BF thow away a box of sentimental letters on those grounds.

lovethescents said...

Ladies, what is with these jealous, insecure men we all encounter? Awful to have sentimental things disappear at the hands of someone else. Time for someone better :-)

Vanessa said...

Hi lovethescents,

I wouldn't have let that box go today, I must say, but back in 1992 I behaved more like a "rabbit caught in headlights" in my relationships!

Katie Puckrik said...

Vanessa, the boyfriend's issues were with age and condition, I assume. He'd have to be unfathomably dunderheaded to be threatened my the fond memories of a nine-year-old. Lovethescents, happy to say that this insecure gent is an ex.

Vanessa said...

Hi Katie,

Haha! I should perhaps also clarify that the letters to which my ex most objected were from the person who immediately preceded him in my a matter of mere months!

: - )