Monday, 8 December 2014

The Lidl effect: Woman Suddenly falls for Chanel No 5 again - and doffs bed socks

The time has come to mention the unconventional boyfriend again, the one who described my eyes - most imaginatively I thought - as the colour of 'foetid puddles', and my legs as 'serviceable'. It was 30 years ago, but I still remember a few salient facts about our relationship. The eight year age gap meant that when I popped a Sade cassette into his car stereo on a long drive north, he inquired brightly: 'Is that Wham?' And after I had my wisdom teeth out, my face was so beaten up that he walked right through the ward without recognising me and out of the hospital again, assuming he had got the wrong one. He also broke into my mother's house once, and left a bottle of port on her kitchen table to thank her for visiting him in hospital. Well, I use the term 'broke' loosely - my mum had accidentally left a window open, apparently. And he gave me some good presents in the course of our four year relationship: a little wooden trinket box, a Barbour jacket, and a copy of the controversial book 'Queer' by William Burroughs. On the flyleaf was this facetious inscription:

'Some in-flight reading. I chose it in 5 minutes. One glance says "this book cannot possibly be dull". And so I hope it proves. In any case, reactions of fellow passengers will offer a secondary source of entertainment.'

Oh, and most importantly he also gave me Chanel No 5. I sense it may have been as snappy a purchase as the book, but it was only the second bottle of perfume I had ever been given, and I was very excited to receive it - to my twenty-something self it seemed the last word in luxury and glamour. I remember the bottle as a sleek, black rectangular column like the one in the photo below, but have no idea if that marks it out as the edt or edp. I wore No 5 happily on nights out, but only as a 'civilian', to reprise Tara's great word for a regular member of the perfume-wearing public, in her comment on my Suddenly Woman 1 post. I don't know whether I finished the bottle or what happened to it, but my interest in this iconic fragrance quietly lapsed, such that when I was smitten by perfume mania seven years ago, my attitude to No 5 was regrettably cavalier - very much one of 'Been there, sniffed that'. Until Lidl came along and launched a smell-alike, that is...

Source: eBay

But before elaborating on the effect of Suddenly Woman 1 on my current perfume-wearing MO and beyond, I thought it might be interesting to do a quick summary of my takes on the previous launches, going right back to 2009:

SUDDENLY FLEURS - I only vaguely remember this - as a sweetish floral that didn't particularly remind me of any other mainstream perfumes on the market. Maybe Lidl hadn't got its act into gear at this point and it wasn't a deliberate dupe of anything. If anyone remembers Suddenly Fleurs and has an idea of what it might be imitating, do let us know in the comments.

SUDDENLY D'OR - a very decent copy of Ghost Luminous, not that I am a mad fan of the Ghost range generally.

SUDDENLY MADAME GLAMOUR - a superb copy of Coco Mademoiselle. I wouldn't bother with the real thing, although I can tell the difference - the Chanel does have more depth - and more patchouli. Suddenly Madame Glamour is sufficient for me, should I ever wish to scratch a Coco Mademoiselle itch. I probably won't though, as it is so darn ubiquitous these days. I would guess Coco Madeomoiselle has overtaken No 5 itself in popularity by now, amongst all age groups too. Certainly on a 'whiffs caught in passing basis', if not in sales terms necessarily.

SUDDENLY DIAMONDS - another very close copy, of BOSS Orange this time, though as with Suddenly d'Or above, I am not a fan of the original, so wouldn't buy either.

SUDDENLY WOMAN 1 - the least similar copy to date imho - of Chanel No 5. For the very first time, the Lidl version has made me want to own actual Chanel No 5(!), and indeed I have now inherited a nearly used bottle from my friend Clare, and also invested in a 3 ml roll on-on Ebay for the princely sum of £6.99.

Coincidentally, the other day I saw an article that explained how people sleep better with fewer bed- and night-clothes on - something to do with optimum core temperatures versus that of your extremities. The article recommended sleeping naked if at all possible, or at the very least swapping bed socks for a hot water bottle, as the latter can be kicked away if you get overheated. The timing of this piece with my Suddenly Woman 1 and No 5 trials seems most fortuitous - indeed the post even mentions that well-known titbit about how Marilyn Monroe was reputed to go to bed in the nude, save for a comforting cloud of Chanel No 5.

We are in the middle of a cold snap here in Britain, so I don't think I could possibly countenance sleeping in the buff. But now that I have re-bonded so unexpectedly with this famous fragrance, I will seriously consider wearing a nocturnal spritz and losing my bed socks, especially if they go the way of the last pair any time soon...


Tara said...

Ha! I really hope "civilian" for a non-perfume person takes off. That would make me very happy :)

One day I will get to grips with No.5... Nice to hear your relationship has with it has been rekindled. Do we know what became of Mr Fetid Puddles?

Ines said...

:) Hmm, sleeping naked is recommended? ;)
I haven't yet worn socks to bed this year (I usually do during cold winter nights) but giving up my pjs seems something I would only be able to consider during warmer months.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

I think it really should pass into general usage - the term is perfect!

You have issues with aldehydes, I know, whereas I like them almost unconditionally these days.

I do know more or less what became of Mr Foetid Puddles, though I am only very occasionally in touch with him these days. Will tell you when I see you - he has had a very colourful career since I knew him!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

So it would seem, but I do feel more comfortable wearing something year round, even in hot weather. I think it is just psychological now, but it would be hard to change the habit of a lifetime. I am into bed socks already, but I am a very chilly person!

kate said...

"Civilian"! excellent!

I do love No5. I love the parfum best of all, but at the moment I have none so am very content with the Eau Premiere version. I would imagine the pure parfum might be just about warm enough to sleep in, if coupled with functional central heating...

Suzanne said...

Hi Vanessa,

I got a kick out of your post and the picture of your worn bed sock. When I purchased a 1960s bottle of Chanel No. 5 extrait a few years ago, I fell in love with it completely. Your post reminds me that I haven't worn it in a while, so I'll put some on soon in your honor.

Wouldn't it be funny if your previous boyfriend found your post? I think he'd get a kick out of it. He might not have been great with compliments, but he does sound like he shared your lovely sense of humor. And he did gift you with Chanel No. 5, so good on him!

Carol said...

Oh the ex-boyfriends we have had!

I never sleep naked and probably never will. We turn the heat away down at night in the cold/er weather, so usually I have not only socks on, but pj bottoms, two or sometimes three layers on top (an "A" shirt, then a long sleeve tee or two) and then three or four blankets. And if I'm not bothered by an alarm clock, I sleep 8-9 hours solid.

PS: I still don't like No. 5, but that flanker one is okay.

Lavanya said...

My comment got eaten up!
It was basically this:

Hey V- your post provided a much needed laugh in the midst of packing for a move and a bad haircut.. Thanks! :D

Oh and i love tara's 'civilian' term..

Odiferess said...

I fell hard for No 5 early this year after rooting through my friend Jo's nearly empty bottle stash. I recall it feeling so innovative after smelling so many bloomin ambers at the time. I now own a little bottle like the one in your top photo and by gosh it smells wonderful.
This year in general I seem to be favouring classics over niche releases. Perhaps a return to the 'grand composition' has occurred?

Anonymous said...

Hiya Bonks!

I thought "civilians" was how "slebs" refer to us plebs?

As for sleeping in the buff, having children ensures that one is dressed all the time because there's no telling when one will be called upon to dance attendance. (Even bathing becomes a Granny Weatherwax affair: 'I just washes,' said Granny. 'All the bits. You know. As and when they becomes available.')

My own extremities are extremely cold most of the year round. OH says I am "thermally challenged" but bought me a Chanel No.5 parfum yonks back in spite of it; now I get thermal bed slippers as pressies:-)

cheerio from Anna in dreich Edinburgh;-)

Unknown said...

We Germans like to take our clothes off, and bedtime is certainly the right time for it. I always slept naked unless it was minus 15 or if I had a cold. Of course, having super thick eider down duvets, and even more importantly, a single duvet per person! did help. Living in the UK has softened me, now it's at least a T-shirt, and sometimes even those bed socks...
Chanel No.5: Now that beauty never worked for me personally. None of the Chanels ever did. Not even the Exclusives.

Vanessa said...

Hi Kate,

Isn't it great?! I don't believe I have tried the parfum version of No 5, though I have of No 22. I have a decant of Eau Premiere and like it very much too. I was amused at your image of sleeping in the parfum, with appropriate ambient warmth. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Aha - another fan of the extrait...I must give it a sniff sometime when I am in a sufficiently high end store to find it. Thanks for wearing it to coincide with this post!

Something tells me my old BF is most unlikely to find this post, as he shuns the Internet to a large degree, and has an almost imperceptible footprint in Google. He did have a cracking sense of humour, though - there were many more examples where those came from. And as you point out, he wasn't half bad at picking out presents!

Vanessa said...

Hi Carol,

Indeed! If all my exes were lined up in an ID parade, you would never think I was the thread linking them, so different were they...;)

How far down do you turn the heat exactly? I do that too, but only to between 11-13C, which is fairly chilly in my terms, but I really feel the cold. I guess the temperatures are so much more extreme in the US that to heat a house at night if it is -20 C outside would mean the boiler working very hard to get the place warmed up - when you are asleep all the while anyway. ;) I would probably do the same if I lived there, but we are lucky that frosty nights are relatively rare.

By that flanker one, I take it you mean Eau Premiere...

Vanessa said...

Hi Lavanya,

Sorry about your lost comment, but I swear Blogger will always, always eat up your first attempt, including mine, so I save it to the clipboard before hitting publish. It always seems to publish on the second attempt - just a tip from long and bitter experience!

Anyway, glad my post raised a smile and good luck moving again - it is only a year since last time, isn't it? And with a new baby in tow. And a bad haircut! Oh well, at least the hair will grow out...Hope you are settled in time for Christmas, wherever you are off to.

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

I am happy to learn that you too had a No 5 moment this year - the bottle you own is a perfect size. I wish there was more left in mine (given the rate I am using it), but at least I have my 3ml buffer. I clocked your gravitation towards classics, as it happens. I find myself doing something a bit similar - or put it this way - I can walk right through a Duty Free these days and barely sniff anything, whereas I used to be curious to try anything that was new. I mean anything!

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna!

Nice to hear from you. 'Civilians' could be a derogatory term I suppose, though I didn't know that about celebrities and their particular jargon. Of course we don't mean it that way - our implicit army image suggests obedience to a certain calling, maybe? Or something holding us in its thrall?

You have the No 5 parfum - or had it - whoo! It does sound like the ultimate version. And LOL at 'thermally challenged' - that is definitely an apt description for me as well. As you can tell by the state of the bed socks.

Re dreich Edinburgh - Hazel posted a view from their sitting room window today and I swear it was sleeting, if not snowing exactly!

Vanessa said...

Hey Sabine,

Thanks for telling us how Germans approach the whole night clothes business. If you have had to put on more layers in bed, it sounds like our duvets leave something to be desired. Or the efficacy of our heating / insulation - my house is incredibly draughty, certainly.

Sorry the Chanels aren't your bag, but it's not as though there aren't a million other scents out there to enjoy. Lovely to see you last night, btw. Will drop you a line when I have caught up with myself. ;)

Anonymous said...

We had snow flurries earlier so that might be what Hazel captured. All slush when I staggered forth so if it freezes overnight there'll be fun and games on the streets the morrow!

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

Vanessa said...

Yep, that'll be it then. Fingers crossed for you that it doesn't freeze tonight. It's cold and rainy here...but not that cold.

Thinkingmagpie said...

I must admit, I always sleep naked. In winter, I have a secret weapon; the electric blanket. Warm my bed up 30 minutes before the bed time... I'm in heaven!! Coupled with the huge down duvet, I'll be sound asleep till morning. I can never wear No. 5 in bed though. I love it as a fragrance but it's too overwhelming for a night time scent.

Vanessa said...

Hi Thinkingmagpie,

Thanks for stopping by - and oh boy, an electric blanket, that's inspired! And in truth I used to own one, but it was from the year dot, and the cables in the fabric were bulky, with lots of wires coming out down the side of the bed, or so it seemed. I am betting the technology has moved on so much since I last bought one that it would be a wonder of engineering nowadays - and so handy, as my house is perishing in winter. The heating can't even get it up to 17C today. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi there V
Comment take two:
I sleep in Fat Face pyjama bottoms.
We sleep with the balcony door ajar, even when minus 20 because our cat says so.
I used to wear the Channel 5 Extrait. Still like it, but don´t wear it. Well, don´t actually have any but if I did I doubt if I would wear it.
Sleep with my own duvet, as Sabine mentioned. My parents also adopted this Austria/continental practice of each having their own.
I think I said a few other witty and amusing things in my original comment, alas it disappeared. ;) Bussis CQ

Vanessa said...

Hi Val,

Sorry for the loss of your original comment - it wasn't just witty and amusing, it was also original! ;( Thanks for taking the time to have another go - it is appreciated.

I was interested to learn about your duvet MO - the open balcony door for Meep-Meep made me go 'Eep!'

And a pattern may be forming of couples opting for his and her duvets. ;)

odonata9 said...

My mom had that same black bottle of Chanel. I don't ever recall her wearing it. She was not a perfume person by any means and sure she saved it for "special occasions." Also, I read the exact opposite about sleeping in an article recently - that you should wear socks becasue being cold could wake you up in the middle of the night. I do wear socks to bed in the winter. And like Anna mentions, having kids means wearing more pajamas.

Vanessa said...

Hi Odonata9,

Good to hear from you. Sounds like your mum and I reached for that particular version of the Chanel bottle on a similar frequency... ;)

I must say I do sometimes wake up cold in the night and put my bed socks back on, having kicked them off earlier. Maybe one's own body is the best arbiter of how many clothes are appropriate?

Undina said...

Since it will be a while before you and I meet, you should tell me somehow Mr Fetid Puddles' story ;)

For many years I preferred to sleep naked but somehow over time I came to the realization that I need something on (and it's definitely not a perfume). It's not a question of temperature: I need a long (but very thin) t-short even in Hawaii.
As to perfume, I do not mind sleeping with some remains of what I wore earlier or to apply a tiny bit on my wrist but I can't deliberately spray perfume on before going to bed.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I will be sure to do so in our next email exchange...;)

I have always preferred to sleep with something on, partly for reasons of temperature but also because I prefer the feel of night clothes next to bed clothes rather than naked skin. I also wear the thinnest thing possible in hot weather, but always something.