Friday, February 22, 2008

A Lovely Fragrance In The Air

Right on schedule, our Carolina Jessamine is in glorious bloom along our fence. The vine covers both sides of the fence; the neighbors enjoy seeing it as much as we do from our sun room/office windows.

Not only is it a beautiful hardy vine, it also has a lovely scent as well.

It is vaguely like the scent of daffodils. It is a nice mimic, seeing as how the blossoms look distinctively like daffodils!

Not only does the Carolina Jessamine bloom on our fence, all our forests are sporting pine trees with curious yellow blossoms; the vine has entwined within the pine tree branches. Carolina jessamine is rampant in our area, and it grows freely. No effort is needed to get this plant to thrive.

This morning I was doing my usual blog hopping, and stopped by Dressaday. Erin has made Friday her day to post various links to other blogs of interest. Erin, if you don't know, is a dress and sewing enthusiast, who also happens to be the editor of the New Oxford English Dictionary The girl can write and has a wacky sense of humor, along with an adventurous spirit.
I merrily clicked through today's links...taking the time to view the link about the person who has made a dress crocheted out of Ono cards, and the link about people who dress in only one color (I have been tempted myself....) and the link to sewing pattern light switch plates.
I mean really, is not this kind of rollicking through blogland just the best???
Then I hit her link to a perfume critic's blog entitled Invisible Magnet.
Even Erin was like whoa...she usually doesn't wear scents, but this site may have flipped her to the scented side.
Within the link there was this paragraph:
"And when I was in Paris as a wee sir I noticed that the women there laid their Amarige on THICK. That complicated mix of flowers, fruit and spice hung in the air everywhere and added to my experience of the city."
A little click went off in my head.
I have had that exact same experience.
Being somewhere and having a perfume become part of the experience forever in my mind.
Recently Laura had helped me clean out my bathroom vanity (this cleaning out process just goes on and on and on...) and we found a cluster of samples sized bottle of Givenchy perfumes.
I had not really liked any of them, and had handed them over to her.
(An aside: Laura has difficulty finding perfumes that smell good on her. I have known other red haired women with the same complaint, and when given the opportunity to talk with a representative of a major perfume company, I learned that it is not just an assumption, but rather a chemical fact. Red heads are physically different in many way; one of which is the body chemistry and skin structure. Their skin absorbs the perfume, whereas non-red heads skin hold the perfume on the surface, suspended by the fragrance fixative. The solution, the representative suggested, was to buy the perfume in lotion form, layer on the lotion to seal the skin, then add the perfume.
Or search and search for a perfume that just some how does work with red headed chemistry.
Seriously, it is so strange how awful perfume can smell on Laura, as the fixative part of the perfume winds up being the remaining scent, and it is a very unpleasant odor. We spend a lot of time sampling perfumes to find ones that will work on her.)
I wondered if I had a sample of the Amarige.
I did.
I tried it on, and ummmm...happy love!
Interestingly it was the only Givenchy sample that I had kept in my regular collection of fragrances.
Reading Invisible Magnet made me want to take another look at my perfume collection.
(Please note that I must have been a little loopy on fragrance when I labeled these binds...that should be p-e-rfume, not p-u-rfume. Memory device for the future: there is no P-U in perfume.
It smells nice!)

Wearing perfume is such a tricky thing these days. Everyone seems to want to dab some on to go to church, but actually that is kind of rude: you never know if the scent will bother someone nearby. Supposedly wearing it to work is iffy mustn't bother co-workers with your choice of fragrance.

In fact, in consideration of others, it seems to be most thoughtful to skip wearing any fragrance at all, except in your own home.

Now I have loved dabbing on perfume behind my ears, and on my wrists ever since I was old enough to have received a set of "Tinkerbell" toilet water and lotion as a little girl.

Anyone else out there remember "Tinkerbell" toilet water?
And how confusing it was to have something that smelled so nice be called toilet water?

I just loved taking a bath and dabbing on the little fragrant droplets. Later I got a perfume making kit. I was immediately smitten by the violet scented lavender colored fluid. I think the others were gardenia, rose, and maybe honeysuckle. A tiny, tiny plastic funnel was used to pour the fragrances into the empty little postage stamp sized bottles.

Now that was my idea of fun. I could do that all day!

Later as a young teen I started wearing "Straw Hat" by Faberge. The idea of having a "signature" fragrance had caught my attention, and I had decided Straw Hat would be mine. Later I flirted with Yardley's April Violets (Yardley products being part of the groovy English trendy/Twiggy/Beatles/All things British movement), and also got into Dior's Doirissimo, a lovely young Lily of the Valley based fragrance.

In college I experimented with the "natural" fragrances.
Would you believe I was silly enough to wear a perfume that smelled exactly like fresh mowed grass? No wonder the boys ran; it must have triggered memories of having to do yard work back home!

Aside from a few Avon perfume adventures, as a married lady I didn't bother much with wearing perfume for many years. Scented candles were the new in thing, and blue jeans and flannel shirts didn't make me feel perfume wearing worthy.

I never recalled Bernie ever reacting to any Avon perfume I sampled, save to occasionally remark that the latest Avon perfume sample "smelled like Avon."

Sigh. day when we were first in New Orleans, we visited Yvonne La Fleur's millinery shop. We walked in, and there was a cloud of fragrance in the place that Bernie just fell head over heels in love with.

I tried it on...his heart pounded....and in a flash he bought me the perfume, lotion, powder, bath gel, soap...and was asking if there anything else in the fragrance available?

I love it...he loves it... and one whiff of Yvonne La Fleur is all it takes to make the man darn near swoon.

Powerful stuff, that. He never fails to comment happily whenever I am wearing YLF.

Prior to YLF I had decided that I needed another "signature" perfume to wear everyday.
Jeff was consulted on this; he is a total men's cologne connoisseur, and at the time, his girlfriend was big into perfume as well.
He had opinions on every perfume...clearly this girl had influenced him big time.

I don't remember exactly how it all went down, but Bernie and Jeff decided that Chanel's Allure was THE perfume for me.

Oddly, I have no feelings for it one way or the other. It smells slightly powdery to me, with no particular association to any other scent. I spritz it on lightly before heading to work and from time to time people ask me what fragrance I am wearing, and say that it smells very expensive and elegant. is a Chanel product, so I guess it lives up to it's hype. It seems to work with everything from jeans to suits. And it comes in everything too: Powder (a must have in this humid climate) soap, lotion, bubble bath, deodorant, it all!

After I got settled into those two fragrances, I wanted a fragrance for the hotter than you-know-what days. Ralph Laurent "Romance" was just the ticket a few summers back.
I still love it...and Bernie can not smell it at all, regardless of how much I spray on.
How weird it that?
It is a pretty soft scent.

Then there was the memory scent of a place.
A visit to Hawaii...and all the tropical scents of ginger and such in the air.
It was the Pikake scent that did me though.
One whiff and I felt I was Hawaii.
I bought one small bottle while I was there visiting Laura; she later gave me a serious sized bottle of the stuff the following Christmas, along with the lotion.

All I have to do is slip into one of my Hawaiian printed cotton shifts and touch on Pikake, and I'm back on vacation again.

The search for a cooling scent is always an adventure. I loved this perfume's scent of lemon verbena, and lemon. It is a light splash, and I feel as refreshed as if I had sipped an ice cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade out on the porch next to the verbena when I wear it.

My two always ready with a critique fabulous children assure me I smell exactly like Lemon Pledge when I wear it.

A trip to the original Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas gave me an opportunity to sample the newly released Prada perfume that I for some reason had read about in a magazine.


Asked for it for Christmas from Jeff, and he was happy to give me two bottles; one a tiny travel sized bottle and the other with a cap that could be changed out to the atomizer. atomizer. How chic!
OF COURSE I wanted to have it on my counter top with the atomizer in place!

(What I didn't know was that the atomizer allows the perfume to evaporate in a blink of an eye.)
I still have the travel sized bottle. And I still think it is one fabulous perfume.

Yes, here are the two little sample perfumes that started this whole long, long blog.
I touched some on, and wandered into the office let Bernie take a sniff.
(He got home safe and sound last night after a long and bumpy flight on a very crowded plane. He is SO glad he made it out...thanks for your prayers!)

The Bernie says: I like it! I like it alot.
He then went on to give it a critique (Jeff has influenced him I think.) Perfect for day time, rich, floral, sensual, not really a night time perfume, very womanly etc etc.

Well now. How about that. And to think this sample was almost over looked.

I will be curious to get a review from traveling Laura when she returns though.
When we shopped for perfumes down in Harwin a week ago, she was quick to dismiss many perfumes as smelling "old lady."

Seeing as I am rapidly approaching "Old Lady" status, I am not really pleased to hear that smelling like an old lady is something to be avoided. I am not really sure what "old lady" smells like exactly, except that quite a few of the fragrances that I liked were deemed to have that particular scent.

Perhaps the more interesting question is: Does it appeal to older men, or younger men?
Because frankly I am just not interested in attracting oversexed teenage boys, or even young men in general.

While several of my friends have hitched up with younger men, I frankly just don't see the advantage of having a boy toy when instead I can be with an interesting man.

Invisible Magnet had a bit to say about perfume that smells like food. I tend to agree, but I did give into the Bath and Body Shop's Brown Sugar and Fig scent a few autumns ago. It just smells like autumn to me. Makes my mind travel to the land of crisp fall weather and pumpkins and colored leaves...
It also somehow makes me want to bake something, like pies and cakes.

But if I want to get the same autumn buzz on a more sophisticated level, Chanel delivers via "Coco", a scent I got on a trip to Toronto Canada a few years back.
I have to confess, the exchange rate then was spectacular. I had been on my own in the Toronto underground six mile long shopping tunnel, and I hadn't found anything else to buy on that day.
Call it an impulse buy...

Another spring and summer fragrance: Cherry Blossom, sprayed on cold from being chilled in the refrigerator. Cherry koolaid, cherry Popsicles, cherry all comes blasting back.

(I should have worn some today, in honor of George Washington's birthday and the silly cherry tree story. Google blew George's birthday off too...)

Wow, I'm afraid I have written a marathon post. If you are reading this, you are amazing!
Thank you!

Now I want to know: What is your signature fragrance? Do you have a fragrance that brings back memories of travel? What fragrances have you worn at different times of your life?
Please leave a chatty comment if you would like.
I seriously want to know.

And in case you are wondering...

This is how those bins are stored under my sink.


Lovella said...

. . . ah very interesting. I am currently wearing Coco Chanel. I wear perfume very sparingly as I myself have been bothered by headaches of the overly fragrant air of those close by.
When I was young. . it was Charlie. Remember that one? Oh and of course I had White Shoulders for a bit. . that is definately old lady perfume. .

And then I went through my Eternity stage. . still like that one and occasionally wear it. I also have a bottle of Pure by Alfred Sung.
But for feeling like a summer girl .. I like to slather on some Body Shop lotion. I love alot of those scents. I currently have White Tea and Ginger.

Glad B made it home safe and sound.

Oh and not that long ago when my closet consultant reorganized for me. . she looked me sqaure in the eye and said . .really will you ever use all these little sample bottles. Won't the fragrance go bad. . .well .. they got turfed. Can't say I miss them either.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

(Slaps forehead) HOW could I forgotten "Charley"?????

Vicki said...

Wow...what a post! You know, I gave up wearing perfume years ago when my boss would sneeze and get watery eyes every time she walked into the room with anyone wearing a scent.

I've never really had a signature fragrance...I went through several: RL's Safari, one I picked up in the Bahamas (I can't remember that name), Chantilly (in my late teen years), and one that Doc absolutely loved but it gave me a rash (I can't remember that name, either)!

Some time ago I was in Bath & Body Works picking up Christmas gifts for Doc's assistant, and I replenished my supply of Moonlight Path lotion (love it!) and bought some of the Japanese Cherry Blossom (lotion and splash). I love the scent of the JCB, but it vanishes on me! Five minutes after applying, the scent is gone. However, the Moonlight Path just gets yummier...

My red-headed Laura is the same way - perfumes either don't smell good on her or don't smell at all, but she is able to use some of the B&BW lotions. Odd, isn't it? I'm glad to know there is a reason for that!

Lin said...

Well, I am brunette, but had a lot of red in the brown when I was younger and guess what? My Mom used to ask me what I had been drinking when I used to wear my favorite rose scent. Sad to say, it went out, since I was no where near any drink.

I seem to only get along with Avon scents and a little Liz Claibourne and Ralph Lauren. Other than that, they smell just like opening a bottle of alcohol after ten minutes.

Great post, Jill. I always look forward to your posts.

Amy Letinsky said...

I think i got a perfume education today! I am sadly very ignorant in the women's fragrance department. I suppose I'm one of those sensative types.

However, I do have one bottle that i'll lightly dab on for special summer occasions. It's only for warm weather.

I got it in Paris when my husband and I were studying abroad there. It's called Birmane by Van Cleef and Arpels

One of my friends smells it and thinks of summer because I usually only wear it in summer. If I happen to have some on, and it's not summer, she asks why it suddenly smells like summertime. I suppose there's worse associations!

Glorious Hats said...

What an enjoyable read. And ah hah! Now I know why some perfumes smell like bad BO on me - the plight of the red head chemistry. With a husband who sneezes with most perfumes and scents, it is unusual for me to wear perfume. Though I do love it (when it continues to smell good throughout the day.)

When dad gifted me with Arpege' when I was a college freshman, wow! that was like a token of "you are a woman now"

Yep, also went through the "grass" scent period and again today have some Arvada made up for me scent that has that grassy smell.

Really like Treson (or something like that name) by Lancome - it stays nice smelling too.

Went through rose scent periods - in the 70s and again in the 90s.

Chantilly and White Shoulders - oh yes remember those too. Missed Charlie.

Thanks Jill and all for the fun memories.

And thanks again Jill for sharing the organizing and cleaning. You are helping keep me motivated and working on my own stuff. It is really easy for me to slack off on that so your sharing your accomplishments in that arena keeps me going. Hurray!

Sara said...

Well, first of all, I appreciate the information about red-headed women - I always thought there was something wrong with me! I first discovered that perfumes stink on me when I tried White Shoulders many years ago and it changed into the horrible smell of bug spray!

The only perfumes in my possession at the moment are several tiny little bottles of Estee Lauder, purchased this Christmas by my DH at my hintings. I know from past experience that these tiny little bottles will last me for a couple of years.

I used to liberally spray on White Linen and still love it (but in tiny dabs); also Youth Dew, though that is a bit too strong for my tastes--I don't wear that one anymore. I LOVE lemon verbena scents but don't own any. Citrus/light floral are my favorites. Beyond Paradise by Estee Lauder is good on me too.

Generally, however, I don't give perfume much thought. I dab a very tiny bit on most mornings.

I used to get compliments at work now and then (in the spray liberally days), but one time in church the young man behind me began sneezing and wheezing and I realized that some people are allergic to I am very sparing with it when I will be in an enclosed space close to lots of people.

I love scented lotions and noticed that they keep a good smell when I apply them...but usually it's too much scent.

And while we are talking about the weirdness of red heads' skins...I cannot use any kind of soap except for specially made ones like Cetaphil on my face. I have not found a liquid makeup or sunscreen that does not make me break out. Well, actually, I never have worn liquid makeup for that reason...I recently tried some special expensive sunscreen/moisterizer lotion with "redness reducing" herbal additives. It was great for several weeks but then gave me hives on my neck - yikes! And I must be careful of rosacea reactions.

Well, I'd better stop ranting; I could go on and on. I am thinking there must be some info out there if I do some research, about us red heads and what works for us. Hmmmmm....and to top it all off, my red hair (the cause of all this trauma drama) is fading to an unremarkable dull auburn mixed with gray (silver??)....and I'm afraid to start the coloring game, that's not really me.

Gosh, you seem to have hit a chord with me on this post

Julie said...

I too have wondered what is wrong with me !! I gave up trying to wear perfumes because they all stink on me !! Thankfully Vic always says I smell nice just the way I am without added fragrance !!
I'm not a red head but I guess I have enough red in my hair to cause the problem !

The only scent I can wear with some sucess is Channel # 5 and Vic bought me some for Christmas. He also bought me the lotion so I will try your 'first lotion, then perfume trick'... I'll let you know if it works! Thank you !!

And I LOVE your Jasmine !! Oh.. I wish I could come and enjoy it ! and it grows everywhere ? Unruly vines, especially blossoming ones always thrill me !! They are my very favorite growing things !

Lovella said...

I forgot to mention the jasmine. I thought about it during the weekend and then thought .. .I didn';t even mention how gorgeous it was. . .

Anonymous said...

I found your post when I was looking to see if anyone has had luck growing pikake flowers, and loved your perfume reviews!

I recently found a perfume (nameless, made by Almay) that had been discontinued is still available on ebay, and it brought back memories from when I was first married. It's a little 'young' for me now, but my husband still likes it.

I remember the days in high school when all the girls had to have 'Poison' - yikes. Colors by Benetton smells like high school to me, too. I couldn't afford clothes there but loved the perfume, nowadays I guess Abercrombie has filled that gap.

Mia Vigar said...

I really enjoyed this post and am so glad I stumbled upon it! I'm getting into Allure at the moment - I find it fizzy and rich, and voyeuristically ubiquitous. It doesn't smell like me, and I like that. The scent I have bought the most times is Narciso Rodriguez in the eau de toilette. I also wear Coco Mademoiselle, Lanvin Eclat d'Arpege and Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower. In the autumn I wear Ormonde Jayne's Tolu, in the winter, Parfums d'Empire Ambre Russe, and in the summer, Diptyque Philosykos. I like to experiment and often layer, and I really enjoy a good gourmand fragrance. Thank you for such a lovely read!