Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'm blaming Cornflower



I read Karen's post on Friday with such delight, perfume has been on my mind a lot lately as I have been deciding on a change. Changing my perfume is not the sort of decision I take easily, I began tentatively trying on new scents early in December hoping to put in a Christmas request and eventually I thought I had made my decision but lost confidence at the last m
oment and could not commit. I so enjoyed Karen's post and in particular the comments it inspired that my obsession was re-awakened. I ordered the book, Perfumes: The A-Z Guide which arrived by post the following day. I have read numerous good reviews of this book and heard interesting interviews with the authors but it was Karen's post which finally pushed me into ordering it and I am so glad I did.

This is not a mere reference book, this is a book to enjoy from cover to cover, the sort of book that you pick up for a quick flick through at lunchtime on Saturday.

And find you are still reading at dinner time.


The sort of book that sends you out of the house to the nearest department store full of new ideas, nose a-twitching.

I remember my very first encounter with perfume, I was about 7 years old and must have been investigating my mother's handbag, I remember the small bottle, it's black shiny lid and amber coloured liquid. I can remember the distinctive smell, the smell of being grown up, the smell of make-up, cigarettes, coffee, high heels and silk scarves. The smell of glamour. That bottle was Chanel No.5.


The first perfume I actually owned was a bottle of something citrusy. I wish to goodness I still had that bottle, I wish I knew what it was. I was about 9 years old, my father brought it back from Switzerland I think and I was thrilled that it wasn't another doll in National Clothing, I felt so grown up.It seems a strange present for my father to have bought me at that time, I can't imagine what he was thinking really but I loved it. It was proper, expensive perfume or cologne, not the sort of scents that I received in the early adolescence years which followed, this was a real grown up perfume. I haven't worn a citrusy scent since but each time I wander through a perfume floor that scent is firm in my memory, the bottle shape and name hazily beyond reach. I wonder if I will ever find it again and will it smell as I remembered, fresh and lemony, grown up and real. In fact, as I work my way through the book I have been noting down scents which sound like they could be that very one, I will keep the list in my bag and maybe, just maybe I will come across that scent again.


The next few years saw a sucession of bad smells, I can still bring to mind the peculiar smell of Tweed and remember the various cheap gift sets that thrilled me through my early teenage years, there was Charlie of course, I remember the bottle and advertisements so clearly, all that they promised and I remember a bottle which brought to mind violets, I loved it because it reminded me of those little purple sweets, Parma Violets, I cannot recall the name, it was the sort of scent adored only by old ladies and young girls. Around the age of sixteen I began to develope my own strong tastes and desires. That Christmas I asked for Lou Lou. My goodness Lou Lou! Have you smelled it? At sixteen it was fantastic, sweet and strong, I loved that perfume, loved the blue coloured angled bottle, I loved to look at it on my table and loved that my school blazer and scarf smelled of Lou Lou all day long. If you sprayed my scarf with Lou Lou these days I doubt very much that I could get through the day without an enormous headache and a large dose of nausea but my sixteen year old self was immune to such things. I think perhaps there is just a small window of your life when you can wear a perfume like Lulu and for me 16 was that window.

By the following year I was wearing Dr Martin boots, wearing a lot of black clothing and eyeliner all topped off with bright red lipstick. I listened to the sort of music you pogo too and my boyfriends back combed their hair into messy, matted spikes at the weekend. Smelling sweet and girlish was out of the question. That Christmas I asked for Paloma Picasso and fancied myself very dramatic.

I am off to buy my new perfume right now, I have finally decided to commit to a change of scent, I think.... I will tell you about it in my next post and I would really like to hear about the perrumes you love and indeed what sends a shiver down your spine in a bad way too.


36 Comments:

Anonymous Cornflower said...

Oh, I'm so glad you like the book, Rebecca - it's a fantastic read, and such an interesting subject all round. Can't wait to see what you're going to buy!

Monday, January 11, 2010 11:38:00 am  
Anonymous mooncalf said...

I wear Calvin Klein Truth these days but Eternity can bring back my late teens like nothing else.

Monday, January 11, 2010 12:00:00 pm  
Anonymous dottycookie said...

Chanel No 5 it is for me, and has been since I was 23. I have tried many many others in the meantime but I always come back to Chanel.

Monday, January 11, 2010 12:29:00 pm  
Anonymous arianwen said...

I also remember my mum wearing channel no5 she still wears it to this day.My grandmother wore Chloe. I bought my daughter a bottle of that a couple of years ago and it suits her.
I wear a red one by hugo boss it smells nice and similar on everyone. My latest bottle is nearly to the end. Maybe it is time for a little reinvention. I look forward to seeing what you come back with.

Monday, January 11, 2010 12:43:00 pm  
Anonymous martha said...

I always loved the smell of Banana Republic W and Clinique Happy. Both of which I wore through college. But when I was pregnant with my first smells were so strong I stopped wearing anything and I just never began again.

Monday, January 11, 2010 1:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Interesting post because a. I have an extremely sensitive nose and b. my daughter is into scent in a big way these days and for Christmas she received two scents from Bath and Body Works, Vanilla noir, in cream form and Ps.I love You in a spray mist. When she sprays this I have to leave the house! The other day as I was gagging over this, her friend came over and said, "What's that delicious smell?"
I used to wear Lauren by Ralph Lauren but after my son was born I couldn't bear any artificial scents and still can't. My laundry detergent, fabric softener : all scent free. A little lavender spray doesn't come amiss. Has to be real, though.

Monday, January 11, 2010 2:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Ali said...

I am so thrilled to discover a fellow 16 yr old loulou wearer. Mine was a gift from my elder brother. He was a cracking present buyer. Being 6 years older than me, he used to get me whatever he got his girlfriend. It was a bonanza period for me!

I like citrussy things - interested to see what you choose!

Monday, January 11, 2010 4:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Jane said...

As a teen I wore lavender flower water which my Gran gave me, in my 20's White Musk Body shop, 30's Vera Wang or JLo my 40's i added Body Shop Rose as an alternative to Vera Wang - I often find JLo too much. I was Interested to read that there are other ladies out there who couldn't cope with perfume during pregnancy, I had to stop wearing perfume both times and even couldn't stand strong perfume on others around me - caused nausea resulting on me not going out much (worse first time around).
I always love flowery scents and have also worn Floris Jasmine and Lily of the Valley as well. I've never really found the perfect scent that I always wanted to wear. Cant wait to hear what you decide on. Jane x

Monday, January 11, 2010 4:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Charity said...

Like Jane, I wore the Body Shop's White Musk for years, and shudder when I smell it now. Not the best of times... I've been wearing 5th Avenue for a while, but would like to switch to something organic. I love the spicy, heavier scents in the winter, and something light & perhaps a bit oceany in the summer!

Monday, January 11, 2010 4:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Pomona said...

I remember buying violet scent for my mother when I was very small because I loved the painted violet on the bottle. Then until a couple of years ago I always wore Penhaligon Violet or Bluebell scent - but I found out that they contained phthalates, and read Pat Thomas's book 'What's in this stuff? and discovered what nasties are in most scents, shampoos,etc, and since then I stick to natural essential oil based numbers from companies like Akamuti, Neals Yard or Dr Hauschka. But I have never been able to find genuine violet essential oil, which is a bit of a tragedy!

Pomona x

Monday, January 11, 2010 5:32:00 pm  
Anonymous queenofthefroggers said...

Kenzo Flower is my favourite at the mament. I can't afford perfume though so pinch a squirt from the stores testers!

Monday, January 11, 2010 5:45:00 pm  
Anonymous AliceC said...

'Joy' by Patou - preferably bought from the shop in Paris.

Monday, January 11, 2010 7:21:00 pm  
Anonymous rachel said...

In my teens it was definitely Kiku, in its distinctive yellow plastic container. Later, I found that everything made me nauseous except Hermes' Caleche, so that's what I've stuck to for more years than I care to admit. But when I was little, and we avidly collected empty perfume bottles from our mothers and aunts, I can remember longing for a little blue glass bottle of Soir de Paris more than anything else....

Monday, January 11, 2010 7:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Pamalison said...

My favourites are Lanvin's Arpege, Bal a Versailles, Guerlain's L'Heure Bleu and YSL Rive Gauche. Hates are anything by Estee Lauder and anything lavender. Oh, and I used to wear Culpepper's Stephanotis all the time, but there don't seem to be any Culpepper shops any more.

Monday, January 11, 2010 8:18:00 pm  
Anonymous anna said...

smells are so powerful aren't they?
i was never brave enough to wear any scent as a teenager, and then didn't know where to start with choosing one as an adult. i took the plunge for my wedding and chose 'very valentino', which will always, always smell of my wedding day. beautiful :)
emboldened, i then chose a sharper gucci scent for variety at the duty free on honeymoon!

Monday, January 11, 2010 8:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Suzy said...

This post brings back memories indeed. About the age you were I received Lou Lou as well as a gift. That sweet and heavy overwhelming smell, I will never forget. A while after that, I don't exactly remember when, I received Coco as a gift, I still have it. A bit on the strong side for me and I only wear it in the wintertime. Sometimes.
I think you need a different perfume during summer and during winter. Untill today I didn't find one that fits all seasons. And my mother owns almost a perfume-shop, she has a bottle for every mood possible. Crazy how everybody is different.
I am curious to know what you have decided for....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 8:27:00 am  
Anonymous Lizzie said...

I was a little reluctant to go out with my husband when weI first met, so he invented a week of promises to persuade me to change my mind. One of the promises was that if I went out with him he would keep me in Chanel No5 for my whole life - whether I stayed with him or not (I did!!). That was 21 years ago and he has kept his promise.
I also wear Eau D'Issey sometimes, as I feel that if you dont have an alternative you lose the ability to smell it properly and end up putting too much on!! Good thougts about smell though...maybe its time to read Patrick Suskind's "Perfume" again....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 12:22:00 pm  
Anonymous kristina said...

Can't wait to find out what you decided on! Unfortunately G isn't keen on my favorite Diptyque scent, so I've been trying to find a new one... K x

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 2:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Georgina said...

Fascinating post! Good luck in your search - I look forward to the next episode!
Smells are so evocative aren't they. L'Aimant is my Nana. Anything freesia like is Margate Woolworths in the 70s.
'My' scent has been Perfumer's Workshop Tearose, since 1978 when it was first released. I love it and people are always wondering aloud where the roses are, it is such a true single note. I live in hope of finding a winter scent though. I want something warm and spicy, but I don't want to smell like a Christmas room spray!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 2:41:00 pm  
Anonymous ulli said...

how inspiring! i put the book already on hold......

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 5:55:00 pm  
Anonymous Nicole said...

I also loved Lou Lou when I was a teen. Oh the memories that just flooded back....

Nowadays, I still love to wear perfume, but so many people are sensitive to it (I work in a "no scent" workplace) so I usually spritz a little on in the evening or on the weekend. Right now I absolutely love "Blanc de Riz" by Lothantique, which has a very soft, clean "soapy" smell. I also love "Un Jardin en Méditerranée" by Hermès.

I'm very curious to see what fragrance you pick!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:42:00 am  
Anonymous Liz said...

The first perfume I was aware of was something called White Fire which came in a little red bottle and I remember going through a phase of wearing Tabu in my teens. These days I still avoid anything floral and always choose the more spicy scents. Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir is a current favourite. Oh yes, and I've ordered the book, too!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 10:09:00 am  
Anonymous cathleen said...

I wear Jessica McClintock. Have for years, and years, and years. My husband loves it, as does my adult children and my daughter-in-law who loves to smell it on her children. She says they always smell fresh and clean and can tell her babies were lavished with love because they smell like their Mema. What greater compliment can that be? Quite interested in hearing about what your new fragrance is. Great post, Rebecca!!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010 2:16:00 am  
Anonymous Raina said...

Hmmm, perfume. I am not much of a perfume wearer but I love essential oils and like to mix my own. Usually entails bergamot and something else that is citrusy. I love Champs Elysees by Guairlain.

Thursday, January 14, 2010 8:39:00 pm  
Anonymous kim said...

Just the thought of Chanel No. 5 evokes thoughts of my mom. It is so very much her signature scent. When I was very little, she work Arpege and My Sin, which were two very similar scents from Lavin. It amazes me that I can even pull that information out of my mental database. In 7th grade, Loves' Baby Soft was all the rage. Now perfume just makes me headachey...

Friday, January 15, 2010 2:45:00 am  
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