I have a confession to make. I’m what you might call “promiscuous” when it comes to perfume.
The usual suspects, old and new.
(clockwise from front right: Petite Chérie, La Petite Robe Noire, Portrait of a Lady,
Pear Cassis, Un Jardin après la Mousson, Manifesto, and Orange Sanguine)
I’ve spoken at large about my obsession with makeup (especially lipstick, these days), but I’ve kept mostly mum about my embarrassingly large fragrance stash.
Growing up, I knew what a signature scent was in theory, but in practice, it seemed as abstract and unreal as the Yeti or Loch Ness Monster. It also had an allure that I seemed to lack, a girl growing up in Brooklyn. A signature scent seemed to evoke a chic Parisian woman who walks by and you turn your head because she smells so good and you don’t know what it is. And, bien sur, she won’t tell.
The romance of fragrance still feels very French to me as an adult. I still assume every French woman has a signature scent, something that is not available in the United States, and that they keep the name as secret as their internet passwords.
I can’t even say that it evoked a sophistication I didn’t have yet, as a teenager (or even now as an adult, big geek that I am), and that’s why I shied away from one. Honestly? I just liked smelling different every day. It was fun. It was like playing a different person every day. (I still do this with my makeup. I rarely look the same from day to day.)
So I was the girl buying every new perfume when it came out, desperate to get my hands on the latest and greatest. There was Pleasures and Trésor and Happy and my cherry-blossom-smelling G Gigli and my wear-in-winter-only tuberose Fracas. There were the two scents that just smelled so damn good on me, Eternity and Chaos. And let’s not forget Samsara and the summer I wore only Sexy Graffiti. Or the first time I went to Paris, and I followed Suzy Gershman’s advice and went to the most amazing duty-free perfume store ever, Catherine (which has since closed down, lucky for my wallet). I think my sister and I walked away from there with 4 new perfumes (in addition to the Spring Flower I had already bought at Creed), including a 3.4 oz tester of J’adore that was pure perfume (parfum!), not eau de anything. (For only $100!)
And, yes, I spent all that money. Because, as you know, perfume don’t come cheap. I actually feel faint when I think of the money I’ve spent on perfume over the years, especially considering how many of them it turned out I couldn’t wear.