Monday, March 21, 2011

Perfumed Eras Of My Life

Do you believe perfume memories live forever?

I do.

All of the perfumes I have worn tell a story, but a few stand out because of the era they mark.

Pavlova by Payot

At 20 years old, I was in a terrible car accident. My boyfriend was killed and I was really lucky to survive. And yes, everything you hear about survivor guilt and post traumatic stress syndrome is real. 

Shortly after I returned home from the hospital, a package arrived from my favorite aunt.  It was a bottle of Pavlova.  I wore it constantly, but only for a while.  

Though I have never smelled it since, I would recognize Pavlova instantly, and it would transport me back to that time as if it happened yesterday.

Magie Noire by Lancome 

When this first came out, in the early 1980's, I didn't pay much attention.  My birthday was coming up and the man in my life (pre B-man) asked me what I wanted.  I told him I wanted to go shopping and pick out a nice perfume.  

He brought home Magie Noire.

Of course, I was pissed because I wanted to choose the perfume myself.  In hindsight, I realize that the original Magie Noire was lovely, but the circumstances surrounding this gift dulled my appreciation.

If only I had a bottle now...
Sung by Alfred Sung

This original beauty (pre-reformulation) marks one of the happiest times of my life.  B-man and I were a new couple and I was just coming to know the truth about being loved and being in love myself.  

Our early years were simply magic.  

On a joint shopping trip, I discovered Sung - right as it was being introduced - and knew it was the perfume to celebrate our happiness.  It provided the aromatic background to our wedding day and perfectly matched the delight and depth of our life together.

Now, Sung is a shadow of its former self.  But in the beginning, it was citrus and freesia and woods and simply divine. Sung was my signature scent - my only scent - for almost 10 years. 

Incanto by Ferragamo 

Our little Shih Tzu, named Josie, was a rescue dog that we adopted from a friend involved with our local shelter.  Josie was found wandering on a busy street, her fur matted as if she had been on her own for weeks.  

She was afraid of almost everything; lightning, wind and rain.  We fell in love with her immediately.

Taking care of her was always a priority and B-man made his regular appointment to get her teeth cleaned.  It was a Friday and we looked forward to that evening when we could spoil Josie. 

But she died during the procedure.

Numb and grief-stricken, we could hardly stand to be in the house because everything reminded us of her.  So we left and wandered around in our familiar places, holding hands like little kids, trying to find some peace.  I bought Incanto unsniffed, desperate to feel better.  To feel anything but awful.

Although very nice, Incanto is a perfume I rarely wear.  But I keep it close to remind me of our Josie.

Jungle L'Elephant by Kenzo

The moment I first smelled 'Jungle,' I fell in love. Spicy, rich suede filled my senses, which resulted in an immediate purchase.  Mom loved it, too, and I surprised her with a bottle for Mother's Day.

Several years before Mom died, we had a misunderstanding that resulted in silence between us for a couple of months.  When we began communicating, Mom said, 'I'm glad we resolved things because now I can wear Jungle again.'  She always understood the power of perfume as it relates to emotion.  

I miss that about her.

What perfumes mark significant times in your life?

Photo from


  1. What a beautiful of my favorites. While not the perfumista you are, I also associate so many people and memories with perfume. Bob is Shalimar, Joel is Opium. The sense of smell is such a powerful part of our memory. Loved your thoughts about Josie; I miss her big eyes and happy spirit.

  2. "I'm glad we resolved things because now I can wear Jungle again." - Wow! I know that feeling. Music also has the power to take me back to the past and dredge up beautiful or painful memories.

    CK One, Eternity, Sunflowers (which I didn't own but everyone else did), and Egoiste take me right back to junior high. Gucci Rush reminds me of college.

  3. I believe that too. Very interesting post!

  4. I need to go home and give my dog a million extra kisses :-/

  5. Hi Mermaid - you're so right about the power of smell, and I remember all of the stages you mention. Opium will always be yours in my mind.

    Five years later, we still cry talking about Josie. Her story, her vulnerability and her vast ability to love will be with us always. Thanks for remembering her, too.

  6. Elisa, hello! Music does have a similar power to take us back - I can often even remember exactly what I was thinking, way back when, when I hear certain songs. Like a mechanism just waiting to be triggered.

    CK One and Eternity owned the damn world at one point. Both have a solid place in my history, too.

    Always good to hear from you.

  7. Marina, thanks for your comment. I really appreciate your support and regular visits.

    It's like my mind (maybe all minds) stores different smells forever and then they are triggered when least expected. Perhaps it's meant to remind us that memory, events and loved ones are never far away.

    I hope that's true.

  8. Gretchen, hello! By all means, shower your doggy with kisses! Our pets have added so much to our lives and the energy they bring never goes away. Even when they do.

    Thanks for your comment!

  9. Such a beautiful post. Josephine, thank you for sharing.

    All my perfume memories are very positive so far and I really wish they stayed this way (I know it's impossible but I wish).



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