One December about a decade ago I heard an increasingly annoyed exchange between an old gentleman and one of the SA s at a branch of Douglas perfumes. The subject was Caron’s Bellodgia. She said here’s the bottle and he said no, not the eau de toilette, I want the perfume!
The SA could be excused for thinking him a bit eccentric. He was clearly at least in his seventies and no doubt he was getting picayune about something that didn’t matter. The fuss, the codgery, the annoyance all had to do with the fact that he wanted to buy his wife a bottle of Bellodgia for Christmas. It was her favorite and he wanted the right kind, and they were a perfume shop, so why didn’t they have it? And if they didn’t have it, why didn’t they order it? Honestly, did he have to tell them their business?
Even I thought he was being too particular.
Ah, but I was so naive then, and I’m cynical and savvy now. I realize now that with Carons, the extract is the business. You really need to buy it in that form.
Oh, I suppose some of the masculines are okay as edts, but for the good stuff from Caron, you must get extract.
I wear Bellodgia and I have done for years, even though my dog hated it. But here’s the point – I wore it in eau de parfum. You could still get that around the turn of the century, and now your choices are stark: extract or EDT. My Bellodgia was a triple-distilled floral first rose, then lily of the valley and then a grand finale of carnations.
BUT – now that I have the old extract that Meg of Parfumieren and I found in an antique shop, well, I know why that gentleman’s wife was so insistent on the extract.
You see it’s a much more complicated story; the difference between being the drab little Joan Fontaine of Rebecca and being Rebecca herself. In other words, all the difference in the world. The first version is fresh and slender and rather naïve, a bit of a ninny really, but the second is rich and flamboyant and decadent, with taste and seduction part of the package. Smelling like this you feel that self assurance must come with the territory of being you. There is the invisible bouquet walking about with you, huge and extravagant and the sort of tribute you receive on a weekly basis from the men who end up enslaved by you and your intoxicating chic and wit and – oh wait, I have to take my kid to the orthodontist.
This is what the old extract does, it transforms you into to that supremely successful and wicked woman that Rebecca was and out of the schlumpy reality that, let’s face it, most of us inhabit.
Mind you, I’d rather be taking my kid to the orthodontist than grappling with an insane housekeeper, or an aloof husband, in a lovely mausoleum of an estate, but I don’t mind dressing up in all that glamor for an afternoon, and that’s what Bellodgia in extract does for you. It’s almost worth re-writing Jane Eyre for, all over again.