Everyone has one of these stories, either concerning what you remember your Mother wearing, or else what your Mimaw wore, but either way, their choices influence yours. It’s inevitable. Some mothers never wear perfume, and their daughters react against the austerity; others had mothers who over-spritzed, and a lifetime of no scent can be the result.
However the nicest tradition perhaps, is the generational carry over of a perfume: the mother who always wore Joy, and so the daughter does as well, for instance. It’s lovely, but seldom seems to happen. People often want to distance themselves from what their mothers wore, more than they want to reprise them. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when remembering does take on some importance.
My own Mother wore scent very infrequently. When she did, the scent was the musky behemoth Tabu. Unfortunately, my first memory of perfume as it related to my mother was that she wore this Tabu, something I thought was far too loud for her. She switched to Fidji finally, and oh, the relief! But although I tried wearing the Fidji later, it did not suit me. It was only in her later years that she found a spiritual address in perfume, and that was Diorissimo.
Diorissimo was beautiful, this being the period when the formula was roughly still itself. What a fragrance it was! I once walked past a woman in the stairwell of the National Gallery in Washington wearing it. The lift was such that you could smell her sillage two stories above her. It was dissipating off the stairs she had just finished walking down, and the scent of lilies filled that cold stone staircase as if there were a huge bed of them right outside the window in full bloom, though in fact all the windows were sealed shut and it was raining outside.
My mother had few occasions on which to point out to passers by, that she was wearing one of the most beautiful perfumes in the world, because she seldom used her bottle. She hoarded it for special outings and for celebrations, of the kind that don’t happen often during the average lifespan.
So, after she died, I opened those bottles up. Perfume, like life, is for the living, and so I wear what I have, give away or sell what I don’t, so that someone else will, and never bother to wait for occasions or special days. Never worry if what I wear is expensive or cheap, only ask myself if it’s beautiful or not, and let the rest pass. Mother taught me a most valuable lesson in reverse, that whatever is there, is there to be used and enjoyed. Pleasure put off is often pleasure gone for good. So don’t wait. Wear whatever you want to wear today.
As to my daughter, I have no idea what she will think of perfume twenty years from now. I hope she likes it. Right now her favorite perfume is Marc Jacob’s Dot. Maybe she’ll have one, maybe not, but as I said to the SA at Caron, it will be a while yet before I can get her to smell the merits of En Avion, or Diorissimo for that matter.
After all, I still don’t get Tabu.
What’s your inter- generational perfume story?