The subject came to mind after I had been writing a post on mothers, daughters, and perfume. If you didn’t care for the perfume you smelled on your mother, what would you have chosen instead? Mine wore Tabu, which I thought most inappropriate for a mother, but what would I have recommended to my mother, if she had been able to hear my advice at the age of thirty or so?
This is a delicate subject. Everyone who wears perfume wants to smell attractive, or at the very least not off putting to other people, but is perfume like clothing? Do we give off signals to others by virtue of the perfumes we wear? Do perfumes have semiotic sub-texts, the way that just about everything else in our lives seems to now, or are they purely a matter of marketing and the accidents of skin chemistry?
Tentatively, I would say that they do have some meaning. The individuals who saturate themselves in musk are not pointing out to the world the arm’s length at which they hold the animal world. Heck, if they’re wearing Muscs Khublai Khan or Le Labo’s Patchouli 24, they are pointing out their own beastliness, and its possible attractions.
But Mothers, being Mothers, need to reserve this sort of thing for date night, if they use it at all. What are the best scents for mothers?
Well, you knew that didn’t you? If she’s a working mom from an urban center maybe a floral aldehyde is best. It says, intelligent, tasteful, probably hard working, just as the floral says, feminine and nurturing. The smarter and more efficient the Mom the more I would nominate those Aldehydic florals.
Chypres are the preserve of the Tiger Mother. You know the one I mean. This Mother will stand there and stare at you while you bring out your dead; or alternatively your Chemistry grade. She’ll glare and ask you why the heck you can’t pull your socks up, mister? She’s a sure thing for scents like Ineke’s Gilded Lily. She’s good in Aromatics Elixir, or Azuree too. She’s a lady who watches Ps and Qs and keeps them (and you) in your respective places.
Alas, orientals are suspect for mothers, as indeed I suspected long ago when I worried about my mother’s choice of Tabu. A mother who wears Opium is affirming that she is the center of her own universe and that the universe in question is a pre-Copernican one, everything revolves around her. Efficiency and strictness seem preferable to whim induced anarchy. Even the suggestion of this is best avoided. You may wear Obsession and be the most responsible Mom on the block, but would you wear it to court during a Custody Hearing? No, of course not. There you are, the proper perfume should pass muster even in a courtroom.
This leaves us with the only other acceptable alternative for Moms, the Citrus scent, because fruity florals are just out having fun, and this is not the Mom’s mission in life, so we will pass over them. Citruses best for the busy Mom who lives a life of vehicular hyperactivity, and tries to talk her kids into a similarly participative lifestyle. Light Blue and O de Lancome are best for this type.
But then I take a step back and look at me, the wearer of heaven only knows what next week so long as it fits in with my blogging schedule. Animalics, Orientals, Gourmands, Tobacco scents whirl past in a nonsensical rotation. My child ought to be a mess, but she seems okay for now.