This is an illusion. You can’t really ever have perfume flowing along your veins but there is a quality certain perfumes share which makes them a great deal easier to adopt and to wear, and that is this phenomenon of “melting” into the skin.
So many perfumes have passed through my hands, and so few have stayed with me over time that I have developed a sense of those perfumes which might actually make a home with me based on a very simple criterion: surface or subcutaneous? If I don’t feel that I’ve absorbed a perfume and am now radiating it, then I seldom get to the point of finishing a bottle.Frederic Malle addresses this issue in a video for Barney’s and describes the perfumes that lie on the skins’s surface as “being like costume jewelry”. I’m not sure I’d use that image but do think that a perfume to become you has to become part of you. If it does then the scent has succeeded with you and you will be back to buy multiple bottles.
One scent that nearly succeeded with me in just that way was Coty’s L’Aimant. There is something about the formula of L’Aimant that is easier to live with than its cousin’s No 5 – at least for me. The notes for No 5 ( for the edp listed by Nigel Groom in his guide Perfume) include head notes of ylang-ylang, neroli and aldehydes. Then you get the distinctive heart of jasmine ,rose, the signature Chanel iris, and lily of the valley. The base
features sandalwood, vetiver, musk, vanilla, civet and oakmoss.
Coty’s L’Aimant was created by Vincent Roubert in 1927, a year after Coty bought Rallet Co.including the formula of Ernest Beaux’s prototype of No 5, Rallet No1. Under Coty’s art direction L’Aimant as oposed to No 5 is warm, and is designed to expand almost exponentially on a woman’s skin. The head notes contain neroli but also bergamot, strawberry, and peach. For most people it’s the peach note that tends to sink into the epidermis.
The heart of L’Aimant is simpler than No5’s, including jasmine, rose and ylang-ylang, and the list of notes for the base is simpler too: vanilla, vetiver and sandalwood. But the list does not convey the actual sense of L’Aimant on skin at all.
With No 5 I have always gotten a chic slightly bitter odor in the beginning a tang related to Campari’s though not so sharp. L’Aimant says, “Come closer,” No 5 says, “No Solicitors,”. In keeping with this companionable tone L’Aimant emphasizes the warm, indoor scent of aldehydes; the waxy/citrus scent of the earliest of them, and also a faint saltiness, the same seawater concentration you smell in sweat and skin. Only then do you detect fruit and that fruit is a warm, cooked peach. The florals come next, still accompanied by aldehydes, and then there is a luxurious surprise, just before the dry down starts you get myrrh.
The myrrh is a distinctive touch and even though I’ve never seen a list of notes for L’Aimant that mentions myrrh, I’m morally convinced it’s there and that it was Chris Sheldrake’s inspiration when he created another floral aldehyde for Serge Lutens in 1995 namely La Myrrhe. ( By the way, that is a floral aldehyde. I just tried La Myrrhe again at Barney’s in NYC last week and La Myrrhe was as floral aldehydic as they come.)
Chanel does not sink into my skin and equally neither does la Myrrhe, but L’Aimant does and I suspect that Francois Coty in his obsessive insistence upon quality worked that skin friendliness into his perfume. He used to wear all his creations, and to keep the bottles in his bedroom during their development in order to have a sense of what the product felt like when used consistently.
I must be wrong though. No 5 has always out sold L’Aimant which means that women find No5 completely easy to adopt. L’Aimant is after all five years younger though it has stayed on the market since 1927. “The passionate woman’s perfume” was re-released in 1995 (coincidentally the same year as La Myrrhe) when it became the best selling perfume in the UK.
Skin, not trend, or possibly even price is the barrier to cross, Frederic Malle is shrewd enough to know this. It’s not enough to be on skin, you have to be in skin.