Do We Adopt Our Perfumes?


new Bottle of Anne Pliska from Luckyscent

new Bottle of Anne Pliska from Luckyscent

Long ago when I first started this blog I asked the same simple question, and in the years since then have become more convinced of the reply: we adopt.  This may not be the experience of my readers.  There may be several people out there who find that when making a selection they choose simply the best made, the most beautiful perfume, not the trendy one or the one their best friend wears so well.  Still I’d make book that for most of us there is something in certain perfumes that takes up residence on our skins and we scarcely know why.

Candy display from  An approximation of Anne Pliska on skin

Candy display from An approximation of Anne Pliska on skin

This probably has a great deal to do with how we encounter a perfume initially.  If you smell a fragrance on someone else first and love it, subsequently buy and wear the perfume, that is pure adoption.  Not a few fragrances have gone on people’s skins in just this way.  Then there is the chance encounter that leaves us with “our” scent, although we may not have anticipated the discovery.  You know, the impromptu gift from the boyfriend you didn’t like, but whose perfume you love, or the perfume you found at an estate sale, or the one from the flea market.  The common denominator shared by these fragrances is wear, the large number of times the scent ends up on you dividing its time spent in the bottle. When you re-purchase you know you have adopted a scent.

Neil Morris' Afire from Containing more berry and citrus and caramel notes

Neil Morris’ Afire containing  berry and citrus and caramel notes like Anne Pliska

Even for the perfumistas who have been trying things on for years and who love formulas in theory because they are masterpieces of perfumery, there is the phenomenon of the many scents that don’t get used and the very few which are emptied and that we are ultimately never without.

Take me for instance.  At the time, I was writing about several new releases a year, but what was I wearing?  Anne Pliska, that’s what.  I was slightly ashamed of myself for loving Anne so much because Anne wasn’t fashionable, classic, or even French, but that was what I wore. Anne Pliska was in rotation with other things, but I kept on buying even when other perfumes fell out of favor with me. Infact, if perfumes stayed exactly the same I would still wear: Eau d’ Hadrian (Annick Goutal) Anne Pliska (original formula), Cologne Sologne (original formula) and Caron Poivre.  Four perfumes count em.  Why?  Because of all the things I’ve owned or tried these were the ones I actually repeatedly wore, and repeatedly bought, or to put this another way, I adopted them.

Sylvaine Delacorte from The Daily Mail UK

Sylvaine Delacorte
from The Daily Mail UK

In the course of time I found that formulas changed which forced me  to change my roster as well.  Now I wear my Carons (old formulas) and old de Nicolais and some Neil Morris (especially things like Afire that smell like…drum roll…Anne Pliska).  It’s adoption all over again.

Some very sophisticated people in the perfume world stick to one

Oriental Brulant  n orange vanilla similar to Anne Pliska

Oriental Brulant a Guerlain orange vanilla  amber scent similar to Anne Pliska

fragrance, Sylvaine Delacorte  the artistic director at Guerlain being an example.  She wears L’Heure Bleue.  That’s a perfectly viable stratagem.  If I had my back against the wall and could only have one perfume these days I might well pick Afire because it smells to me like Anne Pliska only better.  I might toy with another scent for summer but those summer scents would probably change.  Seem odd for someone who writes about perfume?  Well, maybe, but this does just underline the truth about fragrance which is that practice trumps theory, that wearing trumps collecting, that perfume should not scent your cabinet-but your skin.

Which perfumes have you adopted?

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10 thoughts on “Do We Adopt Our Perfumes?

  1. ‘Take up residence on our skins’ is an excellent way of putting it. I think it is indeed a sign of sophisticated taste which, ahem, I’m sure you and I have, that we keep coming back to a handful of favourites. It’s unsatisfying to be endlessly trying new things, never wearing the same fragrance twice in six months.

    I’ve recently sold and given away about 15 bottles, some of them masterpieces that after much testing I was convinced I loved. Partly with the proceeds I bought just one: Chanel No. 19 EDT. When I counted back, I realised that this will be the seventh bottle (of different concentrations of course) of No 19 that I have bought since the mid-1980s. (Which is not to say that I have not loved other things along the way of course.)

    Not too many mainstream houses would devise a fragrance in the expectation that someone would still be wearing it 30 years later. More’s the pity.

  2. You are so right about the major houses not creating perfumes for the long run. No 19 is so well worked out, just the right amount of synthetics, and the right amount of iris, that the results are lastingly wonderful.

    You’re right too that you’ve really gotten into a partnership with that fragrance. 19 is certainly sophisticated too, but I’m not so sure Anne Pliska is exactly. It’s been described on Luckyscent as “Exotic dancer turned gold-digging wife of an oil baron shows up late and slightly drunk to a luncheon party at the country club, this is the perfume she wears.” UM. But I do still like the stuff and Afire perhaps even more. Oh well, the nose knows what it wants 🙂

  3. Adoption, hmm? The ones that stay with you year after year and tend to be the things that your family says “smell like you.” Yes.

    Vintage Emeraude. MG Plum. Le Temps d’une Fete. Possibly No. 19, as I wear it frequently and can’t see myself being without it.

    (Incidentally, I am locked out of my blog and trying to fix that state of affairs. GAAAAH.)

    1. You realize you’re the second person to mention Chanel No19 as a wardrobe staple? That is one wonderfully worked out perfume, not a wrong note in it.
      Sorry to hear that you’re locked out. I tried commenting twice recently on your site but was not allowed to do so. We tried fixing the problem but the site still didn’t like it. Oh well. You have WordPress? I find that I get doorstepped for an hour or two at a time with mine.

      1. “Locked out” was a euphemism for describing the problem which nobody on WP community forums has been able to untangle for me.

        I forgot my blog password (Firefox usually remembers it for me) and clicked the “please reset my password” button. SO it did, and I reset it, and NOW… I am no longer an admin on my own blog.

        And I can’t figure out how to fix that. I could spend three hours on chat with tech support and pay for it. Meanwhile, I’m working on some fiction and can’t be bothered with it.

        1. Groan, Have had troubles with WordPress, both here and on the Hub’s history blog. Both have um… imploded from time to time.
          Generally though we have wasted (I mean spent) much time fixing the implosions we have not had to pay for any of troubleshooting.

  4. I have adopted a few lately…L’Erbolario Meharees, Diptyque Volutes, Dior Ambre Nuit to name but three. Comforting orientals as a rule are the ones most likely to find a forever home on my wrist.

  5. I remember you writing about Meharees and yes it sounds like the kind of perfume one does wear as opposed to thinking one wears…very different.

    Dior Ambre I have not run across, but as I am ferrying the daughter in to the Mall Extraordinaire today, I will try and track some down. So many people love amber, and as you can see even I wear it-in the form of AP- my daughter describes amber as, “Really good smells like peanut butter.” Do we smell like peanut butter?

  6. I try a lot of new perfumes but since I almost never write about them all I do is to spend several hours with them on my wrist. But almost every day I wear one of the perfumes from my collection. Since I rotate them well, many of them get some skin time. But if I had to, I would probably be able to limit my perfume wardrobe by 10 absolute favorites + 2-3 “passing fancies” per year. No 19 would be one of the 10.

  7. No 19 gets another vote, and does the iris note have anything to do with it? There is something about NO19 that is just about irresistible, maybe more so for a number of people than NO5.

    Actually, this may be one of the hallmarks of a great perfume, that it’s wearable and lovable to many people. Patricia de Nicolai was quoted as saying something like that once, that no perfume was great that wasn’t worn. I guess No 19 passes that test.

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