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.
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.
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.
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
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?