Till the Weekend Do Us Part

An 18th century couple

Married Couple  by Jacques Dumont 1733, Notice the dog, symbol of faithfulness.

Once upon a decade I had a signature perfume and that time is so far behind me now that I have trouble remembering what it was.  Oh yes, Chant d’Aromes, and in the summer Eau de Hadrian.  It was pretty halcyon,  you never had to think about what to put on.  It was always the same stuff.

I wonder what would happen if I wore the same perfume for a work week?  The question was which perfume to choose for this signature experiment?  I wasn’t picking any of my regular choices.  That wouldn’t be fair. So my list includes a varied selection of things I have but don’t wear, in sample form, the sample being large enough to wear for five days.

So  a random draw commenced, an unscientific one admittedly.  I put seven perfumes in a bag, shook it slightly and closed my eyes, first vial touched was IT. They were:

  1. Papillon Angelique
  2. Etat Libre Vraie Blonde
  3. Krigler Established Cognac
  4. Neil Morris for Takashimaya
  5. Le Labo Poivre 23
  6. Vero Kern Onda
  7. Hermes Vetiver Tonka
This innocuous gentleman is Giacomo Casanova by Mengs

This innocuous gentleman is Giacomo Casanova by Mengs

That was the easy part.  Laugh if you like, but the hard part was actually abiding by the choice.  Even for a week, fidelity has become hard for me.  I flit, I flirt, and am as untrue a fragrance lover as ever lived and just didn’t think I could stay off the perfume roundabout for a whole five days.

Anyway the choice fell on Onda.  There we were Onda and I, in an impromptu intimate relationship, anyhow for a week. It’s ridiculous but my second action was to put away all the other choices so there couldn’t be any second guessing.  Onda was the one and there wasn’t going to be any whining or midnight candy calls to Le Labo Poivre 23.  Fidelity meant fidelity.

The longer this experiment went on, the more sympathy (and this is appalling) for Lotharios I developed. Still the effort was worth making if only to see what a signature scent feels like again and so, on went the Onda.

Vero kern's Onda in extract

Vero Kern’s Onda in extract

Now Onda is a perfume about which I know little.  I’ve followed Vero Kern reflexively from a distance but don’t know her work and have this sample courtesy Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume, but honestly only tried it once and drew few conclusions except that Onda was animalic. In other words this week of perfume matrimony was beginning to look like “Married to a Stranger”.

Day One: So this morning I have to say that Onda strikes me as a leathery chypre.  There’s a strong slightly salty animal pelt note and something else, maybe castoreum?  Anyway there is also a delightful floral floating above all the fur, and since this is half way through February, I’m grateful for a few petals.  The heart is a high grade floral and just lovely.

An hour later and Onda is less woody, leathery and salty, but is also much less flowery.  This has become an expensive leather jacket perfume.  By the evening of our first day together we have quarreled. I think Onda’s too dirty. This perfume clearly has other things on its agenda than  personal hygeine .  Already I want to return to my long suffering perfume spouse Vanille Tonka.

Day Two: I’ll say, this Onda’ s tenacious. I woke up this morning smelling as if a mouse

Mermaid at Brighton Onda does make you wonder if you wash enough...

Mermaid at Brighton Onda does make you wonder if you wash enough…

had peed on both wrists and this from an application that was 18 hours old! As a diversion, I sprayed Apres L’Ondee on a kleenex.  This is not really cheating, I maintain. Nobody but Onda is going on my skin. Maybe this is a technicality, and how soon to dab again?

Day Three: OK we’re the odd couple. This thing is animalic with a capital A and the note which just gets stuck in my nostrils is civet.  Really, really determined, hanging on forever, through showers and hand washing, and everything else: civet.

Day Four: So I’m getting used to Onda.  Can’t say it’s my favorite perfume, but I’m getting accustomed to its sequence: slightly green, flowery (my favorite part by far) then its’ woody spicy section and finally its’ civet. My beef is that the civet part stays on so much longer than anything else.

Day Five: Today which saw the last of my sample, ironically I hardly noticed the animalic facet of Onda. It went on as per usual, and I had no problems with the formula, proof positive that familiarity breeds content.

Conclusion: if you let yourself get accustomed to a perfume for long enough, even a random choice can work perfectly well as a signature scent.  It might be easier to start with something you actually like.  This particular perfume Onda had a few advantages.  It was very well made, with good sillage, clarity, and a very long lasting time indeed.  I suspect Onda would be excellent on men, and its good quality makes me think I should try Rozy and Mito asap.

As for Onda, I would never have picked this scent but I have to admit I kind of miss it!

Be Sociable, Share!

7 thoughts on “Till the Weekend Do Us Part

  1. I’m not sure I see the point in this experiment… Isn’t the idea of a “signature scent” is to wear monogamously a perfume that a wearer likes? How does forcing yourself to wear continuously a perfume, with which you’re barely familiar, relate to a signature scent?

    To tell you the truth, I think I would have probably felt differently had you chosen Mito or Kiki for your experiment. But just a thought of having to wear Onda for five days makes me shiver: it was that bad on my skin, I wouldn’t want to inflict it either on myself or on those around me. But I can kind of see how after the repeated exposure I could grew fond of perfume, about which I initially felt indifferent. Not sure, though, it could be to the point where I’d consider it to be a signature scent.

    • Perversely (and i do admit it’s perverse) I wanted to discover if a random scent can be “adopted”. Or whether i could do it.

      Now Onda was a challenge. REALLY a challenge in fact. I just can’t take that much civet. You did make me laugh though, because in fact I came this close to abandoning the whole attempt.

      If I ever do this again with a Vero Kern, I’m going with Mito!

  2. This reminds me of the sort of situation where someone who may not be much of a perfume wearer receives perfume as a gift. They wear it regularly in appreciation of the gift and the giver, not because they really love the stuff. But gradually it becomes familiar and they get to like it. Perhaps it would not have been their first choice, but they wear it in, like a pair of shoes. They don’t own much perfume and this just something to spray and forget. (I tend to wear the same pair of silver stud earrings most days of the week because they go with most things.) Probably the bottle will not be replaced unless the original giver notices that the first bottle is drained.

    This is how most people wear perfume, I reckon, especially men. Perfume is not something to be thought about much. It’s not how I wear perfume and I agree with Undina that wearing something you only half like seems a waste of skin time unless you really think it has hidden depths yet to be dsicovered.

    But there’s a lot to be said for having a small, carefully chosen collection of perfumes you can wear regularly, which cover most situations, and which you know well. The amount of choice in the market now is bewildering and rather stressful. A collection that is so large that it would take a year to wear everything in it would make me anxious.

    In any case, much of the ‘choice’ out there in the market is repetitious and derivative, even in the niche sector.

    • I guess in the past women most women were in the situation you describe: wearing gifts exclusively. Matrons didn’t buy their own scent. Around 1900 the novelist M.M. Kaye describes her father buying her mother’s perfume which was Le Trefle Incarnat by L.T. Piver. This wasn’t unusual and she goes on to describe a governess who, by contrast did buy her own scent, a synthetic violet in which she macerated herself ( wonder if it was Guerlain’s Violette a Deux Sous?). But she was single,supporting herself, and consequently making her own purchases.
      Mrs Kaye was lucky, her husband had excellent taste, her fragrance was French and sophisticated. But imagine not even choosing your own perfume! It’s enough to make a suffragette really hot under her starched collar!

      I decided to try this and see if I could stand what my grandmothers put up with. You can indeed adapt to almost (almost, that civet was hard I tell you!) anything.

      Nowadays a wardrobe is a very good idea. It keeps you sane in a perfume drenched world. And Amen! Too much niche stuff is repetitive and derivative.

  3. Well, now you see why I gave you my sample of Onda – it was too much for me too in the civet department, though I am a big fan of Mito in all its incarnations!

    I know what Undina means about it being an odd way to go about choosing a signature scent, but I hear your logic – the arranged marriage analogy is a good one. And it sort of worked, almost, despite you two not being natural bedfellows.

    Enjoy reconnecting with your Lotharios!

    • Hm…. given your comments over the years about civet… Yes, Onda would not have been on your list of favorites!

      That said, a good scent for a lot of men. Really Onda is a peppery vetiver with a civet dry down. A lot of guys could carry it off. The curious part was I stopped being aware of the civet four days in, though my poor family probably smelled it.

      Now I am wearing Guerlain’s pale, lady like Tokyo on the re-bound :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *