There is a quote about perfume, and for the life of me I can’t remember to whom it’s attributed, but the translation is, “Perfume should be like love, it should strike a person from the very first contact.” Which is a pretty fair description of infatuation.
This is one of those experiences perfume lovers are always on the lookout for and enjoy inordinately when they do happen. How often though does it really strike? In my own case I have to say very few times.
If I’m honest, I’ve fallen for perfumes about four times in my life, meaning that I loved them from the first and really don’t know why: a heavy old woody oriental Jacques Fath’s Expression, Balenciaga’s Cialenga, Caron’s Alpona, and Penhaligon’s Lily and Spice. Well there’s a pattern here, I seem to like them tall, dark, and green.
Expression is really and truly gone these days but it was a dark ambery perfume and Bois d’Armenie is a much better one in its way though it is not green at all, still it fills in for Expression, Cialenga is gone too, but Alpona I still have and pull out when I need a lift, or to remember what I really love in perfume. Alpona makes me roll my eyes back in my skull and blink contentedly like the cat after a good dinner.
Near misses, that is love affairs of the nose that never quite got off the ground, are much more common. There was a week once when I was sure I could not live without Or des Indes (Maitre Parfumier et Gantier) but it turned out that I could perfectly well. I also thought that Eau de Ciel (Annick Goutal) was something I could not do without, that was also wrong. I thought that Shalimar and I could live happily, but she was just too civet-y in her personal habits as was her sibling Mouchoir de Monsieur and the cohabitations came to an end.
More enduring have been the affairs of the heart based on long term affection (Vanille Tonka, Cologne Sologne, Eau de Hadrian, Bois de Portugal/New York, Chant d’Aromes, Tabac Blond, Poivre, and Nuit de Noel) all those perfumes have stayed with me for lengthy terms and made me happy. But… they have never made me irrational. The skies will not cave in on me if I can’t find a bottle. Even I have my limits of total idiocy, though they are rather elastic, and I won’t pay five hundred dollars for vintage Tabac Blond.
Now, bar the fact of the collection and the hobby, I have to wonder if I were left with a limited choice what would be the result? My guess is I would stick with Alpona, and Plus Que Jamais (because I have grown to love it, and Bois d’Armenie, because ditto, and try to find another ^%**@! bottle of Lily and Spice. Tabac Blond would stay in rotation because my husband adores it, and that would take care of my collection.
However what would become of my rose perfumes? My tobacco scent collection? Would Lily and Spice be enough leather for me the leather fiend? What about those vanilla craving weeks in winter? Honestly, I can’t say for sure, but I think that when it comes to affairs of the heart even if they’re channeled through your nose honesty is paramount.
How many times have you truly, and madly, fallen for a bottle?