One very distinct memory I have from growing up in our Marshfield house is my mother's perfume collection. She had this bureau that took up an entire wall in her bedroom, the kind with an attached, similarly sized mirror. And the entire surface of the bureau was covered from edge to edge with perfume bottles.
There were too many to remember them all, but there was always a bottle of Chloe, Fidji by Guy Laroche, Jessica McClintock, and several Elizabeth Taylor fragrances...White Diamonds, Blue Diamonds, so on and so forth. And god almighty, she used to pour the stuff on...
Scents have an extremely strong impression on the human brain. I've heard that memory through familiar scent is more powerful than visual cues. I subscribe to this 900%. I can still remember exactly what a house with tatami mats smelled like in Japan. I found a tatami piece at a flea market in Wareham a few months back and stood there smelling it for at least five minutes. I basically got a memory-high off of it. I'm sure I must have gotten a few looks but I don't mind. I still remember the smell of my ex-lover's house, the smell of the ocean in winter growing up, the smell of the school bus, the darkroom in high school... but if you asked me to draw these things, I'd probably have some trouble.
This is precisely why I am particular about perfumes. Scent=Memory. And who wants to smell like everybody else...remember when the Calvin Klein cK fragrances were all the rage? Everybody smelled like everybody else. Let's face it, that was lame.
Buying perfume is a rare thing for me for two reasons: I am extremely picky, and good fragrances don't come cheap. You will not find anything intoxicating on the shelves of Walgreens. This is a fact. I usually go to TJ Maxx or Marshalls first. They have an extensive selection of designer perfumes, always. The problem is that the boxes are sealed. So before buying, I take a trip to Ulta or Sephora where I can actually sample the perfume before I kick out my hard earned cash. This is exactly how I found Cacharel's Amor Amor, one of my all time favorites: Smelled the $32.50 sample at Ulta, fell in love, got it for $12 at Marshalls...
So here are my favorites, collected over the past few years. Listed from left to right in the first picture:
1: Amor Amor by Cacharel: Soft and startling at the same time. Nothing else smells like this.
2:Dunhill Desire for women: Clean, but almost like licorice, in a good way.
3:Velvet Bloom by Gap: Gap has amazing fragrances, but I'm entirely reluctant to pay $30 for them. I found this at TJ Maxx for $2 because the spray cap was missing. I just replaced it with another from a different perfume bottle after a good rinse.
4:Par Amour Toujours by Clarins: Smells like straight up, clean rose blossoms. I think I'm going to use this more. A gift from Mom.
5: Baby Doll by Yves St. Laurent: This fragrance is just ten thousand percent female. Soft, light, sharp, PERFECT.
6:小さな完璧：(Chiisa na Kanpeki: A Tiny Perfect) By Blue Q. I didn't smell this one before I bought it. It was on clearance for $5 last year at TJ Maxx, and I won't lie, it was the Japanese that drew me to it. Luckily for me it is honestly the tiny perfect. Sweet and tart, yet not abrasive. The Japanese on the box says it's from fresh grass and cassis berry...thus started my obsession with cassis, which brings me to the next one...
7: Thymes Fig Leaf & Cassis. Like the most beautiful soap you have ever smelled. Clean, tart, snappy.
8 and 9: Roll-ons by Anthousa. White Tuberose is rose scented, but with a citrus sting.
Fig and vetiver is one of those perfumes you have to be intimately close to in order to detect it...incredibly soft and subtle, but once you catch it...
10: Cabotine De Gres: This is the most classic, traditional perfume I will probably ever wear. Part of it is reminiscent of typical upscale department store fragrances, but it has such a clean undertone. Cabotine is the first fragrance to incorporate ginger lily, a flower that blooms and dies within a few hours. I think that's just neat-o.
And let's not forget men's cologne. My #1 of all time would be Dunhill's Desire for Men, which inspired me to buy Desire for Women in the first place.
I first encountered Dunhill 8 years ago when I was searching for a Christmas present at Takashimaya for my first boyfriend, in Japan. I smelled dozens of samples, and decided on a Gucci cologne...went outside for a cigarette, and then changed my mind. Went back in, returned the Gucci, went for Dunhill. One of the best decisions I've ever made. Dunhill Desire for Men is the sexiest scent I have ever encountered. I do believe my ex is still an avid user. It's like testosterone meets clean, meets scandalous, meets just hot all around. I don't know what they put in it, but it screams hot sex, in a respectable, solid kind of way...if that's possible.