My love of Perfume

As a young girl I loved my Mother's scent. I knew that not every Mum wore perfume and understood that it was an elegant and sophisticated choice.

I was in the third grade, at school, when she was suddenly rushed to the hospital with a brain aneurism. It was terrifying to be quickly gathered from class and randomly allocated to the homes of various neighbors and friends. No-one explained the severity of the emergency but just that "Mummy was very sick". 

It all seemed so surreal. Mothers don't get sick and leave their children! I worried about whether she would die as I was scurried out the door but suddenly thought to quickly grab her pillow. I buried my head in the soft down feathers and was immediately comforted by the lingering warm, smell of her perfume. It made me feel close to her as I prayed for her safe return.

She wore Maja; a spicy fragrance that lingered in every space after she left the room and seemed to reside everywhere, in all kinds of other nooks and crannies in the house.

Perfume was first made in 1370 at the command of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary.  It quickly became a major industry in the south of France, primarily used by the wealthy to mask body odor! The court of Louis XIV used scents which were applied daily not only to their skin but also to clothing, fans and furniture and by the 18th century, aromatic plants were being grown all over France to provide for the growing perfume industry.

Smells conjure up memories; often emotionally sensitive memories and of course Perfume is very subjective.

Much like musical notes make up a song and various shades of colors turn into a painting, fragrance notes are necessary to make a perfume. Each perfume is developed in layers and described by the notes that explain the scents that make up the finished fragrance. The presence of one note changes the perception of the others.

The TOP notes are the one perceived immediately upon application of the perfume and consist of strongly scented  molecules that evaporate quickly. They form the initial impression of the perfume. The scents of this note class like citrus and ginger, are usually described as "fresh," "assertive" or "sharp." 

The HEART notes emerge in the middle of the perfume's dispersion process, usually 20 minutes after application. Not surprisingly, the scent of middle note compounds like lavender and rose is usually more mellow and "rounded." 

The BASE notes bring depth and solidity to a perfume.  Consisting of large, heavy molecules that evaporate slowly, compounds of this class of scents, like musk, are typically rich and "deep" and are usually not perceived until 60 minutes after the application of the perfume.

Maja Eau de Toilette Spray is an oriental spicy fragrance exuding a striking balance between boldness and femininity. Introduced by Myrurgia in the year 1921, this perfume for women features sparkling top notes of citruses that are fresh and uplifting with exotic heart notes of Rose, Lavender, and Carnation that add femininity. The base notes of Nutmeg and Cloves sprinkle a hint of spiciness to counterbalance the soft floral notes and Patchouli and Vetiver add an earthy and woody edge.

My dad also wore a spicy after shave with top notes of lemon, lime, blackcurrant and orange; heart notes of lavender and bergamot and a base of patchouli, cedar and oak moss.

When I turned 18, for my birthday, my mother invited me to choose a perfume. I was excited for the day in the city with the promise of lunch at my favorite Pellegrinis and an opportunity to enter the world of "grownupness" in the rows and rows of perfume and cosmetic aisles.  We first went to Myers, a large Melbourne department store, where we wandered from counter to counter, spraying different fragrances on strips of absorbent paper and sniffing jars of coffee beans in between. I narrowed down my choices to 3 seemingly very different perfumes: L'Air du Temps by Nina Ricci, Chanel No 19 and Fracas by Robert Piguet.  Although unique in their own way it was no surprise that they somehow shared the spicy base notes also found in the scents my parents wore. 

I loved the the youthfulness of L'Air Du Temps in its pretty white dove figurine bottle. Like Maja the fragrance was warm and spicy opening with Carnation, Iris and Violet, followed by Bergamot, Rose and Jasmine, and ending with woodsy notes of Sandal and Cedar and the spice from musk and amber. It seemed perfect for a sophisticated soon to be adult.

My mother owned a Chanel suit with gold chain trim and beautiful black and white textured fabric, which she wore on special occasions . She adored Coco Chanel who was considered the Queen of Fashion and who set the bar for the modern day women with her affordable and simplistic clothing styles. As children we were often made to tolerate the detour down Collins Street so that she could window shop at the House of Chanel.  While Coco was most famous for her Chanel No. 5 fragrance I fell in love with the more floral/woodsy/green scent of No. 19, a unique blend of light-heartedness and sophistication, whose top notes of Bergamot and Neroli are supported by the more floral middle notes of Iris, Lily of the Valley, Rose and Daffodil and of course rounded out by spicy Moss, Vetiver, Leather and Sandalwood.

Spicy, floral and warm Fracas also seemed tempting and addictive, especially for the young girl who I imagined to be elegant, enchanting and chic. The fruity top notes of Bergamot, Mandarin Orange and Pear combined with the floral heart that comprises Gardenia, Tuberrose and Jasmine ending with the base notes of Musk, Cacao and Sandalwood make it a warm, spicy, more floral and mature scent.

I was told to find 3 different places to spray the perfume on my body. I chose my wrists and my right forearm. Off we went to have lunch during which time I could allow the perfumes to blend with my body heat and develop and during which time I continued to smell each one. After lunch we returned to purchase my first bottle of perfume; L'Air du Temps!

The love of my life wears Derby by Geurlain. Derby comes from Jean-Paul Guerlain’s vision when he visited the El Djem amphitheatre in Tunisia. This brazen fragrance is dedicated to dauntless men. It is an elegant armor for men; a warm and sensual fragrance.  It has Top notes of Bergamot and orange, Heart notes of Spices, exotic wood, and carnation and Base notes of Patchouli, birch tree, forest and leather. 

Today my signature scent, fondly named 'Passionflower' is a bespoke blend of essential oils and spices especially made for me by a perfumery in Italy. Like all those original spicy fragrances that I have loved for decades it is dominated by verbena, sage and chamomile with floral notes of geranium, rose, ylang ylang, jasmine and tuberose in a base of oak moss, patchouli and chypre.

When I wear it, which is all the time, people often comment on the deliciousness of the scent. I know it belongs on me and I love that it evokes feelings of sure footed safety and fond memories of home while it makes me feel sexy, sophisticated and self assured.