When it comes to our senses, I think it is safe to say that most of us think mostly of sight and hearing. We mourn the deterioration and dread the loss of either, or both. When we have a cold, or in COVID times, we are very aware of loss of taste. We suddenly realise that there is very little difference between a raw potato and an apple when you cannot taste anything. But we quickly forget that once we get better.
Music can bring back memories of other times. But far more strong is the memory contained in our sense of smell. Smell is actually the most powerful of all our senses. While other senses travel and are registered more slowly via our thalamus, smell goes directly to the emotional and memory centres of the brain. This is why a slight waft of a perfume can transport us back to different places and times. We also react very strongly to the natural smell of our partners. The strength of your attraction to someone is strongly dependent on their natural scent. I am not sure if it is true for everyone, but it is definitely true for me.
My mother did not wear perfume. She used My Fair Lady talcum powder, which was very big in those days. Horrifying these days seeing as some talc has proved to be carcinogenic.
My first perfume ever was Tramp by Lentheric. I received it on my 15th birthday, which was also the day I could start wearing makeup. Now I look back and wonder who on earth would think of naming a perfume ‘Tramp’. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not good.
Then at school it was all about the Goya Aquamanda.
When I was 20 and engaged, I received a bottle of Charlie by Revlon as a gift from the jeweller where my boyfriend bought the ring.
In my mid-twenties (no longer engaged), I spend time travelling around the world on a budget, and Max Factor Le Jardin is the perfume I wore.
Some years later, a boyfriend gave me YSL Paris. Now when I smell it, it is overpowering, as were many fragrances in the 1980s.
After that, another boyfriend got me into CK one, and Calvin Klein Escape.
After that, I tried and liked quite a few different perfumes
- Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds – I really loved this perfume
- Esteé Lauder Pleasures – I adored this until it became ubiquitous
- Naomi Campbell – her first perfume was really nice.
- Elizabeth Arden – Sunflowers, Red Door, White Shoulders, Fifth Avenue (I received a gift set with all of them)
- Evyan – White Shoulders
- Body Shop Perfume Oils in Cosy Cashmere and Clean Cotton
- Body Shop Italian Fig
- Marks and Spencer Fig and Jasmine
I know you always read about Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, Youth Dew, Joy, Diorissimo, Fracas. But they have never appealed to me.
Nowadays I seldom wear perfume, and if I do, it is Antonia’s Flowers. It is hard to believe I used to use perfume daily. And liberally. I dread to think what I smelled like when I came back from lunch, after testing all the perfumes at the local pharmacy!
Any absolute favourites among my readers? I would like something to go and sniff the next time it is safe to wander around the stores.