“As perfume doth remain, in the folds where it hath lain, so the thought of you, remaining deeply folded in my brain, will not leave me: all things leave me: You remain.” -Arthur Symons
I believe the olfactory sense is the most underrated. Aroma arouses subconscious moods, unearthing ancient and nearly forgotten emotions of early youth. When I was little, Woolworths would offer tiny bottles of headache-inducing “Blue Waltz” and “Midnight in Paris” for a mere dime that I invested for well-intended Mother’s Day remembrances. I have fond recollections of my sisters and me smearing honeysuckle blossoms on our skin after extracting the bead of honey on our tongues. The mustiness of geraniums and irises conjures early summer bliss. Even sunshine had a fragrance that clothesline garments absorbed. The wild mint that grew profusely along our fence would infuse our tea with a tingling burst.
Signature scents remind us of someone we know who douses the fragrance because it speaks to them. A subtle scent lingered upon our mother’s handkerchiefs while the brand of soap or shaving cream our father used could be detected when he would embrace us. Spicy musk, innocent powders, romantic florals, clean citrus…our partiality towards a perfume denotes our tendencies. Christian Dior is quoted as saying “A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.”
History tells of a Civil War tradition in which a woman would stitch a metal button with velvet front upon her lovers’ sleeve before he would set off for battle. She would saturate the velvet button with her perfume in order that he could summon her to him in his mind. Vinaigrettes were open-worked sterling lockets that were filled with perfume-soaked linen. Solid emollients infused with essential oils were incorporated within small ornamental boxes and compacts. Perfumes are recorded as early as the days of Cleopatra when scent was extracted from a gland in the civet cat.
In closing, allow me to relate the story of how our Hopeless Romantic fragrance came to be. While crammed sardine-style in a NY subway, an attractive woman gripping the hand bar beside me was reminiscent of violets. She conveyed her scent to have hailed from a century-old European parfumerie. This piqued my interest enough to revive it with a dash of added tuberose and gardenia with powdery undertones. Our intoxicatingly feminine perfume lingers and evokes. A light mist at your pulse points will do wonders to rejuvenate your spirits when feeling a wee bit lackluster.
Hoping you breathe deeply of summer’s sweet perfume…
Painting courtesy of the Bridgeman Art Library of NY.